How to Save Gmail Attachments on Android

how-to-save-gmail-attachments-on-androidSaving Gmail attachments to your phone on Android used to be over-complicated, but since a major update to the Android app last year, it has become a whole lot easier. You no longer even need to be in the actual email thread containing the attachment to download it to your phone! Here we’re going to show you a couple of methods for saving Gmail attachments on Android. The modern version of the Gmail app lets you directly access email attachments from your email inbox. Note: your “Conversation list density” will need to be on Default or Comfortable to see attachments from the inbox. To change this,… Read more

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How to Play Microsoft Edge’s Secret Surfing Game

Remember SkiFree? Microsoft is one-upping Google Chrome’s hidden dinosaur game. The new version of Microsoft Edge has a secret surfing game that works offline. It’s SkiFree with a fresh new coat of paint, swapping out yetis for the Kraken.

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How to Add Branching in Microsoft Forms

Microsoft Forms is a great tool for creating free, easy-to-use surveys, polls, quizzes, and questionnaires. It includes branching, which allows you to send users to different questions depending on their previous answers. Here’s how to add branching to your form.

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5 Cheap Ways to Back up Your Precious Data

A photo of an external hard drive plugged into a Macbook.Joe Besure/Shutterstock

Computers like to break down when it’s least convenient. And, when that happens, you may lose all of your precious family photos, personal documents, or legally downloaded movies. That is, unless you back up your files first.

In the past, backing up your files meant buying an an expensive hard drive or a mess of overpriced USB sticks. But now, there are a ton of cheap and easy ways to keep your files safe, even if you’ve built up terabytes worth of data. Here are five of our favorite affordable backup methods.

One Backup Isn’t Enough: Follow the 3-2-1 Method

Your backups aren’t guaranteed to last forever. Hard drives can fall victim to theft, natural disaster, or hardware failure, and even cloud storage solutions can face the destructive malice of hackers or incompetence.

So, before we look at any cheap storage solutions, we should take a minute to review the 3-2-1 strategy:

  • Keep 3 Copies of Your Data: You should maintain three backups at all times. One of these backups can be on your main machine—just keep in mind that a hard drive in a working computer breaks down faster than a hard drive in a drawer.
  • Use 2 Different Formats: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. A theft, flood, or fire can destroy a group of hard drives in one go. Try to spread your backups across different media or cloud services.
  • Keep 1 Backup Offsite: Again, a random disaster can destroy the hard drives that you have at home. Keep at least one backup away from all the others. You can do this through cloud storage, or by keeping a hard drive at a friend’s house or in a bank vault (which may be cheaper than cloud storage, depending on how much data you’re hoarding).

A bit of wiggle room does exist between these rules. Services like Dropbox, for example, can automatically sync your backups across a handful of devices. But you get the idea; squirrel away your data in a few different spaces. That way, your efforts (and money) won’t go to waste.

Now that we’ve reviewed the 3-2-1 method, it’s time to get into the weeds. Here are the five best ways to back up your data on the cheap.

Cheap and Fast: HDDs or SSDs

A photo of the Western Digital Express HDD.WD

People talk about cloud storage like its the be-all-end-all backup system. But if you want to get things done without spending too much of your time or money, then it’s best to focus your backup efforts on hard drives or solid-state drives. They’re cheap, they last a long time, and they transfer files a lot faster than any cloud storage solution.

Because you’re just backing up your files, an HDD is probably a smarter investment than an SSD. Sure, SSDs are a lot faster than typical hard drives, but they also cost about three times as much money. That extra speed isn’t worth the extra cost unless you plan on doing massive routine backups.

If you plan to go down the HDD route, then we suggest buying an inexpensive Western Digital or Toshiba product. But if you need the extra speed of an SSD, then we suggest using the fantastic Samsung T5, which offers a great mix of power, quality, and affordability.

Cheap and Fast Storage

WD 2TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive – USB 3.0 – WDBU6Y0020BBK

WD’s high capacity, affordable HDDs are perfect for local backups. They’re cheaper and faster than cloud storage services.

For Small Backups: Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive, or OneDrive

A man using Dropbox on his phone and computer.Nopparat Khokthong/Shutterstock

If you’re trying to stow away a small (less than 2 TB) collection of files, then it may be best to stick with Google Drive, OneDrive, iCloud, or Dropbox. These cloud storage solutions are fairly inexpensive, and they’re easy to sync across a mess of different apps and devices. And remember, syncing across devices can help you secure your data without spending a fortune on hard drives.

