DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

November 17, 2015

What Happens to My Files – backup?

Hard Drive graphic from online - Google.com

I had a reader give me upsetting news last week.  They said that their computer failed to boot when they started it a few days before and they had a lot of personal and semi-business files there.  What could they do to get them backup?

They had taken it to a computer repair shop in the area who said the hard drive was shot.  Drives usually fail in one of two ways.  The first is that the drive will still be recognized by the computer but cannot be read or written to.  In many cases you may be able to recover data on your own.  The other is if there is actual mechanical damage to the drive which means your only choice is to send it to the pros to retrieve your files or toss it and start over.

I will not get into the ways that you may be able to get your data back as there are a million articles on the internet with almost as many software applications available to help you.  If you want to try it yourself the first thing I would do is to figure out who produced your drive, go to their site and see what they recommend. 

Keep in mind to try and recover the data yourself you must have a working computer and attach the failed drive to that computer.  You will need to purchase an external hard drive enclosed case for around $25 or more to access the drive.  However, that is much less than the possibly many hundreds of dollars you will spend sending it to the drive recovery companies to get your information. 

I will give you Ron’s inexpensive to free way to safeguard your files.  I checked today and I have 32 GB of data which I backup regularly.  This includes columns for the past 15 years, tax returns, songs, a few videos and other types of files.  I have over 70,000 of these files in my collection.  This is a significant number of files when compared to the average user. I back it all up in a couple of locations. 

My two favorite places online to back up my files, with the exception to financial files are Dropbox and Copy.com.  Using those two links to sign up will earn you extra storage space.  The standard space of Dropbox is 2 GB and with Copy.com you get 15 GB.  They are both similar.  I believe Dropbox is slightly easier to use but Copy provides much more space and offers more options. 

The next place I back up my 32 GB is on a thumb drive.  I found 16 GB USB thumb drives on sale in town the other day for $9.99 and up to 128 GB drive for $35 online.  So the expense is minimal for what it could save you if you lost your files. 

Karenware Replicator main screen

How to back them up comes next and again there are a million ways. I use one very simple backup app called Karenware Replicator.  Karen Kenworthy was a developer who I met online years ago.  She made all of her software available free to all and simple to use.  Karen passed away in 2011 due to complications of diabetes.   I highly recommend Replicator as one of the simplest and effective backup utilities online today.  Download it and try it out.

Here is your warning – backup your files since ALL hard drives will fail at some point, maybe in years, maybe in minutes!

April 28, 2015

Various Things

After last week’s article regarding MOOCs I got a great email from Donnie telling me about using one for the past year or so and learning to speak Spanish.  Another freebie.  The site is DuoLingo.com which currently provides ten languages:  Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Irish, Danish, Swedish and Turkish.  I do not know how good it is but Donnie has been very encouraged by how much he has learned.  To be honest I started trying out Irish but, alas it was too much for me to worry about.  Give it a try if you are interested and let me know how it works.

2015-04-19_15-07-34

Over the weeks readers have pointed out other good sites.  First, keep them coming and second, we will take a look at a couple of fun ones from you and third, "Thanks!"  I appreciate all the emails including questions, problems and recommendations you send me.  I will always write back, if only to say thanks. 

imageI wrote about this one many years ago but I thought it may be time to talk about it again and so did Jen.  This is a sort of sneaky way to win eBay auctions. Go to AuctionSniper.com and try it out if you bid at eBay from time-to-time.  Auction Sniper is an eBay automation tool which "snipes" by automatically processing your eBay bids.  You set your maximum bid amount and during the closing seconds of an auction it pops your bid in there, if it is still enough to win.  Many times you will win the bid and sometimes you won’t.  It is not foolproof but I have tried it and won a couple of times using it.  At this time your first three wins are free.  After the three freebies you pay 1% of the winning price with a minimum of $0.25 and a maximum of $9.95.  You only pay if you win.

