Wednesday, 29 October 2014

6 Mac startup options a user should know

There are a number of Mac startup options that are available for the troubleshooting and system management.  These days lot of startup issues are originating in Mac, so users should be aware of these options to handle most of the problems themselves. Let us have a look at these options:



Recovery Mode

The Mac users can easily diagnose the problems in Mac such as hardware issues, restore Time Machine backups, manage hard drives and even reinstall OS X with the help of Recovery mode option. To use this option, one has to reboot or start the Mac and hold down the Command +R keys simultaneously till then you hear the startup chime. And then you could see the options on the screen there to use the recovery mode successfully.

Startup Manager

Mac built-in startup manager is for those people who use multiple internal drives or partitions. Just reboot your Mac and hold the Option key till then you hear the startup chime.  Then, you could see all the bootable devices appear on the screen. Now, the Mac startup Manager will update the bootable devices that you add or drop and you could see automatically in the options.

Safe boot

Now, this OS X facility is called Safe Boot. This facility is use to troubleshoot those issues which are caused by using incompatible software. To use this facility, keep holding the Shift key on your keyboard till then you hear the startup chime and see the grey progress bar under the Apple Logo.  When triggered, this safe boot option will check the integrity of the startup volume, loads the required kernel extensions, disable all user fonts, clear fonts cache and disable all the login items. This safe boot option may take longer time to boot as compared to the normal boot process. Also it is very essential to troubleshoot the Mac.

Reset PRAM

PRAM stated as Parameter Random Access Memory stores the crucial information such as the presence of any internal drives, type and number of connected drives, speaker volume, screen resolution etc. If something goes wrong with the Mac and it is not performing well, then PRAM is the foremost step for troubleshooting. To reset PRAM you need to shut down the Mac. After that hold down the four keys i.e. Command button, option key, P and R keys simultaneously till then you hear the startup chime and wait until your Mac reboots. Then after hearing the second startup chime, you can release the keys.

Verbose mode

Using the Verbose mode will hamper the troubleshooting efforts by showing the messy details of Mac during boot. The user can see the rows of text instead of the gray boot screen. So enabling it will simplify the task to solve most of the problems.

Single User Mode

This mode will also do the same activity but instead of finishing the process and return it to OS X login GUI, it will give you with the terminal where you can do the advanced troubleshooting or hard drive repair as well. To boot into Single User Mode, just hold down the Command and S keys simultaneously until the white text appears.

Therefore, the above options will definitely help you to troubleshoot and solve most of the problems of Mac.


Monday, 27 October 2014

Best free utilities for OS X Yosemite

I am 200% sure you must have upgraded to the latest and free OS X upgrade which is 10.10 Yosemite. To be honest, I love this OS X upgrade and much more than OS X mavericks. Mavericks never ran up to expectations on my Mac for unknown reasons. But forget 10.9 today, since 10.10 is the hottest debate of the week. Since we have upgraded to 10.10 I am sharing list of trusted, useful and free apps without which Mac computing is incomplete. 

Those lists of free & prolific software follow below. You can also visit to the software page for free download & installation.

Chrome or FireFox (or both): For many reasons I prefer to have another browser for web surfing. Keeping Mac’s own Safari aside I prefer to have either Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox for Mac OS X. The reason is simple, both of them runs fast and can be customized as per need. Undoubtedly, Safari has undergone tremendous changes in recent years but I prefer to work mostly on Chrome. That is a personal choice though, but I recommend having Chrome or FF on OS X.

Onyx: Whosoever has ever run a Mac, no matter a PowerPC Mac or an Intel Mac, he/she must have heard of this amazing OS X utility. Downloaded & installed free of cost, Onyx is an OS X maintenance kit that can optimize Mac. Among the list of activities performed by ONYX are:
  • Cleans Mac drive for free spaces
  • Verify SMART status of Mac hard drives.

ClamXAV: Yes a free Mac virus scanner that will ensure your OS X remains safer around. Though there aren’t many Mac viruses around but some Trojans or malware can cause a real headache. If you are transferring files using a FAT formatted USB between a Mac and a PC then you can’t just sit around without worrying about malware. Out of hundreds of PC based malware some may get transmitted to secure Mac file system. So, be prepared for such situation with a free virus cleaner for OS X Mac.

Speedup Mac software: You might want to speed up slow Yosemite with one of the fine available speed up Mac software. This kind of software can look deep into OS X hard drive and bring out junk files from the places where user can’t afford to go. Duplicate files can also be removed with the help of a speed up Mac software. Stellar Speedup Mac software can remove
  • System junk files, 
  • log files, 
  • trashes, leftovers &
  • manage extensions from startup drive.