Thing is, each of these services has its own price and perks. While iCloud may be perfect for Apple fans, Dropbox may be a better option for people who work across a variety of different operating systems.

To make things easy, let’s take a quick look at what these cloud storage solutions have to offer:

  • Dropbox (iOS/Android): Dropbox offers 2 TB of storage for $10 a month, making it one of the cheapest cloud storage solutions on the market. It plays nice with nearly every operating system, and it integrates perfectly with Microsoft Office products and some work-oriented iOS and Android apps.
  • iCloud (iOS/Android): Apple offers 2 TB of iCloud storage for $10 a month. It’s an obvious alternative to Dropbox, especially if you use an iPhone, iPad, or Mac. (Of course, it works on Windows and somewhat on Android systems, too).
  • Google Drive (iOS/Android): Google offers 1 TB of storage for $12 a month. It isn’t the cheapest option on the planet, but it’s good for people who do most of their work through Google’s productivity suite (Docs, Sheets, Sites, etc). It also works across every major computer OS out there with Google’s Backup and Sync app.
  • OneDrive (iOS/Android): Microsoft’s offers 1 TB of OneDrive storage for $70 a year (or $7 a month). This 1-TB plan comes with Office 365 Personal, so it’s a no brainer for many students and professionals.

These cloud storage solutions fit most people’s needs. But if you need to back up more than one or two terabytes of data, then an unlimited storage solution like Backblaze  may be a smarter option.

For Large File Collections: Backblaze

A graphic of a computer running the Backblaze software.Backblaze

Backblaze offers the most affordable unlimited storage platform on the planet. For just $6 a month (or $60 a year), you can cram all of your files into Backblaze and avoid the weird data caps of typical cloud storage solutions.

Like Dropbox or OneDrive, Backblaze allows for automatic backups, file sharing, and access from mobile devices. The only serious issue with Backblaze is that its backup system is restricted to one computer at a time. Additional computers require additional licenses. In other words, backing up from two computers runs you $120 a year, and three computers costs $180 a year.

That’s still a great deal—assuming that you have more than 2 TBs of data to back up. But if your backups are relatively small, then it may be smarter to just stick with a service Dropbox or Google Drive. That way, you can back up files from any device at any time.

For Data Hoarders and Media-Fiends: Build a NAS

A Synology Discstation on a desk.Lukmanazis/Shutterstock

For its unlimited storage capacity, Backblaze is a definite steal. But it is limited in some ways. If you want to mix the high capacity of Backblaze with the convenience of Dropbox and the speed of a local hard drive, then a NAS (network-attached storage) device may be your best bet.

In short, a NAS device is a cloud server that you keep in your living room. It’s a little costly to set up, but in time it’ll pay for itself and provide a faster more customizable storage platform than Backblaze or Dropbox. You and your family can access the NAS server from anywhere—and you can even use it to stream movies or music to any device. Really, it’s the ultimate storage option for anyone who’s spent their time hoarding documents, photos, or movies.

You can build a NAS device in a million different ways, many of which we’ve covered over at How-To Geek. You can buy a fancy NAS enclosure, connect hard drives directly to your router, repurpose an old PC, or even build a NAS from a cheap Raspberry Pi. Either way, you’ll need to buy a few HDDs or SSDs to act as the server’s storage, and you’ll need to follow a quick guide to get things off the ground. It isn’t as easy as Dropbox, but it’s not that complicated either.

For Data Hoarders

Synology 2 bay NAS DiskStation DS218+ (Diskless)

The Synology Diskstation has quick read and write speeds and is one of the most convenient, easy-to-use NAS enclosures on the market.

Check What You Already Have!

A man looks at a piece of paper through a magnifying glass.Sergii Gnatiuk/Shutterstock

There’s a good chance that you already have free access to cloud storage through your Amazon Prime, Google, Microsoft, or Apple account. So, before you start paying for a monthly plan, check what you already have!

