Browser settings backup, USB eject, email fields

Backing up your web browser settings can save time and help you recover from browser infections. If you have spent a lot of time tricking out your browser with custom start pages, particular extensions, extensive bookmarks and carefully configured privacy and forms settings, then you can use your browser’s ability to sync its settings as a way to back up and then recover all, in case you have some malware infection that blows up your browser. This works both in Windows and OS X. In Chrome, you have to sign in to your Google account (you will have to make one if you don’t have one already), and in Firefox you have to similarly sign into a Firefox account. If you use Internet Explorer and are using Windows 8 or 8.1, you can sync all sorts of settings if you use the same Microsoft account to log in. For all of these, there is the usual tradeoff between your sense of privacy and your need for convenience. Remember: keep that sync password someplace safe! And, if someone wants to use your browser to quick check something, have them use one you don’t use; that is another good reason to have multiple web browsers.

Should you always eject a USB drive, or just pull it out? The short answer is: eject. Computers don’t always expect data sources to suddenly disappear, yet that it commonly possible with a flash drive, with it being pulled out when you are in a rush. Although Windows tries to make sure that changes are written back to the drive as soon as possible, it takes only a few more seconds to safely “eject” any USB drive, whether it is on a Mac or PC. It will only take one time of corrupting your data by pulling out the USB too soon for you to realize why safely ejecting is much wiser.

Some email mistakes can lead to more, not less, spam. Often spam has a very “helpful” unsubscribe link at the bottom of a message, clicking it just will confirm that your email address is actually read by a human. Replying does a similar thing, but also “tells” your email program to trust more that email address. Get your friends to not put your email address in the CC field where all the other recipients will see your address, but rather use and teach others to use the BCC (blind carbon copy) field for those “important” mass mailings. And, when you sign up at any site for email alerts, pay attention to what they might do in “renting” out your email address and see if there is any opt out box to avoid having your information shared with other “like-minded” organizations or company affiliates.

Remember listening to radio while you worked but not liking all the ads and fillers? Recast.fm lets you listen to your favorite online radio station, but strips out ads and such, to leave just music. You do have to have a spotify or rdio account, maybe a small price to pay for ad-free listening.

Bitdefender has a free web browser add-on or plug-in to help prevent malicious websites from installing malware or trying to phish site login credentials. See Traffic Light at <http://www.bitdefender.com/solutions/trafficlight.html>.

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