Thursday, January 21, 2021

Hard Drive Recovery Associates: Everything There Is To Know About Deepfakes

Irvine, California-based Hard Drive Recovery Associates is reaching out to the community to announce that a new blog post, titled ‘Rolling in the Deep(fake),’ is now available on their website. In this article, the experts dive into the topic of Deepfakes, a synthetic media in which a person in an existing image or video is replaced with someone else's likeness, has taken over the internet as the newest form of parody entertainment.

"With Deepfakes surfacing all throughout the internet, and more people wondering what this buzz is all about, we figured it was about time we touched upon one of the hottest topics of the moment," says Jack Edwards, a representative of Hard Drive Recovery Associates. He continues, "You have most likely already come across one of these videos already, whether it is Jon Snow apologizing for the underwhelming finale episode of Game of Thrones or Steven Buscemi attending the Golden Globes wearing what people remember as Tilda Swinton’s gown. These videos have been our exposure to Deepfake, the 21st century equivalent to photoshopped pictures. But if you are wondering what these videos are exactly, and how they are made, then our new article may be of significant interest to you."

In their most recent article, the Hard Drive Recovery Associates take on the challenge of explaining the ins and outs of Deepfakes in simple and clear terms for their readers, starting with how they are made. These videos are made possible through artificial intelligence that produces fake images of events that have never happened. It takes a lot of resources to produce a Deepfake, and any standard or desktop PC will not suffice for the job. A high-end desktop armed with professional-grade graphic cards and storage capacity is required since one Deepfake video alone may need at least 40,000 high definition pictures of the person that is to appear in the video. Fast computing power is also a necessity, otherwise the processing of a two minutes long video could end up taking over a month.

Edwards says, "Provided that you account for all of this, it is actually not difficult to make Deepfake videos, thanks to free apps and programs that allow even ordinary people to make them. Cost-free source codes and machine-learning algorithms are abundant online."

Once completed, the quality of these Deepfake videos can be enough to convince even the most skeptical of viewers, who can be fooled easily enough unless they are actively looking for the telling differences. When it comes to spotting a Deepfake, Hard Drive Recovery Associates states that older Deepfakes can be identified by a lack of blinking of the person appearing on the video. Today, this is no longer the case, as the technology has advanced and left these drawbacks in the past. When it comes to spotting a Deepfake, it all comes down to being vigilant and actively looking out for the small tells that give away these videos.

Edwards says, "With how good these videos have become over the past year, you may be concerned that they may have a significant impact in the world as a whole, as they are often made to embarrass, intimidate and destabilize individuals. This is not really the case, however, as even though it can be hard for an unexpecting individual to spot a Deepfake, many countries have their own intelligence agencies that employ state-of-the-art security imaging systems. In the big scheme of things, the truth will most certainly always surface."

Furthermore, the AI used to produce Deepfakes is also what can stop this surging trend. The AI has been proven to be effective in detecting Depfakes that feature celebrities because of millions of hours of available footage. Technology firms are now looking into how detection systems can spot Deepfakes, whether or not they feature a known personality. There is also talk of having an online ledger system on a blockchain that will house original copies of videos, audio and photos so that any file can be cross-checked for any manipulation.

The company's website offers more details on Hard Drive Recovery Associates and their services. Interested parties may also reach out to Jack Edwards to follow up on any inquiries via email or phone, though they can also get in touch with the company through the contact form on their site. They may also visit the company's social media pages to interact with them and stay up to date on their latest news.


Thursday, December 10, 2020

Got an Unsuccessful ATT Payment Text? Scam?

Various text and online scams have been on the rise again, even in this time when everybody is clearly in distress and challenged because of the pandemic. August and September saw an increase in ruses targeting customers of a particular telecom company AT&T. Because of the number of subscribers to the company's services, a lot of scammers have become attracted to get their share of this unsuspecting AT&T customers. The types of scams they have been pulling off have become varied, from emails to sim swaps, and currently, the wave of scams has been through SMS messages.

What is sad with these scams is that many people have fallen victim and considering that many have already lost jobs and means of livelihood, they also had to lose whatever savings or remaining money they have to these schemes. AT&T and various government agencies have already rolled out strategies to assist and curb these scams, so it is hoped that fewer customers become victims. After all, the last thing we need in these trying times is more people getting scammed. Also, information is key in avoiding getting duped by these scammers, so it is essential that people are constantly updated and not left in the dark to be preyed upon.

