Category: Back Ups

Backups Don’t Have to Be Hard or Confusing

diagram of cloud and mobile devices

Image courtesy of Pixabay

I love articles by How To Geek because they often cover basic information that my clients should know.  The articles are written very clearly but sometimes I make them even simpler by providing a shorter version and definitions of technical terminology.

I’ve talked about backups many times, so I think most of you will be able to understand this article as it is:  What’s the Best Way to Back Up My

If you know me at all, you will know that I recommend Chromebooks and Google Drive as the best solution for most people.  My second choice for simple and secure would be an Apple iPad and iCloud backup.

As they say in the article: “Everyone loses data at some point in their lives. Your computer’s hard drive could fail tomorrow, ransomware could hold your files hostage, or a software bug could delete your important files. If you’re not regularly backing up your computer, you could lose those files forever.  Backups don’t have to be hard or confusing.”

Please just make a decision and do it!  And check monthly to be sure it’s working.

If you need help, you can make an appointment here or call 760-348-8867.

Let us know what you use for backups in the comments below.

Thanks for reading and for sharing with others. 🙂

Enjoy!

Mardi

 

 

How To Make Your Technology Less Frustrating and More Fun This Year

“It’s that holiday time of year again, and that means it’s over the river and through the woods to…well, fix my family’s Wi-Fi and other tech problems.”  From: The Complete Guide to Giving Better Family Tech Support  by Jason Fitzpatrick
family-dinner-3407701_1280
Do you have someone in your family who takes care of your techie problems for you?

I was that person for my mother. In fact, she was the one who suggested that I start this tutoring business to help other retirement-age adults.

I often laugh and tell people, “I’m your person, when you don’t have access to any techie relatives or you don’t want to impose. ; )

I recently read a fun article by How to Geek. The Complete Guide to Giving Better Family Tech Support  and I realized that it’s time to remind you that, “a few times a year someone needs to make sure computers are up to date,photos are backed up, and the tech is humming along as it should, so you won’t be in a in a position to have people exploit your computers, lose your photos to a hard drive crash, or otherwise be miserable because you just didn’t know any better.  After all, you aren’t out there keeping up on all the tech news and reading how-to guides.”

image of computer with 2019 on the screenAnd, there’s another great article for the New Year… Lock Down Your Tech With These New Year’s Resolutions by Justin Pot.  It urges people to:

  • “Use a freaking password manager
  • Lock Down Important Accounts With Two-Factor Authentication
  • Backup Your Computer (Seriously)
  • Update (or Upgrade) Your Router
  • Clean Out Your Browser Extensions
  • Remove Unused Third-Party App Access From Google, Facebook, and Other Accounts
  • Encrypt Your Computers and Phone”

As I often say, “using technology is like driving cars, they need check ups from time to time, and you have to know the rules of the road for your safety and security.

sparkler-839831_1280No Worries…There Are Easy Ways To Get It All Done:

  • Read the two articles and follow their very clear instructions or
  • Send these tips to your “Family Tech Guru” so he or she can do it or
  • Hire me to teach you how to do it or
  • Hire me do it for you

Whatever you decide is fine, but  please make a decision and “get ‘er done” so you can have less frustration and more fun.

Wishing you a very happy new year and may your techie world be simple, easy and fun this year!

Enjoy!

Mardi

P. S. Please share this with your loved ones so they can get the help they need too.  Thanks!

How to Backup Your Computer

Why Backups Are Important

illustration of a traditional disc drive

Image courtesy of Pixabay

  1. Hard Drives Crash — Even though solid state drives, don’t have moving parts like disc drives, they can still fail.
  2. Computers can get stolen — especially if you travel
  3. Operating system (OS) updates can corrupt or delete your files.

I feel so sad when I see clients who are devastated because they didn’t realize how important their data was until it was gone.  

Think about all of the files on your computer.  Do you have an address book, irreplaceable photos or videos, music or movies you’ve purchased, important letters, legal documents, or medical records?  What would you do if they disappeared or were corrupted due to a hardware or failure or software glitch?

When you have a backups, you can easily restore your files from your backup.   

