Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery

File recovery software should be installed as a prophylactic measure – otherwise you risk overwriting your missing files during the install process. That means you have to make your choice now, before disaster strikes.

Stellar Phoenix is one of the biggest names in data recovery, and when you take Windows Data Recovery for a spin, you soon see why. 

First of all, it’s flexible. Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery offers a choice of quick options at the outset. You can perform a general search for any kind of deleted file, or narrow the field to Microsoft Office documents (including Word, Excel and PowerPoint files), emails, photos, audio and videos. If you’ve lost an entire folder, you can also attempt to retrieve that.

Advanced settings the ability to preview files during scans. This makes scans much slower, but could be extremely helpful if you’re looking for an image file, enabling you to halt the scan when you see it. If you stop a scan prematurely, don’t worry – Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery logs incomplete scans, so you can resume it later.

File types

Often, if you’ve lost a specific file, you’ll know exactly what it was called and what the extension is. Delving into the advanced settings lets you specify a file type. There are scores of options, helpfully divided into different categories including media, documents, text and archive formats.

If you know the file type you’re looking for but can’t see it listed, you can set up a custom filter using the Add/Edit Header tab. Unfortunately this isn’t clearly explained within the software interface, so you’ll need to check out the online help to learn how it works.

Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery home screen

You’ll then be prompted to choose a location – your desktop, your documents folder, a particular drive or a custom location of your choice. You can also recover a lost partition – a feature you rarely see in free recovery software – or recover data from a disk image. Once that’s done, just hit ‘Scan’. 

If you don’t find what you want immediately, there’s also the option of performing a deep scan, which will take longer but will turn up many more results.

As with all data recovery software, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to recover your lost files, but in our tests, scans were quick and the results were impressive. It’s a shame there’s no traffic light system to indicate the recoverability of files, though for media files the preview function works well.

Value matters

It might not be absolutely the most beginner-friendly file recovery tool, but it’s hard to argue with its results. Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery is excellent data recovery software, and we’re recommend it particularly highly if you’re a keen photographer looking for missing photos (from an SD card, for example) or an uncommon file type.

The only real drawback is that Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery costs considerably more than rivals like Recuva Pro and DMDE Standard, but it could be well worth the expense if the other tools fail to turn up the goods.

If you’re not sure whether to invest in Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery, the free trial lets you see which files and folders the full software would be able to recover for you, so you can compare it with the results from cheaper or free data recovery software. If you’re impressed and your wallet can afford the hit, it could be a very good decision.

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best small business servers

if you have a growing small or medium sized business, then you’ll want to make sure you have the best server for your business needs. These are essential tools for a modern company, and while cloud-based servers are gaining popularity, on-site servers that you operate yourself can still be the best way to go.

It also means it’s easier, and more affordable, to expand your SMB server as your business grows.

In this top 10 list of the best SMB servers, we’ve selected the crème de la crème of servers, ranging from those aimed at small businesses to the sort that bigger enterprises depend on.

So here, in no particular order, are the top servers for small and medium businesses

1. Dell PowerEdge T30

A Xeon dream with plentiful connectivity on offer

CPU: Intel Xeon E3-1225 v5 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics P530 | RAM: 64GB | Storage: Up to six SATA HDD | Connectivity: 10 x USB ports, HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA, serial, PS2, Gigabit Ethernet | Dimensions (W x D x H): 17.5 x 43.5 x 36cm

Fast quad-core Xeon processor
Room for six internal disks
Single Gigabit network port
No hot-swapping of disks

A bewildering array of SKU (stock keeping units) mean that you sometimes have to sift through entire price lists in order to find the needles in the proverbial haystack. Take the T30 from Dell: You can buy it either as a barebones or as a fully configured server. Aimed at the entry-level/SoHo market, the T30 manages to squeeze a lot of expansion potential into a compact, quiet mini-tower chassis plus it comes with a wealth of server features by default making it an ideal alternative to an office workstation.

t20-1

2. Dell PowerEdge T20 [barebones]

Shows you how cheap a barebones server can get

CPU: Intel Pentium G3220 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 4GB | Storage: No drives included | Connectivity: Up to 12 x USB ports (4 x USB 3.0), 2 x DisplayPort, VGA, serial, 2 x PS2, Gigabit Ethernet | Dimensions (W x D x H): 17.5 x 43.5 x 36cm

Very cheap
Compact mini-tower with easy access to internals
G3220 is more a desktop than server CPU
No drives or OS

Servers do not have to be massive or expensive. Take the PowerEdge T20 for example; it has benefited from a wealth of knowledge derived from the 20 years of experience Dell has building servers. While the barebones version doesn’t have a hard drive, it’s certainly cheap – in the recent past, it has been priced at less than £100 (with cashback offers, that is – it’s always well worth keeping an eye out for these).

