On Backups, Cloud Backups, and Data Recovery

Your data is valuable. Whether it's personal or professional, it irepresents your time, your passions, finances, hard work, family, and more.  Recreating lost data can take time and effort, and is often impossible to recreate or re-aggregate once lost. 

There are generally four culprits of data loss: hardware failures, software bugs, human action, and natural disasters. Although hardware tends to be quite reliable, all mechanical components will eventually face crisis. 

Creating a backup (copying data to a secondary location) is a way to protect your important files. By having several copies of the data, it does not matter if one is destroyed (the cost is only that of the restoration of the lost data from the backup). This means that even if you are capable of recreating every file on your computer from memory, the time alone to recreate and reconfigure a new setup is in itself a reason to have a backup. 

We recommend to have multiple backups in multiple locations, to cover all the possible culprits of data loss. For example, I once helped a couple who both worked from home and both had external hard drives attached to their iMacs keeping regular backups of their work. What they didn't plan on was the apartment above their to flood, sending a deluge of water down on both their computers and their hard drives. They were both in tears as their professional and personal lives were both contained on these machines. As it turned out, the design of the enclosure of the iMac actually kept any liquid from entering the machine and while the external drives were shorted, the iMacs remained unharmed. However, this is the only time I can remember such an outcome. 

The couple in this example would have had complete peace of mind had they had another layer of protection for their data: remote backups. Also called cloud backups, a remote backup is one created over a network and stored on a server, which also provides redundancy to the backup. 

There are many providers of this service, however generally there is one that I recommend over all the rest, and it is Backblaze. Though the GUI (graphical user interface, what the program looks like) is't robust or gorgeous, the platform itself is easy to use and thorough, and has additional benefits such as backing up external hard drives and connected volumes as well. It is simple and reliable, and can be accessed from anywhere you have an internet connection. Whether you need a few files or all of them, Backblaze has you covered. If indeed you do need to recover all of your files, you can choose to download them, or have them overnighted to you on a external drive. 

Additionally, Backblaze also provides a "Locate Lost Computer" feature for no additional charge. This information can be relayed to the police to help stolen machines be recovered successfully. 

Finally, one of the most appealing aspects of Backblaze is that there is no data storage limit, and no maximum file size. 


For those who are curious about local backups, Mac OS X's built-in program TimeMachine is our recommendation every time. Simple to use and highly reliable, TimeMachine provides a complete backup of all your files. For more information about TimeMachine, check out this article by Apple:

In the event that you have already experienced data loss, we can help! We never charge for data loss analysis, and in the event that your drive has suffered severe mechanical failure, we partner with Kroll OnTrack, an industry leader in data recovery. OnTrack has successfully completed over half a million recoveries since 1985, and has the largest R&D team in the industry. Request a consultation with us today to recover your irreplaceable data, whether on a failed hard drive, flash drive, laptop, desktop, RAID, or mobile device. 



Restoring the "Save As..." Feature

In OS X 10.7 (Lion), Apple removed the 'Save As' menu item and replaced it with 'Duplicate'. Though similar, Duplicate does not function the same as Save As, and lots of people were unhappy with the change. Apple relented in 10.8 (Mountain Lion) by returning "Save As..." but they hid it as an optional menu item which would only be shown when you held down the Option key while looking at the "File" menu. (There is also a keyboard shortcut for "Save As..." in 10.8, but it is not very convenient: Command + Shift + Option + S.) This option was so well-hidden that most did not know it existed at all. 

Here are two ways to return the “Save As” functionality in OS X. Both function by changing the shortcut for the existing function. One is via the Terminal, and the other through System Preferences.

Method 1:

First, quit all your apps except Finder and Terminal. Then copy and paste this command (as one line) into the Terminal window, and press Return:

defaults write -globalDomain NSUserKeyEquivalents -dict-add 'Save As...' ‘@$S’

That’s it! Launch any text-based application to verify “Save As” in the File menu. It should be noted that there won’t be a confirmation given in the Terminal window. If you’re unsure about using Terminal, perhaps the next option will suit you better.

