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ultraglide

Best Laptop And The Most Secure Service

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We will be going Full time soon. We are looking for a good laptop and the most secure service out there. We don't wish to be paying our bills on line and not having it secure.

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We just switched to Apple. Had too many problems with Microsoft. Started with winning a iPad mini at the hardware show in vegas in May and was surprised how easy and fast it was. I bought a Macbook pro and like it so much that last night I ordered one for my wife.

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Verizon, AT&T, and others, have a small device about the size of a pack of playing cards that can be used to access wi-fi. Our Verizon unit is called a Jet Pack. Cost was $50 per month and it comes with 5 GB of data. Is is supposed to provide a secure wi-fi connection. We purchased the unit in CA and used it, as required, across I-8 and I-10 and had service anytime we needed it. The device does work while mobile as long as you have a cell phone tower signal, but the 5 GB of data can be eaten up quickly if you watch movies or Skype. The service is 4G when available, and on a 4G connection it is very fast. A number of devices can connect to the Internet through the Jet Pack (I think it is 10), but access is password protected.

You could consider a device such as this for when you need secure Internet access and use the open wi-fi services such as in campgrounds, rest stops and McDonalds for general web surfing when you don't need a secure connection.

For general Internet access, I really like my iPad, but still use a Windows lap top computer for general computer work.

Sam

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It took a while to get used to but I like the Apple devices. I have a MacBook Air because that was the only one that had solid state drive at the time. Apple devices all talk to each other with iCloud. We have the laptop, two iPads and two iPhones. WIFI is mostly built in bit we use both Verizon and AT&T. The iPhones can be set up as a WIFI hotspot using cellular network.

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Thanks to all who have given me some great things to think about. Thanks again

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I love my IBM/Lenovo T60/61 Thinkpad Laptops, especially after I upgraded both to Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit and memory to 4Gbytes.

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I purchased the Verison Jet-pack. It works great. I thought I needed to get a smart phone to make it a hot-spot. The clerk said use the Jet-pack to get internet anywhere you can get cell phone service. Our reason for this upgrade was that many campgrounds who say they have Wi-Fi either have a weak signal or you are parked where there are too many rigs between you and their tower. The Jet-pack is secure. You have your own password.

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I use Motosat and set up my own secure network with Hughesnet. I also use AT&T and teather to my Smartphone with a 4 gig package.

Hughesnet is slower than 4g but very secure. I would not connect to a public Wifi unless you have no othe choice.

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I have used AT&T MiFi now for 5 years. (Whew! Lot of money at $50 a month), however we have traveled the West and East Coast and only on a few occasions did I not have good connectivity, or no signal. Many times in those places of no signal the campground had WiFi.

The MiFI will connect up to 5 connections and you can limit that to two if you so desire. The 4G signal is very adequate for surfing and paying bills. The 5Gb limit is rarely met unless you stream a lot of videos.

Laptops: There is no right answer for which is the "better" laptop. It really comes down to a matter of user comfort and choice. For years I worked with Windows computers and in the RV a Windows laptop. Over the last several years I have had Toshiba laptops and I have been exceptionally satisfied with them. My only reason for getting another Toshiba was because of hardware improvement, in general.

For the past two years i have been using a MacBook Pro, 15", and it is serving me well. You need to look at all the options and what your intended use is to determine if a "flash" drive used in the MAC's will suffice, or if you need a Hard Disk Drive of a windows system. Personally I'd go with the MAC with a large flash drive and I would add an external hard drive for backup, especially of the photos. Not a bad idea to have them in a couple places, and as someone else indicated, the iCloud storage capability.

I have been banking on the internet for the past 5 or so years. I (knock on wood) have never had a problem. If you use the MiFi, then the WiFi connectivity is between your computer and the MiFi unit. The MiFi uses cell towers and their proprietary hardware and software security. In any case you want to look at the URL of the company you are doing business with and make sure that the URL starts with HTTPS:// wich is the Secure Socket Layer security protocl for encrypting the information as it is sent from your computer to the server. You can search on the term HTTPS and read about it. The big key is in the strong passwords that you should use for all financial transactions.

As for security, it is more likely that someone will break into a corporation's database and steal financial data than intercepting your transmissions, or a clerk at a restaurant writes down you credit card number and sells it in a batch that he/she has collected that day. Be careful, as we can become paranoid about security issues some times.

Happy trails.

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We will be going Full time soon. We are looking for a good laptop and the most secure service out there. We don't wish to be paying our bills on line and not having it secure.

