No Backup? No Problem! $700 Please.

Posted by Janet Riley on Feb 7, 2018 in Newsletter

If you treat your wife like a thoroughbred, you’ll never end up with a nag. ~ Zig Ziglar

It happened again this past week. The phone call came in. The person on the other end was anxious. One miss click and an entire life time of photos was gone. Nothing left to recall the happy memories. No images of loved ones, now deceased. No financial data available. No more saved documents. And that collections of favorite kitten videos? Just a memory. Too make matters worse: money is tight. Age and health problems prevent finding a better job or a second job. Please, Please, Please? Can you help?

My mother always preached that an ounce of prevention was worth a pound of cure. When it comes to data backup, this is very true.

Data loss can happen in any number of ways. There’s a song running through my head, something about “let me count the ways….”

First, there is hardware failure. How many appliances work forever? That’s right! NONE! Why would you expect your computer to work forever? It’s not going to happen.

Second, is user error. Similar to the individual mentioned above, all it takes is a single confirmation click on the wrong button and what was supposed to be a revert to what the computer was doing last week, suddenly reverts the computer to what it was when brand spanking new.

Third is malicious intent. Everyone is running virus software now days, but did you know, virus software typically doesn’t stop malware? And malware is everywhere. It has infiltrated Yahoo ad servers, it hides on random, unpatched, web sites. You can’t escape it. The idea that you only need to worry if you are surfing porn sites or hate sites, hasn’t been true for years.

Want to know what it costs to recover valuable data? If the data loss is caused by hardware failure, the drive will have to be sent in to a data recovery site with a “clean room”. They typically charge $75 just to open up the drive and evaluate whether or not they can do anything with it. If they can, recovery costs start at $700 plus the cost of new media to put the recovered data onto. Years ago, I was called to an office to assist with rebuilding a server that died. The data recovery charge was $7000 (not including my labor). Have an extra $700 -$7000 burning a hole in your pocket? I would love to help you recover your data!

If you’re the stingy type, and don’t want to cough up $700-$7000 for data recovery, then I would suggest you learn how to do backups yourself.

Windows 10 makes it fairly easy. You will need an external hard drive, available everywhere. Plug the hard drive in. Open the settings app. (the little cog that appears when you click what use to be the start button). Go to Update & Security. Click Backup on the left side menu.

Click the Plus sign to add a drive and choose the external drive.

Click on More Options to choose the folders to include or exclude in the backup.   Double check the settings for how often to backup and you’re done. How easy was that?

And again… Mom was right. A few minutes of prevention and an inexpensive drive can save you $700+ for a cure.

Want even more robust backups?   Ask about our cloud backup and computer monitoring service.

Keeping the New Year Happy!!



Because it Made Me Smile:

You can see the complete video at:


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Resolve to Protect Your Data

Posted by Janet Riley on Jan 8, 2018 in Newsletter

Two types of voices command your attention today. Negative ones fill your mind with doubt, bitterness, and fear. Positive ones purvey hope and strength. Which one will you choose to heed? ~ Max Lucado

Happy New Year. Is it: Ritual / Routine/ Standard Operating Procedure? Every year we make New Year’s Resolutions. Every year we give it half an effort and give up completely by the 2nd week of January. Some of us do better. Some of us don’t give up until the end of January. Some of us are smarter and don’t even bother to make a resolution. Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained. Why waste what little energy/time we do have, attempting to achieve something that we really didn’t have our hearts set on anyway? It’s been rumored that only 8% of people actually achieve their resolutions. (   The biggest slayer of resolutions is tackling projects that are too large. But did you know, if the project is broken down into smaller tasks, you are much more likely to succeed?


Hackers have learned this. They learn the trade on little guys, and then move up to medium sized guys, and finally the big guys. Unlike Goldilocks, who finds the little chair just right, they don’t care what size you are! They just want your money/login credentials/passwords/ID. And practicing on little guys is easiest. Little guys are the training grounds. So this is what I would suggest for a doable New Year’s Resolution (assuming you have already given up on the lose weight/exercise more/eat less/quit smoking).


Resolution: Protect Your Computer Data (and your ID)


Step 1: Download LastPass ( IT’S FREE! LastPass will create unique passwords for the various sites you frequent. That means, the next time you read about Equifax or Yahoo or Target suffering a security breech, you won’t have to worry about thieves getting access to all other sites you frequent because you are using the same password everywhere.

Got this step completed? Reward yourself. I suggest Ice Cream!


