How to Encrypt All Your Online and Offline Data

We use dozens of online services and applications every day to send and receive emails and text messages, make video calls, read news and watch videos online, and much more. And it’s extremely hard to keep track and secure the insane amount of data we produce and consume every day.

And in case you’re thinking, “I have nothing to hide,” you’re wrong. Every piece of data that you unleash in the web and fail to secure can be used against you. In the wrong hands, those data points can be gathered and correlated to create a digital profile, which can then be used to commit fraud, forgery and phishing attacks against you.

Your digital profile can also be used to invade your privacy in annoying and creepy ways such as showing you ads that are personalized based on your most intimate preferences and information.

However, it’s never too soon to start protecting your digital information from unwanted eyes. In this regard, your best friend is encryption, the science of scrambling data using mathematics. Encryption makes sure only intended people can read your data. Unauthorized parties who access your data will see nothing but a bunch of undecipherable bytes.

Here’s how you can encrypt all the data you store on your devices and in the cloud.

Encrypt Your On-Device Data

First, the easy part. You should start by encrypting the data you physically hold. This includes the content you store on your laptop, desktop PC, smartphone, tablet and removable drives. If you lose your devices, you risk placing sensitive information in the wrong hands.

The most secure way to encrypt your on-device data is full-disk encryption (FDE). FDE encrypts everything on a device and only makes the data available for use after the user provides a password or PIN code.

Most operating systems support FDE. In Windows, you can use BitLocker to turn on full-disk encryption on your PC. In macOS, the full-disk encryption is called FileVault. You can read our step-by-step guide on using BitLocker and FileVault.

Windows BitLocker also supports encrypting external drives such as memory cards and USB thumb drives. On macOS, you can use the Disk Utility to create an encrypted USB drive.

Alternatively, you can try hardware encrypted devices. Hardware encrypted drives require users to enter a PIN code on the device before plugging it to the computer. Encrypted drives are more expensive than their non-encrypted counterparts, but they are also more secure.

You should also encrypt your mobile devices. On-device encryption will make sure that an unauthorized person won’t be able to gain access to your phone’s data, even if they get physical access to it. Both iOS and Android support full-disk encryption. All Apple devices running iOS 8.0 and later are encrypted by default. We suggest you leave it that way.

The Android landscape is a bit fragmented since OS default settings and interfaces might differ based on manufacturer and OS version. Make sure to check yours is encrypted.

Encrypt Your Data in the Cloud

We rely on cloud storage services such as Google Drive, DropBox and Microsoft OneDrive to store our files and share them with friends and colleagues. But while those services do a good job to protect your data against unauthorized access, they still have access to the contents of the files you store in their cloud services. They also can’t protect you if your account gets hijacked.

If you don’t feel comfortable with Google or Microsoft having access to your sensitive files, you can use Boxcryptor. Boxcryptor integrates with most popular storage services and adds a layer of encryption to protect your files before uploading them to the cloud. This way, you can make sure that only you and the people you share your files with will be aware of their content.

Alternatively, you can use an end-to-end encrypted (E2EE) storage service such as Tresorit.  Before storing your files in the cloud, E2EE storage services encrypt your files with keys that you exclusively hold, and not even the service that stores your files can access their content.

Encrypt Your Internet Traffic

Perhaps equally as important as encrypting your files is the encryption of your internet traffic. Your internet service provider (ISP)—or a malicious actor that might be lurking on the public Wi-Fi network you’re using—will be able to eavesdrop on the sites you browse to and the services and applications you use. They can use that information to sell it to advertisers or, in the case of hackers, use it against you.

To protect your internet traffic against nosy and malicious parties, you can sign up to a virtual private network (VPN). When you use a VPN, all your internet traffic is encrypted and channeled through a VPN server before reaching its destiny.

If a malicious actor (or your ISP) decides to monitor your traffic, all they’ll see is a stream of encrypted data exchanged between you and your VPN server. They won’t be able to figure out which websites and applications you’re using.

