November 2010 Q&A
Toby: At the earlier SIG there was a question that I was going to cover about solid state drives . . .
From the Audience: question asked about a computer book and freeware flash drives.
A: The computer book did not come out. We have been doing Secret Guide to Computers forever and the guy who writes it said he was coming out with a new version, but it is not out. Historically, it has been a good reference book and we would like to see a new version and probably order some, but it has to be a new book. A four year old book is not too useful at this point, in computer years it covers only XP.
Regarding the freeware flash drives, we bought the 4GB flash drives and received a great price on them at that time. What we have in mind is to do an 8GB flash drive and do the freeware as well and put on additional programs. The problem with that is Solid state drive is coming out and all that memory has stayed high in price and basically, if we wanted to do another freeware it would have to be on an 8GB drive. The prices have not fallen like we had hoped they would. We were penciling in to do one for Christmas this year, but with the prices remaining high, it would not be feasible.
What will happen is that we will be able to get the first price cut when they come out with the 8GB flash drive. We had wanted to offer them for not that much more than you would purchase the same size flash drive in stores, and you get the freeware programs thrown in. The club would make a little profit and it would be a good deal for everyone. However, it has to be at the right time and we are not there yet. It costs about $4.00 extra charge to get the CIPCUG's logo put on the flash drives. We did this with the Kingston flash drives which turned out to be great drives. Mine still works and has been in my pocket every day for about two years. We bought the 4GB in quantities of a 100 and the price was about the same as putting the logo on and a little less than you could buy the same drive for in stores. We have to do something similar or it will not be feasible. The plan was to have an update on the freeware by the December meeting so all of you get a Christmas present.
Toby: Now, can we will go into discussing solid state drives.
Announcement by Craig: The Thousand Oaks computer club has a new freeware disk they are putting out this month and next. These sell for about $5.00.
Toby: Back to Inquiry - The standard hard drive we have been using for about 20 years if you do not count the electronics, is basically a platter or a couple of platters and it spins around in a circle and this little arm has a button on the end of it which picks up electronic signals off of the drive and as it spins and it reads the data that way. The drive will spin rapidly -- the typical lap top drive is a 5400 RPM and the standard workstation drive is 7200. Server quality drives go up to 12,000 RPM or even some 15,000 RPM drives. There is a limit on how fast you can spin that stuff reliably before you start having a warping problem. You are not going to get much more speed out of those drives than it already has. It is running into physical limitations of the media.
Solid state drives (SSD's) are all electronic and there is there is a lot of theoretical head room before you get to the maximum speed of solid state drive. The drives are still smaller than the spinning drives so right now. You can get relatively inexpensive spinning drives up to 1TB the price starts to go up. Almost any drive 500GB or less is close to the same price. It is basically the cost of the metal and electronics that it contains and how much data is on it, but there is very little difference in price. The SSD drives are a little pricier and after that they go way up.
The solid state drives come in 40GB which is really not enough for Windows 7 and it is enough for any of the XPs, but you have to have a SATA drive not an IDE drive. If you have XP with SATA drives and you want to get some speed enhancement out of it, you can install your operating system on a 40GB drive for about $100. The 80GB drives are around $175. The 160GB are about $350-$400 and after that they can go much higher. So they can get pricey quickly.
When you are using your computer, way more time is spent on opening up the program than opening up the data. The size of the Word footprint that you open up is usually about 30 or 40 times larger than the size of the Word file you are opening. It allows you to install the Word program on your flash drive, your solid state drive, and you can put your Word data on a D or E drive -- one of the old spinning jobs. Although it is slower, you get 95% of the advantage of the speed of your solid state drive. You can make that work pretty nicely. A 80GB drive for Windows 7 & and Vista, 40GB drive for Windows XP, put all your data on a spinning drive on a desktop not a laptop and you are good to go.]
We had a customer who ordered two identical computers, but one had a regular drive and the other a solid state drive. The regular computer, bearing in mind we had no programs, anti-virus, no nothing, the regular drive it booted in 15 seconds. With the solid state drive it booted in 7 seconds. It is about 43-57% increase in speed.
Q: Did you notice the pick up in speed on the installed time, when you installed the programs?
