Are You Prepared for Mobilgeddon?

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We live in the end times, right? At least that’s what Google wants you to think. Most are probably somewhat familiar with the term “Armageddon,” which is the biblical prediction for the end of the world.  Well Google's latest update is being dubbed Mobilegeddon because it means the end of high ranking for websites that are not mobile compliant.

The Evolution of Social Media Networking & its Imminent Future

By Hector Cisneros

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Internet Social Networking (a.k.a., Social Media) as we know it today, has been with us for several years. With only a little more than a decade since the birth of modern social networks, it looks like we’re poised at the beginning of a new era of competition, sophistication and monetization. Some say we’re entering the era of maturity and stability, while others say we’ve just crossed the line of infringing on consumer privacy and implementing a new level of customer-no-service. In this article from Working the Web to Win, we’ll explore the state of affairs for social media, both from a consumer and business perspective, and we’ll predict where social networking is headed. 

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Social Media has evolved from very humble beginnings, and I don’t mean Facebook, LinkedIn or even Friendster! Social media and social networking can be traced back to the very beginning of word-of-mouth messages. This easily takes us back to Martin Luther and the “social posts” of his era, which lead to the beginning of the religious revolution of the Reformation. In fact, this is where the term “posting” was originally coined. Priest and scholar, Martin Luther, had posted his list of grievances against the Catholic Church onto a door of a chapel in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517. It went viral (so to speak) and the rest, as they say, is history.

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Centuries and a completely different medium later (hand-scribed post the Guttenberg printing press versus instant electronic media), today social media and social networking has created a new revolution. Advertisers can no longer dupe the general public with fancy, misleading ads and slick TV/radio commercials. Gone are the days where anyone could tout the false virtues of mediocre or poorly made products, in order to get us to buy them.

The actual road to modern social networking and what we call “social media” has many of its electronic roots in the ARPANET era. These roots stem from CompuServe's bulletin board, AOL’s early instant messaging (AIM) and early web logs. Eventually this lead to the first online communities, Blogger and Twitter.  We began with what seemed to be totally free, word-of-mouth connecting networks that evolved into the mega-corporations such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google (which owns YouTube, Blogger and Google+). Here is an excellent historical, social media timeline provided by the “Sun Sentinel”:

1971 – The first email is sent (between two computers sitting on the same desk).
1979 – Usernets and BBS (Bulletin Board Systems) came online, allowing users to exchange data over phone lines.
1980 – CompuServe and Prodigy hit the scene with the first commercial offering of news, weather, shopping, games, and more.
1991 – America Online launches AOL for DOS and quickly rises to one of the most popular online destinations with over 30 million members in its prime. Millions of people used AOL as their first gateway to the World Wide Web.
1994 – Geocities launches as a community where users create their own websites categorized by one of six "cities.”
1995 – gave users the freedom to post their own content and interact with other users.
1995 – is born allowing users to find and connect with former acquaintances from school life.
1997 – ICQ (Internet Relay Chat) is purchased by America Online; AOL Instant Messenger launches, and a “new language” is born (i.e., OMG, LOL, BRB, etc.).
1997 – launches allowing users to create profiles and list friends.
2002 – launches and quickly grows to three million users in three months.
2003 – is frantically coded in 10 days to try and mimic the rapid growth of Friendster. Grows to the most popular social networking site in 2006 with 100 million users. LinkedIn and Photobucket also join the game.
2004 – Facebook launches originally as a way for college students to connect. The year also saw the birth of Digg and Flickr.
2005 – YouTube launches and gives anyone with a video camera the chance to become an Internet sensation.
2006 – Twitter launches and squeezes our communication into 140 character "tweets.”
2008 – Facebook overtakes MySpace as the most popular social networking site. – Google introduces Google+ after two previous failed attempts to break into the social space (Wave and Buzz).

The following video is also very helpful:

Today, there are many new social networks and the number of subscribers easily reaches into the many billions. Newer, more pictorial networks such as Pintrest, Instagram, SnapChat chat and What’s App have provided new havens for those more interested in share pictures, videos and direct messages via smartphones. Let’s face it, there are more mobile users today accessing the Internet than there are desktop users.