One thing to consider is that your VPN provider will still have full visibility on your internet traffic. If you want absolute privacy, you can use The Onion Router (Tor). Tor, which is both the name of a darknet network and a namesake browser, encrypts your internet traffic and bounces it through several independent computers running a specialized software.

None of the computers in the Tor network has full knowledge of the source and the destination of your internet traffic, which gives you full privacy. However, Tor comes with a considerable speed penalty, and many websites block traffic coming from the Tor network.

Encrypt Your Emails

I guess I don’t need to tell you the importance of protecting your emails. Just ask John Podesta, whose leaked emails might have cost his boss her chance at presidency. Encrypting your emails can protect your sensitive communications against people who gain unwanted access to them. This can be hackers who break into your account, or your email provider itself.

To encrypt your emails, you can use Pretty Good Privacy (PGP). PGP is an open protocol that uses public-private key encryption to enable users to exchange encrypted emails. With PGP, every user has a public, known to everyone, which enables other users to send them encrypted emails.

The private key, which is only known to the user and stored on the user’s device, can decrypt messages encrypted with the public key. If an unintended party intercepts a PGP-encrypted email, they won’t be able to read its contents. Even if they break into your email account by stealing your credentials, they won’t be able to read the contents of your encrypted emails.

One of the advantages of PGP is that it can be integrated into any email service. There plenty of plugins that add PGP support to email client applications such as Microsoft Outlook. If you’re using a web client like the Gmail or Yahoo websites, you can use Mailvelope, a browser extension that adds easy-to-use PGP support to most popular email services.

Alternatively, you can sign-up to an end-to-end encrypted email service such as ProtonMail. ProtonMail encrypts your emails without the need to take any additional steps. Unlike services such as Gmail and Outlook.com, ProtonMail won’t be able to read the content of your emails.

Encrypt Your Messages

Messaging apps have become an inseparable part of our lives. There are dozens of messaging services you can use to communicate with family, friends and colleagues. But they provide different levels of security.

Preferably, you should use a messaging service that is end-to-end encrypted. Nowadays, most popular messaging services provide end-to-end encryption. Some examples include WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, Viber and Wickr.

However, those that enable E2EE by default are more secure. WhatsApp, Signal and Wickr enable end-to-end encryption by default.

Also, messaging services that are based on open-source protocols are more reliable because they can be peer-reviewed by independent industry experts. Signal Protocol, the E2EE technology that powers WhatsApp and Signal, is an open-source protocol that has been endorsed by many security experts.

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How to Fix or Repair a Wet or Liquid Damaged Smartphone

It happens to everyone at some point in their lives: their wonderful and precious phone slips out of their hand and into a toilet, sink or some other unforgiving liquid!

One time I dropped my phone into a swimming pool and tried to dry it by shaking it hard and then using a hair dryer. It didn’t work and the phone died! Some tips that I mention in this post you think would be common sense, but I didn’t think of it at the time.

Luckily, if your phone has not been submerged underwater for a long time, there are some things you can do to fix it and possibly save yourself the cost of having to replace it.

Obviously, if you have any of the most recent iPhones or Samsung devices, they are all either waterproof or water-resistant. So if you’ve been holding back with an older phone for a long time, it might be worth an upgrade.

First Things First

Before we get into how to go about drying your phone, there are a couple of things you should do immediately after removing the phone from the liquid.

  1. Make sure to turn off the phone. We want to prevent the phone from short circuiting.
  2. If you can, go ahead and remove the battery. This isn’t possible on a lot of phones, like the iPhone, but if you can, remove it immediately.
  3. Remove the SIM card if you can. It’s not a big deal, but if you have important data stored on there, especially for Android users, you might be able to save all that data by removing the card.

iphone slot

Now, let’s talk about drying your phone. First, make sure to keep it off for at least two days and remove any cases or covers from the device.

Initial Drying

One mistake I made originally was shaking my phone a lot. I thought that it would help remove the water, but later on I found out it simply help the water get to other parts of the phone.

In addition to not shaking the phone, go ahead and wipe off any visible water off the surface of the device. If you can open the phone, dry any internal parts gently.

