Cloud vs Local: Keeping Your Data Safe

Best case scenario, the past few months gave you a lot of time to do those things you “always meant to do”. You’ve read all about the pros and cons of minimalism, started exercising at home, and found a new hobby to distract yourself from the fact that your team isn’t playing.

Have you backed-up your phone and your computer? 

If that’s another one of those things you planned to get to “someday”, what better time than now? 

It’s not likely you need convincing that backing up your computer is a good idea, but in case you do: If your computer is the only place all of your photos and documents are stored, and something happens to it, your data is likely gone. Forever. Enough said. 

But where to start?

CLOUD STORAGE

At a bare minimum, the first step is ensure you’ve switched on any cloud backups that are part of your computer or phone operating system (iCloudOneDrive, Google, etc) which should take care of the majority of your documents, photos, and texts.

Advantages: Cloud storage is convenient. Your data being “in the Cloud” means it’s stored on a server somewhere and you can access it anytime you want from any Smartphone with cloud icon for data backupsdevice (as long as you have an active internet connection). Once you select and turn on a cloud service, it takes care of everything for you, making it simple and easy to use.

Cloud storage adds a layer of protection: your data is physically housed somewhere else so if your computer loss is due to theft or damage, your data is safe and secure. Also, cloud services have redundancies built in: your data is distributed across multiple locations so you’re very unlikely to lose it in the event your cloud service server experiences theft or damage. 

You generally pay for what you use. Cloud storage is based on a subscription model so you’re not paying for a lot of space you don’t need. 

Disadvantages: Cloud storage relies upon a good internet connection to keep updating the latest version of your data, and for restoring from a backup. So during a power outage or while travelling, any updates you make locally may be lost, and not all data may be available to you. Also, restoring from backup can take a long time, relative to a local restore.

If the data you’re storing is very sensitive, then unauthorized access to that offsite data may be a concern, but unless you have a branch of MI5 in your basement, it’s probably not going to be an issue for you.

While your operating system’s backup service will backup the majority of your content, it won’t always backup all of your computer settings or the applications you’ve installed. This can make migration to a replacement device more cumbersome than simply clicking “restore from backup”.


LOCAL EXTERNAL DRIVE

For a more comprehensive backup, consider a local external drive: a physical device you either plug into your computer or add to your network for all devices on that network to backup to.

External hard drive for storing data and restoring from backups

Advantages: Backing up your data and restoring from a local backup is much faster than cloud storage. It doesn’t rely on an internet connection and it’s much easier to create multiple snapshots of your data. So, depending on how frequently you backup, your data is constantly up to date and you can roll back to earlier captures.

Disadvantages: When using a local drive there is the additional step of managing the backups and performing backups on a regular basis. To mitigate this, consider purchasing a NAS (Network Attached Storage); a hard disk on your network that allows any properly configured computer within range to backup to it automatically. This is especially advantageous for families with many devices. It’s expensive but it holds a lot of data, making it a one-time purchase.

Another disadvantage is the physical location of your local drive. Having your external hard drive in the same location as your device means that if your data loss is due to fire or theft, it’s possible your hard drive will be destroyed or stolen also. 

Ultimately, a combination of cloud storage and an external drive provides the best coverage. A combination gives you the assurance of your data being safely stored at an external location, while also giving access to your most up-to-date data quickly and easily in the event you have patchy internet service such as when travelling or in a remote location.

External links for more information:

How to backup to iCloud

How to backup to OneDrive

How to backup your Android phone to Google

How to save text messages

The best external hard drives for Macs and PCs

Internet Safety: Public Wi-Fi & Online Shopping

We’re continuing on our internet safety theme from last month and diving further into how to protect yourself online when using public Wi-Fi or shopping online.

PUBLIC WI-FI

The thought of heading to the local coffee shop to “work from home” is alluring, but how safe is it? There are risks to using public Wi-Fi that you should know about before you click that “Join” button.

