I don’t know about you, but two of my ongoing issues with computers are storage and access. Either I run out of storage on my mobile device, tablet, and laptop, or I don’t have access to the files I want when I need them. In this piece, we’re going to look at three online software products from Google that alleviate these two problems. Even better, all of these products are completely free.
If you’re still keeping events on a physical calendar attached to your fridge, you’re probably running into some serious limitations. Even daily planners have their weaknesses. Here are a few reasons to fall in love with Google Calendar.
It’s always with you. Whether you’re sitting at your computer or you’re out and about with your smartphone, your calendar is never far away.
Move events around with ease. I tend to like to schedule out most waking moments of my day on my calendar (easy with Google Calendar’s “repeating events” feature). Still, what’s the old expression, “We make plans and God laughs”? With Google Calendar, you can easily move events to any time period with a drag-and-drop feature, or with their “Find a Time” feature.
Share your calendar with others. Whether you need to coordinate with a spouse when to pick up your child from baseball practice or share your daily work schedule with your boss, you can easily do so. Shared parties can see updates in real-time. Don’t want to share everything? You can also set up different color-coded calendars for certain styles of activities and sharing permissions. Personally, I have two different work calendars — one for tasks that are less time-sensitive and others for “rocks” — or items that cannot be moved. I have other calendars for my morning routine, evening routine, and appointments.
Be reminded of things you need to do before you need to do them. Want to make sure to pick up your son from cub scouts or to take your elderly mother to the doctor? You can set a reminder for any event any amount of time before the event to keep you on schedule.
I recently purchased a new laptop. Unfortunately, the model I wanted only had 128gig hard drive. This is pretty tiny in comparison to many with a standard a terabyte hard drive — nearly 100 times as big. Still, how do I justify this? Because I don’t keep much of anything on the physical hard drive of my computer thanks to Google Drive.
15 gigs per Google Account. If you have a Google account, you have automatically have 15 gigs of online storage in Google Drive for free. This may fill up quickly if you have larger files, but if you’re mostly storaging images and word documents, that may last you quite a while.
Saved as you go. Let me know if this sounds familiar: you’re writing a word document or building a spreadsheet and due to your laptop battery draining or a power surge, you lose everything. What a pain! With Google Docs and Google Sheets, near every single letter, every action is saved to Google Drive in real-time.
Access all of your files from anywhere. Whether you use several different computers or you just want to be able to see your files from anywhere, all of your files are available anywhere you can have access to your Google account. Start writing a word document at work and finish it at home on a separate computer — no need to email any documents to yourself.
It sure can be nice to have a notepad with you to jot items down. Whether ideas, shopping lists, or contact details, a good pad and pen can come in handy. What if you could have access to every note you’ve ever jotted down in an instance — even being able to search through them? Well, with Google Keep, that’s a reality.
Simple, but robust. Google Keep is a very simple application, but bells-and-whistles are probably not what you’re looking for in a note-taking program. Think of it like a giant wall of sticky notes you can access anytime.
Ok, so it has some bells. Some of the features are tick-boxes (great for shopping lists), note sharing, image uploads, a drawing feature, reminders, and the ability to back up any note to Google Drive. There is also a Chrome browser extension that allows you to save any website to your Google Keep account for later viewing — a kind of universal bookmarking.
Never let an idea slip through your fingers. The biggest appeal of Google Keep is that you can jot down an idea, message, contact information, or other note at a moment’s notice. Once jotted down, you can then access notes from any device that has access to your Google account.
If you’ve ever watched the British comedy program “The IT Crowd”, or really just called certain IT departments, you may have heard the following response. “Hello. IT. Have you tried turning it off an on again?” It can’t be that easy to fix a computer or mobile device, can it? In this piece, we’re going to look at why restarting a device may actually be all that is required to remedy many processing issues.
The Psychology of the Restart
If you’ve ever been told, “Well, have you turned it off and on again?”, you may feel like the technician is questioning your intelligence.
“You think I wouldn’t have just tried that before I called?”