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Many have perceived social networks as free, but they have never been totally free. Somebody has always paid for them. You can’t have hundreds of programmers, thousands of servers, huge headquarters, and billions in assets without someone paying the piper! From a consumer perceptive, these networks have appeared to be free because the price we have been paying is not as tangible as cash or other easy-to- perceive assets.  The price we’re paying is equally, if not more precious than gold ... we’ve been playing with our private data and readily giving up our privacy. We have been connecting with each other by exchanging personal information about ourselves in order to create a huge database of private information about our lives that the large social networks then sell to third-party vendors as targeted advertising prospects.

Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google have always been selling the promise of access to our psychographic information as a mineable commodity, or as it is today, the outright selling our data to third parties. I know what you’re thinking only your friends and people you're connected to can see your data. This may have been true at one point in time, but there’s definitely no online privacy today ― at all. If you’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube and other social networks, vendors are paying to mine your data and to target your account for advertising. Businesses are paying big money for targeted promotions, running ads and exposing views of their promoted posts on all of these major social networks. The near future will bring new fees to any business who wants its message to show up in its social network timeline.  

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Soon, all the news feeds and timelines will be artificially corrupted with "ad stories" or promoted posts purchaseby vendors vying to sell you their products or services as their prospect. Facebook has already announced that it plans on providing its own news feed and I’m sure it plans on selling your psychographic information as soon as you subscribe to it. Likewise, Twitter is already selling promoted posts that shows up in your Twitter feed that has nothing to do with people you’ve decided to follow. LinkedIn has always had a commercial side and its news service also sells promoted ads and posts in and alongside its time line news feed. Google well, let’s face it, Google sells everything.

Gone are the days where your business post was easily seen by your business followers. Yes, your followers can see you on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ but the post feed is not as “pure” as it was in the past. This is especially true on Facebook where you have to buy ads or promote posts to be easily seen in your followers’ Facebook page timeline.

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Almost five years ago, I wrote about the “Six Cardinal Rules for Success in Social Media Marketing” and in it stated, “No one ever joined a social network to be sold to …” and that “… they joined to connect with others, share and find useful information and to be entertained.”  I contend that this is still true today. Subscribers are either ignorant of the loss of privacy or they believe that it's worth the trade-off.  The fact remains: social networking is more popular than ever.

Today there are over 350 social networks. Yet, there is a change in the air. Younger generations are moving away from Facebook, Twitter, and Google, opting for the more instant and visually oriented What’s App, Snap Chat and Instagram. Some say this is because they don’t want parental oversight, but I say they just want more privacy. The same privacy that we used to enjoy as adults. More adult migrations will begin to take place as unsettling news comes out on how social networking is negatively affecting marriages (linked to more divorces) and the loss of other types of face to face social connections. Plus most adults don’t realize they have lose their privacy. I think we will see other migrations taking place once new, more private networks emerge.

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Right now, there’s a great opportunity for new, more private and less commercial social networks to emerge. Ones that are easier for us to use, are more respectful of privacy, and that provide better customer service (or at least a phone number where you can call for help and receive it in real time when you need it). The current social network leaders are becoming highly monetized, provide little or no customer service, and record and sell all of your private data. As consumers begin to realize they have been taken, they’ll either give in to a life that is less private or they’ll rebel. Right now, the top social networks are vulnerable because their monopoly has allowed them to provide poor customer service with little consequences, they sell our personal data and none of them have consumer’s interest at heart.

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Think of it this way: For some, the trading of your privacy for the ability to connect to friends, family and co-workers, is worth the price of admission. For others, the idea of not owning what you post is repugnant. Let’s take the example of an items that made headlines in the news recently. Some think that keeping a dead person’s Facebook page up and running is a monument to their life. Others will feel that this is not in good taste and just another way of abusing personal and private data. Even though you're related to the deceased, you cannot gain access or pull down to their page if you don’t have their username and password.

