New Windows File Recovery Tool Resurrects Deleted Files

Microsoft’s own Windows File Recovery tool allows users to use a command line app to bring back a variety of file-types that may have been mistakenly deleted, formatted, or have become corrupt.

File Recovery

Microsoft’s File Recovery app, which is free from the Microsoft store and requires Windows 10 build 19041 or later, is able to recover lost files that have been deleted from a  local storage device (including internal drives, external drives and USB devices) and can’t be restored from the Recycle Bin.

Situations

The File Recovery app is useful in a variety of situations in addition to accidental deletion of a file, including if a user has wiped clean their hard drive or needs to recover corrupted data files.

Where recovery of valuable personal files/personal data is concerned, for example, the app can help recover photos, documents, videos and more. This could include recovering files from a camera or SD card using the app’s ‘Signature’ mode or recovering files from a USB drive.

File Systems

The Windows file storage ‘New Technology File System’ (NTFS) is, of course, the default that the tool is designed for i.e. Computers’ (HDD, SSD) external hard drives, flash, or USB drives (> 4GB).  The tool also supports ReFS for Windows Server and Windows Pro for Workstations, and FAT and exFAT (SD cards, Flash or USB drives of < 4GB).

File Types

The types of files that the tool can be used to recover includes ASF (wma, wmv, asf), JPEG (jpg, jpeg, jpe, jif, jfif, jf), MP3, MPEG (peg, mp4, mpg, m4a, m4v, m4b, m4r, mov,  3gp, qt, PDF, PNG and ZIP.

When All Else Fails

The File Recovery app, therefore, provides something to turn to when a simple trip to the recycling bin is not possible and when the situation is more challenging.

Previous Versions

It should be noted that Microsoft’s ‘Previous Versions’ feature in Windows 10 also allows for the recovery documents that have been deleted, but this feature has to be enabled first in the File History feature that is disabled by default.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Business and personal data files are valuable and should be protected and securely backed-up anyway as part of security and privacy procedures. However, there may well be situations where accidental deletions or corruption of important files occur and this app provides a reassuring way to ensure that these valuable files are not lost forever. The fact that the app supports a wide variety of popular file types used by businesses, and that it’s free could make this a handy little lifesaver.

New “Watch Party” Feature For Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime subscribers can be part of 100-viewer “Watch Party” groups and enjoy access to thousands of movies and films as well as chat between group members.

Watch Party

The Watch Party feature, which is similar to that of Netflix, allows an Amazon Prime member to simultaneously stream and share their favourite movie or TV show with up to 100 friends and family members who are also Prime members.  The synchronised playback controls mean that the Prime Member can use live ‘live chat’ via text with the group and pause, play, and skip the action for the group.

Watch Party does not require a plug-in to download and can be used for anything included with Prime.

Netflix and Others

Amazon Watch Party is clearly a similar (and competing) offering to Netflix’s service. Netflix Party also offers synchronised video playback and adds group chat to Netflix shows so that Netflix members can link up with friends and host long distance movie nights and TV watch parties.

Other streamers offering virtual viewing parties include Warner Media, Disney, and Disney Plus.

Desktop and U.S. Only

Amazon’s Watch Party is currently only available to those located in the U.S. and with a U.S.-based Prime subscription.  People can join in a web browser on their computer, and Watch Party is only for desktop browsers except Apple’s Safari, although a mobile version is reported to be on the way.  Devices such as Fire TV, smart TVs, game consoles, connected media players, mobile phones, and tablets are currently not supported for Watch party.

How To Use

To launch a Watch Party, a user clicks on the Watch Party icon on their screen, browses titles and episode lists to choose what to watch, chooses a name to use while chatting and then shares their Watch Party link with up to 100 people (friends join by clicking on their link).

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

The pandemic has been good news for those companies offering streamed online entertainment services as millions of people have been spending a lot more time on those platforms and seeking entertainment while off work and having their movement outside restricted.

The fact that families and friends have been separated from each other and that people have been unable to have shared, public entertainment experiences e.g. cinema and concerts, has created more of an opportunity for shared online entertainment experiences such as Watch Parties.

For Amazon, Watch Party is a way that it can compete with other big streamers such as Netflix, and Amazon is in a good position to do so with the vast amount of entertainment titles that it offers.

