Do Not Pass Go… without a good password

Information Level: Basic

Account theft, credit card fraud, not to mention full-blown identity theft, are becoming an ever more serious threat to everyone. Your first line of defense is the passwords you use online… are they up to the challenge?

If any of your passwords is a single word that can be found in the dictionary, the answer is NO. Such simple passwords can be “brute forced” with a dictionary attack easily – a criminal simply sets up a program to guess all the words in the dictionary, and will find the right one in minutes.

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Backup Follow-up…

Information Level: Basic

Have you backed up your valuable digital data yet? One thing I am sure of: backup is easier than recovery. So, here are a few more tips on how you can properly back up your date.

  • The Minimum: You have a flash drive with a second copy of all the files you would weep and babble incoherently for if your computer suddenly exploded.
  • The Ideal: You have your essential files backed up on a flash drive, as well as a scheduled daily or weekly backup of all your personal data to an external hard drive/online backup service. Also, you have an image of your hard drive taken within the last year, which backs up your operating system and programs. If your hard drive dies in this situation, by restoring your image & backup data you can be working again within hours of having a new drive installed.

Aim for the ideal backup, don’t fall below the minimum. Even the lightest computer user of you would be irked if you lost all your favorites/bookmarks, so back them up.

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New years resolution #1: Backup your data!

Information Level: Basic

Happy New Year to all of you. Now, start the year off right, and make sure you have a backup of all your important data.

REMEMBER:
1. All of your irreplaceable digital photos, your mp3 music collection, your college papers and/or office documents, and your business/financial information, is stored on what is basically a glorified cassette tape! The hard drive is susceptible to magnetic, electronic, and physical damage… not to mention the motor may simply burn out.
2. Archiving is NOT the same as backing up. If you simply archive your data by moving it from your computer hard drive to an external storage medium, it is still only stored in ONE PLACE, and that one place may break in any of the aforementioned ways, or just get lost.

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New Site up, new firewall recomendation, and Word errors fixed…

Information Level: Basic/Intermediate

In The Short List I recommended Sunbelt Personal Firewall (free version) as my firewall of choice. I have since discovered two problems with it: 1. It presents a nag screen every once in a while, asking you to upgrade to the paid version, and 2. It does not work with Windows Vista (don’t know about 7). PC Tools Firewall Plus has neither of these drawbacks, and is still effective and light on system resources.

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The Short List – Must-have Software for Windows…

Information Level: Basic

All good, all free. Everyone running Windows should try out this software. Period.

Keep Secure:

Stay Tuned up:

  • Advanced SystemCare Free – Best allround tune up (be sure to un-check “start with windows” in the options after you install it).

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AntiVirus – Now you (and I) really have no excuse…

Information Level: Basic

Well, I am impressed. The latest entry in to the realm of free (as in beer) antivirus software, Panda Cloud Antivirus, is closer to the Platonic Ideal of AV-ness than any I have seen before. Here’s why:

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