backup

Take the World Backup Pledge on March 31, 2015

It wasn't long ago when TV’s most famous fashionista, Carrie Bradshaw, lost her entire novel when her computer suddenly crashed? After years of laboring over her book, all of Carrie’s hard work suddenly vanished in a flash. Even in 2008, Carrie’s friends were utterly dumbfounded when she claimed that she had never heard of data backup. Really, Carrie? She tried to blame everyone in New York for not sharing information about data backup, but the bottom line was that her novel was lost forever.

Why Backing Up Your Data is Important

Unfortunately, Carrie Bradshaw is not entirely alone in her backup negligence. Recent statistics have shown that 30% of all computer users have never backed up their data. That’s an alarming number considering that 29% of all computer disasters are caused by simple accidents. Combine this with the fact that every week 140,000 hard drives crash;  every minute 113 smartphones are lost or stolen;  and each month 1 in 10 computers becomes overrun with viruses. Disaster can be averted when you have a reliable backup solution in place, because your irreplaceable family photos, critical business files, videos and important financial documents are safely stored elsewhere.

How Does Backup Work?

In the simplest of terms, a backup solution creates a second copy of your data and stores it on another device. When selecting a backup solution, there is a wide array of choices that generally fall into one of two categories: external storage devices or cloud-based services. Within these two very broad categories, there are many backup solutions to choose from depending on the degree of protection and security that is needed.

Friends Don’t Let Friends Go Without a Backup!

Backing up your computer data is such an important responsibility that a worldwide “awareness” day has been created. March 31, 2015 is World Backup Day, so mark your calendar, make a commitment and take the pledge. Make a pact with your friends, family and co-workers and take the backup pledge together on FacebookTwitter or via the website.

The pledge states: “I solemnly swear to backup my important documents and precious memories on March 31st.”

Every Day is Backup Day

Nobody wants to become Carrie Bradshaw, the author of a book that entirely vanished because she didn’t have a backup solution! March 31st is the official backup day, but in reality it’s something that should be part of your daily technology strategy.

Computer Troubleshooters can help you understand appropriate protection needs for your data. Call Computer Troubleshooters today and one of their technology professionals can help you establish a reliable backup system for your home or business.

Simple (and free) PC backup options

simple-free-backup-option.jpg

Backing up your PC is one of the fastest ways to protect your data from unexpected events.

Backing up your computer is one of the simplest and fastest ways to protect your PC from unexpected circumstances, but still too many of us refuse to take the time or invest the effort in backups. The dangers are easy to see: there's hard drive failure, data corruption, virus and malicious software attacks, and out-right hacking. It only take one of these catastrophes to wipe out everything on your PC and it only takes a simple back up plan to save nearly all of your data.

What about cost? Sure, many backup plans are cost prohibitive or require a year's service for an upfront fee, but what about the free alternatives? If you can protect your data with just the equipment you have on hand and nothing else, will you do it?

Here are two options for securing your files at nearly no cost to you.

Easy File backup

The simplest and most cost effective way to secure your important files from data loss is to use one of the many free cloud services. Take your pick from Google DriveDropboxOneDrive, and the many other providers of simple, folder-based cloud storage and make use of the free storage.

Take Google Drive for example. All you need to get started with Google Drive is an active Google account and a PC to install the drive on. Head to drive.google.com and select Download Drive. Follow the instructions from the installation process and then you are done. Just log in with your account information and you can begin copying files from your normal PC folders into the Google Drive folder. Now these files will be located on your PC as well as in your Google Drive in the Cloud.

You will be able to access and edit directly from the Google Drive folder with no need to copy and paste back and forth.

System Image Backup

Microsoft also makes it easy to protect your PC with a free, pre-installed tool called System Image Backup. The tool creates an image of your computer with all of your Windows settings, programs, and files in a format that allows for a full restoration. System Image Backup is a great too for a single PC restoration, but is not as comprehensive as some pay services and will occasionally run into issues when attempting to restore an image on a different hardware setup.

