to commonly asked questions.

April 2019

AOL is terrible.

Scotty, I have a question. I haven't received AOL in a month, though when I try to create a ew account I'm told an account exists Connection Doctors shows a red dot next to map; green next to SMTP. I also clicked "take online" and nothing happens. I remember you telling me there were several places to check. Suggestions?



The easiest way to solve this is to just delete the AOL email account and re add it. AOL is terrible. To delete it, go into system preferences, Internet Accounts, and minus it out using the minus button in the bottom left corner. Then re add it using the AOL choice to the right. Reopen mail and see if that solves it. By doing this, you are telling the computer to go out and get the correct settings for incoming/outgoing servers once again as well as checking that your password is correct. Since AOL is IMAP based email, you won't be losing anything. It will return from the server.

If you prefer to seek other means of resolving this issue, that would require editing the smtp settings within mail, deleting the keychain entries, etc… I suggest just delete the email account and re add it. It is possible that AOL has introduced their attempt at 2 factor authentication which I'm sure will be poor, and that could be causing the problem but I have seen no evidence of that with other users either.

If you are wondering why AOL services are in the shape they're in, you can ask yourself the question: If you were a young computer science major just having graduated college, where would you want to get a job? Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Google, AOL? Not getting the cream of the crop these days. Same goes for printer companies.

Which Ghose backup protocol to use in Windows 10

Many thanks Scotty, your responses are helpful.  But I need one clarification, as the link to the ghost protocol was too general.
My specific question is:
-          Having cloned my hard-drive using the EaseUS ghost software, in a subsequent, [differential] back-up process (monthly ish), how do I effect?  Choices appear to be:
o   File back-up
o   Smart back-up?  this gives the option of checking any of the following, which seems to make most sense, but not clear if this is differential back-up
§  Library                                  this is not checked
§  My documents                 this is checked
§  Favorites                             this is checked
§  Desktop                               this is checked
§  “Computer”                       this has a box that is filled in vs checked, and the sub folder shows OS (C)
I have reviewed the link you sent me and another hour trying to figure this out.  Your help appreciated

Smart Backup is, in my opinion, the best option. It allows Ghost to check for added data and include that into previous backup images. That is the selection I would chose in your case. This is an “incremental backup”. In other words, it only adds changes or additions of files to the original full backup. A differential backup (not my preferred choice) copies all changed or additional files since the first day each time there is a backup.

Here’s Easeus knowledge base article on Smart Backups:
EaseUS Todo Backup - Smart Backup

For additional info and comparisons between different backup methods within Ghost check out this video and article as well:
Difference Among Full, Incremental and Differential Backup

In short, chose smart backup.

Disclaimer: I am an Apple Consultant and not a Windows specialist. For the best advice, you’ll want to seek the knowledge of a Microsoft certified consultant.

Attempted sign in account thwarted

Just hours after you sent us that hacker message warning email I got this. It looks legit so I changed my password again. Did I screw up? Google has made me do this multiple times over the last few years.


Yea, that's legit. I checked the links and that is in fact Google warning you. One of the benefits of Google's security measures is that they list all the devices and attempted IP addresses and locations where people have or attempted to have logged into your account. Go to your security settings on your google login webpage for more info. Turning on 2 factor authentication is a pain but makes your account infantately more secure also. Just make sure your password is strong and if you've traveled recently, it's probably not a good idea to change the password to be safe.

The Scams Continue. Don't fall for them!