A: Yes, very noticeable. It takes about 15 minutes to install an entire Windows 7 program. Solid state drives are twice as fast as a regular Sata drive. Almost everything you would do on the solid state drive will take half the time as the regular drive. These are really game changers and for any of you who really want to pick up speed, particularly if you have a computer where it is running OK, but you would like to give it a real punch. You may not be ready to buy a whole new computer, rather satisfied with what you have, but really would like a big pick up in speed. If you put on a solid state drive and your computer would really sizzle. With the desktop, we stick a secondary drive in for data and put all of the stuff on the secondary drive and let it spin. It is slow but anytime when you start up a program, the data is always a small component. The footprint of the program itself is the larger component. It really makes a huge difference.
Q: If you are using a photo imaging program like Photoshop, would that speed it up?
A: Yes, but you will need a bigger hard drive because Photoshop is big. Even with XP, I do not believe you could get away with 40, you are into 80 and with Windows 7 you might even want a 160. People who have Photoshop, not the stripped down version, usually have a lot of other big stuff. Photos can go on a G drive, but the program itself is large. Adobe has not written a small program in their life. Watch out, we have not had to worry about this for a long, but you need to have 25% of your hard drive free at all times. You do not want to get it any tighter than that because Windows is constantly creating temp files, doing stuff in the background and so on. If you get hard drive bound where you do not have much free space, it cannot move it around and it ends up getting badly checker boarded. If you get below 15% you cannot even effectively defrag. Be at least 25% free at all times.
Q: Can I have a second drive if my first drive is full or close to full?
A: If you have a hard drive and it is full and usually it is a combination of a lot of program and a lot of data, it is quite easy to get a new hard drive. You can put the new hard drive as a D or E drive; move all your data to it and you can change the location of My Documents so that it goes to D or E or another drive. You could move all that stuff to a second drive. That will free up a lot of space on your C drive and you will be back in business. Sometimes we do it the other way around, because if you buy a new drive what we can do is get a bigger drive and then clone the drive so that you have two identical copies. Make the new drive the C: drive which usually has a longer life expectancy and so you can boot off of it and then go into the D drive and you can delete all the operating system off of it and just leave the data on it and then make your pointer go into the data drive.
Q: Is there software that will make two physical hard drives look like a single drive?
A: Yes it is called RAID. If you are talking about making the two drives linear, that is if you have two 500GB drives you end up with a 1TB of data storage, which would be RAID zero. Yes, you can do that, it makes your computer significantly faster, not like a solid state drive, but it will make it faster. However, if one of the hard drives dies, all the data is gone. You get nothing off the other drive because they are locked together logically when a program writes. In order to get the speed, they write one packet to drive A, the next to drive B. Half of every program is on each disk, half of every data file is on each disk, and if one dies it is all gone. You better have backups because you more than doubled your risk of catastrophic loss.
If a single hard drive dies, a lot of times in the shop we can run other tools and bring it back. If you have a marginal problem with one of the two drives and it breaks the RAID you are done, there is no way of resurrecting that. Can you install a RAID zero, yes you can. Would I suggest it, No. I would not do it, but if you want to try it we will give you four hours of caveat before we do. This is only the beginning folks, if you come in and say you want to do it If you are an extreme gamer and you get your game stuff going exactly the way you want it and you make a perfect image copy of it in order to restore it, and you are not getting any new data that you really want to save, then it speeds up things and gamers who are into, I can shoot you quicker than you can shot me, if I can get a little faster hard drive, I can see the picture faster than you do, it will give a little edge like that. For anybody else, No it is not recommended. It is not recommended by anyone.
Q: On my laptop, I can go to Firefox, Internet Explore, and Chrome. I can go to City Bank, open up my credit card statement, hit download and it opens up. When I go to my desktop, I can do the same thing on Firefox and Internet Explore, however, when I go to Chrome, I click on the download the statement and I can see it instantly, and then it goes to blank and flashes back. My question is do I need to put in some type of setting to prevent them from opening up?
A: Do you save the icons on your desktop as shortcuts? What are you clicking on your desktop that causes you to go to your bank statements? Are they icons on your desktop? If so, go to your bank and go to Chrome and get a startup page from your bank and create the shortcut again and replace it.
