National News

Protect Privacy With Two Tools

Posted June 20, 2018 8:06 p.m. EDT

Q: What is the difference in security protections between TunnelBear and Ghostery?

A: Both programs are meant to protect your privacy and give you more online anonymity. But TunnelBear primarily encrypts your overall internet connection, and Ghostery blocks the software that wants to track your wanderings around the web. (Both apps have desktop and mobile versions.)

TunnelBear is a virtual private network (VPN) service, and it is designed to protect the data transferred by your computer over the internet, even on an open public network, by connecting your device to a secure server (sometimes called “tunneling”) that shields your online activity from others. The data transferred by your computer is encrypted, and the VPN can even mask the location of your computer, or make it seem that you are connected from another country.

Using the internet may seem slower than surfing without the protection, but TunnelBear can block some online tracking software, too — software that can slow websites. TunnelBear is one of numerous paid and free VPN services and apps that are available, including IPVN, the provider recommended by Wirecutter, a product review site owned by The New York Times.

Ghostery is a free extension that works with most browsers to block ads and web trackers. Ad blockers can speed up and declutter your surfing experience while protecting your personal privacy by making you seem anonymous, although some websites refuse to load if an ad blocker is in use. AdBlock, AdBlockPlus and Privacy Badger are similar extensions.

You can use VPN services with ad-blocking extensions simultaneously to protect personal data transmitted over your internet connection and to block advertisements and websites from monitoring your activity. If you prefer to use fewer programs at once, you can also find VPN services that include ad blockers, like Private Internet Access and WindScribe.

— How to Back Up Your Android

Q: How do you automatically back up an Android device without a computer, and where do the files live?

A: Google includes a basic online backup service in the standard Android system that stores copies of your settings and other data on its servers. The backup feature may already be enabled, depending on how you set up your phone or tablet. Open the Settings icon and tap the Backup or Backup & Reset icon to see.

Many of Android’s default apps and services — like Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Contacts — are based in the cloud. When the automatic backup is enabled, your settings and other data for those services are copied; third-party apps and music from Google Play and Google Music are also backed up through your Google Account.

But it does not back up the entire content of the device. Most of your device’s personalized user settings are backed up, but usually not your text messages, Bluetooth pairing info and some app data. On Google’s Nexus and Pixel phones running at least Android 6, data is backed to Google Drive. On Pixel phones, however, up to 25 megabytes each of the device’s call history, SMS text messages and other device settings are automatically backed up.

Google Photos can be set to automatically back up your gadget’s pictures and videos. Just open Google Photos, open the Menu button, select the Settings area and look for the automatic Backup & Sync option.

The location of the backup settings vary based on the version of Android you are using and any modifications made by your hardware manufacturer, so check the help pages for your specific device if you do not see what you are looking for. The Google Play store has a large selection of apps that perform more compete device backups if you’re not satisfied with the built-in option.