Knowing more about the scam

As mentioned earlier, scams involving the logo and brand of AT&T have been around for quite a while. They have come in various forms, from emails, phone calls from alleged customer service agents of the company, and even emails. For a time, the most popular method of scamming was phone calls coming from scammers who introduce themselves as AT&T employees, requesting customers to take a survey and in return, they end up getting personal and confidential information. Emails were also received by victims asking them to open links that are supposed to help them, but they end up surrendering information as well. Finally, the latest is a slew of text messages telling customers that they need to settle unpaid dues. No matter the form, scammers usually get sensitive information like passwords, credit card numbers, and social security numbers.

Consumers report getting phishing texts this summer telling them that their bill hasn't been paid yet for their internet or cell service. In some cases, the texts say their AT&T payment has been put on hold.


What to do if you've been victimized

The key to limit the damage of these scams if indeed you have become a victim is to act immediately. There is no time to waste when it comes to these scammers. At the first sign of you getting scammed by an AT&T scammer, you need to get in touch with your credit card companies and ask for a freeze with your account. Change your passwords and usernames immediately and if possible, do a two-factor authentication to increase the security of your online accounts.

If you do fall victim to this type of text message scam the BBB recommends taking the following steps: Contact your banking institutions to report fraud and cancel credit cards used for all transactions or connected to the mobile device


Avoid being a target

Alas, as an adage goes, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. You need to be careful so as not to be a constant target of these scams. Exercise skepticism by not giving out personal information freely to just about anyone who gets in touch with you, even if you are contacted via phone. Besides, if you are an AT&T subscriber, you have the customer service hotline of the company, so give them a call ASAP if you have received any text, email or calls from them.

Scammers are tricky. They'll send messages that appear to be from a legitimate company, such as your wireless carrier, bank or medical facility, and include a link asking you to verify your account information. The link then takes you to a site that may look real, but is actually fake. The object is to collect your username, password and other personal information for future use.


Another unfortunate event that you may be susceptible to is missing files that you need to be recovered. Are you Take advantage of our expertise to get you back your data. Read more here for our other services:

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Thursday, December 3, 2020

Finding the Laptop for You

With September already arriving and with the pandemic still ongoing, an unlikely scenario has become reality: employees and students are stuck at home, working, and studying, respectively. That also means that work (and these days, study) from home essentials has become quite important. While in the "old normal," hipster students who aren't really comfortable with technology have the option to bring notebooks and pens to their classes, the current reality will simply not allow that anymore. Obviously, your notebooks and pens will not allow you to attend your virtual classes. Thus, the need for a laptop, which most work-from-home employees may have already invested on months ago.

Are the laptop needs of a virtual employee different from those of a student? Should home-based “netrepreneurs” be more demanding of the specs of the device they would use for their business venture? The quick answer to these questions is yes. The preferred functions of a laptop for a business owner, a student, and a home-based employee may be different, so it is essential to make sure that the specs and purposes of having a laptop are clear to the person buying it, mainly depending on how he or she will use it.

What students should look for

With the pandemic raging on, students would obviously require a laptop that will allow them to attend classes in virtual classrooms. In terms of programs will be a huge factor in a number of specs that students will be looking into, which would mostly depend on the student’s major. Elementary, middle school, and high school students may already be good with a laptop that lets word processing and virtual meeting programs run smoothly, but this may not be the case for engineering students who may be required to have huge files of engineering software installed in their devices. Thus, processing speed, RAM, and available space may be important considerations for students.

You won’t need much resources to attend your virtual class or watch video lectures but you must pick a machine depending on the courses you are involved into. For instance, resource intensive courses such as machine learning, data science, 3D modeling, or mechanical engineering, video editing, game development, etc, require a powerful laptop with a high-end CPU, GPU, and RAM combination.


What virtual workers should look for

Dear virtual worker, if you haven’t yet invested on a great laptop for your work-from-home setup, it may be either one of two things: Your company has provided you with a laptop or you’re just one lazy slob who’s still depending on that five-year-old laptop of yours to still serve you despite looking like it had seen better days. Beware though, as these laptops have been working overtime these days because of the current pandemic WFH setup, they might be prone to faster wear and tear and alas, that perennial problem of overheating batteries. Thus, you need to be sure that you have a back-up device, lest you want to make yourself susceptible to downtime and be forced to use your vacation days because you don’t have a computer to work from.

If you're one of the millions of people trying to figure out how to work from home, you already know that having the right technology is a big part getting your job done. For most of us, that means figuring out which computer will give us the most bang for our buck.


