We recently mentioned using “File History” in both Windows 10 and Windows 8 because it backs up changes you make to your files. You can find it by typing the name in the Windows search box. Another solution is “Google Backup and Sync.” It’s free and somewhat simpler and works for both Windows and Mac. It automatically backs up all your files, or just the ones you mark; it also keeps tracks of the files you delete.

We were deleting some old stuff recently and Google Backup  popped up with a message to ask if we wanted to also delete them from our Google Drive account, which is online storage. This is also free and if you use Gmail for your email service, you get the Google Drive storage automatically with it. We said yes. Whether you use Gmail or  some other email service, like Outlook or Yahoo, you’ll want to get the backup-and-sync program  by going to

If you need to find a file or photo you deleted accidentally, go to and type the name of the file in the search box. If you can’t remember the name, look through the list of everything you’ve stored there and hopefully you will recognize it when you see it.

Fun With Numbers

Let’s have some fun with techno-numbers. If we’re going to save things to Google Drive, and ask questions all the time, how much data does a giant data handler like Google hold?

Well, does anyone still remember punch cards? Plenty of people probably do. We used to feed these paperboard cards into IBM card readers, and that told their ridiculously expensive huge air-conditioned computer what to do and how to do it. You can still see this in action in some old movies; it’s done to convey a sense of modern technology at work.

An educated guess is that Google has a storage capacity of 15 exabytes, which is 15,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes, each byte representing a letter or number, or what they call a character. A punch card can hold about 80 of these characters. So15 exabytes would require enough punch cards  to cover  all of New England to a depth of about three miles. This would definitely depress property values

How many servers does it take to handle that much data? Well a server is a term used for a very powerful computer but not a supercomputer, say one that’s somewhere between ten to a hundred times more powerful than what we have on our desks. In actual use, the only part of that computer they use is a circuit board with all the requisite chips on it — no need for a screen or keyboard or any of that extra stuff that humans need — and they stack those boards up on racks  It’s estimated that Google has at least one million of them; this number is constantly increasing. Amazon probably has about two million servers. Very impressive. Not easy to compete with that. Facebook probably has about 70,000 to 80,000 servers, which is enough to handle a billion or more people at a time sharing photos, updates and snaggy remarks about politicians.

Most of this stuff is what we would call “guesstimates,” but it won’t be that far off. The amount of electricity required to keep the wheels turning, so to speak, may be as a much as one percent of world output. But it’s worth it, and much more productive than lighting night ballgames.

Facebook Tips

We get a lot more birthday greetings on Facebook than we ever remember to give out. Guilt, guilt, guilt.

How come everyone else is  on the ball? We discovered their secret, and it’s simple. On, click “Events” from the list on s the left. Then click “birthdays.” You’ll see a list of who has a birthday this week and later on.

Here’s another tip: To chat back and forth with a Facebook friend, click “Messenger” in the top left under “News Feed.” If you can’t find your friend in the list on the left, just type their name in the search box at the top. Click “Message”  to send them a private message. This is  similar to texting on a phone.


  • has over 80 classics available for free download. Joy has read so many classics, there are only 12 she hasn’t read yet, like George Orwell’s “Down and Out in Paris and London,” and “Ulysses” by James Joyce. You can read them online or download to your phone, tablet or computer.
  • lets you check the ingredients in cosmetics, lotions and other products to find out if they’re cancer-causing or otherwise unsafe. We expected to find a lot of scary stuff listed in “Cetaphil,” a lotion our dermatologist recommends but it wasn’t too bad. Sure enough, the cyclopentasiloxane, ceteareth 20, benzyl alcohol, farnesol, sodium hydroxide, sodium polyacrylate and  phenoxyethanol carried a modest risk, but the other 17 ingredients seem OK. Hey, beauty has its price. (Bob hates cosmetics.)

Central Casting

We cast movies from our phone to our TV screen using Google’s $35 “Chromecast.” A reader wondered about the $69 “Chromecast Ultra.”

“Chromecast Ultra” is like the Chromecast, but offers a richer looking picture. Like the Roku player, and the Amazon Firestick, it brings in many channels: Netflix, Hulu Plus and Google Play. But unlike Roku and the Amazon Firestick, it can’t bring in Amazon Prime video. Apple TV is another way to mirror the contents of your phone or iPad onto the TV.

If you have the original Chromecast, you may want to move up a generation, to the $35 version. We recently looked at our friend’s TV using an original Chromecast, and the picture was muddy. But you don’t have to go all the way to Chromecast Ultra, unless you have a 4K TV and want the best picture possible. We helped our friend install the regular Chromecast in its latest version and the picture improved dramatically.



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