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Microsoft created its cloud storage service, OneDrive, to allow people to “access, share and collaborate on your files from anywhere.”  Eighty-five percent of Fortune 500 companies and a quarter of a million organizations worldwide have OneDrive, according to Microsoft. While Google and Dropbox may have more individual users, for business, OneDrive is dominant.

The best thing about OneDrive may be how it allows you to work securely from any device: your desktop, laptop or on your phone through its mobile app. In terms of flexibility, OneDrive is powerful because in addition to supporting Office files, it is also compatible with more than 300 file types, from Photoshop files (PSD) and Illustrator (AI) to Adobe PDF and 3D image formats.

Here are our 5 successful OneDrive tips and tricks for agents:

  1. Free version or included edition

    OneDrive does not have to cost you anything. You can get its free version, with up to 5 gigabytes of storage at no cost. But since most of us use Office products, there’s a better way to get OneDrive: with your Office 365 Personal edition ($69.99 a year) or Office 365 Home version ($99.99 a year).

Both of these versions come with 1 terabyte of storage. With the free version, you can store about 2500 photos. With the Office 365 versions – which also include Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote online and installed versions – you can store 2 million photos.

There is one other option for 50 GB at $1.99 a month, but the best deal is getting OneDrive bundled with Office 365.

  1. Set up automatic synching

OneDrive gives you the ability to sync all or some of your data between your computers and the cloud, giving you mobile access to all of your files on your smartphone. If you share your files for collaboration, OneDrive will automatically update the documents and synch automatically.

It’s easy to do it on a Windows PC or Mac by clicking on the “cloud icon” in the taskbar, then Account > Choose Folders and either select all or just the folders you want to upload. For example, if you just want to use OneDrive to store all of your photos, you can designate just your photo folder(s) to be synchronized.

Auto-synching with OneDrive not only gives you mobile access to all your documents, photos and videos, but it gives you a backup of everything that’s in the folders you are synching. That’s an important feature if your computer were to ever crash.

And if you ever delete a photo by accident – fear not: you will probably find it online in the OneDrive Recycle bin! Finally, if you back up all your files, and the 1 terabyte plan makes this possible, you can protect your files from ransomware, as you will have a copy of everything on the cloud.

  1. Sharing is caring

Sharing and collaborating are the strengths of a service like OneDrive or Google Docs. If you live in a Windows world, OneDrive will be very familiar to you, as it allows for easy sharing and collaboration of the most popular Microsoft programs, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. It will track each change by the person’s name so you can see who did what and when.

Sharing photos in OneDrive is a breeze and sharing a link that anyone can access without signing into a Microsoft or OneDrive account is a great feature and simple to do. You can share a file or photo in just two clicks: Just right click on the file you want to share in OneDrive and select “Share” and a menu will pop up to allow you to select “Email” to send the link and share that file or photo with one person or many!

Remember, the only folders or files people will see are the ones you share with them. If you don’t share the file, bank-level encryption security protects all of your other documents from prying eyes.

  1. Can’t read a file? OneDrive probably can

Has anyone ever sent you an image file created in a software program you don’t own so you can’t open or view it? Go to your OneDrive account for the rescue! OneDrive can read hundreds of different file types so chances are that unless the file is corrupted, you will be able to view it in OneDrive.

Upload the file to OneDrive and then click on it and you should be able to preview the file in your Web browser.

Better yet, OneDrive lets you view documents in a thumbnail image preview format, making it fast and easy to find documents you are looking for at a glance – especially images and photos.

  1. Email that huge photo or video file

Some business emails limit the size of file attachments to 5 megabytes. Even Google has a limit of about 25 MB per email. What do you do when your file is too large?

Use OneDrive to use the power of your cloud storage to quickly share any photo or other files via email by creating a link. When someone clicks on that link, it automatically downloads the file to their device.

OneDrive gives you several ways to share files. The fastest way is when you are online viewing the file you want to share, just right click on it and select Share. A popup will allow you to create an email and send it from within the OneDrive app. But if your OneDrive account isn’t connected to your work address, you probably want to select “Get Link.” That will copy a link to the file in your Clipboard for you to paste into your work email and send it to someone to share.

These are 5 ways to do more with OneDrive. We welcome you to share with us your tips and tricks with OneDrive on our Facebook or Twitter pages.

The post Using OneDrive: 5 Tips to storing and sharing photos, videos and docs online. appeared first on Tech Helpline.

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What year did you buy the computer you use most for your work? When is the last time you upgraded its operating system? Are you using the most current version of your web browser? If you can’t easily recall the answers to any of these questions, there’s a strong possibility that it is time to update or replace your computer.

Here’s a brief checklist to help determine if updating your computer’s software is enough or if it’s time to replace this vital technology that helps you do your job.

  1. How old is too old?

Knowing when you bought your computer is the first step to determining if a new investment might be your best choice. The technology you use every day is rapidly improving while the cost for a replacement continues to come down. A budget computer today often matches the specifications of or is better than a five-year-old computer that initially cost three to four times its price.

