February 16th, 2014 by admin | No Comments | Filed in Weekly Articles

Which Web Browser Should I Use?

A blow-by-blow comparison of the best browsers available

            Web browsers are not a type of software where a clear-cut choice between the various options is easy to make; unlike, for example, the world of professional photo-editing software, where Adobe’s products hold a near monopoly. Rather, with web browsers, there are a handful of big name providers, whose products may seem virtually interchangeable in terms of basic performance, leaving the user unsure of the point of straying away from the default browsers included with their computer.

To add to this atmosphere of general confusion, browsers are updated with alarming regularity, adding new features and functionality all the time. Like racehorses nearing the finish line, the big names in browsers are always trying to pull ahead of one another by a nose. As a technology solution provider, we here at Geek ABC would like to attempt to remove some of the ambiguity surrounding this essential piece of software and point you in a clear direction about which web browser will suit your personal needs and preferences.

Popular Browsers An Overview

            The most popular browsers currently are Google Chrome (Chrome), Internet Explorer (IE), Mozilla Firefox (Firefox), Safari, and Opera. There is usually a great deal of debate regarding which one is the most popular at any given time, but it’s generally thought that Chrome and Firefox are winning the race due to their cross-compatibility and strong app support.

The difference in performance between the aforementioned browsers is generally thought to be fairly small, though that is subjective and dependent on things like the kind of hardware one is using. Deciding which browser(s) to use depends largely on individual need. The average user may be satisfied with IE or Opera. Advanced users may prefer the fully open source Firefox, and cloud-oriented users may prefer Chrome. Some users may want to use different browsers for different tasks.

All of the major web browsers share similar basic functions and features, such as tabbed browsing, privacy browsing, a password manager, download manager, searchable address bar, etc. The differences largely lie in things like compatibility, memory usage, and extra features, such as extensions.

Comparing Popular Browsers

Google Chrome

Chrome was released in 2008 to provide users a clean, fast, and stable browsing experience.  Google hired several Mozilla Firefox developers and essentially tried to improve on Firefox, and now Chrome is one of the most popular browsers.  It has since become part of the goliath Google machine, spawning its own OS and becoming an integral part of Google syncing.

Chrome is known for being fast, lightweight, and for having a wide variety of extensions and WebApps (programs that run within the browser instead of being installed on the computer itself).

Pros:

  • Fast and stable.
  • Most secure browser.
  • Huge variety of extensions available in the Chrome store.
  • Users can also install themes, altering Chrome’s appearance.
  • Chrome is available for all of the major desktop operating systems, as well as for Android and iOS. Users who sign into their Google accounts can sync their tabs, bookmarks, browsing history, and passwords across all of their devices using Chrome. (This is part of why I personally use Chrome everywhere, even on my iOS devices.)
  • It offers the best compatibility with Google’s range of products and services.

Cons:

  • Not as ‘open source friendly’ as Firefox.
  • The browser has become more bloated over time.
  • Minor incompatibility issues with some sites.

Firefox:

Mozilla Firefox was released back in 2004; to still be one of the top web browsers ten years later, you know it has to be doing something right.  Originally designed to be part of a chat, mail, and HTML editing software package, the developers felt the browser would make the suite too big and released it separately.  Unlike Internet Explorer and Chrome, Firefox is owned by a non-profit (Mozilla Foundation) and is completely open source. It’s entirely volunteer owned and operated.

Pros:

  • More open source than Chrome; it is used as the default browser by most of the major Linux distributions.
  • Can be customized in ways other browsers can’t, with personas and add-ons, as well as extensions.
  • More secure privacy mode and downloading.
  • Compatible with Android devices Users can make use of Firefox Sync to replicate tabs, bookmarks, history, add-ons, etc. across multiple computers and mobile devices.

Cons:

  • Firefox has definitely bloated over the years. The increased file size and memory requirements result in a sluggish and less stable experience on some computers and devices. (This is why I personally abandoned Firefox after years of use.)

Internet Explorer

An old standby, Internet Explorer (IE) was first released in 1995 with Windows 95.  Because it’s bundled with Windows, IE is the most widely distributed browser in the world, but it’s earned itself a bit of a bad reputation over the years nonetheless. Previously, it was thought to be the go-to only for new and naive computer users, due to security holes and poor performance. With the release of IE 10, however, Microsoft has somewhat redeemed its much-maligned browser. The new interface is clean, with minimal menus and inconspicuous icons for quick access to favorites, settings, and the home page, and security and performance have been enhanced.

