Tag Archives: backup tools

data privacy

Guest post: how to protect your personal data when disposing of computers

Cassie Phillips is an internet security enthusiast and digi.me blog fan who specialises in cybersecurity and technology and writes at securethoughts.com/express-vpn-review

Most people wouldn’t get rid of their credit cards, Social Security cards or even sensitive paper documents by throwing them out or tossing them in the trash. Yet careful souls across the globe continue to fill landfills with millions of old computers containing exactly that kind of sensitive information, in the process exposing themselves to aggressive high-tech criminals.

Latest statistics indicate that computers are being mined by the millions for bank statements, business documents, Social Security numbers, scandalous pictures and information, credit card details and numerous other tidbits that open the door for everything from full-on identity theft to credit card fraud and even blackmail.

No one needs to be a victim. Here is how you can protect your personal data when you are scrapping or passing your computer or computer related technology, such as external hard drive or USB stick, along to someone else.

Back up your data

Begin the process by copying all of the important data you will need in the future somewhere safe. This can be on your new computer or storage device. Be sure that the storage device is capable of storing all of the data that you need to back up. You may also opt to back up your data in the cloud. Cloud backup strategy involves sending a copy of your data over a public network to an off-site server.

In addition, try to be as safe as possible if you are transferring or emailing them to an online backup, such as cloud storage, especially if you are doing so on the go or in a public setting.

Permanently erase your data

Simply moving your files into the trash or recycle bin and emptying it isn’t enough to permanently delete them. In fact, when you place files in the recycle bin, you are simply marking them to be written over. And unless they are written over, the files remain on the computer’s hard drive. That means anyone who gets hold of your computer can retrieve them using advanced techniques such as hard disk forensic analysis.

For ultimate safety, you need to wipe your drive with a dedicated file deletion software or program, or physically destroy the hard drive to render it useless. Programs such as WipeDrive V5, Nova Drive Erase Pro, CCleaner or Darik’s Boot and Nuke—a DBAN—will overwrite all sectors on your hard drive making data unrecoverable.

Please note that destroying the hard drive isn’t simply throwing it away—it needs to be literally broken up. Hammering or axing the drive should do the job (with much more fun), but if you are unsure of how you’ll dump the metal and plastic pieces in an environmentally-friendly manner, seeking the services of a disposal facility or a computer security firm that uses industrial-size shredders to grind the drive to nothing, might be a good idea.

Encrypt your files

Setting up encryption on your hard drive can also help to protect your data while disposing of your computer. Encryption secures all your files, including both current files and deleted files. PC owners can encrypt with the BitLocker feature built into Professional versions of Windows or opt for the TrueCrypt that is compatible with all versions of Windows.

Encrypted files require an encryption passphrase to open or be accessed. And because the passphrase will be saved to your hard drive in encrypted form and only available when you sign on, the key won’t work if you are signed out or if the screen lock is on.

Try to self-recover your erased files

One way you can be sure that your drive was properly wiped out is by using a file-recovery program to test whether or not you can recover any erased files from your drive. A file recovery program will scan external or internal hard drives for erased files, display information about them, and allow users to recover them.

If your drives were thoroughly wiped, the recovery program should find no files you can recover. File recovery software was designed to execute the same sort of trick an attacker would employ to retrieve your data.


It is completely important to wipe out all the private and confidential data present on your drive such as Social Security numbers, credit card numbers and even pictures before disposing of your computer or PC. It’s is the only way you will be protected from attackers looking to prey on you.

Cassie Phillips is an internet security enthusiast and digi.me blog fan who specialises in cybersecurity and technology and writes at securethoughts.com/express-vpn-review

2016 will be a ‘transformational’ year for personal data

The coming 12 months will see dramatic shifts in the way we view and hold our personal data because the current model is broken.

While everything we do – from our tastes, experiences and preferences upwards – is data that makes up our whole, the current trading model is broken, with consumers up in arms about every-increasing tracking and an innovation gap that means no-one can exploit all the opportunities that data today offers us.

Giving a rousing keynote to the Personal Information Economy conference in London, our founder and chairman Julian Ranger said: “The present situation now isn’t working for individuals and it’s actually not working for businesses either.

