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Tagged With: maintenance

End-of-year Tips: Image and Back-up Digital Devices

teacher with computerThis week, I’ll share three holiday activities that will get your computers, technology, and social media ready for the new year. Here’s what you’ll get:

  1. Update Your Online Presence
  2. Backup and Image your computer
  3. 22 Ways to Speed Up Your Computer

A note: The links won’t work until the articles publish!

Today: Image and Backup Your Digital Devices

Two critical maintenance tasks that lots of people skip are:

  • image your computer
  • back up your documents

Image your computer

Every computer must be reformatted eventually. Every time you download from a website or open an email attachment or update one of your online tools or software, you collect digital dust and grunge that affects the speed and efficiency of your computer. Performing the clean up items suggested in 22 Ways to Speed Up Your Computer helps, but eventually not enough. The only way to return your computer to its original zippy youthful self is by reformatting.

(more…)

Categories: Tech tips | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Tips For Selecting The Best And Most Efficient Web Hosting Provider

Single standing robotMost prospective buyers start by going to the seller’s website before purchasing. An online presence has become a vital importance for not just business owners or service providing companies, but teacher-consultants who offer online classes, mentoring, and lesson plans to fellow educators. Thanks to a plethora of reliable and affordable web hosting companies, you no longer need ‘weebly’ or ‘wordpress’ appended to your online profile.

The problem is: There are too many web-hosting companies. How do you qualify them? Which one delivers great service at a reasonable price with reliable features that aren’t confusing to figure out? What you need is a web hosting review site (like the link above) that evaluates the critical services without relying on customer comments and their placement in a Google search.

Below are tips to help you evaluate services before you make your selection:

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Categories: Reviews | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

How Do You Backup Your Data

back upProbably, of all computer functions, backing up data is the most critical and the most likely to make you tear your hair out. Hard drives crash, files get corrupted, your computer is lost or stolen, a virus and malware forces you to reformat (which can lose all of your data), what you thought you saved you didn’t–I could go on. There are dozens of reasons why you should–really–backup your data.

And as a teacher, it’s even more critical because it’s not just you who suffers if you can’t find student projects or report card comments. It’s parents, students, and your colleagues.

Despite that, backing up is a step too many of the educators I know skip. The top reasons:

  • it takes too long
  • I forget
  • I’ve never had a problem

The only reason I hear from those who lost data because they didn’t back up:

“Because I’m an idiot!”

It’s as G. Silowash said while participating in his school’s disaster drill to a faculty question about forgotten report card files:

“Don’t worry, your data is securely burning inside with the rest of the building.” 

Let me make it easy for you. Here are the top four ways I back-up data–and I do all of them:

Automatic back-up service

By far, the most reliable approach to backing up your data files is with an automatic cloud service. These are easy to access, safe, and quick. There are many options, but a new one I just met is Windows-based Cloud Backup Robot (when they responded to my donation request). Considered by some as one of the best data backup software, it’s easy to use, intuitive,, backs up everything from files to SQL databases, and can zip and/or encrypt files. You create an account, download a bit of software, configure the back-up schedule for automatic or manual, and then push the button to get started. You can back-up data to your computer, a network, or the cloud. One feature I particularly like is that you can store to any number of familiar clouds–Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, OneDrive and Amazon S3. Price varies between a highly-affordable lite edition to a fully-featured professional version. When you’re ready to sign up, pick the version best suited to your needs.

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Categories: Reviews, Tech tips | Tags: , | 4 Comments

End-of-year Tech Tips: Image and Back-up Computer

2016This week, I’m providing tips for end-of-year technology maintenance. These are activities that could (or should) be done once a month if you’re active on your computer, but AT LEAST do them yearly.

Like today.

Two critical maintenance tasks that lots of people skip are:

  • image your computer
  • back up your documents

Image your computer

Every computer must be reformatted eventually. Every time you download from a website or open an email attachment or update one of your online tools or software, you collect digital dust and grunge that affects the speed and efficiency of your computer. Performing the clean up items suggested in 18 Steps to a Speedier Computer helps, but eventually not enough. The only way to return your computer to its original zippy youthful self is by reformatting.Laptop With Copyspace Showing Browsing And Surfing Web Online

I hate reformatting my computer. I lose all the extras I’ve added (like Jing, cookies, Printkey 2000 which is out of production). I forget which software I have (sure, I remember MS Office, but what about Google Earth and Celestia?) And then there are all the personalizations I’ve added that get lost with the reformat. It takes me hours–days?–to return my computer to its prior user-friendly state. As a result, I resist reformatting for as long as I can. Usually, until a virus has made my computer unusable. Then, I have no choice.

