By The Computer Guy / Information / / 0 Comments

Have you ever switched on the power and listened to your computer whir to life? Or hear some humming coming from inside when you’re searching and sorting files? People sometimes ask what that noise is, and sometimes they’re indifferent, but it’s good to know what this noise is from and what it says about your computer.

 

What are Hard Drives?

 

There are a lot of parts to a computer, one of the most known is the hard drive. It’s where everything is stored away, from your family photos to that one assignment you did for a class and may have left to the last minute. Everything is nestled into that one small part of your machine.

Since we rely on them so much to safely hold our valuable data, it’s always a good idea to know a bit about them and how reliable they are, their speeds and types. Sure, we know there are portable hard drives, USB’s, ones that go inside your PC and SD cards, and that alone is a decent amount of information, especially if you know what each of them is generally used for. But what about the inside?

 

 

If you look inside a hard drive, you can see a lot of small parts- but that’s probably the only way you can describe hard drives in general. In fact, there are two main types of hard drives; Mechanical and Solid State.

It’s often though that all hard drives are the same on the inside, but that’s not the case. Over time as technology has evolved, more secure, faster and even quieter hardware has come onto the market. Therefore, we have several types of Hard Drives!

 

 


 

 

Comparing the Difference

 

A (Very) Brief History

Mechanical drives have been around since the 1950’s. Drives around that time were about the size of a fridge-freezer combo, and only held about 4 Megabytes of data. Now you can get 5 Terabytes of storage on a disk that’s no bigger than a block of cheese!

SSD’s are newer technology. The original concept of microchips storing data has been around since the late 1980’s, recently has this technology become available for everyday PC users.

 

1956: IBM ships the first hard drive in the RAMAC 305 system. The drive holds 5MB of data at $10,000 a megabyte.

– PCWorld.com

 

Mechanical Drives (HDD)

Another name this type goes by is a Hard Disk Drive, hence the acronym being different. This is quite literally referring to the metal disk inside the drive. The inside of these could be compared to an old record player! It’s the same concept of the disk being read by an arm which moves around, finding different grooves to gather information on what to relay to the user.

Since these drives have been around so long, the ways they have been made and developed became more affordable to the point where they’re basically the standard for a computer, except for those that have had SSD’s installed. By having mechanical drives in a retail laptop, for example, the price can be set to something more affordable for the every-day customer who doesn’t need anything super flashy.

Even though they’re ‘older’ technology, it doesn’t mean that mechanical drives are bad at all! Like with anything, if you invest to get a decent quality drive from a reputable brand then they can live a long happy life.

Mechanical drives are recommended for storing copious amounts of data, like games or video footage, especially since they’re more affordable per gigabyte. Since storing data doesn’t require a fast processing speed like booting programs would, often the D Drive on a computer will be mechanical!

 

Bonus Facts!

  • Portable Hard Drives are mechanical!
  • The disk in a HDD will spin at either 5400 or 7200 Rotations Per Minute (RPM)
  • Prices of mechanical hard drives has dropped by an average of 34% a year
  • HDD’s have two sizes; 2.5” or 3.5”. Smaller ones are used in laptops

 

 

This is what the inside of a Mechanical Hard Drive looks like!

 


 

Solid State Drives (SSD)

Unlike Mechanical, a Solid-State Drive has no moving parts. This completely erases the issue of ‘wear and tear’ over time. The chip technology used in USB’s and phones is the same as that in an SSD, meaning all data is stored and sourced electronically. Utilizing this means there is no physical screws or surfaces that can scratch, becoming damaged and unreliable after a certain amount of use.

Benefits to no moving parts include the reduced noise! SSD’s send and receive information electronically, so there’s no rattling parts, motors or disks spinning. This means that whirring when you boot the PC becomes essentially silent, not to mention it boots faster!

The fact that SSD’s don’t have any moving parts speeds up your PC’s boot time and allows it to load faster! With a rotating disk like in a mechanical, user’s wait for the disk to get up to speed before loading . Along with that, there isn’t a disk for the drive to search when locating data! The storage is tracked electronically creating easy and fast access to programs and files.

SSD’s are in fact newer technology, and are in high demand because of both technology companies and consumers. The cost per gigabyte is higher with SSD’s than it is with mechanical drives, making them inefficient for substantial amounts of data storage. This is the reason people with desktops, and sometimes laptops, have more than one hard drive!

 

Bonus Facts!

  • SSD’s have the same components as phones, SD cards and USB’s!
  • Flash Memory, what SSD’s use, was introduced to the marked in 1984
  • All SSD drives are 2.5″, the same size as a laptop HDD
  • Revenues SSD’s brought worldwide totalled $585 million in 2008, and have sold over 67.3 million units as of 2012

 

This is what the inside of a Mechanical Hard Drive looks like!

hard drive

 

 


 

Utilizing Your Hard Drive – How to Get the Most Out of Them!

 

Take Care of your Drive!

It’s not something a lot of people consider but there are steps you can take to ensure you’re getting the most out of your drive!

Turn off your computer at night or when you go out!