Step 2: If your banks / credit cards / investment houses offer two factor authentication, Implement it! Two factor authentication means you need a password PLUS a security key which will be emailed, texted or phoned to you each time you logon to the site. Is it a pain in the rump? Yes! Is it worth it? Yes!

Got this step completed? Reward yourself. I suggest Moose Crunch, you know, Carmel Corn dipped in Chocolate.


Step 3: Backup your data!!! Enough already! Just do it! Buy an external drive and plug it in. Local Backups can protect you against hardware failure and sometimes against ransomware. Want better protection? Try cloud backup. This will protect you against hardware failure/fires/floods/physical theft and ransomware. Pricing starts at $25/month per workstation. Call me. I’ll get you started. When complete, I’ll buy you ice cream!


Step 4: Get rid of stuff you aren’t using. All of those browser add-ons have the potential to go rogue over time. There’s a nice site, complete with pictures, that will walk you thru the process of removing unnecessary extensions for each web browser. You can find it here:

And if the stuff you’re not using includes digital accounts like Airbnb, Amazon, Ancestry, MySpace, to name just a few, then Everplans has directions for you. They have compiled a list of over 200 sites and directions for how to close an account.   The list was originally designed to walk survivors through the process of closing accounts of deceased loved ones, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t use these resources while still living. Access the list at:

Got all four steps completed? Congratulations! You are in the top 8% of people who actually achieve their resolution! Reward Yourself. I suggest dinner and a movie with a loved one!


Let’s Keep the New Year Happy!!



Because it made me laugh:

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Free Password Protection for PDF’s

Posted by Janet Riley on Dec 8, 2017 in Newsletter

Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck. ~Dalai Lama

I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for the out pouring of love and words of encouragement that my readers sent my way after Mom’s passing. Thank you!! November was a busy month. Besides the normal rush of getting ready for the holidays, I also had the additional tasks of taking care of Mom’s final expenses. There was a lot of communication going back and forth between myself and my siblings. Some of the communication included death certificates and bank statements. Call me paranoid, but I don’t like to send financial information thru email. It just seems so insecure. So my inquiring mind asked: How can I put a password on this PDF?

Then my inquiring mind asked Google. What I found was amazingly simple and FREE. How cool is that? So, Merry Christmas! I thought I would share.

First step is to put your information into a PDF format. There are two basic ways to do this. If you are creating the document from scratch via any Microsoft Product, you simply choose to save as PDF and Wah-lah, You’re done! And since you chose to create the information in a Microsoft Product, it is simple to add a password. In later versions of Word, I would open the View Ribbon, Click on Properties, Chose Protect Document and then click on Encrypt with Password. Problem solved.

It’s a little bit harder to take bank statements or other existing documents and convert them to PDF. For this you need a scanner. Most printers come with the ability to copy and scan. Hopefully, you already have that piece of equipment. If not, then you will need to race out and buy one, or rent one. The scanner will save your documents as PDF. Once you have the document in PDF format you will need a third party utility to add a password. If you have a subscription to Adobe Acrobat, then you are covered. Password protecting documents is included. If you are like me, and don’t want to pay a subscription for a feature that I will use twice a year, then you will appreciate this gem: PDFMate Free PDF Merger found at: Once there, click on the Free Download, and follow instructions to install. The user agreement states they have the right to recommend 3rd party utilities to you. Watch for those optional installs as you click thru the install screens. My install did not suggest additional software, but that doesn’t mean you will have the same experience.

Once installed, #1. Click the Add Files button in the upper left, and then double click the PDF document to password protect.  #2.   At the bottom of the screen, Choose the LayOut size (normally letter), choose if you want 1 to 1 conversion (1IN1) 2 pages reduced to 1 page (2IN1) or 4 pages saved as 1 page (4IN1).  #3. Check the box beside “Open Password” and add the password in the blank box to the right. If you want to give them rights to print the file then you will also need to put a check mark in the Permission Password box , and a check mark in the Printing Allowed Box. Boom, You’re Done! Only problem is remembering the password assigned.

Hope you find this useful. A Merry Christmas to All, and to All a Good Night!


Because it Made Me Laugh:


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Things I Learned From My Mother

Posted by Janet Riley on Nov 2, 2017 in Newsletter

Mom, aka Elva Dirksen

Can’t Never Did Anything!! ~ Mom

Mom would have been 92 this month and while she had been ailing for months, it was a surprise when we got the call saying she had passed. Neal and I had just visited her less than 12 hours earlier.