Then I discovered imaging. When you image your computer, you take a picture of what your hard drive looks like, including all the programs and extras, and save in a secure back-up area. When you reformat, all you have to do is copy the image back to the computer. Mine is on a terabyte external drive. Even if my two internal drives explode, I’m good.

Here’s what you do:

  • Click the start button.
  • Go to Control Panel
  • Select ‘Backup and Restore’
  • On the left sidebar, you’ll see an option for ‘create a system image’. Select that.
  • Follow directions (it’ll ask which drive to use for the image–stuff like that)

(more…)

Categories: Tech tips | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Get Ready for the New Year!

19075535 Year 2016 Torn Paper ConceptNext week, I’ll share three holiday activities that will get your computers, technology, and social media ready for the new year. Here’s what you’ll get:

  1. Is Your Online Presence Up to Date?
  2. Back up and Image your computer
  3. 15 Ways to Speed Up Your Computer

A note: The links won’t work until the articles publish!

Join me! You’ll come away feeling ready, re-energized, and geeky.

(more…)

Categories: Holidays, Tech tips | Tags: , | 4 Comments

12 Spring Cleaning Steps for Your Computer

spring cleaning It’s time for Spring Cleaning. Of your computer.

If you followed my suggestion over New Year’s, this will go faster than you expect, but still, plan to set aside a couple of hours. Grab a coffee or tea, get a comfortable chair. Put on your problem-solving hat, and get started:

  1. Make sure your firewall is working. Windows comes with a built-in one. Maybe Mac does too. Leave it active. It’s under Control Panel-Administrative Tools. Sometimes, they turn off by themselves (I have no idea why). Check it to be sure it remains active.
  2. Run Spybot or a similar antispyware program. Spybot is free, which is why I like it. I’ve had good luck with it. Download.com says this about Spybot: The program checks your system against a comprehensive database of adware and other system invaders. The Immunize feature blocks a plethora of uninvited Web-borne flotsam before it reaches your computer.
  3. Keep your antivirus software active. If you’re paranoid like me, run an antivirus scan weekly to be sure nothing is missed.
  4. Run Ad-aware once a week to keep malware and spyware off your computer. It has a stellar reputation and is still free to all (although there’s an upgrade you can pay for).
  5. Sort through your My Documents files and get rid of those you don’t need anymore. That includes pictures, videos, faxes, all that stuff. It’s intimidating, like a file cabinet that hasn’t been opened in months–or years. Do it, though. You may not need the hard drive space, but you don’t need the computer fingering through unnecessary files every time it searches.
  6. Back up all of your files to an external drive or cloud storage. If you have an automated system like Carbonite (see my sidebar for a link), skip this. If you don’t have one, consider getting one. They not only automatically back up your work, but they make it accessible from wherever you are–home, work, your accountants, the soccer field. If you use Windows, try their ‘backup’ program. It’s easy to find: Click the Start Button and search ‘backup’.
  7. Empty the trash folder. Don’t even look in it. If you haven’t missed a file by now, it won’t be in there.
  8. Learn to use that program you’ve been promising you would. Evernote is a great example. Use it (and you won’t be sorry) or delete the email from your best friend exhorting you to. Move on.
  9. Go through your programs and delete the ones you no longer use. Here’s what you do:
    • go to Control Panel>Programs and Feature
    • Peruse the list and pick the programs you downloaded by mistake, meaning to use, or used to use and no longer do
    • uninstall
    • don’t look back
  10. Update any software that needs it. I don’t mean BUY a newer version. I mean click the free update that’s been nagging at you (Adobe Reader and Windows, for example)
  11. Clean the junk off of your desktop. Put it in folders or create a folder for ‘Working on’ or ‘Desktop Stuff’. Don’t know how to create a desktop folder? Here’s what you do:
    • Right click on the desktop and select ‘New>folder’
  12. Clean up your Start Button. Remove shortkeys you no longer use (with a right click>delete). Add those that are now your daily go-to sites. How? Right-click>add to Start Menu.