Still, in many instances, we actually haven’t tried that. Sometimes, we assume that problems are much more severe than they actually are. Part of the reasoning for this is because we don’t want to admit our own ability to be derailed by such seemingly insignificant issues. We feel that if there is an issue that we haven’t been able to resolve, it must be major. In addition to restarting being fairly effective, having the mindset to perceive the minor issues before we make mountains out of molehills can help us take a few steps back, look past our pride, and fix easy problems.
The Technical Reason Why Restarting Is So Effective
In order to simply survive, our brain is making sure our lungs are breathing, that our blood is becoming oxygenated and that our heart is pumping this blood throughout our body. While this is happening, it’s also making sure our digestive system is processing food properly, that our liver and kidneys are cleaning out our systems, and interpreting signals from thousands upon thousands of nerves. In addition to simply keeping you alive, it’s also helping you concentrate well enough to drive a car, balance your checkbook, and remember to pick up the kids from soccer practice. However, without getting a good night’s sleep, things start to go haywire. You forgot to pick up your son from cub scouts. You sit at a green light and cars behind you begin to honk. You find yourself having to re-read the same sentence in an email just to make sense of it. The more sleep you miss out on, the more energy your brain allocates to simply keeping your vital bodily functions operating, leaving less power to allow you to process details.
Computer systems are very similar to our own brains. In addition to maintaining a connection with the internet or an intranet and a variety of wirelessly connected accessories, they’re simultaneously processing a myriad of commands. Your internet browser alone is typically juggling multiple tabs that are all processing informing from various websites. As your system is pulled in many different directions, it can only handle so much. Certain loads begin to lag, some freeze, others crash. It’s much like a young child becoming frustrated when they are tired. Their brains are over-taxed and in need of a break.
What is the answer for both systems? A rest and restart. Restarting your device can be akin to getting a rest following a busy day. A restart allows your device to stop processing unnecessary actions and to prioritize what to process. An even greater restart may be unplugging all power supplies to your system and letting it sit for 10-20 seconds. The reason for this may be that some components will continue to process information after the main system is turned off.
So, no, we’re not questioning your intelligence when we ask “have you tried turning it off and then turning it back on again?” We’re simply attempting to help you find the easiest solution to your problem. Like people, for a wide variety of processing issues, sometimes the only thing a computer needs is a nap.
Even if it has been a long while since you’ve purchased your new computer, there’s a good chance that your old computer is still hanging around. Filling up closets or just sitting on a shelf in the garage, old computers are some of the most notorious squatters in your home. Still, there’s a certain complexity comes with getting rid of the darn things. Not only are they loaded with hazardous or valuable materials, they may also contain sensitive information. In this piece, we’re going to look at how to responsibly say goodbye to your old computers and mobile devices.
Back Up Your Data
If your computer still boots up, hop on and take a look around for sensitive contents. If the computer connects to the internet, you will probably be able to back up your files to an offline service such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive. If the computer is not able to connect to the internet, you may need to use a physical external hard drive to remove important documents. Some higher capacity flash drives may actually be able to help if you don’t have much to offload. Price out the options. Sidenote: Backing up your data on a regular basis is a good idea regardless of whether or not you plan to dispose of a computer or other device.
How To Get Rid of Sensitive Information
One of the scary aspects of selling, giving away, or even trashing an old computer is someone accessing personal information you thought you got rid of. Let’s walk through how to make sure your documents are safe.
Sign Off & Deauthorize Everything
Just like you’d close the windows before you move out of a house, make sure that nothing else can access your data by signing out/off and deauthorizing any installed products. Make certain that you’re signed out of every program and that the device is deauthorized for any software product or service. Completely delete your browser history and downloaded files. Leaving even one application connected to an outside service on your computer can expose other sensitive data to whomever else comes across your computer after it’s out of your hands.
