Technology issues, sometimes they're the bane of our existence. Deadlines are looming or bills need to be paid and just as you press send, the screen blanks or wheels spin endlessly as the computer tries to access sites. Nothing happens. You reach out to tech support. They ask you to turn over control of your computer for remote access. It'll be so much easier.
NO! I would never allow strangers access to my computer. Period. Definitely not remotely. I have chosen to spend hours on the phone with tech supports in the past to walk step by step through the problem and potential resolutions. Eventually, knock on wood, we have been able to resolve the issues.
When you give remote access, even if you are watching their cursor, potentially they could be accessing or downloading files or uploading viruses to your system. Be aware of outright scams, but sometimes even those we seemingly trust, might not have our best interests at heart.
Leo Notenboom of Ask Leo! discusses the inherent risks of screen sharing in this tech article “Is it Safe to allow Remote Access to My Machine?” which I strongly suggest reading. A few hours with tech support with you at the reins is advisable rather than handing over controls. Better safe than sorry. And as Leo advises, if possible, make a full system backup prior to taking any other action.
I am so grateful when others share useful tips with me or on social media not only for my personal use, but to pass along to my family, friends, and followers. Anything to make our lives easier and avoid headaches is groovy. This came across my radar a few days ago, and for frequent travelers and tech users, this is a must-know. To some people like my son, this tip may seem like a “duh”, but to us less tech savvy dinosaurs, it may be more like an “aha”.
You are at the airport or perhaps even an internet cafe when your phone or computer runs out of juice. You’re in luck because there are USB ports available to plug in. Problem solved. But before you do, Suzanne Rowan Kelleher advises in a recent Forbes E-zine article, “Why You Should Never Use Airport USB Charging Stations” to think twice before plugging into a public USB charging station especially at airports. Hackers are targeting transportation and travelers. She quotes Caleb Barlow, Vice President of X-Force Threat Intelligence at IBM Security, ““Plugging into a public USB port is kind of like finding a toothbrush on the side of the road and deciding to stick it in your mouth. You have no idea where that thing has been.” Yuck, that is not only gross, it can be ruinous.
Instead use a regular outlet charger or there are tech options available to block data from entering your device cord. Virus averted, headache avoided.
I am so not a tech geek, but when this warning came across my computer screen I knew I needed to share it with you. My husband, who is a techie, has mentioned a few times over the last several months that he has grave concerns with wide-scale cyber security issues and gaping holes that need plugging on the internet. Last week, the FBI issued a rare public service advisory to businesses and homeowners to reboot routers due to a worldwide cyber hack 1. The encrypted malware can render your routers inoperable or collect information.
Last week as a follow-up to the initial FBI warning, Popular Mechanics Tech Policy writer Eric Limer advises taking measures one step further by "resetting your router to factory settings" 2. He suggests that you have at the ready instructions to get yourself easily connected after the reboot. Once you are back up and running, change your password and download any updates for your firmware.
Ben Herzberg, Threat Director at the security firm Imperva recommends "that anyone with a router that's at least 15 years old replace it with a newer device and that they regularly check for updates to guard against potential new attacks. And while regularly rebooting your router isn't always a necessary part of good security hygiene, he thinks it's good advice to follow this time — considering the source" 3 .
Back UP! A Cautionary Tale
My Microsoft Outlook 16 email program crashed nearly every day last week. Was it a virus? I am not sure. Thursday, it crashed three times while I was composing an email. During the last meltdown, my contacts disappeared. Searching frantically through the ost. and .pst files was fruitless. Customer Support said they were likely gone for good. Gee thanks. That's what happens when they are housed in a temporary .ost file on the server. Why is the default a temp file for something as important as Contacts? Good question.
I ended up recreating my contact file. This time it was a severely streamlined version in honor of spring cleaning only keeping those with current relevancy. But…when I returned to my computer Friday morning, the slate was wiped clean yet again. I had an old .csv file (a comma separated values file which allows data to be saved in a table structured format) housing most of my old contacts and very few of those added over the last 6+ months which I could have resorted to. Instead I chose to try one more time with a truncated list (I am sure I am missing lots of folks).
Immediately upon finishing, I ran an export of the file to an external backup drive as a .pst file (a Personal Storage Table) and .csv for extra precautions. When checking the .csv I noticed groups were absent, so I had to go back and create the groups separately.
