DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

November 8, 2016

Do You Use Multiple Clouds?

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:42 am

Floyd wrote this week and asked an excellent question. He has several Cloud storage sites that he often uses.  Floyd has all the most popular ones; Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, and Amazon Drive.  Keep in mind there are many more out there.

He wanted to know if there was any way he could log into all of them in one location instead of jumping back and forth logging into each.  One at a time is a hassle if you use the websites.  It is much easier if you just use each one’s local folder on your computer.  But what if you are on someone else’s computer and need to access one of your cloud pictures or files and you are not sure which location you put them in?

Wouldn’t you know, there is something for that and I have been using it often for several years.

It is called MultCloud (multcloud.com be careful there is no “i” in there) and it will allow you to access all of your cloud storage on one website.  To add one of your Cloud storage areas, click “Add Clouds” at the top.  Next, you can choose the service you want to add.  For instance, select Dropbox.  You will next be directed to log in to your Dropbox account.  This will allow MultCloud to access your account and display your folders and files.  Once you complete that your Dropbox folders and files will appear on the website where they may be easily accessed.

You may now add additional cloud storage on other services.  If you are like me you can also add other accounts from the same provider.  In my case I have two Dropbox, three OneDrive and only one Google Drive folders.  That way I have enough room to store all of my documents.  The reason I have extras from the same provider is that they only allow you a limited amount of storage per email address.  Therefore, if you have multiple email accounts you can also have multiple cloud storage accounts with the same company.

MultCloud

Once you have them set up what can you do?  You can download any file in any of the accounts to the PC you are using and edit away.  You can also delete them, upload additional files and folders, etc.

Once you install and set up MultCloud you can access your files remotely from any computer you are using.  What you would have been able to do on your local computer with any of your files you can now do anywhere including but not limited to photos.  If you travel without a computer and need your files this could be a lifesaver.

Go to the site and look around, not only will you find MutlCloud but you may get other ideas regarding other online cloud services you could use.

Just remember my thought regarding “The Cloud.”  It is as secure as its most displeased employee.  If an employee had the skills they could get into your information.  Yes, doubtful but it is possible.  Also, hackers may work on storage sites like these.  So, my advice is never store items with your SSN or any other personal information in it that you have a problem “getting out.”

October 25, 2016

Ron’s Favorite Add-on Apps, Part 4

Well I need to start with an “Oops” this week.  Last week’s article included an incorrect statement and if you looked for the software in the link provided you would not find Revo Uninstaller.  I stated incorrectly that Revo was by the same company as CCleaner.  This is not correct and I even knew better but my fingers were out of control as I typed.  Of course, I could have been checking to see if you were reading closely…some of you were.

Revo Uninstaller can be found at RevoUninstaller.com; whereas, CCleaner is still found at Piriform.com.  I apologize.

One more useful utility is WinDirStat (windirstat.net).  We will all one day read a message on our PC that says something like, “You are running out of disk space.”  You have cleaned out all the files you can find and still need more space.  Run WinDirStat and it will give you a colorful graphical interface letting you know where your files are located all by size.  So with some clicking and determination you can hunt down and remove worthless files you no longer need.  PLEASE be careful as you could also delete something quite important too.

Below is a WinDirStat representation of all the files on my computer. I can hover my mouse over an area to see information about those files down to an individual file.

WinDirStat Representation of Ron's Files

This will be the last article in this series regarding apps you may want/need to add to a Windows PC.  That being the case I will close with a look at a couple of fun applications.

Windows 10 Games...these are FREE

There are many games made by Microsoft for Windows 10.  But of course, Solitaire which Microsoft came out with over 26 years ago, is the original with the Windows Operating System.  It was originally created to make people more comfortable with two new things that were spreading across the world.  The PC and the Mouse.  It went on fairly unchanged until Windows 8 changed it by requiring you to purchase it to remove ads.  It has become bigger, brighter, and has more versions of the game.  Microsoft has many, many games that you can try out in Windows 10 by going to rd.dblclx.com/2evl0en.

