UGH….the dreaded popup we’ve all seen at one point or another and never really understood. Lately, I’ve had several clients ask me about storage problems on their iPhone or iPad, and sadly, there isn’t one magic button to fix the problem. Sometimes, it could just be that the iPhone doesn’t physically have enough space on the device to hold the pictures, music, and media you want to put on it. Other times, it could be that there isn’t enough space to back up the device, so you get a notification that your iCloud storage is full and you’re out of space. Regardless, the first thing you need to do is isolate the problem, figure out where the issue is, and then see what you can delete, enable, or set up to try and stop the space issues and annoying notifications. To do this, go to Settings –> General –> Storage & iCloud Usage. This screen should look something like the image below. The storage section details what you have as far as space on your actual device, and the iCloud section details how much storage space you have available in your iCloud cloud-based backup (i.e. not on your device). If you have less than 1 GB available in either situation, you’re probably close to running out of space soon (or REALLY close if you have a number that ends in MB or KB), hence the notifications you’ve been receiving.
Now, what can you do about it? In some cases, if storage space on your device is filling up, there might not be too much you can do. If you have an older device with only 8GB or 16GB of space on it, that does not leave a lot of room for you to take pictures, sync music and send video and picture messages. The real solution might be to start saving up for a new iPhone (but the best time to do that is in September/October when the new iPhones are released, and the carriers typically offer generous buy-back options on your current phone). Clicking on Manage Storage in either the storage or iCloud section will allow you to get a better idea of what’s taking up space, and we’ve outlined some of the tweaks you can make below:
- Storage: Here it will show you which of your apps are taking up the most space. If it’s a game or app you’re no longer using, you can easily click on that app, and say Delete App on the next screen, and it will free up that space on your phone. If it is a built in feature (like Music or Photos & Camera), those are things you can control in iTunes with what you sync over. You can connect the phone to your computer and only sync the music and photos you really need to the device. For messages, consider going to Settings –> Messages and scroll down to Message History. If you’re keeping messages forever, consider only keeping the last 30 days or 1 month on your device to significantly save space if you send lots of pictures and videos…especially if you have a Mac and your text messages automatically sync to your computer where they can be viewed anytime. You can also consider going to Settings –> Safari and scroll down and select Clear History & Website Data. If you’ve done a lot of web browsing on your phone, this too can help. Lastly, if there are some bigger apps that you use often that are being space hogs (Facebook, Instagram, etc), try deleting the app (by holding down on the app’s icon in the home screen), and re-downloading it from the app store. It helps to delete the saved data (which could be excessive), and prompts you to get a more optimized version of the app…all without losing any data or functionality.
- iCloud: Apple so nicely gives everyone 5GB of backup space for free, which lets us get used to the simplicity of the service, and quickly run out of space prompting us to buy more. If you like the ease of the wireless backups to the cloud that just “magically happen”, truth is that it’s not too expensive to buy more storage. 50GB is $12/year, and 200GB is $36/year…both of which should be plenty more than enough for what you need for a phone backup, and are cost effective solutions for people who just want to stop getting the annoying messages that they can’t backup. If signing up for another monthly service just isn’t your thing, review what’s in the Manage Storage section for iCloud. Delete any backups from older devices or phones you no longer have. Look in the Documents & Data section and see what apps are taking the most space. You can click on them and specifically delete some of the data they’re storing in the cloud (which will help free up space).
For some of you, these steps will help you identify the data culprits on your phone and permanently stop the data problems you’ve been having. For others, and probably the majority of you, these tips might help you troubleshoot a longer-term problem you’ve been having (that you didn’t buy a big enough iPhone initially), and show you how to optimize space and settings to get the most out of your device until you’re ready for the next upgrade. As always, if you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out- we would love to help!
The concept of “Fake News” has been one of the biggest buzzwords of the year, and whether we believe it shaped the outcome of our presidential election or we just think it’s there to fill our Facebook feeds with junk, it’s important to understand what it is and why it’s important to spot. By definition, Fake News stories either twist the truth or completely report false information with the intent of getting people to read, share, and believe that the information is true. The articles are often posted on shady news source websites (think National Enquirer or the Globe of the internet) and are shared electronically through social media and e-mail until they gain notoriety and ultimately get coverage by larger news media outlets who mistakenly believe they are fact.
But, why mention this on a blog about computers? It’s all about SECURITY. Clicking on news stories with headlines like “See What Trump Said About Hillary Now” (or other enticing titles that make you want to read more) usually bring you to a website full of similarly-slanted articles, advertisements and pictures that will load on your phone or computer with the intent to keep you reading, clicking on links and sharing. Where the real problem comes in is that often times, those pages are filled with misleading clickbait that leads you to spyware, viruses, and other spam. Visiting those shady news sites often can make pop-ups, toolbars and taskbar notifications install on your machine which open you up to way more problems than just fake news stories. So, how can you spot this trouble before it starts? Here’s some key things to look for:
1. Is it A Credible Website?: Make sure that the source is legitimate website, and not a website with a really long address or obscure extension. Here’s a place to start…blogger Vanessa Otero created a helpful image and discussed it on her site: http://www.allgeneralizationsarefalse.com/?p=65. If you’re not looking at a site towards the middle of the screen, it might be time to find another news source. Sadly, once credible websites like Forbes.com have resorted to using timed advertisements that need to be viewed before going to the article on the site. If you’re seeing “continue to this article in 10 seconds” links, or popups that say “click here to read more”, it’s time to find a new news source.
