Is Public Wi-Fi Safe to Use?
Public wi-fi. You've probably used it when you forgot to send an email in the Philadelphia airport at 3 am, or maybe you had 1 GB of data left on your phone plan for this month and ran to the nearest Dunkin' Donuts to FaceTime your grandmother. Public wireless internet is used by millions of Americans across the country; however, according to a survey conducted by Symantec, many of these people do not realize their sensitive information is at risk of being stolen. This begs the question: is wi-fi that's available to the public safe to use?
This can be a tricky question to answer, as the security of wi-fi varies from place to place. Places such as coffee shops and airports are filled with hotbeds of hackers, waiting to pounce on any trace of personal data they can get their hands on. One common trick that many hackers use is providing a duplicate of the most commonly used Wi-FI SSID, which is often "Free Wi-Fi" or "[Name of Public Place] Wi-Fi". Often times, if it is unsecured or provides access without a splash screen, it is a trick to get your credit card info.
The most secure option that you can use for a wireless connection is a personal virtual private network. A VPN (for short) allows you to connect securely to the Internet via another network. VPNs are often used in regions/countries where web access is restricted by government laws. Many businesses provide VPN access to their employees in order to access their documents on the go. While many VPN services may come at a price, it is worth it when compared to the value of your personal information.
Another alternative to the VPN is using your mobile data as a wireless hotspot. In the advanced age of smartphones that we live in, your phone can also act as a wireless hotspot.
You're probably wondering why your old Dell laptop from 2014 is taking 15 minutes to load your favorite YouTube video or the email you got from your cousin last week. This is due to a number of different reasons, mainly usage over time, that cause the once-lightning fast speed in your computer to slow down like a snail.
Oh no. What did I do to my computer that made it so slow?
Don't worry, it wasn't your fault. The technology that was put into the computers of the past decade often gets outdated, with new (and sometimes better) technologies that help keep the manufacturer up-to-date with today's constantly changing tech landscape.
Nevertheless, some individuals often "junk up" their computers with unnecessary files and applications that cause their computers to lag. An article written by Business Insider states that some of the main reasons computers slow down are due to corruption and a lack of adequate hard drive space and RAM. Not having enough RAM will prevent you from running applications without draining resources. Things like having too many toolbars and extensions, running too many applications at once, and having programs running in the background can often be the culprit. Having too much unnecessary software and junk files can take up all of your hard disk space, which takes the computer more time to operate.
What can I do in order to fix my computer?
The first thing that you can do in order to speed up your computer is clean out any programs that either take up too much memory or hard drive space. Uninstalling any games, applications, or programs that you haven't used in months is a great way to start. Clean up any stray, unwanted files you may have lying around (hint: Downloads folder), and consider using a cloud-based service to back up your . If you're willing to shell out some extra cash, premium system cleanup softwares can help to reduce the extra bulk lying around in your hard drive (be wary of other free clean-up softwares around the internet: they just might be viruses too!).
Another thing you can do is defragment your hard drive, which allows your hard drive to access files in a shorter time.
Antivirus softwares regularly scan your computer for viruses that could harm your computer and take advantage of your personal information. Many of their paid products also come with computer cleaning programs.
If all else fails, and your computer is running slower than a turtle in a 5K, you may have to restore your computer, which is essentially deleting everything in your computer and returning it to factory-default settings. Restoring the computer to its original state removes all programs and settings which may have altered the computer to slow down, and allows the user to have a fresh operating system with no bugs and less lag time. The processes, which are different for PC and Mac, permanently wipe the hard drive, so make sure that you back up everything before restoring your system.
Oh No! Ransomware!
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of computer virus. The goal is to extort money from the user, by blocking access to the device and files, often demanding payment via cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, or a gift card. Then, according to the FBI, "the money you pay may be used to fund organized crime activity or acts of terrorism while encouraging future criminal activity by these cyber thieves." They may threaten to lock up your files, encrypt your hard drive, or even leak your personal documents online. Some of these viruses even claim to be a three letter government agency (FBI, NSA, IRS, etc) and threaten to issue an arrest warrant for a litany of cyber crimes if a ransom is not
Why Backup Your Devices?
Every electronic device that you own that stores data for you, should have some sort of backup system in place. While there are the obvious ways like theft, fire, or natural disaster, there are the less obvious ways you can lose all of your precious data. All standard, mechanical, hard drives fail eventually. According to data gathered by Backblaze, an industry leading cloud backup and storage provider, 5.1% of hard drives fail within the first year and a half! That may not seem like a lot, but we don't bet our documents and precious family photos on us not being in that 5.1%. After the third year, that rate skyrockets to 11.8%! Did you know that the mechanical hard drives in a lot of laptops can be damaged by something as simple as a drop? What about the more modern SSD (Solid State Drive) that comes in some new computers? While these do not have any moving parts, they are still susceptible to damage. Regardless of the type of drive you have, all it takes is some spilled coffee, Ransomware/Virus, Data corruption, power surge, or even accidentally deleting the wrong file, to lose those irreplaceable pictures, or documents.
What is the best kind of backup?
Unfortunately, backup solutions are not one-size-fits-all. The optimal solution for you will vary depending on your needs and your budget. The most expensive option is not necessarily the best, and the cheapest option may give you a false sense of security about the protection of your precious data.With so many factors to consider when choosing the right backup option for your needs, it can be difficult to choose the right. Contact Three Z IT Today to discuss your backup needs, and let us craft a backup solution that is right for you!
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