Method 2:

If you’re less inclined to use Terminal, we can use System Preferences instead. From Applications, LaunchPad, or the Finder Apple menu  Launch the System Preferences application, then open the "Keyboard" preference pane. 

In the top menu of the dialogue box, click "Shortcuts" (labeled '1' below). Then in the list on the left side, click "Application Shortcuts" (labeled '2' below). Next, click the "+" button (labeled '3' below). Finally (as seen in the second image) enter "Save As..." in the "Menu Title:" field, and then press the keyboard shortcut that you want to use. In the example below I pressed Command+Shift+S.

keyboard shortcuts

Addendum: "Keep changes in original document": The "Save As..." command in early versions of 10.8 had an unexpected and likely unwanted side effect in Mountain Lion: it would save the changes in the new document (created by "Save As...") but would also save the changes to the original document.

However, Apple realized that users might not want that behavior, so in Mac OS X 10.8.2 they added an option "Keep changes in original document" which you can see here:


Option A: If you want to save the changes you've made in the document and then save the document with a different name, then make sure that the box is checked.

Option B: If you want your original document to stay as it was when you last saved it and create a new document based on the modified content of that document, then make sure that box is not checked.



iOS 8 Overview (Part I)

Along with Tuesday's announcement of the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and the Watch came the release date for iOS 8.  On September 17th you will be able to download and enjoy all the features of iOS 8 on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.  Here are some of the new features we know you'll love. 

Author's Note: If you have not updated yet, be sure to check out our great article and video blog about how to make sure you've properly backed up your data and manage your iCloud backups. 

Preparing for iOS 8

Backing up with iCloud


Spotlight has been around on the iPhone iOS 3, but in iOS 8 it gets completely revamped.  Not only can you search for information saved on your iOS device, now you can search the web, find nearby restaurants, get showtimes, searching for everything on the iTunes Store, and much more.








Have you ever been in the middle of something on your iPad and wanted to switch over to your iPhone instead?  Have you been reading an interesting blog or iBook on your iPhone and wanted to switch to your iPad? With Handoff in iOS 8 you can seamlessly go back and forth between your iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.  Handoff, like so many other services from Apple, is simply and securely managed by your Apple ID; devices must be in close proximity and be logged in with the same Apple ID to be used with Handoff.  When your iOS device discovers an application that can be handed off, it lets you know by putting a small icon of that application in the bottom left corner of the lock screen.



Here is a list of applications that will work with Handoff when iOS 8 is released.  Apple has announced that third party developers will be able to make their applications work with Handoff as well.

  • Mail
  • Safari
  • Pages
  • Numbers
  • Keynote
  • Maps
  • Messages
  • Reminders
  • Contacts
  • Calendar

If those features are not enough, once you have Mac OS X Yosemite (to be released this fall) running on your Mac you'll be able to use Handoff for all the features we've mentioned, as well as phone calls.  The screenshot below gives you a preview of what phone calls on a Mac will look like in Yosemite.




Depending on what you do for recreation, this may be the most significant update coming with iOS 8.  Like everything else Apple does, the Health app is designed to be simple and inspiring to use.  The dashboard shows you your most recent health and fitness data in one window, making keeping track of your progress easier than ever.  You can also see a detailed analysis of things like your body measurements, vital signs, and even your sleep.  There is also an option to configure an emergency medical card that is accessible from the lock screen, just in case the unexpected happens.



Where the Health app becomes truly unique is in it's ability to aggregate health and fitness data from multiple applications into one place.  For example, if you use Nike+ to track your running, Jawbone UP to track your sleep, and My Fitness Pal to log your nutrition, the Health app will consolidate all of that data in one convenient place.  Apple's HealthKit platform allows developers to seamlessly link their apps and data securely into the Health app.  Here is a list of applications that have started working on HealthKit compatible versions of their apps:

  • WebMD
  • Jawbone UP
  • Fit Bit
  • Nike+
  • Mayo Clinic
  • My Fitness Pal
  • Lose It
  • RunKeeper

Many more applications will build in support for the Health app after iOS 8 is released.

