>

Why you need to switch your business to the cloud

It's a question I'm asked often, so I thought it may be helpful to provide some of my thoughts on the subject.  

If this is a question you've been pondering for your business, I hope this post helps you by providing some structure around the question, and explaining how I walk a business owner through determining if switching to the cloud makes sense to pursue or not.

When I first wrote this post, I got to the end having documented my entire process for working with a business owner through the process of evaluating and designing a switch to a new system, like moving from their own servers to the cloud.  Then I realized that I skipped the most basic questions people want to know.  So first, the basics:

  • Yes, you can move to the cloud and get rid of your servers.
  • In this day and age no one should own an Exchange server of their own.  It's a waste of money, time and it's slowing you down.
  • Most people don't need Exchange, they just believe they do. They think using Outlook is a reason to keep it.  It's not.
  • Any law firm or business/administrative operation can go to a cloud-based file and document storage and management system. And if it's done correctly, it will be more secure than what's in your office to begin with.
  • Only a few businesses should keep a local file server around, and in a few specific situations.  Designers and architects with complex and referenced file systems are two examples.  This may and probably will change in the future, too.
  • You'll save a ton of money and get back a ton of time if you switch to the cloud the right way.  

There's a right way, and a wrong way, which is why I've written the rest of this post.  Read on if interested!

First, clarify purpose: Why switch?

When I first meet a business owner (usually on a Skype video call, sometimes face-to-face in person) I always start with the purpose.  Their purpose. Why are you interested in switching to the cloud? It almost always boils down to two things:

  1. Saving time by not having to hassle with technology yourself
  2. Saving money by getting rid of stuff and reducing complexity

In my experience, every single business owner out there is already thinking about 1 & 2.  One of the most common statements I hear from savvy business owners is: "I'm wondering if there's a better way of doing things."

Next, imagine expected results: The Future Picture.

Once I'm clear on why the business owner is thinking about switching to the cloud, the next step is to define a Future Picture.  I've personally watched dozens of techs skip right to products (e.g. Office 365) and features (e.g. remote access, sync, etc.). This is absolutely not the time to get into products. Resist the urge to talk tech.  It's not time, and frankly, it's dangerous at this stage.

Ask yourself the question: If you switch to the cloud, if everything goes perfectly, what looks different to you when we're done? (remember, completely ignore all product and company names)

Can you imagine your employees and you getting more done each day with less hassles? Are you able to respond to your clients better?  Faster? Can you find the information you need in less time?

Do you sleep better at night knowing that you don't have the old server in the office to a) break b) fail c) be stolen or d) get hit with ransomware, shutting down your business at any moment?

Will you see your tech/consultant 50%... maybe even 90% less? Or will you have an employee currently spending time on tech get to put 100% of their time back on the job you hired them to do?

The reason you don't start naming vendors or products at this point, even if you love one in particular or think you're already sold on one, is because every tech company out there wants to sell you on their solution. Mac, PCs, smartphones and the cloud are all marketed the same way as laundry detergent and razors. And unfortunately the marketing work because we're used to buying products to fix problems. Have a stain? Buy this detergent. Need a close shave? Buy this razor. The ads focus on how fast, smooth, powerful, etc. their product is. We remember the promises and we buy it. If we like it, great.  If we don't, we buy a different product next time, until we find the one we stick it.

This works great for most things, but not tech. Every tech system, even if you're a one-person business, is an ecosystem of various parts: A computer, the operating system on the computer, applications that do things, settings and configurations that the apps need to run, fonts, network settings, browser settings, security settings, printers and other devices, email, calendar, contacts, the habits and training of the user of the computer, and more. The problem is, switching, adding or removing one piece of the system is a lot like taking medicine prescribed by a doctor: there are a lot of possible side effects from drug interactions.

Just stay focused on what you want to accomplish, without worrying about the how.  How will you measure the results when everything is said and done?  Will you get 20 hours back per week? Will your employees produce 20% more and your technology cost you the same or less per month?

Next, do an 80/20 assessment.

If you work backwards from your customer cutting you and your business a check, you'll immediately identify what products and services they are buying (or you want them to buy), and more important, you can identify what you and your employees actually do to get them to buy, and then to deliver.  In the preceding step, you starting with what you want as final results: More time, more money, happier customers, happier employees.  Now look backwards through your operations to find where things need to happen faster or more effectively.

I did this recently for a law firm of 8 people, including 5 attorneys.  The managing partner had decided to buy a new accounting system that had a lot of features that their old accounting system didn't have. The partner wanted to find out if the system was going to solve the firm's problems, so I was hired to evaluate the technology in the operations.

In my meeting with the attorneys I learned that they had daily trouble finding files for clients calling in. Email always had problems and search was next to impossible. And everyone had different workarounds for the same problems. They each told me how many times per day they experienced the issues, walked me through how they overcome the issues, and told me how many minutes it takes each time.  Did they ever mention accounting once?  It never came up.

I reported back to management: Fix the problems upstream of accounting.  The 5 attorneys can together produce $1,000,000 more per year, with no additional resources or overtime, if the problems with email and search are made to go away.  That's $1M to the bottom line that adds to your profitability.  The owner wanted to invest tens of thousands of dollars into a system that would have a 5% impact on his business, while he was missing a 20% opportunity right in front of him.

Next, project plan it. Here's where we get technical.