The Ultimate Backup Plan

Follow the 3, 2 , 1 rule  

  1. 3 backups
  2. 2 different types
  3. 1 off-site

If you have important files and photos and don’t want to risk losing them, this is the way to go.  With my Chromebook, I store everything in Google Drive and trust Google not to lose my stuff but you may not be as trusting.  With my PC, I use and external backup as well as Google backup and sync.  Another option would be to use Microsoft’s One Drive cloud plus an external backup.  This plan qualifies as “2 different types” and “1 off-site” but it’s only “2 backups.”  Decide on a plan that makes you comfortable but DECIDE and IMPLEMENT!

Off-Site (Cloud Storage)

Illustration of cloud backup

Image Courtesy of Pixabay

Google Drive, OneDrive, iCloud, Dropbox and other cloud services, enable you to store your files off site on their computers, but they are not doing continuous backups as you work and you have to make sure that your files get saved to the right location.

Continuous Backup Inside Software

Software programs, like Word or Excel can be set to update continually as you work but they may not be set up to do this by default. You may need to adjust the settings. Google docs does continuous backups automatically!  This protection assumes that your document file is connected to a cloud service.  It doesn’t do any good to have your document updating as you work on it, if it’s stored on your computer and your computer drive crashes.

Subscription Cloud Backup Services

Another solution is to pay for a service like Carbonite, Backblaze, or  iDrive. These services backup all the changes in all applications as they occur. You set up an account and then download an app that synchronizes your files between your computer and their servers.  They provide ample storage space with the basic fee and you can always increase the capacity if you need more storage. (Services and fees change all the time, so search on the internet thewirecutter.com or call me for help.)

External Drive Backups

image of external backup device

Image Courtesy of Pixabay

External drive backups provide a safety net in case an online/cloud backup should fail. It’s unlikely that an online backup system would fail, but you never know for sure. 

Your external drive backup should be set up to work continually in the background.  If you only use scheduled backups, you can lose changes made between scheduled backups.  For example: If you create a document on Friday, your computer doesn’t back up until Sunday, and your computer crashes on Saturday, you will loose the document created on Friday. 

A disadvantage to external drive backups is that they can crash just like any other drive they can get stolen, or damaged by a fire or natural disaster.

Again, in order for your files to be completely safe, you should use more than just an external drive backup.  Remember the 3 – 2 – 1 rule.

How To Set Up Backups With Microsoft Windows

Image of Windows Computer

Image Courtesy of Pixabay

For Windows 8 and 10  Use File History

File History automatically backs up your files every hour by default, but you can choose every 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, 3 hours, 6 hours, 12 hours, or once per day.

It will be set to keep your backups forever, unless you change it to 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, 1 year, or 2 years old. You can also have it automatically delete backups as necessary to make space on your drive.

  1. Connect an external hard drive to your computer using a USB port.  
  2. Open the Settings app or Control Panel from your Start menu.
  3. Navigate to Update & Security > Backup.
  4. Click Add a Drive and select the drive.
  5. Select More options to choose how often to backup, how long to keep backup copies, and which files to back up. 

Windows will backup your files to the drive, as long as it is connect it to your computer.  If you move your laptop, be sure to remember to plug your drive in again.

For Windows 7:  

  1. Go to the Control Panel
  2. click on System and Security
  3. click on Backup your Computer
  4. click Setup Backup
  5. click on the name of your external drive
  6. click Schedule to choose the day and time
  7. click Save Settings and Run Backup

Apple Computers

Image of Apple Computer and iPad

Image Courtesy of Pixabay

Use Time Machine

Time Machine keeps a day’s worth of hourly backups, a month’s worth of daily backups, and weekly backups until there’s no more space.

  1. Connect an external drive to your Mac and you’ll be asked if you want to configure it as a Time Machine drive
  2. Click Use as Backup Disk and Time Machine will automatically begin backing up everything
  3. Click the Time Machine icon on the menu bar and select Open Time Machine Preferences or open the System Settings window and click Time Machine to access its preferences window.

Enabling Time Machine on a MacBook will also enable the Local Snapshots feature. Your Mac will save a single daily snapshot as well as a single weekly snapshot of your files to its internal storage if the Time Machine backup drive isn’t available. This provides you with a way to recover deleted files or restore previous versions of files even if you’re away from your backup drive for a while.

Mobile devices

Tablets and smartphones have built-in auto-backup systems.  Check in Settings to be sure the backup feature is turned on and that it has backed up recently.

Archiving Files

storage devices for file storage

Image Courtesy of Pixabay

 

Files that you don’t intend to edit or view frequently, don’t need to be backed up continually and can be archived.  You can move the files to an external storage device and store it offsite by giving it to family members or putting it in a safe deposit box at a bank.  Consider making more than one copy and storing them in more than one location. This can save you money on cloud storage fees.

In Conclusion

check on your backups

Image Courtesy of Pixabay

Setting up backup systems is critically important but it’s also a simple matter of deciding on the systems you want to use and setting them up.  Once your backup systems are in place, you only need to check occasionally to be sure they are working properly.  (Just choosing your doctors and getting your regular checkups.)

You can do this!  Get it done so you can…

Enjoy!

Six Simple Maintenance Tips for Windows PCs

Most computer owners don’t know much about basic computer maintenance and their PCs are likely to slow down or crash as a result.

Of course, most of us don’t know much about cars either, but we know to give them gas, change the oil and keep an eye out for flat tires. It’s the same with PCs. You don’t need to be an expert to keep your PC in relatively good condition. You just need to perform a little basic PC maintenance and, more importantly, be observant.

Here are six simple steps you can take to keep your PC running quickly and reliably:

Windows Updates1. Keep the Window Operating System (OS) Updated with the Latest Patches

Windows Update scans your system and updates it with the latest security patches and service packs. You can schedule these updates to run automatically, so there is really no excuse for not having an up-to-date system.

To access Windows Update click on the Start button, All Programs and scroll through the list to find it.

2. Keep Your Applications and Utilities Patched  Java update message

This may surprise you, but all the applications and utilities on your system are prone to security risks and need to be updated regularly.

Programs that you use everyday like Adobe Acrobat Reader, QuickTime, Realplayer, Skype, WinZip and more require both maintenance and security updates from time to time. Even applications that run in the background like Flash and Java are at risk.

When update notifications pop up on your screen, allow them to install. Just read the screens as you go, to be sure they aren’t offering to install promotional software that you don’t want. You may need to uncheck some boxes.

If you have my business card, you have a list of safe updates on it. If you don’t have my care or aren’t sure if a pop up is a legitimate update, just give me a call.

Norton Expiration Notice3. Keep Your Spyware and AntiVirus Programs Updated

No matter how good your spyware and antivirus software, it won’t do you any good if it’s not updated or, worse, not running because it expired.

Most antivirus applications load an icon in the Windows tray, (lower right corner) which lets you verify its status at a glance. Always verify that the application is running after starting Windows.

In addition, these applications should be configured to perform definition updates everyday and complete system scans at least once a week.

4. Clean Off the Desktop  Cluttered Windows Desktop

Having a lot of files on the desktop will actually slow down your computer because each file and its icon preview take up RAM and resources. The less RAM you have the more you’ll notice the sluggishness resulting from a cluttered desktop.

It’s really more efficient to get in the habit of filing things in the appropriate folders instead of on the desktop; but if you can’t be bothered to do that, just grab all the files and move them into the appropriate folders from time to time.

If you can’t remember to do it yourself, there are apps that will automatically clean it for you by moving files and folders to a designated place at a regular interval.

IDrive Online Backup5. Regularly Backup Your Computer

Performing regular backups is essential for you to be able to quickly recover from potential disasters. I recommend iDrive or Carbonite. They are easy to set up and make it easy to restore your data when you have a disaster, or upgrade to a new computer. You can access your files from your mobile gadgets too! If paying the annual fee bothers you, just think of it as insurance, like your auto and home insurance.

6. Defragment and Check Your Hard Drive for Errors Regularly  Defragmenter Utility

In order to maintain the integrity of your data there are two hard drive tests that you should run at least once a month.

The first is to Defragment your hard drive. Over the course of regular use, your files get fragmented or spread out all over your hard drive. So while an MP3 or WMV file appears as a single file to you in Windows Explorer, small pieces of the file could literally be spread across the entire hard drive. Gathering all of these distant pieces back together into a single continuous order, makes files load faster. Defragmenting your drive can can make your system noticeably faster if you had lots of files fragmented.