Here are some services that you can probably access for free right now:

  • Google Drive: You can upload 15 GBs of files to Google Drive for free.
  • OneDrive: You can upload 5 GBs of files to OneDrive for free. And if you already pay for Office 365, then you can access 1 TB of cloud storage through OneDrive right now.
  • iCloud: Apple users get 5 GBs of iCloud storage for free.
  • Google Photos: Google Photos allows you to store an unlimited number of pictures and videos for free.
  • Amazon Drive: Amazon Prime members get unlimited photo storage and 5 GBs of video storage through Amazon Drive.

These free services are very limited, but they’re a great option for anyone who only needs to back up photos or small documents. They’re also good in an emergency. If you think that your computer or phone is starting to die, you can quickly dump some files into Google Drive for free.

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Top 3 Resources to Teach Kids to Code

teaching-kids-code-featured-image.jpg The job opportunities that will be available to today’s children in ten to fifteen years will be much different than we have seen in the past. Many jobs that don’t require any computer skills now may require the ability to code by the time these kids are job-hunting.  Learning to code helps students prepare for the future. Luckily for them, there are many different sites, classes, and apps available for them to learn coding in a fun, interactive way.  Related: Seven Coding Games to Help You Build Your Programming Chops As a former elementary teacher who… Read more

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How to Resize Desktop Icons, Fonts and Other Display Items in Windows 10

Featured-Image-Resize-Desktop-Icons-Font This is a basic guide on how to resize desktop icons, fonts, and a few other display items in Windows 10. If you’re coming from an older Windows version, you’ll notice a few changes in the placement of these options. As a default setting, the size of the Windows file icons and text are calibrated according to your screen dimensions. When you resize them, they will retain the same proportions. To personalize your display settings, follow the below steps and apply your changes. Resizing Desktop Icons in Windows 10 … Read more

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How to Get Google Maps Alert When Driving in the Wrong Direction

google-map.jpgGoogle Maps has become an inseparable part of travel for many. The app lets us know the exact destination we are headed to, the conditions of the road and the distance we need to travel. Additionally, Google Maps also has a system in place for alerting you when you are driving in the wrong direction. Note that the feature has only been rolled out in specific countries so far, with a wider release planned for the future. Here are the steps to enable the alert. Directions Alert on Android Open the Google Maps app on your phone. At the top of the page in the… Read more

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Why Are Some Chromebooks So Expensive?

A photo of Samsung's Galaxy Chromebook.Samsung

Chromebooks are often thought of as “cheap” or “entry-level” machines. So what’s with this new crop of $1,000 Chromebooks, like the Pixelbook? It sounds like a difficult question, but the answer is simple. Like expensive smartphones or Windows laptops, high-end Chromebooks are faster, stronger, and more enjoyable to use than their cheaper counterparts.

Call me Captain Obvious, right? Well, in order for the “expensive Chromebooks are just better” answer to feel satisfying, we need to discuss why the average Chromebook costs just $200 or $300, and we need to dispel the myth that Chromebooks are “just a browser in a box.”

Let’s Flip the Question: Why Are Most Chromebooks Cheap?

Unlike Windows or macOS, Chrome OS is built to be as lightweight as possible. This means that, even on a low-spec machine, you can expect Chrome OS to be snappy, reliable, and beautifully energy efficient.

As everybody knows by now, cheap Windows laptops are not snappy, reliable, or energy efficient. They’re frustrating to use, they crap out under pressure, and they suffer from abysmal battery life. Even if you love your $300 Windows laptop, you can’t deny that a similarly priced Chromebook, with its fast performance, light build, and 8 to 10-hour battery life, is a tempting morsel.

That is unless you’re stuck on the idea that Chromebooks are just a browser in a box. This longstanding myth is probably the main reason why high-end Chromebooks, like the Pixelbook, are so rare. People simply refuse to believe that a Chromebook could replace their big boy laptop.

Chrome OS can’t do everything. It can’t run AAA video games, and it doesn’t work with professional software like Photoshop. But Chrome OS, which runs on a Linux kernel, is more than just a browser. Between running web apps, Linux software, and Android apps, Chrome OS actually supports a larger selection of apps than any other operating system. Many of these apps are built for things like productivity and photo editing, and when you can’t find an app that you need, there’s usually a browser-based alternative.

All in all, people think of Chromebooks as cheap “starter” machines because they’re more efficient than Windows laptops, yet limited for some gamers and professionals. Silly, right? But if Chrome OS works so well on cheap machines, then what’s the point in buying one that costs $1,000?