If you aren’t leaving things to update overnight or uploading a video while you sleep then you should always turn off your PC! Other than saving power, you’ll extend the life of your hard drive. A lot of mechanical drives slow down when they have been actively running for a long time. Imagine if you ran a marathon, then after the event is over instead of going home to relax, you must just keep walking around the block. Of course, you’d be exhausted quickly if you weren’t given a chance to rest. It’s the same for your hard drive!

 

Be careful with laptops!

Of course, this just seems like common sense, right? As well as turning it off when it’s not in use, closing the lid before it fully shuts down or jolting the machine while it’s on can disrupt the hard drive. Remember how they spin at up to 7200 rotations a minute? Causing the machine to harshly move while its spinning that fast can scratch the disk and cause an area to no longer be useable!

If you have a laptop with an SSD in it of course this issue won’t be too much of a problem, but you still should be careful. It’s not recommended that you body-slam your PC into the floor or anything like that.

 

Which would be better for me?

Depending on a person’s budget different options are always recommended. Before jumping into any decisions ask yourself:

 

  • Do I need a large amount of storage space?
  • Is my computer running slowly now?
  • Do I travel with my laptop a lot?
  • Can I hear the hard drive working in my PC?

 

 

 

It’s recommended that before making the switch or upgrading that you check the health of your Hard Drive. You can do this with a program or see a professional. There’s also the choice of having both. A lot of laptops may not be able to fit two hard drives, but can be fitted in depending on the hardware it already has.

A lot of desktops use two hard drives to up the efficiency of their computer. This typically consists of a Solid State where Windows loads from, allowing the computer to boot up quickly and run smooth. The second drive, labelled as the ‘D:’ drive, is where data gets stored, still have a large amount of room. The majority of the time, this drive is mechanical.

 

Hard Drives are a big part of your PC, and knowing what’s best for your computer can be greatly beneficial for its performance. Research never hurts when looking into an upgrade or just a change, and more space doesn’t always mean better performance.

 

 

Check Out Our Last Blog Post

 


 

Related Articles

 

Timeline: 50 Years of Hard Drives

What are Hard Disk Drives

Computer: The Hard Drives History

 

 

 

 

The Computer Guy 2017

By The Computer Guy / Online Safety / / 0 Comments

Being Safe Online: What to Know and How to Take Caution

Do you go online on your PC? Are you being safe online? How do you know if you’re being protected while browsing the web?

 

Contents

1. Introduction

2. Taking Caution

  • Pop-Up Advertisements
  • Scam Emails
  • Downloading and Torrents

3. Is your Software Outdated?

4. Programs That Help Being Safe Online

  • Windows Defender
  • CCleaner
  • Subscription Programs

 

It can be hard to know if you’re being safe when online if you have never been told how! The one thing a lot of people who come to us ask is if there are any extra measures that can be taken when online to protect your personal files from being attacked by Malicious Software (Malware for short).

Unfortunately, there are people online that aren’t just there for the cute cat videos and shopping. There are emails with a virus that can lock or damage your computer, and believe it or not that panel that came up on the side of the page saying you won a new iPhone, isn’t true.

 

However it’s good to know that there are steps you can take to make sure you’re being safe online.

 


 

Taking Caution

Our last post, “Online Scammers: Protect Yourself from their Nasty Tricks“, covered some bases mentioned in this section. If you’d like to read more on this topic be sure to have a look at it!

 

Even if you’re being as careful as you can be online, it’s easy to get caught out. Here’s a few things to know that’ll help you protect your info online!

Pop-Up Advertisements

Advertisements are everywhere online, it’s how websites make money, how companies promote their products and the way a consumer can find new goods. All around it doesn’t seem that bad, it’s just like ads on the television, right?

Well, not exactly.

Most online advertisements will allow you to click and open the website which the goods or services are being sold. However the link attached to the ad can also take you to a website that contains harmful material.

Some internet users may remember screamers, which was a practical joke on the internet for a while. In short, a video or website would seem calm and user friendly, then out of nowhere a disturbing image accompanied by a loud screech or unpleasant noise would appear. This was usually with the intention to scare whoever opened the link but was overall harmless. Well, this is somewhat similar to ads with malicious intent. Instead of a scare and raised heart rate however, you may get a virus or malware on your computer.

Good examples are the panels that sometimes appear saying that you’ve won a phone or some other fantastic prize, with the hopes you’ll fall for the lie and click the ad. There are even some that appear to look like a Windows pop up saying you have a virus and you can ‘click to scan’.

Here are some examples of what these pop up ads may look like:

Being Safe Online        Being Safe Online         

 

A good thing to note also is that Microsoft will never prompt you call a number or call you on your phone saying they’ve detected a virus. Most of these are scam call centers with the intent to get your passwords or credit card information.

 

 

Scam Emails

Most people will use emails to send photos or files to friends, catch up with family or even talk to a pen pal overseas. Millions of emails are sent daily across the globe, further helping us communicate. Some companies even send out promotional emails to alert a customer or member of a sale that’s currently going on. Unfortunately, some emails contain files that can lock your computer, or even damage it.