The rule of thumb is that the life of a work computer is no more than four years. If you use your computer extensively, you might find that replacing your computer as early as every three years will make you more productive because of technology advancements. A new computer will be faster, startup more quickly, and most likely give you a lot more storage space.

If you don’t know how old your computer is, it’s pretty easy to figure out when it was manufactured. For a Windows, if you haven’t upgraded its operating system, it will provide you with the installation date. That and other steps you can take to determine how old your Windows PC is can be found here.

On a Mac, click on the Apple icon at the top of your screen and select “About this Mac” and the first line should is likely to give you the year it was manufactured. Or in that same screen, copy the serial number and go to Apple’s website where you can paste the serial number and get the details on the exact model and manufactured date here.

  1. Are you using the newest version of your Web browser?

This has become nearly as important as replacing an old computer as an outdated Web browser can not only slow you down but expose you to more risks. All the major popular Web browsers – Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari – offer frequent updates. Most provide automatic updates, and that’s the best option. To be sure you have the most recent version of your favorite Web browser, check out the step-by-step instructions for the top browsers here.3. How slow is your computer? Every computer will slow down, eventually, even if you are using the same software programs and doing the same things you were several years ago. Speed may be the number one reason to purchase a new computer.

Try this test: ask a colleague with a new computer if you can try it out for a few minutes, using a software program you are familiar with, such as Microsoft Word. If possible, see if your colleague will start the new computer up so you can see how fast it starts and then open and use the software program itself. If you can see a significant difference, then you are likely to gain major productivity benefits from an investment in a new computer.

The good news is, cloning your current computer isn’t as tricky as it once was. Both Mac and Window computers offer a variety of methods that make populating your new computer with all your current files – documents, photos, and videos – almost painless. It is time-consuming, so make sure you find a block of a few hours. The total size of all the files you have stored will determine how long the process can take. Also, if the files are coming from the cloud, your download speed will also contribute to the amount of time it will take. In this case, the faster your internet connection, the speedier your update!

Finally, you can upgrade your hardware, but that will take an extra level of tech savviness for most of the major upgrades that will make your computer worth keeping. Again, the pricing and new features of today’s latest computers is probably the best route for most agents and brokers who have an older computer that’s running slow.

  1. What version of Windows or macOS are you using?

First, whatever computer operating system you are using, Windows or Apple iOS, you may want to set your software set for automatic updates. Auto updates used to add a lot of bloatware, but the growing impact of mobile internet usage has changed that dynamic.

For setting up auto updates for Windows, Click Start > Control Panel > System and Security, then select Under Windows Update, then Turn automatic updating on. To turn on automatic updates in a Mac, go to Settings > General > Software Update > Automatic Updates.

If you are not using Windows 10, which debuted in 2015, or one of the last three versions of Apple OS, it is time to upgrade your operating system or replace your computer.

Windows 8.1 debuted six years ago in 2013, and Windows 7 launched 2009! More importantly, Microsoft stopped providing regular support and update for Windows 7 in 2015 and Windows 8.1 in 2018. Even Microsoft’s extended support will end this January for Windows 7.

For Mac users, if you don’t have macOS 10.12: Sierra (September 2016), macOS 10.13: High Sierra (September 2017) or the current version macOS 10.14: Mojave (September 2018) your Mac requires an update of its operating system.

One thing to keep in mind: the chips that run your computer and graphics may not be compatible with the new operating system you are trying to update/install, depending on how old your computer is and its specs. That is an excellent indication that it is time to replace. The good news is your new computer should come with the latest operating system and browser. Automatic updates on your new computer should be easy and painless!

Finally, remember that most agents and brokers can contact Tech Helpline, the #1 technical support service in real estate, to get assistance. Before you upgrade or replace, call Tech Helpline and talk to an analyst who can give you the personal guidance you need!

Check out these two related Blogs from Tech Helpline

Back it up! But what’s the best way to protect your data

https://www.techhelpline.com/data-backup-options/

How safe is the cloud?

https://www.techhelpline.com/how-safe-is-the-cloud/

Is your technology slowing you down?

https://www.techhelpline.com/is-your-technology-slowing-you-down/

Are you using Internet Explorer? Read this

https://www.techhelpline.com/are-you-using-internet-explorer-read-this/

 

The post Tech Helpline Tips: Is it time to update or replace your computer? appeared first on Tech Helpline.

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Technology is supposed to save us time and make us more efficient. Most often, technology does. But sometimes you need to give tech a rest and do things the old fashion way because it’s actually faster.

Here are tips on when technology can make you more productive, and when it can be a time waster.

Using tech to increase productivity

Put it on the cloud: Storing all of your files securely and remotely can increase your productivity. Cloud storage gives you access to everything you need from your smartphone — or any other computer – and that can save you time when your laptop is in one place and you are in another. Cloud storage may help force you to be better organized when you create your folders and properly sort your documents. Plus, if your computer ever crashes, you’ll still have access to all of your files.

Use a Transaction Management program: Whether you choose to use Form Simplicity or something else, the key is to make sure you are onboard the paperless train that Transaction Management offers. Once you start using a Transaction Management program, you will wonder why you waited so long. This is the one technology that when used properly, may yield the greatest benefits in terms of increased productivity. It will keep you, and everyone else involved, on task, on track, and accountable. And for broker-owners, it helps simplify compliance requirements.

