Monthly Archives: March 2013

The Importance of a Backup and Disaster Recovery Device

Power Outage

Image Credit: Grant Wickes

While many companies know that it is important to back up their data, many fail to realize that backing up is just half of the equation, especially where catastrophic events are involved.

Take Microsoft for example. One of the largest tech giants got caught with its pants down late last week (Thursday 3/14), rendering some of its services unusable for over 16-hours.

When a routine update failed, it caused an unexpected temperature spike, overheating the data center. Ultimately, it was the overheating which caused extended downtime for many of Microsoft’s online services, including,

Hotmail, Calendar, and SkyDrive. Eventually, human intervention was

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required to help rectify the situation.

If you noticed some downtime late last week, that was why. Do you want to read the whole story? Click here.

While data wasn’t lost, time and access to services were. So what could Microsoft have done differently?

If they were a techQuility client, we would have advised that their systems be setup on a Backup Recovery Device, or BDR. While the BDR’s main function is to backup data at regular, scheduled intervals, it also offers some unique protection against catastrophe and downtime.

With a BDR in place, once we are aware of a catastrophic situation such as overheating servers, we are able to “flip the switch”, moving your data from your servers to the Cloud. This allows your data and servers to be accessed, even remotely, just as you would access them in the office.

When the switchover happens, any changes to your data continues to be backed up, so that you don’t have to worry about continuity. Then, once any issues are resolved, we can migrate your data back to your own network, so you can resume normal operations.

It is really that easy. So don’t let your company get caught pants-down like Microsoft did recently. Instead, take the time to put solutions in place now that will allow you more effectively manage your data and your office, even despite unforeseen events.

Julie Strier is a freelance writer who likes to help you maintain peace and calm during a catastrophe. Website:

Powerful Chrome Apps

Chrome Apps

Image Credit: ksablan

Earlier in the week, we discussed browsers that

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support plug-ins and the reasons why you might want to use one instead of a traditional web browser. If you didn’t read that article, you might want to before continuing.

Of the browsers available that support plug-ins, one of our favorites is Google Chrome. Aside from being Google junkies, we love the Chrome browser because it has a lot of useful features, such as syncing across multiple devices such as your desktop and your Android phone.

But, one of the things we love most about the Chrome browser is how useful it becomes once it’s customized with a few useful plug-ins, or Apps (as Google calls them).

With thousands of free and pay-for Apps available in the Chrome Webstore, there is something available for everyone, whether you’re looking to be more productive at work, or whether you just want to play.

However, a seemingly endless possibility of choices can often lead to confusion. So, we thought we’d share some of our favorite Apps, and how we use them. There’s probably something useful on our list that’s just perfect for you or your office.

Google Chrome to Phone Extension

Back before the Chrome browser had cross-platform sync capabilities, it used to be a pain in the butt to send a web address from your computer to your phone. That’s where Chrome to Phone came in. This handy App lets you quickly send a webpage URL to your phone, so that you can access the site on another device.

While the Chrome browser can now do this inherently, with the Chrome Sync feature, using Chrome to Phone can still be faster because it requires a few less clicks. URL Shortener

With social media and other similar sites, you are often limited by the number of characters you can use in a status update. Why use up that allotment with a long URL? Instead, this app will let you shorten URL’s so they don’t take up a lot of space, letting you use your character count for actual words.

Freshstart Cross Browser Session Manager

This handy App has many useful features. It will allow you to save any open tabs, so that you can come back to them later. It has crash capabilities, automatically saving your open tabs whenever a crash occurs. However, its biggest claim to fame is that it allows easy browser management where there are multiple users and/or multiple profiles on the same browser.


Have you ever been looking at something online, and wanted to send it to someone else, or to your other computer, but didn’t want to go through the hassle of emailing the URL? Then try SendTab. This handy app allows you to send an instance of what you are looking at to anyone who is listed in your network. To use this function, all users must have the app installed, the “network” must be setup on SendTab’s site, and they must be registered on the “network” as a user. Once setup, all users appear on the list, so all it takes to send a URL is a quick click.