Drying Techniques

Hair Dryer

There are a bunch of different things you can at this point. Another big mistake that I had made was using a hair dryer incorrectly. It seems like the perfect choice for drying something out right? Wrong! You can use a hair dryer, but only use the fan or cool setting. Do not use any heat setting on the hair dryer.

Hair dryer

 

Vacuums

You should also avoid using vacuums as they can cause more damage than help. If you have a small computer vacuum and there is an attachment that creates a good seal with the phone, then give it a shot.

Otherwise, I don’t recommend trying to use your home vacuum as static electricity can damage the circurity in the device.

Uncooked Rice

The best option is to put your phone into a plastic bag, fill it with rice or quinoa, seal the bag and let it is sit for several days.

The downside is that you have to wait a long time, but it’s definitely worth the wait. This method works well and many people swear by it.

rice phone

The other thing to note about rice that you should try to use rice from a sealed packet. Open rice will not be able to absorb as much water and you’ll be wasting your time.

Desiccants

What are desiccants? I didn’t know exactly either, but we see them all the time. Apparently, it’s those small little packets of silica that you find in shoes, clothing, and even food all the time.

desiccants

You can buy these from Amazon on the cheap and basically stuff your phone and a bunch of these into a tightly sealed bag. You can also buy other desiccants like drierite and use it in the same way. This method is way faster than rice because these things can really absorb moisture.

The main thing here is that you need to create a tight seal. Once you do that, leave it for as long as you can. Again, the longer the time, the more dry your phone will become. It takes a really long time for water to dry up, so be ready for a 2 to 3 day wait.

Other Methods

There are other methods of drying that you should avoid like placing your phone in the sun, using a microwave or using an oven. All bad ideas. The sun might be OK, but you have to do it properly. For example, place it on a towel to avoid excessive heat from the ground and leave it out for no more than 15 to 20 mins.

Vacuum chambers are another great way to dry out phones, but you won’t have one at home. Luckily, there is a company call Redux that partners with cell phone repair shops all around the country so that you can use one.

Lastly, if you dropped your phone into a liquid that is not water, you may have to try “washing” the phone first. For example, if it fell into the sea or was soaked in soda, then the residue left over after the liquid dries will damage the phone.

In these cases, your only option is an alcohol bath, but using alcohol can cause damage to your screen. It’s not an ideal case, but at least you might end up with a phone that turns on. Hopefully, some of these tips can get your phone dry and working again. Enjoy!

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Best Methods to Improve Your Typing Speed

In this day and age, typing has become a large part of everybody’s work and school life. You can make yourself more productive by learning how to improve your typing speed.

Ultimately, your typing speed will improve over time as you type more often. However, if you’d like to speed up the learning process, there are many tips you can use. Let’s take a look at some of the best.

Start By Learning Touch Typing

This is by far the most important step you can take to improve your typing speed. Touch typing is the ability to type without looking at your keyboard. Touch typists know their way around their keyboard so well that they don’t even have to look.

This is beneficial for your typing speed because your fingers will already know exactly where to go as you continue to type. It’s less about not looking and more about building a fast, fluid typing speed because you know your keyboard like the back of your hand.

So, how do you go about learning how to touch type? It’s all about practice and building a familiarity with your keyboard. To build this familiarity, you can play typing games from websites like Typing Club. Websites like Typing Club will give you fun exercises to help you learn the position of each key.

With these games, you are taken through practical lessons that help you to build a stronger familiarity with your keyboard.

Type First, Correct Mistakes Later

One of the biggest obstacles to fast typing is typing accuracy. When some people try to type fast, they end up missing keys or pressing the wrong keys by accident. People sometimes end up in this fumble between the backspace keys and the keys they are trying to press.

To solve this, one optional tip is to type out everything first and don’t even use your backspace key. Afterward, you can go back and read through to correct any mistakes you have made.

This tip is great for two reasons. First, each time you stop to use the backspace key or correct a mistake, you are stopping your typing – it breaks the flow. Secondly, by not using the backspace key, you are forced to carefully read through your writing afterward.

It can be tempting to just publish your work as is without proof reading, but this tip forces you to read through because chances are you’ve made at least one or two mistakes.

