Secure Your iPhone 5 by Setting a Password Lock

For security purposes it's a good idea to set up a Passcode on Lock Screen for the Apple iPhone 5 or any iOS device like the iPad, previous iPhones and the iPod Touch.

This requires the user to enter the Passcode before the user can reach the iPhone's content. Without the Passcode, no one can reach private data on the phone.

Let's say I accidentally put my iPhone down at work and one of my coworkers wants to prank me by messing up settings or changing the name Siri calls me which can embarrass me. The lock keeps that prankster from getting the best of me. Obviously, it also keeps bad guys from getting my banking information or passwords stored in apps like Lastpass password manager.

Watch this following short YouTube video for the step by step guide!
Thanks Kevin Purcell for the nice tip.

How to Make a Windows Repair Disc for HP NetBook without CD Drive

The Issue: 

I recently bought a new HP Netbook (running with Windows operation system) which is not equipped with a CD drive. Now I want to make a Windows repair disc just in case any emergency. So how can I make it without a disc drive?


Well, one way to get the job done is to buy an external CD/DVD drive that reads and records. It connects to one of the netbook's USB ports. While this method does involve dropping some more money into a computer that may have cost only quite a bit to begin with, it does give you the ability to do other things with it. For example, you can install programs from a disc that aren’t available as software downloads or back up your HP's files to a record-able disc.

If you don’t want to pay for an external drive, another alternative is to make a bootable U.S.B. recovery drive for Windows 7. Note: Hewlett-Packard has instructions for creating a recovery disc on a flash drive on its site. Learn more from this HP support article.

Note: if your HP is running Windows XP or Linux, and you want to upgrade systems. Microsoft has made it possible to install Windows 7 on a netbook computer in ways that don’t require discs. For instance, you can download the system as an .iso file that can be copied onto a flash drive with the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool and used to install Windows 7 without a disc drive.

Also see: how to fix a slow HP Mini netbook.

How to Speed up HP Mini NetBook that Runs Slow or Freezes

This question is actually from a reader, though not necessarily related to data security, I decided to share it with you.

"I know your blog is all about data security, but I wanted to give it a try. Hope you can help me out. My HP Mini 210 netbook is running super slow and freezes recently. I kind of worry it would totally stop working, thus put my files and data in danger. Any ideas how to speed it up?"

Below are just some personal opinions after researching and based on my own experience using a Windows PC.

What might be hurting your HP Mini's performance?

  • Malicious software. If your HP Mini has infected with some kind of virus, malware, spyware etc, performance can be affected. Even worse, it may cause your HP work abnormally such as files inaccessible, not able to access hard drive etc. You can use Microsoft Security Essentials to scan and remove the virus.
  • Registry errors. Since your HP network probably installed with Windows operating system, registry issues such as Windows registry missing, redundant etc. can happen. The errors can make your HP sluggish and freeze occasionally. 
  • Overload startup programs. This can directly cause your HP Mini slow to start up to Windows desktop, making you feel it hangs. 
  • Device driver issues. If your HP hardware device drivers haven't been updated for a while, then the outdated or malfunctioning drivers can cause hardware issues and make your computer slow.
  • Too many programs working at background. This is always a bad habit, multitasking simply won't do any good to computers.
  • Other causes such as overheating, not enough disk space, outdated hardware, poor system protection software etc. can lead to a slow HP computer.

How to Speed it Up?

In general, there are a few free techniques you can apply to make your HP run a bit faster such as disk defragmentatuion, disk cleaning, remove programs that you no longer want, clean those unneeded files to free up disk space, etc. However, these manual methods can be quite time-consuming as you have to tackle every problem one by one. Plus, it requires technical skills. To save time, you can use software to speed up your netbook (also no need to learn tech stuff). And, if you can afford, the best way is to spend some money on hardware upgrade. For example, replace the hard drive with a new SSD (solid state drive), add an extra RAM.

Here are some useful resources in case you want to explore.

Several Free Online Data Backup Websites

I've seen many times the hardware failure problems. When that happens, it leaves data in high risk. It seems that holding an external HDD won't be a permanently safe way to store or backup data. As a result, you can choose another alternative - backup data online! There are a lot of online data backup websites, here just list several popular ones.

Back up your files online and sync them to multiple computers and devices. Mozy offers 2 GB for free and the option to add more through paid services. There are both PC and MAC clients.

DropBox also gives 2 GB free space, just drag your files and folders to the dropbox folder in your computer and your files will get automatically uploaded to the dropbox server. You can use it for Windows, Mac, Linux and mobile.

Skydrive is part of the Microsoft Windows Live suite of services, it offers an 25 GB free online storage. It requires a Microsoft Live ID to sign in and begin using the backup service.

Idrive gives 5GB free space for basic users to backup Online unlimited PCs, Macs, iPhones, iPads and Android devices into a Single Account.

CrashPlan is a backup software that allows Windows, Mac, Linux and Solaris users to back up their data to an offsite computers as well as to attached drives / shared folders.

MyPCBackup offers 14 days free trial. After that period you'll need to pay. Note: It is only available for PC, not for Mac, Linux or mobile users.

How to Repair Corrupt SQL Database & Recover Data from MDF Files

Have you ever met similar experience with your SQL Server: you are unable to access a MDF file that contains many useful records. And it just pops out some wired error messages. After running either the dbcc checkdb command or the dbcc checktable command, it is confirmed that SQL database corruption has occurred with your current using SQL Server 2000/2005/2008 etc. The situation can happen if your SQL has just suffered server errors, database damage, hardware problems, virus attack etc. See possible causes and repair solutions below.