Fixing the email problems for the attorneys wasn't as easy as running an update or buying an application.  There were three different ways to do it, and each way would require 4-5 other major changes to make sure the entire system continued to work after the email problem was fixed.  Remember: Drug interactions.  The technical detail needs to be vetted and every possible problem, preventive step or remedy worked out proactively. The project planning stage is usually dismissed as not valuable because techs usually only place value on activities like fixing, installing, transferring and upgrading. And that's how whack-a-mole gets started. 

The best part of planning in my opinion is that opportunities to improve can actually compound. It's like writing a good paper: Once you have the complete first draft out there, you re-read it. And you notice a ton of opportunities to improve.  For me, usually I review and rework until about the 15th or 16th revision.  Sometimes even 2-3 dozen revisions later I have a plan that is ready to review with the owner.

Finally, it's time to review the plan and budget with the owner.

The plan usually presents like this:

  1. What does the current "big picture" look like?  What's working? What's not?
  2. What does the target state "big picture" look like? What works better? How will we measure it? In hours, dollars, reputation, risk?
  3. What is the strategy recommended: How will we do it?  Why is this way better than the other 5-6 or more way of doing the same thing?
  4. What products and service are required, in what order and what do they cost?  Every single line item, down to the last cable, should have a purpose and expected result identified.

When the plan is designed in line with a business owner's priorities their own business objectives, everything presented will make sense.  The key work to accomplish in this step is communication. Every business owner needs to truly understand for themselves at some level why the plan makes sense, otherwise they can't approve it.  It's my job to help them understand my thinking and alignment to their thinking.  Then they can own the plan because it becomes theirs, not mine.  My last job is usually to carry it out and deliver on the promise.

Was this helpful?

If you found this helpful, please share it with a friend using the share icon below.  And let me know by connecting with me on twitter. And please sign up for my newsletter  

ALSO, HURRY OVER TO MY UPCOMING ONLINE CLASS ON PHOTOS FOR MAC WHILE THERE IS STILL TIME.

This is a one-time opportunity to join me in a special class where I'll be teaching everything about Photos on the Mac, from the basics to some crazy fun advanced stuff. This course is designed for anyone who loves photos and wants to learn how to save, organize, share and do more with their photos, with no limitations. I will teach each student how to set up their own photos storage solution and I am also providing several hours of live workshop and training, including one-on-one training, as well as unlimited email support (and more).

When we're done, every student will be a master of their own photos, whether they're using an iPhone or using a sophisticated digital camera. I normally charge over $2500 for the services I'm offering as part of this course, but I'm offering the class for only $299 (with coupon code PHOTOS100) because getting student questions and input during the course is hugely valuable to me, and will be the foundation of future course content.  Sign up now. The course enrollment will close this month, so hurry and reserve your space.

What Inspires Me

I'm stressing in a good way right now to get several things done that NEED to get done:

  1. A more streamlined welcome process for the newsletter (thanks for the feedback Scott!)
  2. Some video samples for the Photos class I'm starting (by popular demand)
  3. Some answers to the really interesting questions in response to the last newsletter

I can't believe the amazing feedback. I'm stressed because it hit me all at once, while I'm juggling being a dad and taking care of customers during the day. But it's good stress. I love it. 

If you're reading this, I'm super thankful. I'm putting more effort and energy daily into this, so check back often.  Good stuff to come.  In the meantime, I want to share one of my inspirations with you: My dad performing his own arrangement of the Cantina music from the original Star Wars.  It's old and high-def wasn't available back then, but I hope you enjoy it as much as I do:

ABOUT BATTERY LIFE ON MACS (+ A COOL VIDEO)

Apple makes a pretty bold statement that your battery "is designed to retain up to 80% of its original capacity at 1,000 charge cycles".  What's a charge cycle?  There's a good description here, along with a matrix of Macs and the number of charge cycles you can expect.

In reality, I haven't experienced 80% of the original capacity, even at 500 charge cycles. I think Apple marketing sometimes gets a little too aggressive with their language. Recently my wife told me that her MacBook Pro Retina (late 2013 model) was only getting about 15 minutes of battery life on a full charge.  

Her battery had 539 charge cycles and the battery status said "service battery".  And it did cut out at 15 minutes. My battery in a MacBook Pro Retina (mid 2014 model) was at 350 charge cycles, and I was routinely getting about 2-2.5 hours of life at my normal full throttle use. That's nowhere near the advertised 1000 and 80%.

I decided to replace both of our batteries, something my team at TechRoom does routinely for customers. The results were great.  She now gets an average of 7 hours of battery life and I get well over 5 hours.

After replacing the first battery, I decided to record the second replacement to video just to show you the work involved. There are a lot of tools involved that most people don't think about: I use a Magsnap wrist strap that is properly grounded to largely prevent ESD damage, and I am very, very meticulous about the connectors.  This is not a do-it-yourself job. The smallest slip or mistake can ruin the entire computer. The entire process took 38 minutes.  This video is sped up to show the work in 5:

Was this helpful?

If you found this helpful, please share it with a friend using the share icon below.

Please sign up for my newsletter and connect with me on twitter.

Also, hurry over to my upcoming online class on Photos for MacThe first pre-release class will get several hours of live workshop and training, worth over $1,500. Sign up now before the presale ends and get $100 off using coupon PHOTOS100.

APPLE'S NIGHT SHIFT

Apple wants to help us sleep better.