Pros:

  • Well-integrated with Windows; it is the only browser that is fully integrated with the Windows 8′s new tiled interface.
  • The recent version is running faster and is more compatible with open web standards, making it much easier to use.
  • Improved security.
  • Compatible with the widest variety of websites.

Cons:

  • The available toolbars and add-ons pale in comparison to the variety offered by Chrome and Firefox.
  • Limited syncing abilities. IE 10 can sync between multiple computers, but not mobile devices, and it offers less data than Chrome or Firefox.
  • Still not the most secure browser out there, and still a target for many hackers.

Safari

Apple’s default browser offering, and the Mac’s answer to IE. Smooth, clean, secure, and fast, Safari would be an ideal browser if it were not for a few key drawbacks, such as a lack of compatibility.

 

 Pros:

  • Page-load times are notoriously fast.
  • Strong security.
  • Syncs with iCloud.

Cons:

  • Lackluster customization options.
  • Only available on Apple platforms, and only syncs with Apple devices.

Opera

Opera was released in 1996 and has been credited with originating many of the features that more popular browsers repackaged and use today. Once an industry leader, it’s been accused of turning into a follower as it turns around and adopts features from Firefox and Chrome, but it still provides a fast and reliable browsing experience.

Pros:

  • History of innovation.
  • Very secure.
  • It comes bundled with more functionality than other browsers, having a built-in email and IRC client.
  • Has options for reducing bandwidth on slower connections.
  • Its mobile version is speedy and is very popular for mobile surfing.
  • Syncs well with mobile devices.

Cons:

  • Not open source.
  • Frequent compatibility issues.
  • Its extension library is poor vs. Firefox or Chrome.

The Bottom Line

Unless you’re an open source developer, or very devoted Apple fanatic, Google Chrome is likely your bet. Its security, customization options, amazing syncing abilities, and low memory usage make it ideal for most users across most devices.

 

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January 28th, 2014 by admin | No Comments | Filed in Weekly Articles

Advantages and Disadvantages of Cloud Computing for Business

Today, cloud computing is more prevalent than ever before thanks to advances in new technology. Companies of all sizes are now using cloud computing for their businesses and this trend will only continue to develop over the foreseeable future. The benefits of cloud computing are certainly considerable and for medium to large size businesses and corporations, there may be no turning back.

However, cloud computing does have its downsides which is especially true for smaller businesses that are still growing, so business owners need to research and evaluate before making the final decision. What follows are a list of advantages and disadvantages that cloud computing possesses.

Advantages

There are certainly a number of advantages that cloud computing provides. This is especially true for businesses that have a massive amount of data storage and want to spread their resources around the world.

Virtually Unlimited Storage Capacity: Arguably the most well known of all the advantages cloud computing has to offer, the unlimited storage capacity is due to the fact that the cloud system operates over many servers at once. Any concerns about running out of storage space are long gone thanks to the cloud.

Backup Options: With all of your data stored on the cloud, it is far easier to back it up and restore lost information than ever before. This is because most cloud computing companies have programs which can retrieve lost information in case the worst should happen to your system. Compared to traditional methods of storage, the cloud system offers many advantages with simplicity of service being the most relevant.

Inexpensive: Arguably the most cost efficient system of computing available, at least in terms of maintenance, upgrading and daily use. This is because standard desktop software costs a considerable amount of money, especially in licensing fees for multiple users which can prove to be quite expensive over time.

However, cloud computing is far cheaper with lower rates so you can better control your IT expenses. Plus, there are plenty of cloud programs that only require a single payment, are scalable to the system you own or have no-contract and pay-as-you-go plans. Overall, a cloud system for larger businesses can save a considerable amount of money.

Great Accessibility: Next to storage, the most noted ability of cloud computing is the ability to access the information from different sources. Whether at your desk or with your mobile device, all you need is an internet connection and you are hooked into the cloud and can access all of the information that is stored.

Software Integration: Unlike traditional storage systems, software integration in cloud computing is automatic. This means that far less time is spent trying to integrate different systems when the cloud is designed to handle them all at once. Plus, you can customize your options as well quite easily, making this one of the best ways to integrate all of your new software.

Integrated Deployment: When new software is installed, it now applies to all of your computing devices. This means that your entire system can be upgraded in a few minutes and is ready to go. Compare that to traditional desktop computing where depending on the number of computers it may take days for that to occur.

Disadvantages

Although many of these advantages are certainly impressive, there are a number of disadvantages as well. For those who are considering purchasing a cloud computing system, everything needs to be taken into account first before the final decision is made.

Dysfunction: One big issue with cloud computing is that any dysfunction that affects one computer essentially affects the entire system. Despite very high standards and excellent maintenance, cloud computing is still vulnerable to breakdowns. This means that you will need an excellent internet provider to keep things running smoothly and fix problems quickly. Otherwise, you will be running into some serious issues that may affect the entire system.