  I continue to work with people who are falling victim to scams they accidentally come across on the internet.  A couple weeks ago I sent out a heads up to everyone warning to be very careful when visiting websites or clicking links in email.  There are many fake ads out there that appear to be very convincing.  These will often tell you something is wrong with your account and that you should call them or that your credit cards have been compromised and the only way to restore your security is to interact with them.  None of this is real!  You may be saying to yourself, “I never fall for that stuff.  Who would be such a sucker?”  But more and more I am working with highly intelligent clients who are becoming victims to these strategies.  There are many reasons that could result in letting one's guard down.  It’s easy to become flustered or overwhelmed in the moment if you think something may have happened to your accounts.  These scammers are using that sense of panic and confusion to get you to make bad decisions.  Several times I’ve seen clients pay these scammers with gift cards or check routing numbers.  They will allow the scammer to remote in to their computer and cause more havoc.  It could also be as simple as your child clicking things and entering your password.  
Another strategy they’re using is to get you to install software they can use against you.  This can look innocent.  An ad claiming that you need to update
Flash or some other software.  Then you type your admin password in and the next thing you know, you’ve installed their garbage software.  
Here are a few general rules to follow:
enter your admin password unless you have a good reason to do so.  
Do not
  • allow someone you don’t know to remote in to your computer.
    Do not
  • legitimate company allows payment of any kind via gift cards.
  • use non password protected wifi networks.
    Do not
  • call a number you see on a webpage that is warning you that something bad has happened to your accounts.  If you are concerned, call your bank directly.
    Do not
  • strong passwords, not a word that can be found in the dictionary followed by numbers.  Tarheels1 or Rolltide are not good passwords.
    Do use
  • and account for every small charge you see monthly.  A dumb thief will try to steal a large amount all at one time.  A smart thief will steal a small amount from lots of people hoping no one will notice.  
    Monitor your bank accounts
  • A couple other scams of note not related to internet use:
    Inspect the credit card slot at Gas stations or ATMs before you insert the card.  Bad guys will sometimes place false card readers that fit over the actual card reader just so they can harvest card numbers.
    Once a bad guy has your card number a new scam they’re running is to order things using your address and info and have it shipped to you.  You realize it’s fraud and cancel the card.  About a week later you receive the item you didn’t order.  Within a day or so you also receive a letter apologizing for the mistake and a shipping label to return the package.  Actually, that shipping label or return address is going to the original bad guy that ordered the item in the first place.  Basically, they’re using you to launder stolen items.  Of course the bank will probably credit your account back of the fraudulent charges so you’re not really hurt so badly in the process but getting a new card is always a drag.  The proper thing to do is write “refused, did not order” on the package and return it directly to the post office.  Do not ship it back using some address that was mailed to you separately.  
    If you feel you may have installed any malicious software accidentally or would just like a security checkup with all your devices, you can schedule a session directly on my website at  I also work with people outside the Charlotte area remotely so if you have a relative who you think may have or could fall victim but they don’t live in the Charlotte area, I can help there as well.  
    New clients
    mentioning your name when scheduling now earn you a discount coupon for the next time you schedule!

    Which webcam do I buy?

    I am working off of dual monitors and using my MacBook Air (new edition) as my ‘computer.’ Each monitor is plugged in with HDMI (adapters), I have to be hardwired, so my ethernet is plugged into a USB to Ethernet adapter. I have to use a USB headset, which is plugged into one of the adapters as well. I have to be on Microsoft Teams as well as communicate with clients so I have to have a camera. Neither monitor has a camera, to my knowledge. Right now I have the 2 monitors and my laptop sitting in front so that I can chat through video. Super inconvenient.

    Ultimately, I’d like you to come out and professionally set all of this up. I assume I need to buy an external web-cam? I would like your opinion on which camera to purchase. I know that this can be set up simpler, I just don’t know how to do it.

    If you are using the MacBook air’s monitor in addition to the two monitors, then you could just use your Macbook’s camera. It may be a little less convenient but would save the cost of purchasing a different cam. If you prefer to use a dedicated external web cam then the Logictechs are great. You don’t need a super high end 4k cam, but having 1080p is nice. Take a look at the Logitech C920 or the C615. Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920, Widescreen Video Calling and Recording, 1080p Camera, Desktop or Laptop Webcam: Computers & Accessories

    I ended up using a dedicated mic for my online sessions but sounds like you are good there with your headset. The mic on the C920 is fine also so you may end up just using that. Keep in mind you’ll be selecting your audio feed with your meeting software. No big deal, just a matter of choosing between internal mic, headset mic, or logitech mic. I only mention that because it sometimes throws people.

    Which domain registar should I use?

    Which domain register should I transfer to?
    WordPress will let me set up a website and they will transfer my existing domain (cost is $300 per year.) But I thought you said to transfer the domain to GoDaddy -
    Am I doing the wrong thing?


    I suggest transferring your domain to Godaddy. There you will have the future flexibility of also using their email hosting as well. Their customer support is very good and uptime is extremely reliable. Obviously different companies provide different services. Here's a brief overview as we have discussed:

    Godaddy: Known as a domain registry, email hosting, and web page hosting service. If one uses godaddy to host their site, they would use a separate web design tool to create their page first then upload it via an ftp tool to Godaddy's servers where they would be renting godaddy server space. (this is what I do for the site you are reading this on currently.)