It’s not always about typing at a lightning fast speed. Instead, focus on the flow of your writing. Building a steady, consistent flow is the key to being able to write consistently for a long time.

Play the Right Kind of Music

Once you get really good at typing, there will be one major bottleneck in your typing speed – your ability to think. If you practice enough, it will get to the point where you cannot think fast enough – your hands will type faster than you can think about what to type in the first place.

I’ve personally found that one of the best ways to improve my thinking ability whilst typing is to choose the right kind of music.

Music that has a lot of words may distract you from being able to process your own thoughts clearly. Many people prefer to listen to music that’s calming and not too complex. Such genres include classical music, Lo-Fi, jazz, or even movie soundtracks.

Obviously, everybody is different and this is just more of a general consensus. You should try to type with different music genres and see how your typing ability changes.

You may even strangely find that something against the norm like a fast flowing rap song may help you process your thinking it may help you type faster.

Alternatively, you may find that music doesn’t help at all. In this case, a good white noise app could be an excellent solution. Or, even just a background track from YouTube for ambient noise like a river or a thunderstorm. Many people have reported that they personally find white noise and ambient noise to be the best way to help them concentrate.

Experiment with different sounds and music until you find what works best for you.

Purchase a More Suitable Keyboard

The first thing many people would suggest is for you to go out and purchase a fancy mechanical keyboard. It’s well known that mechanical keys have fast response times – you really feel when each key is pressed, meaning you can move onto the next key faster.

I do agree that a mechanical keyboard can help, but this should be something you should consider once you’ve mastered the basics of touch typing. I would argue that familiarity with your own keyboard outweighs the benefits of a hardware change. I would recommend sticking to one keyboard first so that you can familiarize yourself with its layout before moving onto something else.

Once you feel confident enough, you can consider moving to a new mechanical keyboard. Just remember that it may take some time to get used to, so in the initial few days or weeks you may even have a slower typing speed than normal.

Conclusion

So that wraps up our look on some quick tips for how to improve your typing speed. I hope that the information I’ve provided is useful to you. As a final passing note, just remember that like with everything else, improving your typing speed will take time and practice.

Do you have any questions about typing? I’ve been writing online professionally since 2011 so if you have any other questions, write a comment below and I’ll be happy to help.

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Should You Buy a Gaming PC or a Console or Neither?

Gaming PC or console – which one should you pick? If you want to get into gaming, it can be a difficult decision.

In this article, we’ll lay down the key differences so that you can find out which option is more suitable for you. If you choose a console, you’ll also need to think about which console to get. We’ll help with that, too.

You may have also noticed we wrote “neither” in the title of this article too. So how can you game without either of these devices? Well, it’s almost 2019 and both Microsoft and Nvidia are either now offering or will soon be offering gaming over the Internet, or game streaming.

If you have a fast Internet connection, a regular PC will allow you to game at high-resolution for a low price. It’s worth checking out before spending any money at all. Nvidia’s gaming anywhere product is Nvidia Geforce Now and Microsoft’s is called Project xCloud.

Even Google is getting into the game. You can actually play Assassin’s Creed Odyssey on your PC using just Google Chrome. It’s called Project Stream and works quite well.

Hopefully, once you have finished reading this article, you’ll know whether you should buy a gaming PC or a console or just stream games.

Price

Perhaps the easiest place to start is the price. If you simply can’t afford to spend any money, your best option would be to try and get the most out of your current rig. If you have a modest budget, a console may be the immediate easy choice.

Getting set up with a gaming PC that can handle most modern games reliably can easily cost you $800-$1000. You can build cheaper PCs, but you are compromising on what makes a gaming PC so great – high quality graphics and great frame rate.

You also have to factor in a gaming mouse, keyboard, and a good monitor if you haven’t got one already.

For a console, it’s easy to get set up by buying one of the many console bundles out there. With a bundle, you can pay $300 to $400 to get a new console, a game, and a controller. Pay just a little more and you can get the more powerful Xbox One X or PS4 Pro variants.

As you can see, the difference in price is quite large. Paying more for the PC has its benefits, and we’ll talk more about this below, but if you just want to play some video games without extra hassle or money, a console is the best choice.