2. Beware of Advertisements: Advertisements have gotten so completely out of hand lately that they’re almost impossible to avoid, which is why it’s important to learn how to spot them. What seems to be an increasingly common problem is that malware/spyware developers sell legitimate-looking advertisements to marketing companies that manage the ads that display on popular websites. It’s confusing, but sometimes if you see a “too good to be true offer” or extreme advertisement, it’s likely their advertisement provider- NOT the news website- is at fault for the advertisement you’re seeing. The MacKeeper advertisements are another great example, same as the advertisements that look like a mini-game on the page. If advertisements are making it too hard to read the story on the site, it’s not worth reading the story.
3. What Other Articles Are Linked On The Page?: Often at the bottom of clickbait filled or fake news sites, they will have links to “other stories of interest”- or in other words- “other links they want you to click on”. These articles are likely not related to the article you wanted to read on that page, and have catchy taglines like “Following this one simple trick helped me lose 10lbs…”. The pictures and titles are creatively done to make you want to click to read more….and when you do, you’re taken to another website, and you’ve just fallen victim to clickbait.
4. Who Is Sharing It?: We all know someone who emails or shares the links to these virus/spyware laden clickbait style articles. If you see someone has shared something with you, and you’re pretty sure it’s fake, TELL THEM. Check snopes.com to see if that email forward they sent you is really true. If it’s online, consider commenting if you question the source and let other readers question its validity as well. Sometimes, people just aren’t tech savvy enough to know how to spot fake or embellished articles online, and so they share them unknowingly and make the water all the muddier. When you see that next celebrity opening their “box of the month club” in a Facebook live video….realize that they’re being paid to do so, and the intent is that you click on the link and sign up for yours today. It’s also important to consider that maybe your friend sharing articles doesn’t even know they’re doing it. Their account could have been compromised, and now it’s posting on their behalf- same thing with those emails they send that just include a link. When it happens- contact the user right away and have them change their password to prevent more damage. While it might be hard, I urge you to consider restraint when clicking to read articles that are shared online or emailed to you….especially if the sender is notorious for it.
5. Look For Facts!: Lastly, if you question the facts in the email, look for items you can look up to verify and validate the email. Check the date, the author, or the context with another quick google search and see what comes up. If it’s a quote someone said, google the quote and look for a video with before or after context. That email for a prayer request for the toddler who shot himself with a nail gun totally tugs at our heartsrtings….but a quick check on snopes.com shows us that this story has been circulating for a long time, and there’s little chance it’s relevant anymore, if not real.
So….I ask each of my loyal readers to consider these tips next time you’re catching up with news online, and see if it changed what you share and read!
Almost since it began, Google’s Gmail has lead the pack as one of the top free email accounts you can get. It’s universal, accessible, and simplistic, making it a favorite of both power users and beginners alike. If you’re using an email address from your ISP (comcast.net, wowway.net, aol.com), or you’re at a less featured site like Yahoo, it’s time to switch. Period. Here’s some great tips about how to switch from an email account you’ve had for years: http://canyonero.org/2016/11/10/move-to-a-new-email-address/
If you’ve already switched, and are a proud Gmail user, you might not be aware of some of the things you can enable on your account to help make it more secure and easier to use. Account hacking, spam emails, and click-bait type links are nothing new; hackers are trying whatever means they can to obtain your account information- or use your account to get to other accounts. Luckily, most fraudulent email is automatically filtered away from inbox thanks to spam filters, but not everything is caught. Here’s some free add-ons and upgrades you can do to your account to try and minimize the chances you have at compromising your security.
- Set Up 2-Step Verification. We’ve talked about this before on our blog, and can’t stress it’s importance enough. If you have a Gmail account, please set this up. It makes it so that in order to log into your account, you need not only your password, but a number they text to your cell phone. Google has more information, including step-by-step walk throughs and videos on their website: https://www.google.com/landing/2step/
- Use Chrome Plugins. Consider using the Chrome browser, and downloading some of the browser extensions they have to help flag fraudulent activity. Ugly Email helps you identify emails that are tracking your information, Gmail Sender Icons gives legitimate emails an icon to help them stand out, and Web Of Trust helps you identify spam websites quickly and easily.
- Check out Gmail Labs. Gmail has awesome features built in that you can enable and disable to help customize your experience. Once you’re logged into the website, click the gear icon in the upper-right corner, and head to the Labs section. There are several great features to consider enabling (Authentication Icon for Verified Senders, and Smartlabels are two in particular to make sure you have selected).
- Get Notifications of Suspicious Logins. When you log into gmail.com, scroll all the way to the bottom of the right-hand side of the page. “Last account activity” will be displayed, and a link to details is just underneath it. A window will pop up and show you where the majority of your most recent access was from. At the bottom of that screen, make sure you enable the setting to alert you of suspicious activity. If you get that notification, you can go to this page, see what was trying to login, and either restrict the access of an app, or change your password. It’s a great way to get notified right away about potential issues with your account.
Regardless of whatever email system you use, make sure you practice safe browsing practices in all instances, and use common sense. That prince overseas really doesn’t have a million dollars to send you. Your cousin didn’t intentionally send you a link in an email to a Canadian pharmaceutical company. And please, if nothing else, make sure you have a good, secure password that you’ve changed within the last year.