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How to Choose a Good VPN Service

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) helps protect your data by creating encryption between your internet connection and sites you visit. This encryption keeps prying eyes away from your private data, can help you avoid ISP throttling, and even can keep you from being fired. (Really!)

For anyone who is security minded (and that should be all of us), a VPN can enhance your privacy. Just remember that no VPN is 100% secure.

Here’s how a VPN works.

VPNs Create An ‘Encrypted Tunnel’ to Protect Your Data

Imagine if you were driving a car into a tunnel. Once you enter the tunnel, no one can see that you were inside.

Instead of hiding your data in a physical tunnel, a VPN uses encryption to hide your data. Once you’ve connected to a VPN, your ISP provider can’t see your data on the internet. This is because your activity appears to come from the IP address of your VPN service, so (theoretically at least) it can’t be traced back to you. In other words, this encryption protects your data against interception.

When you’re away from home, it’s even more important to use a VPN service to protect sensitive data.

VPNs: A Travel Necessity

When you connect to an unsecured public network, such you’d find in a hotel, coffee shop, library, or airport, your data is at significant risk of being intercepted by sketchy individuals. What is particularly dangerous is that it’s easy for bad actors to spoof the location of the network you think you’re connecting through.

Hackers often name networks after hotels and businesses to lull customers into a sense of false security. Just because a network is named “XYZ_Hotel” doesn’t mean that you are connecting to the hotel’s real WiFi network! If you make an online purchase or sign into your banking when you’re connected to one of these unsecured networks, thieves can steal your credit card information, or hack your bank account.

What Kind of Information Are You Revealing?

And even if you don’t sign into a bank account or use a credit card in a session, you never know what kind of personal data you might be revealing. You might think you’re you’re safe because you’re alone in that coffee shop. The reality is some creep could be sitting out in the parking lot just waiting to intercept sensitive data.

Here’s something else to think about. You put your employer’s data at risk by working on an unsecured network (and that usually ends up badly. As in FIRED.)

As important as it is to use a VPN when you’re away from home, there is another great benefit of a VPN as well.

Avoid ISP Throttling With a VPN

Many ISPs throttle upload and download speeds after users reach data thresholds. Connecting to the internet through a VPN hides your IP address, so your data isn’t throttled. And here’s another reason to use a VPN. Have you ever tried to watch a video and received the annoying message, “Video not available in your country?”

Most VPN services allow you to choose servers based in different countries to connect through. This makes it look like you’re viewing from a permitted country. This can also be handy if you’re travelling to a country that restricts internet access, like Cuba.

So it’s clear there are massive benefits from using a VPN connection, both in terms of data protection and avoiding throttling. But is it worth paying for a VPN, or is a free service good enough?

Are Free VPNs as Good as Paid VPN Services?

The old saying “You get what you pay for” certainly applies to free VPNs. Many have slow connections, show ads before you can connect, and may log and sell your user data. Even worse? Going through free VPNs can expose your machine to Trojans and malware.

Malwarebytes.com features a horrific tale of a fake VPN service that served up a keylogger (a program that records your keystrokes as you type to steal your passwords.) Keyloggers are only the tip of the iceberg of what you could be exposing yourself to with free VPNs. Recently, ZDNet.com reported that researchers at Kaspersky Lab have uncovered “multiple malicious cryptocurrency-mining applications distributed via the Google Play store, with the miners posing as games, sports streaming apps, and VPNs.” Yikes!

A Free VPN is Better Than Nothing

However, if you’re travelling and have no other alternative to protect your data on a public network, a free VPN is better than nothing. But there is a free VPN you definitely want to think twice about using.

 A VPN to Avoid Like The Plague

We’ve all heard the recent horror stories about Cambridge Analytica using Facebook to unethically collect user data. (Just in case you’ve been living under a rock, read The Guardian’s expose of the tech giant here.)So that’s there’s even more reason to avoid Facebook’s new VPN service, Onavo Protect.

Gizmodo.com wrote that security researcher Will Strafach discovered that Onavo’s iOS app is “collecting various types of device data separate from server-side connection and usage logs. Even with VPN  turned off, Onavo collects information about daily wi-fi usage and daily cellular data. Even if a user’s device screen is turned on and off too.”

Always Read the Terms of Service for a VPN

Onvao’s terms of service state that the app collects data related to user’s online activities, including “information about your mobile applications and data usage, including the applications stored on your device, the use of those applications, the websites you visit and the amount of data you use.”

So what’s the best VPN to use? An app rated by a 3rd party with nothing to gain. Many VPN reviews are nothing but thinly disguised affiliate offers. That’s why I’m recommending anyone interested in signing up with a VPN service check out “That One Privacy Site.”

Unbiased VPN Review: That One Privacy Site

Visit That One Privacy Site for honest VPN reviews. It’s full of helpful information about how to protect your privacy online.

The site’s anonymous author and privacy advocate compiled a list of what to look for in a VPN, a helpful VPN glossary, and a detailed side-by-side comparison of various VPN services.

Do You Currently Use a VPN?

Do you subscribe to  VPN service – or have you considered signing up for one? Let us know in the Comments below.

Keep your information private with a VPN

Safeguard your online privacy with a VPN

The Best Travel Apps for iPhone

The best travel apps for iPhone in 2018 go above and beyond merely booking your flight.

These apps are almost as good as having a personal concierge plan every detail of your trip. You can kick back in your favourite chair and explore destinations, book your flight, accommodation, and local transportation all from your phone. (Not to mention they can help you save money too!)

But the best travel apps for iPhone can also help you share your trip with family, friends and fellow travelers; snag you better seats on a plane; speed you through Customs lines; and help you pack the right clothes for your trip.

The only drawback? Sorting through hundreds of apps to find the best travel apps for your iPhone!

We know you’re short on time, so we’ve done the hard work for you.  We’ve reviewed a wide selection of travel apps for you.

Use the Quick Navigation below to jump to apps by category.