Also, going back to high quality graphics and great frame rate, the One X and PS4 Pro can output at 4K up to 60 fps, which even a lot of high-end PCs struggle to do.

In addition to these options, Microsoft has also announced Xbox All Access, a monthly subscription that gives you access to a Xbox console, Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold. So, if you don’t want to pay everything upfront, this is a good option.

Finally, if you decide to go the streaming route, you’ll end up paying a monthly fee. At this point, no one really knows what it is since all of these services are in beta, but we’re guessing it’ll be in the range of $10 to $30 a month.

Exclusives

This is one that most often goes in the favor of the console. Both Microsoft and Sony pay a lot of money to get the rights to exclusive titles and this often means you’ll be missing out if you only have a gaming PC.

Some of the best triple A titles only get launched on consoles, and many other games get pushed to console far before PC players get the chance to play them. But it’s not as straightforward as one would first assume.

First party exclusives are more abundant on the PS4. Sony has put in a lot of effort to build a strong collection of first party developers.

You have an incredible range of highly rated exclusives on the PS4 like God of War, Uncharted, The Last of Us, Spider-Man, Bloodborne, and Horizon Zero Dawn.

For Xbox, it’s not as much of a concern. Because Microsoft owns Windows, you’ll see them push most of their exclusives to both PC and Xbox One. You won’t be able to play older classics like the earlier Halo games or Gears of War but future releases in these franchises will be available on the PC.

The PC does get some games that the consoles don’t, too, but usually they are titles from indie developers that are still in development. Some great examples include open world survival game SCUM, survival game Rust, strategy game Divinity: Original Sin II, and many more.

In summary, a console, especially a PS4, is almost crucial for great exclusive single player games. But on the other hand, the PC has some excellent strategy and multiplayer focused exclusives. It all depends on what types of games you like to play.

If you’re new to gaming, though, the offering from consoles, particularly the PS4, is a better choice. The developers of these games are backed by multi-million dollar publishers so you’ll know you’ll be playing a quality, bug free experience.

Performance and Graphics

This is where the PC really sets itself apart from the consoles. Once you play a video game on a PC with a crisp frame rate and ultra graphics, you’ll never want to go back.

The trouble is, to get a high frame rate and the highest graphics, you’ll often need to fork out over $1,000. You’ll need a high end graphics card, a high end processor, SSD storage, and a good amount of RAM.

The sentiment ‘you get what you pay for’ is very true here. You can pay $300-$400 for a PC, but the performance and graphics may even be worse than a PS4 or Xbox One X.

Pay $700-$1000 and you’ll have a decent PC that can play most games at a reasonable frame rate – better than what a console can offer.

You are looking at roughly $1,500-$2,000 for a top of the range gaming PC. In addition, you’ll need to spend extra for a high frame rate monitor, high-resolution HDR monitor, which can easily add another $500 to $1000 to the price tag.

For hardcore gamers, this investment is reasonable, and the experience if well worth it. If you’re new to gaming, investing so much may seem daunting.

In regards to the streaming services, it’s going to be hard to match the graphics of a gaming PC or a console, but for those that don’t care so much about the absolute best graphics, it’s worth trying. I was impressed with the quality of Project Stream on my 1440p monitor, considering it’s free right now.

Other Features

Thankfully, gaming consoles now double up as media streaming platforms. You can use apps like Netflix, HBO, and YouTube to watch content straight from your console.

PCs will always be a step up from what a gaming console can offer, however. In fact, gaming PCs in particular are powerful enough to do many tasks.

You can use a gaming PC for work, web browsing, video and photo editing, and pretty much anything else you could ever need a PC for. If you need a PC for work anyway, you could consider killing two birds with one stone by purchasing a gaming PC.

Whilst a gaming console is most often used to play games, a gaming PC is just a standard PC equipped with the hardware needed to play games.

PC gaming is also more ‘open source’ than console gaming. This means that many PC games have support for modding. Some modding communities are so large that you can essentially get hundreds of hours of extra community-made content for free from platforms like Steam Workshop or Nexus Mods.

