Part 2: Backup Media

Posted by: pctutorials  :  Category: Security

Continuing on from part 1, we’ve learnt different backup strategies and identified the pros and cons of each one. The next step is to choose what backup medium to use. What medium should you be using for your backups?

When choosing between different backup media, it is important to note that the various types of media have advantages and disadvantages. Backup media for small computers systems must be fast, reliable, inexpensive and of course, easy to use.

Magnetic Backup Tape
• A tape drive can stream constant data at a faster rate than any other disk drive.
• Data can last up to thirty years if cared for properly.
• Inexpensive for the amount of storage space.
• Smog and rough transport can cause major defects.
• Requires special software, a compatible tape drive and can take much longer to retrieve data than a disk drive.

Optical DVD Media
• DVD burners can write up to 24.93 Mbytes/s, making them a speedy backup medium.
• Can last 10+ years if cared for.
• Media is very cheap
• Extreme heat, scratches to surface, and UV light can cause loss of data
• Requires a DVD burner to write information.

Second Hard disk
• Transfer rate can sustain at 84Mbytes/s.
• Quality hard disks can last up to 1.2 million hours.
• For large backups, hard disks work out very good value.
• Once installed, backing up on a hard disk is a very simple task.
• Data loss can occur if hard disk is dropped or if sharp impact takes place.

Solid-State Flash Memory
• Transfers speeds of up to 480Mbits/s.
• Can last for hundreds of years.
• Flash memory is not vulnerable to magnets and is robust.
• Very simple to use.
• Whilst Solid-state memory is good for small backups, it becomes very expensive when backing up large amounts of data.

After reading about the four media types above, you’ll notice they vary greatly in speed, reliability, resistance to damage, cost, and ease of use. For example, Solid-state flash memory looks extremely good with all of its pros, but once you start getting into large volumes of data, the price per a gigabyte is just not worth it.

In part three, we’ll discuss different backup polices for various scenarios, which will ultimately decide which backup medium is best suited for you.

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Soft Mounting Case Fans

Posted by: pctutorials  :  Category: Quiet PC, Tips

Most of us are running desktop computers and use them everyday for things such as checking emails, surfing the net, chatting, buying of ebay, playing games and more task. In other words, we use computers a lot. Most people don’t mind the buzzing noise computers make, while others prefer to have their computers quiet as possible. If you’re of the latter, this tip will benefit you greatly.

Soft mounting case fans is the practice of using something soft that is not a metal screw to mount the fan. Whats the benefit? Because fans are a spinning device, they cause vibration, which gets transferred through to the chassis. This is the intrusive noise that you hear every time you turn your computer on. While there are other noise contributing parts, we’re going to focus on the fan mounts because its the cheapest method of silencing your PC. The soft rubber mounts in can be bought from PC Case Gear in Australia. The one’s I’ve linked are compatible with closed case fans. What are closed case fans? Closed case fans are where the corners of the fan sealed by plastic. There is a diagram on the same page as the soft rubber mounts if you need help verifying your fan(s). If you have open fans, use these.

Here are my rubber mounts, you’ll notice they’re different to the ones listed at PC Case Gear because these were bundled with a Nexus fan.

The four rubbery figures

Obviously if you’ve already got a case fan mounted you’ll have to remove the screws. Once thats done, the tricky part is pulling the rubber mounts through the chassis and case fan. I’ve found if you dip the rubber mounts in some water and dish washing detergent, the rubber mounts will slide through easier. After you’ve done the first one, the next three should be easier.


All mounts in place.


Verify all the mounts are pulled through correctly and are snug. You can now put back the side panel and front fascia of the case back and give a test run. I immediately noticed a difference in sound levels, there was a less droning noise after doing this mod. You’ll get an even better noise level drop if you do this to both intake and outlet fans. All I can say is, for $3.50, these mounts do an excellent job.

Looks good and sounds quiet; perfect.

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Part 1: The Importance of Backups

Posted by: pctutorials  :  Category: Security

This is one of the most common failures today of computer users; they neglect backing up crucial data. Why is society like this? Because everyone expects a computer to work without fail, first time and every time. However a PC is like any other piece of equipment, eventually it will fail. There are various methods of backing up data, some better than others depending on the situation. Let’s take a look at each method.

Always connected – Pros- Backup of the data can be achieved easily just as restoring would be too.

Cons- Backup data will render useless if a natural disaster occurs such as a fire or flood. If the backup medium is a hard disk, the mechanical wear will shorten the life span of the backup. The backup medium can be easily taken physically or digitally.


Storing it near the computer, but inactive – Pros- Backup data cannot be stolen digitally. Data is still relatively easy to access. Less usage means less wear on the drive.

Cons- The backup is still prone to natural disaster.


Storing the (physical) backup off-site – Pros – Much better security than the above two options. The backup medium is safe from natural disaster in the one area.

Cons- The backup location is not as convenient as being always connected or stored next to the computer.


Use no physical media: store the backup to a remote internet site – Pros – It can be the most convenient option if a fast internet connection is used. Information is encrypted and is secure both digitally and physically. The remote location makes it the best choice for disaster resistance.

Cons- The cost of a high speed internet connection.


Most home users today have their backup either always connected or stored near the computer, but inactive. The reason for this is because it’s convenient. Businesses however need a solution where security is top priority. Such that the latter two options from above are a common choice. No doubt any backup is better than not having one at all!

That’s enough for one article. In part 2, we’ll discuss different backup media and which one works best for the job.