New Edge Browser To All Windows 10 Users

The new, improved version of Microsoft’s Edge browser has been launched in an update to all Windows 10 users in a move that will give Google’s Chrome some competition.

Available To Millions of Users

In being made available via update to Windows 10 versions 1803, 1809,1903 and 1909, the new version of Edge (Edge replaced Explorer), is now accessible to many millions of users.  This wide availability, coupled with the improved features that the updated Chromium-based browser has may mean that it narrows the gap further from its second-place market position towards Google’s Chrome in first place.

Improvements

Microsoft says that Edge now offers “best in class compatibility with extensions and websites” and “provides great support for the latest rendering capabilities, modern web applications, and powerful developer tools across all supported OS platforms.”

In addition to having a new, swish green and blue wave-style logo (which stands out more on the screen), information to note about the new version of Edge includes:

  • Start menu pins, tiles, and shortcuts from the current version of Microsoft Edge migrate to the new Microsoft Edge, as do taskbar pins and shortcuts.
  • The new Microsoft Edge is pinned to the taskbar and replaces the current version of Edge if it is already pinned, and the new Edge adds a shortcut to the desktop and replaces any existing shortcut.
  • By default, most protocols that Microsoft Edge handles will have been migrated to the new Microsoft Edge.
  • The current version of Microsoft Edge will be hidden from UX surfaces in the OS. This includes settings, applications, and any file or protocol support dialog boxes.
  • Attempts to start the current version of Microsoft Edge redirect to the new Microsoft Edge.
  • The First Run Experience (FRE) auto-launches the first time that a device restarts after the new Microsoft Edge has been installed.
  • Data from earlier versions of Microsoft Edge (such as passwords, favourites, open tabs) are available in the new Microsoft Edge.
  • This new Microsoft Edge does not support uninstalling of the update.

New Features

Google’s Chrome has faced some criticism over security so Edge’s new security features may be one area where it can claw back some ground in competition and appeal to users who have been working from home during the pandemic and need to ensure that they can protect business data.  Some of the new security features include:

– The ‘Profiles’ feature helps users separate work and personal browsing using something called “Automatic Profile Switching”.  Edge allows users to set up different profiles and the switching feature deals with the challenge of getting links to open in the right profile and making sure that users don’t mistakenly open work content in their personal profile.  It does this by using a prompt to users to switch to their work profile to access a site without having to authenticate to it

– For Windows 10 and 8.1, Microsoft Defender SmartScreen is a feature in the new Edge to help users to identify reported phishing and malware websites and make informed decisions about downloads. SmartScreen analyses pages and determines if they might be suspicious, checks the sites that a user visits against a dynamic list of reported phishing sites and malicious software sites, and checks files that users download against a list of reported malicious software sites.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Google’s Chrome is still far ahead in terms of user numbers, but this new version of Edge shows some promise in terms of security features and the fact that it has been instantly distributed to millions of users via a Windows update. The security features, if users are aware of them, may be particularly valued by those working form home and needing a secure browser, but also wanting to be able to easily separate their personal and work profiles.  The new Edge browser also has quick and easy links to Microsoft apps (from the app Launcher – top left) which users may also find useful in their day-to-day work. Some commentators have suggested that this Chromium based browser looks as though it could be worthy alternative to the mighty Google Chrome.

Why Big Brands Are Boycotting Social Media

Large, mainly U.S.-based companies (many of which are household names) have said that they will be boycotting Facebook and Instagram in terms of paid advertising in July over concerns about the moderation of content and hate speech on the platforms.

“Stop Hate For Profit”

The stopping of paid promotions on the platforms in July is part of the “Stop Hate For Profit” campaign, organised by the Anti-Defamation League, the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People  (NAACP), and other organisations.

The “Stop Hate For Profit” campaign, which aims to “hit pause on hate”, says that it would like businesses to “stand in solidarity with our most deeply held American values of freedom, equality and justice and not advertise on Facebook’s services in July.”

The campaign has reported receiving an overwhelming response from businesses and organisations.  The campaign website lists the considerable number of participating businesses and organisations here (90+): https://www.stophateforprofit.org/participating-businesses.