Do you have a favorite Chrome app? Leave us a comment and tell us about it.

Julie Strier is a freelance writer who likes to help you find better apps for your browser. Website:

Spring Cleaning: How to Refresh Your Computer – Part Three Hardware Cleanup

Dusty Computer

Image Credit: eurleif

If you’ve been following along with our How to Refresh Your Computer series then your computer should be sparkly clean, be de-cluttered file-wise, and should be running a little bit faster.

If you haven’t been keeping up with this series, we recommend you read Part One, Part Two A, and Part Two B to catch up before continuing.

While this article may be the last in the series, it is no less important than other steps. Maintaining your hardware is a good way to ensure your computer’s longevity and may help you avoid costly repairs in the future.

Here are a few ways to clean up and maintain the physical hardware in your computer:

Clean Out Your Case

*Disclaimer: This procedure is for a desktop tower only. If you have a laptop you may not want to do this as laptops are more difficult to open, and much easier to drive dust into internal components where you don’t want dust to be.*

Have you ever looked at the back of a desktop computer that’s been in one spot for a while? What do you notice about it? For most people, it’s probably the pile of dust caked around the fan. But when you notice a pile of dust on the back of your computer, it means a larger problem is brewing– your computer is probably twice as dusty inside.

Computers aren’t air tight, they aren’t meant to be. Air needs to flow to allow hot air out, and cool air in. But, if air can get in, dust can too. And over time, this dust can build up and become a fire hazard.

Luckily it’s easy to clean out your case.

All you need is some canned air, and a nice sunny day. Turn off your computer. Once it’s completely shut down, unplug the power and all other cords. If your monitor(s) sit on top of your tower, remove them. Then, take your computer and your canned air outside.

Open up the case. Each case is slightly different, but typically there are screws on the back that hold the side panels on. Removing the screws should allow you to slide the panel off. You’ll want to slide off the one that gives you the best access to the case (as opposed to the side with all the components and cards against it).

Once the case is open, take your canned air and spray that sucker out. If it’s really dusty, you may want to stand back so you don’t inhale the dust. Spray out any place with dust, including fans, boards, holes in the case, and more.

When all the dust is gone, put the side panel(s) back on, attach the screws, bring it inside and plug it back in.

Assess Your Hardware Situation

While technically not “cleaning”, another thing you can do to clean up your computer is to consider getting updated hardware.

Assess Your Hard Drive Speed

If your computer is a little slower, or if you have a laptop, consider getting a solid state hard drive (SSD), which runs faster than traditional drives. You could even get a hybrid hard drive, which combines traditional drives with solid state drives, giving you the best of both worlds.

Please note however that SSDs are still new, and may not have the same storage capacity as its traditional counterparts.

Need More Memory?

If your computer runs noticeably slower, consider getting more memory. Most of the time, a little extra memory goes a long way in speeding up the computer.

To check how much memory you currently have, right click on Computer (or My Computer) and select Properties. The amount of installed memory will be listed toward the middle of the page.

Should you decide to upgrade your memory, you also need to check your computer specs to determine the maximum amount of memory your computer can handle. Not all computers can handle the same amount, and you don’t want to buy memory only to find out you’re already at your max, so check this first before purchasing anything.

One other quick tip about memory – it should be paired. So, if you may need to purchase two sticks of memory to ensure proper pairing. If you have one three gig stick installed, you shouldn’t just add one gig to the system. Instead, two 2-gig sticks of memory will give you better performance.

And that’s it. If you’ve followed our entire series, your computer should be sparkly clean, and faster than before. Remember to bookmark these tips so you re-visit the procedure at least twice a year.

Julie Strier is a freelance writer who believes that a fast computer makes for a happy computer user. Website: