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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in solid state hard drive

Everything You Wanted to Know About Hard Disk Drives

What does a hard drive do?
Information storage is the hard drive’s main responsibility. Think the electronic version of the old office filing cabinet. Everything you keep on your computer is on a hard drive. Not just documents, emails, contacts, favorites pictures, music and videos. Your programs, your preferences, your printers, your settings, even your operating system—they’re all stored on your computer’s hard drive.

If your hard drive is damaged or fails, you can lose it all. This is the sad truth and unfortunately we still see this 10+ times per week. Which is why most smart people have a backup system. They get another hard drive and copy all their important files onto that.

 

How big of a hard drive do you need?
Everything that can be saved on a hard drive is measured in terms of its size. Text is very small, pictures are larger, music is even bigger, and video is the biggest of them all.

A hard drive is like a scale. It doesn’t know the difference between things that are on it; it only knows their size. But instead of kilograms, a hard drive measures things in terms of megabytes (MB), gigabytes (GB) and terabytes (TB.)

Roughly speaking, a megabyte is 1 million bytes, a gigabyte is 1 billion bytes, and a terabyte is 1 trillion bytes.

What does this mean for you?

If you need to transfer files between computers or a drive to back up just some of your files, you can get by with a smaller drive (such as a 500GB External Hard Drive).

If you want to back up your entire computer, or even several computers, or if you store a lot of video and audio files, you’ll want a larger drive (such as a 1TB or larger Network Attached Storeage System - NAS for short).

 

Will your drive work with a PC or a Mac?
Most Hard Drives PC Pitstop sell works with either a PC or a Mac. Some drives are already formatted to work with one or the other. But any drive can be reformatted to work with either type of computer.

IMPORTANT: If you reformat a drive, every single file on that drive is erased. So make sure you copy your files somewhere safe before you reformat.

It’s more difficult to use the same drive on both a PC and a Mac. The short answer is, they’re not really compatible. The more detailed answer is that, in a few specific circumstances, you can do a few specific things. 

What are the different types of hard drive connections?
There are four basic ways to connect your hard drive to your computer:

USB
This is the most common connection type. There’s no set-up at all. Just plug it in. The computer recognises the drive, and you’re able to read and save files almost instantly.

FireWire
Plug-and-play like USB, Firewire 800 is significantly faster, making it popular with those transferring video files.

SATA
This is the standard connection for internal hard drives. Offers the highest file transfer speeds of any format.

eSATA
A less common, high-performance connection most commonly found in PCs. An eSATA connection performs at speeds that most closely resemble an internal drive.

 

How important is hard drive speed?
When you start your computer, open a file, listen to a song, or do just about anything else, you use your hard drive. The discs inside the drive spin. The faster they spin, the more quickly your computer can find the file you want.

So a drive rated at 7,200 rpm will be faster than one rated at 5,400 rpm. What that means for your day-to-day use will vary. With external drives, you’ll hardly notice a difference. With internal drives, the difference will be slight with smaller files and applications, but will be obvious with larger files and applications - and all of this adds up.

Should you choose internal or external?
An internal drive provides built-in storage at top speeds. An external drive gives you greater flexibility and expanded storage whenever you need it.

Each choice has its benefits and drawbacks.

Internal drives have to be physically installed and configured by a PC Pitstop Trained Technician opening up your computer. But your files and programs are stored directly on your computer; they’re always there whenever you need them.

External drives are connected to your computer via plug-in cables. This lets you take files with you, transfer them to other computers, or instantly add storage to your computer or network without too many technical hurdles.

 

How much can I store?

Here are some averages to give an idea of what you can store on which size drive.

  Digital Music (MP3) Digital Photo's (JPG) Digital Video's (MP4)
500Gb 25,000 Songs 160,000 Photo's 500 Hours
1000Gb (1Tb) 50,000 Songs 320,000 Photo's 1000 Hours
2000Gb (2Tb) 100,000 Songs 640,000 Photo's 2000 Hours

 

 

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Why do computers slow down?

A question that we get asked all the time here at PC Pitstop is why computers get slower over time. This can start to happen within a year after you get a new PC, but usually it happens in just a few short months.

Since we all use our computers for a whole range of different tasks and activities, there isn’t one single reason that pinpoints why this happens.

The thing is, when you first get a new computer and boot it up it works lightning fast. That’s because it doesn’t have anything on it except the bare bones operating system. 

Regardless of whether you have a PC or Mac, over time as you download files, install software, add printers and surf the Internet etc, your computer gets bloated with files that hog system resources.

In addition, there are many other things that contribute to a slowdown. Here is the most common issues we find:

1. Hard Drive Corruption

The hard drive is the electronic equivalent of the old office filing cabinet. It's really is an amazing piece of technology that has helped propelled our world forward into the information age. A typical computer can hold anywhere from 150,000 - 300,000 high quality photographs or over a million documents or books.

