What are the two things every computer needs to have in place?
The two things that every computer needs are a backup plan and the appropriate security software. I will offer you real advice on what you can use for free and what you need to pay for in regards to backup services and security software. I am an partnered with Bitdefender and have affiliations with Malwarebytes and IDrive Online Backup. I will mention them along with other products I have no affiliation with. Let's get into it.
#1: A Backup Plan
Every computer that you store critical information on needs a backup plan. The best practice is to follow the 3-2-1 rule whether you run a business or simply have a lot of family pictures on your home computer that you don't want to lose.
So what can you do?
The important thing is to choose a combination of the following options so that you follow the 3-2-1 rule.
Come up with a plan that keeps three copies of your files in at least two different locations. One location must be offsite and separate from where you store and/or use the data frequently. If you have any questions about building an appropriate backup plan please call me at 435-227-5540, consultations are always free.
Special note for business owners:
Is your provider PCI compliant? HIPAA compliant? Many businesses are required to comply with state and federal mandates that a backup be maintained of specific customer information or that if you are storing sensitive customer information that you maintain proper privacy protections. Plan ahead and manage your risk before it turns into a disaster.
Need help? Call me at 435-227-5540 and I will answer your questions in a way that you understand.
#2: Security Software
Every computer needs an antivirus program working in combination with other security software to protect their system whether it's used for residential (home) purposes or for business. Expecting users to practice safe browsing habits is unfortunately not a viable option and if you are a business it introduces to much liability and risk. So here is what I would recommend for both types of users and their computers.
Affiliate disclamers: I am a Bitdefender partner and have an affiliate account with Malwarebytes.
It isn't necessary to pay for your antivirus program or your malware protection tools. There are, fortunately for us, a bevy of great options for residential users.
All of the following offer a free version of their software that home users are welcome to use.
Don't forget complementary software like Malwarebytes. A paid version is available for businesses and home users. However, here again home users are not required to use the paid version. What this software does is clean up things that your base program like AVG, Panda, or Bitdefender sometimes will not.
As a business owner you are required, in most cases, to protect some amount of sensitive information that the customer entrusts with you. Therefore to reduce your liability and risk you should ensure that you employ the appropriate measures to protect yourself and your clients by using a security software solution that you paid for or has been certified for business use. In many cases for small businesses this equates to spending money on a product that you can point to and say I am compliant.
Business grade antivirus includes additional features that you don't get in standard editions.
While you may not need the full security suite for your small business it's worth noting the differences between the various business versions of antivirus products. This will enable you to protect yourself and your business from liability issues associated with having a computer in your business.
Need help setting up the appropriate security software for your business? Call me at 435-227-5540 and I will work to answer your questions in a way that you understand, consultations are free.
In our latest newsletter I describe what digital fingerprinting is and then go on to cite what we can do to help protect ourselves from being tracked online. For the full newsletter contact us today.
However, here are the tools that I will also suggest using to protect yourself. There are a few additional tools that could be used also. I suggest a combination of the following to provide a simpler and easier to manage user experience. I use is a combination of uBlock Origin, Web of Trust, and Ghostery. These together have provided me with a reasonable experience without destroying my ability to use any and all websites I encounter.
For Ad-blocking, it isn't necessary to use more than one tool. Pick one and stick with it until you are ready to uninstall the current ad-on and move to a new one. The same goes for tools that block online trackers. For additional tools feel free to contact us.
Privacy-badger Chrome/Firefox(respectively) - elminiates trackers and some ads
OR (it is not necessary to run all three tools adblock plus, ublock origin, and privacy badger)
Adblock Plus Chrome/Firefox -
OR (it is not necessary to run all three tools adblock plus, ublock origin, and privacy badger)
uBlock Origin Chrome/Firefox -
A must for privacy if not using Privacy Badger
Ghostery Chrome/Firefox - eliminates trackers and social links.
Apologies for the late edit. However, it is important to note that Web Of Trust plugin I previously recommended is no longer trusted.