What biz people should look for

Alas, people engaging in business these days have specific needs as well. Connectivity is most important since you will need to be in touch with possible customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or run the risk of losing them. Also, some laptops aren’t made for such long hours, so if you are an entrepreneur, you need to look for a laptop that doesn’t heat up immediately as well.

You don’t have to run a business to benefit from a business laptop. They’re easier to repair and upgrade than other laptops, and they’re built with sturdy materials that will hold up well to traveling and frequent use.


But no matter where you are in life right now, one depressing thing is having a laptop with a faulty hard drive. But don't fret, read this: We have experts that can do the fixing for you, so contact us ASAP!

Finding the Laptop for You is republished from


Thursday, November 26, 2020

Slow Internet? Try These Steps

One of the most important necessities these days for every home is a fast and reliable internet connection. After all, how would that not be a priority for everyone, with most companies still highly encouraging their employees to work from home and schools still closed and most offering virtual classes? Whether you're an entrepreneur running an online business, an employee working from home, or a student spending this school year online, having a stable internet connection is indeed one resource everybody needs in this pandemic (aside from great health and food, of course).

But as the laws of economics state, resources that are high in demand would usually be made scarce and unfortunately, unreliable. Since everybody expects a lot from their internet service provider all of sudden (since the start of the pandemic in March), their bandwidth in meeting these expectations may already be stretched too thin. Thus, while it is still important that our networks and service providers do their best in meeting the expectations of the public, there are still some tricks we can do as users to help ourselves and not aggravate the situation.

Check bandwidth-hogging apps and programs

A usual culprit of slow internet speeds is something we don't usually see - background processes. A number of software apps (for example, Windows Update, or Google Play's automatic downloading of updates) run these processes that we are not really aware of, because they are hidden behind other apps. However, they consume network resources. During certain times of the day when you need your internet to be faster than the Roadrunner outrunning Wil E. Coyote, it is best to turn off these apps and just turn them on again when you're about to go to sleep or going offline.

Are you having trouble connecting to Facebook or Twitter? Has your internet connection slowed down to the point that it’s become unusable? Don’t blame your internet service provider just yet. The reason for this could be a program consuming bandwidth in the background.


Check for any signal interference

Another common cause of Wi-Fi and other types of wireless connections poorly performing is because of signal interference. When this happens, your laptop or device needs to keep on resending messages for signal overlap to be surpassed. The thing is, interference can come from a wide variety of sources, from your neighbor's wireless networks that interfere with yours to even your electronic appliances like microwave ovens.

Is your WiFi slower than it should be? The reason may be interference. It’s a silent affliction that could be robbing you of the speed that you pay for; so even if your 802.11ac router supports gigabit speeds, for example, you may see far less.


Check your router and network equipment

Are you used to having tech support and the trusty IT department of your office run to aid for every single problem you might have with your computer/ Well, reality check: they are not with you now, so you need to do a bit of troubleshooting yourself. Be on the know with checking on whether your router and other equipment are running up to speed, as their poor performance might be the reason your internet speed is lousy.

After you confirm you’re getting the correct speed test results from your modem, turn your router back on, connect your testing device to the router with an Ethernet cable, and run another speed test. If you have a modem and router combo, turn off bridge mode.


Another important resource you need to have all the time are important documents and data within your reach. If you have been missing important documents, read on: We will reunite you with your important documents in no time.

The blog post Slow Internet? Try These Steps was first published on Hard Drive Recovery Associates


Thursday, November 19, 2020

Elevate Your Zoom Game

The coronavirus has introduced us to what is now known as the "New Normal" - practices and ways of doing things that have definitely been affected because everyone has to follow health safety protocols. As much as possible, shopping should be done in the comfort of home. Gatherings of more than five people are highly discouraged. Thus, it comes as no surprise that companies are still highly recommending their employees to stay at home, while students are also encouraged to attend virtual classes instead of going to schools, most (if any at all), have not opened.

With this "best practice" of working, studying, and practically doing everything at home, everybody's internet bandwidth is stretched to their limits because everyone at home needs their Wi-Fi for work and play. Also, everybody has to step up their game with everything related to programs that make it possible to work. Since tech support or the trusty IT guy is not readily available, you either have to be very careful with how you use these programs, pray to the high heavens that the program never malfunctions, or get educated on quick fixes and troubleshooting solutions. One of these programs is Zoom, which almost the entire world has been using to hold meetings with clients, business associates, and workmates, as well as just to meet friends and family who are also on lockdown. And with increased use, common problems arise. So, how do people deal with these hassles in using what is currently the most used video conferencing software these days?