An update just came out for our iPhones that includes a feature called Night Shift, which can reduce the cool, blue light from our phones and make the screen warmer, and more red-orange tinted.

How does my iPhone or iPad affect my sleep?

There's a lot of research on how blue light impacts our ability to fall sleep. The initial discovery of blue light impact was during research on bird migration, but then 15 years ago scientists discovered a new photoreceptor in our eyes (besides the rods and cones most of us have heard about) called Melanopsin. Research demonstrated that the average person reading on a tablet or phone for a couple hours before bed would find their ability to sleep delayed by about an hour.

I played with Night Shift last night before bed, testing different levels of warmth. My goal was to be mindful and sensitive: What was I feeling? At first it feels a little strange, but after a few minutes the medium setting feels natural. This was my same experience using f.lux on my Mac which it first came out. 

From left to right: No Night Shift, Medium (default) Night Shift, and maximum Night Shift

The trouble with Night Shift is that it doesn't really solve the problem of sleeplessness. It just slightly mitigates it. I noticed my near-constant desire to crank the screen color back to normal in the same manner in which I find myself wanting to crank the brightness up to maximum. If I'm reading email, I want to be 100% on.  If I'm watching a movie, I don't want to do it through rose-colored glasses.

Night Shift will make a difference, but it's not a solution

Still, I think it's great Apple implemented Night Shift. Apple is the best example of a mission-driven, purpose-oriented company, and the impact they can have on health and wellness with the iOS platform is unprecedented. But the bright screens that we look at all day are a price we pay for access to that platform. I can't help but think of Luis Von Ahn who created Captchas, those little codes we enter with numbers and letters on web sites to prove we're human. When Luis Von Ahn calculated that people were losing 500,000 hours per day entering some 2 millions captchas (an activity everyone hates), he got depressed and wanted to do something about it. So he created reCaptcha, so at least all the human hours spent reading letters and numbers could go to something useful: Book digitization. With over 100 million iPhone users in the US alone, the amount of lost sleep per night eclipses most wastes of time.

What does it look like?  Screen shots can't help you compare, because Night Shift doesn't actually change the color data, it just changes the light put out by the iPhone. I took photos of my home screen this morning without artificial light, using my Canon 7D Mark II with an EF 100mm 2.8 IS macro lens (click the picture to enlarge):

If Night Shift even has a 5% impact (it will probably be more) on the 100 million users in the US alone, and even more globally, then that's definitely a good thing.

Apple's Night Shift is a good start, and helpful if you have to be on your device. I'll use it the same was I use Sleep Cycle (link to App store). If I have no choice but to sleep 5-6 hours and I have to get up, I'd rather use Sleep Cycle to detect the best time to wake me that will have the least negative impact on my day.

How to stop tech from making you tired

Instead of shifting, I recommend stepping on the brakes. Take a break from tech. If you want really good sleep, which means both quality and quantity, I recommend some basics that are proven to help you get good sleep:

  • Ignore and don't use devices and electronics during the hours leading up to bedtime. No computer, no phone, no iPad, no TV. There's proven research that shows that the biggest issue affecting sleep isn't blue light, it's cognitive stimulus. Just using a device or watching a video can make sleeping more difficult, and reduce the quality of sleep.
  • Sleep in a pitch-black dar room, with unnatural light sources removed.
  • Schedule to get 8-9 hours of sleep. Some people feel 7 is the right number, others 8. I know from practical experience that at least 8 hours of quality sleep can drastically change your outlook throughout the day, your performance all day long, and even help you accelerate fitness goals.

Finally, I recommend you read Michael Hyatt's 6 Strategies to Sleep Soundly, Wake Rested, and Accomplish More. Especially focus in on points 5 & 6.  It's good advice and it works. 

Was this helpful?

If you found this helpful, please share it with a friend using the share icon below.

And sign up for my newsletter to get updated when I post new how-tos, and to get great content that is exclusive to my mailing list. 

Also, hurry over to my upcoming online class on Photos for MacThe first pre-release class will get several hours of live workshop and training, worth over $1,500. Sign up now before the presale ends and get $100 off using coupon PHOTOS100.

NEW COURSE ON PHOTOS FOR THE MAC AVAILABLE NOW

If you're like me, you take a gazillion photos on your iPhone. I also have a Canon DSLR camera (7D Mark II) with some great lenses, and came home today from my older son's sports event with over 1,200 new photos. Taking photos is one thing, but collecting, organizing, de-duplicating, editing, sharing and backup up is a whole other subject.

I am happy to announce early enrollment (PRESALE) of a new Photos for Mac online course I am creating.  The course will officially launch July 1, 2016, but I'm opening it up early to select group of students who want to get involved, learn and get extra support and help along the way.  When the course formally launches, these students will also get the full course, unlimited and forever.

I'm currently deep in development of the course, and I'm ready to welcome a small group of students in so we can work on your questions, challenges and problems together. I think this is the best way to create the solutions, answers and great resources that will make this course incredible.  For early-bird ("presale") course purchasers, I'm providing an extra bonus:

  1. 90 days of unlimited email support
  2. 1-hour live online workshop/training sessions with me between now and when the course launches.  That's at least 6 hours of live online workshop/training time to go over your questions, implement solutions, and to get and give feedback so you can become even more awesome at managing your photos.  That's over $1,500 worth of support, included for free for presale course purchases.