Stay tuned as we post a Part II and cover more enhancements and features of iOS 8!

For more information on iOS 8, visit Apple's iOS 8 Preview



Preparing for iOS 8

As you probably know, Apple announced a new version of its mobile operating system back in June. The latest version, called iOS 8, has a host of new features and integrates beautifully with the soon-to-be-released desktop operating system, Yosemite. With improvements to Siri, a new health and wellness app, and enhanced notifications, you'll love the new iOS. BUT! To have a positive upgrade experience, you'll want to follow these helpful tips. Without further ado, here's an article I like to call "What I Wish Customers Had Known When I Worked In An Apple Store":


Just because your device (iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad all run iOS) runs the current software does NOT mean it will run the new software. If you're on an original iPad or an iPhone 4 or older, you won't be able to upgrade. Each version of the OS is significantly more capable than the last, which means that each version is more taxing on hardware than the last. Certain features may not be available on older hardware, and older phones may run slower even if the software is supported. Here's a list of which devices will be supported for iOS 8:


Apple has not yet released the exact amount of space that iOS 8 will need on each device, but expect it to be between 3-5 GB. That doesn't mean the actual iOS will take up that much space, but any OS install requires a buffer. Now, what that means is that you'll need  that much space to upgrade the iOS and keep all your current stuff on there. In the even that the upgrade does not install properly, you'll need to have enough room to re-install a fresh copy of iOS, and then also restore from your back up. Many times I have seen people who installed the OS only to receive an error that they couldn't restore from their backup because they didn't have enough space. When the update is available, you can find it in Settings > General > Software Update. Here it will also tell you how much available space you'll need for the installation. To see how much free space you currently have, go to Settings > General > About  > Available.


Have one! Or two! Though you may not run into a situation where you need your backup after running an update, there's always the possibility and you'll want to be prepared. There are two main ways to back up your iPhone: through iTunes, and through iCloud. The benefit of iCloud is that you can restore from it anytime, anywhere (that wi-fi is available for some downloads). Additionally, iCloud backs up any time your phone is connected to power and at the lock or home screen, so you don't have to think about it. The benefit of iTunes is that it's taking up space on your hard drive, not your iCloud storage, and you can see your backups if you want to verify them. 

To back up using iCloud, go to Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup. Here you can choose which items will be backed up. Then, press "Back Up Now". For more info on how to back up to iCloud and how to troubleshoot iCloud backup issues, check out our blog on that

To backup using iTunes, connect your iPhone via USB cable (or Wi-fi if you have that enabled). Under the "Summary" tab, select "Back up to This Computer" and click "Back Up Now". That's it!


There is always a margin for error, and when millions of people are all trying to upgrade all their devices at the same time, things can slow down or even crash. Don't panic. And for all that is holy, if you go to an Apple store, BE NICE! And expect a wait. And if you have any questions or need additional help, feel free to reach out to us. 


If you are going to be trading in your current phone for a new one, or want to sell your device, you will HAVE to be able to disable iCloud Activation Lock. Do this by logging out of Find My Phone by navigating to Settings > iCloud > Find My Phone. Then, securely erase all your information by going to Settings > General > Reset > Erase all Content and Settings. When iOS erases all content and settings, what's actually happening is that the hardware-specific encryption key is securely wiped, rendering everything on your phone an unintelligible mess, even if someone were to physically examine the memory chip with recovery software. 



How to choose the Best Wi-fi channel

By now most people at one point or another have set up, installed, or replaced a wireless router. Some of these routers let the user choose what channel to broadcast a signal on, others pick arbitrarily or are set to a default. But why does the channel matter, and which channel is best?  For a lot of us, this is instantly a mind-numbing question; we just want internet and we want it to be fast and we don't want our YouTube or Netflix to time out while we're watching a video. 

Thankfully, there's a handy new feature that's built-in to OS X Mavericks called Wi-Fi Scan that is a part of the Wireless Diagnostics to quickly show you the networks nearby and the channels they are on, as well as the best channel to be on for least interference for both a 2.4GHz and 5GHz network. 