Highlight what you want a shortcut to, copy and then go to desktop, right mouse click, create shortcut, new shortcut, properties, target, give it a name.
It does not depend on what browser opens it; it will open in your default browser.
Q: Perhaps I did not make my question clear, I want to know why when I am in Chrome and want to download a City Bank statement, it flashes on and then goes blank. On the other two browsers, it opens up and downloads the statements.
A: Oh, I misunderstood the question. I do not use Chrome, Michael does.
Michael: My guess is that you are using an extension on Chrome and see what you have and they should be the same as in the other browsers.
Q: Question was read: A friend sent me a video and I cannot get sound. I checked sound settings and volume and everything looks alright.
A: You cannot give me this kind of a question. What are you playing the video in, Media Player?
Michael: Is he trying to click it on from his e-mail. I have done that twice this week. That is why it will not work.
Toby: It will take if you copy it to your desktop, save it to whatever folder you want to put it in, and fire it up from there. When you try to open up videos, they do not open up because they can be loaded with viruses. What they do is make you copy them to your desktop or your download folder, or some other location, and then fire it up from there. Then your anti-virus has a chance to look it over and make sure everything is copasetic.
Michael: If you are trying to open up an attachment in an e-mail that was a video. Double clicking the attachment and trying to watch it. Try this, right click Save As or Save All, and put it in My Documents.
Toby: A lot of the security settings we are getting now are preventing you from doing any thing out of e-mail directly. The reason, so many viruses are included in those attachments and everyone is getting really paranoid. Do a Windows update and what worked yesterday does not work today.
Q: On the solid state drive do you get into 32-bit, 64-bit thing or does that go away when you go to solid state drives.
A: It has nothing to do with it. You can install 32-bit or 64-bit, Linux, etc. Understand that the 32-bit, 64-bit are processor dependent, not hard drive dependent. On the hard drive is data and you can put that stuff on a CD or DVD or any other media. The media does not care what you put on it, because it is just the system that reads it.
Q: I recently found that my motherboard had some SATA connectors on it and that seems to be the only kind of drive that is available now. Is there anything I need to know, except the get the right cables, right power adaptor to connect the SATA drive? The motherboard is about four years old and has two static connectors.
Michael: Unfortunately, it really depends, you can try it, but the problem is that with the very first generation of motherboards that came out only had static connectors in RAID, an acronym for Redundant Array of Independent Disks (formerly Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks). You could not plug in just one drive in the static connection. Eventually, they got rid of that and you could plug just one hard drive into one connector and power source and you were fine. It is hard to know without looking at what motherboard you have. I have been bit by that so many times; thinking I have two and I can use just one, but it does not recognize just one because it wants both. It is the way that manufacturer did the first generation. They said, we are on the leading edge, we are going to have SATA and they did not do it universally. It is more complicated than you want.
Q: I have a question on installing the OEM version of Windows 7. When you install activate and the drive crashes and you replace the hard drive, can you reactivate an OEM version twice.
A: You can reactivate pretty much indefinitely. As we were discussing about solid state drive, you could probably put the solid state drive in and not have to authenticate at all. The authentication process is supposed to be based on a point system as to how many components are changed before they make you authenticate again, but it is presumed that one component will not trip you up with authentication. The problem we are having is since they started that program, everything has moved onto the motherboard. You do not have the sound card, video card, network card, modem and all of the other stuff that used to be on separate cards. It is now all on one board. If the motherboard goes - You are going to be calling Microsoft and be speaking to some kind person in India.
Michael: What you said is exactly right, if all that you are changing is your hard drive, you should be fine. Worst case scenario, you have to call the 800 number and say, my hard drive died and I replaced it with another one. They will say, okay punch this in and you are done.
Q: Does it somehow know that it is the same computer, like from serial numbers?