It has a Haswell-based Pentium processor that can clock up to 3GHz and supports up to 32GB DDR3 ECC RAM (note that this model comes with 4GB). Expansion capabilities include four SATA ports (32TB if you use 8TB hard drives), four I/O slots and 10 USB ports. Astoundingly for a PC of this price, you also get two DisplayPort connectors, a VGA one, two PS2 and one serial port. Other than a Gigabit Ethernet port, the other points of interest are a 290W PSU and an Intel-based RAID controller.

Read the full review: Dell PowerEdge T20 [barebones]

3. Lenovo ThinkServer TS150

A Tower server offering quite potent performance

CPU: Intel Xeon E3-1200 v6 | RAM: Up to 64GB | Storage: Up to 40TB HDD | Connectivity: 8 x USB 3.0, serial, video, 2 x DisplayPort, audio, Gigabit Ethernet | Dimensions (W x D x H): 17.5 x 37.5 x 43cm

Most affordable ThinkServer model
Whisper quiet
Not much to complain about

Lenovo took over IBM’s x86 server range back in 2014 and has built on the best of the ThinkServer tradition. The TS150 is now the most affordable of the range and is a 4U enterprise-class server that competes with the Dell T20. It comes with support for RAID 0,1,10 and 5 (via an on-board controller). Like the competition, this one can accommodate up to four 3.5-inch HDDs in total, which means that it can go up to 40TB of storage when loaded with the relevant hard drives. The relatively-recent Intel Xeon E3-1200 v6 processor should be powerful enough for small and medium enterprises.

Lenovo also claims that the acoustics of the TS150 are even quieter than a typical library at 26 decibels. As is the case for the competition, you also get an impressive array of ports and connectors: eight USB ports, four PCI/PCI-e slots, three video connectors (including a pair of DisplayPorts), Serial, Gigabit Ethernet and three audio connectors.

Supermicro

4. Supermicro SuperWorkstation 5039A-IL

You’re looking at the fine line between workstations and servers

CPU: Intel Xeon E3-1200 v5 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics P530 | RAM: 64GB | Storage: No drives included | Connectivity: 6 x USB 3.0, 8 x USB 2.0, 2 x USB 3.1, 7.1 audio, HDMI, DVI-D, DisplayPort, 2 x Gigabit Ethernet | Dimensions (W x D x H): 19 x 52.5 x 42.5cm

Loads of upgrade space and potential
Support for up to eight hard drives
A hefty beast of a machine
Strictly speaking it’s a workstation PC

There is sometimes a very fine line between workstations and servers and there is probably no better example than the 5039A-IL from Supermicro. It is part of its SuperWorkstation range but works just as well as a server with acres of upgrade space. Given that it is a barebones solution, the 5039A-IL is especially suitable for small businesses with niche needs like creative houses that might want a server that’s a bit more than just a print or file server.

This single socket, mid-tower behemoth (it weighs in at 18.1kg without any parts) offers some impressive tech on board: You can specify Skylake processors (Xeon or Core i3/5/7), up to 64GB of DDR4 ECC memory, plus there’s USB 3.1, HDMI, and twin Gigabit ports on the connectivity front, and 7.1 audio to boot. Its expansion capabilities are also breath-taking: DVI/DisplayPort/VGA, serial, eight SATA ports, six PCI/PCI-e slots and support for up to eight (yes, eight) hard disk drives, all powered by a 500W PSU. Supermicro, while not a household name, is one of the biggest server and workstation manufacturers out there with decades of experience.

Primergy

5. Fujitsu Primergy TX1310 M1

Fujitsu’s reliability guarantee is second to none

CPU: Intel Xeon E3-1226 v3 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics P4600 | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 2 x 1TB HDD | Connectivity: 5 x USB 3.0, 2 x Gigabit Ethernet | Dimensions (W x D x H): 17.5 x 42 x 39.5cm

Fantastic guarantee
Has an optical drive
Fujitsu isn’t the first brand you’d think of

When you think about servers, Fujitsu is probably not the first vendor which springs to mind. And yet, the Japanese manufacturer is one of the very few (if not the only one) that can claim to be involved in anything from SMB servers to, well, supercomputers. The TX1310 is its entry-level, SMB-focused server and comes with some pretty solid credentials plus an unmatched, industry-leading reliability guarantee. If your server breaks down within the first year of purchase, not only will Fujitsu fix or replace it, the company will also refund you the amount you paid for the server.

Like pretty much everyone at this end of the market, it is designed to run silently 24/7 and offers RAID 0/1/10 but not 5. This model incudes an Intel Xeon E3-1226 v3, two 1TB hard drives and 16GB of RAM. We like the fact that it comes with an optical drive and has two Gigabit Ethernet ports for redundancy. With four DIMM slots and four storage bays, this server supports up to 32TB of storage and 32GB of memory.