In the past, I’ve written several prediction articles about social media. So in this article I am going to stick my neck out again. I predict right here and now that we’re on the verge of a new social networking era. One that will usher in private social networks that are pay to play. New (startup) social networks that will attack the current social network leaders where they are weakest (that currently poor consumer service, lack of privacy, aren't user-friendly, etc.). We will move into a dichotomy of pay-to-play or pay-with-your-privacy.

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Having said all of this, it’s my belief that social media has been a good influence on society as a whole. It has diminished the influence of the old media giants like TV, radio and print that allowed many advertisers to run misleading ads that influenced our choices, even though those products were mediocre or just plain bad. Social media has forced many businesses with poor or no customer service to improve their customer service game. Plus, as consumers, we have benefited from the sharing of product ratings and vendor testimonials, which have led us to make better product choices and receive better customer service. For many, a real bonus is that we have made all those long-lost connections with friends, family and former school mates.

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So what do you say? Do you think it’s OK to give up the ownership of your posts, pictures, videos and give control to the big social networks? Or are you one of those people who are becoming disgruntled with the directions that social networking has taken? Are you looking for a more private way to network, even if it means paying a nominal fee each month? Either way, the reality is that it costs money ― lots of it ― to build, run and maintain these large social networks. The days of what seemed like “free” social media are gone forever.

My recommendation is if you have any social network accounts, take the time to back up the data you have posted to them. You can find out how to do this by Googling it or by looking in the help section of the specific social network. If you don’t like what you have learned in this article, backup your data and asked to be removed from that network. Still, understand that whatever you have posted will be staying in their unlisted database for as long as they feel that data is valuable.

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As consumers, we have a lot of say in the way our world treats us. If we don’t like how we are treated we have to choose to act. We just have to work together and take affirmative action. We’ve seen this happen in elections, with social injustices, and with companies that have been selling poor products and providing lousy customer service.

The same is true for how the social media giants treat us. If we work together, we can hold these social media firms accountable for how they treat us and what kind of service they provide. I recommend you contact your social networks if you have complaints and share those stories of abuse with your friends, family and co-workers. It might be a good idea to share your complaint on a different social network to avoid any retaliation from the offending network. If the stories go viral and get enough traction, the social giants will stand up and take notice. They have backed down in the past when enough people complained about bad policies or poor service.

Do yourself a favor: think carefully about what I have said and decide. It’s your life and privacy that’s at stake. Social Networking is at a crossroads and everyone is going to have to make a choice.

In this article, I have provided a brief history of the evolution of Social Networking, discussed its current state of affairs, and prognosticated about its imminent future. I provided a timeline of social media’s development and pointed out the direction that I see Social Networking taking in the near future.

That's my opinion.  I look forward to reading yours.

If you liked this article, you can find more by typing “social media or social networking” in the search box at the top left of this blog. I further recommend reading “ Hector's the Connector’s Social Media Predictions for 2014,” “Internet Marketing: Lessons Learned & Best Practices Part 3 – The Social Media Dynamic,” “The Evolution of Internet Advertising,” and “How to Win Friends and Influence People in the 21st Century - Take Two.”

If you found this article useful, share it with your friends, families and co-workers. If you have a comment related to this article, leave it in the Comment sections below. I hope you have found these questions and answers useful. Thanks for sharing your time with me.

If you'd like a free copy of our eBook, "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century," please fill in the form below and we'll email it to you. Your information is always kept private and is never sold.

Hector Cisneros is COO and director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web To Win" on, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.”

Is There a Silver Lining Inside Cloud Computing?

By Carl Weiss

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Unless you've been living under a rock for the past couple years, you’ve either heard of or are now using cloud computing. The Cloud sounds so peaceful, beautiful, and magnificent. But like all clouds, there are many different kinds and even though they can have silver linings, they can also bring rain and thunder. Today, users are looking to save money by embracing it. IT pros are implementing it to lower their cost for infrastructure and investors are plowing money into it looking to make a profit.