The problem of poor (or lack of) audio and video

One of the most common problems among Zoom users is about audio. A lot of users face difficulties when they are have supposed to already turn on their webcam and microphone but the other people in their meetings claim they can’t see or hear anything coming from your end. What usually follows is a long and drawn-out moment of awkwardness, with people asking you if you are on mute, if you didn’t turn your camera on, to see if you can log out and log back in, which is simply a waste of everyone’s time.  How should you remedy this?

Though the exact process may differ slightly from device to device, chances are you will need to grant Zoom permission to access the camera and microphone on your computer before you start your first call. If you are having audio issues, it could be that you breezed pass this step during setup, but not to worry — it can easily be fixed!


When you need to get out of a cave or a tunnel

Then, there is another problem of you having the audio, but sounding like you’re in a tunnel or that the audio you hear from other participants have echo, so you can’t focus or understand what they’re saying.  When you get feedback (pun not intended) that you sound like in a tunnel, then you need to take action because meeting participants hearing echoing sounds results in one very lousy meeting.

You hear an echo when your voice is coming out of the speaker on the other end of the call and then back into the microphone in that same room, so the person (or room) on the other end of the meeting has to change something about their setup in order for you to be able to participate again.


Your screen freezes

There is also the problem of your screen freezing while you are in the middle of a meeting or if your video is slower than your voice. This challenge also needs to be addressed ASAP because when an audio and video feed don’t match, meeting participants will most likely get distracted.

There will always some time-lag problems on video calls due to signal processing and internet congestion issues (Microsoft Teams has also had lag time issues.) But your relatively long Zoom delays, and the fact that others on your Zoom call don't experience them, are unusual.


Screen sharing difficulties

Finally, when you need to show your screen to your Zoom meeting mates and you are struggling to do so, it will definitely give you a huge headache, especially if you need to present something in that Zoom meeting.

Sharing your screen in a Zoom meeting requires you to check some settings first to avoid connection issues and other problems such as echoes during calls, issues receiving emails, or a screen sharing problem. You definitely need a stable internet connection to avoid these problems, especially Zoom screen share not working. But if this problem arises, you can try the practical methods we listed below.


Aside from updating your Zoom skills, you should also make sure your device is functioning very well. If you need help with recovering lost data or repairing your hard drive, get in touch with us and we're ready to help.

The post Elevate Your Zoom Game was first published on


Thursday, November 12, 2020

Choosing the E-Reader for You

With most of us having so much time for work and play because of lessened commute time, we may find ourselves developing a hobby. Some of us have taken refuge in that almighty app called Netflix, where we pass hours in a day finishing full TV series or movie franchises. There are also people subscribing to hours of online fitness classes to shake off lethargy and make sure their fitness gains pre-COVID are kept and maintained. There are those who keep on enrolling in online classes to upskill and use this time to make themselves more marketable in the job market. Then, finally, there are those who go back to an old habit, like writing in a notebook, cooking, or reading. If you are one of those people who missed reading because you didn't have a lot of time during your work week to indulge in the written word, this pandemic may be giving you more time to go back and read as much as you want, from fiction to biographies, from crime thrillers to sci-fi and fantasy.

One thing you may be thinking of when wanting to read is how to get books when going to the library is not really an option and buying books isn't that smart when you don't have the space to put all these books. That's where e-books and e-readers come in handy. With everything in electronic files, you can indulge in your reading habit without having to think about the space your books will take up and without having to leave your place. E-readers have come a long way, though and there will be things to look for when you are about to secure one for yourself. Should you go for a Kindle? A Kobo? A Nook? Or should you just go ahead and download an e-reader app on your tablet or phone and use your device as your e-reader? There are pros and cons to that, so do weigh your options.

Consider the screen type

You need to obviously consider the screen of your e-reader because you will be staring at that screen for as long as you are reading. Screens of tablets and phones are not really effective in reducing glare and will therefore strain your eyes even if you are just looking at it for a short time. E-readers employ e-ink and other technologies that do not really give off a lot of light, so you can comfortably read from it even for long periods.

Traditionally, eBook readers have been equipped with two kinds of screens: LCD displays and eInk. Depending on your needs and wants, choosing a reader with one or another is a principal decision as the type of a display determines essential things about your eBook reader.


Consider its size

Considering you are at home most of the time, having handy and light gadgets may not really be a priority at this time. However, considering that you want to be comfortable while you read, you would need to consider if you can hold your e-book reader in one hand like how you hold a paperback book because a clunky gadget can make your reading experience more of a hassle.