 

SteamNext up, if you like video games you already know about Steam but if not here you go.  Visit Steampowered.com to see the hundreds of games available.  Many of them you have never heard of and many you may have played in the past (Counter Strike, Half-Life, Far Cry) on a game system or PC.  There are all types of games available too, adventure, roleplaying, racing, sports strategy and more.  Prices of games range from free to $25.  There are also a few game creation tools available if you are the inventive type.  New games roll out from Steam too.  Maybe you can meet me online sometime playing, “Star Trek Online” (a freebie of course). To play Steam games you must download a large application to run the games and then each individual game so make sure you have time to wait when you first set it up.

duolingo.comIf games are not your “thing” how about learning a new language with Duolingo?  You can use it either online at Duolingo.com or download it as an application to Windows (Android and iPhones too).  To be honest I have tried it out but do not use it regularly since I do not have the time or want to take the effort to learn a new language now.  But when I do I will definitely use Duolingo to do so.

October 11, 2016

Ron’s Favorite Add-on Apps, Part 2

Last week we looked at several programs I recommend to be good additions to a Windows system.  They are either better than what comes on a PC or those applications may not usually be found on a new computer.  Of course, the apps are free…you know me. From the responses I have received you want more.  So here are some additional applications for you.

You need a good cleaner and CCleaner (piriform.com) is great.  I have previously written about it in length so go check those older articles.   CCleaner can speed up a slow computer and get it to start faster while cleaning up unneeded files. Well worth the $0.00’s. 

ccleaner

Oh boy, now a biggie…antivirus software.  There are several good ones to pick from. Avast (avast.com) and AVG (avg.com) always come to my mind first.  They are closely followed by Avira (avira.com), Bitdefender (bitdefender.com) and Panda (pandasecurity.com).  Take your pick.  They are good and all have a free and paid version.  You may even choose to stick with "Windows Defender" which comes pre-installed on your computer.  It is really pretty good.  Just make sure you run one of them, but only one at a time or they can interfere with each other.  

Avast! site          AVG logo          Avira logo     

Bitdefender logo          Panda logo

Another good protection app you need is Malwarebytes (malwarebytes.com) which takes care of threats.  The free version needs to be run manually by you; whereas, the paid version runs automatically.

Malwarebytes logo

How about the best video/audio player?  There is only one and it will run on most anything you own, PC, iPhone, Android, etc. and that is VLC (videolan.org).  The great thing about this app other than dependability and quality is that it can play every video or audio format you can put on it.  That includes DVDs as well as Blu-Ray discs. 

VideoLAN (VLC) logo
 
Now to online storage or cloud storage.  There is really only one name in this area that I prefer, Dropbox (dropbox.com).  It is solid, works flawlessly and also allows for quite a bit of storage space.  There are others but for free, Dropbox does it for me.  You have files that are important to you and Dropbox is dependable, enough said.

Dropbox logo

Now email apps.  I personally like online email, mainly Gmail; however, you as well as a large percentage of people like an app to take care of email.  Thunderbird (rd.dblclx.com/1ejd3ax) from Mozilla, the Firefox browser people is excellent.  It is reliable, high quality and easy to set up if you pay attention to the instructions.  I would also say the built in email program in Windows 10 is a good basic email app but there are not many advanced features.  Also, with the Windows app you will be on your own setting up your email. 

Thunderbird logo

Next week a few more. 

March 22, 2016

Another Two Bite the Dust

Google told the world on February 12 it will no longer support, wait are ready for it? 

If you said, "Picasa" you got it right (picasa.google.com).  Now I will not yell too loudly about this one since I was not a big Picasa lover.  It seemed a little convoluted to me; however, many people love(d) Picasa and are very upset to see it go. 

Picasa logoPicasa is/was an image viewer for organizing and editing digital photos.  And yes, it was named after Pablo Picasso and blended with "mi casa" ("my house" in Spanish) and "pic" for pictures.  It was also linked to the cloud so that you could share your photos online with the world…if you wished. It was originally created by a company named Lifescape in 2002.  Google purchased it in mid-2004. 

As of March 16, 2016 it was removed from the web and is no longer "downloadable."  If you downloaded the file before then, you may keep the installation file and install it at any other time. In addition, Google will be archiving Picasa Web Albums data at a later date while encouraging those users to convert to Google Photos instead.  That means that if you still have Picasa you will not be able to upload to the Web Albums in the future since they will be gone.  It also means that Google will not continue to update it for security and other features.  

So, goodbye Picasa, I knew you well… a little bit.  Google is providing a new application called, "Google Photos" (photos.google.com) which rolled out early last summer.  This is the replacement which is lacking a few of Picasa’s features.  One big plus is that if you keep your uploaded photos to HD quality of 16 megapixels (MP) or less per photo, you have unlimited storage.  With higher quality it will use your Google Drive storage limits as did Picasa. 

Copy.com logoNow here is a discontinuation that really bugs me.  A great application that I have supported willingly over the past several years is Copy (copy.com) by Barracuda.  It is similar to Dropbox for storing any files on your computer in the cloud.  It is a great backup solution which would allow a user to start with 15 GB of space (13 GB more that Dropbox).

Well guess what Barracuda announced February 1st?  You guess correctly, it will be shut down as of May 1, 2016.  They commented, "…our business focus has shifted, we had to make the difficult decision to discontinue the Copy and CudaDrive services and allocate those resources elsewhere."  

There is no replacement with that much free space.  Basically Barracuda says put your files somewhere else.  Right this minute I am still a big Dropbox supporter ("rd.dblclx.com/use-Dropbox" for extra start up storage).  Of course, who knows what the future holds?

January 27, 2015

SSD Drive or Not

I have been told by other geeks for a couple of years I need to get SSD (solid-state drive) for my computer.  A SSD is a storage device which uses integrated circuitry to store data on your computer.  In recent years they were called hard drives using electro-magnetic media to store your data.  You know the traditional platter-based hard drives like stacked floppy disks.

The “old” hard drives had to spin rapidly to search for and store data.   SSDs store data electronically, so these processes are much faster.

“Wow!” the geeks said, “They are so much better.”   However, the prices were always a bit out of range for me and I am not the type to fix something if it ain’t broke.

Therein lies my story.  My notebook was running perfectly and gave me no issues for several years.  Several months ago my hard drive went bye-bye.  It did not go quietly into the night but slowly started a downward spiral to death.  This was good – giving me a warning time to prepare.

Over the last couple of years prices on SSDs started way past the $200 mark for small sizes.  However, when I looked this time I found that price had come down and size had gone up.  Before Christmas I discovered a nice one on sale for $69.  It had a good name and reviews so I threw the hammer down and got one.  By-the-way, it really was on sale and not a gimmick.  A friend checked into getting one recently and it was around $120.

OK, I installed it, reinstalled windows and all of the other applications that I needed and guess what?  It was faster, much faster starting up.  I used to have to wait a couple of minutes after powering it on before being able to use my computer.  With the SSD I have figured it goes from off to on in approximately 25-30 seconds.  To me that is amazing.  Also, files open faster, close faster, save faster and the computer shuts down far more quickly.  Basically most everything on the computer works more rapidly.  Windows 7 and 8 run speedier on this drive too.

All around a great investment; however, I need to say more.

Speed is not the most valuable commodity to many of us.  Storage size may be.  My old “platter” drive and the new one both had/have 240GB of storage space.  This was enough for me to use so I was happy.

But I could have paid about the same price and gotten a 1TB internal drive of the “old” type.  It would have been slower but it would have given me approximately 4 times the amount of storage space.

Speed or space, what is most valuable to you?

January 6, 2015

2014 Sites in Review, Part 1

Welcome to the beginning of our fourteenth year together with the Double Click column.  Every January we review the sites that we visited in the previous year.  Today is no different.  So as always, if the site addresses are too long to type I have shortened them using the "bit.ly" app so the links may not look quite right.  Without further ado…here they are in their order of appearance with short descriptions of each.

Thanks for reading the column and emailing me with your great questions.  I love writing it and hearing from you! 

  • Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and ABC – add ".com" to any of those to view TV shows, movies, video clips, etc.
  • Chromecast.com – this Google device allows you to broadcast anything from your Android, iPhone or Windows phones and computers to your TV.
  • Chromebook.com – Computers that run the Chrome OS (Google) and have everything you need in the Cloud. 
  • Google Drive/Docs,  – Google’s Office substitute and a good one it is, with this you may not need to purchase Microsoft Office.
  • McAfee – one of the many antivirus applications available for your computer’s protection.
  • Libre Office and Open Office – the two leaders in the free Microsoft Office replacements.  Both are good; however, fall short in some areas. 
  • Google, Yahoo, Bing, DuckDuckGo, IxQuick and StartPage – add ".com" to any of these for search engines, the last three do not track your searches but the first three do.
  • Google Location History – this site will show you where you have been in the recent past on Google Maps. 
  • Copy, bit.ly/roncopy – free online cloud storage, use the link shown and get 20 GB instead of 15 at Copy.com.
  • Dropbox, bit.ly/use-DropBox, same as above; however, you get 2 GB, many people prefer this to all the other online storage options since it was one of the first.
  • Google Drive and OneDrive, (by Microsoft) – Google’s and Microsoft’s cloud storage sites both at 15GB free. 
  • OneNote, Microsoft’s great note taking application, free online.
  • MultCloud, put all of your cloud storage on one site (notice spelling, no "i").

Tune in next week for the last half of the sites we visited in 2014.

May 13, 2014

April 15, 2014

Copy That

Over three years ago I mentioned an excellent product named Dropbox. Dropbox is a “cloud” storage program which allows you to save all sorts of files on a site located on the web. It allows you to “sync” your files without you doing anything to your free 2 GB container of online storage. If you have a file in your local computer’s Dropbox folder and edit it, it is automatically transferred to the online location. Pretty much an auto-backup utility. Dropbox has been and still is an outstanding product.

image However, I have found another that is very similar but it has several distinct advantages. I have been using “Copy” for several months now and cannot find any shortcomings. The site is copy.com. Please go there to visit but if you are interested in signing up use this link, “bit.ly/roncopy” to get extra storage. If you use that link both you and I get an additional 5 GB of storage.

image One large advantage is easy to see from the very beginning. It is that you get 15 GB of free storage. If you use my link above you get an extra 5 GB so you start with 20 GB of free storage.

For those of you who use Dropbox but would like more space please give it a try. I strongly urge all of you to use the training information they suggest once your signup, download and install is complete. It is very helpful and most of it is easy to understand.

Other than the amount of storage you get with Copy they have another neat feature called, “Fair Storage." For instance, my wife and I both have an account. We both have many pictures we want to store at Copy. If I have 6 GB of pictures on Copy and I share that folder with my wife it counts as only 3 GB each; it splits the difference. If you have 20 GB of files and share it with four other people only 4 GB would be counted for each of you. That is slick!

Here is another interesting feature I like. With Dropbox you have to sync the Dropbox folder which means that each folder and file you sync must be in that folder. With Copy you can do the same thing or create a shortcut in the Copy folder on your computer to the original folder/file on your computer. That way you get to leave the original files where you have always had them and sync to Copy.com. This makes it even easier to manage for me.

Many other features are available which you can find out about once you sign up. One final thought… Copy.com is owned by Barracuda Networks which is a well-respected company and has been around for over 10 years. They deliver security, networking and storage products based on network appliances and cloud services mainly for businesses. I have contacted them and they say that Copy.com is very successful and should be around for a long time.

January 28, 2014

Chromebook

Last time we looked at some of the neat features in Google’s newer device called "Chromecast."  I liked the column so much I went out and bought one for my household.  (Wow, I am easily persuaded.)  It works as described with new features and applications being added all the time.  I did have several reader questions about it and the main one was, "I want one but how hard is it to install?"  I have to tell you it was very simple.  All you do is follow the 4-5 steps in the installation paper which comes in the box.  It worked flawlessly for me. 

After the install completed (which took less than ten minutes with the longest portion being the update of the device itself) we were watching streamed shows immediately. 

Unfortunately when I went to the local big-box store to purchase it another, "Chrome" item struck my eye.  More unfortunately, I bought that also.

This item is another Google product named, "Chromebook."  Are you starting to get the picture with Google and their naming conventions?  By-the-way, their browser is named "Chrome."  I guess they like chrome since it is bright and shiny.  The Chromebook runs the Chrome browser as its operating system hence the name.

The Chromebook looks a lot like a notebook computer.  It is slimmer and lighter (about 2 pounds) than a regular windows notebook and mine has an 11" monitor.  So it is basically smaller all around.

imageWith it I can surf the internet, use email, play some games and do many other things online.  One big difference with a Chromebook is that one word in the last sentence, "online."  You can perform some of the functions without being connected to the internet; however, for everything to operate properly you need the net.  It is a cloud based device meaning that everything it does is stored on or taken from the web. 