The course will launch for $399 on July 1, 2016, and will go up in price to $499 starting August 1. For a limited number of students, you can enroll right now using coupon code PHOTOS100 to get $100 off, making the course price $299.  Once you enroll, I'll email you an agenda and schedule for our online training, and you'll start receiving weekly updates with new lectures and course materials you can start using right away.

I am looking for awesome people who want to have fun, learn a ton and get a huge amount of value out of me, especially over the next three months.  Are you in?  Sign up here.

UPDATE MICROSOFT OFFICE FOR MAC

When Microsoft released Office 2016 for Mac, I jumped on it immediately.  I wish I didn't have a dependency of any kind of Office, but I still use Excel primarily because it's what I used all the way through business school. The other apps, PowerPoint and Word, are just there to use when people send me documents via email.

While it was nice that Office 2016 finally supported my MacBook Pro's Retina display, the downside was that Microsoft probably released the Office suite 3 months too early. Or more probably they weren't paying attention to Apple's development cycle, because right after release both Office 2016 and Office 2011 experienced more spinning beachballs, freezes and crashes than I had seen in over a decade.  It was pretty bad, and a slew of near-weekly updates started coming out to address the issues.

The last round of updates just came out, and they seem to make Office 2016 much more stable, and even a bit faster launching.  I highly recommend downloading and installing the updates right now.  

How do you update Microsoft Office 2016 or 2011 on a Mac?

  1. Run any of the Office applications
  2. Then select the Help menu at the top of the screen
  3. Select Check for Updates from the pull-down menu
  4. Once Office finds the updates, quit all your Office apps, run the updates and then reboot.

Things should run much better after the updates.  That said, keep saving changes, and I recommend updating your autosave preferences to 1) make sure they're on and 2) adjust for the number of minutes you're OK potentially losing work in the event of an Office panic-attack (aka crash).  Go to your application menu (e.g. Excel, Work, etc.) and select Preferences, then select Save:

Then make sure your Autosave is turned on, and the number of minutes is adjusted to your preference:

IRRITABLE INBOX

Our email inbox is kind of like another "system" we use every day.  Stuff goes in, stuff goes out. At least it's supposed to go out.  The reality is most inboxes get clogged up. And it gets worse the older you get.  More email, and more straining processing it. 

I call it irritable inbox. And it's painful.

You need an Inbox Cleansing.

Fortunately, I've got the prescription. And everything's available over the Internet.

WHAT'S A HEALTHY INBOX LOOK LIKE?

  1. Your email syncs perfectly on all your devices.
  2. 99% of your time is spent on email you care about.
  3. 1% or less of your time is spent on email you don't care about.
  4. AND you can choose to spend 50% less time trying to push email out.

Less pushing, more flow. Sound good? Here's how:

STEP 1: CHOOSE YOUR EMAIL PROVIDER CAREFULLY.

There are basically five major options for email today:

  1. Free email (e.g. Yahoo, Gmail, iCloud, AOL, etc.)
  2. Host your own email server
  3. A gazillion different "2nd-class" companies selling hosted email (Godaddy, Network Solutions, your PC consultant reselling it under a 'white label' aka Cpanel, etc.)
  4. Office 365 from Microsoft
  5. Google Apps for Work (Business-class gmail with your own domain name)

Free email: OK if you can tolerate subtle, aching pain over a long period of time.

  • Spam = usually a problem
  • Privacy? What privacy. Bring on the ads.
  • Use your own domain name?  Nope.

Host your own email server: Don't do it.  There's not a single good reason to do this anymore.

Hosted email from 2nd-class companies: You're putting off the inevitable switch to Google or Microsoft and you'll trade any cost savings with current and future loss of time and productivity.

  • They're rarely better than free email services, maybe with just less or no direct advertising.
  • Almost no one offers a complete email+calendar+contacts solution other than reselling Office 365, which isn't nearly as good on an iPhone, Mail and Calendar as their competitor's product, Google Apps for Work.

Office 365: Unless you are totally dependent on Microsoft Exchange, you really don't need it. 

  • Office 365 goes down a lot more compared to Google, and even compared to iCloud.
  • The back-end interface is written for tech nerds, and is both unintuitive and irritating. And who needs more irritation? A business owner or head of household ought to be able to manage their own email, users, preferences, etc., and not have to retain a Microsoft Certified tech.
  • Poor search capabilities compared to using Google Apps and Spotlight on a Mac.

Google Apps for Work: Full disclosure: I switched to Google Apps about 8 years ago. And I haven't been disappointed.

  • Google and Apple may be rivals, but Google works swimmingly with Mac and iPhone apps. I don't use Chrome, except for some housekeeping.  I use Mac Mail, Calendar and Contacts, powered by Google on the back end.
  • Amazing search capabilities.
  • An admin dashboard designed for neophytes as well as hard-core tech nerds.
  • The most useful server-side filters in the Observable Universe: This is the killer functionality that can give you back 500 hours per year.
  • Works better than Office 365 for Mac users and Windows users with iPhones or Androids.

STEP 2: SET UP SERVER-SIDE FILTERS.

Ok, so you switched to Google Apps for Work.  Good call.  If you didn't, tweetemail or call me.  I can help you switch, usually in a few hours, and you never need to leave home or the office.

Next, set up your filters.  I wrote an article on the best email feature ever a few years back.  It still applies today.  I estimate that I have an extra 500 hours per year back to my life because of it. You can too.