Ad Agencies Also Supporting

Unfortunately for Facebook, the campaign also has the support of agencies, some of which are reported to have even put guidelines in place for companies that want to participate.

The Main Issues

The main issues that the campaign and its participating businesses are objecting to are:

– That Facebook is allegedly appearing to take too much of a hands-off approach to the moderation of content that may be divisive, may promote what amounts to hate speech, and that Facebook is allegedly not doing enough to stop hate speech and disinformation being spread.

– In the context of the recent murder of George Floyd and the following protests, that Facebook was allegedly used by some people to spread false information about antifa, without it being picked up by Facebook or fact checkers.

– Even though Twitter publicly called-out some of President Trump’s tweets, in terms of fact-checking and labelling them misleading or glorifying violence, Facebook has not been seen to do so with its own platform.

– Facebook is reported to have displayed ads from President Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign featuring a red triangular symbol, which some thought was reminiscent of those symbols used by Nazis during World War II e.g. to label categories of prisoners in death camps. Facebook later removed the ads.

– Facebook appears to have sidestepped these sensitive issues at a recent media presentation.

Some of the main objections are also best put by some of the companies that are supporting the “Stop Hate For Profit” campaign.

For example, Ben & Jerry’s announced on its website that “Ben & Jerry’s stands with our friends at the NAACP and Colour of Change, the ADL, and all those calling for Facebook to take stronger action to stop its platforms from being used to divide our nation, suppress voters, foment and fan the flames of racism and violence, and undermine our democracy.”

Also, as Magnolia Pictures announced in a Tweet, “In solidarity with the Stop Hate For Profit movement, Magnolia Pictures has chosen to stop advertising on Facebook and Instagram, starting immediately, through at least the end of July. We are seeking meaningful change at Facebook and the end to their amplification of hate speech.”

Other Big Companies

Examples of other big companies that are also supporting the campaign by boycotting advertising on Facebook in June include the following.

Starbucks

In a recent blog post, Starbucks said that it will be pausing advertising on all social media platforms pending the outcome of its discussions internally, with the company’s media partners and with civil rights organisations with a view to stopping the spread of hate speech.

The coffee giant also urged a wider discussion on the subject, saying “We believe more must be done to create welcoming and inclusive online communities, and we believe both business leaders and policy makers need to come together to affect real change. “

It has been reported that Starbucks will, however, continue to use YouTube, and to post to social media, but not to opt for paid promotions.

Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola’s Chairman and CEO, James Quincey, took to the Media Centre on the drinks company’s website to announce and even more stringent boycott.  Mr Quincey said, “There is no place for racism in the world and there is no place for racism on social media. The Coca-Cola Company will pause paid advertising on all social media platforms globally for at least 30 days. We will take this time to reassess our advertising policies to determine whether revisions are needed. We also expect greater accountability and transparency from our social media partners”.

Progress But Insufficient

To date the campaign has reported that although progress has been made with Facebook on these issues, the updates and policy changes made appear to be insufficient.

For example, areas where the “Stop Hate For Profit” campaign feels that Facebook is still falling short (according to the campaign’s website) include:

– Facebook appearing not to address hate more broadly in groups and posts rather than just in adverts.

– The possible spreading of voter misinformation just be before the next U.S. election.

– Where posts are shown due to their apparent newsworthiness, but still appear to promote hate.

– The need for more information about the metrics of a third-party audit Facebook regarding hate speech.

– A lack of detail about Facebook’s proposal to work with the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM) and the Media Ratings Council to identify appropriate brand safety audit requirements.

Facebook Says

Some of the things that Facebook has said in response to the campaign are that it intends to start labelling potentially harmful posts that it leaves up (because of news value), that it will ban ads that describe groups, based on  e.g. race or immigration status, as a threat and will remove any content  if it appears to incite violence or suppresses voting, even if the post is from a politician.

Facebook has also highlighted the fact that a recent European Commission report found that Facebook removed 86% of hate speech last year, which is up from 82.6%.

Going Forward

For many businesses, Facebook is an important platform to advertise on, and this is particularly true coming out of a pandemic where sales need a dramatic boost. At the same time, as noted by Stephan Loerke, the chief executive of the World Federation of Advertisers, this has become a societal rather than just a brand issue, and it is good to see major brands adding their own pressure to force change.