Typical Symptoms
  • Extent E_ID in database ID DB_ID is allocated in both GAM GAM_P_ID and SGAM SGAM_P_ID.
  • Table error: Object ID O_ID, index ID I_ID, page P_ID, row ROW_ID. Record check (CHECK_TEXT) failed. Values are VALUE1 and VALUE2
  • Database corruption occurs after you run the "alter table" Transact-SQL command to change a column from not null to null in Microsoft SQL Server 2000 
  • A database is marked as suspect and the database becomes unavailable. 
  • Database error: PAGE_TYPE page P_ID for database 'NAME' (database ID DB_ID) is invalid. 
  • And more strange error hints.

Possible Causes
  • Corruption in the extents due to the irregularities in the IAM, GAM, and SGAM pages. 
  • A condition specified in the CHECK_TEXT statement could not be fulfilled. 
  • The database table is logically or physically damaged. 
  • SQL Server does not synchronize column status between the syscolumns system table and the sysindexes system table. A column is part of a clustered index key that may be null.
  • Either the file header page or the boot page is damaged in the mentioned database.
  • And more reasons out there.

  1. To solve the problems, first of all check if you have backup. If updated SQL database backup is available, then the issue can be resolved easily, try to restore the data from your previously taken valid backup.
  2. If you don't have a backup, make sure that the database is online. Then run the dbcc dbreindex command or the dbcc checktable command by using the repair_rebuild option. If the database is marked as suspect, telephone Microsoft Customer Support Services as Microsoft has confirmed that this is a problem in the its products.
  3. If that still won't help, then the last option is by relying on a SQL recovery tool to repair SQL database and recover the data back.

Speed up Your Slow Laptop with These Free Software & Tips

With the passage of time, is your laptop running much slower than it used to? Symptoms such as taking longer to start up , sluggish while running applications, browser (IE, Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, etc) very slow to load web pages, or the laptop just freezes for no reasons?

Actually I did experience some of the situations with my HP Pavilion G4 laptop during the past year. Is there any feasible ways to speed up slow laptop computers? Today, I'd like to share with you some of my personal thoughts.

Also read: how to fix a slow HP Mini netbook.

Possible Causes

  • Outdated hardware configuration. If you are using some low-level or second-hand laptop, there are assortments of things that can happen to your hardware such as CPU, RAM etc that may deep disturb laptop performance.
  • Overload startup programs. Generally as you add additional programs on your laptop, they can slow down your start-up status quietly. The more programs you have that are loading at start-up, the slower the start-up. 
  • Corrupted registry issues. The Windows registry is the master control center for your operating system and the applications it runs. Corrupted registry could cause a lot of errors and issues, especially when you are running certain applications. 
  • Remnants of uninstalled applications. It's easy to install a new program on laptop, but usually not the case when you attempt to 'completely' get rid of them. 
  • Too many junk junks. Each time you create or save new files, surf the net or chat with friends etc, your laptop hard drive could be crammed with many useless files left behind quickly. These can take up a large amount of precious disk space.
  • Poor security software. A lot of security programs or suites are bloated with software and demand a great deal of system resource and memory.

Tips to speed it up

  1. Upgrade your hardware (RAM, hard drive) if possible, this is the by far the most effective way to get rid of laptop running slow problems.
  2. Choose a good system protection or antivirus program. The idea one should be with strong protection capability, as well as lightweighted i.e. taking less system resources.
  3. Regularly clean the junks, caches, recycle bin files & remove unwanted startup programs from 'Control Panel'. 
  4. See additional tips to speed up a Windows based laptop.
Free software you can use

CCleaner – the most popular registry clean app for Windows users to free up more valuable hard disk space for storing new data by cleaning traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. Moreover, it’s more than a laptop clean utility. There are some more fantastic features you may find quite useful too. Learn more from this article I wrote a while ago.

Galary Utilities – The No. 1 Free, Powerful and All-in-one utility for cleaning your PC, it is a comprehensive pc system care utility as well as a laptop speedup program. One-click to diagnose your slow laptop problems and help improve its performance by many ways such ejects dangerous Malware, fix system errors, clean up clutter, optimize your laptop's memory.

[update on March 28, 2016: this post intends to target laptops based on Windows opearting system. If you are using a Mac laptop, check out the 7 ways to speed up a MacBook, it's an excellent resource.]

Do you find these tips or software helpful? Do they work to help you speed up your slow laptop? Leave a comment and share your experience.

HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool - A Free Formatting Utility

Have you ever encountered the situation: your USB, memory card or external drive became partial or totally corrupted thus you are unable to format / initialize it with the internal Windows formatting tool?

Now you don't have to worry about that as there is such a third-party formatting utility - HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool, which is right designed to take PC users' stress.

Note: do not format the device if you're unsure what you are doing. Most memory card errors can be fixed without formatting the device. See this article for steps on how to resolve it first.

It is a Windows-based utility freeware which has been designed for the HP Drive Key or DiskOnKey USB 2.0 devices. Installing the freeware does not represent a problem whatsoever, since it is very compact (only 96 kB). It runs smoothly and we have not encountered any issues.

The only difference between the HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool and the regular format tool found in Windows is the fact that this freeware allows you to select USB drives, while the Windows version is does not have this option. By the way, it works to format problematic memory card as well.

Moreover, the Windows format tool does not offer a NTFS volume label for format, while this tool can, and the freeware allows you to create a FAT32 volume which is bigger than 32 GB. Another awesome feature about this format tool is that you can rename all your USB flash drives in any way you want. The program supports all FAT, FAT32, or NTFS partition types.

Free download HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool from CENT here or Filehippo here.

See how to use this free formatting tool from this YouTube video: