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May 18, 2015

Laura BeckerStaff Writer

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Lost or stolen laptop. Cracked smartphone screen. Computer crash in the middle of a term paper. We’ve all heard the horror stories, experienced the moments of panic and faced the consequences.

What’s the best way to prevent these tech tragedies? Be prepared. To help you with that, Geek Squad shares the top six tech problems our clients experience and tips for preventing them from happening in the first place.

1. Make recovery media as soon as you purchase your new computer. This software, often stored on a USB flash drive, guarantees that the Operating System for your specific computer is available to you should you lose it. Remember Windows discs coming with your new computer? That doesn’t happen anymore. Also, ordering recovery media, if not under warranty, is costly and sometimes doesn’t work properly.

2. Back up your data to multiple locations. Save your data not only to a cloud-based service, but also to an external hard drive. It’s easy, painless and you’ll be happy you did if your computer fails and you lose wedding photos, baby photos, or important documents. The benefit of having your computer, tablet or smartphone set to automatically back up your important data to an off-site, secure server in case of hardware failure, fire, flooding, theft or malware attacks greatly outweighs any security concerns.

3. Use two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication requires two items to log in, often referred to as “something you know” (like your password) and “something you have” (like your smartphone with an authentication app). That means a malicious person would need to have your device and know your password to gain access to your account. Many of us have been using two-factor authentication for decades in the form of ATM cards. Once two-factor authentication is setup, it rarely adds more than a few seconds of work for all the security it provides. In some cases it’s as simple as entering a code you receive via text message to your personal phone, along with your password on the site.

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4. Beware of cryptolocker. This malware, which is affecting consumers right now, will encrypt your files and hold your information for ransom. It’s costly to retrieve your data, and there’s no guarantee it can happen. Also, if you receive a phone call from a person claiming to work for a reputable entity (i.e. Geek Squad, Microsoft), hang up and do not allow them remote access to your computer.

5. Twenty-five percent of cellphones have a cracked screen. Sad, right? And it’s not cheap to fix. Geek Squad highly recommends purchasing a screen protector like a ZAGG screen shield. The company offers a lifetime guarantee and will replace the screen if anything goes wrong for as long as you own your device, as long as you register the product online.

6. Manufacturer’s warranty only covers manufacturer defects. Anything that is accidental — a cracked screen or damaged power port — is not covered. This is why companies like Best Buy offer extended protection plans to help keep you covered when accidents happen.

For more tech tips and set-up advice, visit our website at http://www.geeksquad.com/tech-tips/.

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