Consider Your Friends

Gaming can be one of the best social experiences in the world, so if you have friends that play games, it might make sense to ask them what platform they play on first.

For many people, this can be the main deciding factor on what platform to buy, so make sure to consider it before making your decision.

Sitting Preference and Play Style

This may seem like an odd one, but it should be considered. Consoles are designed to be played from the comfort of your couch. They are easy to play in a relaxed position. Whilst it’s possible to get accessories that let you play your PC from the couch, typically, playing PC games requires you to be sitting up at a desk.

Another thing to consider is the difference between using a controller and a mouse/keyboard. The former is a great starting point for any gamer, and it’s far easier to get to grips with.

Using a mouse and keyboard takes time to learn, but overall it’s common knowledge that it’s easier to aim and control your character with a mouse and keyboard. The mouse allows more precise movement and the keyboard features many more buttons.

Would you prefer a casual, laid back experience, or a more engaging, competitive style experience? A console works best for casual gaming, whilst a PC is better for those more serious about gaming.

Conclusion

Thanks for reading our guide to picking a PC or gaming console or streaming. In summary, we’d suggest a console or streaming for those new to gaming or those on a budget. PC gaming is a great step up from that if you want to get more seriously involved with your video game hobby.

We hope the information we have provided has helped. After reading this, what platform will you choose?

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How to Create a Multi-Page PDF in Photoshop

Whether you’re creating an infographic, an informative online help file, or any other type of PDF document, it’s useful to know how to create a multi-page PDF if you’re using Photoshop.

Thankfully, the process is very straightforward. There are some requirements that must be met to ensure the presentation appears clearly, but we’ll go over these and the steps necessary to make a proper PDF in Photoshop below.

Creating a Multi-Page PDF in Photoshop

To begin with, you’ll need to create each page of your PDF file individually. Every page should be a separate Photoshop .PSD file.

You can save each file as a .PSD so that you can edit each page separately in the future if needed.

The resolution you choose is very important. The typical A4 print size is a good dimension to use for PDF, so we’ll opt for that in this guide.

If you want to print the PDF, you can use 300 DPI (dots/pixels per inch). The resolution for this would be 2480 pixels x 3508 pixels.

If you want to upload the PDF online, it is advised that you choose a lower resolution to keep the overall file size of the PDF more manageable.

72 DPI is a common choice. For this, the resolution would need to be 595 pixels x 842 pixels.

If you want to add more content to a page, you can increase the pixel height. (Use Alt+Ctrl+C.)

Just make sure you do not increase the width. It’s important the width stays the same on every page, otherwise the layout of your PDF will be impacted.

Once you have created each page at the right resolution, you can follow the steps below to create a multi-page PDF.

  • Step 1: Save each .PSD file in the same folder.
  • Step 2: For easy management, save each page as Page_1, Page_2, etc
  • Step 3: Next, go to File, then Automate, then PDF Presentation
  • Step 4: Click Browse on the new pop-up
  • Step 5: Hold Ctrl and click on each .PSD file you’d like to add
  • Step 6: Click Open

When you are ready, click Save to create the PDF file. You can drag each file up and down in the list to change their position if needed.

Make sure to choose Multi-Page Document under the output options section before clicking save.

You can now choose where to save your PDF file. Finally, you’ll have a number of options for customizing the output of the PDF file. For example, you can use the compression tab to minimize the PDF file size by sacrificing image quality. For now, you can click Save PDF.

Your PDF file will now be created! You can double click the file to open it in your web browser or PDF reader application.

Here is a look at our test file:

Notice how all pages are displayed with the same zoom and layout, despite one page being taller. If you have an issue with some pages not displaying correctly, you must ensure the pixel width of each PSD page file is exactly the same.

If you ever need to edit your PDF, you must edit the PSD for the page you’d like to make changes to. After that, you’ll need to follow the steps listed above once more to re-create the PDF presentation with the newly edited page.

Conclusion

You should now know how to create a multi-page PDF in Photoshop. We hope that this guide has proven to be useful. Have any questions about the process? Lets us know and we’ll be happy to help. Enjoy!

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