One of the things our business clients ask us about the most often is backing up their data.
Unfortunately, a majority of them wait until we’ve had to perform some level of data recovery before they even think to ask us about what could very possibly be the most important aspect of maintaining their computer.
There’s a million good reasons for a computer user to keep a current backup of their data, and keeping your data backed up is always a good idea. When it comes to backups, it’s better to have them and not need them than it is to need them and not have them.
There are two primary types of data backup: Physical and cloud-based.
Physical backups are just that. Physical. Your data is stored on an external device of some sort. External Hard Drives, USB drives, even DVD discs can be used to store data.
Backing up your data to an external device can be done one of two ways: Either by dragging and dropping the data that you want to be backed up from your computer’s folders to a folder on your external drive of choice, or by utilizing software to automatically back up your data to your external storage – Carbonite and Apple’s Time Machine are good examples of software that can automatically back your data up.
Physical backups containing highly important data can be stored in a secure place, such as a fire safe or even a safe deposit box. Adding an extra layer of security to your physical backup.
The other type of data backup is what’s called “cloud-based”.
Cloud-based backups are backups that are saved to the “cloud”, or internet.
One of the main benefits of backing data up to the cloud is that you will be able to access your data from any device, anywhere in the world, just as long as you have the log-in credentials.
Just like with physical backups, there are two main ways of backing your data up to the cloud. The first is the drag and drop method that also works for physical backups – simply copy your data over to the folder for your favorite cloud drive (Dropbox or Google Drive are good choices). The second is by utilizing software that securely backs your computer’s folders up to the cloud. Programs such as Backblaze do this extremely well.
We actually recommend, and best practices are to do both physical and cloud backups – for that added security and for some extra piece of mind. After all, you never want to keep all your eggs in one basket. Again, it’s better to have backups and not need them than it is to need them and not have them
Backing your data up is always a good idea, and really isn’t all too difficult. If you need help backing up your small business' data, or need help recovering some data that you haven’t backed up yet, give Tech Force in Mt Pleasant a call. We’re here to help!
Everything you wanted to know about the computer virus, but were afraid to ask – Part 3
As the old cliche goes; “An ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure.” Learning how to avoid becoming infected and spreading virus infections, not only makes the internet safer for you, but for everyone else you connect and share with.
A few simple good computing habits, and a watchful eye can help you stay virus free:
Keep your operating system and software up-to-date
Most of these updates are automatic, but it doesn’t hurt to check that your software is current from time to time.
Use reputable antivirus software
Make sure that your security software is from a well-known vendor with high detection rates. Remember with “free” antivirus software, you often get what you pay for.
Don’t ignore security warnings from Windows or your antivirus software
These warnings are there for a reason. Sure they can be a little annoying, but they can save you a lot of trouble.
Use a secure and safe web browser like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, and keep it updated
These browsers are well-known for their security features, as well as their over-all reliability.
Don’t mindlessly click on “OK”, “Yes” or “Run” when a pop-up window appears and ask you to install unknown software.
Slow down and make sure you know what you’re clicking.
Use only the official download or a trusted website when downloading programs
A common trick that fools many users into installing a virus are fake download buttons. Make sure you pay attention to where you’re downloading from.
Before you want to install “free” software (freeware) first check if its reliable by reading reviews.
The internet is full of questionable programs and applications. Fortunately for us, a quick Google search can clue us in to whether or not a program that we want to download is worthwhile or not.
Don’t download, install, or use “pirated” software
By doing this you might not just be breaking the law, but you could be unknowingly allowing a program to install that might break your computer.
Don’t click on a links, attachments or videos via, emails or web pages if you don’t trust or know the source.
Malicious email attachments are a common vector of virus infection, and seems to be on the rise. A little extra vigilance now can save your computer later.
By using these simple techniques you can keep your computer healthy and virus-free. If you think that your computer might be infected with a virus, or have any questions about keeping your computer safe, the experts at Tech Force in Racine are always here to help.
Everything you wanted to know about the computer virus, but were afraid to ask – Part 2
Before the Holidays we talked about what a computer virus is, where they come from, and why they exist. This week we’ll take a brief look at some of the different types of computer viruses.
As cold and flu season wraps up, most of us are pretty well acquainted with the fact that many different types of viruses can attack our bodies and interrupt our overall wellness. A different sort of “virus” can negatively impact the health of our computers. That said, we can easily see how it’s probably a good idea to understand and know a little about the ones that can invade our computers.