Do a “Wipe” of Your Hard Drive
You may think you’re in the clear by simply deleting sensitive files after they have been exported. Sadly, the contents of those files may still be hiding in your hard drive. In order to truly wipe your hard drive, you will more than likely need to use an external wiping program to make sure that your digital files are “shredded.” If you plan on disposing of your computer and want to make absolutely sure that no one will be able to access any sensitive data, some have recommended physically destroying the hard drive. This can be done by removing it and either smashing the plates inside the hard drive with a hammer or drilling a hole through the plates. Because of safety concerns, we don’t recommend physically destroying your hard drive.
Never Throw a Computer In the Trash
Even though the title of the article contains the word “dispose”, this does not mean you’re throwing anything in the trash. Computers, mobile devices, and most other electronics should never just be thrown out with household trash. The first reason is due to the environment. Some of these devices contain materials that may be hazardous to the environment such as lead or mercury. The second reason is because of how recyclable these devices are. Almost every ounce of these devices can be recycled. Many of these computers and devices even contain gold.
Ask About Trade-Ins or Recycle
Wherever you’re purchasing your new computer, ask them if they take older computers in on trade. You may find that your old computer may actually even shave off some of the cost off of your new computer. Even if they won’t take the computer in on trade, many computer sales companies or other electronics stores will accept computers for recycling.
Still Not Sure? Bring Your Computer To Geek Rescue
If you don’t feel comfortable about disposing of your computer properly, whether you don’t think you could adequately wipe the hard drive or properly recycle it, bring it to the computer specialists at Geek Rescue. At Geek Rescue, we can lay your computer rest in the safest way possible. If you’re not sure whether or not to get rid of your computer, we can see if there’s anything that can be done to save it.
If you’ve ever been tasked with finding a specific file from a long time ago, you know how much of a needle in a haystack the entire process can be. In order to make the process a walk in the park, we’re going to take a look at some file naming protocols you’ll want to adapt.
1. No More “Final Version” Names On Files
Everyone knows that when you put “final version” in the title of a file, you’re just asking for requested revisions. Not only is Murphy’s Law one reason to get out of the habit of doing this, but identifying the actual final copy of a file will be nearly impossible. In order to make life easier for you and everyone who may want to find this file in the future, consider a four-digit numbering system for numbering file versions. An example of this is to start with “0000”, “0001”, “0002”. These versions should give you enough room to add plenty of revisions (up to 9,999 to be exact) before you’ll have to worry about how to add a new digit to your file naming protocol. If you think you’ll have over 9,999 versions of one file, add another “0” in the beginning…and we’ll be praying for you.
2. Lose The Special Characters
We’ve all seen some file names that have more special characters than a Wes Anderson movie. The issue with using special characters is that they don’t always play nicely with all systems. Another issue can be confusion over what symbol you’re actually looking for when it comes to searching for a specific file. Keep it simple when needing to divide information by using camel case (ItLooksLikeThis), underscores (_) or dashes (-). Because you probably don’t need a “~” anyway.
3. Claim Your Files
When sharing a file for use on a certain project, it can be handy include who created the file or who last altered it in the file name. You can do this by including the person’s full name (not as widely recommended) or by including their initials. This handy for questions about how a specific file was written or built and can be a great way to figure out who broke it so you can fix it again. C’mon, be honest — it was you, wasn’t it?
4. Simplify The Dating Process…For Your Files, That Is
Nobody said that dating was easy. You have to make things look nice, tidy, and be upfront with all of your information. Oh, wait, we’re talking about dating files? Well, the same rules apply. In order to list the important information right off the bat, adding the date to your file names is a great habit to adopt. However, without using special characters that some programs may not like, how does one do this? Using a simple year-month-day format in the form of YYYYMMDD, it couldn’t be easier. If you’re still confused, the date of the writing of this article is February 4th, 2019. If I wanted to add the date to this Word document, it would be 20190204. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.
Has your hard drive fizzled out? Are you having trouble finding important files on your PC? Don’t worry — your friends at Geeks To The Rescue are here to help. Find out how we can help today.
These days, it feels like anyone can start a small business. While is tremendously exciting, it’s important to remember that every business handles sensitive information that should be protected. In this piece, we’re going to look at a handful of techniques that can help increase the cybersecurity of any small business.
