DiskWarrior 5 Review: The Essential Tool for Maintaining and Repairing Disk Problems

I’ve said it countless times: it’s not a question of if you will lose data, but when. Media, such as hard drives, eventually fails. Or you can make the kind of mistake that results in deleted folders or erased disks. And files can simply get corrupted. There are two things you need to do to ensure you don’t lose data: back up your files regularly, and use software to diagnose and correct problems before they become serious.

Since 1998, Alsoft’s DiskWarrior has been the go-to tool for fixing disk corruption on Macs. It’s been eight years since the last update to DiskWarrior. At the time, I reviewed DiskWarrior 4 and gave it the highest rating, five mice. It has saved my data, and fixed hard drive issues, many times over the years.

DiskWarrior does one thing, and does it well: it optimizes and repairs disk directories, which contain the information that tells your Mac where files are stored on the disks attached to it. If directories become corrupted, you can lose files. While your data may still be on a disk, the Mac is no longer capable of finding it. DiskWarrior works both as preventive medicine—to fix errors before they become serious—and to correct more serious errors and help recover files when things get really bad.

Read the rest of my review on Macworld.

iWant: Time Machine for iOS

I wrote yesterday how I lost data stored in iCloud, and had to get geeky to retrieve it. This shouldn’t happen. Ever. With Dropbox, for example, if you have two files with the same name, Dropbox saves both of them, showing, in the file names, that there is a conflict. And back in the days of pre-iCloud syncing, Apple showed you when there were conflicts and let you resolve them. But now, iCloud, in an attempt to be as transparent as possible, has eliminated such features.

Data is important; data integrity is essential. There is simply no situation where losing data is acceptable. Yet, for many people who use iCloud, this is the case.

The data loss I described is not uncommon. I’ve heard from lots of people who’ve had similar problems with Apple’s app and with third-party apps. The best Apple can do is tell you how to find missing information in iCloud after restoring an iOS device; they talk about apps, media, messages, but not data that has been lost. About two years ago, a number of app developers spoke out about this, and some app developers have given up on iCloud because of its lack of reliability.

iOS can back up to iCloud automatically. But this isn’t a real backup; it only stores some settings, but not most data. It stores pointers to apps and purchased content, but not content that you’ve synced to the device that Apple doesn’t sell. It’s not a backup, it’s not even a clone; it’s a selective backup of what Apple is concerned about. Apple’s logic is probably that iCloud will still have your app data: your contacts, calendars, notes and more. But as I, and many others have seen, iCloud can lose data. Also, you may have apps that store data locally; that don’t sync to the cloud, that don’t store files on Dropbox. In that case, it’s very hard to recover lost data.

Apple created Time Machine for the Mac so users would be protected. It’s still users’ responsibility to turn it on, and to purchase an external hard drive for the backups, but it’s not Apple’s fault any more if users don’t back up their data.

Apple needs to create Time Machine for iOS. This would back up what is backed up now, but also all the data that Apple’s apps and third-party apps store. You should be able to go back and see previous versions of this data and restore it, as you can with Time Machine.

There is no excuse for iCloud losing data. Apple needs to create a safety net so this never happens.

How to encrypt your Mac with FileVault 2, and why you absolutely should | Macworld

FileVault 2 can make nations quake, apparently, but it’s just a bit of good information hygiene, letting you make choices about the degree of vulnerability you want to tolerate for your locally stored data and any software or stored passwords for services in your accounts. With it off, you’re not risking everything, but with it on, you have a high degree of assurance about who can access what.

My son’s MacBook Air got stolen last year when his apartment was burglarized. We spent a lot of time together changing passwords. With File Vault, we wouldn’t have had to do that. I strongly recommend using File Vault.

How to encrypt your Mac with FileVault 2, and why you absolutely should | Macworld.

Keep Flash Out of Your Face, and Protect Your Computer from Malware, with ClickToPlugin

I’ve long used the ClickToPlugin extension in Safari to prevent plug-ins from loading on web pages. This blocks Flash and other media plug-ins from running, and shows you a placeholder when you load a page with an element that is blocked.

It’s especially useful to block those annoying, moving Flash ads that serve no purpose other than to distract you from reading a web page.

Clicktoflash placeholder

If you do want to load the Flash animation, just click it. (Well, don’t click the one above; it’s just a screenshot.)

As Graham Cluley points out in his security blog, this plug-in can also protect you from Flash zero-day vulnerabilities that can infect your computer; since Flash can’t run, the vulnerability can’t be exploited. Sometimes, the Flash animations that serve malware are tiny, and you don’t even see them.

There are two versions of the plug-in: ClickToFlash, that only blocks Flash, and ClickToPlugin, that blocks other media player plug-ins, and that also tries to force the plug-in to switch to Safari’s built-in HTML5 media player.

This saves time, battery power and bandwidth, and keeps your annoyance level low. And it protects you from annoying Flash animations.

You may simply want to uninstall Flash; you can do that, but you may find that you actually need it from time to time. I find this to be the best solution: I can load the Flash animations if I want to, but, if not, I’m not bothered.

If you use a browser other than Safari, see Graham Cluley’s article for links to plug-ins that work in other browsers.

iOS 8 Restrictions: Parental Controls Overview for Parents

You know that the internet is a source of knowledge and information, and, if you have children, you are probably torn between allowing them the freedom to explore and the desire to protect them from inappropriate content. On OS X, you can set Parental Controls, and you can adjust settings so your children can’t download just anything from the iTunes Store or App Store. You can apply settings to social media accounts to protect your kids’ privacy. And, on iOS, you can adjust a full range of settings to control what your children see on the internet, and which apps they can use.

In this article, I’m going to look at Restrictions, the iOS version of parental controls. Apple’s iOS 8 Restrictions let you lock down your kids’ iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

There are a lot of settings, so be prepared to take a few minutes to go through them and adjust them so they are appropriate for your child’s age. Be aware that if you simply enable restrictions, without tweaking individual settings, most of them are set, by default, to be appropriate for the youngest of children. But you should still go through all the settings when you have time to make sure you agree with all of them.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

How to Protect Children’s Privacy on Social Media

If your kids use social media, as all kids do, you may be worried about protecting their privacy. Teenagers may be a bit unconcerned about such things, and not care who reads their Facebook posts, their Twitter feeds, or sees their photos on Instagram. As a parent, you know how important it is to keep your kids’ online life out of the public domain, as much as possible.

You can explain to your children why this is important, and help them choose the right settings to protect their privacy. They can always go back and change the settings, of course; you can’t lock their Facebook or SnapChat settings. But if you have a serious conversation about privacy, you can work together with your children to apply the appropriate settings.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.