Backup Your Files!

In the world of computing, there are two words that will be permanently ingrained in your head . . . SAVE & BACKUP!

While it’s a no-brainer that we should frequently backup our files on our computer, there is a tendency for us not to do it or not to do it frequently enough. Often times, we’ll wait until we run into major problems like clicking hard drives, bad sectors on a hard disk, disk read/write errors, boot failures, blue screen of death (BSOD), flashing folder with a question mark and so forth. Other times, it may be something like accidentally overwriting a file (ex: using Save instead of Save As), deleting files we thought we did not need but in fact we did, file corruption and so forth.

With the availability of affordable high-capacity external storage, free & paid cloud storage and backup automation, we should all get into a good practice of frequently backing up files on our computers. Whether you choose to perform manual backups or utilize backup software to automatically perform backups, backups are a must! You’ll never know when something may happen to your files which will make them irretrievable & irrecoverable.

The most basic approach to backup is periodically copying your files manually to external physical storage (ex: external hard drive) or cloud storage (ex: Dropbox, OneDrive, Box). Set a schedule where you sit down and spend time copying your files from your computer onto external or cloud storage. Become disciplined . . . Keep a routine/set schedule for performing the manual backups. If you prefer automation, you can use backup software like Windows Backup & Time Machine for macOS which are included in the current versions of Windows and macOS, respectively. After a few configuration steps, your backups will run on a recurring schedule to the storage medium of your choice. There are also third-party backup software applications that you can use to perform similar backup functions like that of Windows Backup and Time Machine (ex: Acronis True Image, Carbon Copy Cloner) as well as direct backup to cloud storage (ex: Carbonite). Regardless of which application you choose to use for backup automation, be sure to check on the backups and review the logs to make sure your backups run successfully as scheduled. A common mistake is to setup an automated backup and make the incorrect assumption that the backup has run successfully when in fact, it has not. Don’t make this mistake!

Keep in mind that if you primarily use cloud storage to store all your files (ex: Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, OneDrive, Box), you should still keep a backup of those files on external storage or another storage medium. You are typically responsible for the files you store onto cloud storage and cloud storage providers will usually have a disclaimer and clause that absolves them if there is data loss (review the service agreement / terms & conditions). While providers should have backup and redundancy in place, even with a service level agreement (SLA), don’t rely on the provider to be responsible for the backup of your files on the cloud. Even if the provider should be able to restore your files after a massive data loss, the recovery and restoration can take quite some time depending on the scale of the data loss and scope of the impact. If you have files that you need to access at a moment’s notice, you don’t want to rely solely on a third-party provider. Don’t chance it and keep your own set of backups.

Tip: When using cloud storage, make sure to sign-up with reputable providers (you don’t want to use some fly-by-night provider that can shutdown at any moment). Review the security and encryption features offered with the cloud storage account and use strong-passwords to secure your account from potential breaches. Routinely change your passwords and if available, use two-factor authentication.

Save! Save! Save!

In the world of computing, there are two words that will be permanently ingrained in your head . . . SAVE & BACKUP!

It’s the eleventh hour, you’re on a deadline working on a document, spreadsheet, presentation, layout etc. You’ve spent an enormous amount of time making changes to your file. Suddenly, the application closes and you get the dreaded message that the application unexpectedly quit. You immediately try to re-launch the application and instead of getting a recovered file, the application launches with the option to create a new file or open an existing file. You quickly search for the file on your computer or storage device, open it and realize NONE of the changes you’ve made have been saved. All the time that you’ve spent working on this file and all the changes you’ve made have been lost in an instant. 

Sound familiar?

We’ve all been there at one time or another and if you’ve been fortunate enough not to experience this, you will some day! This one word cannot be re-iterated enough: SAVE . . . SAVE . . . SAVE

Develop a discipline and follow best practices of frequently saving your work. Don’t rely on auto-save and auto-recover features to be your safety net. You will quickly realize that those features are great when they do work but the simple fact is that auto-save and auto-recover DO NOT always work. Whether it’s Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign or any other application, you MUST save your work FREQUENTLY! Likewise, whether you use macOS, Windows or any other OS platform, the same best practices apply – SAVE . . . SAVE . . . SAVE!

Tip: Consider using Save As instead of Save. While most of the time you’ll probably just save over an existing file, when practical, use Save As to save different/multiple versions of your file. This can be useful if you need to refer back to a previous change that no longer exists in your current file or if your current file becomes corrupted (you can go back to a prior, uncorrupted version of the file).

