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Tech Savvy: Tech troubleshooting

Hey there, Tech, Savvy fans! I've had a few questions, comments and concerns pop up this past week and I thought it would be good timing to share those with you and how to handle them. With the rapid fire tech changes, improvements and products, ...

notebook, and two persons on white background
notebook, and two persons on white background

Hey there, Tech, Savvy fans! I've had a few questions, comments and concerns pop up this past week and I thought it would be good timing to share those with you and how to handle them. With the rapid fire tech changes, improvements and products, it's easy to become lost in how to manage updates or what to do when you have an issue. Sometimes there are easy solutions that require minimal effort apart from knowing where to start, and others require specific step by step processes that will not fix the issue unless they are followed explicitly.

Case study number one. The case of the missing apps.

I had someone reach out to me saying that by some unfortunate fluke they had to reset their phone, and not just the turn it off and then on again kind. We're talking full restore to factory settings. It seemed to have solved their initial issue, but now they were finding it challenging to get the device back to the same settings they had before. I've touched on this briefly in the past, about how you can backup your contacts, photos and data via different methods - iCloud for Apple, ROM Manager or other apps for Android, or the default backup setting, you also have options like the Verizon Cloud that I mentioned before that helps save your text message history along with other details. It's always a good idea to regularly backup your device - it helps preserve settings, folders, and other custom settings you've set up.

Unfortunately, sometimes you just lose everything, and the person with the question was lamenting that they had some apps they had previously downloaded or purchased and now they weren't able to be found. If you have a backup program it's the best place to start but in the off chance the restore from backup doesn't get you back where you needed, or if you hadn't backed up your device after making new purchases, here are a couple other options.

Both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store use accounts that help identify who is purchasing apps and programs and what devices they use. This is extremely helpful when looking at restoring apps. Because the apps are sold based on accounts, it will keep track of all the apps you have previously purchased or downloaded. What this means is that as long as you log into the same account, even if you reset your device, you should have instant record of all the apps you've had. In Android's case you simply open the Play Store app, and in the top left corner where you have the menu, open the My Apps section. Once you get in there you will see two categories - Installed and All. The Installed category shows what is currently loaded on your device, the All category shows all the apps that you have purchased using that account but they aren't necessarily on the device at the time. This is useful because you can keep your screens lightweight on apps, knowing that because you've purchased it you can reinstall them at any time.

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For iOS devices, you open the App Store, and at the bottom of the screen is a button labeled Purchased. If you click on that you will see two options - All and Not on This iPad. All will include every app both on your iPad and not. The ones that are on the iPad have an Open button next to them and the others have a cloud icon that shows you can redownload them. The Not on This iPad button is just that- all of the apps that are not on your iOS device. They will all have the little cloud icon that you can redownload them from.

The only downside to this is, depending on how you removed them from the device. they may not have any App Data saved, meaning that it would be like using the app for the first time. You won't have to repay for the app if it was money, but if it was a game you would have lost all of your progress. It's not as complete as restoring from a backup, but it is a better option than starting over completely.

The second issue I wanted to briefly cover is a concern that someone had over a fan in a computer they were running and how it was affecting the performance of the device.

I had someone who was running a mini PC. If you're not familiar with them they are basically exactly what they sound like, small computers. One interesting thing is that with the mini PCs you can get them running Windows, Linux or Android. This option gives you some options as far as how you want to use the machine, which is nice.

In this case the mini PC was running Android and they were using it to run a large screen TV as an information center in a public space. Basically the mini PC powered a browser that allowed interaction via a touch screen overlay on the TV, think really large tablet. It's actually a really neat setup that allows the flexibility of a web page, HTML programming, and the ease of use of a touch screen.

What happened, though, is that over the last couple of months since the system was implemented, they noticed increasing lag time in screen scrolling, longer load times at startup and general sluggishness. Eventually it got to the point where crashes were occurring pretty regularly and it was causing a lot of frustration.

I happened to be able to take a look at the set up first hand and it was really cool to see. Because the mini PCs are so small they typically only have HDMI outputs so it runs right into the TV and is powered via USB. As I was looking over the set up I could hear this loud humming, almost rasping, coming from the mini PC. It didn't take long to figure out that the fan was working itself overly hard and the mini PC was a little warmer than it should have been. Fortunately it was still under warranty and they were able to get it replaced and now things are working really well.

The lesson to be learned here is that it's important to do regular check ups and maintenance on your devices and equipment to make sure that they aren't running into these issues - in almost any case if you looked at your computer's fan it's probably covered in dust, or boxed into a small cabinet, or something similar. While it may not affect performance immediately, with increasing dust gathering and impeding air flow, inevitably your machine will begin to wear down. The same is true with other devices like Roku boxes or other streaming media players, wireless routers, laptops, and basically any device that runs on electricity. By placing your devices in extremely confined areas you're cutting off the air supply that they desperately need to stay cool. There are some computers designed to be liquid cooled, which can help, but even they need room for airflow to circulate. It's important to remember that just because it fits in a small space, it can't necessarily just go there.

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Of course, these are just a couple of issues that we run into every day, but they were fresh in my mind and I wanted to share with you. Hopefully this helps you avoid some similar problems.

Don't miss out next week as we cover a product that Tech Savvy is getting a first glimpse at- we are one of only a few people that have even seen this product, let alone get it in hand, and we will be bringing you an exclusive look at it next week.

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