Many people are simply far too lax about online security, with many having no security at all, or at best using free security software that is, in most cases, nothing but "eye candy". Some of the worst offenders are MAC users, living with the mistaken belief that "MACs don't get viruses" - read on and I will explain why that is SO not true...

Many years ago MACs were very expensive and very rare - usually only used in the DTP industry, and then rarely connected to the internet. Due to that rarity, virus and malware writers had no real MAC user-base to target. So they wrote their nasty viruses and trojans exclusively for PCs. This led to the belief (still held by many) that MACs do not need security software because MACs don't get viruses...

While this may have been true 10 years or more ago this is really not true now - because MACs now sell in VAST numbers, and, rather than just sitting in DTP offices, they are now all wi-fi ready, constantly connected to the internet and for many are now "the" trendy item to have.

This has resulted in ratio of PCs/MACs now being very similar - so the virus writers and hackers now target BOTH markets equally...

Basically there are two types of email; POP and IMAP, and the method you choose to access your email can make a big difference to the way you work, and to the ease with which you can manage your email.

What are POP and IMAP?

POP stands for "Post Office Protocol" - POP simply downloads email directly to your computer, and then deletes the email from the remote server (although you can set it to leave a copy of the server for "x" days). This then allows you to read your emails at any time, even when offline.

If you only ever use one computer/device to access your email, and you backup your computer hard drive regularly, you can manage just fine using POP.

If you do use multiple devices to access your email, POP has a major disadvantage - once your computer has already downloaded and emptied your email contents to its hard drive, you cannot then access those downloaded emails from your other devices.

With scammers and hackers operating at an all time high we all need to do everything we can to keep our computers and devices safe. Many scammers will send attachments via email which, once opened, will infect the host machine and allow the scammers to take control of your computer. Here is a list of attachments you should never open...

If you receive an email with any of the following e-mail attachments, you should never open it, regardless of where the email came from or who sent it to you. Malicious e-mail attachment are the most common method of infecting a computer. Always check the file extension of an e-mail attachment, because it can be disguised as a "Word", PDF or other legitimate document, so double checking is vital.

Here is a list of possible e-mail attachments and their extensions that you should be very wary of:

We've all seen them, and probably received many of them, and in many cases we have used them ourselves when on holiday - but are email auto-responders bad for business?

When you use an auto-responder an automated message is sent in response to any inbound email to your account informing the sender that you are on holiday or away from your office etc.

The Problem:

However, all too often this response is sent to the wrong person! Because if the message your auto-responder is replying to was a spam email, you can be confirming to the spammer that your address is valid. Or even worse, the spammer had forged their FROM address and your auto-response goes to an innocent party that had never contacted you in the first place. This person may then report your mail as spam - and this can get your email address blacklisted by their ISP - effectively cutting you off from all that ISP's customers...

Many companies run systems that require the use of passwords by their staff or members - examples being offices running a computer network, websites that allow members to sign up for extras like Newsletters or online shopping, or Hosting companies with customers that need access to cPanel, mailboxes or FTP etc.

While the company involved may the the precaution of initially setting a strong password for each new user - many of these systems will then allow the user to change their password to something easier to remember - and this is where the danger lies...

Once a user resets their password for something simple, like their pet's name, or place of birth, their new password is now the weak link in your security chain.

Users that do not take the time to manage their own strong passwords are also highly likely to use the same password across multiple networks and websites - making it even more likely that their password will, sooner rather than later, be compromised. And once that happens, even the least talented hackers will have a field day with every system that user has access to - including your business.

It has recently come to my attention that several of my clients have been approached by rogue "SEO Companies" offering to "fix" their sites for a fee (often an extremely hefty fee too).

Here is some information that will help you be prepared against such rogues...

I cannot stress enough just how important it is NOT to let anyone claiming to be from an "SEO" company insert "landing pages" into your website...

Introduction:

Basically "landing pages" are pages, which are written by the SEO company rather than by yourself (and Google WILL notice the difference) in order to try and fool a search engine into thinking that the page is more important in your site for certain key phrases, than any other part of your website.

Design

Mid Wales Trees

Today we published a new CMS website for Richard and Helen Offor of Mid Wales Trees in Nantglas, Powys, Wales.

Their old static html website, written in 2007, was not mobile friendly, so we tackled it and they now have a brand new CMS (Content Management System) website.

Our brief for this conversion from the old static, html only website, to a modern responsive CMS website, was to make the new site "mobile and tablet friendly".

Richard also travelled to West Wales yesterday in order to spend several hours with me here at the CMS Wales office learning about the Administration System of the new website so he would be able to tackle future edits, updates and additions to the site himself.

You have probably seen lots of adverts on TV lately, telling you that creating your own website is quick, easy and cheap. The adverts tell you that you can create a "professional" website in easy steps - choose a template, add your content and publish your site...

So why, if it is so "easy", is this new trend for DIY websites not putting professional web designers, with their years of experience, out of business?

Any professional web designer worth their salt has years of experience in creating easy to navigate websites with attractive layouts and colour schemes. He or she will also spend a lot of their free time time keeping up with new technologies and learning new skills because the internet is constantly developing. They will have intimate knowledge of the web servers they work on, and the software those servers use.

I've been creating and hosting websites since 1995, in fact I still have my very first web client. But every now and again, in my role as a webmaster, I get surprised by the strange questions I get asked on the phone or via email that make me want to laugh...

Here are a few examples:

  • Here is my business card, can you make it into a website?
    (in fact in this case I DID make him a website - but it took a fair few questions about his business before I had enough data to do it)
  • The internet is not working anywhere in our village, can you switch it back on?
    (it's flattering to have someone think I have that much control over the internet)

Things have changed dramatically on the internet in the last few years - when you walk down any street you see people glued to their mobile phone screens - in any bar, cafe or restaurant you see people glued to their tablets. What are they doing? they are using the internet, and these mobile devices now account for over 60% of all searches on Google!

