Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Thinking About Hard Drives

Inside of a typical hard drive

Today, I have disks on my mind. (How Geeky is that??)

Now, you know that when you see “disk” – with a “k” – we’re talking about “hard drives”; which, technically, is a type of device used for “data storage” — you might know it as your “C: drive“.
(“Disc” with a “c” is a CD/DVD/Blu Ray “optical” frisbee-thingy.)

Now, you also know (if you read this site) that the nation of Thailand was not so long ago removed from planet Earth by a Great Flood and also know that Thailand was the only place that grew hard disks. This led me, and others, to warn all you PC lovers out there to buy now, while there still were computers being built (from the existing stockpiles of disks, which had been shipped before the flood happened).
Um.. Er.. or something like that.

Us Geeky types have seen many articles, such as this one, published today: Hardware makers slog through hard disk drive shortages

Here’s a tour of how the Thailand flooding and a hard drive shortage affected three tech giants: Sony, Western Digital and Seagate.Read more..

Today I have hard drives on my mind for two reasons:
1) if there really was a Great Flood, followed by a crisis due to no hard drives.. why am I still seeing multi-terabyte drives in the stores for under $100?
(I’m beginning to suspect that Thailand is still there.. still growing disks..)
and..
2) if I’m ready to finally get off my duff and get one of these new-fangled solid-state hard drives.

See, I have been told by owners of these new devices, for some time now, that they are the bee’s knees of the cat’s pajamas. From what I’ve heard – and read – they are faster than Wile E. Coyote on rollerskates with his rocket backpack on.

I mean.. I’m hearing things like a 20 second boot-to-Desktop. 20 seconds may not be “instant on”, but..

Maybe today’s the day I find out for myself..

Well, enough of my musings. I’ll be a bit more helpful to you before I go. Do you have a hard drive? (um.. yes, you do) Did you know they slow down over time? (um.. I am guessing, yes, you did) Here are some ABC’s hard drive owners should know..

Fortunately there are things you can do and steps you can take to improve your computer’s performance. (We Über Geeks call this “maintenance”.) Some are easy, some are free, and some are free and easy — keep reading!

Step 1 is to open your Control Panel, go to Programs and Features, and uninstall every program you recognize and realize you never use anymore (if you do not recognize it, leave it be .. or research it).

That’s the most important thing to do, but there’s more – much more you can do.

Free: Windows comes with the tools (we Über Geeks call these “utilities”) you need (Windows 7 users have many of these enabled already [by default]). Please see, Revitalize Your PC With Windows’ Utilities

Free And Easier: I have found that a few people prefer to download some “optimizer” and do all their “maintenance” with a single click. Fortunately for these folks, there’s a gazillion of these out there. But of these, I recommend the (free) Glary Utilities, or the (free) Advanced SystemCare.

Today’s quote:Every survival kit should include a sense of humor.” ~ Unknown

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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February 4, 2012 Posted by | computers | , , , , , | 6 Comments

Goodbye Bob Barker+recovery partitions+iPhone

Every now and then there comes a watershed moment and the world is changed forever and is never the same again. For instance; one day there was Pong, and suddenly we could ‘interact’ with our TV and a new word was born, “video game.” On another day the meaning of “apple” changed from ‘apple= a fruit’ to ‘apple= a personal computer that real people can use’…and it was in color so people actually wanted to (not to mention, it had a GUI), to name a few.

Pong screenshot             mac.jpg

Yesterday marked a watershed in my life — though certainly not on the level of import as the events mentioned above — and that is the retirement of Bob Barker from television and The Price is Right. Life will never be the same. Now I do not want you to think I’m a big fan of commercial/public television: I’m not. I particularly detest “daytime” television. There are however a couple of programs I watch fairly regularly, and whenever my schedule allowed, The Price is Right was one of them — in my younger days I would sometimes record it on a device called a “VCR”. The show made me feel…good. I become glad for the people who win (and saddened by a “double overbid”).

Some of my earliest memories are of watching Bob Barker on The Price is Right. He and the show have been a consistent part of my life…almost as consistent as “family”. Time marches on, and I am not angry at Bob for retiring. I just sort of feel like a part of my youth has gone missing. Goodbye, and thank you, Bob. (for an update on this click here.)

Some folks are saying the ‘invention’ of the Apple iPhone represents such a watershed moment in our history, much like Pong and the Mac were such moments. I want to state right here that I haven’t as yet touched an iPhone so I cannot say what it really does and does not do. I can say that it’s supposed to “revolutionize” our life experience by combining Websurfing (email), portable music, and mobile phone into one visually stunning and easy to use package (it runs a full OS, not some watered-down, “portable” OS), and I can say that from what I have seen, it is “cool.” If it can stand up to the physical abuse a cellphone takes, it could be a real winner. I invite anyone who has one of these items to submit their impression, as a comment, and let us know just how “revolutionary” it really is.

Tip of the day: Another recent ‘revolution’ in computing has snuck up upon us, more in the form of ‘evolution’, in that at some point and time PC manufacturers stopped shipping Windows Install disks and shipped instead a “recovery disk.” This disk was really an image of the machine taken after Windows, device drivers, and all the free-trial crud are installed. In the event of a serious malfunction, we could use this disk to restore our machine to as it was “out-of-the-box”. That is, by definition, without any of your files. Today, more and more manufacturers are skipping the disk altogether, and are storing the image on a “recovery partition.”

But what if the ‘serious malfunction’ was a hard drive failure (it happens)? Or, the machine simply will not boot properly? Your recovery solutions are limited. Windows Install disks have two very important features: they are “boot disks” , and they allow you to install the Recovery Console so that you can issue commands, and copy important system files back into the OS. I think this move to recovery partitions is just…wrong.

Fortunately, there are substitute boot disks, and the better ones also include utilities that allow you to scan for viruses, copy and delete system files, browse the Web, and other things that aid in making repairs. I recommend that you (if you haven’t already) download and burn one. I also recommend that you do this before disaster strikes. An excellent resource for boot disks can be found at bootdisk.com, and my top pick is listed below.

Today’s free link: The Ultimate Boot CD. “UBCD4Win is a bootable CD which contains software that allows you to repair, restore, or diagnose almost any computer problem. Our goal is to be the ultimate free hardware and software diagnostic tool. All software included in UBCD4Win are freeware utilities for Windows®. ”

Copyright © 2007 Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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June 16, 2007 Posted by | advice, Backups, computers, hardware, how to, iPhone, PC, tech, Uncategorized, Windows, XP | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment