Monthly Archives: August 2011

With the cloud growing in use and affordable pricing, it turns into a valid option for individuals and small businesses. However, many people worry that data saved online could won’t be secure or accessible when the network goes down.

Local Network Drive

Another option is backing up to a local external hard drive. (These are also known as network attached storage or a personal cloud storage drive.) This keeps your data off the Internet cloud and the only time you can’t access it is during a power outage. Some external drives work with your network so you can sync with it through your private and secure Wi-Fi connection. If the Wi-Fi goes down, you won’t be able to access the drive.

The only thing this drive would contain is your data from applications. It won’t have applications, registries or any of the little things involved in running a computer. Your data remains safe on the external hard drive regardless if your computer breaks, catches fire, becomes flooded or gets a virus or malware.

However, what if the external drive and the computer live in the same house or building and something happens? The data is lost. One more option is to buy a fire-safe waterproof data storage safe. This removes concerns of losing data to fire and water. But, can it handle tornadoes and hurricanes?

Go Local … and Cloud

For the best chance of keeping your data safe and accessible, do both. This means saving computer data to an external drive and to the cloud. A local storage drive is a one-time purchase that costs less than $200. Rates for cloud services depend on the service provider, type of service and the amount of data backed up. It can easily cost less than $10 per month for a typical user

If you choose to go with the local drive and cloud option, here are simple steps to making it work. Before moving forward, research and buy a storage drive and select a cloud service.

  1. Install the external drive to the network per manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Connect to the external drive through your computer’s file explorer. (The external hard drive instructions should explain this step.)
  3. Select the files to backup to the external drive using software that comes with the external hard drive, or use Bart from Zhorn Software.
  4. Schedule backups using the external hard drive or other software. (Another option is to search for “windows schedule tasks” for help with scheduling a task in Windows.)
  5. Follow the cloud service’s directions for installing, selecting files and running backups on the cloud service.

If you schedule both external drive and cloud backups, you won’t need to remember to do it. The only time you may need to change is when you add data on your hard drive that neither back up. In this case, update the apps to add the new data for backing up. Furthermore, you may receive large files that you don’t need to backup, you can tell the apps to skip backing up those files.

How do you back up your data? What apps do you use?

Bare Bones Guide to Keeping Your PC Clean

You know that the more software you install on your computer, the more bogged down it gets. This guide gives you the essentials. Your computer cleaning routine doesn’t need to be complicated. Just remember to run and update these types apps on a regular basis, if it’s not already automatic.

All of these applications are free, with some having paid upgrades available. They won’t tease you by promising they’ll find all the problems, but will only fix them if you pay up.

Other applications work well, but who has time to search, download and try software? If you go with the apps on this list, you’re done and your computer stays protected.

1. Microsoft Security Essentials

Microsoft Security Essentials

Some people avoid using Microsoft apps because of feature and system bloat. Ironically, other anti-virus apps have bloating problems, but this one is worth considering and it doesn’t have the bloat problems others have.

An IT manager reported that Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) caught a virus before another popular application did. Because the tech giant has many resources at its disposal, Microsoft can get a lead on security problems before many others. In addition to catching viruses, MSE defends your computer against malware, spyware and other badware.

2. Malwarebytes


Malwarebytes removes all forms of malware, including viruses, Trojans, spyware, adware and rootkits. Why recommend another security app when MSE also catches the same things? The truth is that it’s impossible for any single app to catch everything and quickly.

Having two solid applications protecting your computer should do it. Moreover, these two run together without any conflicts. The free version requires you to update and run the application to scan your computer. The paid version runs in real-time that constantly watches for threats.

3. WinPatrol


MSE and Malwarebytes react when something bad comes in. Scottie, WinPatrol’s watchdog, barks when something tries to change to your computer’s settings. Non-critical apps like QuickTime, iTunes and Adobe Acrobat typically run every time you reboot or turn on your computer. These use unneeded system resources.

WinPatrol shows the details for each app that runs on startup. The paid version of WinPatrol provides more information about the startup program so you can decide if you need it or not. Scottie also watches for Browser Helper Objects (BHOs), scheduled tasks, malicious Windows Services, hidden files, active tasks.

4. CCleaner


Every time you open an attachment from an email, it adds another item to your temporary folder even if you save it elsewhere. Not everyone remembers to clean the temp folder, recycle bin, Internet cache, download history and other spots.

Your computer can do all the things CCleaner does, but CCleaner gives you everything in one package so you don’t have to open each application or utility to empty the garbage. All you need to remember is to run it on a regular basis.

CCleaner wipes browser temp files, history and cookies. It sheds recent file lists, log files, dead registry items and other holdovers from different applications. It scrubs the registry for unused entries such as file extensions, outdated shortcuts and invalid paths.

These four apps have been around for a long time and do a good job ensuring your computer stays lean and clean. All work with Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7.

What other apps do you recommend? What are your essential apps for keeping your PC clean and safe?