New Years Resolutions For Your Computer

Happy New Year Everyone!!
Whether you are a Mac user or a Windows user — here are some things you really need to consider for 2012, if you haven’t already…

1. Backup, backup, backup

I can’t stress this topic again and will make a point of it at every appointment we have in the new year if you don’t have a good backup system in place.  With that said, if you use your computer for e-mail and internet ONLY and check your email on the internet (web based)  — your need for a backup system is greatly diminished.

There are two types of backup systems A) physical – to an external hard drive and B) virtual — to an online backup server.   I would suggest that you must do A. and if you are really serious about your backups you may want to have a second physical backup and do B) the online backup.

– If there are multiple computers in your home that would benefit from regular backups I would strongly suggest a backup drive that is connected to your Internet router that will allow everyone to back up to it automatically.  There is one such product I have in mind —
the APPLE Time Capsule  —
The 2 GB Time Capsule sells for $299 and is compatible with computers running Windows XP (SP3) and later  and Mac OS 10.5.7 and later.  Occasionally there are Time Capsules on sale in the Deals section of the Apple Store website (ex. $229 – $249).

– If you want an extra backup on your own personal computer or only have one computer to back up — then just purchase an external hard drive that you plug into your system — typically via USB.   Top choices in this product line are sold by LaCie and Other World Computing.  They will work on both Mac and Windows computers.

Macs with OS 10.5 and up benefit from having Time Machine built in — an automatic backup software that is easy to use.  Windows 7 also has backup software built in that will suffice for most.     Windows XP and Vista do not have great backup software built in for a single external hard drive.  Please feel free to ask about this or check out one of the Lacie hard drives below, which includes backup software.

For specific models of single external hard drives I would recommend….

**Steer clear of bargain basement external hard drives sold by Seagate, Western Digital and other big box store brands  UNLESS they will back their product with a 3-year warranty.

-If you are really serious about your backups, you should consider an online backup service to go with your hard drive based backup.  One service and one service only comes to mind.  CARBONITE.  You have have heard it advertised over the radio.   They are a U.S. based company and charge $60 per year.    Mac and Windows compatible.   They have excellent e-mail based support.  Use the promo code “RUSH” when purchasing to get 14 months instead of a 12 month subscription.

2.  Anti Virus and Security Software

2011 became the year when Mac users really need to take security seriously, for the first time in a long time.  Since viruses and malware are still less of a threat on the whole for Mac users, I will address you first.   At the very least please consider the WONDERFUL  anti-virus program made available for FREE by Sophos.  If you are not going to buy a program — then use this one.  Please!   (Power PC or Intel Macs – 10.4 or later)

However, if you are a Mac user and want a security program with actual support when something goes wrong —  then choose Virus Barrier by Intego    This is a great solution for a single Mac.  Please see the write up on Sophos below, if you have 3 computers including one or more Macs.

-And now on to what you really want to know — What security programs do you recommend for Windows?  Well I recommend one that is going to support their customers when something goes wrong — so that you only have to bring in a specialist like me as a last line of defense.

A year ago, I recommended  ESET, Kaspersky and AVAST as  fine choices in the area of Windows protection.  I don’t recommend the free Norton provided by Comcast, McAfee or any other products.  Very few of these companies provide phone support when something goes wrong.

Today, I can only faithfully recommend 2 products for Windows systems or Windows / Mac mixed environments.

Kaspersky — They have provided security suite software for a long time.  They provide prompt e-mail based support when you have registration and installation issues.   They provide phone based support when you have an actual attack on your computer.
Recommended product:  One Universal Security

$99.95 / per year, covers up to 5 Windows / Mac computers.      (If you are only securing Windows computers, their Internet Security product is about $20 less per year.)

Sophos — mentioned above in the Mac section, Sophos has been providing security solutions for businesses with very positive reviews for many years.  Their U.S. headquarters is in Burlington, MA.  They provide 24/7 phone support.  Sophos Computer Security is meant for environments of 3 computers or more (Windows or Mac) but there is no reason that precludes you from using it in your home.

Recommended product:  Sophos Computer Security   $124 per year, total,  for 3 computers.  Extra computers can be protected for an additional fee.

This e-mail has been chock full of information, so I will leave it as is for right now.   Please feel free to ask me about Backups and Anti Virus solutions and how I can implement something to work for you!!