Gen8

6. HP Proliant Microserver Gen8

A compact if slightly noisy server

CPU: Intel Celeron G1610T | Graphics: Matrox G200 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: No drives included | Connectivity: 4 x USB 2.0, 2 x USB 3.0, VGA, 2 x Gigabit Ethernet | Dimensions (W x D x H): 23 x 24.5 x 23cm

Professional build quality with ease of access
Compact size
No hot-swap disks
Could be quieter

One of the fastest growing segments of the server market is dominated by a single company. HP Enterprise’s Proliant Microserver Gen8 has successfully managed to fend off competition – thanks to an attractive feature mix and plenty of discounts – and ultimately own this market. These tiny servers have found a market well outside their niche with prosumers buying them en masse and touting their obvious advantages over NAS (network attached storage).

Despite being very small (less than 13l in volume) and light (less than 7kg), this machine packs some impressive capabilities. We’re talking support for Intel’s Xeon E3 family, up to 16GB of RAM, on system management processor, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, one PCIe slot, support for RAID 0/1/10, a DVD writer, up to four hard disk drives, an internal microSD card slot, an integrated Matrox G200 graphics chip and seven USB ports. It only has a VGA port, though, and has just two memory modules.

Read the full review: HP Proliant Microserver Gen8

TS440

7. Lenovo ThinkServer TS460

A beefy server that can handle up to eight drives

CPU: Xeon E3-1200 v6 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics P630 | RAM: Up to 64GB | Storage: 2x external fixed 5.25-inch bays, maximum storage 80TB | Connectivity: 6 x USB 3.0, serial, video, 2 x Gigabit Ethernet | Dimensions (W x D x H): 44.4 x 58.3 x 17.3cm

Impressive performer
Three-year onsite warranty
A big machine

If you want something a bit beefier than the aforementioned servers, then consider the TS460. It is far more expensive but then again you get a server that’s in another league. For a start, it is far bigger than the previously mentioned servers with a 50 litre volume and a 25kg weight. This 5U server runs on Intel’s Xeon E3 models with Turbo Boost technology plus it offers a three-year onsite warranty.

It supports up to 64GB of RAM and its integrated RAID controller offers the four main RAID types. You get a DVD writer, four fans, a 300W PSU and two Gigabit Ethernet ports. Up to eight hard disk drives can be installed and there are a whopping eight USB ports as well. There’s a lockable door, support for ECC memory, plus a serial and a VGA connector.

Gen9

8. HP ProLiant ML350 G9 5U

Extremely well-featured server offering plenty of power

CPU: Intel Xeon E5-2603 v3 | Graphics: Matrox G200 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: No drives included | Connectivity: 4 x Gigabit Ethernet | Dimensions (W x D x H): N/A

Six-core Xeon CPU
Three-year onsite NBD warranty
It’ll certainly dent your wallet
Not much else to complain about

Pitching in the same category as the TS440 is the ML350. This is an expensive piece of kit but just look at the feature list and it actually seems like a very decent deal. Other than the fact that it has a dedicated, integrated graphics card (Matrox G200), it offers a three-year onsite next business day warranty, four Gigabit Ethernet ports and support for 12Gbps SAS (note that it takes only 2.5-inch drives).

But there’s more – this server runs an Intel Xeon E5-2603 v3 processor (not the usual E3 CPU) and supports two CPUs. The E5 has six cores which makes it particularly well-suited for more taxing tasks. We’re also impressed by the amount of memory slots (24) that it has, allowing it to hit 3TB of memory once 128GB LRDIMM roll out. Oh and other than a lockable front door and a storage controller, this server earns brownie points for having dual redundant, hot-swappable 500W PSUs.

Scan

9. Scan 3XS SER-T25

A beast driven by twin Xeon processors

CPU: Dual Intel Xeon E5-2603 v4 | Graphics: Nvidia GT 610 | RAM: 64GB | Storage: 1TB HDD | Connectivity: 2 x Gigabit Ethernet | Dimensions (W x D x H): 23.2 x 56 x 55.9cm

Compact and quiet
Very powerful
Not the cheapest (but well-priced given its power)
Any other complaint would be nit-picking

A powerful server doesn’t have to be expensive – that’s essentially what Scan wants to convey to prospective customers. Specifically designed for the SMB market, this 3XS offering is engineered to be compact and as quiet as possible. The UK-based vendor provides real-time tracking at every stage of the server build process (the servers are built to order, and production includes a 24 hour burn test and 88 point QC check ). Each comes with a three-year onsite warranty; what’s more, you get a free recovery USB stick with diagnostic utilities.

If that wasn’t enough, the components used in the system are amongst the best in our round-up. Two Broadwell-based Intel Xeon E5-2603 v4 processors provide a total of 12 cores and 30MB of cache. Then there’s 64GB of DDR4 ECC RAM from Samsung, a 1TB WD Enterprise-class hard disk drive, two Intel Gigabit Ethernet ports, a 1000W Gold PSU and support for eight hard disk drives. Built by Corsair, the case has a door and all the panels are lined with noise damping material.

