Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Year in Review

As with any true blog it would only seem fitting to have my own year in review so here it is.

Malware, spyware and viruses... still very much a part of the internet with the emphasis on malware and spyware. It is pretty much a safe bet that if you have pop ups you have some sort of malware causing this and typically it means you have surfed a website that has latched itself on to your browser via some sort of malicious script/cookie that now also spies on you, allowing advertisers to know just what sorts of ads are perfect for you.  Facebook calls this marketing and spends their time and effort creating new algorithms that do just that.  Some will say comments like, "if it is going to show me ads based on what I am already searching for then I don't have a problem with it, after all, it's better than the "little blue pill" ads". Unfortunately however, you have lost site of the true picture here.. the fact that you are being monitored in the first place!

The old days of viruses are pretty much a thing of the past although windows machines still require having some sort of antivirus program installed.  For this I have been a firm believer in AVAST "free" antivirus.  Unfortunately, much like everything else on the internet that is 'free', this seems almost too good to be true and it typically is. Avast is no different with the fact that they will continually try to get you to upgrade to their pro version which you DO NOT need.  Other malware scanner programs like Malwarebytes also have a 'pro version' that is subscription based and along with your $20 annual fee, you have the ability to have this program not only monitor everything you do on the internet but slow your computer down in the process.. so once again you should NOT be paying for this sort of service.

Offsite Backup:  The one service that you should be paying for is offsite backup. This is by far the best thing to come along on the internet in some time.  Because your computer is basically always connected to the internet, it only makes sense to have it constantly backing up any new files you have saved to your computer, in the event of a major disaster such as fire, flood or theft. And, in the case of a theft, the crook would most likely be turning on your computer and having it show up on the internet, even for a short period of time is all the offsite backup software requires in order to track, just like the 'find my phone' apps available for your phone. Since these offsite backup programs range in price and features, finding one that works best is key and this is what I am here for.. currently BACKBLAZE is the company of choice.. with annual fees of $50 per year for unlimited data backup you really can't go wrong.  I like to think of it as the price of 1 large Starbucks coffee per month to know your data is safe, no matter what you do to your computer. Did I mention retrieval of your files, should you forget one of them while travelling? Yes, you can retrieve files from your backed up computer by simply logging in to your offsite account and downloading whatever files you need... that in itself may be worth the $50 annual fee for some!

So what does all this have to do with the year in review? Well, for starters, there are more companies providing you with that malware/spyware and even more companies that are willing to provide you with anti-malware/spyware software to not only remove but 'monitor' for any future problems you may have.. this is where you can really get taken for a ride.. when you buy a new computer, count on at least 3 hours to remove and clean up the computer from all the crapware it comes with and installing and setting up things properly, not to mention the transfer of data from your old computer, the creation of backup recovery disks, etc.. count on a full day shot before you can actually start to use that new computer you just bought.  This is where Chromebook shines.. along comes a device... a laptop that you simply turn on and sign in to your google account and everything is there waiting for you. Your mail, contacts and all your files you have saved on your 'drive'.  What other operating system do you know that actually gets faster the longer you own your computer?  I have now owned a chromebook for over a year and the Samsung unit is faster now then it ever was!  It ships with a 16gb SSD drive which to most, seem rather crazy as you would fill it in no time.. however I have probably used maybe 2 GB of the drive, since everything is stored to the Google Drive.  Yes "Cloud Computing" is the big thing.. it has been for some time, and is only now becoming mainstage. With smartphones now using quad-core processors they are very much portable computers on their own and so the ability to access files from your google drive, for example, becomes very important regardless of the device you are using.  It is therefore no surprise to see Microsoft's Christmas marketing campaign bash the Chromebook for it's lack of being a computer when it has no internet, calling it a 'brick'.. yet the numbers show that 26% of all laptop sales for 2013 were from Chromebooks.. so it's no wonder you see Microsoft in somewhat of a panic.  Personally speaking, I haven't used office in over 2 years, pretty much since I went full time with Google docs (now drive).

Now, with Avast antivirus doing a great job of preventing a virus bomb from going off on your computer, they too want to get in to your computer to do even more, with software updating and other monitoring, all of which I opt out of. I utilize other anti-malware scanning programs like malwarebytes and ccleaner which I use as tools when it is time to clean, not monitor all the time. So this hasn't changed at all.

Tablets have pretty much become common place with laptops now supporting touch screen displays and in the case of some like the Asus Transformer which is a laptop with removable screen that becomes a tablet makes things even more obviously portable for 2014. Chromebooks are now taking up over 1 quarter of the laptop market because we all know we want to be online to communicate and a very simple and inexpensive way to do this is without the exorbitant fees that Microsoft charge to use their operating system, not to mention all the malware/spyware/virus protection you need to go along with it.  The future is online and always connected and Chromebooks recognizes that.

As always I can be contacted 24/7/365 Days a Year if you have any questions or problems you need help with.

Happy New Year and may 2014 be YOUR YEAR!