Ask Techerator: Can I copy photos from my iPad to an external hard drive?

As the popularity of Apple’s mobile devices like the iPad continues to increase, consumers are looking at ways to replace their personal computers for an iPad. This frequently raises a question: Is there a way to connect an external drive to the iPad to transfer photos?

The short answer is no you cannot directly connect an external drive to your iPad; however, I have listed some alternatives below.

Option 1: Syncing to computer

The easiest way to store photos from iPad to external drive is to transfer the files to your computer first. Before setting up syncing, make sure the latest version of iTunes is downloaded. You can change your sync options at any time.

How to sync via USB

  1. Connect the iOS device to your computer using a USB cable.
  2. For Mac users select iPhoto, on the left hand side you should see the iPad listed under device. To Import select the photos and select import.
  3.  On a Windows PC the autoplay window will pop up when the iPad is plugged in. Click “Import Pictures and Videos using Windows”. Select Import.
A few other ways to transfer photos to PC is by using iCloud or Dropbox.

Once all photos have been synced to your PC you can then plug-in your external hard drive to copy them over.

Option 2: Connecting to external hard drive

As mentioned above there is no direct connection between the iPad and external drive. However, currently on the market there are a few wi-fi drives that can be used in conjunction with the iPad.

Kingston Wi-Drive

Image Credit: Kingston

As an external hard drive, the Kingston Wi-Drive supports both PCs and Macs and iPad’s out of the box, but its performance is about the same as a USB flash drive. The downfall is that it is about $60 for only 32 GB of storage.

Access to the drive is done over the 802.11 g/n protocol, just like your typical home wireless hub and can be shared with 2 people. This device is a great way to add storage to your iPad, but with the small amount of storage it is not a great long-term storage option.

Seagate GoFlex Satellite

If you are looking to transfer our photos from iPad to eternal drive without using a PC, then the Seagate GoFlex Satellite  is the best option. It has a built-in wireless-N access point (with a 150 ft range), to which up to three wireless devices can connect.

For the best experience you will need to download the iPad app Go Flex Media. The app can also download selected content from the GoFlex Satellite drive onto the iPad so that you can access them without having to use the drive, or when the drive is out of battery. The downloaded content can only be played and viewed via the GoFlex Media app, it can’t be integrated into the iPad’s library.

Image Credit: Seagate

The GoFlex comes with 500GB of storage space for about $160, which is more expensive than the Kingston drive, but offers a substantial more storage space.

Conclusion

While you cannot directly attach an external drive to the iPad to copy photos, you do have a few options to perform this task. If you have a better method of getting photos over to an external drive feel free to leave a comment below!

Ask Techerator: How can I search by only File Name in Windows 7?

Techerator team:

I’ve just switched from Windows XP/Office 2003 to Windows 7/Office 2010.  Before, I could easily find files in Word & Excel by simply typing a word that I knew was in the filename….

Now with Windows7/Office 2010, by searching in the upper right corner search box, the directory instead lists all the files which have that word anywhere in the body or the title.  It produces a ton more results and makes it hard to find what I want without going down a long list.  Do you know how I can make it search only the titles of files, not the body?

I have to say, this same problem was a bother to me as well. With Windows 7, Microsoft significantly “upgraded” the search functionality with an improved indexing service with the ability to search not only file names, but the actual contents of the files as well.

I’m not trying to say this is a bad feature; it certainly is very useful. I just find it odd that Microsoft would completely remove the old functionality, the ability to search only by file name. Now every user has to re-learn how to find a document to which he or she knows the file name offhand. Fortunately, the functionality is still there, the users just have to work harder.

The key to the new Windows 7 search are “search filters,” which allow the user to specify which part of the file to search in. Start typing a keyword in the search box in the upper right-hand corner of the window, and a little drop-down menu will appear with these search filters. The two visible are probably useful in the most unrealistic of scenarios: “Date modified” and “Size.”

Apparently, you should just know that a search filter called “Name” exists. Using this search filter will only look in the file name (and folder name) for the search, and you won’t have to worry about every single Office document containing the word “hello” appearing in your search results.

So there it is. To search by only filename, prefix your search with name:, followed by the word or words you wish to find. It’s so simple, yet so user-unfriendly. I think I’ll get back to scratching my head about this one.

Ask Techerator: I Think I’m Being Spied on with Dynamic DNS, What Should I Do?

Techerator team:

My (techie) husband mentioned that he can track the location of our laptop with a “dynamic DNS”.  He also said something about being able to remotely connect to it with this tool.  Should I be worried? Is this spyware?

The service he is referring to is indeed called dynamic DNS.  This service can tell you a computer’s IP address wherever it goes (as long as it is connected to the internet), but it doesn’t necessarily mean somebody knows where you are geographically.  You can only tell so much from an IP address, and even less if the person is behind a router (i.e. if they’re on a wireless connection in a public place).

So why use dynamic DNS?