Asus

10. Asus TS500

A mainstream tower server with flexibility in spades

CPU: Intel Xeon E5-2600 v3 | Graphics: N/A | RAM: As ordered | Storage: No Drives Included | Connectivity: 8 x USB ports, VGA, PS2, 3 x Gigabit Ethernet | Dimensions (W x D x H): 22 x 54.5 x 45.5cm

Perfect for server and workstation use
No shortage of power and flexibility
Not everyone will need all those features
Seeing the Asus label may surprise some

Like Supermicro, Asus is not well known for its servers. Instead, the Taiwanese company, one of the biggest component vendors in the world, is popular for a wide range of consumer products including its motherboards. Its TS500-E8-PS4 is a mainstream pedestal 5U tower server perfectly built for both workstation and server dual use.

It features the latest Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 v3 product families, eight DDR4 DIMMs (supporting half a terabyte of RAM), six expansion slots, three 5.25-inch media bays and a single 500W 80 Plus Bronze power supply. There are four 3.5-inch hot-swap SATA/SAS HDD bays which is also upgradable to eight HDD bays for flexible storage requirements.

In addition, with Intel’s Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) 2.0-compliant ASMB8-iKVM module in the TS500 you’ll be able to monitor, control and manage the server remotely. Other key specs include 10 SATA ports, a DVD writer, eight USB ports, a PS2 port, a VGA one and three Gigabit Ethernet ports. Note that this is a barebones server, but obviously that gives you plenty of flexibility – something this machine offers in spades.

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iLife V8s Review

Smart or robotic vacuum cleaners are becoming increasingly common among those who would like to automate their household chores. We’re still not at the stage where a robot vacuum can entirely replace an upright model, but the likes of this V8s from iLife take us closer to that reality.

With no roller it’s best suited to hard floors or very short-pile carpets, and with an integrated mopping function you can wash (should we say wipe?) as well as pick up dust, hairs and other dirt. It’s not got the elbow-grease for properly stuck-on grime, but as an interim solution between full cleans it’s a great device to have around the home.

iLife V8s price & availability

The iLife V8s can be picked up from Amazon for £299.99/US$259.99.

That’s three times the price of some of the cheapest robot cleaners, but nowhere near Dyson territory. We’d suggest it is significantly better than those cheap vacuums, however, and well worth the extra money in return for the time it saves you in cleaning.

You’ll also like: Best robot vacuum cleaners 2018

iLife V8s build & design

iLife V8s

In common with the vast majority of robot vacuum cleaners the V8s has a familiar circular design with two side brushes poking out from below. What marks it out from those cleaners, though, is the large pair of chunky ‘RoadRover’ wheels.

These wheels are much bigger than you might find on standard robots, and allow the iLife to comfortably clamber over door thresholds and other obstacles. The company claims it can manoeuvre around anything up to 12mm in height, but we reckon it can actually do a little better than that provided it comes to it at the right angle. The V8s can work with gradients up to 15 degrees, too.

This does raise the height a tad of course, and standing 81mm tall there is likely to be some furniture in your home that the V8s simply won’t be able to squeeze below. In such cases it has a front bumper and sensors (obstacle and drop detection) that mean it is able to intelligently avoid bumping into it once again and happily carry on its way.

The side brushes found on these devices are known for getting clogged up with hair, preventing them from functioning efficiently. iLife says it employs anti-tangle technology and, though we’re not entirely clear on how it works, work it certainly does. This is one part of the maintenance cycle you won’t need to worry about with the iLife V8s.

Emptying the dust box is something iLife isn’t able to get around quite so easily, and in fact the process would work a lot better if there were some sort of alert to tell you when it needed clearing out. But it has made the dust box larger than on its predecessor (up to 750ml), which means less maintenance and, importantly, optimal suction for longer.

In this model you’ll find the motor is actually inside the dust box, which has enabled some space savings on the device. The box slides out from the rear for emptying, and is fitted with a HEPA filter for keeping all that dust locked away inside. You’ll find a spare filter is supplied (you’ll likely want to change them regularly), as well as a cleaning tool, two spare side brushes and two mopping cloths.

The water tank is not as capacious as the dust box, able to store up to 300ml, but it does work much better than other robot mops we’ve tried. This is because iLife has installed a pump that can control how much water is dropped on to the floor, meaning fewer puddles and less drying time.

How likely it is you will use this mop is uncertain, because proper mopping really requires some welly that a simple wipe cannot provide. But should you wish to do so, swapping over the tanks is a simple affair.

One thing you’ll need to watch out for is that there’s no provision for blocking the vacuum entering certain areas, such as a virtual wall. If you have a mix of hard- and carpeted floors in your home or office, you should ensure the iLife is physically blocked from entering carpeted rooms. 

The iLife V8s is a nice-looking robot vacuum with a two-tone black and grey body and a high-gloss upper surface that incorporates an easy-to-read LCD and several mechanical buttons. You can operate the device using these, or use the bundled remote control if you prefer.

iLife V8s in use

There are two cleaning speeds on the V8s, and we found both relatively noisy in comparison to other models. That’s something we can live with if it means it’s picking up more dirt, and the iLife certainly seemed to perform well in our tests.

The iLife is able to operate in four modes: Programmed, Max, Edge and Spot. Using its sensors it is able to get right into the corners for a close clean, while the side brushes accommodate for the parts the circular design is unable to reach. 

One thing we really like is its intelligent cleaning path. Whereas so many of these sort of devices can appear to have a totally random cleaning path, the V8s knows exactly where it’s going. And that means it’s more efficient, cleaning a greater area in less time.

iLife V8s

Battery life will depend on which mode you’re using, but in our tests we got exactly 1 hour 15 minutes in high-performance cleaning, and closer to two hours from the standard setting. When the battery runs down the V8s manages to get itself back to its dock for recharging without getting confused, adding to the theory that it actually knows what it’s doing and where in your home it is.

Using the remote control you can schedule automatic cleaning, and unlike most of the competition you can set a different start time for each day of the week so it fits in with your routine.

That’s about as smart as this iLife V8s gets, though, with no accompanying mobile app or wireless connectivity that might enable it to communicate with other smart home platforms such as Google Home and Alexa. For some users, though, the simplified operation will be a blessing.

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Team TechRadar’s Amazon Prime Day deals wishlist

With Amazon Prime Day fast approaching we’re getting ready to bring you all the best deals throughout the sale when it starts at midday on July 16 and right through Prime Day itself on the 17.

There will be hundreds, if not thousands of deals to choose from and we’ll be rummaging through the lot to find you the best deals on TVs, laptops, games, consoles, smart home tech, Amazon devices and lots more besides.

As we’re keen tech buyers too though, we’ll also be on the lookout for a few bargains  to treat ourselves on the day. So we’ve had a little roundup around the TechRadar office to show you what items we’re planning on buying on Amazon Prime Day if the price is right. I’ll get the ball rolling then.

ace chromebook amazon prime day

Brendan Griffiths: Deals Editor

I’ve made my peace that the Kindle Oasis just isn’t coming down to a sane price anytime soon. Instead, I’m hoping Amazon Prime Day is going to give me a chance to finally go full Android and by that I mean buy a Chromebook. Seeing as I use my work laptop at home too, my home laptop wasn’t exactly getting much use, but I was still pretty annoyed when the most recent Windows update bricked it. So replacing it with something cheap seems like the sensible option. 

That being said, I’d like something new rather than the same old laptop experience. So, seeing as I’m buried deep into Google’s ecosystem now, the stripped-back OS and synchronicity of Google’s suite and Play Store apps is really appealing. Ideally, I’m hoping for something that doesn’t weigh a ton, with a brushed steel finish and 4GB of RAM so hopefully it won’t fall over every time I open three apps at once with a stupid number of Chrome tabs open permanently too. So ideally, I’d love to see something like this Acer Chromebook CB3-431 for £200. That or I’ll ply our IT guys with beer and Haribo and ask them to fix my old laptop.

flymo deals

Matt Hanson: Computing Editor

I’ve recently moved into a new house, and its back garden was covered in pebbles. Just in time for the summer, I’ve got rid of the pebbles and sprinkled grass seeds, which have sprouted and grown at an alarming rate. So now I’m thinking of ways to cut the new grass without stomping all over the virgin lawn (which is much nicer than any of my neighbours’, I’ve noticed with joy). So, I’m asking Father Bezos to leave a robotic lawn mower in my stocking this Amazon Prime Day. The Flymo 1200R Lithium-Ion Robotic Lawn Mower looks like it will do the job splendidly, so I am hoping it gets a nice discount on the day. It’s currently listed as one of Amazon’s Choices, and while I am not really sure what that means, I hope it results in a bit of a price cut.

Nespresso deals amazon prime day coffee machines

Cat Ellis: Downloads Editor

I’m death to laptops. I don’t leave them on cafe tables or spill tea all over them – I’m simply a heavy-handed typist and few notebooks can handle such a hammering. I should probably invest in something you could safely run over with a tractor, but if an IdeaPad 320S saw a hefty discount this Amazon Prime Day, at least replacing my latest victim would be inexpensive. A great deal on a little coffee machine would help keep my eyes open for those long typing sessions as well (and stop me falling asleep on the keyboard). With the right Amazon Prime Day deal, a cute little Nespresso Vertuo Plus could provide the caffeine hit I need to meet my word targets.