STEP 3: USE (OR GET) YOUR OWN DOMAIN NAME.

There are tons of reasons to do this. Basically, when you own your own domain name, you can keep your same email address no matter who you switch to for email today, and in the future. Keeping your email address means all you need is to move your historical email. No notifying people of a new email address, missing emails, getting phone calls asking why your old email is bouncing back, etc. More Switchability® is a good thing.

STEP 4: TUNE YOUR EMAIL APP.

There's a lot to this.  Whether you're using Google, Office 365 or anyone else's email service, the application you're using is probably Mail or Outlook (or any variety of other things out there). Some of the young lads and lasses out there use Chrome, which is cool too.  For any of these, knowing what all the settings and preferences do, and configuring them properly, can make a big difference in your productivity.  

For example, did you know that if you have Google Apps (business gmail), you should turn off Junk Mail Filtering?  If you don't, Apple's OS can get overaggressive and start throwing valid emails in spam, which you don't need because Google does an excellent job at it already.  So if you're on Google Apps, turn it off.   

STEP 5: KNOW WHY, WHEN AND HOW TO SWITCH EMAIL VENDORS.

Email feel out of control?  Or backed-up? That's the 1st sign you need to switch email vendors. 

Are you spending more than 5% of your time redundantly deleting the same kind of messages - things you don't want, spam, etc. - every day? That's the 2nd sign.

Has this been going on longer than a month without resolution?  That's the final straw.  And it's a sign that it's time to switch to email that works.  There's a saying: "We only change when the pain gets too great."  The problem with email is that it's a dull, lingering pain.  By the time it's too great, you'll turn around and regret having wasted thousands of hours.  

Being "too busy" with anything is not a good excuse to put this off.  The last three migrations I performed for business owners required less than 90 minutes of the business owner's time over three calendar days, and they continued working while the migration happened in the background.

What a Clean Inbox feels like

It's hard to explain to anyone who hasn't experienced it, but boy oh boy does it feel good. You'll sleep better at night.  You'll have a better time at the dinner table with family. You may even feel inspired to go for a jog, do some yoga, or whatever floats your boat. 

Getting email in and out every day is an awesome feeling.  It's even better if you end each day with zero messages in your inbox.  Processing email with tips and tricks like the ones that Tim FerrissPat Flynn and Michael Hyatt talk about is only half the solution.  The first challenge is getting a platform that works well and can be automated without having to be a tech and without having to spend countless hours tweaking.  

If you need help getting your email platform set up, let me know by dropping me a line at TechRoom or connecting with me on Twitter.

Was this helpful?

If you found this helpful, would you share this page with a friend? Just use the share icon below.  And sign up for my newsletter to get updated when I post new how-tos, and to get great content that is exclusive to my mailing list.  And please let me know if this was helpful in the comments below or on twitter.

WHERE DID MY HARD DRIVE SPACE GO?

I'm going to share my favorite tools for quickly finding out what's taking up all the space on your hard drive. At TechRoom, I perform dozens of MacBook Pro storage upgrades every week, and one of the most common questions I get is "what's taking up all the space on my hard drive?" This is really important when it's not obvious, like when your Mac shows you a large amount of space being used by "other".

I'll show you how to find out on a Mac, then I'll show you to do the same on PC as well, so if you're using Windows on a Mac, either with Bootcamp or a virtual machine, you'll be able to see where all your storage is going.  If you're a PC user, just use the same tools.

What's using all the space on my mac?

There are two approaches to finding out what's taking up all the space on your Mac.  One approach is to hunt and peck, just looking for folders or going after things based on someone else's experience and advice. This is no fun, it's time consuming and frankly it can be dangerous. The best approach is to use an app designed to show you everything.  That's where GrandPerspective comes in. GrandPerspective is a free utility that graphically shows you what's using your disk space.  Here's what to do:

  1. Download GrandPerspective here
  2. Open the disk image (.dmg) and drag the app to your applications folder
  3. Run GrandPerspective. It will open to a window allowing you to select what you want to scan. Pull down the drop-down menu and select your computer, which is the highest level you can go.  When you do, you'll see your hard drive (or hard drives, if you have more than one).  Select the drive you want to scan, then click scan.
  4. GrandPerspective will scan your entire drive, then present you with a window that shows all the data, color-coded based on one of a few options, and with boxes that represent the relative size of the file or other that's sitting on your hard drive.
  5. You can move your mouse over the files, and GrandPerspective will show you the file name, file path and size of the file at the bottom of the GrandPerspective window.
  6. Want to get to the file quickly?  Just control-click or right click on the file and select "Show in Finder" and GrandPerspective will open up a new Finder window with file or folder right in front of you.

Here's an example I just took, scanning my own MacBook Pro 1TB flash drive:

If you control-click (right click) on anything, you can select "reveal in Finder":

Which will open the finder and present the file, so you can take action, such as copying it elsewhere, throwing it away, etc.:

GrandPerspective is free, and personally, it's my favorite.  It's simple and logical, but maybe not the most intuitive. There's a really good alternative available in the App Store called DaisyDisk (link to App Store) which I think is more intuitive, and definitely fancier with pretty graphics.  DaisyDisk is a lot prettier and more intuitive for selecting a drive to scan, but the interface for finding things is just confusing to me and seems to be way prettier than useful.  That said, it is in the App Store, which is nice for those who want to stay in Apple's somewhat protected ecosystem of apps that are less likely a potential risk for viruses, etc.