Every time you connect to the internet, your computer gets assigned unique IP address.  If I’m at home, my address might be 218.20.34.10, and if I’m at a coffee shop it could be something completely random – so I have no idea what it is for sure.  IP addresses can also change over time, so you can’t assume your home IP address will remain the same.

The solution to this ever-changing IP address problem is to use a Dynamic DNS.  In common terms, it’s a special domain name that you can assign to a computer, and the computer will tell that domain name what its IP address is on a regular basis. For example, I could make a custom address like myhomecomputer.dnsalias.org, which I could set my computer to update.  If I was at work and wanted to connect to my home computer, I could just connect to “myhomecomputer.dnsalias.org” instead of trying to figure out its unique IP address.

So is it harmful?

Dynamic DNS isn’t exactly what I’d call spyware, but if somebody is using it for deliberate tracking or monitoring then yes, it could be.  I harmlessly use Dynamic DNS all the time to manage my computers – I have it installed on my laptops, desktops, and even my mom’s computer for when she needs remote computer assistance.

Knowing the Dynamic DNS/IP address doesn’t exactly tell you personal information about a person, but if a remote support application was installed (like VNC, which is free remote desktop software), you could easily log into, monitor, and control the computer.

What should I do?

If Dynamic DNS is installed, it should be easy to remove because it isn’t intended to be a virus.  You could look in the Start Menu for anything that says “Dynamic DNS” to see if it is present, or check the Control Panel under Add/Remove Programs.  It is also a possibility to install Dynamic DNS as a Windows Service (meaning it doesn’t necessarily have an application entry you can find in the Start Menu, it’s a utility that runs in the background of Windows) but that is fairly easy to remove as well.

DynDNS is one of the most popular dynamic DNS services, so check their site if you want to verify an application you found.

There are lots of ways your privacy can be compromised on a computer, especially with “key logger” programs.  These program simply monitor all input from a keyboard and save it in a file – this file can also be uploaded to a server so somebody else can watch it.  This makes it very difficult to protect yourself by changing your passwords, because they’ll know the new password as soon as you create it.

If the goal is to protect yourself from eavesdropping, these are the things I would do:

  1. Try to find any Dynamic DNS software and remove it.  Like I said, these typically aren’t viruses, so they can be easily removed.
  2. Install and run Malwarebytes which might pick up any malicious software, and remove anything it finds.
  3. Install and run Microsoft Security Essentials.  This is free security software from Microsoft and will scan your computer for malicious software.
  4. Install ZoneAlarm, this is a firewall with a free personal edition.  A firewall basically blocks almost all connections made to your computer, allowing you to only let in connections you truly trust.  This can be a HUGE pain because you’ll have to manually allow a lot of normal, benign connections access to your computer, but if you’re concerned about somebody else accessing your computer, this is the best way to block them.
  5. Change all passwords. Why last? Because you want to make sure an intruder has no access to your computer when you re-secure your accounts.

Final Thoughts

Aside from all those things, it never hurts to have a little old fashioned verbal communication if you think your privacy is being compromised.  If somebody you know is purposefully spying on you, it might be best to sit down and discuss why that is and perhaps find a compromise that works best for everyone.  In my opinion, doing things like spying on people just undermines their trust in you, which is more damaging than anything they were probably doing in the first place.

P.S. I should say that if you aren’t sure if something “spyware-ish” is installed, you could always press CTRL + SHIFT + ESC to bring up your task manager and take a screen shot (or write down) the applications that are currently running in the Processes tab.  That list will contain every application that is currently in memory.  You could then search Google for anything you found or ask someone who is familiar with these types of things.

Images courtesy: kodomut, Jose Goulao, Tam Tam

Ask Techerator: How Can I Search Gmail for Specific Attachments?

Techerator team,

I love Gmail, but I’m tired of digging through my inbox to find important attachments from a long time ago.  Is there an easier way to find them?

Absolutely.  Gmail has some fantastic search features (just like the search engine that powers it), and you can use those to make quick work of your attachments problems.

You can display a list of every message with an attachment with the following search query (just type it in the search box):

has:attachment

And if you know what file type you’re looking for, type it after the original query:

has:attachment filetype

Just replace “filetype” with the extension of the file you’re looking for, i.e. “pdf”, “doc”, or “zip”.  The following query will display all emails with PowerPoint files attached:

has:attachment ppt

If you wanted to get fancy and search for both old versions of PowerPoint files (ppt) and new PowerPoint files (pptx, which started in Office 2007):

has:attachment (ppt OR pptx)

You might also want to search for attachments from a specific person.  Check out the following query to do that:

has:attachment from:mom

This query will only show messages from “mom” with attachments.

Using these tips will help you manage your Gmail attachments and be more productive.  Check out our original guide to get even more suggestions, including how to create automatic filetype filters so you won’t have to type any searches in the future.

Have a burning question you want answered?  Send it to us at tips@techerator.com – we’ll try our best to answer it.  And don’t forget to check out the rest of our helpful guides about Gmail!