First, you'll need to open the aforementioned Wireless Diagnostics Utilities app:

  1. While pressing the "Option" key,  click on the Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar. 
  2. On the dropdown, choose the last option, "Open Wireless Diagnostics"
wifi scanner
  1. Enter the admin password and completely ignore the splash screen that launches
  2. Pull down the “Windows” menu and choose “Utilities”
  3. Select the “Wi-Fi Scanner” tab, and select “Scan Now”
  4. When finished, look at the bottom right for the best channels recommendations:
    • Best 2.4 GHz Channels (usually 802.11b/g)
    • Best 5 GHz Channels (usually 802.11a/n)
wifi scanner
  1. Now log in to your wi-fi router (this is going to vary depending on the manufacturer) and make the channel changes as necessary – typically this means using a web browser to point at the local router IP (, etc)

As mentioned before, changing the broadcast channel will vary depending on the router manufacturer and the IP address used. Using a Netgear router with an IP of as an example, simply point any web browser to that IP, log in using the router admin login (often admin/admin), and look for the “Channel” option, typically located within a “Wireless Settings” or “Broadcast Settings” preference region. Change the appropriate channels for each protocol, save settings, and you’re good to go.



iPhone Photography 101



So you’ve watched the video and we’ve established that iPhone can be your go-to camera for capturing and sharing your life. So now let’s get down to taking better photographs. First, we will go over a few general techniques for taking better photos, and then look at a few additional apps for editing or processing them.  Here are a few tips to get you headed in the right direction.

Rule of Thirds: To explain this, go ahead and turn on the grid feature of your iPhone in Settings > Photos & Camera > Grid. With this enabled, when you launch the Camera you’ll see two horizontal and vertical lines that divide the screen into thirds. The principle is that the subject of your photo should lie at one of the four points where these lines intersect. Even if your photo does not align this way when you take it, you can apply this principle in cropping as well. This, by default, also supports the principle of not having the subject in the center of the photo.

Natural Lighting: As great as the iPhone is, lighting is key to getting a great photo. Natural lighting (light produced by the sun but not direct sunlight) is your friend. Direct light causes your subject to squint and be washed out while backlight, on the other hand, leaves the subject in the dark. So again, bright natural sunlight is going to deliver the best possible image. To focus your lens, simply tape the subject and you will see your iPhone automatically adjust. An added bonus is catchlight, which is the reflection of light in your subjects eyes. This definitely gets that extra “awwwwww” factor when posting numerous photos of pets and babies, which is basically what social media is 😉 

Get Close: Beauty can be found in the most mundane of moments. Shapes, textures, and colors can be striking when you capture them well, even if it's a seemingly ordinary object. The iPhone can take very close photos, and products such as the Olo Clip provide an even more powerful macro function. Instead of using the digital zoom, use your feet instead to get closer to the subject. Digital zoom can create a grainier image, so instead use the crop tool to remove unnecessary peripheral 

Angles: building on the rule of thirds, angles can bring balance and movement to an image. Our eyes naturally follow lines and motion, so use any lead lines (horizon, shoreline, path, curb, etc.) to draw the eye to the subject. Also, if taking a photo of a person, leave room in the image to follow their gaze. For example, if a person is looking to the left (when looking at the image) but is also aligned on the left, it can feel a little cut off. Or, if a car is moving in the frame toward the right, leave room in front for where the eye anticipates motion. 

Of course, all of these are simply guidelines. There are many images that I love that do not follow these principles. Use your own creativity and share your perspective through your photos. 


Afterlight is a great choice for quick and straightforward editing. Not only is this a top download in the App Store, it’s also my go-to photo editor. Afterlight’s clean aesthetic and and intuitively navigable layout make it really easy to use. Of all of my photo apps, this one is visually my favorite. 

Like the other apps, the opening page gives you the options to take a new photo or choose one from your camera roll. Once you have the photo you want to work with, you’ll see a menu on the bottom of the page with icons for rotating, adjustments (such as color temperature, saturation, sharpness, exposure, etc.), filters, film textures, cropping and rotating, and frames.  