Surprised?

You shouldn't be - gone are the days when a website owner had a "captive" audience who were all tied to their PC's either in their offices or at home. And even better for us in those days, they were all using similar resolution monitors, so designing a page to show well to everyone was a lot easier than it is today as there were only 2 different resolutions to worry about: 800x600 and 1024x768.

Recently I was in conversation with someone who has had training and experience in marketing when something they said about Twitter made me think that they had completely missed the whole point of Social Networking...

During the conversation this person told me that following back all your followers was not important and that it is far more important to restrict those that you do follow to people only in your own business sector!

Whoah!

This was very recently, but this part of the conversation has stuck in my head and niggled at me since...

Let me explain why this rankles with me:

While websites generally give an address on its Contact Page - have you ever thought about giving your website visitors and potential customers accurate, printable driving directions right to the door of your business premises?

While your site visitors can find your address on your Contact page it would be nice if they could also get a printable route directly from their own location, wherever that is in the UK, right to the door of your business. This facility can make the difference between getting a sale, or the visitor moving on to one of your competitors that does offer this facility.

You have to remember that during the daytime a lot of the visitors to your website are using work place machines during their tea/lunch breaks. As such they are in an enormous hurry. They want information and they want it FAST!

Any website, and particularly those that use databases to store information, are only as good as their latest backup. i.e. if your site or your server crashes irretrievably, you can only restore it to the state it was in at the point you last took a backup.

For example, if you have spent the last 3 month adding 100 new products or pages to your website and it crashes, but your last backup is 3 months old, then yes you can get the site back online using the backup, but your site then does not include those 100 new products and in effect you have lost 3 months’ work.

All our systems have a “one-click” backup system built-in to the Admin. Taking a backup via the website Admin backs up all files in the web-space AND the database that runs the site. The Admin System also reminds you if your backup is out of date prompting you to take a new one. And being a one-click system it takes no effort to take a backup after every new addition to the website.

We are now living in an age whereby we are more “connected” than ever before, with everyone (almost) having a smart phone or tablet with them at all times. Young and old alike are now spending less time using the normal internet and now use Social Networks more and more.

So to reach these mobile people, who are all your potential customers, you need to embrace Social Media or lose out to those companies that do.

To this end, a modern CMS has the ability, the moment you press ”submit” when you have just added a new page or product to your website, to also publish it out to your Twitter and Facebook accounts too. When that happens, your Twitter Followers and Facebook Friends, all get instant notification of your new article or product with links to your new article or product page, on their mobile devices, wherever they are.

It may be tempting to opt for a hosting service that offers the cheapest prices, but there are many reasons why that cheap package can ruin your business reputation.

Here are just a few issues that are common with cheap hosting providers:

  1. Frequent Downtime
    Cheap hosting servers experience a lot of downtime. When such servers are down your website cannot be accessed by either visitors or search engines, which hurts your business. Google also penalises websites in the search results if it finds they have a lot of downtime. If your website is down you are losing customers and therefore money. A good hosting service should have uptime minimum of 99.999% (less than 5 minutes of unplanned/unscheduled downtime per YEAR)

I know that we all think that because a laptop is portable, that it is ok to use it anywhere - so many people take this to the extreme and use it in bed, or on cushions, settees or carpets.

This presents a major problem, because your laptop needs the air to flow into the vents underneath it in order to keep the chips and circuits within safe operating temperatures.

Check for yourself - turn your laptop over and look at the bottom. You will see it has quite a few vents in the bottom of the case. These are to draw air into the case and must never be blocked or restricted.

The incoming air during normal use passes over the internal components taking away the heat they generate and then passing it out of the exit vents - often on the sides of the laptop.

I am always on the lookout for tools to make life easier & indeed to make computer chores faster. Over the years I've found several utilities that I now couldn't manage without.

Here's a list of the FREE programs I find most useful:

BULK RENAME UTILITY:

Bulk Rename Utility is a free file renaming software for Windows. Bulk Rename Utility allows you to easily rename files and entire folders based upon extremely flexible criteria. I find this most useful for renaming large batches of photo or images.

Some of the features provided by Bulk Rename Utility include: 

Has your computer slowed down since you bought it?  Is it now painfully slow? Are you wondering why?

Read on for a simple, and free, solution...

Windows PCs typically slow down as applications are installed and used. Whether you are using a word processor, writing a spreadsheet, surfing the internet, playing games or anything else, hard drives fill with temporary files that do not always get removed when no longer needed.

Over time Windows tends to accumulate thousands of small files that will slow down the overall performance of your PC if you aren't careful.

I am often asked to repair computers and laptops. When I ask the owner what symptoms their computer is displaying the answers are frequently the same so I expect to hear any one of 14 possible answers...

Typical symptoms described to me when I take in a compuer for repair are:

  1. It is running very slowly
  2. Sometimes it won't boot up
  3. I get a lot of pop-up windows
  4. The Internet is very slow
  5. Some of my programs won't start anymore
  6. Some of my programs have disappeared

Disk Defragmentation is like house cleaning, but for your PC. Defragmenting your Hard Drive picks up all of the pieces of data that are spread all over your drive and puts them all back together again.

Why is defragmentation important?

Every computer suffers from the increase in file fragmentation that occurs during normal computer use, and if you don’t do something about it, your PC performance goes downhill fast.

Many of the PC's and Laptops we are asked to "repair" because their owners say they have slowed down, are usually fixed again simply by defragmenting the Hard Drive/s.

How does Fragementation occur?

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