A Favorite Budget Chromebook

Acer Chromebook 514, CB514-1H-C47X, Intel Celeron N3350, 14″ Full HD, 4GB LPDDR4, 32GB eMMC, Backlit Keyboard, Google Chrome

The Acer Chromebook 514 sports modern specs, a large screen, and USB-C charging. It’s a great example of why many customers are migrating from budget Windows laptops to Chromebooks.

High-End Hardware Offers the Best Experience

A photo of the Google Pixelbook.Google

Again, Chrome OS works well on cheap devices. If you’re shopping for a laptop on a budget, then a Chromebook is probably your best option. But that doesn’t mean that expensive Chromebooks are a “bad deal.” The extra money that you spend on something like a Pixelbook simply amplifies everything that’s great about Chrome OS.

Let’s do a quick comparison. The popular Acer Chromebook 514, a device that costs less than $400, runs on an Intel Celeron N3350 processor, 4 GBs of RAM, and a 32 GB eMMC drive. It has a 14-inch 1080p display, and it charges by USB-C. All in all, it’s a solid modern laptop.

But let’s say that you spend around $900 on the base model Pixelbook. For that price, you get a 7th Gen i5 processor that’s four times faster than the Celeron N3350, along with 8 GBs of RAM, and a 128 GB SSD that supports faster boot and load times than an eMMC drive. You also get a razor-thin convertible body, a 2400 x 1600 12.3-inch touchscreen display, stylus support, and fast charging.

It’s hard to overstate the difference between these laptops. In the end, the Pixelbook will always work faster and offer a better user experience than the budget Acer option. And since it’s loaded with crazy hardware, it’s poised to work at full steam for years. Hell, it may stand as a better long-term investment than cheaper Chrome OS alternatives.

Think of it like this: The Android operating system runs fine on $100 smartphones, but phones that cost $500, $800, or even $1,000 offer an infinitely better user experience. They’re fast, they have beautiful builds and displays, and they last a lot longer than their cheap counterparts. Why not think of Chromebooks in the same way?

The Flagship Chromebook

Google Pixelbook (i5, 8 GB RAM, 128GB) (GA00122-US)

The Google Pixelbook comes in a variety of configurations, and offers the highest quality experience of any Chromebook.

Should You Buy a High-End Chromebook?

A photo of the Pixelbook Go.Justin Duino

We’ve written a few laptop-shopping guides in the past. But this article raises an interesting question: Should you bust open your piggy bank for a high-end Chromebook?

As we’ve mentioned countless times, there’s a ton of high quality affordable Chromebooks on the market. There’s the Acer Chromebook 514, the Dell Chromebook 3120, and the mid-range Lenovo Yoga C630. These laptops kick ass, and they’d work well in most people’s hands (even those who spend all day working online). But if you need the extra speed, quality, and portability of a Pixelbook or Galaxy Chromebook, then you won’t regret taking the leap.

But what if you’re stuck between buying a high-end Chromebook, Windows laptop, and MacBook? Well, you’ll need to do a bit of soul searching. A Windows laptop, like the Dell XPS 13 or the Surface Laptop 2, is a decidedly better option for anyone who needs to use professional software that isn’t available on Chrome OS. PC gamers may want to stick with a device like the Razer Blade, and creatives or iOS fans will almost certainly get more use out of a MacBook than a Chromebook.

If you’re one of the many people who aren’t wrapped up in professional software, video games, or the Apple ecosystem, then a high-end Chromebook is definitely worth your consideration. And remember, you don’t have to buy a $1,000 Pixelbook. You could always buy something like the Galaxy Chromebook or Pixel Slate. You could even buy a mid-range product like the Pixelbook Go, the Lenovo Yoga C630, or the iPad-esque IdeaPad Duet.

Google’s Mid-Range Chromebook

Google Pixelbook Go M3 Chromebook 8GB/64GB Just Black

Don’t want to drop $1,000 on a Chromebook? The Pixelbook Go offers similar specs for a few hundred bucks less.

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Windows 10’s New Start Menu May Kill Live Tiles Forever

Microsoft hasn’t officially announced it yet, but the writing is on the wall: Windows 10’s live tiles are going away. Windows 10X has a new Start menu without live tiles, and we expect it to arrive on all versions of Windows 10.

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