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Why you shouldn’t use Windows’ Defragger

Posted by: pctutorials  :  Category: Tips, Windows

It has been said before that you should defrag your computer at least once a month. The reason for this is because the windows file system is inefficient. Once you start installing software, removing old ones and are using day to day software, things start to become a little bit unorganized. Microsoft’s Remedy was for users to use their defragger tool. Unfortunately, the defragger tool is just as bad as their file system; it only improves speed in a minute manner. So what is the solution?

After researching a while, I came across PerfectDisk 2008 Professional by Raxco. This 3rd party program has a much better algorithm than the packaged windows one. It also has a technology called StealthPatrol™. This innovation allows the program to defrag your computer when it’s idling, making it flexible and not sucking up your resources when you most need them. Along with its sleek interference and recycling tools, PerfectDisk 2008 Professional is a killer piece of software that does leaps and bounds over Windows’ Disk Defragmenter. You can read more about it here:

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Dual or Quad? Which is better?

Posted by: pctutorials  :  Category: Hardware, Tips

There have been many heated debates amongst many PC enthusiasts about which CPU in cores is better. Some say a dual core is better because the cores are clocked higher than a similar price quad. Others say quad is better because it has twice the amount of cores as a dual core. So which one is the better product?

Back when single core CPU’s dominated the market, they key to processing information quicker was determined by the FSB and maxing out the clock speed. Eventually, both Intel and AMD hit the limitation of single threaded processing. To make logical sense of why we have more than one core nowadays is because programs are making use of pipelining, a way of processing instructions faster. Instead of waiting for one thread to finish, pipelining allows the next thread to start once the first step in the machine cycles has been completed. See Diagram 1 for a visual understanding.

Diagram 1


Taking that diagram into account, imagine a dual core processing the above four instructions; it would need to complete the first two threads before it could start the next two. But if we use a quad core to process it, it could start all four threads at the same time.
Quad core is better then, right? In theory, yes, but only if programs are optimized for multi-threading, which at the moment there aren’t a lot. This is where a dual core tends to have an edge over a quad. It processes a thread at a faster rate just like the single core CPU’s did.
So if your gamer and need the best value/ performance ratio, the dual core is your winner because there aren’t many games that utilize four cores. However, if you’re a video editor, or use CAD or any other design/editing tool, chances are they have been optimized for pipelining, which Quad cores process well. But what if your some one that surfs the net, plays the occasional game and edits photos? This is where most people are at, and generally speaking, if you’re not a power user, a dual core should suffice. But if you’re running Adobe Photoshop, MSN messenger, have a web browser open and are maybe encoding a video file all at the same time, a quad core would be the best choice. Why? Because running four different programs at once would allow each core on the CPU to be utilized and not bring the computer speed to a crawl.


As a result, to say which one is better is a hard call for it to be universal, rather the best one is dependent on your own needs.

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Lockdown your PC

Posted by: pctutorials  :  Category: Security, Tips, Top Software, Windows

No one needs to be told that when your connected to internet, you’re at risk of been attacked or infected. What’s the best way to tackle the problem? What are my choices and how do I go about it? Fortunately, there are many products around to help prevent such an occurrence. Let’s break these products down:

  • Anti-VirusA software program which helps protect a computer against being infected by a virus. A virus is capable of corrupting data and is able to spread to other victims with out the user knowing.
  • Anti-Spyware A software program that is designed to stop spyware from entering the users computer. Spyware is software that is installed by stealth and tracks the users computers activities and private information. It then secretly relays the information back to the publisher.
  • Firewall A firewall can either be hardware or software based and is used to prevent unauthorized access to the users computer. In the physical security analogy, a firewall is equivalent to a door lock on a perimeter door or on a door to a room inside of the building – it permits only authorized users such as those with a key or access card to enter.

There are a lot of companies to choose from, some offering their products as freeware, and others as paid software. One standout in the freeware section is Zone Alarm’s Free Firewall. It covers the basics and works a treat. Windows Defender does an ok job for cleaning out spyware for free and is already installed on Vista machines. And for antivirus software, Bitdefender have their free antivrus software up for grabs.

Whilst all the above software is good, paid software offer more advanced features and support making them much more appealing. Also, you can get packages from vendors which have Anti-virus, Anti-Spyware , and Firewall all in one. Zonealarm Security Suite is an excellence choice and it covers the three primary areas of a Anti-virus, Anti-spyware, and Firewall. And I can say that it does work: ZoneAlarm Security Suite

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Automatic Logon

Posted by: pctutorials  :  Category: Tips, Windows

You can make Windows automatically log on a user, bypassing the Welcome screen, which means a faster boot-up time.

  1. Log on on as an Administrator.
  2. Click Start-> Run and type control userpasswords2 and press Enter.
  3. On the Users tab, select the user you want to automatically log on, untick ‘ Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer’ and click OK. This brings up the ‘Automatically Log On’ dialog with the name of the account you selected.
  4. Enter the existing password for that account and click OK. Don’t try to use this box to change a password. If you do, chances are the computer will hang the next time you reboot.

To override the automatic logon, press the Shift key when the Windows logo screen appears at startup and keep the key depressed until the classic Log On screen displays.

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Sharpen Text on your Screen

Posted by: pctutorials  :  Category: Tips, Windows

The quality of text on your screen is very important to you as it affects your eyesight. The clearer the text, the less eye strain. There’s a simple tweak to improve the appearance of text and best of all, its free. Cleartype, a technology Microsoft invented back in January 2000, was aimed to improve the appearance of text on computer displays. Despite when it was made, it wasn’t made default in Windows Xp. Here’s how you enable it:

  1. Right click on the desktop and select Properties.
  2. Select the Appearance tab and click Effects.
  3. Tick “Use the following method to smooth edges of screen fonts” and select from the drop-down box “ClearType”
  4. Click OK and Apply.

The text on your screen should now be a lot clearer and sharper.

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