How to Delete or Add Gmail Account on an Android Phone

If you are a Google fan and you are using a smartphone with Android OS, then probably you want to manage your Gmail account on your mobile device. How to add a new Gmail account to an android phone? Or how can I delete or remove current account from my android phone without leaving anything? Such questions may be what you want to figure out if you are new to the Android world.

Today, I'll show you a step by step guide to help you get that done. And I'll take Samsung GT-i5700 for example as I am using it right now.

How to Add a New Gmail Account to an Android Phone

  1. Open the Menu -> Settings -> Accounts & sync -> Add account.
  2. Then you will see 3 options (Corporate, Facebook, Google) for you to choose. Click "Google" and then you'll go to the section of "Adding an account".
  3. Click "Next" -> "Already have a Google Account" - > "Sign In". 
  4. Now your Google account has been successfully added. 
  5. Note: you can use more than one Google account on your phone (such as your home and work account).

However, sometimes you already have attached an account to your phone but want to remove/delete it when you want to resell the phone or have other personal usages with high phone privacy security. Well, it is also quite simple to get that done.

How to Delete Current Gmail Account on an Android Phone

  1. Still open the Menu, go to Settings option, then Account & sync, move to your account right under Manage accounts
  2. Click your account and you'll see Data & Synchronization tab. Move down to the bottom and you'll see Remove account. 
  3. Then it will hint this "Do you really want to remove this account? Removing it will also delete all……". If you have backup the data (Contacts, SMS etc), then just hit Remove account
  4. Depending on the situation, it may pop out a message warning "This account is required by some applications. You can only remove it by resetting the phone to factory defaults (which delete all your personal data)……"
  5. Then back to Settings -> Privacy -> Personal data -> Factory data reset. Click Reset Phone option and Erase everything.
  6. Then your phone will restart again and back to factory settings. Note: all your phone internal memory files (such as Contacts, SMS, Call log etc.) will gone, while the external memory stuff on your sd card will remain intact.

Deleting a Google account is a little more complicated than adding a new one, so better make sure you've backed up all your important data, just in case you may lose some data.

Truly Free Mac Data Recovery Software to Rescue Files on Mac OS X (updated 2016)

Today I am going to introduce several 100% FREE data recovery software for Mac OS X, NO Kidding. I notice that there are too many mac data recovery program providers claim their products are free to download or free to try, but eventually you'll have to take out your credit card and pay for it. Why? Because the trial version won't allow you to actually recover or save the found files you deleted or lost.

Usually the price of these commercial software is not cheap -- ranging from $50 to a few hundred dollars or euros. The question is: is it worth paying for such an expensive software that you probably just use once? In my opinion, it's not.

That's why I decide to write this post, sharing a few totally free Mac file recovery programs to help you retrieve accidentally deleted or lost files. Note: I've either used or tested the following apps on my Mac and they all work nicely, though some apps may not work for your data loss situations. Please read my note before you try. 

[Update on August 5, 2016: all the apps listed below support Macs with OS X El Capitan, Yosemite, and OS X 10.6 or above.]

Please note: if none of the apps listed below helps (or you are uncomfortable handling command line tool), and the lost data are really important to you. You may try some commercial Mac data recovery software, this article reviewed several great ones that are worth trying. If that still won't help, your last option would be to send your Mac or device for data recovery services.

#1 – Time Machine

Best to use for: recovering accidentally deleted files or folders on your Mac internal hard drive, provided that you've made backups before those files got removed. E.g. you emptied Mac Trash bin, formatted the disk drive, or partition became inaccessible etc.

Not sure if it's okay to put Time Machine in the first place as you probably have learned this method. Still I want to list it here as a reminder to you (especially those who are new to the Mac World) the importance of data backup. Unlike Windows PCs, Apple Mac OS X (soon called macOS) makes it convenient to do backups whenever you want. All Apple computers manufactured after November 2007 have been pre-installed with this powerful app - Time Machine. The utility is able to backup almost everything on your Mac hourly with the right setting.

You can easily recover data from Time Machine backup once you deleted or lost your some critical files such as applications, documents, photos etc. Learn how to set up and restore backup from this Apple Support page. This YouTube video made by MacAdvisor also shows how to restore your files from Time Machine backup.

Time Machine failed to help or you didn’t have the right backup? Go try a third-party Mac data recovery app. See below.