Travel Planning Apps

The Lonely Planet Guides app let you explore 200+ cities before you go, with insider advice from Lonely Planet’s travel experts. The apps provides neighbourhood guides, must-see sights, local language phrasebooks, offline maps, currency conversion bookmarks and more. You’re sure to find the travel destination of your dreams with a little help from the Guide app!Price: Free, with in-app purchases.Lonely Planet/Trips – Trips is designed to be a bit like Instagram in that images feature heavily. But unlike Instagram, users can not only share breathtaking photos, but also background information about the locale. Trips format allows user to upload their travel photos, videos and stories into a glossy ‘magazine’ that they can share with friends, family and fellow travelers.

The TripAdvisor app is filled with 500 million user-generated reviews on hotels, vacation rentals, flights, restaurants and local attractions. Read reviews on landmarks, things to do in top destinations, and top nearby destinations. TripAdvisor also has a forum, so you can ask specific travel related questions before you book. TripAdvisor compares prices from 200+ hotel booking sites, so you’re sure to find a great deal. If you’re concerned about language barriers, TripAdvisor tells you which languages are spoken by your accommodation staff.You can also download local maps to use offline so you don’t have to worry about roaming charges.

Flight Apps

Google Flights is quickly becoming the go-to place to book flights, because you can discover information about on-time performance and baggage fees that are difficult to find even on the airlines’ websites.

Here’s the problem though – Google Flights isn’t an iPhone  app! But anyone can access the desktop version of Google Flights. Discover options to save money by flying out of another airport or on another date. Track airfare prices through Google Flights, and get notified via email if a cheaper fare becomes available.

Another bonus is Google users can save their identity and credit card details to purchase tickets without having to re-enter their information.

HopperThe app is your crystal ball to forecast flight & hotel price reductions. Almost magically, this app can predict the future lowest price of your flight with 100% accuracy! Hopper tells you whether to book now, or wait for a better price. If there’s a sudden drop in fares, Hopper will send you a push notification so you can book immediately.

The app features major airlines in the U.S. and Canada.

Skyscanner – This enormously popular app (60 million monthly users!) features daily flight deals from more than 1200 direct partners. But that’s only the start of what this powerful app can do. It can also find you deals on hotels and car rentals. Add your fixed travel dates and Skyscanner will show you the best travel deals available

Skyscanner searches hotels, apartments, BBs, guest houses & hostels and ranks them by price, star rating, meal plans, cancellation policy so you can find a perfect fit for your accommodation tastes, needs and budget.

Enter your destination, pickup and dropoff dates, and Skyscanner will compare car rental rates from Europcar, Enterprise, Budget, Alamo, Hertz & Avis.

HelloGbye Hate typing? Frequent, business or group traveler? This is the app for you! Simply speak your travel plans to HelloGbye and it does the rest.

All you need to do is fill out a profile where you rank your travel preferences. You needn’t enter this information again unless you want to make changes. Then HelloGbye’s AI-powered app fetches flight and hotel choices for you based on those preferences.

Traveling with a group? HelloGbye helps you “plan and book multi-person itineraries, including with travelers departing from different cities leaving on different days, all with different preferences, in seconds.”

Price: Free for individuals, but advanced features are subscription-based. The app maker claims the “monthly subscription actually saves you money by reducing travel fee expenses, gives you cash back and provides a better travel booking experience.”

Subscriptions will set you back $19/month but also waives change fees, gets you preferred hotel rates, up to 2% cashback on hotel bookings. If you’re a frequent traveler, the subscription could easily pay for itself.

There is also a small business plan for up to 25 travelers for $199/month.

Hipmunk Advertises itself as “Your FREE travel agent.”

One feature that sets Hipmunk apart is its integration with Facebook Messenger, Skype and Slack. Sign up, then open up your favourite messaging app. Ask the Hipmunk bot a travel question and it will come back with instant travel recommendations.

Make sure to check out Hipmunk’s annual travel planning guide. You’ll discover the best times to travel to your destination, based on price and preferences.

Hipmunk’s flight search engine shows cabin class options head to head, so you can compare Basic Coach to Coach to Business fares. It also finds car rental and travel package deals for you.

Kiwi This app is designed “By Travellers, For Travellers”

Kiwi claims that “airline flights cost 28% less with Kiwi.com – saving you up to 90% on direct prices.” How does Kiwi do it?

The app searches for the cheapest flights possible, even if that means booking you on different carriers. Kiwi’s  interactive flight tickets map helps you search for the best flights possible. Choose ‘Everywhere’ in the destination field to see cheap travel deals from across the world. The app stores all your essential travel documents such as tickets and boarding passes, so you’ll have them at your fingertips whenever you need them.

There’s just one small caveat to using Kiwi. Flying unrelated flight routes, you may have to go through customs and check in again during layovers. Make sure you have a visa for any country in which you need to clear customs.

Accommodation Apps

Travelers have far more accommodation options available than ever before.  From deep discounts on hotel rooms to home sharing options, there are app choices in this category to please every taste and budget.

Hotels.com – Tons of filtering options and thousands of hotel rooms – what’s not to love? Registered users can receive secret deals and save up to 50% off regular pricing. The app’s “Deals for Tonight” feature can score you some sweet last-minute savings on a room.

Hotel Tonight – Everyday at noon, Hotel Tonight releases fresh room deals. While you can book up to two weeks in advance, the biggest savings come from booking last-minute with Hotel Tonight. You’ll also see user reviews, and helpful information to help you make the right decision on a room.

Travelocity.com – Travelocity’s mobile app gives users access to over 300k hotel rooms. If you’re feeling adventurous, use the “Top Secret Hotels” feature to score a deeply discounted rate. The only catch is you won’t know which hotel you’re booked into until your transaction is complete. Check out the user-reviews for insights into properties. If you find a cheaper rate for your room online, Travelocity will refund you the difference.

SPG: Starwood Hotels & Resorts – Access 1200 of Starwood’s award-winning hotels and resorts – including Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton, W Hotels, Aloft Hotels, Westin Hotels & Resorts and St. Regis Hotels & Resorts. Book with a credit card or with your accumulated Starpoints.

