Friday, August 21, 2015

Get new speed, security, & durability with a Solid State Drive

Get new speed, security, & durability with a Solid State Drive

Computers no longer come with operating system DVDs.  Instead you get a 'recovery partition' on your disk drive -- which does absolutely no good if your disk actually crashes!  And most users never created "Recovery Media" on their own blank DVD-R discs.  So if everything goes wrong, your alternative is to BUY a new machine.  Here's how to secure your computer's future while making it FASTER and more durable!

If you're contemplating a free Windows 10 upgrade and/or your PC / Mac / Laptop is 4+ years old, you should clone your ordinary Hard Disk Drive (HDD) to a Solid State Drive (SSD). Flash chip based SSDs are much faster than HDDs (boot up in 30 seconds), never need defragmenting, and are more resistant to bumps and knocks (you can't have a 'head crash' when there aren't any heads!).

The cost for most users will be $96/$143/$245 including a 120GB / 240GB / 480GB Solid State Drive (SSD) AND a complete SATA to USB 3.0 cloning adapter and cloning software.  Here's what HDD (Hard Disk Drive) Mac or PC users need order:

     $24 Apricorn SATA Wire USB 3.0 Notebook Drive Upgrade Kit

      $72 OWC 120GB Mercury Electra 6G SSD 2.5" SATA 7mm Solid State Drive

(or $119 OWC 240GB:
  or $221 OWC 480GB:

There are cheaper Solid State Drives, but I picked the OWC because both Read/Write speeds are both over 500Mbps (cheaper SSDs are slower). There are also larger SSDs.

Follow the instructions in the cloning kit, and then replace the old HDD with your newly cloned SSD. Label the HDD and put it on the shelf, just in case you might want/need to clone again. For example, if your free Windows 10 upgrade exhibits unexpected software or device incompatibilities and you're past Microsoft's 30-day downgrade deadline, you can reverse the cloning back to your previous version of Windows.

If you're concerned about the process, for example, removing the glass screen of an iMac to replace the HDD or disabling UEFI BIOS so you can boot from a CD, enlist your local technology support to assist you.
Pricing as of August 2015
Copyright © 2015 Professional Nerds ®

Is Windows 10 ready for Prime Time?

Is Windows 10 ready for Prime Time?

Microsoft Marketing has released Windows 10 as a free upgrade for Win7 & Win8.1 owners. By using terms such as "for a limited time" (and not defining "limited" as meaning ONE YEAR), Microsoft has succeeded panicking and stampeding Windows users into upgrading production PCs & laptops (one which you rely on to work every day!) without proper compatibility testing, leaving some users stuck with a non-functional PC! 

It's been 3 weeks since Windows 10 was released, and there already have been THREE setups of Windows 10 updates pushed out to fix problems! For those who've upgraded, Microsoft only allows a 30-day roll-back period to go back to their previous Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 operating system. Starting August 29, 2015, the initial upgraders will be committed to Windows 10 - no going back, UNLESS they first made a clone of their hard disk drive.  How to clone details are here:

I have successfully updated two older, "clean" test'machines, but I don't recommend anyone update a "production" PC/laptop until they've verified there are no incompatibilities. Just this week (Aug 20, 2015), Symantec hastily released a "Windows 10 Upgrade" version of their Norton Internet Security software, because the existing version caused Windows 10 upgrades to fail (by the way, such upgrade failures are not considered Microsoft's fault!). 

Another area users forget to check is SCANNER software from printer/scanner vendors. Scanning software which worked on Windows 7 may not work with Windows 10. Manufacturers such as Dell are posting website notices that the "device drivers" (i.e. graphics, WiFi, etc.) for many of their older PCs and laptops have not been tested with Windows 10 (and therefore may not work!).

Based on these and other problems I've already seen, I think Windows 7 users should NOT upgrade -- Windows 7 will be supported until 2020, and it'll be time enough to get Windows 10 on your NEXT PC/laptop (unless you get a Mac with OS X instead!). Windows 8.1 users SHOULD upgrade to Windows 10, BUT they should wait a few months to let OTHERS get more bugs out!

Copyright © 2015 Professional Nerds ®

Thursday, April 30, 2015

JuiceJacking - hijacking your smartphone data via public USB charging ports.

CSI:Cyber (S01E09) was about "JuiceJacking" where plugging your smartphone into a public USB charging station MAY allow your smartphone data to be stolen (see 3-minute clip below).

Best defense against JuiceJacking is to carry your own AC adapter...

...and not trust any public USB-only charging ports.

Security researcher Brian Krebs wrote a column on this...

