Two backups are better than one--if you do them right

Dien Duong wants to back up to two separate external hard drives. But Windows’ built-in backup program won’t let him do that

Backing up is all about redundancy. And the more redundant, the better. If some ransomware steals your important files, the last thing you want to discover is that your backup drive is dead. Or that a bug in your backup software won’t let you restore anything (that actually happened to me once, a long time ago; and no, I don’t want to talk about it).

So Dien has the right idea—you should back up twice. His mistake is trying to do it with Windows’ built-in backup tool--called Backup and Restore in Windows 7, and File History in Windows 8.1 and 10.

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An SSD upgrade is still the single best thing you can do for your PC

John is "considering upgrading to a SSD." He wants to know "how much faster would it really be?"

I can't tell give you exact numbers because I don't know either your computer or what SSD you'll buy. But I can tell you this: The hard drive, with its mechanical moving parts, is almost certainly the biggest bottleneck in your PC. (If it isn't, you've got something seriously wrong--probably in the software.) Replace that hard drive with an SSD, and the bottleneck disappears.

[Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

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A multi-monitor USB adapter lets you add a display even if you lack a spare video port

Melita Fogarty told me, “I would like to set up two monitors, but my PC only has one port. Is there an adapter I can buy to make this work?”

You can work far more efficiently with two—or better yet—three monitors than with one. But your hardware may not support that many. if you have a desktop PC, you can update the video card, but that’s not an option with a laptop.

Even with a desktop, there are easier solutions than installing a new video card—especially if you’re not enthusiastic about opening your PC.

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Cloud storage alternatives: Three ways to sync your own data securely and privately

Robert D Lonsdale, Jr runs his business from two computers in different states. He needs to keep files synced between them, but he would “prefer not to use a cloud service.”

I love cloud storage and syncing, but I can’t completely ignore its flaws. If you need a lot of storage, you have to pay an annual fee. It’s almost always slower than a local connection. And worst of all, it has some very serious security issues. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden described Dropbox as a “targeted, wannabe PRISM partner,” and “very hostile to privacy.”

To help you get around these problems, I’m going to offer ways around the cloud. I’ll also discuss making the cloud more secure.

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How to lock and unlock your USB ports

Sourav Mallick says that “I want [to] protect the USB ports of my laptop from unauthorized access. Is there any software that can be used to lock the USB ports with a password and then unlock them when needed?”

Yes, and the program is called Microsoft Windows. You can disable and re-enable USB storage access with a Registry tweak. And, because you can change the Registry only from inside an administrator-level account, only someone with such an account can do it.

[Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

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How to share a video privately on YouTube or Vimeo

Dan Keinan wants “to share a private video with a few individuals,” but doesn’t want those individuals to share it with others.

Video services offer various ways to control who can and cannot watch a particular video. But for the most part they’re not all that secure. For instance, if you password-protect a video, your intended recipient might share that password with someone else.

You need a system where only the people you select can watch the video, and those people can’t share it with others. Here’s how to do that in Vimeo and YouTube.

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Upgrading to Windows 10: One good reason to wait

Patricia Hardy worries that some of her programs may not work in Windows 10.

Chances are that if a program runs successfully in Windows 7 or 8.1, it will run just fine in Windows 10. And if it doesn’t, the developers will fix the problem as soon as possible.

But really, we can’t be sure before the official release. And frankly, we can’t even be sure immediately after the release. It will take time for bugs and incompatibilities to surface. (For more details, read Mark Hachman’s article on how to upgrade.)

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