    Wordpress: Known as an easy to use website creation tool that has both free and paid services. Popular among bloggers for its many templates. You use wordpress's design tool to create your site but your web address would end up being something like So you usually register you own domain name with a different company (like godaddy) then point that domain name to the wordpress site and choose to "mask" the address. This allows visitors to go to which redirects to the wordpress site url but the wordpress url is hidden in the bar and replaced with your desired site name. Ta Da!

    Squarespace: A more customizable version of wordpress basically. More detailed templates. A little expensive. They will also register your domain as well.

    Wix: new to the scene making a big splash. Same functionality as Squarespace.

    It comes down to how much you'll be working with your site. If you are just looking for a static presence on the web that you won't be creating much content for, then wordpress would be fine but again, I suggest still registering your domain with Godaddy. If you are taking on the design roll as your own web designer then you'd invest the time in a separate web design tool like Indesign, Rapidweaver, etc… then upload to a hosting service like Godaddy using a ftp uploader. This is probably not for you.

    Most likely, you have already been using a page specific to your business that already has many of the products you sell. But the problem is the url is too complicated to pass out to people. So you transfer your existing domain to Godaddy, then redirect that domain name to the site you already have up and mask it.

    Godaddy is not the only domain registrar. I prefer it but there are others FYI.,,, and many more. The only negative thing about Godaddy is their strong upsell effort at checkout for additional products you most likely don't need. Although to be fair, most of them do this.

    Choosing the best Ghost backup method on Windows.

    I reformatted the terabyte drive using a Windows 7 quick format tool in Windows 7. Now I need to back-up my hard drive with the EaseUS back-up sware. My choices in the Easeus sware are:

    - system clone - I tried this but got an error message saying I can't back-up MBR drive to a GPT drive
    - clone - I lean towards this approach for initial back-up
    - system back-up

    Second question is how I approach a subsequent back-ups after the initial back-up

    I would choose clone. Second option. Ghost has the ability to do incremental backups after the initial backup is complete. The first one will be a full backup and all backups that follow will only contain additional information. A common mistake that users make is to delete partial information off of their backup drives to free up space later. It's best to trust the software to do its job and leave the drive alone. Additionally, never store other data on the backup drive. The backup drive is simply a copy of your internal drive and not a storage drive for any other information.

    useful links to Ghost backup protocol:

    How to create and restore an incremental backup with Ghost Console

    Full Discloser: I am not a Windows specialist. As an Apple consultant, I am certified in Apple products only. You may want to seek additional advice in regard to all Windows based procedures.

    Precaution before erasing an external drive.

    In trying to delete files on my WD back-up drive, I deleted the last back-up (permanently), but that only freed up a couple of hundred GB. I.e. the drive still shows over 600 gb of used space (about 200 of this is a photo back-up, the rest is system files and other). I have downloaded the EaseUS ghost program and I am inclined to reformat WD back-up drive and then endeavor to use ghost to do a system back-up. Make sense?

    Since you are not 100% sure what other files may be living on the drive, I would choose caution over economics meaning that it's a far safer bet to just buy a new $60 external drive to ensure peace of mind that you have not lost any data. However, if you choose to use the current drive instead…

    You just want to make sure you have all the photos on another drive as well and you are willing to say goodbye to any remaining files on that device. As we discussed, a common misconception related to backup drives is that people think they can store unique information on the external drive without it also being somewhere else as well. That is not the definition of a backup drive. If you keep your photos on an external drive as your main library, then those photos should also be on at least one more drive in addition to that drive. Perhaps not answering your question but I always err on the side of caution when it comes to photographs. System files are replaceable. Photos are not. In short, if you are completely sure you have copies of all the photos off of the WD external drive, and those pictures are also on yet another drive, then wipe away and use the old WD drive as your clone backup.

    Should I choose to Remove photos before using iCloud photo library?