I'll let others speak to the requirements for full-timing (since I know nothing about such things) (although I wish I did), but I am the IT person for my firm, so I have a couple points that might be helpful for you as you do your research.

Some posts above are using terms in ways that might be confusing. For example, "WiFi" does not give you internet access. WiFI is just a wireless local area network (or WLAN). The internet connection comes on the other side (so to speak) of the WiFi connection. So, for a campground network, for example, your laptop connects via WiFi to the campground's internet access point (a router) and that access point then connects to the internet via a phone line or cable connection.

The security of the WiFi connection is complicated. Early forms of secure connections (WEP) were notoriously insecure. I think that newer forms of encryption (WPA or WPA2) are secure against all but the most dedicated hackers, or at least that's what the software engineers say. However, most public WiFi connections have no encryption at all, which is why you see that warning notice when you connect that says, "Information sent over this connection may be visible to others." I recommend that people do not send bank account or credit card information over public (unsecured) WiFi connections. When you pull up the list of accessible WiFi connections, just point at the connection and it should display relevant information, including signal strength and "security type."

The "MiFi" devices that people are talking about have a secure WiFi connection between the MiFi device and your laptop (or other device), and then a cellular data connection between the MiFi device and the internet via the closest cell tower. We use a Verizon 4G MiFi device as we travel and it's always worked well. It connects via WiFi to my laptop, my wife's laptop, my tablet, my wife's iPad, and both of our cell phones. (My cell phone if 4G so it's it's no advantage to me, but my wife's phone is merely 3G to connecting via the MiFi gives her a pretty significant boost in speed.) And we've actually used the MiFi device via a WiFi connection to our DVD player in the motorhome to stream movies from Amazon Prime and Netflix. The cellular data connection between the MiFi device, the cell tower, and then on to the internet is about as secure as things can be.

As to laptops, I agree with the posts above--it's largely a matter of personal preference. However, I'm looking to replace my wife's decrepit HP laptop, and all of the newer laptops come with Windows 8 installed. For me, Windows 8 is an abomination (YMMV) so for the first time in my life I'm actually considering going to an Apple product. In my business context, Macs always struck me as too eccentric to be practical, but for personal use I think they're probably fine.

Some people have a dedicated laptop that they use for online financial transactions and a different laptop for everything else. The financial laptop has no software installed except as necessary, and is not used for e-mail or web access. That may be a good idea, but I'm basically too lazy and indifferent to bother with it. I'll let other opine on the topic, but if fulltiming means that all of your financial information and dealings are done over the internet, maybe a dedicated laptop is a good idea.

Finally, I assume you know this, but I'll say it anyway. Nearly all of the security problems I've seen or read about don't involve breaches of the WiFi or wired connections. They involve user carelessness: improper security settings on the computer or software (especially the web browser), falling for e-mail or website spoofs, visiting sites that prone to malware, not using or updating anti-virus and anti-malware software, and so on. I can't tell you how many times I've confronted a user who's gotten hit with some awful virus and my response (whether I say it or not) is, "You did what?" The most important security feature you can employ is the one between your ears.

This is probably longer and more involved than you wanted, but maybe some parts will be useful to you. Good luck in your search, and congratulations on going full-time. I'm jealous...

Skip

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Thanks Skip for the great run-down of connections to the internet.

We started full time in 2001 and were using my wife's cell phone connection for internet when we couldn't get wi-fi at campgrounds. I had been doing electronic banking for years before that and we continued to do all our banking and bill paying through a combination of automatic payments and deposits and electronic payments and tracking of statements, etc. We both have Microsoft computers and have been through a number of laptops over the years. I think my wife is on her third or fourth. I am on number five I think. Way too many in my opinion but I've had several dogs including the one I'm using right now. Yes, Skip, Windows 8 is an abomination. I have found the way to get to the real computer screen quickly and basically ignore as much of the rest as I can. I believe that the era of the personal computer is near an end, not because they don't work but the manufacturers are turning them into junk. I can't find a good keyboard anymore and the touch pad on this computer (and my wife's computer) will make me nuts.

Back to the internet connection. We attended an RV show in January 2002 and saw a demonstration of a dedicated GPRS data service for internet connection. It was the early version of the hot spot. It plugged into the computer, had an antenna and you could get data signals via cell towers. T-Mobile was the service and we used that for years. There are a whole block of states in the great plains, KS, NE, ND, SD, WY and maybe a few others that have no T-Mobile but we really didn't spend too much time in those states. Service was spotty in other areas but that was true of cell service at the time also. The device plugged into one computer and we actually were able to link computers so we could both use the signal. That ended several years ago when I got an XP computer. So we were shifting the latest version of the plug in card from one computer to the other, still with T-Mobile.