Dell Insipron gaming laptop deals amazon prime day

John McCann: UK Phones Editor and Licensing Lead

Last year I got very excited over the announcement of a new computer game. Two Point Hospital is the brainchild of the folks behind the legendary Theme Hospital, and it looks to bring the iconic action bang up to date. There is a problem though. It’s a PC game and the only computer I have at home is a humble, first-gen Chromebook. There’s no way I’ll be able to run the game, which means I need an affordable, modest laptop to get my gaming fix. If the Dell Inspiron 15.6-Inch Gaming Notebook can shed another few hundred from its price tag then I’ll be curing patients til the cows come home.

Worx WG794 Landroid lawnmower drone amazon prime day

Joe Osborne: Senior Editor

Since I’ve made the smartest decision of my life in relegating the horrid tasks of sweeping and mopping to a Roomba and Braava Jet, respectively, I’m chomping at the bit for the chance to automate my most hated chore: mowing my lawn(s). Yes, like my buddy Matt Hanson, I just really want a Roomba for lawns, and in particular the Worx WG794 Landroid robotic lawnmower. This beauty costs a small fortune, but can mow your lawn at 40 minutes per charge, able to return to its charger automatically to prepare itself for the next mow. This means more time to spend with my family on Sundays and less time pushing a gas guzzler around the yard. The product would be a perfect candidate for a summer Amazon Prime Day sale with all of those lawns to mow across the US.

electric toothbrush deals on amazon prime day

Adam Marshall: Subscriptions and Services Editor

Ever since sitting next to a couple of dentists at a wedding last summer (more fun than it sounds), I’ve been conscious that my filling-riddled set of not-so-pearly whites are at risk from deteriorating further by my insistence on using a classic manual toothbrush. I missed out on bagging a new electric brush during Black Friday, so I’m hoping Amazon will deliver a bargain brush on Prime Day. Using the best electric toothbrush guide produced by our friends over at T3, I’ve got it narrowed down to either the Oral-B Genius 9000 or Philips Sonicare HX9332 – if either come in under the £100-mark, then I’m sold.

philips hue amazon prime day deals

James Peckham: Wearables Editor

A robot vacuum and an Amazon Echo Dot are how far I’ve managed to get along the road to making my flat into a fully automated smart home. It may not be a tech filled paradise just yet, but the next stepping stone is plugging in some smart lights. This Amazon Prime Day feels like the perfect opportunity to grab my first Philips Hue Starter Kit to connect up to my Echo Dot and be one step closer to never having to leave my bed again. As much as I’m looking forward to a price drop on the Starter Kit, I hope Amazon doesn’t have a flash sale for all of its smart home products as I’m not sure if my bank balance will be able to take it…

sony camera amazon prime day deals

Phil Hall: Photography Editor

Sony’s just launched the rather excellent but very pricey RX100 VI high-end premium compact camera. Now, I’m not expecting it to be heavily discounted this Amazon Prime Day, but older RX100 series cameras don’t die, they just get cheaper, and as we saw on Black Friday, there were some fantastic deals to be had on these powerful pocket cameras. Hopefully that means we’ll see the RX100 IV and RX100 V nicely discounted. 

My old Garmin Forerunner 910XT multisport watch is starting to look a bit tired and taking an absolute age to find a satellite when I switch it on, so with a bit of luck I’ll be able to nab a Garmin Forerunner 735XT for under £200.

Fingers crossed this lot gets a discount on Prime Day then! If you want to know what the best deals are on the day be sure to bookmark our Amazon Prime Day 2018 hub.

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DirecTV Now review: Hard to resist, despite its flaws

DirecTV Now has never been the best live TV streaming service, but that hasn’t stopped people from signing up in droves.

AT&T understands the best way to a cord cutter’s heart is through the wallet, so early on, the company offered a deep discount on one of its pricier service tiers. Since then, AT&T has wooed potential subscribers by giving away Apple TVs, Fire TV Sticks, and Roku players, and by reducing prices for AT&T wireless subscribers. Those perks have helped DirecTV Now become the second-largest streaming TV bundle in the U.S., behind only Sling TV, despite a buggy launch, a lack of DVR, and a long list of interface annoyances.

Now, AT&T is looking to fix some of DirecTV Now’s longstanding problems: A new interface launched last month, along with free cloud DVR service (technically still in beta) and a more expansive on-demand catalog. While some bugs and annoyances have stuck around, and DirecTV Now’s DVR is stingier than what other streaming bundles provide, the improvements make DirecTV Now easier to recommend, with or without AT&T’s largesse.

Editors’ note: This review was updated in its entirety after AT&T introduced a number of changes, improvements, and additional features, including cloud DVR service. We found these significant enough to raise our score for the service by a full point.

The maximalist bundle

DirecTV Now gives you a bundle of traditional TV channels starting at $35 per month. These include all four major broadcast networks, major cable news networks, national sports from ESPN and Fox Sports, and dozens of entertainment channels. AT&T works with all the largest TV networks and many smaller ones, so if there’s a particular channel you want, odds are DirecTV Now offers it. (One notable exception: NFL Network and Redzone are not available.)