Dropbox: I admit, I love Dropbox a lot. In my opinion it is the best available online backup services. Dropbox has always helped me saving my small files in limited edition (upto 2GB) package. The sync of files between Mac & Dropbox is genius. Don’t let this 2GB of free backup service go waste. 

Skype: Skype for Mac will help you connect globally and that too for free.

VLC: You will 100% require VLC for Mac since Quick Time player will not run all kinds of audio-video files. So go grab it.

Visit Apple.com to free upgrade to OS X Yosemite, if still running a previous OS X.


Easily Recover Data without using Undelete Software

Data Recovery is a process to recover accidentally deleted or formatted files from your computer including common storage devices such as external or internal hard drive, USB, CD/DVD, memory card etc. Such files can be restored if proper actions are taken immediately or as soon as possible.

Data recovery software is indeed a great way to have your deleted files back, though it may require you to invest money and time. Recovery software can make use of sophisticated algorithm to deeply scan files that is mark as deleted or lost in MBR and treat them carefully to recover exactly as they were deleted.

However, we’ll discuss about some manual ways to recover your lost or deleted files without using such recovery software. It’s strongly advised to not to save or overwrite any more data on the problem storage device as it’ll make your attempts failed of recovering lost or deleted data.

Restore deleted files (Manual method)

Accidental deletion of files and folders- Perhaps, you’re cleaning your system by deleted unnecessary and junk files to free up some hard disk space. However, accidentally you may have deleted an important files or folders that you badly needed.  Unluckily, you can’t file those files in the recycle bin as you’ve chosen to delete it permanently by pressing ‘shift + delete’.

Resolution:  In some cases, you should see your computer recycle bin folder to see if the deleted files are there. You can right click on it and choose ‘Restore’ to save them back to their original destination. However, if you can’t found files what you’re looking for, try following the steps mentioned below:

a.    Right click on folder containing your files deleted previously.
b.    Choose ‘Properties’ and go to ‘Previous versions tab’.
c.    This will list all the previous version of files existed previously (Before deletion). Select file which you want to restore and click on ‘Restore’ button to restore those files back to your system.
What if the files were deleted from the Desktop folder?   

For example, if you have deleted files from the desktop folder named ‘XYZ’. Try creating a new folder with exactly the same name i.e. ‘XYZ’. Moving further, right click on the same and go to its ‘Properties’. Under ‘previous version’ tab, you should see all the deleted files located under the folder. Simply, choose any or all the files you want and hit on restore button.

However, make the system protection is set to turned on. Follow the steps below to check and make sure the system protection is ON:
  • Right click on ‘My Computer’ and select ‘Manage’.
  • Navigate to ‘System Protection’ tab and see if the protection is set to ‘On’ or ‘Off’. To turn the protection ‘On’ for drive ‘D’ (See the image below), click on the drive and select ‘Configure’.

  • Under ‘Restore Settings’ section, select the radio button stating ‘Turn on System Protection’ and set the ‘Disk Space Usage’ as per your convenient.

  • Click on ‘Apply’ to make changes take effect.

Other type of deletion that can’t be addressed manually
Partition Format- If you’ve accidentally formatted or deleted an entire partition, you might be in trouble as you can’t be able to restore them manually. Instead, you should seek for professional and efficient partition undelete software that can scans and recover data from formatted or deleted partition.

Below are some common type of partition problem occurs in Windows OS:

2)    File system damages - This kind of failure occurs due to hardware failure or registry corruption. Sometime logical damage is also caused by software failure. However, most modern file system has a high level of protection against file system.

3)    Partition Corruption due to virus attack- This kind of corruption arises due to unknown malware or other type of threats that may leave partition inaccessible and all the data stored.

Conclusion
Data deleted from computer will keep residing on the memory till it’s not overwritten by some other data. In most cases, we simply delete any files that were no longer needed and can be restored from the recycle bin folder. If you can make use of manual tricks of restoring deleted files, you might not need to invest money on purchasing data recovery software.

However, if situations isn’t in your favor, choose efficient data recovery software might be your last resort. It’ll help you in recovering data from severely damaged or corrupt partitions as well as ensures you that it’ll be completely accessible and 100% working as before.

How to uninstall applications on Mac computer?