What’s the difference between home Wi-Fi and public Wi-Fi?

At home you make use of a router connected to a server owned by your internet service provider. You have elected to have a relationship with your provider and you should choose a provider you trust: every search and keystroke you enter passes through their server and can theoretically be accessed (except for encrypted passwords), although the terms under which that information can be accessed should be outlined in their Privacy Policy.

With public Wi-Fi, you can’t be sure who has access to the server you’re connecting to. Additionally, it is relatively easy for hackers using the same Wi-Fi to get in between you and the public server, even posing as the “free Wi-Fi” that you connect to, thereby gaining access to your personal information. To learn more about the dangers of public Wi-Fi, take a look at this article.

So, what to do about it?

When using public Wi-Fi, you should use a Virtual Private Network. A VPN creates a secure tunnel between your computer and the VPN server so that your data is protected. To learn more about VPNs check out this article.

ONLINE SHOPPING

You’re not alone if you prefer shopping from your couch rather than heading to a busy shopping centre. Over 84% of Canadians polled in 2018 purchased goods and services online, and that number continues to grow.

Along with payment information, shopping online means providing your address, phone number, and email address. You’re also potentially giving out other personal information just by virtue of what you are buying.

To keep your information safe, there are a number of guidelines you should follow. To begin with, don’t shop using public Wi-Fi, especially without a VPN. As mentioned above, it’s relatively simple for hackers using the same public Wi-Fi to retrieve the information you’re entering.

women on couch shopping with tablet

Shop online from home

Next, when shopping online, always pay with a credit card rather than connecting to your bank account. Many sites only accept credit cards, but this should be your standard operating procedure even with payment methods that allow you to connect to a bank account, such as PayPal. Payments made with credit cards can be more easily disputed and credit card companies are quicker to reimburse your money if there has been a breach. If a hacker gains access to your bank account through details you’ve entered online, you have a much smaller chance of ever seeing that money again.

Padlock Icon

Look for the padlock icon in the URL when entering personal information

Finally, always make sure the site is encrypted by checking for the padlock symbol in the site address which ensures that information you enter is secure as it travels between your computer and the site’s server. For some good tips on how to safely use your credit card online check out this article.

With more and more everyday objects able to connect to the internet, such as watches and home entertainment systems, there’s always more we can say about internet safety. Watch for more tips from us in the future here and on social media.

Internet Safety Tips For You and Your Family

With Safer Internet Day on February 11th, and Pink Shirt (Anti-Bullying Day) on February 26th, this is the perfect month to address the topic of internet safety.

This year’s theme for Safer Internet Day is “Together for a better internet” and is a call to action for individuals and organizations around the globe to consider how they can make the internet a kind, safer place for kids and teens. It’s also the perfect day to talk to kids about internet safety, and simultaneously consider ways to protect yourself online.

From inappropriate content, to cyberbullying, to impersonation, and sextortion, it can be overwhelming to think about all the online threats, and how to protect your kids from them. Whether you have young children just starting out on the internet, or teenagers who, let’s face it, are possibly more internet-savvy than you are, it can be difficult knowing exactly what risks to warn your kids about and which ones they’re most at risk from. ProtectKidsOnline.ca provides a breakdown of online risks for different age groups from 5 – 15, and what can be done to help prevent them. Parents, caregivers, and teachers can also sign up to be alerted to emerging issues and be provided with resources to know how to deal with them.

The Better Internet for Kids site is full of helpful tips for the concerned caregiver. Their online guide provides up-to-date information about some of the most popular apps and social networking platforms. This is a fantastic resource if you want to understand what your teenage son means when he says he’s talking to someone on Discord while live-streaming on Mixer, or when your eight year old asks to sign up for Club Penguin. The guide provides details about privacy policies, minimum age requirements, in-app purchases and more, to help you understand the possible dangers that might come with their use. Consider downloading some of these apps for your own device so you can see what they’re all about. It will give you a better starting place from which to have a conversation about them with your kids.