Marketing streamlined: There’s an abundance of marketing technology that will save you time and can significantly increase productivity. Many major brokerage franchises offer in-house tech tools that automate listing marketing, creating flyers, single-page property websites, and even creating and posting virtual property tours to your YouTube channel. And all an agent has to do is enter the listing data once. Everything is done in the background by companies like Imprev and Amarki.

Expert help is only a click away: More than 600,000 Realtors have access to the number-one tech support service – Tech Helpline – through their MLS or Association. That means you are a just a click (or call) away from getting expert help you need to keep your business up and running smoothly. If you MLS or Association hasn’t added Tech Helpline as a member benefit, let them know you want access to one of the most popular benefits MLSs and Associations can offer. More information is available at TechHelpline.com.

When not to use technology

Call, don’t write: When you start to write a long email, consider picking up the phone instead, as it likely will be a time saver. Or when you are in the midst of a rapid email exchange that goes beyond a few emails – stop – and pick up the phone and talk it out. Email may seem efficient, but it can easily become a time waster, especially when an email is misinterpreted. You can often save a lot of time – and anguish – by simply picking up a phone so someone can hear what you mean by the tone of your voice, which is something they can’t discern from an email.

Put down your smartphone: Put your smartphone on silent and turn it over, face down. A 2016 study showed that the average person touches their phone a whopping 2,617 times per day! Over 2 hours a day, spent largely on Google or Facebook. Clearly, we are tempted to become less productive when we pick up our phone, not more. When you need to get work done, step away from your smartphone.

Don’t squirrel when online: It’s easy when you use social media for your business to find yourself not posting, but perusing. Or when you do a Google search on one subject and start to wonder because something catches your eye. That’s the downside of the Internet: it can cause you to waste time instead of save time. The key is to stay focused on your original task and ignore distractions or your productivity will suffer.

Protect your “Prime Time”: Most people know when their peak productivity time is; when they are the most creative and energized. If you are a morning person, a mid-day sprinter or a late-night owl, you need to protect that window of the day when you can get more accomplished. Your prime time should be just that: a period when the only tech you touch is the stuff that helps you get your work done.

Turn it all off: Being connected 24/7 comes with a downside: your clients may think you should always be available whenever they want or need you. That might be good for them, but not for you, as there are times where you need to stay focused and not be interrupted. With email, chat programs, and texts, you can barely escape being distracted when someone reaches out to you. To get your work done and done well, sometimes you need to just disconnect. If you manage your clients’ expectations of when that’s going to happen, they can typically wait an hour – or two.

Give yourself a break

Finally, being productive doesn’t mean you need to work nonstop. Just the opposite, researchers say, is true. In fact, wasting (some) time can actually make you more productive. Taking breaks can enhance your performance. A study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that even brief diversions from a task can dramatically improve one’s ability to focus on that task for prolonged periods.

Other research shows that mental rest improves memory formation, that taking “movement breaks” are vital to good health, helps spur creativity and can prevent “decision fatigue.” Wasting a little time by giving yourself a break can be a very good thing.

The post 9 Technology Productivity Tips: Do this, not that appeared first on Tech Helpline.

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Apple AirPods are the most popular wireless headphones in the world. Some 12.5 million of these Q-Tip shaped earbuds were shipped in the last quarter of 2018, commanding an astonishing 60 percent of the market. Not bad for a technology that debuted two-and-a-half years ago.

The second generation of Apple AirPods are now available, and the demand is expected to continue to soar for these Bluetooth wonders that have become a Millennial status symbol priced at $160 for a set.

 

Pair with an iPhone

If you have a first-generation pair of AirPods, you know how easy it is to pair these with any Apple device – especially an iPhone. As long as your iPhone’s Bluetooth is turned on, once you open the clamshell case for the AirPods, instantly an AirPods image will pop-up on your iPhone screen asking you to “Connect” to your AirPods. Touch the button, and immediately your AirPods are now connected via Bluetooth to your iPhone.

Your AirPods will be connected to the first iPhone you pair it with automatically in the future. Then every time you open your AirPods case when it is near that iPhone, it will be connected. Also, if you have an Apple Watch, once you pair your AirPods with your iPhone, they will also be automatically paired with your Apple Watch. You don’t have to do anything.

If you want to pair your AirPods with a second iPhone, you will have to take one more step, and it’s the same step you take when you pair your AirPods with any other Apple device.

Pair with other Apple devices

Pairing your AirPods with any other Apple device is almost as easy as pairing it with your first iPhone. The first two steps are the same. Flip open the top of the AirPod’s case to expose the earbuds that are nested inside. The case acts as the battery charger. Inside the case, there is an indicator light in between the two earbuds that turn on when you open it, as long as the case is charged. A green light tells you the earbuds are both charged, while a yellow light says they need charging (or the case needs recharging).

The third step starts on the back of the AirpPod case. There is a white button that is flush on the back. To pair your AirPods with another iPhone, leave your earbuds inside and press and hold the white button for a few seconds. Soon, the green or yellow light will start flashing white. Your second iPhone will show images over its home screen that will walk you through connecting to your AirPods.