DirecTV Now’s prices can be higher than other bundles for certain channels. Packages with regional Fox Sports channels, for instance, start at $50 per month, which is $5 to $10 more than other bundles. DirecTV Now also offers a $60-per-month tier with more entertainment and sports channels, and a $70-per-month package that adds Starz Encore and a few other channels.

Still, there are ways to defray the costs. HBO and Cinemax are each available for $5 per month each—much cheaper than other TV services—while Showtime and Starz each cost $8 per month. If you’re an AT&T wireless subscriber, you can also get $15 per month off DirecTV Now with an Unlimited &More or Unlimited &More Premium data plan. The latter also includes your choice of HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, Starz, VRV, Pandora Premium, or Amazon Music Unlimited at no extra charge.

As with other streaming bundles, DirecTV Now provides live, local broadcast channels, but not all of them are available in every market. If a live broadcast isn’t available in your area—as shown with AT&T’s channel lookup tool—you’ll still receive prime-time on-demand programming, but you won’t be able to watch local news, sports, or live primetime shows.

Windscribe VPN

Editor’s Note: What immediately follows is a rundown of the latest changes and additions since this review was last updated.  

  • Pricing now has three plans. 1-month $9, 1-year $4.08 per month and 2-years $3.70 per month (also includes free 6 month premium subscription to Dashlane password manager).
  • Android app is now available and working properly. (June 2018)
  • Linux app was added.
  • Locations increased to 100. (June 2018).
  • The service added LAN Proxy gateway which you can use to create a secure HTTP or SOCKS5 proxy server on your network for other devices.
  • The company accepts Bitcoin, Ethereum and most major cryptocurrencies. (June 2018)
  • Windscribe introduced Garry, the helpful bot, which works like a live chat.

Opting for a free VPN plan usually means some major compromises: data transfer limits, maybe restrictions on speeds, and users often can’t use the most popular locations. It’s tempting to think there’s always a big catch somewhere, and all you have to do is find it – right?

WindscribeWindscribeWiii is an interesting VPN which doesn’t seem to follow the usual rules. The free VPN plan gives you a chunky 10GB a month data allowance if you register your email address (2GB if not), 20 times what you’ll get with some competitors.

The main issues are that you get access to just eight countries (US, UK and other European cities, Hong Kong) and there’s support for one connection only. But that’s perfectly adequate if, say, you just want to protect your browsing and emails while you’re travelling.

Windscribe’s free plan goes further with some unexpected extras: ad-blocking via a browser add-on, and even P2P support.

Windscribe offers clients for Windows, Mac and iOS. That’s usually a positive sign as it indicates a company with some expertise and resources, and makes the service easier to set up.

The lack of an Android client is an issue, but you can manually configure Android devices to use the service, and a native client is promised to be ‘coming soon’. Also, there are separate Chrome, Firefox and Opera extensions you can install and use anywhere.

(ed: The Windscribe Android client is now available but is listed as being potentially unstable. Use at your own risk for now.)

This isn’t bad at all for a free service, but if you need more, spending $9 (£7) gets you a month of unlimited access to 47 locations. Pay for a year upfront and the price drops to an effective $7.50 (£5.80) a month.

Unlike most of the competition, Windscribe’s commercial plan allows unlimited connections, and they’re not explicitly for single users only. You’re not allowed to resell the service, but this does mean you can let the whole family have access without worrying about hitting some arbitrary connection limit.

Privacy

VPNs might be used to protect some very confidential information, as well as your privacy in general, so it’s important to be sure that your provider is trustworthy and up to the task.

Windscribe’s privacy policy impressed us from its opening sentence: “Since privacy is the reason for you to be using our service, we realise that we have to walk a thin line in terms of what we can collect.” That’s absolutely right. And although it sounds obvious, if you’ve read a few privacy policies you’ll know it’s surprising how many companies don’t get that basic point. 

The good news kept coming. The document is relatively short at 600 words, but still nicely structured into small sections. Each paragraph is clearly written in plain English, and somehow manages to include more relevant information than policies four or five times the length.

Windscribe collects minimal data from its website, for instance. Opening a page submits the same information that other sites get (user agent, referring website). Cookies are only set if you’re referred from an affiliate. This all stays within Windscribe, because there’s no third-party Google Analytics involvement (the company runs its own Piwik web analytics).

The service details are just as encouraging. You can sign up without providing even an email address, although your data transfer allowance falls from 10GB to 2GB. The system records a timestamp of your last visit and your total bandwidth used for the month, but there’s no historical session log, no records of incoming or outgoing IP addresses or your individual activities.

VPNs still need to log data for the current session, especially on bandwidth-limited plans, because they need to record that the browsing activity on this server connection relates to the IP address or account of this user. Other VPNs either don’t mention this at all, or they hide it in vague clauses about logging “some” data for “operational” reasons. Here’s what Windscribe says about the issue:

“For the duration of your connection we store the following data in a temporary location: OpenVPN username, VPN server connected to, time of connection, amount of data transferred during the session. This data expires and is discarded within 3 minutes of session termination.”

