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Free Web Services to Backup Your Information

The most valuable part of your computer is the information contained within. Your school documents from current or years past, budget sheets monthyly, pictures from your childrens birthdays. It’s easy to replace a computer when it gets destroyed by a thunderstorm; but to lose those things which can not be reproduced, that’s what hurts. Even having everything backed up on external hard drives or flash drives around the house doesn’t help if you get hit by a worst case scenario like a fire or tornado. Luckily, there’s ways to help protect yourself. What we’ll be covering today are a few online backup/syncing services that offer an amount of storage for free.

Dropbox Laptop Backups1) Dropbox - Dropbox works quite simply. You sign up for their services using an email, install the program they use to sync your information, and it’s done. It creates a folder under ‘My Documents’ named ‘My Dropbox’. Anything you place in this ‘My Dropbox’ folder is now backed up to their servers online, which allows you to view them from anywhere in the world. All you have to do to access it from another computer is to go http://www.dropbox.com and log in to see your files. If your computer dies, all it takes to get it running again is to install Dropbox on the new computer and sign in to your existing account.

The free service Dropbox offers gives 2GB of storage. This is enough for roughly 580 pictures fresh off a digital camera, or almost 400,000 documents to be stored in. Also – for every person you refer to Dropbox, you get an additional 250MB of space added to your limit, up to a maximum of 10GB. That means if you get just 32 of your friends to start using Dropbox, you quintuple your storage space! They offer paid options as well for more space, More information on that can be found here. It’s currently $9.99 a month for 50GB of storage, or 100GB for $19.99 a month.

SugarSync Backup Computer Repair2) SugarSync - Sugarsync works very similar to Dropbox in that you can sign up for free service using your email, install the program they use for syncing, and receive some space for free. However, with SugarSync you receive 5GB free right out of the gate, and each referral gains you 500MB, with no top limit currently. Your friends whom you refer also gain 500MB additional space right out of the gate for using a referral link too!

One of the main differences between SugarSync and Dropbox is that with SugarSync you can choose exactly what folders in your computer you want to have saved. You could set it so that everything in your Documents and on your Desktop gets backed up and nothing else, instead of having to move everything into one folder like Dropbox wants. However, like Dropbox and the other services, all you need to do is log in to their website

As well, SugarSync offers paid options for larger storage spaces, 30GB being $4.99 a month, going all the way to 250GB at $24.99 a month. There are several steps in between as well.

Mozy Online Backup Kalamazoo3) Mozy - Mozy is the third and final web service we’ll be covering today. It’s again the same process to sign up, you make an account, choose the free product, and install their software. It offers 2GB free, just as Dropbox would, but gives you the freedom of choosing what to backup like SugarSync. By referring friends and family, you can receive an additional 256MB per referral, with no upper limit on how much space you can unlock. They have two pricing tiers for the at-home user, either $5.99 for 50GB, or $9.99 a month for 125GB.

August 12, 2011 · brian · One Comment
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The Different Internet Browsers

Everyday, people around the world use their computers to access the internet. What many of them don’t realize is that what they use to do that (typically Internet Explorer) is just a browser, a tool, to reach the internet, and that they have options. Choosing what browser you should use is very similar to choosing what kind of car you should drive. Below we’ve covered the four most popular of the browsers.

Google Chrome Kalamazoo1) Google Chrome – Created by Google, Chrome is currently the least bloated (a measure of how much memory/processor power it takes to run) of the four browsers. This means it’s the one best suited for older machines, but that certainly doesn’t rule it out being used on faster machines as well. If you need to get to the internet quickly, this is the best choice. Chrome also features something called ‘extensions’. These are written by users (such as you and I) to enhance how Chrome works. These extensions can do anything from change every search button to a picture of a cat, to blocking all advertisements on a website so you never see them.