How about some online games from days of old?  Robert sent me the link to "Game Oldies (game-oldies.com).  Go there and play old NES, SEGA, Commodore and other games from years ago.   I tried out Arkanoid which was one of my favorites when I was much, much younger and had time to play.  There are hundreds of games at this site, so look around for your golden oldie.  Gameplay will go from good to bad depending on the speed of your internet connection and the game you play. 

Game Oldies logo

Last one for today is, F.lux sent to me from Julie.  I have been using this one for years and forgot all about it, even though I see it working every day I use my desktop computer.  Flux (justgetflux.com) supports the theory you may have heard on medical shows.  It is conceivable that you may be staying up later at night because of your computer.  Some medical folks say this is because your computer screen is too bright and keeps your brain turned on if you read it at night, possibly making it hard to sleep. 

F.lux uses your computer’s location and system time to adapt the colors to warmer colors at night and sunlight-like colors during the day (the normal setting).  At first I noticed a difference but forgot about it after a couple of hours of work.  Give it a try and see if you sleep any better.  I just like the way it "fixes" the screen at night for me.

April 14, 2015

A Few Questions Answered

There are several things I have written about through the years which I get questioned about regularly.  I thought today we would look at a few that have evolved into something more as well as some that have vanished from the e-landscape.

Coffitivity pictureOne of them was a site with some fun, soothing sounds.  It is Coffitivity.com.  Go there and listen to murmuring, clinking, you know, regular coffee shop sounds.  Coffitivity now has been upgraded with an Android and Apple app for your phones.  The site promotes that, "Research shows it is pretty hard to be creative in a quiet space."

Rainy Mood logo

Another was RainyMood.com and you can probably guess how it is used.  However, there is a new one out there which does what the previous ones did plus more.  Go check out ASoftMurmur.com for many choices.  There is not only rain, but thunder, wind, birds, coffee shop sounds, crickets and more.  So if you like working with background sounds, go for it.  Just remember ear buds for those sitting around you – unless you want them to look around for the crickets!

I also have readers ask me quite often which browser is the best.  I am very impartial with regard to this question.  For no particular reason other than it is really the users’ opinion.  The top three, in my opinion, are Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer in that order from top to bottom.  This is illustrated with my website visitors.  Those are the top three used by those who visit DoubleClicks.info.  The bottom three are the BlackBerry browser followed by Amazon Silk (one I had never heard of but it is made specifically for some Amazon devices) and Opera tied for last place. 

Google Chrome logo                         Firefox logo                         MSIE logo

My personal preference for the past year or two is Google’s Chrome browser.  The reason is I like some of its features and add ins.   

As an aside, which is really funny to me, Apple is the number one Operating System used by folks visiting my site (49% followed by Windows at 33%).  Why, "funny?"  Because I only discuss Windows and hardly ever, if ever, Macs. 

One of the only graphics I could find of Eprint-StudioFinally, here’s one I get many, many questions regarding.  It was called Eprint-Studio.  To jog your memory this Android only app allowed you to download most any recent book on your device to read.  I had one book that was out in hardback one week and available on Eprint the next week.  These books were all free. 

It was advertisement supported, so you got to check out ads every few pages.  I have no idea why, (OK to be honest I can guess) but it no longer works.  I went to the site several months ago to get a new book and, "POOF!" it had vanished with no information.  My guess as to why; I imagine it was not quite legal or was discovered to not be on the up and up.

I have found nothing to free to replace it yet but there are many sites where you can purchase most any book in e-format. 

March 31, 2015

What Should I Install?

I regularly receive questions concerning readers buying new computers.  They will usually ask what antivirus software they should install to keep everything protected.  I usually suggest one or two good antivirus applications.  Keep in mind I am only referencing Windows machines and, due to my frugal nature, free applications. 

Microsoft Windows logoIf you have a Windows 7 system, I recommend going to Microsoft.com and searching for "Microsoft Security Essentials."  Go to the download page, download it and install it.  It may already be on your new computer if the manufacturer made a deal with MS to preinstall it.  However, do not worry if it is, it will harm nothing to reinstall.