“I will tell you that 2016 will be a transformational year. There are businesses we are working with that who are going to be launching new products in the personal information economy and they will make a big difference this year.

“It’s happening now and people are working on it.”

But why it is happening now?

  1. Innovation – businesses can’t exploit all the opportunities that personal data offers with the current model because they can’t access it. So the model needs changing.
  2. Increased consumer frustration with companies that seem to know more about us than they should, or ads following us round the web, which has led over 250plus million deploying ad-blockers in what’s being called the biggest boycott in history.
  3. Upcoming privacy legislation from the EU, and others, which will require explicit permission, meaning lots of the old models will be blocked.

Julian said: “So what does the man or woman in the street think? Companies all want a piece or me, but whether I like it or not, they take it. But that’s ok, it’s just a piece. They can swap or trade it, but they don’t have a full picture of me. Legislation prevents them doing more.

“But what if I do want to stop them doing more? These ad-blocker things look good, and they speed up my web browsing as well. Great, I’ll have one of those.

“Maybe the less those companies know about me the better – that’s a journey that a lot of people have gone on, it’s not a good journey and it’s not actually true, it’s not actually the case.”

“Because surely there’s a lot of cases where the more a company knows about me, the better – the more I can do. It can offer me the products  and services that I want – by knowing about me, third parties  can better understand what I like, what I need and when I need it – more  of what I want and less of what I don’t want.”

He said that, if we’re honest, we all want to be sold to, but it’s the “dodgy” way that businesses are getting data around the side – and our perception of that – that is spoiling things and “absolutely has to change”.

He added: “And it’s not working for businesses,  because the data they get today is thin and low-grade stuff, you don’t actually have all the data you need about me to do what you want.

“We need a better way – and the answer is to shift control back to the individual. But it’s not just about control, it’s about owning your data, having that data back, so that you have it, bringing it all together – because after all, who do I trust with all my life? Me.”

“If I hold it, I get more than control – I can see my life, I can do things with that data myself, I can decide then who gets to benefit from my data – you give me the right value proposition and I’ll do it.”

He said that in order to bring the different parts of our lives together without walls, and share different parts, together, to businesses, we all need to own our own data. Data that is unimaginable to businesses now in terms of its width, depth and richness – “rich data, not big data”.

He stressed that digi.me is “allowing you to have your own software that goes and get your data direct and brings it down to you so that you own it, on your own infrastructure. That’s real power, when you are the only person that has all your data.

“When you start sharing that way, the quality of data goes up by orders of magnitude. Costs goes down too  far better data, far lower cost – everyone is happy.”

Because we are the sum of our data, having that in one place immediately offers greater levels of interest and insight to each of us – but add in businesses on top and you’ve got a new model for personal data sharing that really works.

How To Download Facebook Messages – Slideshow Guide

One of our most continually popular topics on this blog is how to download Facebook Messages. This is probably old news to most of our users, but for anyone just getting to grips with the product or anyone who hasn’t heard of SocialSafe before, you are able to download all of your Facebook Messages to your own machine using the SocialSafe social media back up tool.

We recently put together a Slideshare on this walking you through how to get set up with SocialSafe, how to download your Facebook Messages and how to do more with them once you have your messages stored on your own machine:

Here are the text instructions in full:

1. You can download your Facebook Messages using an application called SocialSafe. Download SocialSafe for free from http://socialsafe.net/download

2. Once you’ve installed SocialSafe, add your Facebook account to your SocialSafe journal by clicking on ‘Add Your Facebook account’, and logging in via Facebook’s login box.

3. After adding your Facebook account, make sure that you have Messages selected, then click ‘Sync Account Now’ to start downloading your content. SocialSafe will now download your Facebook content, including your Messages, to your own machine.

Your privacy matters to us

4. Once the sync has completed, go to the ‘Accounts’ page and click on three bars icon for your Facebook account. This will open the drop-down menu, showing you all the different types of content you have backed up from your Facebook account. From here you can select ‘Messages’.

5. You can now view each of the message threads that you are part of, whether they are with individuals or part of group conversations. Your conversations are listed chronologically by the time and date of the last message in the thread. The default setting is to show the most recent threads first, but you can reverse the order by clicking the double-arrows in the top right corner. Clicking on a thread will open the entire message history with that person/group.

