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Monday
Feb182019

How to Download Your Google+ Data Before it Gets Deleted

After years of trying to edge its way into social networking (remember Google Buzz?), Google is throwing in the towel and will shut down the consumer version of Google+ in April.

Google admits that adoption was weak; "90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds," a VP said last year. But the impetus for this year's shutdown was a security breach that exposed the private data of thousands of Google+ users. At first, Google planned to shut down Google+ in August 2019, but when another breach was uncovered, that date was moved up to April 2.

As a result, Google+ users now have less than two months to save their data before the platform goes dark for consumers. If you want to preserve your Google+ posts, comments, and media, here's how.

 
  • Go to Google Takeout

    Takeout is a repository of all the data Google has stored about your account, from Google Drive and Google Photos to YouTube and Hangouts. You'll also find your Google+ data here.

    Get started by navigating to takeout.google.com; if you're not already logged in, sign in with the account associated with the Google+ profile in question.

    You will see a list of all the Google products associated with your account and by default, everything will be selected. To make things easier, click "Select None" up top, which will de-select everything.

  • Choose Your Data

    Now, scroll down to find Google+. You will notice there is no single option for Google+ user data. Instead, there are several different pieces of information available for download: Google+ +1s on websites (your +1 recommendations); Google+ Circles (your contacts); Google+ Communities (your community data); Google+ Stream (all your posts); and Profile (your profile data).

    This data is delivered in various formats. Your +1s will only be available in HTML, while your Profile data can only be attained in JSON. Meanwhile, you can choose between vCard, JSON, CSV, and HTML for Circles data. You can also choose specific Communities or Stream data to download, and select between JSON or HTML.

    Click everything you want to download, scroll to the bottom, and click Next.

  • Select an Archive Format

    Now you decide how to format all this information. First choose whether the files should come to you as a .zip or .tgz file.

    Then choose the size of the archive folders. Options include 1GB, 2GB, 4GB, 10GB, and 50GB. If your files are larger than your selected file size, Google will split them into separate folders. And anything over 2GB will be compressed into zip64 files.

    Finally, decide how you want to receive a download link. Google can email it to you or add your files to cloud storage services like Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, or Box.

  • Download Your Data

    Once you hit Create Archive at the bottom of the page, the information you selected for download will be gathered up and sent according to your specifications. Depending on how much data you requested, your files could arrive within a few minutes or take a few days, according to Google. I barely used Google+ over the years, so my data hit my inbox in less than a minute.
Sunday
Feb102019

Opera's free VPN is back! Here's how to get it on your Android phone

When Opera announced that it was shutting down its VPN app for iOS and Android last year, it appeared as though it was gone forever. In fact, Opera directed users toward SurfEasy Total VPN with deep discounts on subscription plans. Apparently, Opera thought better of that idea, because it’s bringing its VPN back.

There are a few caveats though. For one, it’s still in beta mode. For another, it’s only available within the full Opera browser (not Opera Mini) on Android phones. But otherwise, it’s just as free, unlimited, and easy to use as the standalone app that was shuttered in April. And it’s basically just like the desktop version expect on your phone.

To try it out, you’ll need to download the Opera browser beta, which is separate from the Opera browser. Once you install it on your phone, tap the “O” icon ion the bottom right corner of the screen, tap Settings, and flip the VPN toggle from Disabled to Enabled. Inside the VPN tab there are a couple of options for limiting VPN to private tabs, choosing a virtual location, and bypassing it for search engines, as well as a snapshot of how much data has been transferred, but mostly it offers automatic protection with virtually no fuss. You don’t even need to sign in to an Opera account to start using it.

The VPN functions as expected. When enabled, it replaces your IP address with a virtual one to make it more difficult for websites to track you. It also is a “no-log service,” Opera promises it won’t collect any information routed through its servers.

It’s unclear how long the VPN will stay in beta, but Opera says tests will continue “for some time.” Also unclear is whether Opera will offer a paid subscription tier like before, which promised faster speeds and more regions.

Why this matters: In the age of data leaks and ad tracking, a VPN can be an excellent line of defense against bad actors and unscrupulous sites. Opera’s VPN might not be as full-featured or versatile as some other VPN’s, but it’s hard to beat its simplicity and ease of use. Check out PCWorld's roundup of the best VPNs for a deeper look at the category.

Saturday
Feb092019

Microsoft Really Wants Internet Explorer to Die

Still using Microsoft's Internet Explorer as your default browser? Change is good, and in this case, necessary.

In a Wednesday blog post, Microsoft Windows Principal Architect Chris Jackson urged companies to migrate to modern browsers instead of using IE as their default.

"You see, Internet Explorer is a compatibility solution," Jackson wrote. "We're not supporting new web standards for it and, while many sites work fine, developers by and large just aren't testing for Internet Explorer these days. They're testing on modern browsers."

Jackson said he sometimes, even to this day, receives queries from enterprise customers about how to ensure all web traffic goes to IE. If most of your sites were originally designed for IE, it might seem easier to use it by default, he acknowledged. But in 2019, that's not a good decision.

"If we continued our previous approach, you would end up in a scenario where, by optimizing for the things you have, you end up not being able to use new apps as they come out," he wrote. "As new apps are coming out with greater frequency, what we want to help you do is avoid having to miss out on a progressively larger portion of the web!"