Have you ever gotten an email from an insurance company asking about payments even though you aren’t with them? What about an email from Australia Post saying you have a parcel and it’s waiting for you? Even an ‘overdue electric bill’ from some organisation you’ve never worked with.

Well, most of these are scams.

A majority of the time, opening these emails won’t instantly kill your PC and files, but downloading or opening attachments and links will. It’s strongly advised that if you get an email that seems suspicious, even if it’s from a friend or contact, to instantly delete it. If a friend sends you files you weren’t expecting or a link you don’t trust, message them to ask if it was them or delete it. If it turns out to be something they did send, then they can always send it again! It’s better to be safe than sorry.

 

A Few Things to Note:

  • AusPost Never Email! They’ll usually mail you a physical card if there’s a package for you to pick up!
  • If you get an email from a company you’re with that still seems sketchy, call their official customer service and check it was them!
  • DO NOT REPLY to scam emails. It’s best not to open but a lot are randomized. They’ll send emails to every address they can come up with. Replying confirms that they found an active email and results in them sending more or sharing the email.
  • Don’t give out your email to random websites.
  • Block email addresses that send you scams or advertisements

 

Downloading and Torrents

It’s no secret people like to torrent and download the latest movies and TV shows. Whether it’s the last episode of Game Of Thrones or the biggest Blockbuster movie, a lot of people seem to want it NOW and they also typically want to avoid paying for it. Remember that video clip that would play at the start of every DVD you borrowed? ‘You wouldn’t steal a car. You wouldn’t steal a purse.’ And so on? It may have been overlooked a lot but it’s correct, that distributing copies of movies and torrents are classed as stealing.

 

“TorrentFreak found Australians represented 11.6 per cent of downloads, outstripping the United States at 9.3 per cent, and the United Kingdom with 5.8 per cent.”

-News.com.au

 

The best advice when it comes to downloading torrents? Don’t.

 

Besides the fact that it is in fact illegal, easy to track and carries fines, it also puts your computer at great risks. Downloading files of movies and TV Shows from an online site, or even streaming them often bring the risk of downloading malware into your computer, not to mention the absurd amount of pop-up ads which appear.

Sure, your friends may have said they use this one website and ‘it’s so good! There’s no viruses and its secure!’, but how true is that? How do they not know there aren’t hidden viruses? How do they know it’s not going to suddenly change to harm your computer? This goes for game downloads, tool bars, fake programs that claim to speed up your PC and adult entertainment sites as well. All have a chance to harm your computer through pop up ads and malware.

Full News.com.au Article: Read Here

 


 

Is Your Software Outdated?

Now of course if your computer is just for writing documents or playing chess, you may not even need to go online. Though as of today, a vast majority of the population use online websites, emails and games. The internet is something all modern computers are capable of accessing, however sometimes it’s better not to.

Most people are familiar with Windows and the different versions that come out, like Windows 10 and Windows 7. However as Microsoft is always making new software and it gets to a point where they no longer actively support their outdated software.

Windows XP was brought into the market in 2001 and is still vastly used today by businesses who require older software to run machinery. However for the day to day user it’s advised that if your PC is still on XP that you upgrade to Windows 7 or higher. Microsoft withdrew their free support for Windows XP in April, 2014. They did continue the security updates for another year on XP however that support was terminated in July of 2015.

This means that there will be no more security or software updates to the operating system, therefor making it extremely vulnerable when used online. With no updates or active support it is easy for people online to access your computer, and possibly any personal information you may have on there.

 


 

Programs That Help Being Safe Online

 

» Windows Defender

Most PC’s now are on Windows 10, which comes with its own form of Malware protection known as Windows Defender. This program is free with Windows 10 and is designed to help keep your PC safe with options to scan your computer for malicious files.

Windows defender actively monitors your device to ensure it is safe from threats. It includes scans for virus and threat protection, the health and performance of your device and firewall/network protection. It also includes options to run quick or full scans on your PC if you feel your files may be at risk.

 

 

» CCleaner

A free program designed to actively clean your PC from temporary and junk files with the intention to improve your computers performance.

What are temporary files?

Temporary files are generally created to store information while a file is being created online or through a program. This is what can be recovered if something goes wrong and the program closes or your computer turns off before you can save. Have you ever used Microsoft Word and it has some documents you’re able to recover even though you didn’t save them? Those are generally extracted from the temporary files!

Some temporary files however won’t delete themselves. For example when you view an image online, a temporary file may be created for that image, but it won’t be deleted when you close the webpage. These aren’t large files however the space they take up can add up pretty quickly. This is where CCleaner goes through to delete the no longer needed temporary files, and cleaning up more space.

 

» Subscription Based Programs

There are a number of paid anti-virus and scanning programs available. Most work off a yearly fee and can supply anti-virus protection software for one or multiple computers. This works well as an extra measure though they aren’t crucial to have. Some programs are extremely reliable while others are not. A lot of the time the ‘free’ versions of anti-virus software can include advertisements. They can also clash with programs like Windows Defender. It is recommended that you consult a technician to see what software would be best for your personal computer.

 

 

Useful Links

 

Microsoft Official Updates

Windows Defender Info

Microsoft Official Support

Our Services

 

The Computer Guy 2017