Bonus: skip the check in line with SPG Keyless, which lets you check in, get your room number and unlock your door with the app. 24-hour assistance is available from the SPG support team.

Roomer Matches people who have booked non-refundable rooms they can’t use with travelers looking to score a bargain. Register to find secret deals where you can save up to 90% on last minute travel. Sort deals by budget, hotel class, review and extras (free breakfast, etc.)

Roomer has access to luxury properties where you can score even bigger savings. Choose from all-inclusive resorts, city break, beach, romantic trips, family-friendly properties, spa retreats and more! The app also provides users with money-saving offers for solo travel, which is usually a more expensive option.

AirBnB AirBnB leads the way with home sharing options for every taste and budget. Home Sharing has cut significantly into hotel profits, so it’s not surprising some major cities such as New York City and San Francisco have enacted legislation to curb its rapid growth.According to Business Insider, San-Francisco based AirBnB has listings in 191 countries, and its total number of listings have outgrown the combined total of the top five major hotels.The app allows travelers to book short-term or long term vacation home rentals. Share with friends & family via the app, and allow them to help plan the trip. Use the app to message your host and get directions to your rental home

Technically, Roam is not an app. But its included here there are so many benefits of this website for freelancers and business travelers. Roam features co-living and-working spaces with super-fast internet speeds and other business essentials. Kitchen, laundry and living spaces are shared; however, each guest has a private room and bath. Most locations have other amenities available such as a pool and media room.

Currently, Roam has co-living spaces in London, Bali, Miami and Tokyo – with a San Francisco location opening soon.Pricing is by the room, so your guest can stay with you at no additional cost. Note: You must apply and be accepted by Roam before you book.

Transportation Apps

Forget the days when your only option was to rent a car from a big agency, or fumble with a local transit schedule. Mobile apps have revolutionized the car rental process, giving users instant access into pricing from all major agencies. Apps have also set the stage for the rise in ride sharing and car sharing options now available to travelers.

CarzUP Partners with over 25 major car rental companies in the USA, Canada and Europe. Collision insurance  is available from $11/day. Bonus – you don’t need a credit card to book a car through the app.

CarRentals – This simple-to-navigate app is a car rental search engine with enhanced features. Search for vehicles from every major rental agency. View, cancel or re-send confirmation emails for any rental you’ve made through the app. Contact customer service directly through the app for questions and concerns – and get roadside assistance if needed. The app supports 28 different languages., so it’s an excellent choice when traveling abroad.

Getaround Peer-to-peer car rental available in 8 U.S. cites – San Francisco, Berkeley, Boston, Chicago, New Jersey, Oakland, Portland, Washington D.C..  Choose from convertibles, exotic, luxury, snow, SUV, Tesla, truck & van to rent on an hourly or daily basis – insurance included in the rental fee.

Verify your driver’s license and credit card with Getaround, then in the future you’ll be able to rent any vehicle on the network without any paperwork. Simply find a Getaround car you wish to rent, then unlock it with your phone. Hourly and daily rentals are supported by the app. .

Zipcar –  Members can reserve a car from 1 hour up to 7 days. With membership, gas, insurance and up to 200 free kilometers are included per day. Membership starts at $7 month with no annual fee.

When you locate a car that is available to rent, simply hold your Zipcard to the car’s windshield to unlock. When you’re finished with the car, park it in its reserved spot and re-scan your Zipcard to lock it.

Uber – The world’s most popular ridesharing app provides service in many major North American cities, as well as 60 countries worldwide.

To book a ride, download the app, and imput your name, phone number and credit card number. Enter your destination address & confirm your pickup spot and your driver will be on the way.

When your ride is confirmed, you’ll see an estimated cost of the ride provided. You must accept this fee before proceeding.

If you need to make a short stop during your ride, your Uber driver will accommodate you. If you’re a wheelchair user, Uber has specially equipped vehicles to transport your chair to your destination. For the budget minded, Uber offers UberPool, which offers extra savings for guests willing to share a ride.

Lyft – Yet another popular ridesharing service. You can create both personal and business profiles which allows you to keep receipts and personal and business payment cars separate. Schedule your ride up to 7 days in advance.

Lyft also offers a smiliar carpooling option to UberPool called Lyft-Line for budget-mined individuals.

Mytaxi This app is Europe’s favourite taxi booking app. Fare quotes are provided when your ride is booked, so you’ll avoid any unpleasant surprises. Pre-book your airport pickup at least 4 days in advance and for a guaranteed fare.

The app stores your card information, so there’s no need to fumble with cash when you arrive at your destination. All receipts and your ride history are stored in the app for your review.

Taxify – Operates in a similar fashion to Mytaxi but gives you the option to pay with cash instead of adingd a card to the app. Supports both personal and business trips for easy record keeping.

View your driver’s contact details and rate your ride upon reaching your destination – helping other passengers in the future.

Citymapper – The  app is designed specifically for people who walk, cycle and use public transit. A unique feature of this app is its Smart Ride initiative. You’ll get a guaranteed seat on a Smart Ride bus at a specific time on the route you specify. Users have said that Smart Ride is the best of both worlds between catching a bus or taking a cab.

No Wifi or data? No problem. Citymapper saves maps so you can view them offline. Your trip history is saved as well. You can even let friends track the progress of your journey. Opt for push notifications to be alerted of transit delays or cancellations during morning and evening commutes.

Transit – Helps you navigation public transit systems with real-time predictions. Get help with trip planning, navigation, service disruptions and departure and stop reminders. You’ll even be able to track your transit vehicle’s progress on a map in real time. Transit provides step-by-step navigation if you’re on foot.

Service disruption? Transit sends push notifications to alert you. Transit schedules and itineraries are available offline as well. In select cities, you can locate bike share stations, pay for passes and unlock bikes through the app.

Decide that Uber is a better transportation option? Fnd and book nearby Ubers directly through the app. Finally, you can view availability of local car-share services and and book a cars with Transit as well.

Restaurant Reservations & Review Apps

Open Table Make reservations at one of 43,000 restaurants located worldwide with the Open Table App. Filter by your personal preferences by cuisine and location. Discover photos, menus and reviews to guide you to a perfect restaurant choice.