Keep in mind that saving frequently will not necessarily prevent all data loss. If an application unexpectedly quits, there is always a risk of some data loss; however, by following best practices and a discipline of frequently saving your work, the hope is to minimize any potential data loss. It’s far better to lose and have to re-create a few minutes of work rather than an hour’s (or hours) worth of work.

Remember . . . SAVE . . . SAVE . . . SAVE!

Tech Tip: How to recover “permanently” deleted items in Outlook.com?

You’ve accidentally deleted items from your Outlook.com e-mail account. You immediately check your Deleted Items folder but no luck. You realize that you’ve probably emptied the Deleted Items folder since deleting those items so those items are no longer recoverable.

Fortunately, if you recently deleted those items, you may still be able to recover them. Items removed from the Deleted Items folder are moved to a Recoverable Items folder before they are permanently purged. You can recover items in the Recoverable Items folder using the “Recover Deleted Items” feature in Outlook.com.

  • First, login to your Outlook.com e-mail account.
  • Next, go to the Deleted Items folder and click on “Recover deleted items”. You can also right-click on the Deleted Items folder to access “Recover deleted items …”.
  • A “Recover deleted items” window will appear. Locate the items you accidentally deleted and select each item.
  • Once you have selected all the items you wish to recover, click “Recover”.
  • The recoverable items will be restored to the original folder where they were deleted from.
  • Search your Outlook.com e-mail and verify all selected items have been restored.

“Permanently” deleted items in the Recoverable Items folder will not remain there forever so if you accidentally deleted items that are no longer in your Deleted Items folder, use the “Recover Deleted Items” feature as soon as possible.

Tech Tip: Set retention period for “permanently” deleted items in Office 365 Exchange accounts using PowerShell cmdlets

By default, Office 365 Exchange accounts are setup to hold deleted items in the Recoverable Items folder for fourteen (14) days. This allows a user or administrator to restore recently deleted items that have been removed from the Deleted Items folder but not yet purged from the Recoverable Items folder using the Recover Deleted Items feature in the Office 365 Outlook Web App (OWA) or Outlook 2016 for Windows.

The retention policy may be changed from a default retention period of fourteen (14) days to a maximum of thirty (30) days using Office 365 PowerShell cmdlets.

The following steps assume that you: (1) are an authorized administrator for your Office 365 tenant, (2) have PowerShell properly setup and running on your computer and (3) are comfortable running PowerShell cmdlets to access/make changes to your Office 365 tenant.

First, you will need to initiate an Office 365 PowerShell session. To initiate an Office 365 PowerShell session:

  • Run Windows PowerShell or Windows Azure Active Directory Module for Windows PowerShell as an Administrator
  • Type the following command at the prompt:

 $UserCredential = Get-Credential

  • Enter your Office 365 Administrator user credentials in the dialog window when prompted
  • Type the following command at the prompt:

$Session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri https://outlook.office365.com/powershell-liveid/ -Credential $UserCredential -Authentication Basic -AllowRedirection

  • Type the following command at the prompt:

Import-PSSession $session

  • Test the session by typing the following command at the prompt:

Get-mailbox

If the last command returns a list of the Office 365 Exchange accounts in your Office 365 tenant, you have properly initiated an Office 365 PowerShell session.

Before making any changes to the retention policy for your Office 365 tenant, you’ll want to check to see how long permanently deleted items are kept in the Recoverable Items folder of your Office 365 Exchange accounts.

The default retention period will be fourteen (14) days; however, if you have more than one Administrator managing your Office 365 tenant and are unaware of any previous changes made to your Office 365 tenant, you’ll want to verify the current settings by following the steps below:

To check the retention policy for a specific mailbox, type the following command at the prompt:

Note: Replace <Name> with mailbox name

Get-Mailbox “<Name>” | FL RetainDeletedItemsFor

To check the retention policy for all mailboxes, type the following command at the prompt:

Get-Mailbox -ResultSize unlimited -Filter {(RecipientTypeDetails -eq ‘UserMailbox’)} | FL Name,RetainDeletedItemsFor

To change the retention policy for how long permanently deleted items are kept in the Recoverable Items folder of your Office 365 Exchange accounts, follow the steps below.

Note: The maximum retention period is thirty (30) days. The steps below will set the retention period to the maximum period allowed.