Windows Defender screenFor a Windows 8.1 (or 8 if you have not upgraded yet…which you should ASAP) you have "Windows Defender" already installed on your computer.  It comes automatically with all versions of W8.  It is an upgraded version of "Security Essentials" for W8.  These are both good antivirus apps and really all you need unless you go to disreputable places that may possibly be able to defeat them.  They are good in that they will be updated with Windows Update so you do not have to do anything additional to get them updated as you do with all other third party apps. 

Avast! logoSome people do not trust MS and want another antivirus software so I recommend, "Avast!"  If you choose to install Avast go to, "Avast.com" only.  The reason is, if you search for it online you may be directed to a disreputable site.  It may be listed as a free download but you may be getting something that could harm your system. 

One other major application I would install on all computers today is Malwarebytes (download the free version at Malwarebytes.org).  I mentioned it toward the end of last year but many people have asked about it, so I feel I need to remind you. 

Malwarebytes logoI personally had not installed Malwarebytes on my computer figuring my antivirus software took care of everything.  A year or more ago I noticed my system running slower than it should be and I found a toolbar installed on Internet Explorer I had not installed.  I had not noticed it before since I do not regularly use MSIE as my browser so I had no idea how long it was on my computer.  Anytime you have a toolbar on your browser that you know nothing about is not a good sign.  It most likely means that you have some malware running and you need to remove it…now!  So I knew my computer had been had. 

Malware is software inserted when you download something, either intentionally or not, that is designed to do damage or some sort to your system.  It can totally or partially disable your computer.

The first time you run Malwarebytes you may get tens to hundreds of files recognized.  Delete them all!  I would encourage you to run it on some sort of regular schedule.  A weekly, monthly or quarterly time frame is good depending on how much you are online.

I almost guarantee if you install and run this on your old computer you will find many malware items present.  

What Should I Install?

I regularly receive questions concerning readers buying new computers.  They will usually ask what antivirus software they should install to keep everything protected.  I usually suggest one or two good antivirus applications.  Keep in mind I am only referencing Windows machines and, due to my frugal nature, free applications. 

imageIf you have a Windows 7 system, I recommend going to Microsoft.com and searching for "Microsoft Security Essentials."  Go to the download page, download it and install it.  It may already be on your new computer if the manufacturer made a deal with MS to preinstall it.  However, do not worry if it is, it will harm nothing to reinstall.

Picture of Windows DefenderFor a Windows 8.1 (or 8 if you have not upgraded yet…which you should ASAP) you have "Windows Defender" already installed on your computer.  It comes automatically with all versions of W8.  It is an upgraded version of "Security Essentials" for W8.  These are both good antivirus apps and really all you need unless you go to disreputable places that may possibly be able to defeat them.  They are good in that they will be updated with Windows Update so you do not have to do anything additional to get them updated as you do with all other third party apps. 

imageSome people do not trust MS and want another antivirus software so I recommend, "Avast!"  If you choose to install Avast go to, "avast.com" only.  The reason is, if you search for it online you may be directed to a disreputable site.  It may be listed as a free download but you may be getting something that could harm your system. 

One other major application I would install on all computers today is Malwarebytes (download the free version at malwarebytes.org).  I mentioned it toward the end of last year but many people have asked about it, so I feel I need to remind you. 

imageI personally had not installed Malwarebytes on my computer figuring my antivirus software took care of everything.  A year or more ago I noticed my system running slower than it should be and I found a toolbar installed on Internet Explorer I had not installed.  I had not noticed it before since I do not regularly use MSIE as my browser so I had no idea how long it was on my computer.  Anytime you have a toolbar on your browser that you know nothing about is not a good sign.  It most likely means that you have some malware running and you need to remove it…now!  So I knew my computer had been had. 

Malware is software inserted when you download something, either intentionally or not, that is designed to do damage or some sort to your system.  It can totally or partially disable your computer.

The first time you run Malwarebytes you may get tens to hundreds of files recognized.  Delete them all!  I would encourage you to run it on some sort of regular schedule.  A weekly, monthly or quarterly time frame is good depending on how much you are online.

I almost guarantee if you install and run this on your old computer you will find many malware items present.  

February 11, 2014

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