Resy – Make a reservation at one of over 1000 restaurants in over 80 U.S.cities with Resy. All restaurants have been vetted by the Resy team for quality. Booking a table with Resy is as simple as making two taps on your phone. If you need to cancel your reservation, you can do it from inside the app.

Nowait – Many casual dining restaurants don’t take reservations, but put you on a waiting list for a table instead. That can be frustrating when you have hungry kids to feed. Nowait displays how long waits are at close-by casual dining establishments. The app will also put you on a restaurant wait list without standing in line to save your spot. The app even notifies you when it’s time to leave for the restaurant.

Allset – Allset is aimed at business diners. Select a restaurant, pre-pay and order your meal and and pick the time you want to dine. When you show up at the restaurant, your meal is already waiting for you.

Itinerary Apps

Once you’ve planned your trip, it’s a huge help to be able to keep all of your bookings, boarding passes and other important travel information within a single app. To follow are three apps that help travelers manage their itineraries with ease.

Google Trips – Google has created a powerful and convenient app to help plan and organize your trips. The app will pull your bookings from Gmail and Inbox and automatically organize them for you. Your itinerary will always be available offline – no WiFi or data needed to retrieve it.

Need suggestions for things to do in a new city? . Filter your excursion preferences through Top Spots, For You, Local Favourites, Parks & Gardens, Indie Music, Indie Shops, Sporting Scenes, Fashion & Jewellry, Indoors, Outdoors, Kid Friendly, Father Away, Places A-Z.  You”ll receive half and full-day suggestions for outings based on your preferences.

You can even create a custom itinerary for each day of your trip with Google Trips.

TripIt –  This convenient app keeps all of your travel plans as close by as a single tap on your phone. If you’re a Gmail, Yahoo or Outlook user, set up your booking confirmations to be automatically forwarded to the app. If you’re not a user of these services, simply forward your hotel, car rental and restaurant reservations to plans@tripit.com and the TripIt app keeps everything organized for you.

Once you’re finished adding your booking details, TripIt creates an itinerary based on your travel confirmations. Access your itinerary offline – TripIt downloads it and stores in the app for you.

Business travelers may want to upgrade to TripIt Pro ($49/year.) The upgrade allows travelers to receive real time alerts, find alternate flights, get fare refund notifications in the event of a price drop, share travel plans with business colleagues and family, and track rewards points from within the app. A 30-day trial is available.

TripCase– Also geared towards the business traveler. Auto-import trip details, email your booking confirmations to TripCase, or add your details manually to create your itinerary. Share your itinerary with anyone of your choosing – TripCase will keep them updated on your arrival details. Search alternate flights, check the weather, book rides and more all from within the app.

While on your journey, TripCase sends messages related to specific segments of your trip, such as airline check in information. The built-in GPS feature allows you to save specific spots you’d like to return to later.

Important travel documents such as boarding passes stay available with just a tap, whether your online or off.

WiFi Calling Apps

Calling home from your mobile device can add eye-watering roaming charges to your monthly cellular bill. Reduce your charges with apps that let you call and text over WiFi.

WhatsApp – Free calling, video calling and secure messaging from your Android, iPhone, Windows phone or Mac or Windows PC. Start a group chat to update friends and family on your travels – share messages, photos and videos with up to 256 at one time!

WhatsApp features end-to-end encryption, so your calls and chats stay private. You can even send documents via WhatsAPP.

Messenger – The app is Facebook’s contribution to messaging apps. As well as messaging your Facebook friends via the app, you can also send text messages via the app to any phone number. Create group chats; voice call over WiFi. You can turn off Messenger notifications when your working or busy as they can get annoying quickly.

Note: You don’t have to be on Facebook to use the app. You can register via your phone number.

Skype – One of the oldest messaging apps around, Skype has over 100 million installs. Features free Skype-to-Skype voice and video calls and instant messages. Low-cost calling to landlines and SMS to mobile devices is also available.

The fully-encrypted Signal App ensures your conversations stay private. The app doesn’t store your data, or access your communications. Use your existing phone number and address book with Signal – there’s no need to create usernames or passwords. Text, talk or create group chats in complete privacy.

General (But Indispensable) Travel Apps for iPhone

Mobile Passport – Officially authorized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The Mobile Passport app allows U.S. Citizens and Canadian visitors (with B1 or B2 visa status) to submit passport and Customs declaration information via the app instead of filling out a paper form. Household members traveling together can make a single declaration.

Special pre-approval or clearance to use the app is not required. Complete your profile with your passport information, answer CBP’s questions about your trip, and submit your information with a tap upon arrival. Next, you’ll receive an electronic receipt from CBP containing a QR code. Proceed to the dedicated Mobile Passport line, show your receipt and passport to the officer and you’ll breeze through Customs.

Available in over 20 major U.S. cities with more airports to follow.

Note: The app is NOT a replacement for your passport. Have your passport on your person at all times when you travel.

PackPoint – Not sure what to pack for your trip? You’re not alone! But now there’s the Pack Point app to help you get it right. Pack Point checks the weather and decides what you need based on the destination, length of travel and planned activities.

Not only will Pack Point help you plan what clothes to take, it will also remind you to take essential items such as passports, power adapters, medical insurance cards, toiletry items and more.

TripLingo – this app has a number of useful features. There is a voice translator to instantly translate your voice into another language (and vice versa), a phrasebook that includes formal, casual and slang options, learning tools to help you master critical phrases, safety tools, tip calculator, culture notes and more.

Waygo  is a must for travelers going to Asia. Waygo uses image recognition to translate signs and menus from Japanese, Chinese and Korean to English.

Google Translate – the world’s most popular translation app supports over 103 languages. Use your camera to instantly translate text in 38 languages. Copy text into your app for instant translation. Enter into Conversation Mode for two-way speech translation in 32 languages. Save translations in the app for future use. You can also translate 59 languages without a data connection when you’re traveling abroad..

iTranslate Voice – Speak into your phone, and iTranslate will instantly translate your voice into one of the 42 languages supported – no typing required. Send translations over email, SMS or Facebook. The Phrasebook feature allows you to store frequently used phrases and sync them via iCloud for instant retrieval.