What's using up all the space on my PC?

Note: Applies to both PCs as well as Windows on Macs with Bootcamp, VMWare and Parallels

On a PC, the options are, as expected, less elegant, but still practical.  I use Jam Software's TreeSize Free app, which you can find and download here.

In what is classically Windows-esque presentation, TreeSize Free simply calculates the sizes of all folders at the top level of the hard drive, and sorts it from biggest to smallest, top to bottom.  You can expand folders by clicking on the twiddles (that's the technical term for the little arrows for expanding folders).

Was this helpful?

If you found this helpful, would you share this page with a friend? Just use the share icon below.  And sign up for my newsletter to get updated when I post new how-tos, and to get great content that is exclusive to my mailing list.  And please let me know if this was helpful in the comments below or on twitter.

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM RANSOMWARE

Stop online thieves from taking your Mac hostage.

This past Sunday about 6,500 Mac users received the ransom note. All their documents, photos, everything, held hostage. A message offers their data back if you pay a fee (about $400). Ransomware - software that takes all your data hostage - is now a reality on a Mac.  

Ransomware has been around since 1989, but up until now has only been a problem for Windows PCs. And it's a big problem. One of the most recent ransomware viruses extorted more than $18 million from users. 

Because I work with both PCs and Macs, I have been seeing PC Ransomware cases regularly for years. Ranging from attorneys with all their client data seized and held hostage (most ransomware travels inside of Microsoft Word documents), to moms and dads losing access to all their family photos and other documents. Sometimes they paid the ransom. Even then, they don't always get their data back. 

Ransomware is now a problem for Mac users. There are steps you can take to protect yourself from the thugs that steal data.  On a Mac the steps are easy. Do it now.  If you're a Windows user, the same principles apply to you, even though the apps may be different and less easy to use in most cases. 

Step 1: Backup the right way.

It's easy on a Mac, and you can make it a nearly-automated process, with multiple backups you can go back to no matter what the situation. If the latest backup gets compromised, we can go back a week. Or two. This system worked well for me when my MacBook Pro was stolen.

Using Apple's built-in Time Machine

I use Time Machine to make continuous backups every hour. You can do this with a basic hard disk (link to the drives I use on Amazon) connected to your Mac with no additional software.  Or you could make it more convenient and defeat human behavior by putting in place a more automated system that doesn't require you to plug in. My Mac uses Time Machine wirelessly at home and at the office. I put the same in place for my employees and my family members. I use a Mac Mini with Apple's built-in Time Machine server service, which allows you to back up a team of people over a wifi connection.

Using Carbon Copy Cloner

I use Carbon Copy Cloner to make a perfect, bootable disk image of my Mac every night. There are a lot of ways to do this, the most simple is to pick your hard drive, then pick an external drive, and let Carbon Copy Cloner do all the work.  

I prefer setting up Carbon Copy Cloner for a rotational backup system. I set the app up to ignore discreet volume identification: In English this means that I can write a schedule that tells Carbon Copy Cloner to back up my machine every night at the same time no matter which of three (or more) drives I have plugged in. This allows me to rotate them so that I can disconnect and stash the other drives elsewhere, not just disconnected from the Internet, but also off-site.

I keep a backup from home at the office, and one from the office at home. You can even use Carbon Copy Cloner over a wifi network.

Backblaze

Finally, I use Backblaze, a cloud-based backup software I'm growing really fond of. I was introduced to Backblaze by my bud David Sparks over at Macsparky. While Backblaze won't create a bootable backup, it's a cloud-based backup for Macs and PCs that treats Macs as first-class citizens, and even allows you to control your privacy settings.  Like Apple, Backblaze allows you to keep your own encryption key, which means that even Backblaze can't get to your data if you lose the key. This is seriously cool if you care about your privacy. 

I think David Sparks said it best over at MacSparky: If you get hit with ransomware, the only real solution is to nuke and pave your hard drive.  Have your backup ready and you'll be as calm and instantly in control no matter what happens.

Step 2: Don't accidentally disable Apple's built-in protection.

Apple has built-in software on modern Macs called Xprotect that Apple actively updates to protect your Mac from known malware (ransomware is a type of malware).

While it's not a guarantee against ransomware and other threats, Apple is pretty responsive for a big company, especially when it comes to threats.  When the ransomware was recently discovered, they moved quickly to yank the ability for users to install the app that contained it.

To let Apple do its part, make sure "install system data files and security updates" is checked in the App Store preferences within System Preferences (located under the Apple Menu).  Notice that I let Apple download all updates, and I let Apple install security updates automatically, but I don't allow Apple to update apps and OS updates automatically. There's a big reason for this. The ransomware that just hit thousands of users was evil code that someone slipped into a popular App that isn't available on the App Store, but is available on the Internet.  I'm preparing for the day when someone figures out how to sneak code into an App and get it into the App Store  It hasn't happened yet to my knowledge, but I don't want to be the first to experience it.

You might call me paranoid, but to me it's like looking left and right before crossing a street.

Step 3: Get additional protection.

Most Mac users don't have any idea how bad it is out there for Windows users. Did you know the average Mac user transmits at least one virus, malware or other threat per week? I get at least one Windows virus per day.

One of the first things I do for businesses and individuals I serve is teach them about cloud-based anti-threat protection. I use Sophos to actively screen my Mac including at the network level. 

