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Posted on Apr 20, 2017 in Newsletter, Welcome | 0 comments

TWT Newsletter NG – Issue 47 – Cloud alternatives and Creators update this month

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TWT Newsletter NG – Issue 47

Welcome to the April 2017 TWT Newsletter

A quarter of the year gone already and, for many of us around the world, a chance to binge on chocolate eggs and other treats as Easter rolls around once again. Keep those sticky fingers away from your PC for a moment while you take time out to read our latest TWT newsletter.

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In this months issue:-

No updates again in March?
Cloud security concerns? Try these alternatives
Tip of the Month – Use the new Windows 10 mini-calendar
Free Utility of the Month – Notepad++
Windows Store App of the Month – Netflix
Windows 10 Creators Update lands this month!

No updates again in March?

Apologies for publishing no new tutorials again this March. is run by a small family team, along with several other websites (all under the ACEL Systems banner). When one website gets busy, sometimes there’s not very much time to work on our other sites. Rest assured, we haven’t forgotten you and there will be at least one new tutorial in April.

picture Cloud security concerns? Try these alternatives

The Cloud, it sounds mysterious and magical, but basically when you put your data into the cloud, all you are doing is storing it on someone else’s computer. Usually that someone else is Google, Microsoft, Dropbox or another online company. As we’re always reporting in our newsletters, anything you put online is vulnerable to hackers and security breaches. The cloud is no different and several high profile attacks on services like Apple’s iCloud have seen intimate and embarrassing photographs of celebrities leaked onto the public internet.

The end of the tax year is upon us and it’s time to get your tax affairs in order, If you need to work with more sensitive data, such as tax records, financial details or other data that could be used by fraudsters, you should avoid storing it in the cloud. That said, there’s simply no denying that services like OneDrive, that let you access your files from anywhere and automatically back them up, are very convenient. If security ultimately trumps convenience, here are a few other ways you can store and back up your files, without trusting them to the cloud.

Shared folders and file sync programs – Have two or more Windows PCs in your home? If so and if they’re both connected to the internet, you can share files between them. Browse to any folder on your PC and right click on it, then choose the “Sharing” tab and click the “Share” button. A file sharing permissions window will appear.

If you log in with the same username and password on all your PCs, just click “Share” again. Enter your password and/or click “Yes” if Windows User Account Control prompts you to do so. Windows will then say that your folder is shared. To access it from any other PC in your home, just enter the link that’s provided into File Explorer. Usually the link consists of two backward slashes (\\) followed by the computer name then a single slash and the folder name. For example “\\W10-Games\Games” would be the link to the “Games” folder on the “W10-Games” PC. Alternatively, just use the Network icon in the navigation (left hand) pane in File Explorer to browse all available PCs and shared folders. If it sounds complicated, just give it some practise, try sharing a spare folder and see how you get on.

So now you can access one folder from two or more PCs, hardly a substitute for a cloud based service on it’s own, but wait, there’s more. Tools like Goodsync or Syncback SE can help you keep two folders synchronised. This means you can use one folder as your working folder and another as a backup, or perhaps, work on your files while you’re out on the road then synchronise them when you get back home. Not quite as flexible as actually having your files in the cloud, and of course if you lose your laptop while on the road, you lose all your file changes too, but it’s certainly better than nothing.

Network attached storage – The next step up from simply sharing folders on your PCs. At one time these boxes, like the one shown on the left here (if you’re reading the HTML version of the newsletter) were only seen in businesses, but as technology has become more affordable, they can now be found in many homes too. A Network Attached Storage box is basically a mini PC designed simply for storing your files. They usually attach to a spare network port on your router, or perhaps via Wi-Fi, and have space for at least one, usually two or more hard drives. They’re normally easy to set up and once configured, you can access your files from any computer or device in your home. Many NAS boxes have technology that automatically backs up data stored on them, so that it’s recoverable even if one of the hard drives in the device suffers a failure. This makes them a great place for storing your backups.

If you travel outside of your home, you will need to take any files you’re working on with you on your computers hard drive. Once you’re back however, you can send them to the NAS for backup. Not quite as convenient as the instant backup that something like OneDrive offers, but not a bad alternative.

OwnCloud – So you don’t trust the people at Microsoft, Google or other cloud providers, but you still want access to your files anywhere?, in that case, why not roll your own cloud solution with OwnCloud? OwnCloud runs on a PC on your home network, or perhaps one you rented on the internet. Once set up, you can use the OwnCloud app to automatically sync files on your PC to your OwnCloud server. You can also use the apps on iPhone and Android (though sadly not Windows Phone at this time) to access your files from your Smartphone.