XE Currency is one of the best currency conversion apps on the market. Set your base currency and the app will pin it to the top of your screen. The app will work offline too, as rates are stored as they are updated. Calculate prices in your local currency with ease.

What Are Your Best Travel Apps for iPhone?

Pheww….that was a lot of writing – hope you enjoyed this round-up of 43 best travel apps for iPhone.  I’m sure that I missed a few great apps. Got a favourite? Add it in the comments below!

Discover the best travel apps for iphone

Best iPhone travel apps

How to Set Up Apple Family Plan iCloud Storage

An Apple Family Sharing plan is an excellent way to keep track of your family’s app purchases and media. Why pay for separate iCloud storage when you can share a storage plan for less?

Up to six family members can share a joint iCloud storage plan (and Apple doesn’t limit who you can share your account with.)  Better yet,  you can even instantly share apps and books between family members at no extra cost.

For example, you can download a game app and it will automatically appear on all your kids devices.

The plan works for any iOS device, whether its an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

A shared plan can also you track your family’s devices in case of loss or theft (more on this feature later in this post.)

So let’s get started setting up a shared iCloud storage plan with your family!

How to Enable Your Apple Family Sharing Plan

To enable Family Sharing you need an iCloud account that has at least 200 GB of storage space. This means that you’ll need to upgrade your account form the free 5gb plan. (For more information, and to sign up for a plan, click here.)

When you sign up for a shared iCloud storage plan, designate an adult family member as the family organizer. He or she then has ultimate control over the shared account and has the ability to approve other family member’s purchases.

After you’ve signed up for your paid iCloud account, the next step is for the family organizer to invite and add family members to the shared account.

Invite Family Members to Join the Shared iCloud Drive:

Apple makes it simple to invite family members to join the shared iCloud account.

Step 1) Select the “Set Up Family Sharing” option by tapping it.

This action will open up the Apple ID screen that appears to your right.

Step 2) Tap the “Get Started” Button to begin the setup process. 

Step 3)Invite Your Family.

Choose the family members you wish to add (up to six family members can share an account.)

The person receiving your invitation will receive an iMessage notifying them you’ve invited them to share your account.

Or you can invite family members by entering their name, email address or Game Center identification.

Step 4) Create accounts for your children.

Select the ‘Create a Child Account’ option by tapping it, then the screen to the right will open. Tap next.

Step 5) Enter your child’s birth date.

After you enter this date, tap Next.

Note: Apple allows anyone 13 or over to have their own iCloud account. If you don’t want your older kids to have their own account just yet,  override this by fudging the year your child was born to 12 years prior from now.

Tap “Next” and you’ll see the Parent Privacy Disclosure Page.

Step 6) Accept the Parent Privacy Disclosure by clicking “Agree” 

Step 7) Verify that you’re the account owner. 

To verify, enter the security code on the back of the account credit card.

Step 8) After You’ve Verified, Add Your Child’s Details. 

Congratulations, you’re done.

Now that you’ve added your family members and set up accounts for your children, you can begin to share all of your apps, books and games and cloud storage space. 

An Apple Family Sharing plan lets you stay on top of app purchases.  You’ll be able to avoid making the same app purchase multiple times for different kids.

With an Apple Family Sharing Plan, You’re in Control

There’s no need to worry that enabling a Family Sharing plan would allow Junior to run wild buying apps and games (since the account is tied to the credit card of the family organizer.) To prevent any unauthorized purchases,  simply set up the “Ask to Buy” feature when you’re setting up your Family Sharing account.

When your child tries to initiate a purchase from the Apple Store, you’ll receive a notification to review and approve the purchase. From there, you’ll have the ability to approve or decline the purchase.

By the way, this feature also gives you a nice “carrot” to get the kids to do their chores. For example, if Susie puts the dishes away all week, she earns a reward in the form of an app purchase approval. Since apps are inexpensive for the most part, this could be a great bargaining tool for parents.

But what about photos? Can photos also be shared by family members? Yes!

Share Photos via iCloud

Sharing photos via iCloud Photo Sharing is another great reason to enable Apple Family Sharing.

You can even create shared albums that signed in family members can comment on and like. If you’re concerned about posting photos of your children publicly on social media, this is a secure alternative.

Check out our post for more details on how to save and optimize your photos with iCloud.

By now your wheels are probably turning about how great it would be to share and manage all of your family’s files, apps, books, games and more through a Family iCloud account.

But there are even more benefits to your shared account!

Track Missing Devices with Apple Family Sharing

Here’s another major benefit to an Apple Sharing Plan.

When you have Apple Family Sharing enabled, you can find any family member’s device with the Find My iPhone app. (The app comes pre-installed with every Apple device. )

To use this feature, enable “Location Sharing” on your family members’ devices while you’re setting up your shared iCloud account.

The next time you log into Location Sharing, you’ll see a list of your family members and their devices, along with their device’s last reported location. (You’ll also see your family member’s physical location if they happen to be carrying their device with them.)

This is a very big deal when you have kids (or spouses) who frequently lose their phones, iPods and iPads. Instead of fretting that Billy left his phone at the movie theatre, you’ll be able to spot that it’s hiding somewhere in your own home.

For more information about tracking missing devices using Location Sharing, check out this post.

Before we wrap up this post, there’s one last question you may have about Family Sharing.

Can I Share My Apple Music Subscription?

You might also wonder if you can share your Apple Music subscription.

Yes, you can, but with a catch.

In order to share an Apple Music account, you need to be signed up for a Family Subscription. This will run you $14.99 per month (in the U.S.) vs. $9.99 a month for an individual account. But even though a shared subscription looks more expensive on the surface, it could still save your family money on individual Apple Music subscriptions.

For example, a couple with individual Music subscriptions could save $48.00 per year with a Family Subscription versus paying for individual subscriptions. If you have a kid or two at the age where they love to listen to music on their iPods, this subscription will certainly pay for itself.