... in August 2011.  At the time, iPhones/iPads/iPod Touch were vulnerable to JuiceJacking (up to and including iOS v6).  As of iOS v7, Apple added a "Trust this Computer"...

...query when plugging into an unknown USB data port -- answer "Don't Trust" or "NO" if it's not your computer; your iDevice battery will still recharge).

So, an up to date iPhone is protected.  Not sure about your Android / Windows Phone / Blackberry ?  Bring your own AC charger as public AC outlets with your adapter are OK.

More up to date info from a Google search of "JuiceJacking":

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Preserve a well-known landline phone number AND save $300 per year

Preserve your well-known landline phone number AND save $300 per year or more by 'porting' it to MagicJack. All-in, FIVE YEARS of MagicJack service costs about $200; roughly $3.33 per month!  It works very well with a FAX/printer, altho I always thought MagicJack's voice call quality on landline equipment was a bit "fuzzy".  

However you get much better call and message quality by configuring your online MagicJack account to bypass your old landline equipment and instead "Remote Call FORWARD" all former landline calls to your cell phone!

It only took a week to 'port' the former landline number to a new MagicJack account.  The only 'disadvantage' to multiple member households may be that you can only forward to one cell number/voicemail at a time.  Still, $3.33/mo is a lot less than $30-$50/mo, right?

My 88 year old father recently sold his home of 55 years.  As his family/friends/relatives remembered his landline phone number MUCH better than his cell phone number (and because it was also on all of his accounts), I used the above 'trick' to preserve the number, save money, and still give him crystal clear call reception and voicemail quality!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Recommended security layers for "Defense in Depth"

Professional Nerds agrees with Sophos...
...that "defense in depth" is necessary to protect your computer and its information about you.

This means:

a) Microsoft Automatic Updates are turned ON

b) Valid Subscription to REALLY GOOD Internet Security software
     (Professional Nerds has preferred Norton since 2009)

c) Ad Blocking software such as Ad Block Plus to protect against deceptive
     and misleading internet ads

d) Updates to essential PLUMBING such as
     1) Oracle Java (currently v8u31, or v7u76 for XP)
     2) Adobe Reader (currently v11.0.10.32)
     3) Adobe Flash, which was just updated again TODAY, Monday 1/26/15; to v16.0.0.296
         to fix two new "Zero Day" vulnerabilities.

Avoid FAKE updates, here are verified update links:

Ad Block Plus (install in EACH browser you use):

Adobe Flash:

Adobe Reader:

Oracle Java:

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Bare Drive SSDs and Cloning Kits -- Apples and Oranges comparisons

Beware of slow SSDs (under 500Mbps WRITE speed). Here's a Kingston 120GB 500/500Mbps Read/Write SSD kit with an external enclosure:

Someone commented in another forum that there were "Better specs and better deal on the Samsung Evo".   I looked up his link, and found he was comparing a 'bare drive' with the 'complete kit' I referenced above -- this is not only an "apples to oranges" comparison, but the specs aren't significantly better (540/520 for the $105 Samsung 850 EVO vs 555/510 Kingston HyperX; $91 kit).

My referenced $91 120GB kit includes: 2.5-Inch (9.5mm) SSD, 2.5-Inch USB Enclosure, hard drive cloning software and installation guide, multi-bit screwdriver, and a SATA data cable, 3.5-Inch bracket, and mounting screws, should you wish to use the 2.5" drive in a desktop PC.   Kingston has a 120GB 'bare drive' which is $32 LESS than the $105 850 EVO (, and even than Kingston includes a 3.5" desktop PC mounting bracket. Kingston's 7mm 120GB SSD (a true 'bare drive') for $67 (albeit a tad slower at 500/500Mbps)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Clone FIRST before using your FREE Windows 10 upgrade !

If you really want the free upgrade from Win7/Win8.1 to Win10 right away (after it launches later this year), you should first CLONE your laptop or desktop to a SSD (Solid State Drive) so you can switch the drives back just in case there are early issues/bugs  with Windows 10 OR you find one of your key programs or add-ons is incompatible.

Running on SSD is VERY fast, never needs defragmenting, and is durable --you can't have a traditional disk drive head crash because SSDs have no moving parts (they're built from flash chips).

The cloning kit below comes with an external enclosure so you can re-use your existing laptop-size drive as a backup.  Ask Professional Nerds if you need a larger enclosure or have any other questions.

$67  Thin 7mm 120GB SSD ($95 / 240GB SSD) w/9.5mm adapter
         Read/Write speeds of 500/500 MB/s

         Note: there are cheaper SSDs, but they're usually
         SLOWER, especially WRITE speeds - avoid PNY!

$37 Hard Drive /SSD Upgrade Cloning Kit