#2 – TestDisk & PhotoRec

Best to use for: retrieving Mac files when Time Machine fails to help, and you’re comfortable with command line (like old Windows DOS).
TestDisk was primarily designed to help recover lost partitions and make non-booting disks bootable again when these symptoms are caused by faulty software, certain types of viruses or human error (such as accidentally erasing your Partition Table). PhotoRec, the sister of TestDisk, is designed to recover lost files from external device (memory card, pen drive, removable disk), even hard disks and CD-Rom.

Simply put, if you have lost partition or strange problem with your Mac hard disk partitions, try TestDisk. To recover lost pictures, documents, videos, and other types of files, try PhotoRec.

Note: This free recovery tool is non-GUI software which requires to operate through command line. But it isn't that hard as long as you follow the corresponding instructions within the software.

#3 – Exif Untrasher

Best to use for: recovering photos (in JPEG format) deleted from a digital camera, memory card, USB flash drive, and other types of removable storage devices.
Exif Untrasher (version 1.5 as of 10/07/2014)) is able to recover deleted or formatted photos from external devices such as digital camera, SD card, CF card, thumb drive, external drive, etc. on Mac OS X for free. But, it doesn’t support recovery from internal Mac hard drive. So it's more like a free memory card photo recovery for Mac. And it can only be used to retrieve JPEG files (thanks to SoftwareHow for pointing out this). Digital photographers who are using Macs will most likely find it useful. The freeware requires Mac OS X 10.6 or higher (Yosemite and El Capitan included) and is localized with English, German, French and Italian.

By the way, if your lost files were stored on an external device, you can also use a Windows PC to try recovering the data. There are more freeware under Windows for data recovery purposes. For example, Recuva works great, Pandora Recovery is also nice.

That's all what I wanted to share. Hope you find these free Mac data recovery utilities useful. If you have any questions using any of the programs, or if you happen to come across another totally freeware or solution, let me know. Leave a comment below.

2 Ways to Password Protect or Secure a Word Document

If you are looking for how to secure or set a password to your MS Word document which contains sensitive data. The tricks below will be helpful to you. Today I am going to introduce two different ways to password protect a Word file (Word 2003/2007/2010) and make it with limited visibility. You may choose either to secure your Word doc.

Option One - Password Protect Word File with MS Office Feature

As a matter of fact, Microsoft Office (2003/2007) offers such function to add a password or security number to your Word document.

If you are running MS Word 2003 version, follow those steps to password protect the file or watch this YouTube video directly.

  • Open your Word document. On the Menu find “Tools” and click “Options”
  • Move on to “Security” tab. As you can see "Password to open" and "Password to modify"
  • Type your desired password to either or both options based on your needs.
  • Click “OK” and then it will ask you to retype the Open Password or Modify Password. Type it again and your document is password protected now.
If you are using MS Word 2007 version, then secure it this way or see this YouTube video.
  • Still open your Word file. Click File button on the top left. Find “Prepare” on the menu.
  • Under “Prepare the document for distribution” click “Encrypt Document”
  • There will be a dialog window ”Encrypt Document” asking you to input the password. Read the “Caution” below carefully and type the password. Click “OK”. Now if anyone want to access this document, a password is needed to open it.  

Option Two – Password Protect Word File(s) with Data Encryption Software

With internal MS Office password protect feature, you can easily secure a word document. However, the feature also has several drawbacks such as you can't password protect word files in batch. So if you’ve got quite a few private word docs and need to get them a safe lock, using data encryption software is recommended. There are many data encryption freeware which can do the job for you. Usually they will encrypt your word documents to an .exe file and require password access if anyone intend to open them. TrueCrypt is one of them that is easy and powerful. It's a free open-source disk encryption software for Windows 7/Vista/XP, Mac OS X, and Linux. Later I will introduce more freeware regarding encryption.

Update: TrueCrypt says it is not secure as it may contain unfixed security issues.

CCleaner Review 2016: It's More Than a Windows Registry Cleaner

CCleaner – a famous registry cleaner freeware designed by Piriform (also the provider of Recuva) now has been part of my desktop apps for years. It is absolutely powerful and quite easy to use (this seems to be Piriform’s character, I used Recuva and had the same feeling). However, I'd say CCleaner is definitely more than a PC clean utility. There are some more fantastic features you may be unaware of. Now let's start from the basic to the advanced.