If you’re going to go down this route, be prepared for some complicated set up. OwnCloud does not have a Windows server app (though you can synchronise files to your server from your Windows PC using the OwnCloud desktop app) so that means you will need a Linux PC or a compatible Network Attached Storage box. Optimally configuring OwnCloud requires some IT skills, so if you want to go down this route, it might be time to call in a few favours with the family IT geek.

Once you have OwnCloud running, however, it offers quite a bit of flexibility. You can shut it off entirely from the public internet and only synchronise your files when you are at home, or you can (again, possibly with a little help from your favourite IT expert) open your server to the internet allowing you to access your files from anywhere (which of course brings with it a trade off in security).

We’ve been trying out OwnCloud as a means of backing up and synchronising files here at TWT HQ and so far we’ve been quite impressed with the program. It keeps files in-sync nicely between our PCs and is a great place to store files that we either don’t need or dont want to be able to access from the public internet.

That concludes our little tour of cloud storage alternatives. It’s an unfortunate truth that many things in computing come down to a trade off between security and convenience. For instance, having no password on your PC is convenient, but not very secure. Storing files in the cloud can be extremely convenient, more so than any of these alternative solutions. It’s up to you to decide what trade offs to make with your data and of course there’s nothing stopping you storing some files in the cloud and also using the above techniques with other files that you don’t want exposed to the internet.

Tip of the Month – Use the new Windows 10 mini-calendar

Windows users are used to finding the date and time display in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. Many of you will also be aware that you could access a small calendar display and change the date/time if it was incorrect, simply by clicking on this part of the taskbar. In the latest Windows 10 anniversary update, however, you can now quickly access a more full featured mini-calendar by clicking on this area of the screen. This allows you to quickly see your days schedule or the schedule for an up-coming day. Clicking on a day on the new Windows 10 mini-calendar will no longer change your computers date, so go right ahead and click on one to see what’s pencilled in for that day.

If you link your calender from your Microsoft, Google or Apple (iCloud) accounts, events will synchronise between your PC and your phone too.

Free Utility of the Month – Notepad++

For intermediate and expert PC users, the Windows notepad utility often comes in handy. Sometimes, especially with free or beta (pre-release) software, you will need to manually edit a configuration file using Notepad rather than change an option from inside the program. While the supplied Windows Notepad utility is okay, it’s a little primitive and is one of the few Windows apps that hasn’t seen an update since at least Windows XP. If you crave something a bit more powerful, that’s suitable for editing all kinds of text files, check out Notepad++.

With advanced features like tabbed emitting (which lets you open two or more files in tabs, just like in your browser), automatic file saving and macro recording (for automating repetitive tasks), Notepad++ should satisfy even the most advanced Windows user. You can download your copy for free here.

Windows Store App of the Month – Netflix

The Flix are a rare breed of freshwater Trout that are particularly delicious when eaten pan-fried. In this fun little fishing simulation game, you will need to capture as many of these delicious morsels in your fishing net as possible. No, just kidding! Netflix is the worlds most popular movie rental and streaming service. Using the Windows version of this app you can watch your Netflix movie and TV content on your Windows PC, tablet or laptop. Forget watching on the tiny screen of your phone and instead fire up your super duper Windows tablet or laptop.

Even better, the Windows version of the app now supports offline streaming and viewing. Download Netflix content on your PC and watch it later, no matter if you’re in-flight or in a Hotel with awful Wi-Fi.

Net yourself this app by visiting the Windows store here.

Windows 10 Creators Update lands this month!

We’ve talked extensively about the new Windows 10 Creators update in our past newsletters. In case you missed it, check out Newsletter issue 42 where we went in-depth with some of the promised features.

Now, the update is finally ready and will start rolling out to users on the 11th April. With so many PCs to update, it may be a while before you’re offered the update, so if you want to jump the gun, Windows Central has a useful article here on how you can make sure to snag the update as soon as it goes public.

We’ll be getting hands on with the update this month and of course publishing updated tutorials where necessary over the course of the next few months.

That concludes our newsletter for April. On behalf of the team here at TWT, I’d like to say thank you to all our readers, new and old for your continued support. If you celebrate Easter, we hope you have a fun time and don’t eat too much chocolate! The TWT Newsletter will return on the 10th May 2017 for more tips, tricks and techniques to help you get the best out of your PC, be it Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 10. We hope that you found this newsletter informative and useful. If you did not then please let us know why, you can contact us by visiting this page. If you have enjoyed this newsletter, feel free to pass it on to all your friends and family, or better still encourage them to sign up for their own copy. Until next month, keep checking and enjoy happy, safe and stress-free computing!

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