Better Internet for Kids also provides suggestions for how to talk with children about what content is appropriate for them to share online and with whom, and how to talk to them about their online activity and concepts such as identity theft.

The truth is, while we all need to work to make the internet safer for kids, children and teenagers are not the only vulnerable internet users. Adults and elderly parents can also fall victim to extortion and online scams. The Better Internet for Kids portal encourages parents to talk with kids about creating strong passwords and being wary of suspicious emails; important strategies for adults to know and discuss with elderly parents also. And there is a timely warning for parents about consent: consent laws have ramped up in the past few years and yet parents rarely consider obtaining consent from their children when it comes to posting pictures and information about them online. A recent study by Microsoft found that 42% of teenagers questioned in 25 countries reported that they had a problem with their parents sharing pictures of them online. Something to think about.

Cyberbullying

Knowing what your kids are doing online, what apps they’re using, and being confident that they have strong passwords and a good understanding of privacy protection, is only one half of the equation though. Cyberbullying is a real psychological threat to teenagers today and even the safest internet user is not immune.

The Government of Canada website describes Cyberbullying as “the use of email, cell phones, text messages, Internet sites and chat rooms to physically threaten, verbally harass or socially exclude an individual or group. Social media technologies often allow bullies to remain anonymous while distributing damaging messages/pictures to a widespread audience.”

The first step is to give kids tools to know how to handle online bullying. ProtectKidsOnline.ca advises that if you receive a nasty message, don’t respond to it, don’t delete it, show it to someone you trust, block the person, and report them (most social media platforms have mechanisms for reporting bullying behaviours). Again, while this information is intended for children, the truth is, anyone who posts anything online opens themselves up to possible attack. The internet combines the ability to converse with people you’ll never meet in real life with relative (and sometimes literal) anonymity, making people bolder and frequently more willing to engage in heated discussions in a way they never would in person. Many people share stories and snippets of their lives on social media platforms and there are always individuals who see this sharing as an invitation for them to respond and pass judgement. The advice given to teenagers: don’t engage, don’t delete, report it, and talk to someone you trust, is applicable for adults as well. Staying safe on the internet doesn’t just mean password and privacy protection; it’s important to protect your self-esteem and state of mind as well.

Recognizing signs of cyberbullying is almost more important than teaching kids how to protect themselves against it. The negative psychological effects of bullying can stay with children their entire lives, and if you suspect that your child is a victim you should act quickly. This article provides some helpful insights into recognizing the signs and it’s necessary for any adult who works with or spends time with children to be aware of them.

Having your child spend time on the internet can feel a little like sending them out to cross a busy street on their own. But just as we teach kids road safety, internet safety can and should be taught. This February 11th, don’t let the opportunity to discuss online safety with your child pass you by. Check out some of the resources we’ve provided links to in this post; all of them provide helpful information plus links to much more. Arming yourself and your child with this knowledge is a great start to making the internet a safer place for them to explore.

Additional Resources:

For more tips on how to handle cyberbullying check out this article.

For more information on how to protect children online, check out the Canadian Centre for Child Protection site.

 

 

How To Boost Your Wi-Fi Signal

Today, almost all your devices rely on Wi-Fi, and a strong connection is vital. If your wireless network isn’t performing to your expectations, there are a few ways you can improve the signal before ordering a new modem or router.

Here are a few tips to help boost your signal and get a faster wireless connection.

Placement

PlacementThe placement of your router is crucial! The more walls or floors the signal travels through, the weaker the signal will be. You’ll want to avoid placing your modem close to metal objects and appliances that emit electromagnetic waves, such as microwaves. If you’re looking for the fastest and most reliable signal, elevate your router, place it towards the centre of the house, not too close to walls or appliances.