Sailboats at dusk, Long Beach. Created with Afterlight

Sailboats at dusk, Long Beach. Created with Afterlight


Modeled after a plastic body camera of the same name, Hipstamatic has cool interface that allows the user to choose and swap film, lens, and flash to create the a variety of effects. Once you hit your stride you can save your favorite combinations. If you’re feeling spontaneous, the app also has a “shake to randomize” feature that changes the film, lens, and flash with each shake. With numerous in-app purchases available, Hipstamatic is a great choice for those who are looking for digital photos with a truly analog feel. Additional bonus: order prints and magnets of your creations from inside the app. 


Created with Hipstamatic. Sunset in Huntington Beach. 

Created with Hipstamatic. Sunset in Huntington Beach. 


CAMERA+ (featured in the video)



As you saw in the video, the iPhone camera takes amazing slow motion videos as well as stunning panoramas. Here are a few examples of each:

The Needles district of Canyonlands National Park in Moab, Utah

The Needles district of Canyonlands National Park in Moab, Utah

The Needles district of Canyonlands National Park in Moab, Utah

The Needles district of Canyonlands National Park in Moab, Utah

The Needles district of Canyonlands National Park in Moab, Utah

The Needles district of Canyonlands National Park in Moab, Utah



Backing Up With iCloud

These days, our iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) play an important role. Not just because of what the hardware can do, but because they capture and contain the things we treasure: photos of travels, videos of our friends and family, messages from people we love, even our carefully curated collection of apps. If your phone were to be lost or damaged, it can be replaced. But it's the stuff ON your phone that really matters. With these simple steps, your data will always be safe and sound. Not to mention, if you are having a problem with your computer or iOS device, the FIRST thing you'll be ask by someone assisting you  is "Do you have a backup?" Often, that question is met with a blank stare. So, here's how to create and maintain a backup of your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch using iCloud, a free service from Apple. 

To get started, tap on settings, then tap iCloud.

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 7.25.05 PM.png

As you can see, this iPad is already logged in. Log in with your existing iCloud account or follow the prompts to create a new one. 

 Once set up, you’ll see several features that can be toggled on and off, depending on what you would like to enable iCloud to sync. 

To turn on iCloud back ups, tap on “Storage & Backup" and then toggle the iCloud Backup to "On" which is illustrated with a green switch.

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 7.42.06 PM.png

Go ahead and tap on the toggle to turn backups on. Your ipad will display a promt to inform you that you’re no longer backing up using iTunes. Press okay.  

Your iPad is now ready to back up.  Once enabled, iCloud automatically backs up your device over Wi-Fi every day while it’s turned on, locked, and connected to a power source. If you'd like to go ahead and begin a backup, press the button "Back Up Now".

Finally, let’s talk about what to do if you run out of space!

On the “Storage and Backup” page, you’ll see how much space you’ve used, and how much you have left. 

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 7.46.18 PM.png

If you see that you don’t much space left, or if you’ve received an error message saying your back up could not be completed, the easiest option is to tap “buy more storage”. On iPhone, this will say “change storage plan.”  If you'd like to add more space to your iCloud, choose the plan that suits your needs. 

If you'd like to delve a bit deeper into what is taking up the space you currently have, go ahead and tap "manage storage" on the "Storage and Backup" page of settings > iCloud. Here you'll see specific applications on your device, as well as backups from any other device that has, or is currently, backing up to your iCloud account. 

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 7.26.02 PM.png

From here, you can delete backups of old devices, turn off backing up for specific apps. If you notice that your camera roll is taking up a lot of space, you can transfer or delete files. Videos are a good place to start as they take up more room than photos. 



Home Sharing with the Apple TV

The tutorial above teaches you how to set up something called iTunes Home Sharing.  Home Sharing is a free service provided by Apple that allows you to connect and stream content between multiple devices in your home.  While the video is very information I'll break down some basic terms and steps below to help get you up and running.