Uninstalling software and updating its new version is the most important task to upgrade the Mac with the new features and security purpose. Removing the old software is a necessary action required for the smooth functioning of the Mac. Installed software is always stored in Application folder with the hidden and other files. Uninstalling the software will provide the free space on the hard disk. But before uninstalling the software, it is recommended to keep the backup for the safer side to avoid any discrepancies. Now, to completely uninstall the program, you need to delete it manually by following the simple steps.



1) First delete the software using Trash

Now by default Mac OS X software is stored in the Application folder present on the hard drive. At first, login in to your administrator account. Then open the Application folder and browse for the programs that you need to uninstall.  There you will see some programs are represented by a single icon while other are in folder form having multiple icons into it. And icons can be seen there with the .app extension to identify it.  Also you may find some programs on desktop as well. Just select the program that you want to delete and drag it to the trash folder. Then empty the trash also to completely remove the program.

2) Removing preference files

Now after you empty the trash, still there are some files lingering on the hard drive and have to be deleted. These are called preference files, which are very small and need to be removed to ensure free space on the hard disk. If you don’t want to use the uninstall program in the future, then you need to remove these preference files permanently.

Now to delete it: Hold down the Option key and click on the Go menu. There you could see the Library option available. Choose the files that you want to remove. Also search the files in the  ~/Library/,  ~/Library/Preferences/ and  ~/Library/Application Support/ folders. Now simply drag that files to the Trash folder.

Also you need to check for the similarly named items in the below list and remove it from there as well.

~/Library/LaunchAgents
~/Library/PreferencePanes
~/Library/StartupItems

Sometimes while deleting the files from trash, the error occurs that  "an item in use and can't be deleted". In this case, just reboot the Mac and try again.

After rebooting also, if still the programs are not deleted, then the third party uninstaller will surely uninstall the programs and will definitely make sure that all the traces are deleted completely.

3) Deleting Hidden files and kernel extensions

Everything has been deleted so far to a great extent, but some instance of the software still need to be deleted. These instances include hidden files and kernel extension, which is hard to find. These items need to be specifically searched on the Google. Software that involves some background processing activities such as anti-virus and security programs. Now, kernel extensions are located in /System/Library/Extensions and end with the .kext. After moving that file to the Trash, reboot the system and see the changes. And hidden files are those files that start with a period (.). As the name concerned, these files don’t get displayed in the Finder. Mostly these files are used by the programs for the authentication purposes and located in the home folder. You can use terminal so that the contents are listed in the directory and delete the annoyed item.

But mostly in this case, user is unable to find the above files as they are hidden from the user. For this specific case, he has to go for the third party software to get rid of it completely.

Third Party software

And if somebody does not want to do the above task manually, he can surely use the third party software for this. The third party software do all the above task automatically in few minutes and remove all the junk from the system such as: Cache and leftovers, log files, language files, hidden files, extensions, large files, duplicate files, universal binaries etc. Also, provide you with the "Uninstaller" to uninstall the applications completely.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Why Your Computer Won't Detect Your USB or Flash Drive – Fix it now

This looks quite obvious and can be easily addressed by removing and reinserting the portable or removable storage media devices from the computer system. However, if it keeps happening by performing above steps multiple times as well as the same thing happens whenever you tried to connect the device on different computer, the solution might be tricky and needs you to follow some handful steps. 

USB or flash drives are still a popular way to safely carry documents and other useful information. These devices generally have higher chances of becoming damaged, inaccessible or even unreadable by the computer system due to of lacking any inbuilt security mechanism. Therefore, you are strongly advised to carefully scan the targeted computer first before plugging your USB/ Flash chips based storage devices.

Once the device becomes inaccessible, you might lose your data permanently and use of best data recovery software can help you recover data from USB or Flash Drives. Recovery software are specially created to deal with various crucial data loss circumstances by providing relevant recovery methods to recover data from verity of storage media devices.

USB isn’t showing up on the computer’ is one of the most common problems that user may face anytime. The problem device may also not showed up under ‘Disk Management’, which usually contains all the crucial information about all the connected internal or external storage media devices such as file system type, used or total drive capacity, drive label etc. In some case, disk management may list the drive with such problems but show 0 Bytes as total drive capacity as well as consumed or free space.

Don’t get confused with various other forms of similar problems, such as:

Please insert a disk into drive X:


Whenever, you’ve decided to format drive with similar issues, you may have received the following error message on the screen:

There is no disk in drive X.
Insert a disk, and then try again.