Mozilla Firefox Repair2) Mozilla Firefox – Firefox was created by the Mozilla project, which is funded by SUN Microsystems (the company behind Java, and was recently aquired by Oracle) with the goal to provide an open source, better internet experience. Problems and bugs are found by the community using it, meaning if there’s an issue (a security hole, or a crashing problem) instead of a small team of a few people, there are literally thousands upon thousands of people finding solutions. This results in a more secure browser that’s safer for everything. Over the years, Firefox has slowly been using more and more resources, and although it will run fine on older systems, it doesn’t perform quite as quickly as Google Chrome. Like Chrome, Firefox also has extensions, but calls them ‘Add-Ons’. They fill the same role, just for Firefox.

Safari Virus Removal3) Apple Safari – Safari is the browser that ships on all Apple computers. It’s not widely used outside of Apple operating systems, but it is available for Windows download if you’d like to use it. Due to how it’s written, it’s roughly as secure as Firefox or Chrome, but partly because people simply don’t try to find the exploits in them due to the small user base.

Internet Explorer Spyware Removal4) Microsoft Internet Explorer – Internet Explorer comes loaded on every machine with Windows, be it XP, Vista, or 7. This is in the same style that Apple loads every computer running OSX (and earlier) with Safari. This is the least secure of the browser choices, partly due to how many people use it. The large user base makes it a target for hackers and virus writers, so the most vulnerabilities are revealed in it. Unfortunately, Internet Explorer also currently offers little in the ways of offering warnings to protect the user, but they are trying to improve this.

Your I.T.’s Browser Choice Suggestion:

Here at Your Information Technologies, we would highly suggest using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. Each of these two browsers have extra protection for the end user against viruses, and due to the large base of people working to improve them, are more secure in general.

Keep in mind – Although we did cover the four most widely used browsers here, there are others out there available for use!

July 25, 2011 · brian · No Comments
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Practicing Safe Surfing

Does it pay to be more proactive when browsing the internet?  Why yes it does!  The amount of viruses that linger on the internet is staggering, and the majority of the infections we see come from websites that are … let’s just say, less than kosher.  That is why I’ve decided to give you the best information that I can, so that you can browse and hopefully not catch a nasty bug.

1) Use a better browser

We all have used Microsoft Internet Explorer at some point, and most of us probably still use it because we
Mozilla Firefox Repairdon’t know about the other options available to us.  Options like Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. A lot of people don’t realize that internet architecture (the way that people build websites) is becoming more focused on making those two options the primary web browsers.  The dead fact is; Internet Explorer is slow and un-secure, where Firefox and Chrome are quick and more secure.

2) Avoid unsafe searches

So you’ve gone to Google and you searched for something, nearly anything at this point has these results come up.  The sidebar sponsored ads and the tag jackers.  Just because it says “Justin Bieber #1 Fan Site” doesn’t mean that it will necessarily point at a safe website.  Check the address, make sure that the site you are heading to seems legitimate before you go there.  Sites that are structured properly will look like this, “http://www.thisisawebsite.com” not “http://website.redirect.com.au/justinbieberfans/phishing-attempt.html”

3) Keep your browser clean

So, this one is obvious.  Don’t go to the dirty sites and your chances of infection becoming significantly smaller.  If you absolutely, 100% HAVE to go to those sites, make sure they are “reputable.”

So, that about covers the best tips I can give you on practicing safe surfing.

July 12, 2011 · jake · One Comment
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Staying Secure by Staying Updated

There’s a lot you can do in the computing world to stay safe and secure, but number one on that list is making sure everything you use is up to date. Trouble is, this isn’t always the easiest task. Here’s a few helpful tips for how to make it a little less stressful.

Windows Update Your Information Technologies
1) Windows Automatic Update – Built into every copy of Microsoft Windows is an automatic update tool. This automatically notifies you when there are updates available for your computer to keep you secure. It can be reached by clicking on the Start Menu, going to the Control Panel, and choosing Automatic Updates (or Windows Update and use the Change Settings button found in there). There’s a few different choices in here, such as when to check, and how to treat updates when they are available. You could choose to have them automatically downloaded and installed; but sometimes that can be annoying as they often require a restart of the computer to complete, and will continue to pester you every few minutes until you do. The ideal setting to use is the “Download and notify me when ready to install” choice. This gets the updates onto your computer, allowing you to click to install them when you’ve finished doing the work you’re on.

