Defragmenting your Hard Drive

defragmentation

As a PC owner, it is your responsibility to take care of the precious (and likely expensive) hardware that you have bought. Taking care of it not only means wiping dust off the CPU case and on the monitor. You also need to do periodic maintenance on important parts of your PC. One of these very important tasks is to defragment your hard drive.Why is there a need to defragment the hard drive? Well to answer that, we must first explain what happens in a hard drive. When a computer uses a file or files it puts them into various parts of the hard drive. If a certain file is too big to fit in a particularly space then it is cut into many pieces and placed in different places all over the hard drive. As your hard drive becomes filled with more and more disjointed files it gets longer and longer for the computer to find the files that you need. The process of defragmentation will organize the files so that it will be able locate any file more easily.

When defragmenting you should really schedule enough time for this particular chore because it really takes a lot of time to defragment drives especially now when the capacity of hard drives have really dramatically increased.

When defragmenting your hard drive with a disk defragmenter program always remember not to use your computer when the actual process is being performed. Defragmentation is a time intensive process so it would really be best if you allocate a schedule when you will not be using your computer. If you religiously maintain your hard drive by defragmenting frequently, then the processing time of the hard drive will also be lessened because the level of fragmentation is kept low.

Painting a fan: How to do it right

case mod

One of the easiest mods to do is painting the fan used for your PC. It is a project that even a novice case modder can do. The skills needed to do this project is only rudimentary and is a good way to get your feet wet in the case modding hobby.

 

There are two methods used in painting fans. One of them, applying paint manually with a brush, is time consuming and does not really produce great, professional looking results. The better method would be spray painting as it allows you to put even coats of paint on the fan, which results in a more pleasant looking finish.

 

The first thing that you should do when painting a fan is to clean the area to be painted on thoroughly. Make sure that it is free from dust or any other particles.

 

After doing this, put masking tape on the areas that you would not want to paint, leaving only the parts that you do want to paint exposed. Make sure that you also put masking tape on the part where the blade meets the motor so that paint will not get into the motor itself.

 

After doing this, spray one coat of primer on the fan. The primer will ensure that the paint will adhere well. Let the primer dry for a day, and depending on what you want you can sand it lightly. After doing this, apply the first coat of paint. Let it dry and then put another coat if you want to.

 

When the paint has completely dried you can now remove the masking tape – and that’s it! The finished project.

Productivity Utilities that can help you

utilities

With so many things going on in one’s life sometimes it is just hard to manage your PC not to mention your everyday life. Even though you know that need to organize and that doing so will actually improve your productivity there is just no way to really do it without investing a significant amount of time that you don’t already have.

 

It is a good thing that there are various utilities available on the internet that can help in the task of organizing virtual clutter and making life a little easy for most PC users.

 

Here are some of the utilities that I use on a regular basis that I swear by:

 

Active Desktop Calendar – this is a nifty little utility that basically puts a calendar right on your desktop. But unlike other desktop calendars, Active Desktop Calendar allows you to access the calendar itself and use it as an appointments book. The planner functionality of this utility also means that you can freely add a Tasks List or a Notes List depending what your particular needs are. It also has a very low memory footprint that is quite welcome in this age of bloatware.

 

X1 Desktop Edition – is a utility that indexes your computer system. After it has done this task the program can now locate any elusive file, email message, attachment or contact as fast as you can type the inquiry. The first indexing process will take quite a while but after it is done it will update itself constantly surreptitiously in the background based on a schedule defined by the user. For those on a budget, users can employ Yahoo! Desktop Search as it uses the same engine but it is for free.

Mobile power management for Windows Vista

windows vista

Even though it has been delayed, Microsoft’s vaunted new operating system Windows Vista (formerly known as Longhorn) is still one of the most highly anticipated software releases out there. With Bill Gates himself saying that Windows Vista is going to be his company’s first significant version since the transition from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 the anticipation for this new OS has really grown.With various Windows Vista builds being released as a way for PC enthusiasts and other technical people to take stock of the operating system, a number of important details can now be discussed about Windows Vista.

One of the salient features discussed about Windows Vista is the power management features that will benefit users of mobile PCs. This is quite important especially since power management is a very crucial factor for most mobile PC users who lug around their laptops wherever they go in order to be productive. Usually a mobile PC user will try to manage how their laptop’s battery is expending power especially when they are in a situation where they cannot plug their devices into an AC adapter. These users would constantly check the battery meter and usually when the meter gets below the one hour mark the indicator drops very rapidly.

Windows XP has a little power meter that can be seen in the system tray but battery management will really depend from OEM to OEM. Windows Vista though offers a more uniform approach. Although the battery level can still be monitored in the system try, there is now an option where a user can change certain settings by right clicking. This is allows a degree of freedom for mobile PC users.

Background file transcoding with Windows Media Center

Microsoft’s Windows Media Center is probably one of the niftiest pieces of sotware the Redmond software giant has unleashed to the public. Windows Media Center has helped bring the ease and convenience of its Windows operating system into the entertainment centers of many homes. With Media Center, playing various media files is more intuitive and easier to do.There are many hidden gems inside Windows Media Center that users will discover if they play around with the many features and settings. Unfortunately, not many people will actually do this because of the fear of a new piece of software.

One of the niftier features of Windows Media Center, particularly with the Windows Media Player is the ability to set up an automatic synchronization for a person’s playlists. But what’s more, if the automatic synchronization is enabled, Windows Media Player can actually transcode the video and audio files in the background, allowing the software to the transcoding when the person is not using the computer.

To enable / set up the background file conversion feature, first start Windows Media Player 10, then right click on the toolbar to display the shortcut menu. On that menu you go to Tools and then to Options. When the Options box open, click the Devices tab and then click Advanced. When the File Conversion Options dialog box opens the Allow files to convert into the background check box should be ticked off and then press OK.