6. Clicking on the Search bar allows you to find any word or phrase in your entire Facebook Message history… Great for those times when you can’t remember who it was that recommended that restaurant to you, or for settling a bet that was agreed upon a long time ago!

7. Clicking on the icon in the top right corner of SocialSafe will enable content selection. Once you have selected a message, or messages you can:

– Add them to a Collection
– Hide them
– Export them to PDF
– Export them to File

In addition to the Slideshare presentation we also have a selection of tutorial videos that can be found on our YouTube Channel which will help you get the most out of the additional features found within your SocialSafe library.

VIDEO GUIDE: Search Your Instagram Captions, Comments, Tags and #Hashtags

One of the cool things you can do when you download your Instagram photos to SocialSafe is to search through them by keyword or hashtag. When viewing your Instagrams within SocialSafe you can click on the Search box on the left hand side of the top bar and enter the word, name or phrase you’d like to find.

Here’s a very short video showing you how to Search Your Instagram Captions, Tags and #Hashtags:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWPET6l3VxI&feature=youtu.be]

Any photos containing your chosen search term will be displayed. Hovering over an image will show you how many comments, tags and/or likes it has, and clicking on the image will open it up in a larger view, where you will be able to see the caption, any comments, who has liked your photo and any tags associated with it.

You can also change the date range [not demonstrated in this video] to only show you images from any of the preset time periods (eg Last 7 Days, Last 30 Days, Last Year etc), or set your own custom date range.

For more tutorial videos, including how to print your Instagrams as PDFs, please refer to the SocialSafe YouTube Channel where the other aspects and functionality of the SocialSafe application are covered in greater detail.

Instagram Outage – How To Download And View Your Photos Offline

Photo sharing site Instagram experienced a period of downtime over the weekend that manifested itself by the app being in a perpetual period of loading the feed, but to no avail. Somewhat predictably, users vented their cynicism and ire on other social platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, the latter of course being the owner of Instagram.

A lot of the jokes revolved around not being able to see what everyone was eating, or what the sky looks like, however others offered tongue in cheek suggestions for what might be causing the issue:

[tweet https://twitter.com/gordondowns/statuses/455043989649903616]

Instagram eventually tweeted to acknowledge the problem, identifying it as a feed delivery issue that they were working on fixing. Everything seems to be back to normal, and the outage was indeed a temporary glitch.

However, Saturday’s downtime is yet another example of what can happen when you aren’t the one in possession of your content – the other party can drop the ball and you can’t access it. This isn’t a problem if you back up your content to your own personal data store, and here at SocialSafe we’re immensely proud of the standard of our Instagram backup service.

Not only can you download all your Instagram images, but all of the comments, tags, likes and followers/following are also backed up to your library, which allows you to search across your images and people. What is more, our Instagram Insights give you the chance to examine the popularity of your images, see which filters you use the most, and see which filters perform the best with your followers:

To download your Instagrams (and also backup a number of other social network accounts), get SocialSafe for free and start backing up your memories to a place you own and control.

LinkedIn To Remove ‘Products & Services’ Tab By April 14th 2014

Anyone who runs a LinkedIn Company Page should take note of the fact that the business network has announced it will be retiring the ‘Products & Services’ tab, effective from April 14th 2014. All page owners should have received an email from LinkedIn, but if you haven’t been made aware of the changes, here’s what the network had to say about the removal of the feature:

Linked In Company Pages

While you can back up your LinkedIn profile with SocialSafe, unfortunately the information contained on LinkedIn Company Pages is not available via the network’s API. Therefore it cannot be backed up to your SocialSafe library, nor any other backup service. However, we would always advocate the policy of backing up wherever possible.

So in this instance it might be worth having someone spend a little time perhaps manually copying the content from these pages into a Word document, just so that the information is readily available should an equivalent feature appear at a later date, and so that the initial work that went into creating your Products & Services tab doesn’t all go to waste.

What has your experience of LinkedIn Company Pages been so far? Have they helped provide you with useful information as a consumer or customer? Has having one noticeably improved your company’s social reach? Let us know what you think of LinkedIn Company Pages and share your experiences with others.

Can’t Post To Facebook? What If You Couldn’t See Anything Either?