Note: this post was last updated on July 26, 2016, a few outdated content has been updated to better reflect CCleaner's recent features and versions.

To download CCleaner (v5.20.5668 as of 19 Jul 2016), you can go to Piriform's official website or this CNET page.

Basic Feature – Clean Privacy

This function is the most frequently used one. It helps clear those footprints you left behind while running Windows or surfing the Internet. We can say it's a privacy cleaner. It can easily find those useless privacy files such as recently typed urls, cookies, history, caches, temporary files etc which you left behind when you are using browsers (IE, Firefox, Chrome) or running other Windows applications. Simply click "Analyze" to find out those useless stuff and "Run Cleaner" to get rid of them easily. Note: this feature can help free up lots of disk space in GBs.

CCleaner works for Windows operating sytems. If you use a Mac, see this Q&A for best register cleaner for Mac.

Basic Feature – Fix Registry

It's quite normal to encounter registry problems as long as you are using a Windows PC. Those problems may cause some unnecessary troubles (such as unable to open IE browser or certain applications). Registry problems like missing DLLs, unused file extensions, unused registry key, installers and so on. Just click "Scan for Issues" and get them fixed.

Advanced Feature – Extra Tools to Enhance PC

Right below the "Cleaner" and "Registry", there are 4 helpful "Tools". Have you ever tried them? Do not ignore them as you may regret, hah.
  • Uninstall – You don’t have to go to Control Panel on Windows and uninstall programs unwanted. Instead, here you can easily remove them. Also you can Rename or Delete the Entries according to your preferences. 
  • Startup – Helps manage the auto-start programs when computer starts. If you want your PC to boot up more faster, disable those apps that you don’t often use.
  • System Restore – Remove system restore points.
  • Drive Wiper – as I wrote a post regarding free data file shredders, this Drive Wiper also one of the utilities that can be used to clean up disk completely. You may find it right in need when you want to donate a hard drive which contained your previous privacy or similar cases you want the information insides erased for good beyond recovery.

Advanced Feature – More Customized Options

In this area you have plenty of options to set up based on your preferences, such as keep some cookies you don't want CCleaner to delete, include or exclude files or folders to be emptied etc. One more tip: be aware of this "Secure Deletion" under "Settings". Usually I set it to "secure file deletion" even it is a little slower. I'll suggest you set it too, why? For your privacy security. When you select "normal file deletion", it's just another way to make those deleted files hidden as you may know it is quite possible to get them recovered with data recovery software (as many programs are capable of doing this). So set it to "secure deletion" and choose the passes you want. The more passes you select, the less likely to be recovered.

Pretty cool and powerful tool, I highly recommend.

How to Fix File Folders Become Shortcuts in Removable Media

Note: this post has been updated on May 23, 2016,  fixed a few broken links and altered outdated content.

Have you ever met this kind of wired situation? All your files and folders suddenly became shortcuts when you connect the removable media (say a USB flash drive, an external hard drive, or a SD memory card, etc.) to your computer and you try to access data in it.

The files and folders are supposed to be in size of MBs (Megabytes) or GBs (Gigabytes), but it just shows 1KB or 2KB if you check the property. You also tried the removable media in a different PC, same problem. So, what happened? How to make the file folders show up as usual? How to recover the files if they are gone at all?

In this post, I'm going to show you the possible reasons, and step by step fixes (most likely, it's a quick fix).

What are the causes?

You probably have guessed it. Yes, it's the virus or Trojans (like BUOUFO, QWERT etc) or autorun.inf worm. Your removable storage device should have been caught by them, the moment you connected your device to the infected computer. As a result, all the files and folders become "hidden". Sometimes you can make them visible again simply by switching to non-hidden mode, but sometimes that wouldn't work and eventually you have to kill those viruses or Trojans.

Continue to read...for step by step fixes below.

How to Fix Folder Become Shortcuts Problem?

To start with, do not format the removable media immediately. Because formatting will make the data insides much harder to be recovered, and the operation won't necessarily kill the virus. Also, sometimes it won't allow you format the device by showing not formatted error. For example the autorun.inf worm can stop a flash drive from being formatted.