This month, I want to share my mom with you. Mom was a trooper. She was a fighter. She never gave up. She caught tuberculous when she was 18 and spent several years in a sanitarium. When she walked out of the sanitarium, a doctor told her he hadn’t expected her to live and also suggested she not have children. She married, and over the course of 19 years, gave birth to four. I like to believe I’m special (since I’m here and I wasn’t supposed to be). Please don’t try to convince me otherwise.

When faced with hard tasks, mom would encourage us by saying “Kent never did anything!” Kent is my baby brother. It was infuriating to hear Kent never did anything. Like I didn’t already know that? Kent had mastered the disappearing act when chores needed to be done.   I was in my twenty’s before I figured out she was saying “CAN’T” never did anything! She was correct (in both instances) . If you think you Can’t you Won’t! You’ve already lost the battle. If you think you Can, there’s a good chance you Will.

Mom taught us if a job was worth doing, you might as well save the time and do it right the first time. Doing the job twice is wasteful and inefficient.

Mom taught us to expect the unexpected. One hot summer day, my sister was washing dishes and I was drying. Mom was outside the kitchen window watering her rose bushes. I don’t remember who thought it was a good idea to spray mom with the kitchen sink sprayer, I will assume it’s Ann’s fault because I’m really too sweet to think of dastardly things on my own. I do remember thinking we would be safe because we were inside. I was confused! Mom drenched us with the garden hose.

Mom taught us to work hard, pray harder, and leave the rest to God.   My family and I would like to say THANK YOU to those who have been covering us with prayers. We feel the love. And interestingly, this video came through my email today. I’m pretty certain my mom could have been a Navy Seal.

How To Get Through A Tough Day


AS always, if you need someone to work hard or pray harder for you or your business, give us a call. We would love to help.

~ Janet

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People are Your Top Security Risk-Get Help Now

Posted by Janet Riley on Oct 16, 2017 in Newsletter

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. ~Amelia Earhart

Definitions, compliments of Wikipedia:
Malware, short for malicious software, is an umbrella term used to refer to a variety of forms of hostile or intrusive software, including computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, adware, scareware, and other malicious programs. Malware is defined by its malicious intent, acting against the requirements of the computer user.

Phishing is the attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details (and, indirectly, money), often for malicious reasons, by disguising as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.
Phishing is typically carried out by email spoofing or instant messaging, and it often directs users to enter personal information at a fake website, the look and feel of which are identical to the legitimate one and the only difference is the URL of the website in concern.

An advanced persistent threat is a set of stealthy and continuous computer hacking processes, often orchestrated by a person or persons targeting a specific entity. An APT usually targets either private organizations, states or both for business or political motives. APT processes require a high degree of covertness over a long period of time. The “advanced” process signifies sophisticated techniques using malware to exploit vulnerabilities in systems. The “persistent” process suggests that an external command and control system is continuously monitoring and extracting data from a specific target. The “threat” process indicates human involvement in orchestrating the attack.
APT usually refers to a group, such as a government, with both the capability and the intent to target, persistently and effectively, a specific entity. The term is commonly used to refer to cyber threats, in particular that of Internet-enabled espionage using a variety of intelligence gathering techniques to access sensitive information, but applies equally to other threats such as that of traditional espionage or attacks. The purpose of these attacks is to place custom malicious code on one or multiple computers for specific tasks and to remain undetected for the longest possible period.

Cisco’s 2016 Annual Security Report states: Attacks are Increasing
The frequency, types, and severity of cyberattacks are continuing to rise. The top reported threats include:
* Malware (68 percent)
* Phishing (54 percent)
* Advanced persistent threats (43 percent)

Verizon’s 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report states: Bad Guys Are More Devious Than Ever
* 89 percent of breaches are motivated by financial gain or espionage
* 89 percent of threat actors are organized crime syndicates
* 9 percent are political actors
The top three data targets are: Credentials, Trade secrets, Banking data

Mandiant Consulting reports: Your People Are Your Top Security Risk
* 30 percent of phishing messages are opened by the target.
Assets (Laptops, Cell Phones, Tablets) are lost over 100 times more frequently than they are stolen.

Got Concerns? We Have Answers! Give us a Call Today!

Old News but it still makes me laugh:
Horses watch the Eclipse

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How to Shop for a Computer

Posted by Janet Riley on Sep 6, 2017 in Newsletter

Life is about using the whole box of crayons.

There’s something about September that makes me want new things. Maybe it has something to do with school starting, and years of shopping for new school clothes and supplies. If computers are on your list of things to buy, we would love to help. Call or stop “buy” soon.




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