This means I get alerted to threats as they're coming in, and even if they are idle. This includes PC viruses that won't affect me, but could affect someone if I unknowingly forward a document that contains a nasty.

There are other antivirus suites out there, and I've used almost all of them.  The problem with most antivirus software is that it bogs your computer down.  This doesn't happen with Sophos. Sophos has been around for over three decades, and was even on a lot of the original Mac OS X machines under the hood.

Sophos isn't cheap, but in my opinion it's the best.  I use Cloud Endpoint, which costs up to $250 per user per year. And because it's an organization-based product typically reserved for Enterprise, the version I use required a few hours of setup.

Step 4: Use your Mac and the Internet with care.

The app that contained the ransomware, Transmission, is a bit torrent client, which means it's designed for downloading files over the Internet, both legitimate and illegitimate. It's not available on the App store, and probably never will be. While I'm all for an open Internet and open platform where people can design and sell software independent of Apple, there's something to be said for the App Store where Apple takes great care to inspect and vet the apps before making them available.

I'm seeing more malware cases on the Mac.  This month we've had over 10 cases at TechRoom. In all 10 cases the customer shared with me that the ad they clicked on or the app they downloaded felt wrong. Besides taking the steps above to Backup, keep your Mac security up to date, and enabling hardcore anti-threat protection, trust your instincts and stay away from things that feel suspicious.  You'd be surprised how good your own instincts are, even if you're not a techie type.

Action Items

The most important thing: Take action now.

  1. Make sure you haven't disabled security updates on your Mac.
  2. Go buy a hard drive (or three) and set up Time Machine now.
  3. Download and buy Carbon Copy Cloner.
  4. Download Sophos (link to free version). If you need the hardcore version for your home or business you're welcome to reach out to my team at TechRoom.
  5. Be careful out there. If you're a business owner, make sure your IT person is actually managing things to prevent non-work related apps from getting on your computers.

Have a question?  Let me know. I'm @jamescoleman on twitter

3 WAYS TO BECOME A SWITCHER GENIUS

You need to become master and commander of your own technology.  

Because your ability to succeed in life and win at work will be largely affected by how well you command technology. 

Tech is part of our new daily reality. It's everywhere. There’s no escaping it.  The question is, are you in control? If you are, you can spend more time doing what you love, with the people you love.  You can eat your competitor’s lunch, you’ll have time to plan and design your future, and you can work from anywhere, anytime.

If you're not in control, you'll lose out in the future. You’ll miss opportunities. You’ll get less done in more time and your competitors will eat your lunch. What's worse, you probably won’t know it until it’s too late because you’re a slave to your own technology and “too busy” with issues and problems to notice.

This is serious stuff.  It's such a big issue that some serious brains at universities including HarvardMIT, and UCI are focused on trying to figure out why big businesses are falling behind the curve of tech advancement. The real problem? CEOs who don't understand tech.  And this problem affects everyone and all businesses, not just big ones. 

The good news? You don't have to be a tech to become master and commander of your tech. You need absolutely zero (0) technical skills to get in control and stay in control.

Many of the most influential lifestyle design bloggers - leaders in their own right - all talk about tech as a key factor in their success.  Michael HyattRamit SethiPat FlynnTim Ferriss, all regularly refer to tech that gives them back more time. With the right technology, you can yield a 10X, even 100X return on investment of time.     

What would you do with an extra 100 hours per year? An extra 1000 hours per year?

You need to understand and adapt to technology, no matter what you do.  There are three ways I'm going to help you do this.

1) I’m going to tell you about the best technologies available today, and also what's coming tomorrow

The next time you're at a party, wedding, or any other event, I want you to be the most knowledgeable person in the room about the latest technology and trends. Not a geek, just cutting edge. Unless geek is your thing.

For years I have been asked to start a blog to share what I read, what I experiment with, and what I'm playing putting to use in my own life and in business. Well, here I go.

Let's get one important thing out in the open from the start: I am like Switzerland, Japan, America and Great Britain all rolled into one. I'm independent, an expert on both Mac and Windows. I'm partial to superior technologies. I'm absolutely judgmental, and I know I'm right, and I'm always professional and polite about it.  If a tech company makes awesome products and services that will add value to your life, I'll tell you.  If they do the opposite, I'll caution you to stay away.

I seek out technologies and trends that make my customer successful. Think Q. James Bond's Quartermaster.  I equip my customer with superior tech the same way Q equips James Bond with the watch, the gun and the car.

One more thing I want you to know up front: I'm often told I’m biased toward Apple because I think many of their products are superior. Well, I’m not biased. I’m right. I often do really basic math to calculate how much time things take. Want to use Windows?  Fine, enjoy.  Just know that on average, you are giving up about 8 years of your life compared to a Mac user.  8 years.  

2) I'll show you how to use technology to change your life and your business

All the greatest products and services in the world won’t do anything for you unless you have a system that works. Every week I meet business owners who end up in even bigger messes because they bought into products with high hopes, but with no strategy for success.  It’s common for business owners to walk into an Apple Store, spend tens of thousands of dollars, and end up with a bigger mess than when they started.

I am going to share strategies that work and success stories of businesses, families and even freelancers that have achieved awesome success by putting tech to work the right way.  From the four-person attorney firm that I showed how to net an extra $1 million per year (with no additional hires), to the entrepreneur who wanted to spend 20 extra hours per week with his spouse and kids, I’ll share specifics on how tech can transform your business and your life.