Here’s one of the coolest things about pairing with your other Apple products. If your iPad shares the same iCloud account that your iPhone has, your iPad will automatically be paired with your AirPods.

Pair with non-Apple devices

One of the best things about your AirPods is because it uses standard Bluetooth, you can pair your AirPods with any device that uses standard Bluetooth. You can pair your iPods with a PC, a Windows or Amazon Fire tablet, or any Android device that has standard Bluetooth.

The steps are the same for pairing it with a second iPhone. Flip open the top of the AirPod’s case to expose the earbuds that are nested inside. On the back of the AirPod case, there is a white button that is flush on the back.

To pair your AirPods with a non-Apple device, leave your earbuds inside and press and hold the white button for a few seconds. Soon, the green or yellow light will start flashing white. This means your AirPods are ready to be found with a Bluetooth search and paired with any Bluetooth enabled device. On an Android device, go to Settings > Connections > Bluetooth. On a Windows 10 PC, you will find Bluetooth in the Systems tray by selecting “Show hidden icons” and selecting the Bluetooth icon (a YouTube video example is here). Make sure Bluetooth is turned on, then launch Bluetooth’s “Add a device” and select AirPods from the list once it is discovered.

Pairing with an Amazon Fire Tablet

If you want to pair with an Amazon Fire Tablet, for example, once the white light is flashing on your AirPods case, go into your Tablet’s settings and select Wireless: that is where you will find your Bluetooth settings. Make sure your Bluetooth is switch is “on.” The select “Pair a Bluetooth Device,” and it will soon show your AirPods. Touch the AirPods device to select and pair with your Fire Tablet.

How to “unpair” your AirPods

If you want to remove your AirPods from your Bluetooth devices, it’s pretty straightforward. In an Apple mobile device, iPhone or iPad, tap the circle “i” or information indicator. Then select “Forget this Device.”

On a Mac, open your Bluetooth Settings and look for an “x” next to the AirPods. Click on the “x” to and remove it from your list of Bluetooth devices. On a Windows 10 PC, you can remove your AirPods in the same location that you connect by selecting “Remove this device.”

New AirPods improve pairing

If you have the newest AirPods, the second generation, pairing will be even faster. The new AirPods use the new H1 wireless chipset. This allows your AirPods to connect more quickly to Apple devices. Before, connecting each time to your AirPods takes a couple of seconds. With the new AirPods pairing is now nearly instantaneous. The H1 chipset also improves AirPods ability to switch its Bluetooth connection between multiple devices. And that’s welcome news for AirPod lovers everywhere.

If you have any issues pairing either generation of AirPods, remember you can reach out to Tech Helpline for help!

The post How to pair AirPods with any device appeared first on Tech Helpline.

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Because we want our clients to know the people in Tech Helpline with whom they partner to bring this valuable benefit, we will feature a member of our team quarterly. We hope you enjoy today’s featured employee: Jessica Rosado.

First, you should know that there are two staff members in the Tech Helpline team named Jessica, which is a source of amusement and confusion to some of our clients.  They are Jessica Smith, Manager of Sales and Client Services, and Jessica Rosado, Marketing Manager.

Rest easy – both Jessicas work closely together, so neither your emails nor your calls will be lost should you contact one or the other by accident.   We featured our Manager of Sales and Client Services before; you may learn more about Jessica Smith here.

Here are some questions Jessica Rosado answered for us:

How I can help you (our client): If you have specific digital or print needs, even beyond the marketing material we normally provide, I can usually provide a file for it. If there is a question or concern about the blog articles we send to members, or if you are looking for guidance on how to promote the Tech Helpline service to members, I am happy to have that conversation. I know many of our clients’ staff members are already stretched thin with their day-to-day tasks, so I am happy to do what I can to support them.

The best part of my job is:  Reading the positive comments our members write about the service. I get copied on the kudos our tech support team receives, and it’s always joyful to read about the positive experiences the members have with the service.

How do you define success in your role? To me, success is seeing an increase in repeat callers because it means we are communicating the service well, and the members are experiencing a positive value in the service.

What’s your favorite way to spend a weekend? I like to unwind on weekends, so going to the movies, going to the beach and spending time with family are my favorite ways to spend the weekend.

Tech Helpline is available to over 600,000 Realtors in the US and Canada. Our friendly team at Tech Helpline is eagerly waiting to help fix any of your technical glitches. And keep in mind that we also do more than help you solve your tech woes. You can get help on everything from setting up email to resolving Wi-Fi connection issues or getting advice on what device to buy.

Learn about other staff members: Caitlin Roman and Melissa Becker.

The post Meet Jessica Rosado, Marketing Manager appeared first on Tech Helpline.

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Some 600,000 Realtors in North America can get instant help when their computer gets infected by a virus or crashes, when their smartphones won’t connect to Wi-Fi, or it gets wet, or they want to know how to stop their Alexa device from listening in on their conversations.

Tech Helpline is a benefit agent and brokers receive from their MLS, Association or Brokerage, and getting help is only a call or a click away. Tech Helpline, created, owned and operated by the Florida Realtors, has earned a reputation as being “Real Estate’s Genius Bar.”  Real estate’s number one tech support service is a place for agents and brokers to solve their tech challenges comfortably.

We’ve written a couple of articles about some of the more interesting technical issues that Tech Helpline can help resolve, including “10 things you can call Tech Helpline about that you didn’t know you could,” and “Tech Helpline can help you get more than your computer fixed.”

With new technology, like Alexa and Google Home becoming key resources for agents and brokers, Tech Helpline offers even more ways to help real estate professional adapt to these new technologies, as well as avoid struggling using established ones.

Here’s a list of 7 more things you contact Tech Helpline for help:

  1. Buying the latest Smart Home devices: Smart home technology is becoming easier to use and a lot less expensive. But which voice-activated assistant is right for you as an agent or broker? What other devices should you buy if you want to make your home smart, and get smarter about this technology by using it yourself? What are the pros and cons of these new devices and how challenging is self-installation? Tech Helpline can help you choose what’s right for you.
  1. Buying a new computer: Do you need a Mac or a PC? Laptop or one of the latest tablets? What are the best brands? There’s a massive maze of options to navigate when upgrading your most important hardware. Tech Helpline analysts can help you successfully navigate through all your choices and share their best buying tips.
  1. Transferring images: If you are struggling to quickly move your photos from your phone to your laptop, or from your laptop to your phone, Tech Helpline is there for you. You’ll discover there are several different options to accomplish this quickly and easily.
  1. Casting to your TV: Do you know how to show that video on your smartphone on your big screen TV? Welcome to the world of casting and a Tech Helpline analyst can walk you through the best options available and you will learn how to cast in no time flat!
  1. Craigslist do’s and don’ts: Setting up an account on Craigslist is pretty straightforward. But what are the rules about what you can and cannot do related to a real estate post on Craigslist? Because if you don’t know the rules, your post will be removed. Tech Helpline can help you out.
  1. Your digital music library: Do you have challenges with your tunes? Are they available on all your devices? Are you trying to print out a list of the songs you own? Whatever your digital music library challenge is, you can get help from a Tech Helpline analyst.
  1. Social media troubleshooting: How do you share a link that will take your customers precisely to the post on Facebook you want to see? What are the rules around tagging and where will you find the most popular tags to use? Using social media channels are a great way to boost your business, but the more you know, the better you’ll be able to leverage social media for your business. Tech Helpline can help answer your social media questions.

The great thing about having Tech Helpline available is they stay up-to-date with the latest technology agents and brokers most use. If you are not sure you have free access to Tech Helpline, ask your brokerage, association or MLS if they provide it as a member service. If not, tell them you want the tech support that Tech Helpline offers!

Also, check out these other two related stories about how Tech Helpline can help you:

“Top 5 Complaints Real Estate Agents Have About Technology”

“Do you fear making a call to tech support?

The post 7 more ways Tech Helpline can help you appeared first on Tech Helpline.

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Real estate agents know better than most that sometimes it’s just easier to accomplish specific tasks on your laptop than attempt to do the work on your phone. But sometimes those tasks require an internet connection. If you are always on the go, and you don’t have a nearby Wi-Fi connection, how can you get instant internet service? Use your smartphone and create your own internet connection for your laptop.

Most smartphones today – both iPhones and Android models – have built-in features that allow you to create what is called a “hotspot,” or your own private internet connection. It’s pretty straightforward on newer phones to set up a hotspot.

Not too long ago, you might remember that some cell carriers offered hotspots as a separate service and charged a monthly fee. Today, you are merely tethering or connecting your laptop (or desktop) computer to your smartphone. There’s no separate charge, but you need to keep in mind that you will be using the data plan associated with the smartphone that you use to create your hotspot.

Here’s a primer on what it takes to set up a hotspot.

Setting up an iPhone hotspot

Open the “Settings” icon on your iPhone (the gray app gear), you should find an option listed as “Personal Hotspot.” Once you select Personal Hotspot, you can switch this on or off, so make sure it is switched to the “On” or green position. This will make your phone discoverable through both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on your computer.

What is the name of your hotspot? Well, it is the name of your phone, of course! That name, if you forgot it, will be displayed in the light gray text under the “Personal Hotspot” switch.

Below your Personal Hotspot switch is your Wi-Fi Password. This is a password that you will create and then need to enter each time to access your Personal Hotspot. Enter your password here, and now you are ready to access your Personal Hotspot from your laptop!

How to connect to your iPhone hotspot

The instructions are on your iPhone, below your password in case you forget, but the steps are pretty simple. You can either connect via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth if your computer has both.

To connect your laptop to your hotspot via Wi-Fi, go to your laptop’s Wi-Fi selection, find the name of your Personal Hotspot and select it. Second, you should be prompted to enter your password. Once you enter your password, you will then be prompted by Windows to connect by clicking “Next” or by Mac by clicking “Join.” Once you do that, after a few seconds, your laptop should be connected to your smartphone, and you should see what looks like a couple of co-joined paper clips where your Wi-Fi indicator (curved bars) was before.

Now open your browser on your laptop and go to a webpage like Google News. If the page does not display right away, try opening a page first in a browser on your phone, and that should help the laptop connection to the internet work.

To connect to Bluetooth, it’s a similar process. First, make sure Bluetooth is turned on for both your iPhone and your laptop (yes, you have to have Bluetooth on both devices for it to work). Next, open the Bluetooth settings on your laptop and look for the name of your Personal Hotspot (the name of your phone). Select that name to “Pair” your iPhone in Bluetooth with your Personal Hotspot and once it says “Connected,” you should be good to go.

Setting up an Android hotspot

If you have an Android phone, it’s a fairly straightforward process to set up your own hotspot. First, open your Andriod’s “Settings” – the app is in your App Drawer, and it’s gear-shaped. Next, tap the “More” button, an option that is below the “Wireless & networks” heading found near the top of your Settings page.

If you have a Samsung device, you’ll tap on “Mobile HotSpot and Tethering.” If you have another Android phone, you’ll tap on “Tethering & portable hotspot,” found near the middle of your screen.

Next, on a Samsung device, tap “Mobile Hotspot,” then tap “ ⋮ ” found in the top right corner, and then tap “Configure Mobile HotSpot.” For other Android phones, tap “Set up a mobile hotspot” at the top of the page.

To finish your hotspot setup, first, enter your Network name – this is what you are going to call your hotspot and will show up for you to select as the network you will use to connect your laptop. Second, set your Security setting to the WPA2 option. Third, create your Password to log in to your hotspot, then tap “Save” on the right bottom corner.

Finally, you’ll need to slide the switch at the top of the screen to the “On” position to enable your hotspot.

To connect to your Android hotspot

To connect your laptop to your new Android hotspot, on your laptop, go to your Wi-Fi selection, find the name of your Personal Hotspot network and select it. Second, you should be prompted, so enter your password. You will be prompted by Windows to connect by clicking “Next” or by Mac by clicking “Join.” Now your laptop, after a few seconds, should be connected to your Android phone.

As always, if you have any challenges setting up your hotspot, contact Tech Helpline, and we’ll make sure you can get connected!

The post No Internet? Here’s how to set up your own Hotspot appeared first on Tech Helpline.

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What’s the worst thing that could happen to you today, technology wise? A computer crash occurs and ruins your hard drive. Or worse, it could be stolen. But it’s only a major catastrophe if you didn’t back up all of your data. Except, when was the last time you backed up all your data?

Agents and brokers are typically extraordinarily busy during this time of year, driven by a surge in market activity and deal-driven deadlines. If backing up your hard drive keeps getting pushed down your “To Do” list, it’s time to make sure you automate this process completely.

The good news is you don’t have to back up the data on your hard drive manually. That’s the least efficient way to save data. And the best news: the options to back it all up are now easier to set up, faster to accomplish, and less expensive than they have ever been.

Backing up to a Portable Hard Drive

This may be the most popular way to store your data safely in case something happens to your computer. It’s also one of the most cost-effective means, and there’s a plethora of automated software programs – many that are free or already installed on the portable hard drive you purchase.

The price to store to a tethered hard drive has dropped dramatically. The best-selling 2 Terabyte portable hard drive that’s small enough to fit in your jean pocket or your purse is under $60 on Amazon. It’s estimated that a two terabytes hard drive can hold over 170 million pages of Word documents or 620,000 photos or 400,000 songs or over 1,000 hours of video.

For PC users, the most recent versions of Windows come with a built-in software system to back up your data. On Windows 8 and 10, it’s called File History; on Windows 7, it’s called Windows Backup. For File History, you need to set up how often you want to back up your files. It can be found from the Start menu if you go to Update & Security, then select Backup.

Once you add a hard drive to File History, you can set how often you want automated backups, from once every 10 minutes to once a day. You can even set File History to delete your very old backups if you need more space.

For Mac users, the simplest way to back it all up is with its built-in backup system, Time Machine, available on every Mac. It keeps a copy of everything on your Mac, and if you leave your hard drive connected, it automatically can make hourly backups for the last 24 hours, daily backups for the previous month, and weekly backups for each month.

The way Time Machine works, like most back up programs, is that it doesn’t copy your entire Mac each time, just what has changed. The reason why it is called Time Machine is that it will keep a copy of every document you change that day. If you deleted or modified a Word document on Monday and needed to get back that exact version on Friday, you can go back in time to retrieve it.

But is using an external hard drive the best way to back up all your data? It depends because there is a downside to portable backups. The biggest negative is you are likely to keep your computer and your portable hard drive in the same location.

If there is theft and you lose both, you lose your data. The same thing happens if there’s a fire. If you regularly store your hard drive elsewhere – like a weather-and-fire-resistant safe, it would be more secure, but how many people do that every day? And you have to remember to keep your hard drive plugged into your computer, or it can’t back up your files.

Backing up to the Cloud

Like the cost of portable hard drives, storage space online has fallen rapidly. When you use a Cloud Storage Service such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or Microsoft One Drive, realize that all of these services use bank-level security and encryption. Let’s say that unless you leave your password lying around, you should not have to worry about anyone gaining access to your data.