You Don’t Have to Listen to the Same Music as Your Kids

And just because one family member loves a certain genre of music doesn’t mean everyone in the shared subscription needs to listen to it.

Users can create their own playlists inside the Family subscription.  In other words, you won’t be stuck listening to your husband’s Hot Country playlist or have to endure the kids’ “Moana” soundtrack when you’re a die-hard Motorhead fan.

Tip: Apple offers a free trial period for Apple Music accounts. You can always try an Apple Music subscription out and cancel later.

Want full details on a shared Apple Music subscription? Click here.

Thanks for reading!

How to Find a Lost or Stolen Phone

Lost your Android or Apple device? Don’t panic – here’s a step-by-step walkthrough that gives you a second chance to find your missing device.

Find Your Lost Android Phone or Device

Protect your Android it in case of loss or theft by downloading an app from Google Play called “Find My Device.” This free app helps you locate your lost or stolen device.

Once you have the app installed, you can access Find My Device from any browser by typing in https://google.com/android/find.

Youll have options to ring, lock or erase your device in case of loss or theft.

 Set Up the “Find My Device” App

Sign into Google and type myaccount.google.com into your browser. Locate the “Find Your Phone” option at the bottom left and click on Get Started.

Find Your Phone displays a map of where your phone has reported its location. Next, tell Google which time period you’d like to search. After you enter this information, Google will display the last known location of your phone before its battery died.

As well as viewing your phone’s last location, you can also lock your device to protect it from prying eyes through this same interface.

If you feel that your phone won’t be recovered, then take the final step and erase all personal data from your phone. Be sure that this is what you want to do because there is no going back after this step.

Apple user? We’ve got you covered in case you lose your device, too. Here are two methods to locate your lost device.

Locate Your Lost Apple Device With The Find My iPhone App

Apple has an app called Find My iPhone that comes pre-installed on your device (it also works for iPad.) And it’s your new best friend for finding a missing device.

To set it up, sign into iCloud. Locate the “Find My iPhone”setting and turn it on. Turn on the “Send Last Location” setting as well. (You’ll need this activated to report the last known physical location of your phone.)

Now that you’ve activated Find My iPhone let’s look at the options available inside the app to help you locate a missing device.

Find my iPhone Lost Mode

If you can’t find your device,  navigate to the Find My iPhone app on another Apple device.  Sign in with your Apple ID.

Choose “Lost mode.” Enter your phone number at the prompt.

This number will then display on the screen of your lost device so you can be notified by the person who finds your phone.

In Lost mode, your phone plays an audible tone to alert anyone nearby for as long as your battery lasts.

This is also a handy feature to help find your phone if you misplace it while you’re alone.

Using a Mac or PC to Find Your Lost Device

 

If you can’t sign into iCloud on a family member or friend’s device, don’t despair. You have an option to sign iCloud in from a browser on a Mac or PC.

Navigate to icloud.com/find from your browser and sign in with your iCloud ID.

Follow the on-screen prompts to put your phone into Lost mode.

Lost iPhone Last Resort

If you feel there is no chance you’ll get your device back, choose Erase in Find My iPhone’s settings.

Erase deletes all personal data from your phone. Make sure that you feel there’s zero chance of recovering your phone before you take this step because you won’t be able to reverse it.

Hopefully, you had previously enabled iCloud or iTunes backup. If you did, if necessary, you’ll be able to restore your lost phone’s settings to a new device.

But what if a family member loses their device?

If you have iCloud Family Sharing enabled you’ll have a way to help them track it down.

Bonus Section: Track Family Members’ Lost Apple Devices

If you’ve enabled iCloud sharing between family members, and have Location Tracking enabled, the Find My iPhone feature will allow you to see where your family members have left their devices too.

You’ll see a list of your family member’s devices and the last reported location of each device after log-in.

Also, enabling Location Sharing also means you’ll be able to view a family member’s physical location if they are carrying a device registered to the family account. This feature could be useful while travelling, or in case your family accidentally gets separated in a crowd situation.

If you feel the device can’t be recovered, then erase the device’s data as described above to protect personal information.

How to find your lost phone

Find your lost phone

 

How to Turn On iCloud Photo Library and Share with Family

Setting up iCloud Photo Library is a simple process.

It’s a great way to store your photos without saving them to your device or to an external hard drive.

Photo files are large and take up a lot of space.

If you take any amount of photos, it doesn’t take long to run out of local storage. So free up space by uploading your pics to iCloud Photo Library instead.

 Do Really I Need a Paid iCloud Account?

The answer to this question is: “it depends.”

iCloud gives you 5 GB of free storage, which doesn’t go far if you have very many photos to store.

If you think you’ll exceed this amount of storage, create a paid account. Don’t skimp here, since other file types (such as documents) are automatically stored to your iCloud account as well.

Paid iCloud storage plans rates vary from country-to-country. You can check out plans here.

Note: If you go with a 200 GB or 2 TB plan, you can share your storage with family members. ( More details to come later in this post.)

How to Turn on iCloud Photo Library

There are a few critical steps to take before you start to save photos from iCloud.

Although these steps might seem a bit time consuming, going through them will sync your photos across all of your devices.

And if you happen to do any edits to your photos, they’ll appear across all of your devices registered to your iCloud plan.

  • Make sure that all devices you’d like to upload photos from are running the most recent version of iOS
  • Next, set up iCloud on all of your devices if you haven’t done so already. (For instructions on how to do this, click here.)
  • Sign into iCloud using the same Apple ID on all the devices which you’d like to upload photos from
  • Connect to WiFi and make sure the device you’ll enable iCloud Photo Library from is plugged in (you don’t want to run out of battery life midway through the process!)
  • Finally, turn on the iCloud Photo Library.
  • If you’re on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, to turn on iCloud Photo Library go to your device’s settings. Click on your name, then  > iCloud > Photos. That’s it!
  • Note: it can take some time, even up to a couple of days, before all of your photos from all of your devices will upload to iCloud.

