Resolutions for your tech life in the coming year

By Eric Geier (Our Founder & Owner)

Originally published by Cox Media Group on 12/31/18

This is the time to make resolutions for your life in the coming year. Along with the usual health and finance resolutions, don’t forget about your tech life. Here are some to consider regarding your computers and gadgets in 2019:

Back up your data: I know I mention this often, but it’s so important! Not backing up is one of biggest tech mistakes we see people make every day. Though IT pros like us can typically recover your data after a computer crash or virus, there are certainly times when we cannot, or you have to send your drive off to a clean-room recovery lab for thousands of dollars. If you have photos, documents, and other files you don’t want to lose, you should back them up.

There are two main backup options: back up to a secondary drive plugged into your computer or back up to an online service. Backing up to a drive allows you to restore your data quicker, if it’s ever needed, and requires a one-time purchase of $20 to $85 for the backup drive. Backing up to an online service better protects your backup from theft and local disasters, but requires paying a reoccurring fee, typically starting at $5 to $15 per month. Some popular online backup services include Carbonite, Back Blaze, and Mozy, but our favorite is iDrive (www.idrive.com).

If you take photos with your smartphone, I suggest using the backup feature of Android or iPhone to sync your photos online in case your phone becomes lost, stolen, or broken.

Upgrade any computers with Windows XP, Vista, or 7: Microsoft ended all support including security patches for Windows XP and Vista years ago. If your computer still has those Windows versions, you should get a new computer ASAP due to the usability, reliability and security issues.

Microsoft is also ending support for Windows 7 in January 2020, so if you still have that version, you should upgrade in 2019.1 suggest getting advice from IT pros to determine if you should upgrade the computer to Windows 10 (which is still free) or just buy a newer computer with Windows 10.

Get a checkup and cleanup for your computer: I suggest having a computer tech look at your computer each year, regardless if you have any apparent issues or not. And for businesses I suggest a checkup at least every six months. The tech can do a general checkup to ensure you’re protected from malware and check for any signs of any failing hardware before they fully fail. They can also do a cleanup or tuneup to eliminate junk and perform some proactive maintenance to maybe speed it up.

Don’t fall for any computer scams: We get customers all the time who have been scammed by fake remote support companies. They either received a phone call out of the blue from the scammer or got a popup on their computer prompting them to call the scammer. The scammers are very good at convincing people that they have some sort of computer problem, like a virus or that they’ve been hacked, and typically say they’re from Windows or Microsoft. I’ve heard them asking anywhere from $100 to $1,500 to fix the made-up issues. Sometimes the scammers say it includes unlimited tech support for years.

If you ever get an unsolicited phone call like I described, simply hang up and ignore them. If you ever see a popup on your computer prompting you to call, don’t call them. However, you should call a local computer support company for advice since your computer might actually have adware or malware that’s causing the popups.

If you ever do fall victim and let a scammer remotely control your computer and/ or pay them, I certainly suggest getting the computer checked out and also contacting your credit card company or bank to report the fraud.

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