Switch Channels

Wireless routers can operate on several different channels. Like lanes on a highway, there are multiple Wi-Fi channels on which a router can broadcast. Other people in your apartment building, neighbourhood, etc., might be using the same channel as you. The more people on a channel, the more interference there will be. The solution is simple: switch the channel your router is on.

Devices Connected

Connected DevicesStreaming videos, playing games, and browsing online at the same time can take up a lot of bandwidth! This can affect your internet speed and Wi-Fi connection. If you have multiple devices connected over Wi-Fi, it might interfere with your connection. Consider connecting devices such as gaming systems, smart TVs or streaming devices with an ethernet cable.  If you have lots of guests, try creating a separate guest network for them.

Switch to 5GHz

Wi-Fi networks use radio signals in either the 2.4GHz or 5GHz frequency bands. The 5GHz wireless frequency provides faster rates over a shorter distance. 2.4GHz on the other hand, is capable of broadcasting over longer distances. If your device is far away from your modem, it may be better to use the 2.4Ghz frequency. If your modem or router supports it, and your device is nearby the modem or router, consider switching to 5GHz to take advantage of those faster speeds.

Wi-Fi Extender

Routers usually have a certain distance that they will send a signal to reliably. The farther away you are from the router, the weaker and slower the signal will be. To help improve the distance your Wi-Fi reaches, you can purchase a wireless booster or extender. These devices will pick up your existing router and re-broadcast it.

If you are willing to spend a little more, you can also invest in a mesh network. A mesh network is a network of interlocking routers called points, or nodes. These points work with one another to supply internet coverage over a broad area. A mesh network router will usually provide superior coverage and signal strength. To learn more about mesh networks, watch the video below.

Reboot

“If it doesn’t work, try switching it on and off.” This applies to Wi-Fi routers as well. Simply reboot your router to improve Wi-Fi speeds. A reboot will reconfigure the router allowing it to update.

At Worldline, we offer a Wi-Fi modem with a built-in router. Lagging Wi-Fi signals are frustrating, but these signal boosting tips can help alleviate some of those frustrations, giving you the best possible Wi-Fi signal. Visit our website to learn more about our High-Speed Internet options.

What does the Worldline “Wall garden” mean to you?

The answer? Nothing… if you are like 99.9999% of our Worldline Internet customers that is. But on very rare occasions, there are a select few who get the dreaded “wall garden.” So – what is it exactly?

It’s this:

Wallgarden

The Wall garden is what appears on our customers browsers when they are so severely past due on their account, we’re about to cancel their service.

Worldline, as the best priced ISP in Canada, depend on our customers keeping up with their payments to ensure that we can keep our prices as low as possible. We run a lean ship and that’s what allows us to charge so little for our data and voice services and the last thing we want to do is to hire a team of collection people to spend all day on the phone trying to get in touch with folks who are way behind on their payments. 

Instead, for those who are overly maturing their bills, we reach out to them via e-mail. The first one is a friendly reminder that goes out at 11 days past their payment due. If we receive no payment, they get another message 36 days past due. Then on the day 43, we give our customers a notice of suspension. They have two days to pay us or… it’s wall garden time – our measure of last resort.

We hate to do it, but on supremely rare occasions, it’s the only way to let our customers know that they are in serious trouble of losing their service.

Wall gardens have become a more prevalent tool with ISP’s these days. One of the big three (who shall remain nameless – but their name does start win an “R”) use them to let their customers know they’ve exceeded their data caps. (We don’t do that of course, because we have no data caps.) They also send them out to customers who are choosing to leave them in a last gasp effort to make them stay by giving them special offers etc. We don’t do that either because, well, it’s kinda creepy really.

For us, it’s a way to inexpensively and automatically remind our customers that their account is in serious jeopardy and they should act as soon as possible, and, it’s working.

We know that sometimes in everyone’s lives, stuff happens that is beyond their control and they fall behind. We understand that. However, we need to ensure and maintain a regular payment schedule for us to continue to be the best deal in telecom in Canada.