From Now On, Your Photos Automatically Upload to iCloud

Setting up iCloud Photos and waiting for them to migrate from your device storage to iCloud can be a bit of a pain, but it’s worth it.

Now all of your photos will be available on every device where you’ve signed into iCloud, from any location in the world.

And just because you don’t have an iPhone doesn’t mean that you can’t use iCloud Photo Library.

 Can I Use iCloud Photo Library with a PC?

The answer is “Yes!” First, you will need to create an Apple ID. Click here to register for an Apple ID.

Next, you’ll need to download iCloud for Windows. Depending on your storage needs, you may need a paid account.

After you’ve downloaded and opened iCloud, go to Photos and click Options. Select iCloud Photo Library, then click Done and Apply.

From now on, your photos will automatically upload to iCloud.

Now that you’ve enabled iCloud Photo Library, here’s how to optimize to save some storage space.

Optimize Your iCloud Photo Library

The great thing about your Apple Photo Library is that it stores photos from all of your registered devices.

So any photo you’ve uploaded to iCloud will always be available on any of your iCloud registered devices, regardless of whether you’re using your Apple computer, iPhone, iPod or iPad.

If you want to free up more storage space,  use the Photos app to delete any old photos and videos that you no longer need. But removing unneeded images is only one way to save on your iCloud storage space.

You can save additional space by turning on “Optimize Device Storage” within your device settings.

With Optimize Storage turned on, Photos replaces original photos and videos with thumbnails. Any time you click on a thumbnail,  your original, full-resolution photos and videos are available in iCloud, ready to be downloaded at any time.

Accidentally Delete a Photo? No Worries!

Don’t sweat it if you accidentally delete a photo you wanted to keep. All Deleted photos are saved in a Recently Deleted album for 30 days.

Make sure to remove any content you’d like to save from the Recently Deleted album before the 30 days are up. iCloud permanently removes Recently Deleted content if you exceed your storage limits.

Your photo could be gone for good in that case, so be sure to remove accidentally deleted pictures from this album ASAP.

Speaking of saving space, you may want to check out yet another option to keep your photos  – Google Photos.

Bonus Content:  Google Photos

Google Photos is another excellent option to store treasured photos.

Get started by downloading the  Google Photos app from the Apple App Store or from Google Play. There is also a desktop version of Google Photos available.

Google is much more generous with their storage plans than Apple is. While Apple gives you 5 GB of free storage, Google provides 15 GB free.

And if you’re willing to limit your photo resolution to 16 megapixels and video resolution to 1080p (more than adequate for most smartphone photos) Google Photos provides free unlimited storage space.

However, if you need to store your photos in higher resolution than 16 megapixels, they count against your Google Drive storage limits.

As a bonus, Google Photos automatically detects where your photos are taken and arranged into albums –  without any additional effort on your part. It’s a handy feature to help you stay organized when you have a ton of travel and event photos.

Now Your Photos Are Organized and Safe

iCloud Photo Library or Google Photos? The choice is yours.

By utilizing one of these services is you won’t have to live in terror of what will happen to your photos if you lose your phone. And you’ll avoid running out of device storage just as you go to take a once-in-a-lifetime shot!

You Can Family Share iCloud Storage Too!

We’ve written another post which explains how you can take advantage and share iCloud storage with family. Now, all of your family members can save photos to iCloud and never run out of space on their devices.

Discover how to share iCloud storage with family here.

How to turn on iCloud Photo Library

Turn on iCloud Photo Library step-by-step

Back Up Your Phone to iCloud or iTunes

Introduction:

The need to back up your iPhone is something no one thinks about until an emergency strikes.

A little proactive action can save you a whole lot of headaches down the road. Backup your iPhone now and prevent a lot of grief in the future.

If you have an Apple device, you have two platforms where you can backup your iPhone: iTunes & iCloud.

First, let’s have a look at the pros and cons of each method.

In a hurry? Jump to a specific section of this post by clicking on the links below.

iTunes Vs. iCloud – Which iPhone Backup Method is Best?

No matter which platform you choose, storage limits will play into your decision over whether to use iCloud or iTunes to back up your phone. Below you’ll find some pros-and-cons for each backup system.

iCloud Back Up Details

While you’ll receive 5 free GB of storage with your iCloud account, you’ll use it up fast if you have large files or a lot of photos stored on your phone.

The good news is that additional iCloud storage can be purchased according to your needs.

Apple offers three premium plans for iCloud storage.

U.S.-based iCloud plans start at $0.99/month for 50 GB; $2.99/month for 200GB and 2TB for $9.99/month. (Bonus: 200GB and 2 TB plans may be shared with family members, so your  cost-per-user ends up being less.)

Other countries rates vary – check this page to find out Apple’s latest rates for non-U.S. based accounts.

To increase your backup storage, enable the iCloud Photo Library. Doing this eliminates videos and photos from your regular iCloud backups, as they are already stored in the cloud.

iTunes Back Up Details

iTunes backs up data to your own computer, so needless to say, you won’t need to pay for any extra storage when you back up your device to iTunes.

However, your backups are limited to the amount of space available on your machine. If you know that you’re short of RAM on your computer, backing up a large number of photos and large files to iTunes isn’t advised.

You can always backup iTunes to an external hard drive if you’re short of storage space on your computer.

To backup iTunes up to an external hard-drive, Apple provides instructions here.

Or you can always spring for some extra storage on iCloud.

However, if you have any privacy concerns, and you want full control over your data,  stick to iTunes as your backup method. Because iTunes stores your data on your own machine, it isn’t as vulnerable to hackers.

Speaking of hackers, let’s look at how to enable data encryption to protect your private data against unauthorized use.

Encryption: Keep Personal Data Safe When You Backup Your iPhone

Encryption helps keep your private data safe in the event your phone gets lost or stolen. Many of us keep highly confidential data on our phones, such as banking passwords, and health data. You don’t want that kind of data to fall into the wrong hands.

This is why it’s very important to make sure your data gets encrypted when you back up your iPhone. Luckily, both iCloud and iTunes will encrypt your data.

iCloud encrypts data by default. You don’t have to change any settings at all. However,  you must enable encryption for iTunes since it is not a default setting.