Ninite Program Installer2) NiniteNinite.com is a unique website. It has a collection of free programs that you can link together in one easy installer. Where this can really be handy is updating some programs. If you use, lets say, Firefox for internet browsing and iTunes for music, you can select Firefox, Flash, Java, Adobe Reader, and iTunes on Ninite. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and download the installer for them. When ran, it will check to make sure you have the latest versions of all these programs, and if you don’t; it downloads and installs the new ones without any further interaction from you.

3) Running Windows Updates Manually – In addition to using Windows Automatic Updates, you can also simply run the updater yourself periodically to keep up to date. You follow the same instructions to reach the Control panel, and choose Windows Update instead. There will be a button to ‘Check for Updates’ that you can click, which will present you with everything to need to install.

Now, the only other thing to consider is other programs running their own automatic updaters. These come with a large tradeoff. Although, yes, they do keep you up to date and secure it is at a cost. They run processes in the background that eat up memory and processor cycles, slowing down your computer. This isn’t as noticeable on newer computers, but in older ones, it can be devastating to the computers speed. It’s situations like these where using the aforementioned Ninite comes in handy, because you can turn off the automatic updaters for Java, Flash and Firefox and just run it on demand when you need to (preferably at least once a week) and save your speed.

July 9, 2011 · brian · No Comments
Posted in: Tech Tips

Spilling on Your Laptop or Electronics

Laptop Spill Your I.T. Can Fix ItSpilling on things, it happens. Sometimes a drink gets knocked over, or a phone dropped in a toilet. What’s the number one thing people immediately do? Try to turn it back on. What’s the number one worst thing you can do right away? Try to turn it back on. It’s not that water and electronics don’t get along. It’s electronics and power and water that don’t get along. Let’s go over together how it should be done.

Step 1) If at all possible, remove the battery or source of power (for anything plugged in) and make sure to turn it off (namely for things you can’t remove the power from like iPods).

Step 2) If it’s a large amount of liquid spilled on it, dump off any excess and pick up anything you can with a clean, slightly damp cloth. If it was something sticky like a pop or other sugary drink, try carefully rinsing it off with clear water. With something like a laptop, this isn’t always a good idea because you risk getting more liquid to the inside of the unit, whereas usually the keyboard does manage to catch most of it.

Computer Repair KalamazooStep 3) If it’s a smaller item, like an iPod or cell phone, place the item in a tupperware container of uncooked, dry rice and place it on top of the fridge. If it’s larger thing like a laptop, take off any panels you can see to take off that liquid may have gotten into (keeping accurate notes of what goes where), dry up any other liquid you find with a dry cloth, and place it on top of the fridge. The rice helps to dry out any moisture around the laptop, and being on the fridge provides it with a warm spot to dry even quicker.

Step 4) BE PATIENT. Because there’s not a lot of gaps for air to get in and out, it’s going to take a while to dry. We recommend giving it at least four whole days to dry wherever you put it before you try turning it on. Before putting any batteries back or putting any power to anything, check the power plugs. Look for corrosion (usually a white buildup) on any battery terminals or where power would plug in. On laptops double check the USB ports on the sides for any of this. If you see any, do not try to power it on. Bring it down to us at Your Information Technologies and let us give it a look see if it’s safe.

Step 5) After you’ve waited the 4 days (or more, more never hurts) to test it, see if the item works again. At this point you’ve taken all the right steps you can to prevent problems, and if something isn’t working it’s time to let the professionals deal with it and see what is salvageable.

July 5, 2011 · brian · No Comments
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Basic Computer Tips

We’ve got a shorter blog for you today, just a couple basic computer tips that not everyone knows about.  Things that can make your experience with a computer that much better.

In any document, e-mail, or web page, you can double click a word to highlight it for editting.  This is handy when you don’t want to click and drag to highlight a word.