Follow the right steps here:

Step 1: Check whether the files are  in hidden mode.
  • Click on "Start" > Run > type cmd and click OK.
  • Here, I assume your removable drive shows as G: Enter this command: attrib -h -r -s /s /d g:\*.* (replace the letter g with your the right letter your "removable drive" showed under "My Computer" or "This PC" if you're under Windows 10).
  • Now check your original files and folders. Are they normal?
Note: if you have formatted the drive, skip step 1 and go to step 2 directly. If step 1 doesn't work out, also try the second fix.

Step 2: Scan and remove malware.

If you have installed a security software on your computer, open it and have a thorough scan. If not, here are some tools to check PC health.

Make sure you use the Full Scan mode of an antivirus or anti-malware. Because usually the default option is Quick Scan. This way you should be able to kill those problem makers. After that, see if the file folders can be accessed normally.

No luck? Go to step 3.

Step 3: Format your storage device and retrieve the data with a recovery tool.

Normally, you should be able to format it under Windows with its built-in quick format option. Read this article if you don't how to do that. If that method doesn't work, you may need to use a third-party formatting tool to format your drive. Check out this SanDisk support post for more.

After formatting, you should be able to re-use your removable drive again. But, if you have important data saved in the disk, try to retrieve the data using Recuva (Pandora Recovery works too). Both programs are completely free to use without any function restrictions.

Do you find this fix guide helpful? Share your opinions in the comments below.

6 Tips to Keep Your PC Privacy Secure

As a computer user, I don’t know if you are aware of the significance of privacy and data security. To be honest, your computer is your friend who might know all your secrets. She knows everything you have left from start to end whenever you are dealing with personal papers or surfing the net. But that is not the point. The most dangerous thing is that your PC privacy may be taken advantage of by unknown person without your permission. If that happens, that would be a disaster. Today I'd like to share with you a few tips to keep your PC privacy secure.

Tip 1 – Set Windows Password

As far as I am concerned, not everyone likes setting a password to his or her Windows computer. At least I noticed that quite a lot of friends think it’s pretty annoying to enter the combination each time Windows is started. But this will be the primary risk you put your PC privacy in. For example, if you carelessly lost the laptop or stolen by a thief, you are losing more than just a computer, but all your privacy within uncovered. You never know who will use your computer. So pretty straight forward – set a password for your operation system and give your privacy the first lock.

Tip 2 – Make Backups Regularly

Backup has been proven to be the most effective way to prevent data loss. That's the reason why online data backup software such as DropBox, Google Drive are so popular nowadays. But if you are used to those software, buying an external hard drive is the easiest way. Just be a little bit diligent and make several more copies of your important papers or precious photography.

Tip 3 – Install a Data Recovery Tool just in case

If you are used to emptying the Recycle Bin or use other methods (such as Shift+Del and format the device) to get rid of files you don’t want, but later found yourself often make mistakes and also erased those valuable files. In this case a data recovery utility is recommended to be kept on your desktop as this kind of deletion or format is another word to make files “hidden”. Recuva is the best freeware data recovery software I strongly recommend for you.

Tip 4 – Prepare a File Shredder or Drive Wipe Utility

For those who want to delete files or folders permanently and make them beyond recovery even with data recovery tools, file shredders or data erasers come right to help. Even more if you want to donate your hard drive or clean the HD completely, a drive wipe utility is a must. These kinds of wipe apps are absolutely powerful to make data really gone forever.

Tip 5 – Clean Registry in Time

Registry cleaning means a lot to both your PC performance and privacy security. Every singer movement you do with your computer is recorded to be history (or footprint), including caches, cookies, search history, temporary files and more. With the passage of time, those footprints may take much disk space thus make your computer run slowly and far more important it records too much of your privacy. So getting rid of them is a must-do job in time if you don’t want them to be seen by others. As to the cleaning too, CCleaner is the best one I’d recommend. This program not only scans for those records, but also provides secure delete (means erase them permanently like file shredders do).

Tip 6 – Password Protect Disk or Files

As I said in tip 1 setting Windows password is the primary lock for your privacy, so password protecting a disk or file is the second lock. There are many freeware data encryption software out there. Some can encrypt a file or folder to .exe with password open, while some others are able to create a personal safe area on your partition (secured with password too). Those passwords you set are extremely hard to break unless you are the engineers who design them.

Those are the 6 tips I have that may help you make your PC privacy secure, there should be more helpful tips or freeware out there. If you know some, please share.