But don’t stress. It’s a simple 3-step process to enable iTunes encryption.

3 Steps to iTunes Encryption

  1. Connect your iOS device to your computer and open iTunes
  2. Select your device, then click “Summary”
  3. Scroll to the Backups section. Check the box that says ” Encrypt iPhone Backup.”

It’s that easy!

What Is and Isn’t Automatically Backed Up in iCloud & iTunes

You should be aware that iCloud only saves what Apple considers as essential data during an automatic backup. This can leave you vulnerable in case of loss or theft, or in case you want to transfer your saved data to a new device.

To follow is a list of what is and isn’t automatically saved in an iCloud or iTunes Backup so you can make an informed decision about which one to use.

iCloud Back Up:

Your iPhone backup to iCloud only includes information and settings stored on your device.

Any information already stored in iCloud is excluded from your backup

Excluded information includes:

  •  Contacts
  • Calendars
  • Bookmarks
  • Mail
  • Notes
  • Shared photos,
  • iCloud Photo Library
  •  My Photo Stream
  • Health data
  • Files stored in iCloud Drive.

iTunes Back Up:

iTunes is is a more complete back up method than iCloud back up is.

With iTunes the following information is backed up:

  • Photos & Images
  • Media files
  • Messages & call logs
  • Application data, including settings
  • Network settings
  • Memos, Calendars & Bookmarks
  • Safari history, offline data, email attachments & caching data

Even if you prefer the convenience of an automatic iCloud backup, it’s still a good idea to occasionally backup to iTunes as well. This will ensure all of your data gets backed up.

Ready to back up your iPhone? Let’s get started! Both backup methods are simple. Just choose the one you think fits your own situation best.

Let’s Backup Your iPhone Now

iCloud/iTunes Back Up Steps

Backing up to iCloud is the easiest way to backup your device. You can begin an iCloud backup with only a few taps on your device.

Here are the easy steps to backup with iCloud:

  1. Make sure your phone or device is on WiFi and connected to your charger before beginning your backup.
  2. Turn on iCloud Backup by navigating to Settings > [Your Name] > iCloud > iCloud Backup. (Note: if you’re using iOS 10.2 or an earlier version to go Settings > iCloud >Backup )
  3. Make sure you have enough storage space available in iCloud (as previously noted, you receive 5GB free storage. Upgrade if you think it’s necessary.)
  4. From this point forward, as long as your screen is locked, iCloud will perform an automatic backup of your device nightly

Backing up your phone or device with iTunes a snap. Here are the 5 easy steps to backup secure your data with iTunes.

  1. To begin your iTunes backup, connect your Apple device to your computer via a USB cable.
  2. Open iTunes on your computer.
  3. You may get a message asking for your device passcode or asking if you Trust This Computer. If so, follow the onscreen steps.
  4. Go to File > Devices and choose your device.
  5. After you choose your device, choose Backup and follow the screen prompts.

Now you’ll enjoy peace of mind that your device data is protected in case of the loss or theft of your phone. And if you change devices, it will be easy to upload your contacts, apps and data.

Note: You can also select which individual apps you’d like to backup. Under “Choose Data to Backup”, turn off any apps that you don’t wish to backup at this time.

To do this, choose “Turn Off & Delete.”

Now that you’ve successfully discovered how to back up your device with both iTunes and iCloud, here are the steps to access your backup and restore your data any time you need it.

Restore Your Backed Up Data to iPhone

If you purchase a new device, it’s a pain to have to download all your favourite apps one-at-a-time to your new device and also reconfigure all of your settings.

But you, being the smart person you are, have your iPhone data backed up. This makes it easy to automatically restore apps and settings to a new device!

Below are instructions on how to restore your backed up data to any compatible device.

Restore iCloud/iTunes Data

Data stored in your iCloud backup can easily be restored to a new device.

However, if you started to set up your device without restoring data from a backup, there is an extra step you’ll need to take. Any new data you’ve added to your device must be erased in order for the backup to work properly.

Erase Steps:

  1. Tap Settings > General > Reset
  2. Tap “Erase All Content and Settings.” (You may need to enter your passcode or Apple ID password if asked.)
  3. Confirm that you want to erase your device.
  4. After your existing data has been erased, it’s time to restore your data from your backup.

Restore Steps:

  1. Turn on your device. You should see the “Hello” screen.
  2. Navigate to the “Apps & Data” screen.
  3. Sign in with your Apple ID and choose the backup with the most relevant date and size. (If you’ve used multiple IDs to purchase apps, books, etc from Apple, you’ll need to sign into each account separately.)
  4. Stay connected to WiFi and wait until you’ll see a progress bar. Wait for the progress bar to complete.
  5. Follow the prompts and finish setting up your device.

Here are the easy steps to restore data from an iTunes backup:

  1. Open iTunes on the computer that you used to back up your device
  2. Use a USB cable to connect your Apple device to your computer.
  3. If prompted to enter your device passcode or to Trust This Computer, follow the onscreen steps.
  4. When your device appears in iTunes, select it.
  5. Choose Restore Backup. (Pick the most relevant backup to restore.) Click Restore.
  6. You may need to enter your passcode again if your backup is encrypted.
  7. After your device restarts, keep it connected to your computer. Wait for your device to sync with your computer.
  8. When your device finishes syncing, you can disconnect from your computer and start using your device.

Note: There isn’t any need to keep every iPhone backup indefinitely. As new apps and data are added to your device, old backups become obsolete. So you can save yourself some storage space by periodically deleting your old backups.

iCloud vs. iTunes Backup: The Final Verdict

What’s the best way to backup your iPhone – iTunes or iCloud?

Both! iCloud is more convenient, but iTunes backups your non-Apple purchase and passwords without eating into your iCloud data allowance.

So why not use both methods?

While you may not want to go through an iTunes backup daily, backing up to iTunes when you purchase a book, music or other downloads from a source other than the Apple Store ensures you can always access these items whenever you need them.

Comments or Questions? Let us know!

The steps to backup your iPhone

How to back up your iphone