Boot sector Virus
As the name implies, this infects the boot sectors on the hard and removable drives. Rummaging through these sectors destroying the data needed to boot your computer or operate the removable hardware, rendering the computer unbootable. Boot Sector viruses are usually spread through your removable hardware. Typically, the most common way to remove a boot sector virus is a complete system format and re-install of the operating system.
Multipartite or “hybrid” Virus
This one can be pretty sneaky, it can waltz into your computer pretending to be an executable, or even by being part of a boot sector virus. From there it will spread quickly, altering or destroying your data. Multipartite Viruses use this two-pronged attack making them fairly hard to remove. Even if you use an antivirus program to remove it, this bug might still be hiding in your boot sector, from which it can reproduce and spread all over again. A vicious circle that never seems to end.
Direct Action Virus
This is a very common type of virus. Unlike it’s cousins, it doesn’t install by itself on the hard drive, delete files, hinder system performance, or remain hidden on the computer’s memory. Basically, this tricky virus only executes when someone clicks a button to install a program or web link. After that it hunts down and infects other similar files. Direct Action Viruses are easily removed with by a typical antivirus program.
This is possibly the most common type of virus infection. Like the Direct Action Viruses, they execute when someone clicks the file or link they are attached to. Unfortunately, they do install on your computer, which allows them to continue to work even when the original source of the virus has been removed. They make themselves so at home on your computer they can even disable your antivirus, leaving them free to run amok in your computer unhindered.
A rather frustrating virus, because it deletes the files it infects. Spread mainly through emails, it can infect both entire programs or stand-alone files, such as an Excel spreadsheet or Excel itself. The low visibility of the Overwrite Virus makes it extremely difficult for most anti-virus programs to detect.
While most viruses find files and data to infect, Spacefiller or “Cavity” viruses makes its home in the empty space in the files themselves. This stealthy one has been relatively rare until recently, with the rise in the use of Windows Portable Executables seeming to bring it back to life.
This brief post is by no means a complete list of all the types of viruses that can infect your computer. New viruses are being concocted on a daily basis.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, the battle against the computer virus can be won. Next week we’ll take a look at what you can do to protect yourself from these, and other types of computer viruses.
In the meantime, if you have any questions computer viruses, or want to know how you can protect your small business computers, give Tech Force a call. We’re always happy to help.
Keep Your Computer Clean
Did you make a New Year's Resolution to keep a tidier workspace? That also inculdes your computer.
Just like keeping your house clean for more pleasant maneuverability, living, and use; it is a good idea to keep your computer clean for the same reasons. Since it is the season of new beginnings, let’s add our computers to the list this year. A few simple tasks, taking only a few moments of your time; can easily make your computer run and behave better for the rest of the year, or at least season depending on usage.
Here’s a short list of 5 simple things that you can do to clean your computer:
1. Dust the hardware
Damage can be done inside both a laptop and a desktop computer because of the buildup of dust and dirt. Using a can of compressed air, or an air compressor (if you have one), you can blow a good portion of this out and have a smoother running system.
Once again, a small reminder, never use a vacuum or hairdryer on your computer. The static produced could completely annihilate the delicate circuity, undoing all the hard work you are about to do.
2. Clean the software
Good rule of thumb: If the is a game or program you have not used or even thought about in 6 months or more, chances are that you won’t use it in the future. These unused programs and apps can actually slow down the work-ability of your second brain. Dormant programs left lying around the hard drive can also be a security vulnerability.
If, at a later time, you discover you need the app or program again you can always re-install.
3. Update the software
Check to make sure your anti-virus, operating system, and backups are up to date. As with keeping idle software cleaned up making your computer faster and more secure, so does keeping your active and most loved one programs up-to-date.
4. Scan the software
Now that your hard drive is clean and your software updated, it’s probably a good idea to run a malware/virus scan. Find all those little computer bacteria and get them cleaned out of there.
5. Back that data up
No matter what you use for backup, it is wise to actively keep an eye on what is making it to the file system and what isn’t. Checking your backup system and doing it manually at least once a year (ideally a little more often than that) gives you a clear and concise date that you can remember your system goes back to.
There are many different types of backup solutions (Local vs. Could, Automated vs. manual, etc.). If you don’t have one or are looking to upgrade, let us know, we’d be happy to advice you on what would work best, and even get you set up.
Now that all that pesky computer cleaning is done, you have more time to get to everything else on that to-do list.
As always, if you have any questions, or need any help, feel free to give us a call, shoot us an email, or pop on down to our Mt. Pleasant office. We’re always happy to help.
Tech Force Blog
We provide you with important, practical tips and insight for your technology and networks for both home and business.