You can enlarge the text in a web page by holding ctrl and pressing the plus or minus keys, plus enlarging the text and minus shrinking it.  On a Mac, it’s the command key and the plus or minus.Computer Tips

You can resize a window by placing your cursor in the bottom right hand corner of the window, clicking, and dragging to whatever size you want to make the window.

You can use Google to do math for you,  just type in an equation and press enter.

You don’t have to type the www. in a web address, by typing the address after that prefix, you will reach the web page you are looking for.  There are some special exceptions, but they are very rare.

June 30, 2011 · jake · No Comments
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Keeping Kids Safe on the Net with K9 Web Protection

Keeping Kids Safe on ComputersKids get into everything growing up. Fitting under the sink to hide, sneaking into the circular clothes racks at department stores, and so on. The internet, however, is somewhere they should be protected from. There are a lot of malicious sites that phish for your personal information, sites that deliver adult content (nudity, violence, or otherwise), and ones deliver viruses to your computer. Kids can’t always be expected to know the difference between good sites and bad, but you can help control it.

Using a web filter program like K9 Web Protection, which is a free option, is a great way to help protect your children. You simply download it from their website, register an email address to activate your copy, and set it up. By default it blocks many sites such as Youtube, Facebook, Myspace, Tumblr and more. During setup it requests a password to be set. Whenever a blocked site comes up, you can choose to allow access to it using this password. It allows time frame settings, so you can unblock Youtube for just 30 minutes, or an hour, or forever, giving you another way to help control your childs time on the internet.K9 Web Filter Kalamazoo

The best part about the K9 Web Protection filter is that it works both by website address and content; So if a webpage has a word on it that is in the ‘bad’ list of K9, it will block that site for you automatically.

A couple key things to remember however are that no program is perfect, and nothing is a substitute for teaching your kids proper and safe browsing habits, or direct parental supervision. Although there are ways to get around the filter (Which we here at Your Information Techologies have found ways to prevent, and can set this up for you) as there are with any protection on computers, it’s definitely a step in the right direction towards keeping kids safe.

June 27, 2011 · brian · One Comment
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Safe Social Networking Tips

Everyone has a Facebook account these days, but not everyone know how to safely and securely use this social networking tool.  We here at Your Information Technologies would like to share a couple of our tips on how to keep your social networking experience, a good one.

1) Anything you put on the internet … stays on the internet

If you have posted it on the internet for someone to see, it’s there forever.  Just because you hit the delete button does not mean that it is gone forever.  Make sure the information you post isn’t something you will regret later.

2) Privacy Settings

Have you ever checked out the privacy settings on your Facebook account?  Make sure to set them to a level you feel comfortable.  More and more, social networking sites are sharing your information with advertisers.

3) Pretend you are talking to someone face to face

Don’t say something to someone, online, that you wouldn’t say to their face.  Just because there is an internet between you doesn’t mean that the standards of social conduct should be thrown out the window.

Facebook Privacy

4) Don’t post pictures of your children

Internet predators do exist, and the fact is that unless you’ve set your privacy settings so that only your friends can see them, anyone can see you have young children.

5) Children under 13 should not be allowed!

The rules are set in place for a reason, children under that age don’t quite understand how emotion and intent can get mixed up very quickly in a social network entry.  If they persist, get them setup with Club Penguin until they turn 13.

June 22, 2011 · jake · One Comment
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Identifying Hardware

There are a lot of different plugs, holes, connections, and parts to a computer. So many that it can be very confusing at times. Well, we here at Your Information Technologies have dug up a chart, that although a couple years old, covers near everything you would need to know.

Hopefully this will aide both our clients and our fellow I.T. workers in their endeavors to create a better computing world.

Computer Hardware Chart
Click here to view a larger version of the image.