For example, in the image below, you can see a drive with such problems that is showing 0 Bytes as drive capacity as well as unallocated or reserved space.

                             

How to fix problem USB or Flash drive that didn’t showed up – Windows 7

Steps mentioned in this tutorial are simple, however it is advised you to be a computer proficient to carefully follow all the steps. Also, the risks are involved of losing data as some steps require you to completely format the problem storage devices (USB or Flash Drive).

Once you are done and ensured that all the stored data were accessible from somewhere else, you can proceed with troubleshooting steps below:
  1. Open the elevated command prompt by typing cmd in the search text bar, opened after clicking on start button in Windows 7. Right click on the Command Prompt from the search text bar and choose to run it as an administrator.

    Please enter the admin credentials if it was previously set and hit enter.
  2. Alternatively, you can also type diskpart.exe directly into the search text bar, opened after clicking on the start button in Windows 7. Again, you’ll need to select it to ‘Run as an administrator’ and provide required admin credentials.
  3. Once the black screen window opens, type ‘list disk’ and hit enter. This command will list all the internal or external storage media devices currently connected to your computer.
  4. You’ll need to locate the problem storage devices that stop showing in the computer previously. You can easily identify it by seeing the size of the problem drive. Note down the number of your problem storage device, located just below the Disk ### column.
  5. Type Select Disk X (Where X is the number of problem removable device) and hit enter. A confirmation message will appear that now the same numbered disk has been selected and any or all the actions you perform, will be applied to that particular disk.
  6. Perform clean command by typing Clean and hitting enter. This will erase all the stored data into the problem drive and make it very fresh exactly as you had used it for the first time. However, it’ll lose the defined file system type and needs to be assigned any one, either NTFS or FAT (Whichever you want)
  7. Type Create Partition Primary to assign a new file system/partition to that problem drive and hit enter. By default, Partition 1 will be assigned to that problem device.
  8. Type Select Partition 1 and hit enter to select the partition.
  9. Type format fs=ntfs label=USB quick in the command prompt and hit enter to format it once again and make it pretty fresh for new uses.
  10. Close the Diskpart or exit the black screen window by simply clicking on close button, located at the top right corner.
  11. Most probably, the drive will now be listed under ‘My Computer’ labeled with NTFS file format. From now on, you can use or access this drive without any problem. Moreover, follow the same procedure if the problem resurfaces in future.

Alternate options
If following the above tutorials didn’t help you, consider using the third party USB/Flash Drive formatting tool which will format the drive by using their own mechanism and repair the corrupt or damaged file system.

HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool is a great tool to format USB or flash media of almost any size and make it bootable if required. It’ll also lets you able to assign or give new file system type to your problem removable storage media.

Windows USB DVD creator is also a similar tool and can also be used to format or make bootable USB. In both ways, we’ll try to format and assign a new file system to the problem storage media as formatting any non-working or corrupt USB can do the trick and make it usable as before.

Last resort for making corrupt/damaged USB usable again

At last, if nothing works, consider following the link here and initiate the Launchpad. Follow on screen steps and U3 installer will restore the problem USB drive to its default/factory settings. Remember, this option will work only on SanDisk USB or Flash drive as the utility was specifically created for Manufacturer own modeled USB or flash drives. 
  

Thursday, 9 October 2014

10 tips to boost the security on Mac


Though Mac OS X is extremely secure but the truth is that no operating system is 100% impenetrable. These days certain attacks of Trojan have affected the security issues badly. These attacks usually arrive from the third party software that contaminate the Mac with its adverse effects. With the increasing number of Mac users, they are easily becoming a victim of this growing number of attacks. So, lets discuss some points, which will help to keep the Mac secure.



1) Disable 'Open safe files' and Java in the browser settings

It is better to disable these options, as it will generate the security issues. And if we talk about Flash player, so Java is the target for the exploit writers to plant malware on the Mac machine. Working in a safe environment is much better to avoid such discrepancy.

2) Open up the non- admin account for daily activities

Using administrator account may give the gateway to malware writers to infect the Mac. Our everyday task involves email, downloads etc. , so new account will prevent from the threats and malware attacks during these activities.

3) Update the software

In recent cases, it has been noticed that the attacks of virus is just because of the outdated software. Whenever 'Apple software update' prompts, the user should fix that update and reboot the Machine. So, updating of the software involves some coding effects which will solve most of the issues. It has been recommended to use latest technology and updated software to be safe at least in security cases.