PC Magazine state in their article that "The NDR investigation discovered that while you have the WOT extension installed, extensive data collection is going on in the background. But WOT not only collects and records data on a per-user basis, it then analyzes and sells it on to third parties."
Link to article
This is not what i recommend or endorse. If you have this plugin installed and do not know how to remove it please let me know. I will be posting a removal tutorial on the blog at a later date.
Today I wanted to do something different. What I wanted to see is what you think about how we use the internet and the various devices that connect to it. Do you ever have concerns or worry about how you and your family use technology? I also want to see what successes people have had with their connected lives. I want to ask you your triumphs and your stories about how you live with technology in this connected world of ours. I have a few questions of my own, but don't let that limit you. Share with us something that has helped you or that you need help with.
Have you ever been frustrated even after buying a new computer?
I know I felt this way over nine years ago when my wife and I bought our first computer, a laptop, together after having been married only a short time. The software that comes with new computers is always frustrating and it bothers me how it creates unnecessary clutter on my desktop. I think of it like a person coming and dumping their bag on my desk and leaving whatever falls out there and walking away. I wanted to ask you as a reader what you think? Have you felt the same way? Please share your thoughts on buying a new PC and how it went for you in the comments below.
Do you have concerns about how technology is used in your home?
Who has thought I wonder how I will manage my children's use of tablets and other things in my home? You probably haven't asked that specific question. However, I would venture to guess that if you have had concerns at one time on how your kids will safely use their e-devices.
I want to see what you think. What concerns do you have about our increasingly connected homes? What solutions does your family employ? Share with us your thoughts.
It may be hard to see at first.
I wanted to show you this sequence of events so any readers can remind themselves that people can be very sneaky in getting your information and using it for their own purposes. What you need to do as a internet user is remain an "internet skeptic," a phrase used by the local university's IT security team. Don't rush into anything and be very guarded with any information you share.
Take a look and see if you can spot any issues along the way. I'll point out some things I noticed at each stage. Then some conclusions and things I could have done differently.
Part 1: First Contact (insert jokes about a certain bad star trek movie here)
I received this text message from the individual whom we will call Mr. X. I have a google voice account set up so that people don't call my cell phone directly. I can receive phone calls or text messages on my phone. Text messages come through as e-mails on that address associated with my google account. I highly recommend this if you are starting out as a small business and need to save some money. Anyway onto the short saga.
Pretty normal looking for a text message so I am certainly willing to reply to this given that it came from a valid area code and I live next to a large university. Very plausible that the person actually needs assistance with their computer(s).
Part 2: First red flags pop-up
Since I had determined to reply I sent the following message. I gave them my business phone number, which Mr. X may or may not have used to send me the text to my google voice account, and I made sure to give this person my website as well.
Here is Mr. X's reply. See if you can spot the same red flags that I did in the section I highlighted.
Very interesting, this person wants a secretary to send me a check for the services to be rendered. I also noticed one other thing that I did not highlight. Want to guess what it was? Yes it was the floppy drive diagnostic to make sure it was working after the work was completed. That is highly unusual in any business application with Windows 7 included in the same sentence.
Part 3: Is it real or fake
Now I knew we were going to find out really quick if this person wanted to actually do business or is going to try and steal something from me, maybe my identity or just money. To find out I wrote the following message with information that is freely available from my website with the inclusion of some provisions.
Here is Mr. X's reply. Now think of what we are dealing with here as you read his reply knowing what I wrote and how this conversation has proceeded.
Granted, I probably didn't need to reply further knowing full well that this was almost certainly a scam. I went ahead and sent the following though. I have not received a reply since sending this and Mr. X has had plenty of time to reply. Whoops just noticed my typo in that message :)
I didn't need to let this go on any further once I knew what it was so I encourage you to drop whatever it is and move on whenever you spot a scam. In addition, this is a tech blog so I implore you to always have an updated antivirus program on whatever computer you are using, yes that means you Mac and Linux users you need something too. Always run ad-blocking plug-ins on your browser (Chrome or Firefox). Yes you should go out and buy identity theft insurance if you don't have it. Something like Zander's Identity Theft plans (no they did not give me anything for linking this) are a worthwhile investment into reducing your risk. See the full link pasted below as well. Finally, always be skeptical of anything you see online or hand written on a lawn sign on the side of the road. There is too much for us to cover on this topic in one post, but please be conscious of what you do online, where you do it, and who will see it.