Likewise, you have to ask yourself these questions: How can I use the cloud to line my pockets with silver? Can I do it by saving money or by making more is the real question at hand. In today’s blog, we’ll look at the emergence of cloud computing as a way of both making and saving money.  We’ll also point out some of the movers and shakers in the industry, as well as identifying some well-heeled interlopers who are trying to rain on everybody’s parade.

Most people think that cloud computing is a relatively new technology.  The truth is that it’s been around since the 1960s. A blog on points out:

“The idea of an ‘intergalactic network’ was introduced in the '60s by J.C.R. Licklider, who was responsible for enabling the development of ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) in 1969. His vision was for everyone on the globe to be interconnected and accessing programs and data at any site, from anywhere, explained Margaret Lewis, product marketing director at AMD. It is a vision that sounds a lot like what we are calling cloud computing."

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Even back then, while other experts in the field thought computing would inevitably be rendered as a kind of public utility, it wasn’t until 1999 that the bandwidth required was broad enough to accomplish the task.  That was when began pioneering the concept of delivering enterprise solutions via the web.  This was followed by, which, in 2002, started vending cloud storage and computing.  By 2006, this service morphed into a commercial service called Elastic Compute Cloud, which permitted small businesses to run their applications remotely.  By 2009 Google and Microsoft jumped into cloud computing in a big way, which legitimized and promoted the cloud computing concept as a user-friendly resource.

Other criteria that took the concept away from early adopters to make it more mainstream were the obvious financial benefits that the technology offered in terms of backing up data, as well as increased storage capacity without having to invest in new hardware.  The downside was that those wishing to store sensitive data on the cloud had to deal with the worrisome question of online security.

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Andreas Asander, vice-principal of product management at virtualization security specialist Clavister, said that once the security issues are resolved, cloud computing services "can enable an enterprise to expand its infrastructure, add capacity on demand, or outsource the whole infrastructure, resulting in greater flexibility, a wider choice of computing resources and significant cost savings."

What Color is Your Cloud?

While the cloud offers a number of opportunities to users, currently there are three operating models:
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – IaaS provides physical or virtual machines, image libraries, block storage, firewalls, IP addresses, Virtual Local Area Networks, and software bundles to users.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS) – The PaaS model provides a computing platform such as a web server where programmers and developers can run their software solutions on a platform without having to buy and manage the hardware.
  • Software as a Service (SaaS) – SaaS users are provided access to databases and/or applications for a flat or monthly fee.  In an SaaS model, users access the software from the cloud client. 

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While users can access all of the above-mentioned services using a variety of devices, some users rely on the cloud to run nearly all their applications.  The cloud services can be mixed and matched depending upon the user’s needs.  

Generally, there are six service models from which to choose:
  • Private Cloud is an infrastructure designed and managed for the users of a single entity or organization. Corporate data centers are examples of private clouds. The infrastructure for these data centers can be either managed internally or by a third-party. 
  • Public Cloud renders services to the general public.  Providers such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft provide public access to their managed data centers via the Internet.
  • Hybrid Clouds are created when two or more cloud services from different providers are offered to users.  They can pull together some combination of public, private, and community cloud services under one umbrella.
  • Community Clouds serve several organizations with a common interest.  This way, costs can be shared between two or more organizations wishing to avail themselves of a Private Cloud.
  • Distributed Clouds are where a Community Cloud allows organizations to share cloud resources; a Distributed Cloud shares machines located at different locations by a single network or hub service.
  • Multicloud uses multiple services to reduce the risk of a single vendor going down and thus leaving the user with no service.  

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Let’s look at the many benefits that cloud computing has to offer. Cloud computing, when implemented with safeguards, can save individuals and especially businesses huge amounts of money on infrastructure, security, process management, software cost, content distribution and team collaboration.

Ten real benefits that cloud computing offers today:

1. It can achieve economies of scale – You can increase output and productivity with less people. Your cost per project, unit or product will go down.

2. Inexpensively globalize your workforce – Your employees worldwide can access the cloud with any kind of Internet connection to collaborate and share information.

