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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The how and whys of defragmentating a hard drive

Over a period of time you may save and delete hundreds of files and documents on your computers hard drive. These files are save, moved, deleted all over sections of the hard drive.
Whenever you delete a file and empty the trash bin, that cluster(smallest portion of disk space for writing files) of the hard drive is now empty and can be used for writing over again.

Now lets say you want to save a word document which is 900bytes in size. A gap/cluster size on the hard drive is usually 512bytes.
A portion of that word document,388bytes , would have to be saved on another empty gap (cluster) somewhere else on the hard drive. Do this hundreds of times throughout the week and portions of files are spread all over the hard drive.

Defragmentation physically organizes the contents into the smallest number of contiguous regions (fragments). A defragmentation program moves files around within the free space available to undo fragmentation. This is a very intensive operation and cannot be performed on a file system with no free space. The default defragmenter which comes with Windows is okay, but there are faster and more efficient ones out there.

My preference is Auslogics, which is very fast and efficient and allows background programs running.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Linux - an explanation

Linux is an open source operating system which is free. It's considered the third top operating system trailing behind Windows and Mac.
Whats great about Linux is that it's open source. Which means the code can used, copied, studied, changed, and improved upon its design.

You may not realize it but many cell phones, DVR's (TIVOS) and routers use the Linux kernel. (The core component of the operating system). Linux systems are used in every domain, from embedded systems to supercomputers, and have secured a place in server market. Your cell phone likely runs on Android, an offshoot of Linux.

Many programmers and corporations have created their own distributions or "distros" for public use. The majority of them are simple, easy to use with a Graphical User Interface (GUI) similar to Windows. In fact, the desktops of most Linux ditros are comparable to Windows with a Menu, control panel, and desktop panel (Start bar).

Whats the advantages of Linux vs Windows?
*Linux is Open Source, which means the code can be viewed/changed.
*Linux is free
*The Linux kernel is a fast "monolithic OS" as compared to a "microkernel OS" (Windows). This speeds up commands between the OS and the hardware.
*Linux OS ditros are highly configurable
*Linux system requirements are lower than Windows. Damm Small Linux can run on run on a 486 processor with little as 128MB of memory. Ubuntu, one of the leading ditros can run on 400mb of memory and 700mhz processor. Well below the minimum requirements for Windows Vista of 1GHz processor and 1(GB) of memory. So if you have an old desktop laying around without Windows, you prob have a perfect Linux machine waiting to be used.

Many distros are downloadable from the respected web pages, and usually come as an ISO image. Which means you download the ISO and burn the image on a CD. Most ditros come with a "live" CD version which means you can pop the CD in the computer and run the OS directly from the CD therby trying it out for a test drive first before installing it on the hard drive.

Check out these well know Linux Ditros. Oh yeah... did I mention it's free?
Linux Mint - since December Mint has passed Ubuntu as the leading distro.

Ubuntu - a huge corporation, Canonical, designed the second most popular linux distro. It has since lost first place becuase of the new Unity interface, but is still has a strong following.

Fedora, Debian and OpenSuse are other fantastic ditros to try out.
Who knows.... you may like Linux so much you may make the switch permanently, or make a dual boot machine with Windows and Linux side by side.
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