Three-Two-One Backup!

Hard Drive

Deciding to back up your data is the first step to ensuring your important photos, documents and files are protected against loss or damage. How you approach backing up that data can increase that protection your backup plan provides. Most tech experts will recommend you follow the “3-2-1 backup strategy”. To summarize the strategy, you ensure your data is protected by having at least 3 copies, in 2 different formats, with 1 of those copies off-site.

When we talk about 3 different copies, we mean 3 totally different devices. It may feel like you’re being safe by having another copy of a file in a different folder on the same hard drive, but should that drive fail, you’ve lost all of those files. So keep a copy on multiple devices, whether that’s another computer, an external hard drive or online backup service.

You’ll also want to have those copies on at least 2 different formats. So, if you’re backing up files to burned CDs or DVDs, you’ll also want to use an external USB hard drive. This helps prevent an problem that might corrupt one format from killing all of your data.
Finally, it’s important to keep 1 copy off-site. This prevents fire, flood or theft from affecting all the copies of your important data in your house or place of business. There are plenty of online options to choose from. Depending on the amount of data you have, there are even some free options, as well as paid cloud-based services with extra features and storage.

Tracking Tech for the National Bike Challenge

The warm weather of Spring may have you interested in getting outside.

National Bike Challenge

If you have a bicycle, the National Bike Challenge is looking to encourage both current and new riders to bring more activity to their life by tracking miles ridden for both recreation and transportation. The challenge runs from May through September at nationalbikechallenge.org

While you can manually track and enter your daily or weekly rides, we have a number of tech solutions to not only make it easier to submit your miles, but provide you with a wealth of other activity information for any health and fitness goals you may have.

If you have a smartphone, you already have the basic hardware needed to track your ride. Several apps are available across the Android, iOS and Windows platforms to help track both rides and runs. Four apps in particular have the ability to directly sync your riding activity to the National Bike Challenge website once you setup your account. Those apps are Strava, Endomondo, MapMyRide and Moves.

Most of these apps will have both free and paid versions depending on your needs. For new riders, the free service will use your phone’s GPS to track your ride and give you helpful information such as the total and distance time travelled, average speed and even calories consumed. Syncing with the National Bike Challenge site is included.

Paid subscriptions to those apps usually include more in-depth information for advanced riders looking to improve their rides, including specific segment information, as well as the ability to record heart rate information from Bluetooth monitors like the Polar H7 or the Mio LINK Sport.

For those looking to go beyond the information available via their smartphone, or simply to avoid running down the phone battery, there are dedicated devices available. Cycling GPS units attach to a bicycle with sensors that can track speed, distance and cadence, with an easy to read display on your handlebars. Units like the Magellan Cyclo 315 or the Garmin Edge Touring can use the GPS feature to not only track your ride but provide directions on pre-loaded routes. Some models include the ability to pair with a Bluetooth or ANT+ heart rate monitor.

GPS watches, like the TomTom MultiSport with Heart Rate Monitor or Garmin Vivoactive can be used across sports. Their small form factor makes them a great choice for those who run as well as ride.

Another great feature of any of the services used to sync to the National Bike Challenge site is their ability to share your progress with others. Most have their own community aspects, allowing you to follow (and challenge) friends, as well as share your progress with your favorite social media sites like Twitter or Facebook. Even within the National Bike Challenge site, you can create both local and national teams for schools, organizations or work.

However you track your ride, the end goal is to get out and be more active. Stay safe and enjoy the trip!

Virtual Reality is (finally) here. Mostly.

Virtual Reality has long been a “coming soon” technology, but with the current and upcoming product releases, expect VR to be big on Christmas lists later this year. I spoke to the Arizona Republic recently about today’s biggest virtual reality players, including the Occulus Rift, HTC Vive, andSamsung Gear VR.

My personal pick for the likely winner this year will be the Playstation VR. With 35 million households owning a PS4, I think there will be enough demand for the $499.99 launch bundle to create a sizable base for future growth.

Tips for Stress-Free Parental Tech Support

Every family has that one person they count on to provide some level of tech support. Like many, I’m the go-to guy when my parents have an issue with their tablet, printer or TV.

I was happy to help provide tips to the The Wall Street Journal for their article Are You the Family Tech Support? My tips for those asked to help our their family with tech issues:

  • Reassure your parents: Fear, not smarts, is the biggest hurdle.
  • Find out what your parents were trying to do when the problem happened. Understanding the end goal can help diagnose what went wrong.
  • When possible, have parents do the actual troublehsooting themselves. Knowledge is power – and comfort.
  • Ditch technical terms. Talk in clear, everyday language. When explaining something, us an analogy.
  • Try Skype or Facetime for problem solving from afar. Remote-access programs may also be helpful.
  • Know your limits. If a problem is outside your comfort zone, call a professional.