To change the retention policy for a specific mailbox, type the following command at the prompt:

Note: Replace <Name> with mailbox name

Set-Mailbox -Identity “<Name>” -RetainDeletedItemsFor 30 

To change the retention policy for all mailboxes, type the following command at the prompt:

Get-Mailbox -ResultSize unlimited -Filter {(RecipientTypeDetails -eq ‘UserMailbox’)} | Set-Mailbox -RetainDeletedItemsFor 30

After making the change to the retention policy, repeat the steps for checking the retention policy for your Office 365 Exchange accounts to verify the changes have been applied accordingly.

Once you are satisfied with the changes, you can end your Office 365 PowerShell session by following the steps below:

To end the Office 365 PowerShell session, type the following command at the prompt:

Remove-PSSession $session

Then, type “Exit” to end and close PowerShell.

 

Tech Tip: Recover “Permanently” Deleted Items in the Office 365 Outlook Web App (OWA) & Outlook 2016 for Windows

So you accidentally deleted an item(s) from your Office 365 Exchange mailbox and those delete items are no longer in your Deleted Items folder.

Oh, no! They’ve been permanently deleted . . . All hope of recovery is lost!

Well, not quite . . .

If your items were recently deleted and removed from the Deleted Items folder, you may be able to recover those “permanently” deleted items in the Recoverable Items folder using the “Recover Deleted Items” feature in the Office 365 Outlook Web App (OWA) or Outlook 2016 for Windows. Unfortunately, this feature is not currently available in Outlook 2016 for Mac.

Using Office 365 Outlook Web App (OWA)

  • Login to your Office 365 Exchange account using the Office 365 Outlook Web App (OWA)
  • Select the “Deleted Items” folder
  • In the Deleted Items pane, select “Recover deleted items”. The Recover deleted items window will appear. Alternatively, you can right-click on the Deleted Items folder then select “Recover deleted items …”
  • Search the list of deleted items for the item(s) that you accidentally deleted
  • Select the item(s) that you want to restore then click “Recover”
  • The recoverable deleted items will be restored to the original folder where those items were deleted from
  • Confirm the recoverable deleted item(s) has been restored

Using Outlook 2016 for Windows

If you are running Outlook 2016 for Windows, there are two ways to access the “Recover Deleted Items” feature.

Option #1:

  • Select the “Deleted Items” folder in Outlook 2016 for Windows
  • Go to the “Home” tab in the Outlook 2016 for Windows menu bar
  • Select “Recover Deleted Items from Server”. The Recover Deleted Items window will appear
  • Search the list of deleted items for the item(s) that you accidentally deleted. You can sort the list by field (Subject, Deleted On, From, Received, Sent To)
  • Select the item(s) that you want to restore then click “Ok”
  • The recoverable deleted items will be restored to the original folder where those items were deleted from
  • Confirm the recoverable deleted item(s) has been restored

Option #2:

  • Go the “Folder” tab in the Outlook 2016 for Windows menu bar
  • Select “Recover Deleted Items”. The Recover Deleted Items window will appear
  • Search the list of deleted items for the item(s) that you accidentally deleted. You can sort the list by field (Subject, Deleted On, From, Received, Sent To)
  • Select the item(s) that you want to restore then click “Ok”
  • The recoverable deleted items will be restored to the original folder where those items were deleted from
  • Confirm the recoverable deleted item(s) has been restored

By default, Office 365 is setup to hold deleted items in the Recoverable Items folder for fourteen (14) days. This setting can be modified to hold deleted items for up to thirty (30) days using Office 365 PowerShell cmdlets. We’ll take a look at using Office 365 PowerShell cmdlets in a future post.

Tech Tip: Norton Security for Mac stuck on “Pending” progress bar upon launch

When you typically launch Norton Security, the application should launch immediately into the Norton Security dashboard. However, if you’ve recently launched Norton Security and suddenly experience a “Pending” progress bar that appears “stuck”, there are a few things that you can try.

First, be patient and wait. Let Norton Security attempt to launch into the dashboard normally. For troubleshooting purposes, give it a 15-20 minute wait before taking further action.

If Norton Security DOES launch into the dashboard, run LiveUpdate to make sure all the latest updates are installed then close out and re-launch Norton Security a second time. If Norton Security launches normally on the second attempt, you should continue to monitor for further issues. Hopefully, this was either a temporary issue or a software issue resolved with a software update via LiveUpdate.

If Norton Security DOES NOT launch normally into the dashboard, launch Disk Utility (In Finder, Go | Utilities | Disk Utility) and run First Aid on your Macintosh HD. This will eliminate the possibility of permission issues. After running First Aid, re-launch Norton Security.

