LOSING SKYPE

Our 96-year-old friend Ida uses the free Skype service to have video-chats with her friends in Australia. One day, her account was wiped out. Could this happen to you? (Think of that question as having been asked in scary monster movie title type.) You might think this had something to do with her age, and she must have hit the wrong button or spilled something on the keyboard. But no, we found dozens of similar complaints on the web. One guy wrote: “Where has my account gone? I do business all over Europe and today you just trashed my account with the credit I had as well?  You idiots.  If somebody within Microsoft made the decision to do this – […]

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TEXTING FROM YOUR COMPUTER

Joy’s sister recently sent her an email saying: “Look at your text messages.” (She implied, but did not add, “Dummy!”)  We’re much more likely to see email on our computer than texts on our phone and Sis knows it. We’re that rare couple who doesn’t live on their phones. So what we needed was a free Windows app called “MySMS,” which is for Android phones only. The acronym stands for “Short Message Service.” You can get it from MySMS.com. Once installed on your computer, it can copy all the text messages that were sent to your smartphone — as long as you have another app installed on your phone. That’s also called MySMS and you get it from the Google […]

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SOME MOVE, SOME DON’T

We got a pitch to try out a new program from Acronis for moving all your computer’s content to a place in the cloud. Sounds so romantic.

Well, in essence, moving stuff to the cloud is no different than moving stuff to another computer — ’cause that’s what’s happening. The so-called cloud, no matter who’s offering it, is a big room with lots and lots of computers with lots and lots of hard drives attached. It is a cloud only in a public relations person’s metaphorical imagination.

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WORLD’S MOST RELIABLE HARD DRIVES

Backblaze, a backup service, used 41,213 hard drives to store customer’s data. The drives that were most reliable, they say, were four-terabyte capacity units from “HGST,” which was formerly a division of Hitachi. Only one percent of their drives failed. Western Digital, which recently bought the Hitachi unit, came in second and Seagate third.

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THE DIGITAL CLOSET

Microsoft has doubled the amount of online storage you can get for your phone, tablet, PC or Mac. It’s now 30 gigabytes. To get started, go to onedrive.live.com and choose your device. If you have Windows 8.1, it’s already installed.

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WHEN DISASTER LOOMS

For nearly an entire day, Joy thought she’d lost her most important files. Fortunately, they were backed up in more than one way, even though she wasn’t aware of it at the time.

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BACKING UP AGAIN

When we wrote about online backup from Backup Blaze, we heard from readers who said they couldn’t possibly use an online service. They have too much stuff to back up, like movie and photo collections taking up a terabyte or more. So we turned to “Seagate Central.”

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BACKUP LIKE BLAZES

Automatic backups are nice if your stuff is saved online, where fire, accident and disorganization can’t reach it. For us, it’s a lifesaver. If our file isn’t backed up online, we might never find it again.

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IN SYNC

If you have more than one computer and a phone or two, it’s a good idea to synchronize them. How to do it? Our favorite method is free up to two gigabytes of stuff. Start by installing Dropbox from Dropbox.com to your phones and computers. From then on, everything you drag into your Dropbox folder is synced with your private Dropbox account on the Internet. If you need a file, it’s downloadable from any device. That’s handy. Just now, Joy tried signing into Bob’s Dropbox account on her computer and voila, there were his files. If something should happen to Bob’s computer, she knows she can recover his files on her machine, or even on her phone. The computer doesn’t […]

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FINDING DUPLICATE FILES

“Dupeless 3” is the new version of a small program for getting rid of duplicate files. It’s $8 from PC Magazine’s Utility Library or free for members who pay $20 for a year’s worth of programs. We paid.

Dupeless 3 removes the duplicates and you have some control over the situation. You can search by file name, content, or both. You can limit the types of files, such as photos or documents. Restricting the search is a good idea, otherwise the program shows you too many files that are part of the operating system.

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