Even though the action taken will mean that the brands aren’t totally deserting Facebook and will most likely feel, for commercial reasons, that they must begin advertising with Facebook after July, the point will have been made, and those brands will also feel that they have been true to worthwhile values, and their brands may ultimately be strengthened as a result.

For Facebook, particularly in the light of the very poor publicity it received following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and over how the platform was shown to have been used to spread messages reportedly by Russia in relation to the last U.S. election, this campaign is likely to be another very public blow to its reputation and brand, as well as its advertising coffers.  Although Twitter has been used by President Trump to express some very controversial views, it has received some very good publicity for publicly fact-checking the President’s tweets, perhaps as a result of threats made to the platform by President Trump.

It remains to be seen, going forward, how far Facebook will go in terms of satisfying the campaign and many of its other critics as it too tries to walk a balance between commercial, operational and societal realities and where it can clearly and comfortably stand while trying to simply keep up with the practical management of a platform that receives hundreds of millions of posts a day.

Tech Tip – How To Keep Your Wi-Fi Connection Secure

A good, secure Wi-Fi connection is often the backbone of many peoples’ day-to-day online business and is a key-component of data security, so, here are a few tips for making sure that your wireless connection is secure:

– Make sure that your router’s firmware is up to date and that you have replaced the router’s default password with your own secure one.

– Make sure that WPA-2 or higher encryption is enabled.

– Avoid using public Wi-Fi to send sensitive data unless you are using VPN.  It may also be sensible to limit your use of public Wi-Fi (which has been relatively easy to do anyway during the pandemic).

– Disable network name broadcasting to the public via your router.

– Make sure that your wireless router’s firewall is turned on, or, if your router does not have an effective firewall, install a good firewall solution on your system.

After Pressure, Zoom Offers End-To-End Encryption for Everyone

Pressure from privacy group The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Mozilla has led to Zoom offering end-to-end encryption to all its users, not just paying customers.

A U-Turn

The decision to offer end-to-end encryption to all customers is a U-turn for Zoom. Previously, and after capitalising on the huge surge in numbers of new Zoom customers due to the pandemic, it was reported that Zoom had not wanted to offer end-to-end encryption to free users because it wanted to co-operate with U.S. law enforcement agencies e.g. the FBI and local law enforcement. Zoom’s position appears to have been based on an assumption that free-end-to-end encryption could lead to Zoom being used for illicit purposes by some users.  This is reminiscent of reports that WhatsApp was used in the UK by those responsible for the London Bridge terror attack, perhaps because the end-to-end encryption would hide their communications from the authorities.

The EFF and Mozilla

The U-turn by Zoom, in this case, appears to have been influenced by pressure from the EFF and Mozilla.

The EFF, for example, is claiming a victory after 20,000 people signed on the EFF and Mozilla’s open letter to Zoom.  The EFF argues that “best-practice privacy and security features should not be restricted to users who can afford to pay a premium.”

The EFF also makes the point that with the pandemic forcing many more organisations onto Zoom than perhaps the platform was designed for, those who cannot afford enterprise subscriptions are often the ones who need strong security and privacy protections the most.

The EFF also points out that end-to-end-encryption on the platform could help those working towards social justice, for example, those organising in “the Black-led movement against police violence”.

Must Part With Some Personal Details

Users cannot, however, expect to sign-up to a free end-to-end-encrypted Zoom without parting with some personal details. It appears that in order for Zoom to feel comfortable with what it sees as its balancing act of offering the services that people want with fighting abuse and its duty to co-operate with law enforcement agencies, Free/Basic users seeking access to Zoom’s E2EE must go through a “one-time process” of parting with additional pieces of information, such as verifying a phone number via a text message. Zoom also points out that it has a “Report a User function”.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

For those smaller businesses and organisations using Zoom, perhaps since the beginning of the pandemic, it is good news that they now have access to strong security and privacy protection for free.

For other competing platforms, such as Slack and Microsoft Teams, the pressure is now on to follow suit in order to compete.

There is, however, a hope that the phone numbers given to Zoom for authentication in order to sign-up to the end-to-end encryption will not be disclosed to other parties and that they are used purely for authentication.

Each week we bring you the latest tech news and tips that may relate to your business, re-written in an techy free style.