    After upgrading iCloud storage and going to upload my iPad photos to iCloud, I got the message below, which is unexpected. I prefer not to delete the photos referred to in the message, so what is your advice



    When presented with this message, it's always best to first sync the iPad or iPhone with iTunes first to ensure that any pictures that may have been taken with that specific device have been saved to the computer. Since you're on windows, you'll need to choose a specific folder within iTunes in which to save the photographs. However, it is very likely all 3000 of these pictures were first moved onto the device via an iTunes sync anyway so these are probably already on the computer. The precaution of syncing before hitting the "Remove Photos" choice is only needed if you feel you actually took pictures on that device and doing so would ensure they are preserved onto a computer.

    Your iPad or iPhone will only sync to EITHER iCloud or your computer via iTunes. It will not do both.

    Messages causing massive slow down.

    I’ve been leaving my activity monitor on to track activity on my laptop. The fan on my laptop seems to turn on regularly and when I check the monitor it shows a program with a high level of activity (photo enclosed). If you recall, I had to shut down one of my One Drive accounts as it was causing this issue (which you corrected). Now, it seems to be other programs that are causing this. Any suggestions?

    Screen Shot 2019-04-23 at 6.15.00 PM

    It seems the Messages is at fault. It's not normal for Messages to eat 100% of one of the processors but I have seen this before. It can be related to iCloud messages syncing. More specifically, contact syncing within iCloud. It's not always an easy or safe fix but one way I've dealt with this is to first make a backup of your address book both as a set of cards and an entire archive, then turn off iCloud syncing of contacts. Clean messaging cache, then resend contacts. Hopefully it will resync contacts without the panic mode it's in now. Of course never do anything this major without also having a good time machine backup as well.

    The issue could also be related to Google contacts syncing so there's no good way to know who's at fault until you deal with each service one at a time.

    Good article here as well.

    Dropbox now limits basic accounts.

    Screen Shot 2019-04-11 at 8.13.20 AM

    You may have received an email from Dropbox recently encouraging you to upgrade to a paid plan. Pay close attention to the wording here. "No new devices" doesn't mean anything is currently wrong. They are hoping you will upgrade to a paid plan.
    This is unfortunate. This new as of March. Dropbox, in a hope to push subscriptions are now limiting basic user’s accounts to only 3 devices. If you’d like to access your dropbox files from more than three, you’d need to upgrade to a paid plan. So the question becomes, do you need access on more than 3 devices? Probably not. iPhone, iPad, laptop. I’d say don’t upgrade until a more compelling reason reveals itself.

    Turn off automatic login.

    When I shut down my computer the other day, when I turned it back on, it did not ask for my password. It asks when it goes to sleep and I come back, but not when I turned it off. Weird. I looked at the privacy settings but didn’t notice anything.

    Sounds like you have "automatic login" turned on. Go to system preferences and select Users and Groups. Next, unlock the lock in the bottom left corner. Choose "off" next to automatic login. Your computer will now ask for your password when you turn it on.

    Screen Shot 2019-04-09 at 10.41.22 PM

    Why can't I email with a vpn on?

    Thanks for your help by the way. I got Google Chrome and just signed up for Nord VPN. There weren’t a lot of instructions besides logging in once you pay. so I got that far, but now my emails are not sending. I have to turn it off to send. Can you help me with that?

    There could be several possibilities. By the way, I experience the same issue on my own VPN as well. Most likely, your email provider is using Port 25 and most VPN's block port 25. Depending on the type of email you're using, gmail, iCloud, etc… you could try configuring your incoming/outgoing server settings with a different port. 587 is also a standard email port. You could try using a different location. Connecting to one IP may not work whereas another may allow the email through. You could also fall back to using a web browser to check email such as or etc… None are practical but as I say, security = inconvenience. Overall your best bet would be to find out if your email service has a alternative incoming/outgoing port. There may also be a setting within Nord that would allow it as well.

    Allowing calls to be made and recieved from other devices.

    Scotty, no problem receiving calls on my laptop. Haven’t figured out how to call out, including from an email message with the telephone number. Any suggestions?

    Few things to consider in order to make sure phone calls are coming and going to whichever devices you prefer. First, on the phone check to make sure "Allow Calls on Other Devices" is checked. On the phone, go to settings/phone/Calls on Other Devices. Turn it on at the top then turn on all the devices you want calls allowed to be received and made from. This feature is different from FaceTime audio calls.


    Now on the computer, go to FaceTime. Select preferences from the menu bar and check that "Calls from iPhone" is checked. That should do it. If you don't see your phone number listed in the FaceTime preferences, that means your phone number is not currently associated to your iCloud account.

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