4) Disable Airport, Bluetooth, IPv6 like things

While doing web browsing, disconnect all such applications, which leads to connectivity services between user and hackers. These apps will generate the entry gates for the hackers to hack the data and inject malware. Also, IPv6 is the communication protocol that is rarely used but still it is a good practice to disable it and be on a safer side.

5) Enable FileVault

Now, in previous version of Mac OS X i.e. Lion, Apple added full disk encryption option which later on known as 'FileVault2'. This is very useful as it give you the benefit of securing the entire disk.

6) Installation of good Antivirus will be an added advantage

It is a common line that 'Mac doesn't get viruses' but the statement has been completely changed drastically. From 2011 onwards, the Trojan and several other viruses badly affect the Mac machine. Due to this updating good antivirus is mandatory for security purposes.

7) Update latest version of Adobe Reader

As the latest version of Adobe Reader has engraved with certain security parameters, so upgrading it will prevent your Mac.

8) Use built in password manager i.e. Keychain

This is a facility provided in Mac systems only which helps us to subsist with the phishing attacks. With the help of the Keychain facility, you can keep your entire difficult password in it.  Also, select unique password with ASCII characters for every different account and instead of remembering it, just put it in the Keychain. Normally when sometimes your password is hacked by cybercriminals, they try that same password in every account. Due to this practice, they are sometimes successful in it. So, generating strong password will boost up the security level.

9) Enable the OS X Firewall

Now Mac has built in Firewall, which protects you from unwanted programs to access, and they are turned off by default. To enable it, just go in system preferences, then in security and there you could see the Firewall. Enabling it will allow the Mac users to control the network connections.

10) Uninstall Flash Player in settings

Now, Adobe flash player has been a common target for hackers. Update latest version of it will prevent from certain risk while browsing the Internet.

Therefore, above are the most important points to uplift the security level of Mac. Always keep updated with the latest software and attacks.

Monday, 29 September 2014

How to create the bootable USB installer for OS X Yosemite ?

Apple OS X Yosemite 10.10 is a powerful and elegant operating system with the redesigned interface and new features in it.  Now, let us create a bootable USB installer for OS X Yosemite. The steps are as follows:



1)
At first, insert the SD card or USB flash drive in the computer. Then to launch the Disk Utility, double   click on main drive, then on 'Applications' folder and lastly click on 'Utilities' folder. Select Disk Utility app from there.

2)
Choose the drive from the device list and click on partition tab. Then select one partition from the drop down menu and give its name, size and select 'Mac OS Extended (Journaled)' from the drop down list.

3)
Now click on the 'Options' button and you could see the partition scheme menu available right there. Then choose the radio button which is just next to GUID partition table and click ok. Now verify the changes that have been made and then click 'Apply'. A pop up window will generate asking to partition the disk finally, just then click on 'Partition' option to reflect the changes.

4)
After the completion of the above process, the removable drive is ready  for OS X. The next step is to launch the Terminal app to unhide the hidden files which are needed to proceed the process. For that the below command is needed i.e.

defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles 1 | KillAll Finder

5)
Then, search the location where OS X 10.10.DP1.app file is saved and right click the installer and then  click on Show Package Content from the menu. Now, Click on Shared support which is present there and mount the installESD.dmg file. After double clicking on installESD.dmg file, we could able to see several files, out of which 2 files are needed to create the OS X installer  to the removable drive. One file is BaseSystem.dmg and  second one is Packages folder.

6)
Now, move on back to Disk Utility app and choose the partition that we have created in above steps. Next is to select the Restore tab, drag the partition name to the destination box and also drag the BaseSystem.dmg file from Finder to the source box. Then, Click on Restore button present in the bottom  and clicking on Erase will start the process to install the drives on to the drive. And just fill the administrative credentials requested by Disk Utility to perform the task and then click on OK command to execute the changes.

7) 
After completing the task of file transfer, the drive will automatically mount in Finder. Search the installation directory to find the alias to the packages folder and just delete that alias.

8)
And if  you want to replace that alias, then copy that Packages folder to the installation directory as done above. In this process, again the time it will generally take to transfer the file will depend on the age of the machine.

9)
Generally, it is not a good practice to hide the files but if you want to still proceed then type the following command mentioned below to hide the files again:

defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles 0 | KillAll Finder

10)
At last the removable drive is ready to perform a clean installation of OS X Yosemite. Now, to proceed for the clean  install, power on the Mac and insert the drive. To access the boot selection menu, just hold down the option  key and choose the USB drive partition and follow the prompts to initiate the boot process.