3) I’m going to show you how to switch away from substandard products and companies

Most people put off switching computers, phones, even entire IT systems, because of the pain associated with switching.  I want to show you how to switch - painlessly - away from substandard products and companies to tech that actually adds value to your life.

There are some challenges.  Every tech company has a vested interest in keeping you within their platform (meaning, buying stuff from them and staying with them, not switching away), and there are two ways they do this:

The better way is to create products that are so outstanding and add so much value to your life that you become fiercely loyal. Apple is arguably the best example of this.  They have one of the lowest marketing budgets of any company in the tech space because the majority of their marketing is indirect: Customers love their products, show them off to their friends, make their friends jealous. Then their friends buy.  The cycle repeats.

Then there are other companies with substandard products, keeping in mind that substandard can be relative. If you’re a Mac user, then you know that Windows is an inferior operating system.  But if you’re a Windows user, you don’t know any better until someone you like and trust opens your eyes to something better.  The more you knowledgeable you become about what’s available and how it can help you, the more you’ll recognize substandard when you see it. 

Three ways to learn more and get in control of your technology now

After 20+ years and some 60,000 hours helping people transform their lives and businesses with technology, I need to share what I've learned. Every week the vast majority of people I meet battle with their technology. Bad tech is hurting their productivity and costing them precious hours of their lives.

So I'm launching three resources to help you become a master of tech, without having to become a tech:

1. THE SWITCHER GENIUS PODCAST

The Switcher Genius Podcast will be launching soon, and will be short format.  I’ll answer your tech questions in plain English, and find new ways to bring you lots of valuable content.  If you want to get notified when the podcast launches, you can sign up for updates here.

2. THE SWITCHER GENIUS BLOG

The Switcher Genius Blog will let me go deeper into tech products, systems, strategies and frameworks that we might talk about on the Podcast but can’t go into gory detail.

3. SWITCHER UNIVERSITY

For people who want to dive deep, Switcher University is where I will be posting my online courses.  I’ll be creating and posting both free and paid courses there.  Teaching has been the biggest part of my day job for the past 20+ years, and Switcher University will enable me to reach and help more people than ever.  

About my inspirations. If you like these authors and podcasts, I think you'll love Switcher Genius

Austin Kleon, author of Steal like an Artist said “You are, in fact, a mashup of what you choose to let into your life.”  Many of the people who have had the biggest impact on me over the past five years have demonstrated really important values and strategies that I admire and am shamelessly copying if they weren’t already part of my DNA. I’d like to kick off the first blog post with a thanks to a few people, and explain how I’m copying them.

Michael Hyatt, creator of the This is Your Life Podcast, absolutely believes in “teach a man to fish”, and he uses his platform to teach the strategies and tactics that work for him so other people can apply it in their lives. Every time I hear him talk about his MacBook Pro, Google filters and templates, I smile. Technology has absolutely helped build, manage and improve his platform every day so he can help more people. My objective is to transform everyone I work with into their own master and commander of technology.  Technicians should be the help, and only delegated to, never abdicated to.  And every business owner, every parent, and every person out their can accelerate anything they want to do in life by learning how to hone their computer and tech better.  And inspired by Michael Hyatt, my platform will start with the Switcher Genius Podcast and Blog to reach as many people as I can.  

Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach Your To Be Rich, changes lives by writing about and teaching basic principles of money that really matter. And the majority of what he creates he gives away for free. Ramit uses education to transform lives, help people challenge and overcome belief systems and enable them to achieve their dreams.  When technology caught up to visionaries like Ramit, it enabled him to change more lives.  A huge part of my platform will be classes and courses designed to teach you about tech so you can be more informed, more self-sufficient and can apply the principles, strategies and tactics I’ve learned to your own life, household or business.  And like Ramit, I believe the majority of what I create should be free, which is necessary to open peoples eyes to what is possible.

Pat Flynn is the creator of the Smart Passive Income blog and podcast, and the self-proclaimed “crash test dummy” of entrepreneurs and believes in openness and transparency, sharing what works for him and what doesn’t. I’m sure Pat would agree that there’s probably nothing more humbling than being a father. You realize quickly how much you don’t know, and how much room you have to keep learning. Children teach you that it’s OK to fail and that you can learn from failure.  It would be a shame if I were to keep 20+ years of experiences including failures to myself.  So in classic Pat style, I’m going to bare all.

If anyone has mastered application of the 80/20 rule to focused, results-oriented learning, it’s Tim Ferriss. Tim doesn’t know me (yet), but we have a lot in common. INTJ, East Asian Language and Literature, and an insatiable desire to learn from the masters. Most people have a belief that tech is the realm of techies. It’s absolutely not. While I can’t use 4-hour in my lexicon, as it’s Tim’s domain, I can tell tell you that the principles of learning are exactly the same when it comes to tech. I can teach a stay-at-home-mom (or dad) how to launch a company from their home in under a day. I can also teach a CEO of a 250-25,000 person company how to run their IT with zero techs. 

Let's get started!

Connect up with me on twitter, and join my newsletter.  I'll be sending out updates and also exclusive free tools and content only on the newsletter. And stay tuned to the blog for announcements as the Switcher Genius podcast kicks off soon.  I'm looking for your questions, and also for your feedback, which I believe will help make the podcast the best it can be for everyone.