5 Essential Tech Tips for 2013

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A new year means a new start -- for both you and your gadgets. Get off on the right foot in 2013 with these five essential tech tips, from backing up your hard drive to taking charge of your pile of passwords.

1. Back up your Windows or Macintosh. Yes, backing up all your files and system settings is a hassle, but with automatic cloud based backup services such as Carbonite and Sugarsync, there is no excuse to make an effort to keep your data safe.

2. Speed up your computer with more RAM. Has your Windows or Macintosh computer been feeling poky lately? Check out Crucial.com, a online memory retailer that can scan your system to determine the exact type of memory you'll need. Give your old desktop or laptop new life with an infusion of RAM.

3. Install virus and malware protection. Mac users are still relatively safe from viruses, but if you're using Windows, be careful out there. There are plenty of for-pay virus-protection packages on the market (Norton andMcAfee among them), but one the best virus protection packages is AVG Anti-Virus and the best part is it's Free!

4. Take charge of your passwords. Can't keep track of all passwords-you know, the ones for your online banking account, Netflix, Facebook, Google, iTunes, and so on? Or, even worse, are you using the same password for all your online accounts? Write your passwords down. Yes, your online life will be an open book if your list of passwords is ever found, but it's probably a safer solution than using a single, weak password for all your accounts.

5. Lock your smartphone with a passcode. Speaking of passwords, do you have a passcode set up for your iPhone or Android phone? It may seem like a nuisance, but you'll be sorry of your unlocked handset-along with all your email, contacts, photos, and other personal information-falls into the wrong hands.

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