Most of us remember the classic movie Spaceballs starring Mel Brooks, John Candy and Rick Moranis. In the scene where King Roland is being forced to divulge the password to open the dome, he slowly repeats the password to Dark Helmet & to the Colonel, “1, 2, 3, 4 & 5.” After he learns the password, Dark Helmet declares, “That is the stupidest combination I have ever heard in my life. That’s the kind of thing an idiot would have on his luggage.”
As your Montreal computer services expert, we would like to offer up some important questions you should ask yourself about your computer password.
- How many people know your password?
- Is the sticky note with your password on it on the bottom of your keyboard or the edge of your display?
- Have you changed your password recently?
- Do you use the same password for all your different needs?
According to a recent survey the most common password in 2013 was “123456.” Other overused passwords were “password,” “letmein” and “qwerty.”
Whether you are a home user or a small business, having a secure password makes it more difficult for a hacker or anyone else to access your data on your computer or smart phone. Passwords are your first line of defense against unauthorized access to your device. There are a few basic rules you can follow to secure your computer or smartphone.
- Make the password reasonably difficult to crack. You can make a catchphrase / acronym that is familiar to you, but include different types of characters. You might include capital letters, small letters, symbols or numbers. Such a password might be “lasTDance5” or “lastDance#5.” Make the password 6 characters or more. Other things that you may want to avoid are
- Names of co-workers, pets, family, etc.
- Company ID number
- Phone numbers, license numbers, or birthdays.
- Simple passwords like “zxcvb” (adjacent keys on a keyboard).
- Words that can be found in a dictionary
- Don’t store your passwords in an obvious spot. A sticky note under the keyboard or stuck to the edge of a shelf isn’t very secure.
- You need to keep track of your passwords. There are simple ways to do it. You can create a password-protected document that lists all of your passwords. This is the only password you will need to remember. Access to this list will enable you to access whatever you require. There are free and paid-for software that will store passwords securely.
- If you are a home user you can create a “password reset disk”
- To more easily remember passwords, you may want to have 2 styles of passwords, one for less secure access such as your login to a news site and one for more secure accesses such as your banking or government.
- Develop a system for tracking and remembering passwords. That way the hints you set up when you insert the password, will make sense to you in the case you have forgotten the password.
- Do not check off the box for the computer to remember the password. If the computer or smart phone goes astray, the person who possesses it will also be able to access your stuff.
- Keep the password to yourself. If a credit card is stolen, the first thing you will be asked is:
- Who else knows the password?
- Is the password noted in your wallet or purse?
- Change your passwords periodically.
Two other thoughts on computer passwords:
Treat your password like your toothbrush. Don’t let anybody else use it, and get a new one every six months. – credited to Clifford Stoll
Password: I don’t have one
Password is incorrect
You have this terrific laptop but the battery doesn’t seem to last to the end of the job you want to finish. There are electrical outlets everywhere except when you really need one or your power cord doesn’t reach the closest outlet in the coffee shop, airport lounge or train. Maybe you only have one charger and you have left it at the office.
As your Montreal computer repair experts, we would like to offer some tips to extend the life of the battery in your device. It is common that a laptop display uses 40% of the power reserve. Other circuits such as the chipset, graphics card, audio and other devices use another 20%. The CPU sips power at about 10%, the network card at about 4% and the hard drive at around 5%.
- Power conservation efforts should focus first on the display. Dimming by as little as 10 or 20% will give you a longer working time. You can also manually adjust the display brightness to suit the environment; you don’t really need the brightest setting in a dim coffee shop. On most Windows laptops, you can change the screen brightness by holding down the Fn button and pressing one of the function keys on the top row of the keyboard. On my Dell laptop, Fn+arrow up or down key reduces and increases the brightness. On a MacBook, you can use the F1 and F2 keys, or the “Displays” option found on the System Preferences screen to adjust brightness. When power is low, turn it down as much as possible.
- The operating system (control panel / power options in Windows or System Preferences / Energy Saver mode in a MAC O/S) whether it is your computer, tablet or smart phone has power adjustments you can change. You may want to shut off the display at a shorter interval, change the pause that the hard drive shuts off after a period of inactivity, adjust CPU performance or put the device into sleep or hibernate mode after you perform a particular action. You may set different plans depending on whether the device is plugged in or running off of the battery. Fine-tuning these plans to fit your computing habits and performance needs can extend battery life considerably.
- You will be able to stretch your battery time by avoiding activities that use a lot of graphics resources such as watching videos or playing video games while on battery power. If you are not using the Wi-Fi, turn it off. Reconnect it as you need it. And finally, charging iPods, smart phones or other devices will wear down the battery faster.
- Will you choose sleep or hibernate or neither? Let’s define what these terms mean. Sleep mode stores your laptop’s current state, including all open apps and data files, in RAM before shutting down virtually all of your system. A bit of power is used to maintain the state of RAM so it isn’t lost during sleep mode. Hibernation mode means that the laptop’s state is saved to the hard drive, allowing the laptop to shut down completely when it is not in use. Your desktop is restored from either mode, but restoration is faster from sleep mode because everything is already in RAM. Restoring from hibernation takes a bit longer, depending on the speed of your system. Hibernation is also safer, because power might be lost during sleep mode and all your data would be lost too.
- Batteries don’t last forever. The longevity of the battery depends on the number of times you recharge it as well as whether you completely discharge the battery. Older technology nickel-cadmium batters will last longer if you discharge them completely from time to time. Newer technology batteries such as lithium-ion batteries will have a shortened lifespan if they are allowed to discharge completely.
- Finally, should you leave your laptop plugged in all the time? The modern circuitry will stop the charge once the battery is fully charged. That being said, heat is the enemy of circuitry as well as batteries. My habit is to plug it in when I am in the office, but as I am on the road a lot, it also goes for hours on battery power. If I go away for a weekend, I don’t leave it plugged in.
- When the battery has reached the end of its life, it will no longer hold a workable charge. Some batteries have indicators that show the number of working cells. Batteries are available from a variety of sources so it isn’t necessary to get one from the manufacturer. It is very important to get one from a reputable source and one that is matched to your model of device. There are batteries that have an extended life as well as batteries that are labelled “green”.
That of course is the $10,000 question. The big date, the line drawn in the sand….April 8, 2014, the date Microsoft will stop supporting Windows XP. As far as you are concerned, Windows XP works, it has a small footprint, all of your software works with it, it doesn’t crash and most of all, you are used to it. You may not have heard very good stories about Windows 8 and if you move to Windows 7, you will probably want to start with a clean drive. That will be a real pain to reinstall all the software and configuration you have painstakingly set up just the way you like it. Continue reading