If Norton Security again DOES NOT launch properly, it may be necessary to re-install Norton Security. The application may be corrupted or a recent update may have caused the issue. Before you can re-install Norton Security, you must use Symantec’s “RemoveSymantecMacFiles” to completely remove all Norton Security files.

You can download and obtain instructions for the “RemoveSymantecMacFiles” tool from the link below:

https://support.norton.com/sp/en/us/home/current/solutions/v105332768_EndUserProfile_en_us

Follow the instructions to remove all Norton Security files. You will be required to restart your Mac. Once you have restarted your Mac, re-install Norton Security on your Mac using the latest installer (Important: Be sure to download and use a copy of the latest installer). After Norton Security has been installed, re-launch the application. Norton Security should launch properly after a clean installation.

Exporting Office 365 mailboxes to PST files using e-Discovery & Content Search

Note: Starting July 1, 2017, “Content Search” will replace e-Discovery searches currently performed within the “Exchange Admin Center”.

There may come a time where you may need to export Office 365 mailboxes to PST files. For instance, if you want to free up an Office 365 license assigned to an inactive mailbox but need to preserve the contents of the mailbox, exporting an Office 365 mailbox to a PST may be the solution for you. Also, if you are migrating mailboxes from one Office 365 tenant to another Office 365 tenant, exporting to PST may be a good migration solution since Office 365 does allow importing of PST files into Office 365 accounts.

Unfortunately, Office 365 does not currently provide an easy way to export Office 365 mailboxes to PST files. However, you can use Office 365’s e-Discovery feature and “Content Search” as a workaround to export mailboxes to PST files.

Before getting started, it is highly recommended that you use Internet Explorer 11.x (Windows 7) or Microsoft Edge (Windows 10) when using “Content Search”. During the process, you may be required to install the Microsoft e-Discovery Export Tool which may not run/install properly if you are using other web browsers (ex: Firefox, Chrome).

  • To get started, login to the Microsoft Office 365 Portal/Dashboard – http://login.microsoftonline.com – using your Office 365 tenant Administrator account.
  • In the menu bar on the left, go down to “Admin centers” then “Security & Compliance”
  • Go to “Permissions”. Double-click on “Organization Management”. Under “Members”, add the Office 365 tenant Administrator account then click “Save”
  • Double-click on “e-Discovery Manager”. Under “e-Discovery Manager”, add the Office 365 tenant Administrator account then click “Save”. You many need to wait for these permissions to propagate across Microsoft’s Office 365 servers. If the permissions have not propagated across the Office 365 servers, you will receive permission errors when you attempt to export the PST files.
  • Go to “Search & investigation” then select “Content Search”. Click the “+” button to create a new search.
  • In the “Name” field, provide a name for your content search (ex: Mailbox Name PST Export)
  • Under “Where do you want us to look”, select “Choose specific mailboxes to search” then click the “+” button to lookup the mailbox you want to export. If the Office 365 mailboxes within your Office 365 tenant do not populate in the list, perform a search for the mailbox you want to export and add the appropriate mailbox to the list. After adding the mailbox, click “Next”
  • Click “Search” to begin the content search
  • When the content search is complete, locate “Export results to a computer” on the right-hand side of the window then click “Start Export”
  • In the “Export search results” window, select the desired export criteria then click “Start Export”.
  • When the export is complete, click on “Download exported results” under “Export results to a computer”
  • In the “Export search results” window, copy the “Export key” to the clipboard. The export key will be required by the Microsoft e-Discovery Export Tool. You may be asked to install this tool if it is not already installed on your computer.
  • Click “Download Results”
  • When the “e-Discovery Export Tool” window appears, paste the export key, which you saved earlier to the clipboard, into the field for “Paste the export key that will be used to connect to the source:” then browse for and select the location where you want the PST file exported to. Once you have selected your export location, click “Start” to begin the export.
  • The e-Discovery Export Tool will export the PST file along with several log files into a folder located in the selected location. The export may take some time depending on the size of the mailbox. When the export is complete, click “Close” to close out of the e-Discovery Export Tool window.
  • Go to the location where you selected to have the PST file exported to. Locate the PST file within the export folder. Use Microsoft Outlook to open and verify the contents of the PST file. If you are using this PST file to import into another Office 365 tenant, you may need to scrub the additional folders included as part of the PST export.