June 20, 2011 · brian · No Comments
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The Dreaded Malware

Malware, it’s a word that has been passed around quite a bit in the recent years, but we find that a lot of people just don’t know what malware means.  I’d like to break it down for you, and I promise to keep the techno-babble out of it.  Malware is bad, there are no two ways around it.  It infects your computer with unwanted stuff that not only bogs operations down, but it can also steal your information!Virus and Malware Removal

Now, don’t immediately think that because you have malware that the bank accounts you access from home are compromised.  While there is truth behind this, it isn’t quite the norm. Typically malware will attempt, with great persistance I might add, to force you into buying something you just don’t need.  Ever have a pop-up come up saying, “Your PC is infected with 48 viruses, click here to remove them now,” and you click on it only for some shady website to ask for fifty bucks and your credit card info?  Yeah, we’ve seen it all too.

There is only one thing I can say to this; DON’T DO IT!  They are trying to make you pay money and possibly steal your credit card information.

Not all malware is quite as malicious as the above example, and there are varying degrees of “bad” that any one piece of malware can be.  The worst we tend to call viruses, we hate those the most.

You may be asking yourself, “Jacob, where does malware come from?”

The answer to this is really hard, so I’ll give you some examples; porn sites, illegal download sites, myspace, facebook (don’t freak yet, I’ll get into this in a moment), “free” casino sites, and a lot more that are impossible to list.

Virus Spyware CleaningYou saw me say Facebook above, and now you are freaking out thinking that you can’t connect with dear Aunt Sally because it may cost you money or lost data in the long run.  Luckily, this isn’t quite the case, malware coming from Facebook is very rare, and almost always comes from people that install applications within the website itself.  Your best bet to avoid these is to just avoid installing all the; “See who’s coming to your page,” “Which Twilight character are you?,” and “See your horoscope today!,” applications.  They may seem cool, but some of them can take you to webpages with embedded malware.

I’ve got a couple tips you can take to try and avoid all these problems as much as possible.

1.) Install a secondary web browser, such as Firefox or Google Chrome, these have more built in protection that internet explorer and they tend to do a better job of protecting you.  This isn’t to say they are fool proof.

2.) Practice safe web browsing.  Don’t visit pornography sites, illegal downloading sites, or any website that may seem fishy.  If you have a question about whether it seems like you may get something, you probably can.

3.) Always have a virus scanner running.  Even if you are using a free alternative such as Avast!, AVG, or Microsoft Security Essentials.  Having something running can pick up on the viruses that carry malware along with them, and hope to get rid of them.

I hope that you have a better understanding of malware now, and how to avoid it, but if you ever have any questions, feel free to contact any of us at Your Information Technologies to help.

- Jake

June 15, 2011 · jake · One Comment
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An Introduction (of sorts)

Computer Repair KalamazooFirst off, let me welcome you to our blog. We are Your Information Technologies, a small computer store and service center based out of Kalamazoo, Michigan. We’re your local computer guys and we feel that as such, we are your friends. If you’ve got a problem that involves technology, we’ve got a solution, and we’d love to have a talk with you.

Who am I? My name is Jake, I’m one of the technicians here at the store, but I go by a plethora of titles, Technician, Webmaster, Social Networking Dude, Webmaster, the list goes on. I’m the person that will be posting here more than anyone, at least that’s the hope. I’ll give you a bit of background about myself, if you’d like to read it.

Laptop Repair KalamazooI’m twenty-four years old, born and raised in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I’ve been doing this tech thing for the past eight or so years, both on a commercial and residential scale. If it involves technology, I’ve probably ripped it apart and put it back together. While I don’t know everything, I challenge you to find someone that does, I’ve got enough experience to give answers to pretty much anything you can run in to.

I look forward to any questions or comments you might have, and plan on posting here on a daily basis, even if I don’t have any tips or news. Let’s communicate, you and I, let’s see what I can do to help you.  Feel free to contact me directly at jake@youritkalamazoo.com.

Feel free to come check out the store too, our web address is http://www.youritkalamazoo.com

If you need directions, they are in the contact us form, and short bios for all the employees and owners are in there. We try our best to be as friendly as possible, but still maintain a level of professionalism that you expect. See, here at Your Information Technologies — We want to be your I.T.!

June 15, 2011 · jake · One Comment
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