3.Reduce the need to keep up technology and infrastructure upgrades - for hardware, software, etc.

4. Reduce capital expenditures – This lowers your need to for purchasing new hardware, software licensing, and labor to install all of these assets.

5. You can codify and streamline processes on a global scale – All of your employees can be using the same software and thus using the same process to complete work.

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6. You can monitor your business globally – The cloud allows you to manage employee access and security worldwide.

7. Improved access – likewise you have worldwide access. You can gain access anywhere you have a smart device and an Internet connection.

8. It will lower the cost of training, especially if you standardize on the use of cloud SaaS (Software as a Service) programs to run your business.

8. In most cases, it will save you money on annual software licensing. SaaS monthly fees are usually much lower than the cost for ongoing purchase of software licenses per employee.

10. You’ll have greater flexibility to add news capabilities, divest from an existing relationship or change directions. You can scale your needs up and down seasonally as well as economically.

The Dark Cloud

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The biggest danger to cloud users has to do with privacy and security.  Since users are relying on a third-party to host their data, the primary concern is that the service provider and/or their employees can access this data.  Anyone with access to the data could either accidentally or purposely alter or delete the data.  Since some cloud providers share access to this information with outside entities, this would mean that the only practical way to protect the data would be to encrypt it.

In cloud services such as social networks or blogging platforms (which are a kind of cloud service), the information contained therein is not only shared with the hosting agency, but they actively profit from data mining this information.  What many people are unaware of is that all of the information displayed on social nets and blogs is actually owned by the service provider and not the author.

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There is also the real risk a hacker can not only gain access to a user’s cloud service, but it’s also possible for a hacker to not only alter the content contained in the cloud, but to lock out legitimate users.  It’s not uncommon for hackers to demand a ransom in order to have the legitimate user’s access restored.  (Failure to pay the ransom usually causes the hacker to delete the users' information.)  It is also possible that hackers can use the information gleaned from a user’s social networks to hack their way into a user’s computer, tablet and/or smartphone.

In a recent article in entitled, “Hackers Ramp Up Computer Attacks That  Demand Ransom,” Erin Coker points out:

“Hackers operating on the Internet's ‘Dark Web’ are spreading a new, more sophisticated generation of the malicious software known as ‘ransomware,” anonymously shaking down anyone with an unprotected computer, from lawyers and cops to small businesses. Where small groups of anonymous hackers once hit individual consumers, the hackers have now organized into crime syndicates that boldly launch massive attacks against entire companies.”

She also pointed out these attacks are usually initiated when someone boots up, only to find an ominous warning with a ticking countdown clock, informing them that they have a limited time to pay the ransom or risk the destruction of their data. This can result in one of three scenarios:
  • The user pays up and their asset is unlocked.
  • The user runs out of time and their data is destroyed or their machine is locked permanently.
  • The user pays and the hacker takes the money only to renege on freeing the user’s data or machine.

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 When you take into consideration that some of these coordinated ransomware attacks were successfully delivered to hundreds of thousands of victims in ten days, this results in tens of millions of dollars in ransom.

The worst thing is that ransomware is on the rise.  The FBI’s website states:

Ransomware has been around for several years, but there’s been a definite uptick lately in its use by cyber criminals. And the FBI, along with public and private sector partners, is targeting these offenders and their scams. . Recently, we’re seeing an increasing number of incidents involving so-called ‘drive-by’ ransomware, where users can infect their computers simply by clicking on a compromised website, often lured there by a deceptive e-mail or pop-up window. Another new trend involves the ransom payment method. While some of the earlier ransomware scams involved having victims pay ‘ransom’ with pre-paid cards, victims are now increasingly asked to pay with Bitcoin, a decentralized virtual currency network that attracts criminals because of the anonymity the system offers.”

The bottom line is while cloud computing is a tremendous boon to the public in terms of saving time and money when it comes to accessing computing power, unless serious security issues are resolved, there could come a time when cloud computing disappears like a puff of smoke.