To begin the backup process using System Image Backup, you will first need to use another free tool provided by your Windows OS, called Recovery. This tool creates a recovery drive from a USB drive or disks that allows your PC to boot into the Windows Recovery Tool without the necessity of a functioning operating system. The process is easy, but will destroy any data already located on the destination drive, so be sure to use a USB drive that is empty or unneeded.

To access the Recovery tool, open up the Windows Search tool and type in Recovery. Choose Create A Recovery Drive and follow the instructions. This recovery tool will allow you to boot your PC to a recovery mode in the event of a catastrophic failure and allow you to recover your system from the backup image we are about to create.

Once your recovery drive is finished, you are now ready to create your backup image. To access the Windows System Image Backup tool, open up the Windows Search tool again and type in File History. The link to System Image Backup will be located in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen. Click the link and then the System Image Backup interface will appear.

From the new interface, follow the instructions, which will ask you to select a destination drive, network location, or disk options. Select the option you feel most comfortable with, but understand that the disk option will require a significant amount of disks to backup your PC fully. Once the backup process is complete, you will be able to restore your PC to this version of its file structure. Be sure to continue to make images on a regular schedule to protect your system as it evolves.

**ALERT** Ransomware is on the Rise...

 "I seriously just want to throw my computer out the window and forget about it completely. I am just done with it"

"We bought a Mac because everyone told us it wasn't possible to get Viruses on a Mac. Now my whole business is gone. What can I Do?" 

 

Ransomware on a Macbook

These are only some of the disheartening comments I have received lately as I was handed computers to repair that were infected with the latest and nastiest ransomware out there. Ransomware, a particularly troublesome type of malware, is a malicious software that denies you access to your computer or files until you pay a ransom to have access restored. I have encountered three different types of ransomware, "Screen Lock" based, "MBR" Based and "Encryption" based. I have removed this software from more than 20 computers since February alone. A MASSIVE increase from previous years.  Both of the first two are extremely difficult to remove, but can be dealt with and in most every case, your data saved. The latter however, "Encryption" based is becoming more and more common and may be one of the worst forms of malware ever. The software takes over your machine, and "encrypts" or converts all your data into a specific code that requires a key to unlock. Unless you pay person who infected the system, you will be unable to get the code to unlock your files. And a new, especially nasty virus has hit the scene, known as CryptLocker.

 

CryptLocker at work...

This software uses incredibly strong cryptography to lock all your files that you have permission to modify, INCLUDING THOSE ON EXTERNAL DRIVES connected to the machine, and NAS or Network Attached Storage devices. Once infected, it displays a random message demanding payment withing a certain timeframe, which is normally 3-5 days from the date you were infected. Payment is always demanded in the form of an anonymous prepaid cash service like MoneyPak, Ukash, cashU, or Bitcoin. As of this writing, there are no known consumer level software tools for removing this nasty virus. The only solution has been to pay the criminals. Decryption is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, unless you have access to the private key the cybercriminals set up. If you get infected, without paying, there is a high probability you will never see your data again. 

PROTECT YOURSELF!!! 

Here are some tips to help: 

  • NEVER leave Your External Backup Drive hooked up to your computer when done. Backup, and when finished, Disconnect it.  
  • DO NOT open attachments in emails unless they are from close trusted family members or friends, and even then, do not open attachments EVER with the file extensions: .exe, .zip, .rar, .bat
  • Regularly back up your files. Do both local OFFLINE backups and Online Backups through services like Carbonite. If you are unfamiliar with how to perform local backups of your data, see these great tools from Acronis, Genie 9, and Rebit 5. And if you prefer, Rethink Associates provides quality backup solutions as well. Let Us do it for you!

If you become infected with any of these viruses or any others:

  • Immediately Disconnect all external drives from your system to prevent infection.
  • Disconnect you computer from the Internet, as some of these spread to other computers on the network.  
  • Contact Rethink Associates so that we can help!