Some people will have sat down at their computers, or unlocked their smartphones today, only to find that they can’t post to Facebook. The bug also meant that some users were unable to post comments, send messages, post photos or even Like content from over users or pages.

Those affected by the glitch were still able to use Facebook to view content, so it wasn’t a complete meltdown for everyone concerned. However, it just goes to show that websites do experience occasional period of downtime, and when handling the sheer volumes of data involved with keeping something such as Facebook up and running 24/7, there will be inevitable problems.

Social networks are increasingly being used more and more for business purposes, and for many small to medium operations, something as simple as a Facebook page performs a number of functions and holds a wealth of customer information for the page owner. If, as we have seen previously, the social networks experience problems or renders data inaccessible – even if only temporarily – this can have a big impact on businesses.

One way to minimise the effect any social network outages may have on your business is to make sure that you own a local copy of your data that you can access at any time. There are plenty of options out there that offer a social media backup service, but unless you store the data yourself, you can never guarantee that you will be able to lay your hands on it when you might need it the most.

SocialSafe is the only social content organiser that puts you in control of your data by storing it all on your own machine. Not only do you have peace of mind by way of a safe copy of your data, but you can do more with your content thanks to the built-in Insights functions, as well as the intelligent search and calendar features.

To start safeguarding your social data now, download the SocialSafe free trial and bring the content that matters to you to your very own desktop.

SocialSafe v6.5.8 Released – Download Your Instagram Videos, Historic Data Pop-up and More

We’ve just released SocialSafe v6.5.8 and this latest version contains a couple of brand new features never before seen in SocialSafe.

First up we have added support for Instagram Video. This allows SocialSafe users to safely download Instagram Videos to their own machine, along with all the comments, tags, and likes. This works in the same way that we currently support Instagram Photo download, meaning that you can also search and export Instagram Videos from within SocialSafe. Here’s how the Instagram videos appear among your other photos in the SocialSafe journal:

download instagram videos

We’ve also added historic data pop-up. This is a really cool new feature that shows you your most popular content on that day in previous years. Ordinarily this will be your most popular photo from Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, but if there are no photos on that day in years gone by, your most popular written update will be shown. You’ll see this appear discretely in the corner of your screen, even if you don’t have SocialSafe open, and this will occur at 1000 hrs daily. This is how the historic data pop-up will appear on your desktop:

on this day

It wasn’t all just shiny new features with this release, there was some general maintenance that we had to take care of. We were aware that some of you had experienced problems with stalling syncs when backing up certain types of content from Facebook and Twitter – these have now been fixed, along with a .NET error and a sync looping issue. We also made some minor bug fixes and UI improvements.

We hope you like the new features we’ve added to SocialSafe, and as ever, if you have any further suggestions please let us know through our Feedback Forum, on our Facebook Page, get in touch via Twitter, or on Google+ or LinkedIn.

VIDEO – Automatic Backups Using The SocialSafe Scheduler

We recently made some improvements to the Scheduler within SocialSafe, which gives users greater control over how and when they use the app to download new content from their social network accounts.

By using the Scheduler, users can set SocialSafe to sync automatically at given times throughout the day or week. The app doesn’t even need to be open, and will run in the background, as not to disturb you. The Scheduler can be accessed via the Settings menu found in the bottom corner on SocialSafe, and is easy to set up. We made a short video showing you how this works:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Guj5TDWNZIk align’center’]

The Scheduler offers a great deal of choice in terms of how often you’d like SocialSafe to automatically sync, with a time range between schedule syncs being anything from an hour to a week.

There are also plenty of options in between, as you’ll see in the video. The Daily setting allows you to set SocialSafe to run at up to five different times during the day, without having to set it to the Hourly setting. The Weekly setting also allows you to set SocialSafe to run as seldom as once a week, or up to five different times throughout the week.

This all runs in the background and should provide you all with enough flexibility to set your SocialSafe to sync at a time convenient to you, without you having to remember to open the app each time. Of course your machine will still need to be on and connected to the internet for SocialSafe to be able to download any new content from your networks.

You can also choose to be shown your most popular content after SocialSafe has finished a sync, and this simply takes you to the Insights part of the app, which you should already be familiar with.

If you have any questions about the Scheduler, please leave a comment below, or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.