Google Drive offers a 2TB storage plan for just $99.99 a year, which is more than enough for almost any agent or broker to back up their PC or Mac. Dropbox Plus offers a 1TB storage plan for $99 a year. Microsoft OneDrive offers 6TB bundled with Office 365 Home for 6 users or 1TB for each user for $99 a year. OneDrive’s biggest appeal is your backup protection comes with online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and One Note for a PC or Mac computer, tablet or phone.

Backing up to the Cloud with any of these services is relatively straightforward: you have to go through a menu-drive setup process, and then your device can be set to sync with these services automatically. If you are (almost) always connected to the Internet, you also could use your Cloud Storage service to act as your primary hard drive, freeing up storage space on your computer. If you do this, you gain access to all your main files from any computer, not just your own.

Like backing up to a portable hard drive, backing up to the Cloud has its pros and cons. In addition to being secure, data backed up to the Cloud is stored offsite and redundantly, so you don’t have to worry about the impact of a theft or fire. And the backup process is getting easier, faster and again, less expensive.

The key downside to Cloud storage is you must be online. That isn’t always possible when an agent is hosting an empty Open House without internet access. Hotspots help solve this problem, unless an agent can’t get a reliable cell signal from the Open House, and that renders access to the Cloud impossible during that time.

Speed is the other big issue when recovering a backup up from the Cloud. If you have to restore a computer backup that contains a large amount of data from the Cloud, it will take a lot longer than a portable hard drive — and require more patience. If you have data limitations from your internet provider, this could also impact your real costs, or speed or both. Some internet providers limit your total monthly data use, ratcheting down your speed when you exceed certain limitations. Cloud storage could add significantly to your data use.

One more option: Online backup services

While you can use Google Drive, Dropbox, and Microsoft OneDrive to back up your devices, there are specialized backup services online. Their only function is to back up your data online.

The most well-known services are Carbonite and Backblaze. For $60 a year to use Backblaze, all of your data is backed up by default, so the setup process is automated. The service runs in the background with an internet connection. There’s no storage limit, and that means unlimited backs. Backblaze also can be used with a portable hard drive to back up your data if you want to do both. It even saves copies of your deleted files so you can retrieve them later.

Carbonite also offers automatic, unlimited online backup through a series of tiered plans based on how long you subscribe (discounted pricing with a 2- or 3-year plan) and how much protection you desire. Carbonite’s basic plan is $72 a year with unlimited Cloud back up. If you want to add the ability to also do an external hard drive backup for your redundancy protection, that price is $112 a year, and its Prime service combines a Courier recovery service for $150 a year.

The biggest downside for these online services remains speed if you only backup online.

Bottom line

Your client data is too important not to automate backing up your computer at least daily. If you also want to protect the priceless photos and videos you took on your favorite vacation that’s on the same computer, your investment and time are minimal when you consider it protects you from a lot of potential pain and suffering, as when you lose your data, it is chaos.

And before your backup, consider some spring tech cleaning to clear your hard drive of clutter and unneeded files.

Finally, you may be one of the 600,000 fortunate agents and brokers with access to the number-one tech support service – Tech Helpline – through your MLS or Association. That means you are a call or click away from getting expert help in setting up your new backup system at no charge, as you are covered.

If you MLS or Association hasn’t added Tech Helpline as a member benefit, let them know you want access to one of the most popular benefits MLSs and Associations can offer. More information is available at TechHelpline.com.

The post Back it up! But what’s the best way to protect your data? appeared first on Tech Helpline.

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One of the rituals of the spring – in addition to home buying season – is spring cleaning. It’s a time when many of us clean, declutter and purge throughout our homes. But what about our technology: our laptops and smartphones?

Spring is an excellent time for some spring cleaning for your tech too. Here are some ways you can clean, declutter and purge your way to a better tech experience the rest of the year with a tech spring cleaning.

How to make your smartphone sparkle

Do you know the best way to physically clean – and sanitize – your smartphone?

To clean an iPhone, Apple recommends using a soft, slightly damp (distilled water), lint-free cloth. For a Pixel, Google tells owners they can use regular household soap or cleaning wipes.

Most recent Samsung smartphones are water resistant, so Samsung recommends running these models under fresh water, shaking out excess water from the ports, and then wiping it dry with a microfiber cloth.

If you need to do a deep-clean of a grimy smartphone, the easiest, fastest and safest way is to use disposable screen wipes, available from online retailers such as Amazon.

The good news is that research tells us all of these methods do a pretty good job of eliminating most of the germs on the phone too.

Cleaning your computer

The host of the podcast “Ask a Clean Person,” Jolie Kerr, told The New York Times you only need four items to clean a laptop: Rubbing alcohol, microfiber cloths, cotton swabs, and canned compressed air. The reason isopropyl alcohol is ideal is that it won’t damage the computer’s internal components.

Kerr also says there’s nothing wrong with purchasing specialized electronic or computer cleaning products, but they are most likely overpriced, and these homespun solutions will do the trick.

