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Why should you defragment your hard drive?

What is defragmentation? Think of your desk and all the files you have in it. If you had papers in those files for a particular client for and you had 10 pieces of paper and you put all 10 in random folders and not together think about the added time it would take to gather all of those together when you needed them? Your computer is the same way. When you install software your computer tends to spread the file around (this is what we call fragmentation.) In real life you work more productively when you are organized and Have every thing together. The same is true with your computer. What defragment software does is it put files that are part of the same program or software together. The files are not placed close together and therefore it takes the hard drive longer to access them all when you need them and that slows your computer down. Defragmentation of your hard drive will shorten the time it takes the head which reads the data to move have and forth accessing your files, due to the fact it does not have to move so much. This results in a computer that runs faster and can actually extend the life of your hard drive. Remember that the hard drive is a mechanical device. We tend to forget that sometimes, but it is and all mechanical devices will eventually fail. The fact that it has to work less after it is defragmented results in it lasting longer. Hopefully delaying the time that it eventually fails and you loose all of your data due to the fact that you did not back it up... but that is the subject of another article.
Now don't think it is going to change the location your stuff, all that safe. Your folders will still be there, your files will look exactly the same. The only thing you will notice is the different in speed and the life of your hard drive. Here at PCModer we use Auslogics Disk Defrag. It is a fast alternative to the Default windows defragmenter (witch is one of the worst out there). If you want to use the Windows defrag it will work but you will have a long wait, especially if you have never defragged. You should defragment once a month to keep every thing running smoothly. You PC will still work if you don.t, it will just be slower. When you do run defrag you should stay off your PC while it is running but this is not a requirement. The format of your hard drive is also a factor in the need and frequency of defragmantation. If you are still running FAT 32 you will definitely see improved performance after a defrag. NTFS will improve as well but due to it.s nature it does suffer as much as a drive that is formatted to FAT 32. You have noting to loose by defragmenting you drive unless you enjoy shorter hard drive life and a slow computer. If you have never done it you need to for sure. If you are afraid of non-Windows software than use the default program but use something for sure, you won't be sorry.
Pcmoder on  Linux is it ready for prime time?
I my 40 some years I have witnessed and used many PC operating systems. Some of these have been from almost the beginning of time (computing) itself (man am I old). I have used almost all OS flavors at one time or another since the start of the PC revolution. My son, now 15, often wonders how we could survive without a computer as he has never know life without one. In any case most of the original operating systems were burned into what most of you younger folk would know as the BIOS or CMOS...the BIOS WAS the OS. Those PCs like the Timex Sinclair, TI 99-4a ( Click here to see what it looked like ), etc. were very limited in RAM and CPU speed. My very first PC was the TI 99-4a it had 16k.....yes I said 16k...of RAM, the first 16 bit processor..WOW!! It ran at a whooping 3 MHz and I LOVED it...It had a form of BASIC programming built in and I could make use of every single bit available to me...In those days the OS was just that, an Operating System. It handled the memory, external media (tape drive in the olden days, I did not even have a floppy) and the CPU...The OS made the PC OPERATE.

Today an operating system is much more than that. What is thought of as an operating system now is not just the ability to handle the PC hardware and storage but also the applications it is bundled with. Email, Web browsers, Word Processors, Office applications and the like. Windows has been by far the dominant player in this current definition of the operating system, but is it really the best? For the average user in the office, or at home the answer to date has been yes. By in large a non-technical person could install and use programs in Windows, after all that is what they wanted. The average person just wants to use their PC to get done what they want and move on to the next task. They are not really all that interested in programming or how it all really works but they do take pride and think of themselves as tech savvy when they get the computer to do what they want. Linux/Unix has been this thing that guys in labs with white coats, thick glasses and pocket protectors use. I will admit that in the past this was not totally false. To use Linux you really did need to know more than the average Joe and installing software and configuring the system could be a real challenge. In the last few years the gap between Windows ease of use and Linux has dramatically closed.
I will focus on one flavor of Linux, Ubuntu, but there are others such as Red Hat, Fedora etc. that are good as well. I have been using Linux as long as it has been around and it is my OS of choice. I also use Windows, Unix, MAC but when I sit down at home I usually choose to boot into Linux. Ubuntu Linux has really closed the tech gap with Windows with respect to ease of install and use. I have installed it on many PCs and usually it goes without a hitch, all of the hardware and drivers work when the install is complete...a far cry from yesteryear and setting interupts, I/O ports etc..... I can just install and start using the OS right away. I would actually say it is also easier than Windows to install. There is also a feature you can use in which you make a boot-able CD and run it that way. This works very well for those who want to test drive it or to retrieve data from a dead system that will not boot. I have used it in laptops and PCs and never had an issue.

