Category Archives: Make Tech Easier

Top Tips for staying secure online

Top tips for staying secure online, borrowed from

While you can find a TON of articles explaining how to stay safe online, many are either too wordy, take too long to get to the point, or are annoying in other ways.

Here, borrowed from, are some pretty easily do-able things you can do to stay safe online.

  • Use a strong AND SEPARATE password for your email
    • After all, you probably stash a LOT of personal information in your mailboxes. Don’t reuse that password – that is just asking for trouble.
  • Install the latest app updates and software
    • Yes, there are a LOT of them, and they are constant [especially if you use a lot of software]. But update anyway – MDS Tech suggests starting updates before you go to sleep, so you are not aware of how long it takes.
    • Seriously – update. You’ll save headaches!
  • Turn on MFA/2FA – i.e. that thing where you get a text with a code when trying to login to an account.
    • Turn that on where you can – no, it is not perfect, but it is a bit like adding another lock on the door so the “bad guys” can’t get in.
  • Use Password Managers
    • This way you can have all of your passwords stored in one [VERY secure] place…. but make sure you have that one password stashed somewhere safe. There are lots of options out there.
  • Back up your data
    • Your computer WILL die [just like your car or refrigerator]. It is inevitable [see Murphy’s Law] that it will happen at the worst possible time. SO make sure you have backups of your data.
    • The hard part is figuring out how – and that is well beyond the scope of this article. Do a web search – something like ‘how backup [your operating system]”. For example – “how backup mac”.
  • Three Random Words
    • This is some advice that has changed over the years. Using three random words is FAR more secure than using just a few letters or numbers, and MUCH harder to guess. Some examples of decent passwords:
      • threerandomvehicles
      • FredGeorgeLIzrds [note the deliberate misspelling!]
      • IhaveNOidea!
    • Some website will require numbers, special characters like a period or an exclamation point, etc. The common theme here is to mix up type [upper case, lower case, number, characters] and make it as long as practical. 12 characters is far more secure than 8. 24 characters might be too aggravating to type in!

Thanks to Britain’s Nation Cyber Security Centre for posting the article serving as the source for this posting.

5 Basic Tech Tips you should know



Here are some things to keep in mind as you use your computer. See the bottom of the article for credits

  1. DO NOT start clicking randomly when things go wrong.
    Randomly clicking things on the machine can at the least cause things to go even slower …and at the worst can really mangle things up.

    When things go wrong, TAKE YOUR HAND OFF THE MOUSE OR SCREEN. Take a deep breath. Contact MDS Tech – or slowly DECIDE on your next move.
  2. CHECK THOSE LINKS before you click on them.
    Internet scams are still going strong, so do NOT assume that email promising you a Dyson Vacuum or a DeWalt Drill from Ace Hardware is legit. Look for speeling errors, wonky grammar, really bad writing. Hover over those links to see where they ACTUALLY go – if that email from “Ace” doesn’t actually link back to Ace Hardware, it just might be a scam.

    You can also check the Reply-To and the source email addresses – that is usually a clue on whether is it legit or not. That email from “Paypal “saying you’ve been charged $1100 for that iPhone XXi that you never ordered likely ACTUALLY comes from
    Pause. Breathe. Think about other routes you can take. Doublecheck what you just did [did you ACTUALLY print to the ARC-student printer….or is your printout in Sheridan hall?] Can you try a different browser? Do you have a live connection to the network?

    Have you asked for help from MDS Tech?

    This includes things like web browser extensions – ALL of whom slow your machine down [at least a bit]. Make certain the software is from a reliable, trusted source…. and when in doubt, ask MDS Tech.

    Do note that the iPad App Portal apps have been checked out and are OK to install.

    Keep your sock drawer [i.e. your documents] organized. We have multiple sock drawers now – your machine, your devices, cloud storage like Drive and iCloud… Keeping them organized is the key to avoiding panic attacks when looking for something.

    Create folders! Name them something that makes sense! Actually stash things in them that make sense!
    This really is critical. Yes, system updates happen all the time, and MOST of the time you can wait until a more convenient time. Sometimes, though, it really is critical. For example, as of this writing [August 2022] Apple just put out IOS 15.6.1 update, which closes a security hole that HAD been exploited “in the wild” – allowing attackers to take over a device. Google put out an update to Drive AND Schoology updated their LMS app – both fixing bugs that was keeping a select number of “lucky” students from submitting class assignments.


  7. REBOOT!
    Quit out of ALL your running apps and shut your machine/device down [also know as the iPad Reboot Dance]. MDS Tech says AT LEAST once a week will reduce your headaches and stress from wonky computer chicanery.
Seriously, it isn’t a joke. Yes, it is still funny.



The inspiration for this article came from a post by Jack Wallen over at Tech Republic. His information was modified to fit our situation here at MDS.

Keep your computers running smoothly – avoid headaches!

Full article is at

Computers and laptops really do need regular maintenance to keep running. NONE of this is difficult, but will avoid a LOT of headaches.

It does NOT look like this!


  • Check for Updates
  • Shut down the device [don’t just restart]. Wait a few minutes. THEN turn them back on.
    • It REALLY DOES solve a variety of mysterious issues.
  • Clean up – use a cloth to remove dust and fingerprints and all the other ickiness from your device.
    • Most microfiber cloths will do just fine. You do NOT have to go buy something “computer specific”.
    • Clean the webcam as well.


  • Refresh your internet connection – unplug your cable modem, router, switches – any gizmo relating to your internet connection. Wait a couple of minutes, then turn them back on.
    • It will take several minutes for all the device to reconnect and get settled in. Go have a glass of sweet tea while you wait, and take a deep breath.
  • Check your accounts. Go to  Have I Been Pwned to see if any of your accounts have been in a data breach. Apple’s Safari Browser as well as Google Chrome might also prompt you about accounts that have been compromised.
  • Check your backups – you DO have a back up of important data?
    • If you don’t, you’d best get on that right now. Machines DO fail – it is only a matter of time.


  • Review your setup. Retire anything you don’t use.
    • That is a great idea from a security perspective, could save money on your power bill, and will certainly help declutter your space.
  • Document your setup – write it down! How are things connected, what gizmos do you have in the house, serial numbers, etc.