The key to cleaning your laptop is to take your time. The first step is to turn it completely off (not sleep mode). Next, using the can of compressed air, go to work on the keyboard, then spray out all the ports. Experts say when using canned air, always use short bursts, as longer ones can cause condensation.

The next step is to dampen a microfiber cloth with rubbing alcohol. Don’t ever pour or spray fluid of any kind directly on your laptop. Now clean with the cloth between all the nooks and crevices.

To clean your laptop screen, do not use any chemicals. You should only use a soft cotton cloth with a little distilled water. In fact, on a Mac with a Retina display, if you use a product like Windex, it will destroy the screen coating.

Declutter and organize your screens

If you save your files to your desktop as a shortcut timesaver and don’t always remember to move those files to the proper destination, you could suffer from screen clutter on your laptop. Get your laptop organized during your spring tech cleaning by moving files into folders.

For your smartphone, get your apps organized as well. On an iPhone, you can create different folders and group similar apps together to declutter your screen. At the very least, you should make sure you eliminate “widow” pages: screens on your phone that have one app – or a few – on an entire screen – requiring you to scroll more. That’s a time waster.

Consolidation of related apps on your smartphone screens can save you time. For example, keep all your travel apps on one screen with the ones you use most frequently positioned where you like to access best.

For users who have access to Tech Helpline, they can reach out for help on setting up folders on their smartphones. For iPhone users who are do-it-yourselfers, Apple provides instructions here. For Android users who want to learn more about setting up folders on their own, this wikiHow article gives step-by-step instructions here.

Time to purge

How many apps are on your smartphone? Now, how many of those apps have you used in the last six months? If you don’t know, the latest operating systems will tell you.

If you have an iPhone, here’s how to see when you last opened each app. First, select your Settings (gray gear icon) on your iPhone, then choose General (another gray gear icon). Go down and select iPhone Storage. You may have to wait until the data loads, but soon a list will appear of all your apps. They are ranked by the amount of data they consume and show that amount on the far right. Below the app is the information you want for purging: the last date you used the app.

You may be surprised at the number of apps you have that you have not opened for more than a year. Don’t be surprised if you have apps that have never been opened. We’ve all been there, done that, but the good news is you get a two-for-one: you purge the apps from your screen (declutter), and you will free up space to store more of what you want and use. To delete the app, you can do it on the next screen: select the unused app, and at the bottom, you will see a “Delete App” option.

If you own an Android smartphone, it’s also easy to clean up your unused apps by accessing the Google Play Store on your Android device. In the My Apps section, the place where you go to reinstall or update apps, you will see a list of all your current apps. The apps will show the amount of data they consume and when they were last used. The best part is you can sort these apps by “Last Used,” which will group the least used apps at the bottom. From there, you can select the apps you want to purge.

Your laptop probably also can use some spring purging. How many screenshots did you save for a quick email and then never deleted? Or created a duplicate image? Have you cleaned out your deleted files or trash lately? Have you gone through your programs to make sure you don’t have any unwanted software – or bloatware – that you can remove?

Going through your folders during the spring is a great ritual to start. Think about what you really need to save, what you can back up to the cloud or a portable hard drive, and what you can delete forever. Your tech devices, if they could thank you, would, because they may get even better without all that clutter.

The post Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Technology appeared first on Tech Helpline.

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Recently, PR Daily announced its 2018 Video & Visual Awards finalists. Among the five finalists in its Animated Video category was “Tech Helpline 2018 Animated Video, Florida Realtors®.” Other finalists in the category include videos from pharmaceutical giant Merck, agricultural fertilizer behemoth CF Industries and Bell Helicopters. Pretty impressive company!

It’s always great when an organization’s creative efforts earn public recognition. Often, member communications work in the trade association world goes largely unheralded. But that does not mean the amount of effort that goes into many projects Realtor Associations undertake each year is any less spectacular than those that grab an occasional accolade.

So when a real estate trade association does get public recognition for its communications efforts, it’s kind of a big deal. It’s even more impressive when recognition is from an organization that recognizes accomplishments from every business segment – not just real estate.

PR Daily is published by Lawrence Ragan Communications, which for more than five decades, has been the leading publisher of corporate communications, public relations, and leadership development newsletters. To make its honor roll by being listed as a finalist for its annual video awards program is a high honor because of the broad range of business entries that this program attracts.

About the video

The new Tech Helpline animated video debuted in October 2018. It is available on Tech Helpline’s YouTube Channel here. In just a little over two-and-a-half minutes, all of the key features and benefits of Tech Helpline are presented to our target audience – real estate agents – in a fun, easy-to-view format.

The video uses modern animation, music and two narrators – both male and female voice talent – to tell our Tech Helpline story. It explains how easy it is to reach Tech Helpline – call, chat or email – and all the things agents might not realize they can reach out for assistance. With 300 combined years of experience among Tech Helpline analysts, there’s a lot of ways they help agents every day.

Today, some 600,000 real estate brokers and agents in the U.S. and Canada have access to Tech Helpline as a member benefit from their MLS, Association or a service provided by their brokerage. If you don’t have Tech Helpline support, then ask your state or local REALTOR® Association for it!

The post Tech Helpline Video Earns National Nomination appeared first on Tech Helpline.

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