Recent Comments

Comment by Mike in Colorado on A Harbinger of Hard Drive Hardship? (December 9, 2022 11:03 PM)
A little more info on TESTDISK would be helpful. I'm not quite sure how I can use it to recover a hard drive that won't start up anymore. Fortunatel...
Comment by Bob Jaskolka on A Harbinger of Hard Drive Hardship? (December 6, 2022 08:03 PM)
My now retired H-P desktop was a real dust magnet, even though I regularly vacuumed the case's air intake ports. Here's my periodic maintenance method...
Comment by Dan on A Harbinger of Hard Drive Hardship? (December 6, 2022 07:54 PM)
But if it's clicking RIGHT NOW ... I told the last client who called me about this "DON'T TURN IT OFF! DON'T USE IT! LEAVE IT ALONE UNTIL I GET THERE!...
Comment by Oliver Fleming on Have You Backed Up THIS Important Thing? (December 4, 2022 05:20 AM)
Make your own UPS. Battery, Trickle Charger, Inverter. Charger into power. Battery into charger. Computer into inverter. Clean power for your computer...
Comment by Frances on Have You Backed Up THIS Important Thing? (December 1, 2022 06:52 PM)
Just want to say that whole house surge protectors are available. They go on the main electrical panel....
Comment by Kathleen A Dombrowski on Have You Backed Up THIS Important Thing? (November 30, 2022 03:42 PM)
My APC ES-550 is the best deal I ever found at a Yard Sale. It was $5.00 and needed a battery. We have a whole home propane generator because we live ...
Comment by Victor Sperber on Have You Backed Up THIS Important Thing? (November 30, 2022 10:48 AM)
I've got power points that need to be protected in 3 rooms - living room router, my study PC, my wife's study laptop. So do I need to buy 3 UPS units?...
Comment by BaliRob on Have You Backed Up THIS Important Thing? (November 30, 2022 05:19 AM)
Another BOOLMARK article - thank you Bob and the contributors herewith...
Comment by Pitou on Have You Backed Up THIS Important Thing? (November 30, 2022 04:47 AM)
I purchased an AC Delco Power Inverter from Canadian Tire Store years ago. When the power goes out, I just connect it to my truck battery and then co...
Comment by fbgcai on Have You Backed Up THIS Important Thing? (November 30, 2022 03:25 AM)
Re gas powered generators - bought one for potential Y2K disruptions (didn't happen) - sat around for a number of years so sold it the day BEFORE the ...

A Harbinger of Hard Drive Hardship?

A concerned reader asks: 'My 4-year-old hard drive is making a persistent clicking sound. It started recently and seems to be getting more frequent. Sometimes I hear a repeated click-whir sound when starting or using my computer. Does this mean my hard drive is going bad?' Yikes! Hard drive clicking sounds are clearly cause for consternation. Read on to learn exactly what that clicking means, what Concerned Reader (and you) should do, if it happens to you...

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Posted by Bob Rankin on December 06, 2022 | Category: Hard-Drives

Have You Backed Up THIS Important Thing?

I’ve written frequently here on ways to backup your hard drive, email, mobile devices and social media content. But what about when the power goes out? How can you keep your computer and internet online when you lose power? Read on for my tips on backup power, and how it relates to keeping your data safe...

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Posted by Bob Rankin on November 29, 2022 | Category: Backup

NINE Tips For Online Holiday Shoppers

In last year's holiday shopping season, spending totaled $887 billion, up over 14 percent from the previous year. Post-pandemic shoppers are back in stores, but ecommerce sales are expected to rise again. Fortunately, some tools have emerged to help consumers find the best deals. Check out these clever tips to help you save money when you shop online for the holidays...

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Posted by Bob Rankin on November 21, 2022 | Category: Shopping

Want Safer Internet? Just Add Onions

I don't spend much time in dark corners of the Web, but every once in a while I fire up the privacy-focused Tor browser. I just installed the latest version and spent some time exploring the Tor network. It was an interesting and surprisingly non-geeky sojourn! Here's what you need to know about the Tor browser, and how it can improve your online safety and privacy...

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Posted by Bob Rankin on November 18, 2022 | Category: Privacy

[TIPS] Trouble Seeing Your Computer Screen?

Ben Franklin opined that nothing is certain except death and taxes. I would add "aging eyesight" because it affects everyone eventually, diminishing the pleasure and productivity of computing. Various adaptive technologies are available to compensate for loss of visual acuity. Some are built into Windows. But these options all have limitations, and using them in certain combinations can actually make it more difficult to make sense of what’s before your eyes. Read on for a look at Windows display settings and how to use them to best advantage...

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Posted by Bob Rankin on November 17, 2022 | Category: Windows

Time to Break Up With Your Phone Company?