All of this information is tightly packed ingeniously onto a disk and into a tiny enclosure, which looks suprisingly similar to that of the old record player. The information is stored in magnetic form on top of the disk and this is where the complexity starts to become its own undoing.

The problem is, corruption can occur from power surges (power spikes), brown outs (power dips), static electricity (from carpet, clothes and other fabrics), solar flares, cosmic radiation, vibration, bumps, knocks, computer viruses, software errors and even the layer on the magnetic disk changing over time.

 

2. RAM

Not having enough RAM is like not having a big enough table to work on. You can only have so many items on the table before it get clutted and full. The computer does its best to keep going without crashing - moving things around - but to do so - it slows down even further. Solution - the more RAM the better! RAM is cheap these days and the more you got - the more the computer will be able to use as a super fast temporary storage place.

 3. Spyware, Viruses and Unnecessary Software

These programs all need attention - they run in the background and all want to steal a little bit of time from the CPU/Processor (Think information pump).
This all stacks on top of each other and adds up very quickly. Typically we remove 500+ pieces of spyware and virus related programs on EVERY computer we service (our record is over 20,000!). PC Pitstop have an award winning and unique 5 stage process that removes all spyware, viruses and nasties that even the best AntiVirus protection leaves behind.

4. System and Software Updates

If you are updating your software regularly, this will take up space and more system resources - contributing to the slow down even further. Interestingly enough, if you were to wipe the computer in year 3 and put all the original software back on - it would be as fast as the day you brought it. However this is not exactly secure or feasible way to run your computer. Updates are mostly security and bug fixes that go a long way to protect your computer.

 

5. Mechanical Hard Drives Slow Down With Age

If you have a standard hard drive (not SSD) your hard drive will slow down and fail over time. Being mechanical - this is the nature of their design and cannot be avoided without upgrading to a Solid State Hard Drive (SSD). Solid state hard drives are reasonably new and more expensive than their mechanical counterparts but wow - they work really really fast. I MEAN REALLY REALLY REALLY FAST. For the single most impressive upgrade you can do for your computer - get a SSD Hard Drive. You will love the difference and never look back.

Now I have painted a picture of why computers slow down - how do you fix a slow computer?

Easy - just like your car goes in for a 10,000Km service - your computer also needs regular tuning up as well. For power users and businesses - minimum every 6 months and for the rest of us - every 12 months. This is what the big department stores will not and do not want to tell you. It is in their best interest for you to get annoyed with your computer to the point of frustration within 18 months - that you go out and buy another one.

 

A tuneup finds and fixes problems, spots bigger problems (before they occur and cost you more time and money), removes virus and spyware infections, scans and repairs your hard disk, installs necessary security updates and is also a perfect time for you to engage a PC Pitstop Trained Technician to ask any questions that have been niggeling at you or to fix other issues that you have been putting off.

Your computer is an investment - and for most of us - a very important tool we use every day. It pays to be proactive with your investments - instead of waiting for the day when everything grinds to a halt and you have lost some or all of your important data. Unfortunately we still see this every day.

SO - drop in and book in for your routine computer tuneup at PC Pitstop - 10 Bellbowrie Street Port Macquarie - 02 65 841551.

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This is such a great article from Smarter Business Ideas...had to share!

the-internet-of-things-hero

If your computers are four or more years old they’re artefacts of earlier technology eras – and they could be costing you big time.

Brought to you by Intel

The computers you bought a few years ago were designed to meet the processing demands of the day – and then some, depending on their specifications. But even the highest spec machine from four years ago can struggle to deliver the performance you need today. 

To find out how a PC refresh can make a big difference to business productivity, Smarter met with Danielle Watts, Intel’s national marketing manager for Australia/New Zealand. What we learned about tired old computers versus the new generation of machines might surprise you.

Some business owners figure that as long as their old machines keep working they can hold off upgrading a little longer. That logic might suit mechanical devices designed to perform simple tasks but even so, the more you use them, the more they suffer wear and tear. 

It also ignores the many competitive advantages and lifestyle-enhancements offered by innovative technologies. “Given they’re running their businesses on those old computers the consequences can be frightening,” ponders Watts. “What if they lost 
all that data?”

Moving business records safely 

While it’s fairly easy to calculate the costs of repairing, upgrading or replacing components in your IT set up [see below: “Maintenance costs add up”], it’s harder to put a value on the data you own.

“Businesses rely so heavily on databases, so it’s understandable you’d be worried about moving them,” Watts acknowledges, “An expert service provider can help transfer accounts, HR and customer records safely and securely – the upgrade decision could include looking at server technology or Cloud-based tools to support and manage the business.”

Adding to the woes of outdated technology are security issues: “If you’re still using Windows XP you really need to upgrade,” advises Watts. “As of April this year technical support and security updates for XP from Microsoft ended, so your laptop or PC is far more vulnerable to malicious attacks.”