About once a week I back up The Practical Sort files to an external source, but the contacts were out of date. I have now added to my calendar a once a month reminder to do a full hard drive back up including all solo and group contacts.
If you are using Outlook 16 or any email program for that matter (I cannot help you with the other email client programs), I strongly advise you to back up your emails and all contacts in the event you run into this random crashing problem or any other threat to your mail program.
Back up Contact List
To save contacts as a Comma Separated Values File (csv)
On an external drive (or in the Cloud), create a folder to save your emails and contacts.
Open Outlook>File>Open&Export>Import/Export>Export to a file> Next>Comma Separated Values (.csv)>Export to a File (Select folder to export from: Contacts Folder--scroll until you find your Contacts)> Browse until you find the file folder to store the contacts on the external drive>Finish
Check your hard drive to ensure the file is there. Open it and see if the addresses did export.
To save contacts as an Outlook .pst file the process is almost identical.
On an external drive (or in the Cloud), create a folder to save your emails and contacts.
Open Outlook>File>Open&Export>Import/Export>Export to a file> Next>Outlook Data File (.pst)>Contacts (scroll until you find your contacts)> browse until you find the file folder to store the contacts on the external drive>Finish
There may be a more succinct process for backing up groups, but after several attempts, this was the only one that worked for me.
Select a group in your contact list and open it.
Then choose File>SaveAs>Browse to find the file folder where you wish to save the file)>SaveAsType(under File Name)>Select Text Only>Save. Then go to the file, copy the group members (control 'C'). I opted to create a separate sheet in my contacts document (click on the plus sign at the bottom of the spreadsheet to add a sheet). Then type control 'V' to paste the group. You can add as many pages as you need to accommodate your groups.
To back up emails:
Open Outlook>File>Open&Export>Import/Export>Export to a file> Next>Outlook Data File (.pst)>Select the email file you wish to backup>Browse for file storage location and select the folder>I selected Replace duplicates with items exported>Finish
For other email programs, please check with your program’s instructions for backup procedures. Believe me, it is not worth the wasted time or hassle of losing your data.
Hopefully your files are now securely backed up.
The Practical Sort's genius is in organizing, not computer technology. So if you need a hand getting organized, please contact ThePracticalSort.com. Remember part of being organized is having the data you need when you need it. So taking a few minutes of precaution is worth hours of saved time in the long run. Believe me!
Last week I was at a meeting where one of my colleagues mentioned that she would share with the group some helpful hints via email. Like clockwork, the next morning there was an email from her with an attachment. She is one of the most process-oriented, organized, and fastidious professionals I have ever met. So it was no surprise that she was prompt with her promise.
Yet, for some reason the hairs on the back of my neck tingled immediately. First clue was that her message was in my Spam folder. Not really a surprise, since messages from those who I rarely receive correspondence occasionally land in Spam.
Secondly, my suspicions were aroused because the email just did not appear legit. Honestly, I cannot articulate what the tell-tale signs were. But I let it sit unopened for a day until I had time to reach out to the sender.
The next day, I sent her an inquiry asking if she had indeed sent us an email with attachment, and to thank her if she did.
Without delay, a group message was sent to my colleagues and I explaining that her account had been hacked, and NOT TO OPEN THE EMAIL.
Thank goodness I responded appropriately to those raised neck hairs. Bottom line: if you have any doubts whatsoever about an email especially if there are any attachments, check with the sender before you open it to verify its veracity. Better safe than infected.
Do you find it mind-boggling to keep track of all the passwords but leery of storing them on the cloud? Keep a spreadsheet of passwords that is password protected. Now you only have to recall one password instead of dozens.
Personal Finance Management Software
Do you still use an old fashioned checkbook and reconciliation process? There are numerous benefits to using personal finance management software such as such as Quicken, Mint, Personal Capital, etc.
1. Save time with easy math calculations, statement reconciliation, and payment tracking.
2. Stay on top of your bills with alerts and payment schedules.
3. Manage your transactions, spending habits, budget, and debt strategies.
4. Track investment performance and net worth.
5. Download the data into your tax preparation software for simplified tax prep.
Click here for PC Magazine's comparison review of the programs they consider to be the "Best Personal Finance Services of 2017." Learn more about the pricing and features of each of their top picks.