A: Every piece of equipment manufactured has what they call a MAC address (Machine Access Code) and they are unique, no two components manufactured in the world have identical MAC addresses. This is for hard drives, network cards, video cards, processors, and anything in your computer that responds to an electronic message that has a unique MAC address. That includes all of your adaptors, wireless, all of that because they all have a unique MAC address. There is an inventory of the MAC addresses stored with your authentication in the registry. When you start up and the MAC addresses do not match up, it will subtract so many points, and when you lose so many points, it sends it into authentication. The problem with motherboards you end up with everything being used. Another thing is if you ever have to authenticate a motherboard do not tell them that you upgraded the motherboard, just say your motherboard died and you replaced it with the closest model available from the manufacturer. You are allowed to do that, but not allowed to upgrade with OEM versions of Windows, you have to buy a new copy. To be safe, you should use the same motherboard manufacturer.
Q: A quick follow up on the MAC addresses, I have run into software programs that require that a network adaptor in your machine be enabled so that they can read a MAC address and authenticate against that. It was, to me, a strange thing and I could not get the computer program to run, so I finally had to settle on turning on one of the adaptors. I wanted the machine to be very high speed machine and I took it off the network, and did not run any antivirus.
A: If you have one of the older laptops, you couldn't install that program. They come with a network card.
Q: You were talking about taking things out of e-mails so the antivirus could check it, what about something like a picture inserted into an e-mail, does it have the same potential?
A: Someone wrote a virus that would attach to a JPEG but they were able to plug that up. That we know of, there are no vectors in any of the existing graphics file. You should be able to preview it in your e-mail. You can save it to your hard drive also, but if it is a picture you want to look at once and throw away, then look at it in preview.
Michael: Good news, bad news. The good news, for those of us who have to fight viruses for a living, one of the lead ways to get viruses is when your grandkids go on the internet and get/share music across the internet? Bad thing! LimeWire has been shut down by court Order. LimeWire is no longer in business. Now, is that the only way to get viruses by sharing illegal music. No. It is just the easiest and most popular on college campuses.
How many of you heard of Adobe Acrobat, or Adobe Flash, how many of you know that every month there is a new problem they find that there is a problem with Adobe Acrobat and you get viruses. How many of you remember last month or saw the YouTube video on how to shut off the problems within Adobe Acrobat so you do not get bitten by these? Anyone remember seeing those? How many of you have no idea what I am talking about?
Q: Is Java update available in right corner icon, should I install?
Q: Regarding Acrobat security, should I uncheck "Enable global object security policy?"
A: Absolutely not. You want to leave your object security policy in place. It does not do a lot of good, but some good.
Q: The problem is, when I do get these upgrade notices and I allow them to run in Adobe, do they go back in and recheck those things? So that every time they do one of these background updates, do I have to run back there and uncheck those babies again?
A: That would be a good idea. You definitely want to check and make sure. The last one I did my settings were not changed, however the one before that did. I have no idea what the next one from Adobe is going to do, but it is not a bad idea to check each time.
Q: I want to go back to solid state drive. My understanding is that sold state is more reliable, correct? If I save stuff on an external drive would it be better to have a solid state drive and are external solid state drives available.
A: Sure. We all have them in our pockets, they are called flash drives. It will give you a little extra security, but not a tremendous amount. One of the caveats of a solid state drive is that there is a limit on how many times you can change the data under a specific spot on the drive. They will wear out after five or seven years depending on how much data you write, but they will wear out potentially faster than a spinning drive that can be rewritten forever.
Michael: My experience is exactly the opposite. How many have you seen those Western Digital My Books, a little black MyBook you plug into? Those that plug into the computer and into the electricity and the driver always running, literally, physically moving constantly, 24-7. A solid state drive, there is nothing moving which means, in my experience, most of those external hard drives die within three years. Gone, dead. With a solid state drive, even though it is plugged in all the time, there is nothing spinning and so there is nothing to wear out. The only time you wear anything out is when you are writing to something, actually reading never wears anything out, and only writing wears something out. If you are storing stuff there and want to retrieve it in ten years and not going to use it, I think it is safer on solid state.
Toby: In addition to being more expensive, they are not as big. For some of us who have a lot of pictures, even an 80GB solid state drive is kind of marginal. If all you are doing is pictures, I would burn DVDs. DVDs will be in landfills 500 years from now, unless they are badly scratched or exposed to the sun or heat.