Create a Culture of Security
We live in a fast-paced world and some concepts can slip our minds. It’s for this reason that cybersecurity should be emphasized from the top of the company on down. Before sensitive information is shared among staff members and clients, encourage staff to ask them the following questions:
Is this data being shared responsibly?
Who else could possibly access this data?
What can I do to ensure that this data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands?
Make Sure All Hardware and Software Is Secure
This digital age has made work flexible with team members able to work from practically anywhere on any device. In order to keep your organization’s data secure, it is important to make sure that all of your team members’ devices and software systems are secure with the latest software updates. Most reputable software providers are as diligent about cybersecurity as your business as you are — making many advanced security features built into their systems. While this is the case, it is still important to double-check what security is built into any company operating systems.
Set Organization-Wide Cybersecurity Standards
Just like a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, cybersecurity measures should be stressed at every level of an organization. Because mobile devices and laptops run the risk of being stolen more than systems back at the office, it is important to have cybersecurity standards in place to guard devices that can access sensitive information. Even desktop computers, if left with weak password protection, can prove to be vulnerable to attack by the wrong people in the office. Organization-wide security protocols go a long way to risk information falling into the wrong hands.
Have a Secure Data Backup System In Place
As many small businesses specialize in data by means of creating digital products or by manipulating digital information, an organization with no security data backup system can take a huge hit if data is lost. Whether the business technology is damaged, lost, stolen, or mishandled, a big enough loss of data can mean a huge loss of revenue — a loss from which many small businesses may not be able to recover. Having an automated system that makes a secure backup of company data ensures that sensitive or costly data can be recovered in the event of a data loss.
For help making your small business’ data more secure, consult your friends at Geek Rescue for assistance.
Apple put a lot of thought into making their products easy to use. Some of this is obvious, like the way macs can boot up straight out of the box, but other ways take some insider know how. Keyboard shortcuts are a great way to get stuff done faster and easier. Just by pressing a combination of keys, you can do things that normally need a mouse, trackpad, or another input device. Here’s a quick list of the shortcuts (sometimes called hot keys) we think are the most helpful.
Command-C – Copy the selected item to the Clipboard. This also works for files in the Finder.
Command-V – Paste the contents of the Clipboard into the current document or app. This also works for files in the Finder.
Command-Z – Undo the previous command. You can then press Command-Shift-Z to Redo, reversing the undo command. In some apps, you can undo and redo multiple commands.
Command-A – Select All items.
Command-F – Find items in a document or open a Find window.
Command-M – Minimize the front window to the Dock. To minimize all windows of the front app, press Command-Option-M.
Command-N – New: Open a new document or window.
Command-O – Open the selected item, or open a dialog to select a file to open.
Command-P – Print the current document.
Command-S – Save the current document.
Command-Q – Quit the app.
Command-Spacebar – Spotlight: Show or hide the Spotlight search field. To perform a Spotlight search from a Finder window, press Command–Option–Spacebar. If you use multiple input sources to type in different languages, these shortcuts change input sources instead of showing Spotlight.
Command-Tab – Switch apps: Switch to the next most recently used app among your open apps.
There are more shortcuts you can use within specific applications, so be sure to check for those. If you feel like the combination of keys could be more ergonomic, you can change the command combination in settings. Open system preferences, click keyboard, click shortcuts, find the command you want to change, and click on the key combination set to input the new combination.
Computer viruses and malicious software (malware) can delete files, steal personal information, and wreak havoc on a hard drive. Worst of all, it’s not always obvious that you have a computer virus. To help you know when your computer has been infected, here are five telltale signs your computer has a virus.
If you’re dealing with constant pop-ups, make sure you don’t click on any of them, even if they claim to be there to delete the virus. This may be a form of rogueware posing as a solution, when it’s really just there to get you to pay for a service that will never happen.
Overactive Hard Drive
When hard drives are working, they often make an audible spinning sound. Hard drives that continually make this sound, even when you’re not using the computer, may be infected.