SEE ALSO:

Slow machines cost time and productivity 

Older PCs not only cost more to maintain, their performance also diminishes as they age. 

Consider recording the time lost to PCs taking forever to start-up, running slow or not working at all: “That’s a lot of lost productivity,” notes Watts. “If you value your employees you want to provide them with efficient tools. Investing in new technology shows that you value their contribution – and they’ll respect that.”

Can you work three times faster?

If you like spending time making a nice cup of tea or coffee while you wait for your computer to wake up you might want to update your schedule. 

According to system performance benchmarks from Intel the latest Intel processor-based systems running Windows 8.1 Pro typically start-up within a handful of seconds – and when you’re hard at work running your business with them, they’ll run everyday computing processes more than three times faster than a four-year-old system.

Latest devices are fast and ultra-portable

“Start-up time and battery life are especially important for road warriors,” says Watts.

“You don’t want to wait so you can enter an order, start a presentation or check inventory. Devices with fourth generation Intel processors also work for up to 10 hours on battery power – a big advantage over the 2.5 hours of older PCs – and include management tools specifically for businesses.

“We’re running our personal and business lives on them, so it helps that notebooks are lighter (some less than a kilo), thinner and offer powerful multi-tasking. On average they cost $200 less than PCs four years ago, so over time the cost to replace rather than repair becomes a lot more attractive.”

Maintenance costs add up 

All machines need some maintenance but as a machine ages it can break down more often and cost more to repair.

The Techaisle May 2013 whitepaper, “Small Business PC Refresh Study”, reviewed direct and indirect costs of maintaining PCs. The research found:

  1. Direct maintenance costs (repairs and upgrades) – jump more than 33 per cent for older PCs. (Average yearly costs for a PC less than four years old: US$324 to repair and US$95 to upgrade; costs for a PC more than four years old: US$427 to repair and US$134 to upgrade.)
  2. Lost productivity costs (downtime) – double from an average of 21 hours a year of lost work time on a newer PC to 42 hours a year for an older PC.

Did you know?

36% of small businesses use PCs that are four+ years old
Source: Techaisle June 2013 whitepaper, “The Ageing PC Effect – Exposing Financial Impact for Small Business.” 

42 lost work hours on average every year due to an old PC needing repairs
Souce: Techaisle May 2013 white paper, “Small Business PC Refresh Study” 

Older PCs might handle up to 5 applications simultaneously vs newer PCs that easily run 8 applications simultaneously 
Source: Techaisle May 2013 white paper, “Small Business PC Refresh Study” 

Case study: Brightstar

After a successful stint at a big software firm, Jon Yeo set up Brightstar in 2003 to coach businesses on using technology to improve their lives. More recently his passion for ‘ideas worth sharing’ also motivated him to become the licensee and curator for TedxMelbourne.

His studies in information management and organisational behaviour serve him well to help clients embrace more rewarding and productive ways of working: “They often don’t have a technology problem – they know they need it – they have a people and process problem,” he explains. “They aren’t making the most of what is available.” 

And he’s adamant that old technology is demotivating: “Old systems are slow, inaccessible and unresponsive compared to today’s technology. If you’re not thinking about upgrading now you’re making it much harder to compete at all in the next two to three years.”

Yeo suggests that if you’ve accepted your old systems need replacing then you know you have to transfer your valuable business data somewhere. So why not make it easier and faster to access and manage?

“Think about what you really need to convert across – it might not be so complex. Cloud services, ultraportable laptops, mobile devices and integrated communications help us make greater use of our information,” he explains.

“I now have a very small laptop that weighs less than a kilogram and does everything and more that my old desktop and laptop could do combined, faster. Because I’m on the road a lot, I have seven to eight hours of battery time on my new machine versus two hours maximum on my old laptop – there is no competition. 

“I also have a stylus-based tablet so I can take client notes once and they’re stored in the Cloud. I used to have a heavy laptop, a paper compendium and my briefcase full of paperwork – I still smile when I think about hauling it all through airport security.”

Find the right devices for the job

In three simple steps find out the ideal technology mix for your business – and how much your older computers are really costing you: http://smb.intel.com.au/start

 

Call into PC Pitstop today and discuss the best upgrade option for you and your budget!

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hardwareupgrades

Benefits of Hardware Upgrades

There is the wide range of hardware available today that will, in most cases, plug in or integrate to your existing system with little or no fuss. Hardware upgrades such as bigger hard drives, more RAM or a better graphics card for example, can be installed to your core system in lieu of replacing the computer or to facilitate the needs of new software or peripheral equipment.

Hardware Upgrades provide:

  •         Speed and space increase from improved technologies
  •         Productivity gains from faster equipment
  •         Reduced cost of ownership over replacement
  •         Customised solution to fit your needs
  •         Extended service life by replacing ageing components
  •         Access to features not available with your original purchase

Talk to your PC Pitstop Trained Technicians about suggestions for your working requirements, 65 841 551.

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