The other test is Check Disk. This tool checks hard disk volumes for problems and attempts repairs. (It can repair problems related to bad sectors, lost clusters, cross-linked files and directory errors…but you don’t need to know all that.) Just remember that Disk errors are a common source of difficult-to-track problems, and running this test regularly can significantly reduce your risk of having problems.

Windows has a built-in defragmenter and check-disk utility. Just open Windows Explorer and right-click on the drive you want to examine. Select Properties and then click on the Tools tab. To defragment your hard drive, go to the Defragmentation section and press the Defragment now button. To perform a check disk, go to the Error-checking section and press the Check now button.

You don’t need to be a computer expert to keep your computer running well. Preventing problems doesn’t require much understanding about computers. You just need to pay attention and actually read those messages that popup on screen during an installation and use the tools that come with your computer.

Just follow these basic steps, and your computer will be safer and far more reliable.

4 Simple Apple Computer Maintenance Tips

Did you know that your computer needs some regular maintenance, just like your car?

Just like your car, your computer is a substantial financial investment and causes major inconvenience when it doesn’t run properly so it’s important to keep it in good shape. In both cases, you can learn how to do the maintenance yourself, or you can pay someone to take care of it for you.

If you don’t want to deal with it, I’ll be happy to take care of it for you…one time or on a monthly basis via remote connection.

I hope you find this information helpful and that you will forward to others so they can more fully enjoy the benefits of computer technology.

There are four simple maintenance tips that will help you keep your computer in tip-top shape and running at its best.:

Run Apple Disk Utility1) Run Disk Utility

Running Disk Utility every month or two is a good for: repairing permissions, and more importantly, verifying and repairing the hard drive.

Disk Utility is included on all Macs and found in the /Applications/Utilities folder, under the “First Aid” tab and can be run one after another.

Repairing permissions is a good procedure to run, especially after installing or uninstalling a lot of applications.

Repair Disk s probably the most important thing to do with Disk Utility. Be sure to run Verify Disk not only on the drive itself (physical drive name), but also the boot partition (Macintosh HD). If any errors are found, they’ll appear in red, and thankfully Disk Utility is usually more than capable of handling such repairs on it’s own.

The best way to repair the boot disk is to boot from the recovery partition by holding down Command+R and running Disk Utility from there. This will be necessary if bad blocks are found or if the drive is corrupt.

Mac Software Update2) Keep your Mac Software Updated

Keeping your software up to date is vital. Periodically run Software Update from the Apple menu, and periodically check the Mac App Store for updates of your apps too.

Updates contain bug fixes, feature enhancements, and security fixes. and it’s so easy to do there is no excuse not to.

Software Update will check for updates once a week by default, but the Mac App Store has to be manually checked for updates in OS X Lion.

With OS X Mountain Lion and newer, Software Update moves to the Mac App Store so this whole process will be automated for modern OS X users, including El Capitan, Yosemite, and Mavericks.

Mac Desktop Clutter3) Clean Off the Desktop

Having a lot of files on the desktop will actually slow down your computer because each file and its icon preview take up RAM and resources.

The less RAM you have the more you’ll notice the sluggishness resulting from a cluttered desktop.

It is more efficient to get in the habit of filing things into appropriate folders instead of on the desktop; but if you can’t be bothered to do that, just grab all the files and move them into the appropriate folders from time to time.

If you can’t remember to do it yourself, there are apps that will automatically clean it for you by moving files and folders to a designated place at a regular interval.

Set Up Time Machine4) Regularly Back Up Your Computer

Performing regular backups is essential for you to be able to quickly recover from potential disasters.

The simplest back up solution for Macs is Time Machine. You’ll need an external hard drive, but once you set up Time Machine, automatic backups occur without any effort.

If you haven’t set up Time Machine yet you really need to do so. Get a large external hard drive and configure Time Machine through System Preferences.  I’t’s easy to do and you’ll be very thankful you have a back up in the event of a hard drive failure.

You should also do a manual back up before allowing system software updates. I’t’s rare, but things can go wrong, and it’s best to be prepared.

“Listen to your Mother” and do your maintenance so you won’t have regrets later ; )

Enjoy!

Best Way To Backup Your Computer and Mobile Devices

Cloud Computing Diagram

Do you have a backup strategy for your computer and mobile devices in the event of a catastrophe?  Are you wondering about the easiest and least expensive way to do it?

I recently received an email from a client with questions like these and I thought you would like to know my recommendations….

“Is iDrive the best cloud storage company?  The cost is $45/year and it says it’s for all devices.  Is there a cloud storage system that automatically updates my iPhone and PC?  I pay Apple for extra storage and it still is not enough….and I have an external hard drive for my PC back-up.”

External hard drives can fail just like internal hard drives and won’t do you any good if burned in a fire or stolen.  You still need to have a cloud backup.

IDrive Online BackupI like iDrive the best.  The $45/yr. includes 1T (terabyte) of storage, which is more than enough for most people, and it includes backups of mobile devices.

Carbonite is also good but doesn’t include mobile devices.  It’s 59.99 for unlimited backup.  So if you need lots of storage and don’t have a smartphone or tablet to back up, this would be the best option.

It’s gets a little more complicated when you are using devices from two different companies, like an Apple phone and a Microsoft PC.  An iPhone backs up to iCloud but a PC doesn’t.

If you have an Apple computer and an iPhone and/or iPad, everything backs up to iCloud.  Apple offers some inexpensive plans but if you need a lot of storage, it can get expensive.

20 GB: $0.99/mo, 200 GB: $3.99/mo, 500 GB: $9.99/mo, 1 TB: $19.99/mo ($239.40/year)iCloud

Many of my clients are complaining having to upgrade to more expensive iCloud storage plans.  This is usually because of their photos/videos or music collections.

You can save money on iCloud storage by moving files to your PC and deleting them from iCloud but be sure have a backup plan for your your PC.

If you aren’t making changes to photos or docs and you just want to archive them, you can slide them onto a flash drive and save money on cloud storage.  Be sure you have more than one copy.  Flash drives can get damaged or lost.  You might store copies with friends or relatives or in a safe deposit box.

If you have an Android phone, Google has your back…almost.Android Phone

Google will save app data and all of your phone’s settings including Wi-Fi passwords to your Google account. When you sign in using this Google account on another phone, all of your preferences, photos (via Google+), and contacts will be imported automatically.  Be sure all the options are turned on in “Accounts & sync” in “Settings.”

This does not include your text messages, you’ll have to back them up yourself.  Or or you can save your text messages and call logs to your Gmail account by using an app called SMS Backup+.

To save the music, movies and other media you’ve saved on your phone’s memory card, you need to connect your phone to a PC and copy everything that’s in the micro SD card. This is a manual process so you’ll need to establish a routine for doing this.

When it’s all said and done, it’s simpler, easier and safer to just pay for iDrive cloud storage.  Think of it like paying for insurance for your house and renting mini storage for your extra stuff.

I hope you have found this information helpful and that you will get your files protected.  It’s really sad when computers crash and mobile devices get lost, but at least they can be replaced.  Your files cannot.  Having good backups will preserve your files and make it easy to restore them when you get new devices.

Please share this information with your family and friends so they will be protected too.

Enjoy!

Mardi

A Power Strip Does Not Protect You

A power strip doesn’t protect you!

Frequently, I go shopping with clients to help them buy new computers, gadgets, printers and accessories.  I want to remind you, and everyone you know, that you need surge suppressors to protect your equipment.  A common power strip is not enough protection.  Also, you need to check your surge suppressors periodically.  

This is so important that I’m adding it to my list of things to check on all my appointments.  (The other things are virus protection and backup systems — including smart phones and tablets.)

Don’t confuse surge suppressors with power strips. They look similar, but there is a difference.Power strips have circuit breakers instead of surge suppression.  A circuit breaker will trip the breaker and cut all power to the device.

A surge suppressor will dissipate the surge so you can keep working.

Also, a power strip will allow smaller surges to get through and this can wear out your electronics faster.  You need to use a surge suppressor.

If you already have a surge suppressor but the lights are blinking, the protection is exhausted and you need to buy a new one.  If you’ve had it for 4 years or more, you should replace it anyway.  The blinking warning light may not be working.

The right level of protection is important, but nothing can guarantee your computer won’t be damaged. A serious surge could blow through your surge suppressor and destroy your computer.  Remember to unplug your computer when a serious storm approaches. 