(more…)

Categories: Computer Wisdom, Tech tips | Tags: , | 6 Comments

End-of-year Tech Tips: Image and Back-up Your Computer

This week, I’m providing tips for end-of-year technology maintenance. These are activities that could (or should) be done once a month if you’re active on your computer, but AT LEAST do them yearly.

Like today.

Two critical maintenance tasks that lots of people skip are:

  • image your computer
  • back up your documents

image computerImage your computer

Every computer must be reformatted eventually. Every time you download from a website or open an email attachment or update one of your online tools or software, you collect digital dust and grunge that affects the speed and efficiency of your computer. Performing the clean up items suggested in 13 Ways To Speed Up Your Computer helps, but eventually not enough. The only way to return your computer to its original speedy youthful self is by reformatting.

I hate reformatting my computer. I lose all the extras I’ve added (like Jing, cookies, Printkey 2000 which is out of production). I forget which software I have (sure, I remember MS Office, but what about Google Earth and Celestia?) And then there are all the personalizations I’ve put on that get lost with the reformat. It takes me hours–days?–to return my computer to its prior user-friendly state. As a result, I resist reformatting for as long as I can. Usually, until a virus has made my computer unusable. Then, I have no choice.

A few years ago, I discovered imaging. When you image your computer, you take a picture of what your hard drive looks like, including all the programs and extras, and save in a secure back-up area (I have Carbonite do it for me on a regular basis). When you reformat, all you have to do is copy the image back to the computer. Mine is on a terabyte external drive. Even if my two internal drives explode, I’m good.

Here’s what you do:

  • Click the start button.
  • Go to Control Panel
  • Select ‘Backup and Restore’
  • On the left sidebar, you’ll see an option for ‘create a system image’. Select that.
  • Follow directions (it’ll ask which drive to use for the image–stuff like that)

(more…)

Categories: Tech tips | Tags: , | Leave a comment

End-of-Year Tips: 13 WaysTo Speed Up Your Computer

vector image of a bar of soapThis week, I’m providing tips for end-of-year technology maintenance. These are activities that could (or should) be done once a month if you’re active on your computer, but AT LEAST do them yearly.

Like this week.

That’s right. It’s a new year, which means Pre-Spring Cleaning. Set aside the brushes and mops. Grab a comfortable chair, put on your problem-solving hat, and get started. The goal: To make your computer faster, more efficient, and more reliable for all the work you’ve promised to complete over the holiday break.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Make sure your firewall is working. Windows comes with a built-in one. Maybe Mac does too. Leave it active. It’s under Control Panel>Administrative Tools. Sometimes, they seem to turn off by themselves (I have no idea why). Check to be sure it is active. This will keep viruses and malware out that slow your computer.
  2. Defrag your computer. To quote Windows, Fragmentation makes your hard disk do extra work that can slow down your computer. Removable storage devices such as USBs can also become fragmented. Disk Defragmenter rearranges fragmented data so your disks and drives can work more efficiently. Never mind all that geek speak. Here’s what you need to know: Run Disc Defrag by going to Control Panel>Administrative Tools>Advanced Tools.
  3. Run Spybot or a similar spyware programs. Spybot is free, which is why I like it, and I’ve had good luck with it. Download.com says this about Spybot: The program checks your system against a comprehensive database of adware and other system invaders. The Immunize feature blocks a plethora of uninvited Web-borne flotsam before it reaches your computer.
  4. Run Ad-aware once a week to keep malware off your computer. It has a stellar reputation and is also free (although there’s an upgrade that you can pay for).
  5. Keep your antivirus software active. If you’re paranoid like me, run an antivirus scan weekly to be sure nothing is missed.
  6. Sort through your Documents and get rid of those you don’t need anymore. It’s intimidating, like a file cabinet that hasn’t been opened in months–or years and is covered with dust, even spider webs. Do it, though. If you don’t, every time you search, the computer must finger through those unused and worthless files. It doesn’t understand the difference between ‘unused’ and ‘important’.
  7. Back up your files to an external drive or cloud storage. If you have an automated system, skip this. If you don’t, consider getting Carbonite or similar. If you use Windows, try their backup program. It’s easy to find: Click the Start Button and search ‘backup’.
  8. Empty the trash. Don’t even look in it. If you haven’t missed a file by now, it won’t matter if you throw it out.
  9. Learn to use that program you’ve been promising you would or delete it. Evernote is a great example. Use it (and you won’t be sorry) or delete the email from your best friend exhorting you to try it. Move on.
  10. Go through your programs and delete the ones you no longer use. Here’s what you do:
    • go to Control Panel>Programs and Features
    • peruse the list and pick the programs you downloaded by mistake, meaning to use, or used to use and no longer do
    • uninstall
    • don’t look back
  11. Update any software that needs it. I don’t mean BUY a newer version. I mean click the free update that’s been nagging at you (Adobe Reader and Windows, for example)
  12. Clean the junk off your desktop. Put it in folders or create a folder for ‘Working on’. Don’t know how to create a desktop folder? Just right click on the desktop and select ‘New>folder’
  13. Clean up your Start Button. Remove shortkeys you no longer use (with a right click>delete). Add those that have become daily go-to sites

