Handy solutions to common tech problems.

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Sometimes, the most complex problems have the simplest fixes. Here are some easy solutions for four of the most common tech problems.

Expand the storage of a phone or tablet

Power users everywhere have a common problem — the limited storage on phones/tablets often runs out. iOS users have it bad because the devices do not have expandable storage and the next version with more storage is way more expensive than necessary.

In case of Android, you usually get 4 or 8GB of onboard storage, expandable via microSD cards. Most devices support at least 32GB cards, which are fairly inexpensive. Other devices with expandable storage can also usually accept 32GB cards. However, there are other ways to add storage for all the files you need.

Wireless drive

A wireless hard drive connects to your computer like a standard portable hard drive to copy data. However, it has a built-in battery and creates its own Wi-Fi hotspot. You can connect your phone or tablet to the wireless drive’s Wi-Fi and use an app to access the content stored on the drive.

The app usually provides the option to download data on the hard drive, over to your device if required. Depending on your requirements, you can choose to go for the 500GB Seagate GoFlex Satellite (Rs 9,990) or the 1TB Seagate Wireless Plus drive. (Rs 16,000).  

Cloud

The benefit of using cloud storage is that you can access your data from anywhere, anytime. Using various services like Dropbox, Box. net, Google Drive and SkyDrive, you can easily get over 100GB of cloud storage without spending a single Rupee.

Almost all of these services have their own dedicated smartphone/tablet apps. With these apps installed, it becomes simpler to access and download data to your device. The only issue is that you need to be on a fast data connection, or else downloading large files will take a long time.

Restore your phone to factory state without losing data

If you like to install and then delete a lot of apps on your smartphone, you may notice that existing apps take more time to start, games have random frame drops and even the keyboard takes time to come up. Multiple apps, extensions and remnants of old files might be consuming extra phone resources. The easiest and guaranteed fix for this issue is to restore your phone to factory settings.

However, when you factory reset a phone, everything on the phone including your text messages, multimedia content and contacts are wiped. Depending on what devices you have, there are ways to backup & restore your data easily. Apple iPhone users have it easy. Just connect your phone to iTunes and take a backup of your existing phone. After the backup, you can use iTunes to restore the phone to factory settings. Once it is reset, iTunes will restore all your data from the backup.

Similar to iOS, both BlackBerry and Windows Phone have their desktop suites. Using the respective software, you can easily take a backup of all your data and then restore it when you do a factory reset. For Android users, things are slightly complicated. Samsung, HTC and Sony have their own desktop software to take care of data backup and restore.

But for other Android phones, you will need to use apps. First, backup all text messages to a memory card using a free apps called ‘SMS Backup & Restore’. For apps, use a free app called ‘App Backup and Restore’ (it allows batch backup and restore). You can also backup apps to your PC wirelessly using an app called AirDroid. Since contacts are synced with your Google account, they are automatically backed up to your Gmail account. Once you sign-in after a factory reset, contacts are automatically restored.

Refresh your Windows PC without deleting any files

Some Windows computers have a tendency to get sluggish over a period of time. You can install various utilities that claim to speed up a computer by freeing RAM and deleting temporary files, but nothing works as well as restoring to factory settings or reinstalling the operating system from scratch.

However, like the smartphones, restoring removes all your existing files and settings. You can take a backup of your files on a portable hard drive, but what about the personal settings, installed applications and related files?

 Windows 7

Make sure that you uninstall Windows Service Pack updates first. Insert your Windows installation DVD and run the setup. However, instead of a fresh install, choose to upgrade Windows. Windows will then re-install the OS and restore all your existing files, programs and settings.  

Windows 8

Windows 8 has a built-in feature to ‘refresh’ your computer. You can access it in Settings > PC Settings > General. The feature backs up all your personal files and programs that came preloaded with the new PC and then automatically restores them after Windows has been re-installed.

Recover files deleted by mistake

Sometimes, all it takes to lose an entire vacation’s worth of photos is a single click — it can happen to anyone. As long as you haven’t formatted the hard drive or memory card, you should be able to recover most of what you accidentally deleted because of the way a file system on a computer works — when you delete a file, the data doesn’t actually get removed from the storage memory — it just gets earmarked as available space, over which other files can be written. Therefore, for a successful recovery, you need to use ‘undelete’ software immediately after files were deleted.

Recuva (piriform.com/recuva) is one of the best options — it’s fast, easy to use and gets the job done. If for some reason Recuva doesn’t work for you or can’t recover all the files, you can also try Glary Undelete (glarysoft.com/glary-undelete) and Pandora Recovery (www.pandorarecovery.com). Mac OS X (10.5 and above) users can try MiniTool (mac-data-recover.com). Even though this is a Mac-only file recovery software, it works with all popular file systems like HFS, FAT32 and NTFS. The free version will recover up to 1GB of deleted files.

 

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