In this article, I presented an overview of the development of the cloud computing and discussed the different types of cloud services available. I also cited many attributes of cloud computing but also discussed some of the dangers and developments that are growing regarding dark cloud and ransomware.

To read previous blogs on cloud computing and similar topics, check out: "New Year, New Tech," "It's Time for Some Hi-Tech Spring Cleaning," "Attack of the Botnets," or just type words such as "cloud," "cyber terrorism, "hacking" in the search frame.

If you'd like a free copy of our eBook, "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century," please fill in the form below and we'll email it to you. Your information is always kept private and is never sold.

Carl Weiss is president of Working the Web to Win, an award-winning digital marketing agency based in Jacksonville, Florida.  You can listen to Carl live every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern on BlogTalkRadio.

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It’s Time for Some Hi-Tech Spring Cleaning

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It's Spring time ...warmer temperatures, flowers start to bloom, the grass needs cutting and lots of pollen fills the air.  Every year at this time we break out the rakes, the weed whacker and the lawn mower to do a little spring cleaning.  

So why should we treat our technology any different?  After all, a year is a long time online.  A lot can happen to all your tech devices in a year. You load new apps, write and save documents, browse the web thousands of times and save and delete files, right? All of this activity effectively rearranges the information stored on your hard drive and begins to slow down our machines. Websites, free apps, adware and other programs can easily clog our tech with accumulated junk until they slow to a crawl. The number one complaint of any computing repair service is “my computer is really slow.”  So I thought I’d take the time to show you how to shake out the bugs in order to clean up your computers, tablets and smartphones.

Step #1: Clear Out Unused/Unwanted Apps

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If you’re a Windows user, start off by opening the control panel and accessing Programs and Features.  This will bring up all the programs that are currently running on your desktop or laptop.  Presented in alphabetical order, the first thing I do is click on the “Installed On” tab at the top of the page.  This causes the programs to be listed by the date of install, which is a much better way to clear out the cobwebs.  You’d be amazed at the number of unused programs, add-on programs and all sorts of other digital detritus that can make its way onto your machines without your knowledge.   Many times when you install a program, other add-ons are installed as well.  By date sorting them, you can forensically trace when and where these programs made their way onto your system. Then it’s just a matter of weeding them out.

On Android tablets and smartphones, you need to peruse the apps that populate it and decide where to start trimming.  You’d be surprised at how much faster your smartphone or tablet will run once you have weeded out little-used apps.  To edit and/or remove unwanted apps, hit the app icon and the “Edit” tab.  This will highlight your apps and allow you to uninstall them by clicking on the app.

Step #2: Update and Beef Up Your Security

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No matter the device, you can never have too much security.  Every week, millions of cyberattacks take place.  This results in the loss of data and dollars.  If your virus protection has expired, you need to renew it.  If you’re only running one form of protection, you need to augment it by adding anti-malware software.  I personally have three layers of protection on all my devices, including my smartphone.  That’s because the hundred dollars or so that I pay in antivirus/anti malware software is a small price to pay to protect my business and financial data. Many of the top names in antivirus will do. Here at Working the Web to Win, we use TrendMicro as our primary line of defense.

Some programs such as Advanced System Care 8.1 not only help you protect your system, it also clears out junk files, optimizes your hard drive, checks and fixes shortcuts.  Just make sure that you buy it direct from We also recommend Malwarebytes as a great triple defense treat to keep the bad guys and bots at bay.

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Another thing you should do at least twice a year is change your passwords.  Make your passwords at least ten characters long.  Add a couple of numbers and special characters as well, just for good measure. Eight character passwords are all too easy to crack. 

Step #3: Backup Your Data or Lose it!