You shouldn’t have to strain your eyes to read a book on a digital screen. Our picks all have a six-inch (or larger) display, so the reading experience will be similar to holding a paperback. E-readers let you adjust your book’s text size to your level of comfort, but screen size still counts.


Consider its battery life

In comparison to most other gadgets, you will discover that e-book readers are quite energy efficient. They do not even joke when they claim that a single charge will last most e-readers weeks, with Wi-Fi turned off. But then, don’t forget to check on this because there’s nothing worse for a reader than to be interrupted in the middle of reading a juicy book because the e-reader has juiced out. And there are also ways of extending the battery life of these hardworking gadgets.

Turn down the frontlight. Frontlights are the best thing to happen to ereaders since Amazon launched the original Kindle with free 3G, but you would be surprised by just how much of an impact they have on battery life. I was recently reading on Kobo’s original 6.8” ereader with the frontlight turned almost off, and that thing actually lasted through 4 ebooks before I had to recharge it.


Most if not all e-readers are also equipped to display various documents, particularly those in the PDF format. But then, you can't view them on your e-reader if you've lost them, right? We can help you recover those missing files. Read on to know more about our services:

Choosing the E-Reader for You See more on:


Hard Drive Recovery Associates Explores The Disadvantages Of Using A VPN

Irvine, CA data recovery expert Hard Drive Recovery Associates recently published a blog post that discussed the drawbacks and shortcomings of virtual private networks (VPNs). Those who are interested can read the entire blog post on the company’s official website.

VPNs can be very useful tools. They can be used to hide online identities from third parties, access content that is only available in other places of the world, avoid bandwidth throttling and more. However, everyone should take note that the use of a VPN can also come with many disadvantages. It is important to consider these drawbacks so that potential users can weigh the possible consequences of VPNs before deciding whether or not they want to use such private networks.

To begin with, those who choose to activate their VPN may find that their internet speeds are not up to par to what they usually are. This is because VPNs have to work hard to make sure that the user’s network traffic is encrypted. This gives the user better online security and online anonymity but also means that their devices will have to allot more resources to this additional priority, in turn needing more time to do each task. There may also be other reasons for slow VPNs, such as the encryption method, the resources on the user’s device and so on. Overheads may also be introduced and utilized by others to slow down the speed of VPN users. There are some VPN services that provide a nice balance between speed and security. However, more often than not, these services will cost the user more money.

Users may also be unaware that the VPNs they use can be stalking them. There are VPN services that allow people to access their private servers and provide services like enhanced security and improved speed — but they may also be siphoning data away from their users. In fact, most may be unaware of this issue as clauses regarding data collection may be hidden away in the fine print of the Terms of Agreement that hardly anyone reads. VPN services may also be collecting information due to regional laws, and users should be aware that some VPN services do this, especially free-to-use VPNs.

VPN services may also pose security threats to business users. Most businesses usually benefit from using VPNs because doing so gives remote employees access to the company network. This is even more beneficial during crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, as most people are now remote working and are afraid to leave their houses. The problem with this is that the network admins in a given company most probably do not have much control over the devices that remote employees are using. This is an obvious security risk that third parties can exploit.

In fact, as an article on Pipeline states, “Yet while VPNs could effectively enable and secure remote access in the past when most work was done onsite within company walls, their use has become increasingly risky in a world that includes a preponderance of virtual workers.”

It must also be noted that, although VPN services do provide increased security and online anonymity, they still do not provide 100% anonymity. Even the people who use VPNs religiously may find that their identities have still been revealed. This can happen if the user’s DNS is leaked, if the VPN gets disconnected while the user is browsing the internet, or if the VPN services used have agreements with government agencies to disclose user personal information in the interest of national security. Users must note that VPNs are not the foolproof anonymity solution that many think they are.

Users should make sure to be careful in choosing whether or not to use VPNs. If they decide to do so, they must be smart in choosing which VPNs to use. Using a bad VPN can lead to system hacks and loss of valuable data. If this happens, Hard Drive Recovery Associates can provide assistance in recovering lost important information. Their experienced and certified data recovery engineers can ensure that their customers will receive their recovered data in as intact a state as possible.

Hard Drive Recovery Associates also offers support calls for free. Interested parties who find themselves in need of data recovery services may check out Hard Drive Recovery Associates by heading over to their website. Alternatively, clients may connect with the company’s representatives via social media to follow up on any further inquiries or stay up to date with their news and announcements.