If you liked this post comment below, on our facebook page, or on twitter.
Zander Insurance Link:
Should I upgrade?
This is a great question that may people are still asking themselves. Here are some things that may help you decide. For myself I have chosen to avoid the upgrade on most of my systems, but at least one of them will have Windows 10.
Will my computer run Windows 10 at a reasonable pace?
The bare minimum system requirements for Windows have always been a joke, but here they are if you are curious.
Should I do anything before upgrading?
Is it all right if I just go ahead and upgrade?
Probably, but there is always risk involved with upgrades no matter what system you are running. It is best to give an upgrade the simplest path possible whenever you are able to if you cannot do a clean installation of the new system. If you don't want to bother with doing anything before you upgrade then go ahead. Things will probably work, but there is always a chance that something does not function correctly... like sound, internet communication, your printer, proprietary software, etc.
What if I don't want to upgrade?
You do not have to upgrade to Windows 10 despite all the hard work Microsoft has done to make you think that there is no other alternative. Thanks to one of my favorite sites How-To Geek we can avoid all of this nonsense and hullabaloo with the instructions and tools they provide in this article.
How to stop Windows 7 or 8 from downloading Windows 10 Automatically.
I recommend using the tool Lowell Heddings refers to in his article. It really is a simple tool to use and I have used it on one of my systems.
What if I am tired of Windows period end of story?
CLet's cut to the point here. If you are an Apple fan don't waste your time, go buy one. However, if you are not necessarily in that category you don't need to in order to get away from Microsoft and Windows. You have the option of going free and open source with Linux. I recommend Linux Mint or FreeBSD. There are many useful guides available that will help you get started with either of these (and more). I will have a post in the future based on what I did with my system. In the meantime here is why I would switch to Linux if I were you.
I don't like to what extent I have to go to make Windows as private as it should be with Windows 10. I pay for a product and I expect to be able to use it however I choose withing legal limits of course. That should not including sharing what I run and do on my computer if I don't go through all these hoops to disable such functionality.
Windows 10 Home and Pro will not allow you to avoid updates permanently. All updates are pushed and will be installed eventually (even Professional users). I would prefer to have more control of what happens on my computer thank you. Linux let's you choose which updates you install.
Microsoft is taking over:
Microsoft is trying to move toward a more integrated experience across devices and platforms. If this is what you want then go ahead. However, people don't necessarily want this or need it. With Linux you have a great deal of freedom to change your desktop to something that is closer to what you want in the Linux versions mentioned previously.
Windows continually uses more resources to run what it "needs" to it seems. Although Windows 7 was better than Vista in many ways Windows 10 is starting to creep back the other way. Linux can run on a variety of hardware and run well too. If your computer is over 10 years old it will still run like it is over 10 years old whether or not you are on Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, or 10 (don't do this), or Linux. The point is Linux does not consume more resources unless you want it to.
Maybe now is the time to go over to Linux. I am here to help along the way and most importantly there will always be a community to help you with your journey along the operating system path to Linux. Yes it is a journey, but one well worth taking. If you choose to upgrade to Windows 10 you will not have horrible consequences befall you and it is extremely unlikely that you would lose access to your files due in sole part to the upgrade. It just isn't right for everyone.
Let me know what you think about today's post and as always make the choice to be happy.
Author - Nathan
I have worked with computers and technology for over nine years now. I enjoy tech almost as much as I enjoy my wife and kids.
About the Blog -
This is my informal approach to being a mentor for you. Let me know what roadblocks you have and we'll work on posting what you need here.
Call or text the business at 435-227-5540 Mon-Fri from 8 am - 5:30 pm. Free pickup and drop off with any service listed or any new computer ordered.