You wouldn’t drive a car or own a home without insuring it, would you?  The reason you pay your premiums month in and month out is to protect two of the biggest investments you possess.  Then why don’t more people backup their data?  Especially when you consider the small cost of storing your data on an external drive or on the Cloud, making a backup of your hard drive is one of the cheapest insurance policies around.  Or, you can wait until some hacker compromises your system or the hard drive crashes before you start backing up your drive.  Google will provide you with free cloud service for an individual where you get 15 gigs of data storage free. Upgrading to 100 gigs is $1.99 a month. This also includes the use of Google Office as well. If you purchase Microsoft Office 365 Business Essentials, your annual license not only provides you with Office, but a terabyte of cloud storage as well. Also, wireless backup and hard drives are cheap. They start as low as $79 on sale. A 128 gig flash drive can be had for as little as $32 each. Anyone could buy three of them for under a hundred dollars and create a three rotation back-up system to protect their data.

Step #4: Deal with the Dust Bunnies - They Can Kill!

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A couple of months ago, my laptop started sounding like a Boeing 757 winding up for takeoff every time I started it up.  Then it simply stopped working one afternoon, leaving me with a “Cooling Fan Disabled” warning that Iheeded immediately by shutting down the system and driving it over to a local computer repair shop.  An hour and $100 later, I received a call from the technician.

“I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news,” he told me.

“What’s the good news?” I asked.

“Your laptop is running as good as new and I didn’t even have to replace the fan.  All I did was pop open the case and blow out a warren of dust bunnies.  When I plugged it in, it fired up right away.  The dust had piled up inside of the cooling fan enough that it had jammed.”

“Then what’s the bad news?” I wondered out loud.

“I still have to charge you the $100 laptop service fee.”

When I considered that I not only didn’t have to sweat the cost of replacing the cooling fan, but the time it would take for a supplier to ship the part to me, I considered the $100 cleaning a bargain.  As soon as I got back to the office, I popped the case off my desktop and gave it a thorough dusting as well. (All it takes is a screwdriver and a can of compressed air.)

Step# 5: Defrag to De-Drag

If it’s been more than three months since you last defragged your hard drive, then spring cleaning is definitely time to perform this chore.  While it could take an hour or more to do, it will speed up your drive’s response time considerably.  However, if you have a solid state drive, defragging it does little or no good.  SSD drives write information differently than hard disk drives do. Read the articlein PC World that shows this is unnecessary. You might want to also watch this video as well. 

Step# 6: Update Your Hardware Drivers

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If you’re using out of date drivers, especially those associated with your system’s operating system, then you are leaving the door wide open to hackers.  The reason companies spend so much time and money tweaking their drivers is predominantly because there are millions of hackers who spend billions of man hours searching for vulnerabilities in systems and software.  I’ve known users who intentionally disabled the automatic updates, or who don’t allow updates to take place when notified by their system. Then they complain when their system gets hacked. A note of caution here: Not all hardware drive update programs are created equal. Before you update any hardware drivers in your system, make sure you create a restore point of your system. This way, if the new hardware drive isn’t what it’s cracked up to be, you can roll the system back to how it was before you tried to upgrade the hardware driver/s.

While all these tasks could collectively take you the better part of a day to perform, when you consider the increased speed and security that a little DYI hi-tech spring cleaning can provide, you’ll more than make up for it in added productivity.  On top of that, many can of these cleaning programs/procedures can be automated in a “set-it-and-forget-it” fashion. Some will even allow you to start the maintenance.

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Now you can happily sing the little ditty from the Beatles’ “Penny Lane”: “It’s a clean machine.” Your devices may even join you in the chorus.  

In this article, I covered six very important steps that everyone should take in performing their annual hi-tech spring cleaning.  Each of these six functions will keep your digital devices running fast, smooth and free of pesky bugs, pop-up, malware and keep the hackers a bay. Neglecting this necessary chore will cost you a lot more (usually five times more in real dollars) than the time and expense you go through when doing it.

If you like this article, you can find more by typing “spring cleaning” or “hacking” in the search box at the top left of this blog. I further recommend reading “Spring Cleaning Means Taking Out the Cyber Trash, and TheHack Attack Is Back.  

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Thanks for sharing your time with us, until next time.

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When he isn’t cooking up tasty stories online, Carl Weiss is CEO of Working the Web to Win, a digital marketing agency based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also the co-host of the online radio show of the same name on Blog Talk Radio. You can reach him at 904-410-2091 or email him at

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