That’s exceptionally clear and detailed.

The policy even covers what happens if you stop using the service, mentioning that Windscribe will “periodically prune inactive accounts”, and that you can ask for your details to be deleted if you like.

All of this is based on what Windscribe says it does and will do, of course. There’s no way for us to tell exactly what happens in practice. What we can say is the company appears to understand the privacy issue more than others, it’s more transparent, and there’s no attempt to hide dubious practices in the small print. And whatever Windscribe’s internal procedures are like, the option to sign up without providing any personal details is a major privacy plus.

Performance 

Getting started with Windscribe isn’t difficult, but that said, it’s not as beginner-friendly as some of the competition.

For example, TunnelBear has a single ‘getting started’ button as a first step, and after completing a simple form the client downloads automatically. Meanwhile, Windscribe has separate ‘signup’ and ‘download’ steps, the signup page has more options to consider, and there’s a host of download links to check out.

We still figured out what we needed to do in less than a minute, so you’re unlikely to be too stressed. We chose a username and password, logged in, downloaded and installed the Windows software.

Windscribe’s client is small and easy-to-use, at least in a basic way. By default it displays the best location (the closest and fastest server) and you’re able to connect and disconnect with a click. Alternatively, other locations are displayed in a list. You can choose just a country, or in some cases select a server (US East offers a choice of Chicago, Miami and New York). Windscribe connects immediately and defaults to your choice of server next time.

Performance was mixed in our testing*. The supposed best choice – the nearest server in the UK – returned disappointing download speeds of around 8 to 14Mbps. UK to New York connections ramped up performance to a very acceptable 20Mbps, and European servers were in a similar 10-20Mbps range. Nothing too surprising, then, but that’s enough for regular browsing and lightweight streaming, and for a free service Windscribe performs reasonably well.

If you do have problems, the Preferences dialog gives you some low-level control over the service. You can choose TCP, UDP or Stealth protocols, set a port, configure a proxy and more. If you know what you’re doing then a Log View feature is particularly welcome, giving you a detailed look at exactly what’s happening under the VPN hood.

Final verdict

The native clients, 10GB data allowance and P2P support are major pluses, and although Windscribe’s speeds are relatively average, this is still one of the best free VPNs around.

*Our testing included evaluating general performance (browsing, streaming video). We also used speedtest.net to measure latency, upload and download speeds, and then tested immediately again with the VPN turned off, to check for any difference (over several rounds of testing). We then compared these results to other VPN services we’ve reviewed. Of course, do note that VPN performance is difficult to measure as there are so many variables.

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Ticketmaster ‘warned of hack attack in April by Monzo’

Ticketmaster was warned in April that it had been the victim of a hack attack, digital bank Monzo has claimed.

Ticketmaster had previously said it did not know about the breach until June and had then acted quickly to inform “all relevant authorities”.

It has been contacted for comment.

But in an article to be published on its website, Monzo said it had replaced the bank cards of about 50 of its customers who had, on 6 April, reported fraudulent transactions.

And during the subsequent investigation, its financial crime and security team had noticed about 35 of them had used their cards with Ticketmaster in the previous five months.

In the following two weeks, Monzo said, it had seen eight more compromised cards, six of which had been used at Ticketmaster.

“Given the pattern that was emerging, we decided to reach out to Ticketmaster directly,” said Natasha Vernier, head of financial crime at Monzo.

“On Thursday 12 April, members of the Ticketmaster security team visited the Monzo office so we could share the information we had gathered.

“They told us they would investigate internally.”

The cause of the breach, which the BBC understands has affected up to 40,000 UK users, appears to be a customer-service chatbot employed by third-party Inbenta Technologies.

Over the next week, Monzo had found another nine cards had been used fraudulently and all of them had been used to make Ticketmaster transactions, it said.

Later that month, without naming the company, the bank sent out 6,000 replacements cards to customers who had used their cards at Ticketmaster.

“Throughout this period, we were in direct contact with Ticketmaster,” said Ms Vernier.

“On Thursday 19 April, they told us an internal investigation had found no evidence of a breach and that no other banks were reporting similar patterns.

She added she was now “glad to see that Ticketmaster has shared the information publicly”.

“It’s incredibly important that companies always work together to protect customers and we’ll always work hard to make sure this is the case,” she said.

Tony Pepper, chief executive office of security company Egress, said: “There are going to be a few eyebrows raised this morning about this breach and when Ticketmaster discovered it.

“Clearly data was at risk for some time and apparently Ticketmaster had been alerted to the issue.

“It is going to be interesting to see how the ICO [Information Commissioner’s Office] reacts when they get to the bottom of this, given the emphasis now placed on data breach reporting and reflected in the changes made under the GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation].”

The ICO said its inquires were “ongoing”.

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