TECH TIPS

Strong Passwords

The easiest way to add security to a password is to make it longer. A longer password made of several random words or even an entire phrase will be the most secure. Try to avoid using personal references like the name of a relative or pet, your birthday, favorite sports team, etc. as these can be easily guessed if the attackers know who you are. Also be sure to use a different password for every site you use, so that even if one account is breached all your others will still be protected.

Avoid Phishing

Phishing is when scammers try to trick people into divulging their private information over the internet. It's called "phishing" because they use emails like a fisherman uses a lure. Here's some tips to avoid it:

  • Don't trust any email asking for your personal or financial information. Legitimate emails will never ask for your username, password, credit card number, or any other information. Don't even trust emails that appear to come from friends or family, as hackers can take control of someone’s email account without them knowing. When in doubt, always call the sender and ask whether they have sent you an email.
  • Be wary of any links in an email. Hover your cursor over them to see the full address and make sure they go to the correct destination. If you do click the link, double check the page's address in the address bar at the top of the screen. Phishers can recreate websites almost perfectly, but they can't fake the address.
  • Be suspicious of emails with urgency. One popular tactic of phishers is to make their target panic by thinking they need to respond immediately. They may also try to prey on your emotions - it is common after major disasters for phishers to pose as charities asking for donations.
  • When you need to enter private information to a website, always use a secure site. To check if a site is secure, look at the address bar at the top of your browser. The address will begin with https:// rather than http:// and there will be a small lock icon nearby. Also, be sure to avoid insecure networks such as any public Wi-Fi. NEVER send personal information by email.

Backups

There's nothing worse than losing important data to a damaged or worn-out machine. The only way to protect against this is to have your data backed up in multiple locations, either on physical devices or a cloud service. A good rule of thumb is to have at least two backups of any important data, one on a secondary hard drive in a secure location and another on a cloud service. Popular cloud solutions include Google Drive and OneDrive. Thumb drives can be used for this purpose but are not recommended as they are easy to lose.

Change Text Size

If you're having trouble seeing the text or images on a page, try changing the size. On Windows computers, hold down the Ctrl key with + to make the items larger or - to make them smaller. Ctrl and 0 resets everything back to its normal size. On Mac, use the Cmd key in place of Ctrl. On a mobile device simply place two fingers on the screen and spread them apart to zoom.

Advanced Googling

If your Google search isn't returning what you want, try surrounding your search words with "quotation marks." This will force Google to look for results that have the words in that exact order. This trick will also work for Bing, DuckDuckGo, or any other search engine.

If you need a quick math equation done, simply put it into Google like you would a search. This will open the Google calculator, which is a very powerful tool.

This can also be used to convert between Imperial and Metric units, as well as between US Dollars and any foreign currency.

Saving Your Battery

  • On your smartphone or tablet, go to the settings and reduce the brightness or enable auto-brightness. Reducing the brightness by only 25% can save hours of battery.
  • In the settings you can also find a list of all your currently running apps and how much battery each one is using and have the choice to force any apps running in the background to stop.
  • Under privacy, be sure to check which apps are using Location Services. Some will track your location even when not running, further draining your battery - simply revoke their location permission to alleviate this.
  • Overheating will also reduce battery life. Try to keep your device out of direct sunlight, especially in the summer.
  • Mobile devices can communicate on a wide variety of networks and will happily run down their batteries searching for networks that aren’t there. If you are in an area without signal, be sure to put the device in airplane mode. Also make sure that you disable WIFI and Bluetooth if you are not currently using them.

Remove Unused Programs & Apps

One thing that will slow a machine down is having its hard drive loaded with unnecessary programs. Be sure to uninstall any programs or apps you no longer use and clean out any temporary files. On a computer, this can be done by going into the control panel and finding the "Uninstall or change a program" feature, which will list all the programs on the computer with the option to remove them. On Windows 10 machines the "Add or Remove programs" function under Settings can be used for the same purpose.