(more…)

Categories: Teacher resources | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Get Ready for the New Year!

2015Next week, I’ll share four holiday activities that will get your computers, technology, and social media ready for the new year. Here’s what you’ll get:

  1. Is Your Online Presence Up to Date?
  2. Once a Year Blog Maintenance–Are You Up to Date?
  3. Back up and Image your computer
  4. 13 Ways to Speed Up Your Computer

Join me! You’ll come away feeling ready, re-energized, and geeky.

(more…)

Categories: Holidays, Tech tips | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Update Your Online Presence

PLN maintenanceFor most teachers I know, life zooms by with few breaks to clean up the clutter and confusion that grows like mold over our everyday online presence. We’re like hamsters on a treadmill, trying to climb the every-growing pile of classes, lesson plans, PD, PLNs, school blogs and websites–our own professional activities. Little things like updating our virtual worlds with where we work, what awards we’ve received, who our latest boss is, get lost like a single snowflake in a snowstorm. Who has the time?

You do. Now.

When my students tell me they couldn’t do their homework because they didn’t have time, I refer them to the advice of Richard Sloma–Never try to solve all the problems at once — make them line up for you one-by-one.

Line your maintenance issues up. Pick them off like metal ducks in a shooting gallery. One. At. A. Time.

Here’s my short list. It can apply to FB, LinkedIn, class wikis, websites, Moodle accounts–anything that you routinely update and share with colleagues, students, parents:

  • Read the critical parts that make up your online presence. This includes your profile, the About page, anything that refers to ‘Contact Me’. Highlight the stuff that embarrasses you, is more than five years out of date, applies to the start of the school year (and hasn’t been touched since). Make a (digital) list of those and add them to the bottom of this list. Depending upon how serious they are, you might want to start with them.
  • Update social media profiles–FB, Twitter, G+, professional groups you belong to. Do they all say the same thing (they should)? Have you changed educational focus? Switched jobs? Adding new material efriends would like to know about? This, btw, should be done regularly, but at least do it at the new year.
  • Re-read old posts, articles, updates. Voltaire once said, No problem can stand the assault of sustained thinking. The same can be said for grammar and spelling mistakes to the eye of a trained teacher. We don’t miss much, and what we do miss shows up like a ringer on a Little League team, especially when they’ve percolated for a few weeks. I start with the most-visited articles and pages (under Site Stats) and work my way down (in case I run out of time–or energy).
  • Check individual post tags and categories to see if you can whittle down the options while still clearly cataloging writing. Often, your organizational thinking has changed since you wrote the piece–what used to be a ‘math’ article, now fits better in ‘Common Core’. Relevant and timely categories and tags help those in your PLN, PD, parents and students dig deeper into your pedagogic thinking. Make this easy to do by keeping all your writing organized and searchable.
  • Check sidebar for out-of-date and no-longer-relevant widgets and links. Here are just a few of the problems I fixed:

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Categories: Computer Wisdom, Teacher resources | Tags: , | 1 Comment