No Storage Space
While we’re on the subject of hard drives, if you notice your hard drive suddenly has no room to work it might be a sign of a virus. Often viruses will take up a ton of hard drive space when they get their teeth into a computer.
This one might be obvious, but people in your contact book getting emails from you that you didn’t write is a sign you may have a virus. It could also mean your email has been hacked, which is a little easier to fix. If the entire computer is hacked, anti-virus software will be needed. If it’s the email account that’s been hacked, you might just need to change your password.
When programs or the entire computer keep crashing for no reason, a virus may be to blame. Check for error messages and if the message seems peculiar or you keep getting the same message, your computer may have a virus.
Viruses can be hard to deal with, but Geek Rescue makes it easy. You can drop your computer off at our shop or we can come to you and get rid of any virus that’s giving you trouble. Call us today to see how we can help.
The terms RAM, storage, hard drive space, memory, and disc space all get used interchangeably, but they actually have different meanings and affect your computer’s performance in different ways. To set the record straight, here’s a quick definition guide on RAM vs storage.
Short for random access memory, RAM is a measure of how much work your computer can handle in a given time. Let’s say your computer has 16GBs of ram, or memory, available. Every time you open an application, like Word, or use an internet browser you’ll be using a certain amount of your 16GBs of RAM. If you run too many applications that take up too much RAM, your computer will run slow and may even crash.
The amount of RAM used will vary from application to application. Your standard Microsoft Office applications don’t require much RAM to function, while applications for photo and video editing can eat up a lot of RAM. It’s important to remember that RAM only affects how much work your computer can do, not how much it can store.
Your hard drive is where files and data are stored long term. Every time you hit save on a Word doc or spreadsheet, it gets saved on your hard drive. Think of it as a filing cabinet in an office. Once the files are in the cabinet, no work will happen and the files won’t be changed. They’re just stored there until you need to work on them again. This means the amount of storage or hard drive space won’t have a huge impact on how fast your computer will run, unless it’s just really pushed to the storage limits.
To sum it up, when you’re typing a Word doc, it uses RAM. When you hit save, it’s stored on the hard drive. If you want to increase your computer’s speed and be able to work on more applications at the same time, upgrading your RAM will be your best bet.
If you have more questions about how to improve the performance of your computer call Geek Rescue today.
Working off a laptop gives you the freedom to work from anywhere, as long as you can find an outlet. If you find yourself in a spot with no plugins, you’ll have to survive off whatever your battery has left in the tank. Next time you find yourself in this position, do this to squeeze the most juice out of your laptop’s battery.
Power Saving Mode– Most laptops will come with a battery saving option in the settings menu that is designed to conserve your battery life.
Hit the Lights– While you’re in the settings menu, turn off the backlight on your keyboard. Unless you’re working in a dark room, you don’t need your keyboard to light up and these lights can drain your battery fast.
Close Applications– Having multiple applications and programs running can zap the life out of your battery. If you’re not using it, make sure it’s not running.
A Little TLC- Laptops with removable batteries have the potential for damaged or dirty battery contacts, which can disrupt the flow of power. Make sure battery contacts are clean and in good condition.
When it comes to using computers, we all have a need for speed. Working on a slow computer is a fast way to get frustrated. If you’re looking to push the pedal to the metal with your computer, here are three ways to make your computer run faster.
Uninstall Unused Programs– Computers come equipped with a laundry list of programs you’ll never use, and these programs can dominate your hard drive space. Pull up your control panel and uninstall programs you’re not using to free up space and speed.
Disable Start Up Programs– It’s common for a few programs to automatically open when you hit the on button and then run in the background. Disabling this feature will conserve processing power and only use it when you actually use the programs.
Defrag and Clean Your Disk– As you use your computer it creates a lot of temporary files that can be stored somewhat haphazardly. Defragging your hard drive and running a disk clean up will give your computer a chance to sort through the mess, delete unnecessary temporary files, and reorganize how it stores files for optimum speed.
For more tech tips, contact Geek Rescue for all your Tulsa computer repair need.