No matter how much you prepare, something can always go wrong. That’s the reason you have homeowners or renters insurance. That’s also the reason it’s important to make sure all your data is backed up.

Back Up Your Smart Phone and Tablets

 

Please Check This Now!

Is your smart phone or tablet doing backups?
Did you even know that it’s supposed to?
Do you realize that if your phone or tablet breaks or is stolen, you might lose your photos, music, address book and notes?
Apparently none of the people who sell phones are setting it up or explaining it to their customers because most of the phones I examine are not doing back ups.  This issue has come up so many times in the past two weeks that I decided I’d better give you a heads up.

Please check your gadget’s settings and make sure backups are set up and operating. (It will show you the last date a backup occurred.)
This is especially important if you are going to be traveling on vacation this month!

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Also, it’s important for you to know that there are really neat apps that enable you to locate your gadget if it is lost or stolen.  They even enable you to delete your data and lock the gadget so it will be useless to a thief.  (Even if you don’t get it back, you will have the satisfaction of knowing the thief didn’t get your stuff and couldn’t use it.)

If you have an iPhone or iPad you may have noticed the “Find My Phone” or “Find My iPad” icon and assumed that it would help you in an emergency. It won’t unless it is enabled in settings. I’m amazed how many iPhones and iPads I see that don’t have this feature activated!

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A related issue that comes up frequently is people want to know if they can see their phone or tablet photos on their computers.  Yes you can!  It’s just a matter of getting things set up properly.

I hope these Techie Tips will ensure that you are protected and enable you to take advantages of these neat things that technology can do for you.

As always, if you, and your friends and relatives, need help with any of these things, just call me to set up an appointment.

In Joy,

Mardi Boettcher

“Helping you make peace with the ups and downs of technology.”

Important Reminders From “The Trenches” This Week

If anyone calls you and says they are from Microsoft and you have a problem on your computer, hang up.  It’s a scam!  Microsoft does not have the time or staff to monitor your computer.  Never let someone access your computer remotely unless you know them.  One of my clients was victimized this week so I wanted to remind you again.

 External hard drives are not the best solution for your back ups!  Hard drives can fail and, if your house were to burn down or be burglarized, you could lose your back up along with your computer.  It’s so sad when people lose valuable docs and precious photos.  There are many cloud-based back-up options available.  Many of them offer free storage.  Please be sure you have back-up systems in place. 

It is really dangerous to continue to use Windows XP!  Recently a local business was held hostage by a hacker who kidnapped their files and demanded a ransom of $500 within 30 minutes or $1000 if it took more than 30 minutes.  You must have an operating system that is supported by frequent updates and always allow the updates to install.  

Having A Computer is Like Having A Car

_MG_2157 copyThis Wednesday was my turn to present my business at the Desert Networking Professionals  (DNP) weekly breakfast meeting.  My topic was “Having a Computer Is Like Having a Car.”

I believe one of the reasons my clients are frustrated by their computers and gadgets is due to unrealistic expectations.  If you consider that having a computer is like having a car, you will have a different perspective.  First, you don’t even have to have a computer or car if you don’t want to.  Really…some people don’t have one.  However, you might think it’s a necessity for your lifestyle or your business.   If you choose to get one, there will be some training involved in learning to drive it.  There are rules you need to follow, or you’ll get into trouble.  You have to have insurance (back ups and anti virus protection), and, from time to time, it will need tune-ups, and repairs.  You can pay a professional to teach you to drive it and to do the repairs, or you can get a book or do research online and learn how to do it yourself.  It’s a choice.  If you choose to do it yourself, there is going to be a learning curve, some mistakes, and it’s going to take longer.  That’s just the way it is.  And you have choices.

I hope that this analogy will help everyone to have more realistic expectations and make peace with the ups and downs of the technology world.  I hope that everyone will have the insurance of backups and anti-virus protection.  I hope that everyone will choose to learn how to use the gadgets and gizmos and be able to function with ease and joy.  And, I recommend that you call a professional when there are problem or questions.  After all, having peace and joy in our lives is all about expectations.  Let’s be realistic, do the few things that need to be done, and focus on enjoying the many benefits of computer technology.

If you need help with any of these things, please let me know.  I promise I will make it as easy, fun, painless  and affordable as possible.

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