We have always used campground wi-fi when we couldn't use the GPRS (now 3G or 4G or 5G? - a different G, not from GPRS which stood for General Packet Radio Service). I have conducted all our business for months at a time on campground wi-fi and we have never had any security problem though I know that problems can happen. Considering the number of places we've been and the length of experience that we have, security problems using wi-fi must be extremely rare. One thing that may be working in our favor is that our tenure on any one wi-fi location is usually short, a matter of a few days to a few weeks. We don't leave our computers connected to the internet when we aren't using the computer and we always maintain updated security software. We have seen our share of scam messages and we keep our ears open for the next scheme that some scam artist has dreamed up.

We now have a T-Mobile hot spot and are searching for the next great thing. We run up against the 5 GB limit pretty regularly and then are slowed down to much slower service. We're not streaming video, it takes several months to download software to a new computer and everything has to be updated, multiplied by 2 computers makes for a lot of data use. I had this computer set up with all the basic software at the store where I purchased it and still there are a dozen or so programs that I use that can only be loaded from the internet.

I tried Verizon's hot spot but it didn't work at all where we winter. Since we spend almost six months of the year there, that is not a solution. I haven't tried AT&T's hot spot so may have to go there next. I've considered the mobile satellite services but they are way too expensive and I just can't justify the cost. Now, one of the equipment companies for satellite internet has gone under so that isn't an option.

I maintain two external disk drives and use them for almost all of my data storage. None of my financial data is stored on my computer. None of my photos are stored on my computer. Everything is on the external drive. One of the drives is in a fireproof safe in the motor home and the other is next to the computer. I back up to the second drive on a regular basis. Since we have gone back to a house for our winter stay in Texas I now have a desktop computer there. When I switch from the laptop to the desktop it is just a matter of moving the external drive to the desktop computer. When we leave home in the spring I back up the latest version of my external drive to another drive which is stored in the house. That way most of my photos are secure in several different locations at all times. There are files that I use that have sensitive data, passwords, financial information, etc. Each of those files has its own password to open the file. As with most security measures, they won't stop someone who is determined to get the information but they will slow down and discourage most thieves. Most thieves are lazy, looking for a way to get some easy money. Throw up a few barriers and they will leave you alone.

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Hello all, I've worked in the computer industry for over thirty years. I use Verizon MIFI, and have for the past 5 years, before that was ripped off by Hughesnet for 12 years as many others also believe they were. When just surfing, I use the cg wifi as much as possible rather than mifi for frugality. But making payments online and other security issues, I rely on mifi. As to the best laptop, Mac is very good, but, I have to use Microsoft most of the time, because of giving customer support. The best laptop that I have owned in years is a Lenovo Thinkpad, "yes Thinkpad". I am currently using Windows7 Pro., as it is a very stable OS and the most secure, that is user friendly. Windows 8 is a little more secure, but is the most user unfriendly that MS has offered yet. The browser that you use is the key to internet security, along with services that specialize in identity theft. Mozilla firefox is a reliable browser, but many banking institutions do not support it. IE10 has almost completely been rewritten to overcome security holes, and other security issues, and so far, seems to be a very good choice. There are some issues with ie10 that have been making it appear to lock up when browsing. These issues are because of dll entrys in the registry. There is a third party fix that can be run that will straighten out this issue, as some websights do not recognize 64bit explorers, and some will not revert to 32bit if you os is still running x86. Simply search for 32 versus 64 bit issues, and the fix is readily available. If you cannot find it, e-mail me and I will gladly forward them to you.

Happy trails'

Kay

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Please excuse the dumb questions, as I'm a virtual dinosaur in this area.

We are planning an extended RV trip and have a few concerns about bill paying, banking, etc while away. We both have Verizon smart phones that have hot spot capability. We normally bank online from home, so we feel comfortable with that aspect.

Is there a security advantage to using a mifi device (like Verizon's Jet Pack) for banking and financial transactions, over using the hot spot created by our smart phone?

Are there better mifi devices available that will work with Verizon?

Thanks

Tim

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We have iPhones and a mifi jet pack. They all have their places although the jet pack may be a little more stable. The iPhone hot spots seem to dump and disconnect more often.

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(snip, snip) Is there a security advantage to using a mifi device (like Verizon's Jet Pack) for banking and financial transactions, over using the hot spot created by our smart phone?

It might depend on which phone you're using, but my understanding is that almost all phones use WPA2 as the security for the WiFi connection between the phone and the computer. That's the same as the security used by your home WiFi router and your MiFi device.

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