Remember though that background transcoding does not work with manual synchronization.

Disable certain Windows XP services

windows

It is a widely acknowledged fact that Windows XP is a bloated piece of software. There are just so many things incorporated into the operating system that not really used by the regular, casual user. The bad thing about these additional features and little applets is that they reside in the system memory, which helps slow down the overall performance of the system.In order to fully maximize the speed of your operating system and also your computer, it would be a good idea to disable some of these unused Windows XP services. To access these, Click on Start, then Run, and type services.msc” then enter.

Among the services that you can safely disable are:

* Alerter – Sends alert messages to specified users connected to the server computer.

* Application Management – Allows software to tap directly into the Add/Remove Programs feature through the Windows Installer.

* Background Intelligent Transfer Service – The Background Intelligent Transfer service is used by programs like Windows AutoUpdate to download files by using spare bandwidth.

* Error Reporting Service – Allows applications to send error reports to Microsoft in case there is an application fault.

* Fast User Switching – Windows XP allows users to switch quickly between accounts, without requiring them to log off.

* Help and Support – Allows the XP Built-in Help and Support Center to run.

* IMAPI CD-Burning COM Service – You don’t need this if you have other software to create CDs.

* Indexing Service – Indexes contents and properties of files on local and remote computers; provides rapid access to files through flexible querying language.

Tweaks you can do for faster internet

internet

Everyone wants to have faster internet connections. The faster, the better because fast loading pages and swift returns on queries to search engines not only means saving a lot of time it also makes surfing the net a much more enjoyable experience.

Of course, if you want a faster internet connection then you should apply for a faster connection plan with your internet service provider. That is the fastest and most effective way of getting the fast speeds that you need.

But even if you do not apply for a faster internet connection there are certain tweaks that you can still do on your computer in order to make pages load faster and squeeze a little more speed on your existing internet connection.

If you have a broadband connection – whether it is DSL or cable – there is a likelihood that you can do a few things that can help optimize its speed. For people who use Windows XP, there are a number of registry settings that refer to how fast data is transmitted to and from the network interfaces. Manipulating these setting to more accurately follow what the capabilities of your connection possess will help in increasing its speed. There are many locations within the Windows registry that can be changed that will result in improvements in the connection speed. Since there are such a great number of files that should changed in the registry it would be a good idea to do research on each of the registry tweaks first to determine which ones will have the best effect on your particular computer.

Securing your wireless network

Networking

One of the most common mistakes made by people who set up a wireless network at home is leaving that network unsecure. An unsecure network allows other people with a WiFi device to join your network, leech off the internet connection and also access files from the computers that are legitimately part of the network.Thus, it is important to secure a wireless network so that it will deter hackers and leechers from using the internet resources that they are not authorized to use.

The following are some of the steps that should be taken in order to secure a wireless network.

• Look at the antenna placement – try to place the antenna of the access point in a manner that will limit how far the signal will be transmitted beyond the intended coverage area. As such, do not put the antenna near a window because the glass pane will not hinder the signal. As a rule of thumb try to place the antenna at the center of the area you want to cover but keeping in mind that there is as little signal leaking happening.

• Use WEP or Wireless Encryption Protocol — This is a standard method of encrypting traffic through a wireless network. It may not a really strong form of encryption but it is enough to deter casual hackers.

• Change SSID and disable broadcast – Change the SSID from the default to something that is harder to guess. Also uncheck the broadcast option so that the network will not appear in the list of available networks.

Why do you need heatsinks?

fan

Because of the super fast calculations and speeds that are being achieved by today’s processors the natural byproduct of this is the incredible amount of heat that is produced by these processors. In fact, the heat it produces is so high that if nothing is done to dissipate that heat it can actually permanently damage the processor.This is where heatsinks come in. Heatsinks are thermall conductive materials (usually metal but sometimes coupled with other heat dissipating devices) that help absorb this tremendous heat and then disperse it away from the heating component – in this case, the processor.

Some of the most common heatsinks are the stock heatsinks that come with the processors themselves. The most common metals used for these devices are aluminum, copper and steel – with copper being the most conductive and thus the best material for dissipating heat. But this effectivity also comes at a premium as it is the most expensive type of heatsink.

The fancy fins that is commonly seen in heatsinks are not there for decorative purposes. These fins increase the surface area through which the heat will dissipate. The larger the heatsink, the more heat it can hold and of course the more fins there are then dissipating that heat radiantly becomes faster too. Most heatsinks now feature active cooling in that there is a fan placed on the heatsink itself to help draw out the heat. There are also passive heatsinks that do not feature a fan or any other device to aid in heat dissipation.

Speed up your hard drive the cost effective way

hard drive

Most casual computer users do not know this but keeping a “clean” hard drive is the most cost effective and easiest way of speeding up their computer. By optimizing their hard drive, seek times are cut short resulting in a more robust computer system. Don’t you think that it is harder to find what you are looking for in a file cabinet that is full of junk and unimportant or unnecessary files? That is the same case with hard drives. The CPU has a harder time accessing the files that it needs if there are so much junk in a hard drive. As a big improvement to your system’s performance you should remove all of the files that are obsolete or you do not need anymore. It will not only speed up your system it will also free up valuable disk space.One of the first things you should do when spring cleaning your hard drive is to look at your applications and documents. First, open System Tools and use Disk Cleanup to remove the unwanted files in your hard drive. You should then open all of your document folders and delete all of the documents that you do not need anymore. If you have important documents that you want to keep but will not access that often, copy it in a diskette or burn it to a CD or DVD, then delete the files from your hard drive after you’ve made the back-up.

You should then uninstall all of the unwanted applications in your system. Use a good uninstaller program to more thoroughly remove all of the program components from your system.