A few years back, I published an article that started with these words: “Everyone hates the phone company.” But since then, every time I write on the topic of mobile phone providers, the feedback from AskBob readers is loud and clear: “We Love Consumer Cellular!” I've been a Verizon customer for 20+ years, so I decided to take a closer look at Consumer Cellular and find out why folks think it's so great. Read on for my review of Consumer Cellular and see what this mobile phone company does that others do not...

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Posted by Bob Rankin on November 16, 2022 | Category: Telephony

Convert Your Old VHS Tapes to DVD or Digital

Unfortunately, those old VHS video tapes with treasured family memories won't last forever. Even if the VCR doesn't eventually jam and eat the tape, a VHS recording uses fragile magnetic tape that degrades over time, whether you watch it or not. Don't count on those VHS tapes (or your VCR player) lasting forever -- convert your VHS tapes to DVD or digital format today, and save those memories for posterity. Here are some tips on how to get it done…

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Posted by Bob Rankin on November 07, 2022 | Category: Video

Will a VPN Boost Your Online Privacy?

A confused AskBob reader says, “Do I really need a VPN to be safe online? A friend advised me to subscribe to a free VPN service to protect my privacy, but I don’t really understand why. What is a VPN, anyway?” Read on to learn about virtual private networks, what they can (and cannot) do, and find out if you need one...

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Posted by Bob Rankin on November 04, 2022 | Category: Privacy

Get Your Credit Score (without getting ripped off)

Your credit score is just a three-digit number, but it's not a matter of luck or chance. It's actually one of the most important numbers in your financial life. That's because it summarizes your creditworthiness, and it's the first (and often the last) thing lenders look at when you apply for a loan. Learn how a credit SCORE is different from a credit REPORT, find out how to get your credit score for free, and get some tips for boosting your credit score, without getting lucky...

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Posted by Bob Rankin on October 31, 2022 | Category: Finance

Eggs and Router Security (my advice...)

“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” some wise person opined. Yet most of us do exactly that with all of our expensive “smart” home electronics, and the consequences can be as calamitous as the old proverb implies. In addition to attacking your computer, cyber-crooks are targeting home internet routers. Here's my advice on what you need to know to defend yourself against router attacks...

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Posted by Bob Rankin on October 26, 2022 | Category: Wireless

Hacker Defense: Your SEVEN Point Tuneup

If it seems the online world gets more dangerous every day, you’re not wrong. The AV-TEST Institute reports over 450,000 new malware samples are discovered DAILY. (That's up from 350K two years ago.) Thousands of social media accounts are hacked every day; and untold millions of consumer records compromised in data breaches are used by hackers in increasingly clever attacks. Your defense systems must be kept in tip-top shape. Here are seven ways to harden your system against hackers…

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Posted by Bob Rankin on October 25, 2022 | Category: Security

Malware and Spam: Why Do They Exist?

Philosophers have pondered the nature of evil for ages. Perhaps you also have wondered how a medium meant for information sharing has become a minefield of privacy and security risks. Spam, viruses, ransomware, identity theft, data breaches, phishing, malicious links and other cybercrimes have become commonplace. Who does this stuff, and what the heck is wrong with them? Let's take a look at what motivates the miscreants who menace millions on the Internet...

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Posted by Bob Rankin on October 21, 2022 | Category: Viruses

[TIPS] Start Taking Better Smartphone Pictures

The ubiquitous smartphone seems to have replaced dedicated cameras among all but professionals and photography hobbyists. Here are some tips for taking great photos with your iPhone or Android smartphone. (Actually most of them apply to old-school digital cameras as well.) Read on...

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Posted by Bob Rankin on October 20, 2022 | Category: Photography

How to Spot Scams, Hoaxes, Urban Legends

Did you know? Mister Rogers always wore a long-sleeved sweater to hide the tattoos he got as a Marine Corps sniper. AI-powered robots killed 29 Japanese scientists. And yikes... 40 Mexican hackers have infiltrated your Amazon account! Read on to find out how (and why) nonsense like this spreads like wildfire online...

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Posted by Bob Rankin on October 17, 2022 | Category: Reference

Stop Using Microsoft Office - Here's Why...

Since the Dark Ages, Microsoft Office has been the standard for home, school, and office productivity suites. But it's always been a rather expensive software package. Today's prices range from $249 for Office Home & Business, up to $439 for Microsoft Office Professional. The subscription-based Microsoft 365 Family product costs $100/year. Fortunately, there are plenty of good, compatible alternatives to Microsoft's word processor, spreadsheet tools and related office tools. Many are free, and even those that are not cost much less than Microsoft Office. Here are some of the best free and low-cost office suites to replace Microsoft Office.

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Posted by Bob Rankin on October 14, 2022 | Category: Software

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