Security: Arguably the biggest disadvantage is related to one of the best advantages to cloud computing, accessibility. Because there are so many different devices that can access the system, it makes it harder to keep out hackers. Plus, all of your company’s sensitive information will be in the hands of a third-party provider, so you will need to have the best, most reputable company handling that aspect of your information. They will also need excellent security functions as well to prevent hackers from breaking in. For the provider, their security systems need to be top notch in order to protect your valuable information.

To understand the advantages and disadvantages of cloud computing puts you in a better position to make the decision about whether to use it or not. In essence, if you run a very small business that only uses a few computes, then it’s probably not worth it. However, if you run a medium to large size business that is growing, then having cloud computing is a must in order to stay on top.

GeekABC

For those who are seeking more information about the different aspects of cloud computing, the experts at GeekABC can provide the answer as the technology solution provider. GeekABC provides a blog platform designed to answer all questions and promote discussion among those interested in all aspects of computing, particularly cloud computing as it relates to businesses.

If you are seeking more complete information about whether to choose a cloud computing system for your business, then the GeekABC blog is the place to go. In addition, GeekABC provides excellent computer repair for your home or business as well. In fact, network repair is their specialty which makes this company a unique provider of both excellent services and valuable insight.

This means that GeekABC is the place to go to have all of your questions answered and help you make the best informed decision. Plus, you can stay on top of the latest technology as it applies to computing and the internet as well. GeekABC is where you want to be when it comes to cloud computing, computer and network repair services.

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January 22nd, 2014 by admin | No Comments | Filed in Weekly Articles

The Impact of Social Media & Technology in Our Daily Lives

Technology has, with the advent of the smartphone, become a huge part of our daily lives. One of the biggest ways it has done so is by social media; we constantly communicate with coworkers, family members, and people all over the world, right from a device we carry in our pockets. Thirty years ago this would have seemed the stuff of science fiction. But how have technology and social media really influenced our lives? Like with any great advance in how society functions as a whole, there is good and bad.

 The Impact on Global Communication and Individual Connection

Social media has helped counter a lot of the bias seen in “official” new sources in the past.  Today we can see what is happening on the other side of the world, through the eyes of the people living there. This is a very good thing, because it will allow people to understand the strife in other nations better and not be taken in by propaganda so easily. People can also alert each other to things like natural disasters much more easily.

For the individual, we suddenly have the ability to easily find lost friends from high school and estranged family. Social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+, are built to make it easy to find these people, even after  being apart for years and possibly moving several times. It used to be that too many changes in address and phone number could make old friends almost impossible to find after many years.

Families also find social media very important, even necessary, for keeping in touch. Grandparents who may be house-bound can easily keep up with their busy grandchildren. Relatives who live far away from each other can be an involved part of each other’s lives through instant updates, photos, videos, and video chats.

The downside of course is that people now are distracted often from the people right next to them, which some argue creates less deep personal connections and make us more superficial on the whole. It’s important to remember to have balance and take breaks at times from social media.

We also have to remember that social media is not always harmless, and that we should protect younger people and make sure their use of it is moderated with real-world friends and support. There has been a rising number of suicides and depressed young people due to cyber-bullying and harassment—the bad thing about having your friends in your pocket is that you can also be carrying your bullies in your pocket, which makes young people feel unsafe anywhere they go. It used to be that young people were safe in their own homes, but in a sense, they no longer are completely so.

The Impact on Marketing and Business

Social media and technology have made getting the word out about a small business wonderfully easy, and can get them many more customers that simply putting up fliers locally. Also, advertizing this way is pretty much free, unlike having to make a TV commercial or put an ad in a magazine. Companies can also have a much closer connection between them and their customers, which makes customers feel like they are truly being listened to and interacting with a real person rather than a faceless corporation. Alas, because it is free, there is so much advertizing all over the internet that the visibility is going down for each individual company, and people often feel spammed by ads online. Internet ads have become a big sore spot for many internet users, and people get angered by them and try to overlook them (or avoid sites that have many at all), unlike magazine ads, which people were used to and did not have the same attitude towards for the most part.

Either way, these days companies are expected to have a social media presence, and increasingly, it’s becoming a very vital part of business.

Due to the 24/7 nature of technology and social media and the fact that it has become so needed by businesses and by friends and families, it’s important that your technology not cease working for any great length of time, causing you to miss out on important opportunities or urgent messages from family. Make sure you have a reliable technology solution provider like Geek ABC.

 

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