Another difference is they do not have an internal hard drive.  They do have a small internal SSD, solid state drive.  The one I bought has only a 16 GB drive – the same as my phone.  Well then, where do you put stuff?  The storage for documents you create is in the cloud. 

Since Google created the Chromebook they also have the storage.  Called Google Drive, where you get 15 GB of storage.  To give you an idea, all of the columns I have written since January, 2002 (OVER 1,100) take up only 109 MB of room.  That is less than 1% of 15 gb, so there is really plenty of room for documentation.  You can also store photographs and any other types of files.  Google now offers a deal where for two years you get 100 gb of free cloud storage.  After that you get to purchase it at $4.99/month, currently.  I can also plug in a thumb drive and store files there.  I would not choose to buy the online storage but I could save a lot of documents on the SSD provided very easily.

imageSince the Chromebook runs on the Chrome browser it has a very, "internet feel" to it which most everyone is familiar with so it is easy to use.  Google Docs is your online replacement for Microsoft Office and does a pretty good job of emulating all of its features and capabilities, especially for normal, non-geek types of people.

I will be writing most of my columns on it for the foreseeable future — like this one.  Since I usual write while not at home and "on the road" I will be using it for quite a while.  As long as I have wi-fi I can do most everything I need to do.  However, for my business use I have to stick with a "real" computer due to the programs specific to my job which will not run in the Chrome browser.

January 14, 2014

2013 Sites in Review, Part 2

This week I will continue with the second half of the links we talked about last year at DoubleClicks.info.

Remember, if the site addresses are too long to type I have shortened them with bit.ly.  Here they are in their order of appearance with short descriptions of each.

  • Dropboxbit.ly/aszzao.   A very good cloud storage app.  Use the supplied link to sign up and get more space.
  • Kill Diskkilldisk.com.  This application will totally wipe your drive clean so that it is almost impossible to retrieve deleted data.
  • Nexus 7 2013bit.ly/1esugJz.  My current favorite Android tablet. 
  • Hulu.com and Hulu.com/plus.  The very popular free and paid TV movie streaming apps. 
  • Google Musicplay.google.com/music.  Google’s free/paid (depending on what you want) music streaming plus you can upload your own music to it and listen anywhere you have internet connectivity.
  • BGCallwww.vieas.com/en.  A wallpaper changer which was less than adequate at the time I wrote about it.
  • Google Keepgoogle.com/keep.  A very good note taking app where you can add pictures, lists, texts and be alerted by them using the time or location of your mobile device.  I just hope Google does keep this one.
  • Recuvapiriform.com/recuva.  Did you accidentally empty the Recycle Bin and need a file back?  If so try this app which is one of the better ones for recovering deleted files.
  • Facebook.com and Twitter.com.  Two popular social web sites.
  • PayPal.com. A safe place to pay for online purchases.
  • Device ManagerAndroid.com/devicemanager.  How to locate, send an alert or wipe your data from your Android device(s).
  • Ubuntuubuntu.com.  Operating system which operates as well as Windows; however, this one is free. 
  • Join Mejoin.me.  A free application for individuals, which will allow you to log onto someone else’s computer, while they are there.  Great to use for helping and training.
  • Should I Remove Itshouldiremoveit.com.  A free app that will locate and remove unwanted programs including adware, toolbars, bloat-ware, crap-ware and other junk.
  • AniPet Aquariumbit.ly/anifree. A nice live wallpaper for Android devices. Also similar for Windows and OSX is Serene Screen at serenescreen.com. 
  • Glympseglympse.com and Waze.com.  A good and much better GPS navigation app for your mobile devices. 
  • Chromegoogle.com/chrome, Firefoxfirefox.com, Internet Explorer – search at Microsoft.com, Operaopera.com and Safariapple.com/safari.  The five most popular web browsers.
  • OpenOffice (openoffice.org) and LibreOffice (libreoffice.org) are two similar but excellent free replacements for Microsoft Office. 

I look forward to continuing the discussions about software, computers, the internet and all sorts of technology this year.  I hope that you, your families and friends have a great 2013 and continue to join me in the newspaper, on the radio and on the web! 

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