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

Keeping Kids Busy During COVID Isolation

Like many of you out there, Worldline employees are adjusting to this new reality of spending all of our time at home, finding ways to balance our work life, home life, and, for many of us, kids.

If you have children at home who would normally be in school or day-care, there’s a challenge in knowing how to fill their days. Today Worldline employees are sharing how their kids are staying busy. We hope you’ll find something here that works for you:

Start by Constructing a Schedule

Kids who attend school are accustomed to a daily schedule. Routine provides a sense of safety and predictability which is always important for children but is especially vital during this time when there is more stress and uncertainty.

Mother Helping Children With Homework

Khan Academy has a sample daily schedule. Consider giving that a try, or sit down with your kids and agree on a schedule which includes some or all of the following:

  • meals and snacks,
  • lesson times to work on language, math, and science,
  • music practice,
  • free time to chat and game with friends online, watch tv or movies, or read books
  • crafts
  • chores,
  • daily exercise

Participate in Daily Chores

Kids helping house chores

If you’ve never implemented chores in your home, this might be a good time to start. Parents who are working from home need space in their day to get their work done and they don’t want to end their workday with a huge amount of tidying-up. Getting children involved in cleaning up after meals, vacuuming, and doing laundry, helps develop their self-esteem as they see that they are an important part of the running of the home. Search the internet for “age appropriate chore charts” to get an idea of what your kids can do to help out.

Enjoy Hobbies and Learn a New Skill

Portrait of little asian girl drawing and coloring on table

Time that’s not being filled with school, extra-curricular activities, and traveling back and forth, can be devoted to learning something new. Free online tutorials and apps can be found for pretty much anything you or your child might be interested in: learn a new language, take up a new hobby like knitting or painting, learn to play an instrument, or investigate a subject you’re interested in. Some of our Worldline kids are searching for free Lego instructions to create new structures, trying their hand at cooking, downloading colouring pages, using Duolingo to learn a new language, and using Khan Academy and education.com to help with school work.

Keep in Touch with Friends

Portrait of smiling teenage girl using digital tablet while lying on sofa, watching videos or browsing internet, copy space

One of the most popular apps to arise out of this time of isolation is HouseParty, a face to face social networking app which allows users to chat, play in-app games, and even move between different rooms as if they’re at a real house party. Worldline’s teenagers are especially enjoying this app right now as a way to stay connected with large groups of friends, but even the Worldline adults are using it to host Saturday night “parties” and catch-up with each other socially.

We hope you found something here that will help fill your kids’ days. Watch our social media and future blog posts for more recommendations on how to find balance during this stressful time. We hope you’re staying healthy and safe.

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.

 

 

Is Winter Weather Affecting Your Internet Connection?

Winter weather is on the move across Canada, blanketing our roads and homes with snow and ice. Your internet connection can deal with average winter conditions, but severe weather can slow down or even shut down your internet connection. Here are some ways in which bad winter weather might impact your DSL or cable internet speeds, and some suggestions for what you can do about it.

High winds, heavy snow, ice build-up, and ground heaves due to freezing and thawing can take out power lines, damage connection points between your internet provider and your home, and stress cables, causing your connection to be slow or even be dropped if lines are damaged or broken.

(Remember: never touch exposed wires or cables as they could be live. Always call your local utility company to report downed power lines.)

What can you do about a slow or nonexistent internet connection?

At Worldline, we know it’s frustrating when your internet connection is not all that you want it to be. If you don’t see a blizzard raging outside, start with the easy things: check all the connections inside your house to make sure no cables or connection points have accidentally been pulled out or damaged. 

It’s become a cliché to say “turn it off and turn it on again” in relation to any tech issue, but it is still a viable option. Turn off your router (make sure to warn everyone in the home first!), wait a few seconds, and turn it back on again; you’d be amazed how many times that works. 

Next, check and see just how many people in your home are using the internet. If you have a combination of gamers and movie and music streamers, your internet connection speed will likely suffer no matter what the weather is doing. Consider upgrading your internet package to accommodate more users or encourage everyone in the house to watch a movie or play a game together. 

Your next step is to take a walk outdoors and check your termination box. This is the point where the cables enter your home from the outside. Wear and tear, snow and ice buildup, or moisture on any exposed wires can cause lines to short out. Make it a priority once or twice a year to check your termination box for any damage and be sure to contact your internet provider if you think there’s a problem with it.

Still having issues with your internet connection?

One thing to bear in mind during cold weather is that if YOU want to be inside where it’s warm, your neighbours probably do too. Heavy internet usage in the neighbourhood can mean poor connection and download speeds for everyone. Have a bit of patience, and consider hosting friends from the neighbourhood to enjoy a movie or game night together while cutting down on competing internet usage.

It’s also worth remembering that good weather in your neighbourhood doesn’t mean there isn’t a storm somewhere else that’s impacting connection points to your home. Check local weather reports as well as utility and internet provider sites to see if there’s a problem somewhere. Again, patience is really the only answer here as you wait for the storm to blow over.

And for Worldline customers, if your problems aren’t blowing over with the weather, you can always give us a call and we’ll do what we can to help. 

Stay warm and stay safe this winter, friends!