In the comment section, Jackson clarified that he's not telling people to never use IE—just "don't use it for everything." As for which browser you should use, Jackson said that's up to you.

"I'm not here to enforce any browser on anyone," he wrote (Microsoft lawyers likely thank him for that). "Windows gives you a choice in your browser, and you should choose the one that best meets your needs."

Microsoft Edge earned an "excellent" rating in PCMag's review for its fast browsing experience, simple interface, reading mode, and more. For more, check out our roundup of the best web browsers.

Wednesday
Feb062019

How to unsend messages on Facebook Messenger

Facebook announced it would add a feature to its Messenger apps that would allow users to unsend a message. There was no real ETA on when the feature would roll out but the feature has now rolled out to all users, worldwide. You can unsend messages on Facebook Messenger within a certain time period. Unsending a message allows you to remove a message from both your and your recipient’s side however, it does leave a trace.

This feature is available on the Facebook Messenger apps for both iOS and Android. Make sure you update the app to the latest version that’s available.

Open Facebook Messenger and send a message. Tap and hold on it until you see the reaction bar. At the same time, you will see a bar appear at the bottom with options to copy, forward, and remove or delete the message. Tap the Delete or Remove option (whichever one you get).

A menu will open listing two options; Remove for everyone, and Remove for you. To unsend the message, you need to tap Remove for everyone. This will remove the message from both your side and from your recipient’s side.

The message being unsent isn’t going to leave without a mark. Your recipient will know that a message was removed from the conversation. The feature, like those similar to it on other messaging apps, has limitations. For example, you will find that you cannot go back and unsend older messages. There is a limit to how old a message can be for it to be unsent. If a message is too old, you cannot unsend it.

It also goes without saying that just because you can unsend a message doesn’t mean that your recipient will not have read/seen it before you get the chance to remove it. They may take a screenshot of it as well before it’s removed so remember that unsending isn’t a fix for bigger messaging problems.

WhatsApp has a similar unsend feature which allows you to unsend messages that are no older than 7 minutes. There’s no word on how old is too old for a message to be unsent on Facebook Messenger but you can take a hint from WhatsApp and expect similar time limits.

It’s interesting to note that the feature was initially something that was used internally at Facebook to protect its executives’ communication from leaking. It was only when this information became public that Facebook announced it would roll out the feature to other users as well.

Wednesday
Feb062019

Google+ shutting down for good on April 2, 2019

Google has confirmed that its social networking site Google Plus (Google+) would be shutting down on April 2.

Google also stated that it would shut down the social networking site due to 'other challenges' it faced in maintaining and continuing the service. It will allow users to download all their photos and videos before the shut down date. From April 2, the company would start deleting content from consumer Google+ accounts.

The company clarified that photos and videos uploaded on Google Photos would not be deleted from the service. Google account-linked like Gmail and YouTube too would continue to work and only the Google Plus account would be purged.

Google further said that users wouldn't be allowed to upload or create new content pages from as early as February 4. Users who have been using their Google Plus account to log into other sites or apps won't be able to do so in the coming days as it would be replaced with the Google sign-in button. Comments made on other sites using Google Plus ID too would be removed by March 7.

G Suite users who still use Google Plus account would have their accounts remain active and only need to contact their G Suite Administrator. 

Although Google did not mention the challenges directly in its latest blog post, the company had previously announced that there was a breach in the platform’s security system that led to a leak of over 5,00,000 Google Plus accounts. Google claimed to have fixed the issue only to find out there was another bug that caused the data of over 52.5 million users to get exposed. The company then announced that it would be shutting down the platform in April.

Tuesday
Feb052019

Download Video from YouTube Premium

Downloading videos from YouTube is a cottage industry all its own. Vendors inundate PCMag all the time hoping to get a mention in our YouTube video download tutorial. Even if they're not explicitly breaking YouTube's terms of service, such options may prevent people from making money on YouTube (aka, their livelihood).

YouTube Premium - DownloadTo be on the up and up and still get YouTube video downloads, subscribe for $11.99 per month to YouTube Premium (formerly YouTube Red), which axes commercials, provides access to YouTube Originals (shows by professionals), YouTube Music, and allows for video downloads. You can try it free for an entire month, all via the YouTube app. (Buyer beware: the cost is $15.99 a month if you set up Premium via the app on iOS—that's Google charging you extra, passing the Apple tax on to customers.)

Once you've subscribed, the app will show a Premium logo. Click the Save icon () on a video on your iOS or Android phone or tablet and select your video quality: Medium (360p video) or High (720p)—some offer a Low (144p) option. Grab a whole playlist if you desire. The icon turns blue after the download is complete. Access them from the Library tab, under Downloads.

Naturally, YouTube Premium restricts playback to a device signed into the same account. Downloads disappear after 30 days. After the free trial, you'll only see the download button when you subscribe. Once you are down to only 5 percent or less storage on a device, you can't download videos with YouTube Premium until you clear some space.

Downloads work for all YouTube Originals. None of those shows are exactly household names, but that may be because you're not under 18. It's also likely to change as new shows from big names like Jordan Peele make their debut.

As for the rest of the videos on YouTube, whether you can download is at the discretion of the uploader/owner. But with 300 hours of video uploaded every minute, you can probably find something to download and watch.