As for ease of use of the OS itself I installed Ubuntu on my mothers PC when she had her Windows system die due to viruses (God I hope she was not browsing porn sites). My mother is the typical 60ish grandmother who treats the PC like a toaster. She knows where the power button is and that is about as technical as it gets. She liked Windows because she can point and click, get her email, run some office applications and browse the Internet. When I installed Ubuntu for her the environment was very familiar to her and she was soon pointing and clicking away. She has been using it for a year now and is very happy...As an added benifit she has not gotten one virus. Of course that makes me happy because now I don't have to constantly fix her computer any more. So for those who think Linux is to technical or hard to use, it is not. It is very much like Windows now, but also has many advantages.

Linux comes bundled with many programs that you would have to pay extra for with Windows. The OS itself is free, Office applications such as presentations, word processing, spreadsheets are included. Virtually every application that is available on Windows is available on Linux and most of the time it is free. So is Linux ready for prime time? Well if an OS has to be easy to install, not intimidating, easy to use and well supported then yes, Linux is ready for prime time.

If you have not tried it yet you need to do yourself a favor and at least make a Linux Boot disk and give it a try. I think you will be very surprised at how easy it is to use now. Is it exactly like Windows.... no. But you will quickly learn what is different and once you are used to it you will wonder why anyone would use Windows, and pay for the privilege.

Here is a link to Ubuntu:
  • UBUNTU web site

  • It will not cost you anything to give it a try and you may actually find out you like it!

    What is a firewall?

    Anti-spyware/ Anti-virus
    What is a firewall? You can think of a firewall like the front door to your house. You give a key to only those you want in the house to protect what is inside. Being on the internet without a firewall is asking for trouble and you WILL get some kind of hack on your computer if you do not protect it. There are many firewalls you can pay for but there are also many good ones that offer excellent protection and are free. You pay for extra features but still get very good protection for free. The best one is ZoneAlarm. There is a link to it below. ZoneAlarm has been around for many years and we use it regularly. It has an easy to use interface and lets you know when something strange is going on with your system.
    If you are using MS Windows they also give you a free firewall. If you have no other use it. It also will protect you but it may also block programs you want to use the internet. Sometimes with the MS firewall a program will not function properly and it may take you a while before you figure out it was the firewall preventing your software from running. The firewall blocking is not as obvious as ZoneAlarm for example. ZoneAlarm will show a popup every time it needs to block something and you can tell it to just allow access once or forever. It is very intuitive and our choice.

    Here is a list of free firewalls.


    Anti-Virus Protection at the right price!!

    Anti-spyware/ Anti-virus

    For the most part in the recent past Virus programs were small programs that were written by kids in college, or high school to prove to themselves and others how smart they were. Thus the name "Script Kiddies" was coined. These could be harmful in that they could cause you to loose data or slow your computer but for the most part that is about it. The Internet has matured to the point now where you could suffer real financial harm should the wrong virus get on to your computer. No longer is it just an annoyance with your computer running slow or hard drive crashing now they can get into your bank account or steal your personal information such as your Social Security number. I will not go into to many examples of how these work but let me give you one that is easy to understand.

    There are virus programs out there that will record all of your keystrokes and then send them to the bad if you ever type anything into your keyboard like passwords, log into bank accounts, personal info....ANYTHING...they will have that info and can then log in as you. This is only one example of a what a virus can do. I hope this example shows you how critical it is to protect yourself.

    Not that long ago the need to have your computer protected with anti-virus software was not great. The odds were you would be safe and it was not that easy to get them...this is no longer true. I would actually say odds are you have had one in the past or have one right now, just based on the fact that you are on the internet. So how do you protect yourself? Its not that hard. I assume you are running a firewall so with that you need to run Anti-Virus software. There are many out there you can pay for such as Norton, McAfee, etc. and they are good but our goal here is to help you save some money and still be protected. You can get great protection for free by using AVG software. We have been using it for years and prefer it over the other pay programs. I have actually uninstalled other commercial anti-virus programs and installed Free AVG in their place many times and had great results. The key is to RUN the software.

    If you just install it and never run the software you will not be protected. I recommend you run it every day. When you are not on the system is best so it will not interfere with your other work. AVG is nice this way as you can schedule when you want it to run. And that is the time it will run. The other commercial programs will try to run as soon as you boot your computer if you missed a scan and this causes it to run VERY slowly. Here is a link to AVG:

    AVG - One of the best free Anti-Virus programs

    It will not annoy you with pop up ads, or install tracking cookies or any other things that many so called free programs do. KnowledgeOrb recommends this software as our top pick for free anti-virus protection. There are many other commercial programs you can buy, but honestly this is every bit as good and it's free. Here are a few more free programs you can try if you like:

  • AVAST 4 Home Edition
  • AntiVir Personal Edition Classic

  • Here is the message...if you don't have some kind of protection get it TODAY! There is no excuse great protection is free!