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June 22nd, 2012

One of the most common ways to connect peripherals to your computer is by using a USB connection. You can connect a multitude of things, including your phone, external hard drives, mice and keyboards. Often many employees will plug one of these in, and when they’re done using it just unplug it. Doing this could damage your device.

When you plug in a device using a USB connection, your computer and device essentially shake hands and create a connection. When you plug in a device like your phone or external hard drive, it takes a moment for it to show up on your desktop and you’ll get a message telling you a device has been found and connected.

The whole idea of USB is that it’s what's called hot swappable. This means you can unplug a device and plug in a new one without having to shut down the computer. This is true, you can easily switch devices, however, both Mac and Windows suggest that you eject, or safely remove the device, before you unplug it.

Why eject or safely remove? Think of the USB cord as a bridge over a river and the data being transferred are people on it. When you disconnect a device without safely removing it, it’s akin to removing the bridge while there are people still on it. The chances of the people surviving are pretty slim. In other words, unplugging a device while it’s being used could result in lost data.

If you have the device plugged in, but are not transferring data you may think it’s okay to just unplug the device. Not so, in fact, chances are high that your computer will be using the device in the background and if you unplug it, you’ll most likely get an error message.

Some devices like mice and keyboards are normally okay to disconnect without ejecting, as the data normally goes only one way. A good rule to go by is: if there’s information on the device, safely remove it.

How to remove USB devices on Windows If you’re a windows user, go to the bottom right of your screen, where the icons are, and look for the one that says: Eject USB Mass Storage Device. Click it, Windows will eject it and let you know when you can unplug it.

If you can’t find the icon, open My Computer and find the USB device you’d like to disconnect. if it’s your iPhone or an Android phone, it will be what you named the device. Right-click on it and select Eject.

How to remove USB devices on Mac If you’re a Mac user, you can remove USB devices by clicking on what you want to remove, holding the left mouse button down, and dragging it to the trash (bottom right of the screen). If done right, the trash icon should change to an eject icon (triangle with a horizontal line below it). as soon as the icon disappears, you can remove it.

Alternatively, you can open the Finder - easiest way to do this is double click on your hard drive - find the device in the left side of the window that opens and hit the eject button. When it disappears from the list, you can remove the device.

Safely removing a USB device is a good business practice that all employees should adhere to, ensuring that data isn’t lost. If you have any questions about USB devices or other technological best practices, please contact us.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
May 31st, 2012

One of the most commonly marketed features of computers is the processor. The only problem is that the information can be a little confusing, as there are literally hundreds of different processors available, each with some sort of special feature. There’s no need to be confused, in fact, picking a processor really comes down to three different choices.

The processor, or CPU, is arguably the most important hardware component. It’s responsible for telling the other parts what to do, much like your brain. The processor is also an integral component in determining how useful an electronic device will be.

Processors are ranked in terms of hertz, or more commonly gigahertz e.g., 2.5 GHz. This is the frequency they run at. Generally, the higher the speed, the better the performance. Three different manufacturers produce a vast majority of the processors available for purchase.

  1. Intel. Intel is the most popular and well-known maker of processors. Manufacturers like Dell, Apple, Samsung and HP all use Intel processors in their computers. Intel processors are the most stable and offer the best all-round performance. The current i3, i5 and i7 models represent entry, middle and high level hardware.
  2. AMD. AMD is Intel’s biggest competitor, offering processors that are similar to Intel's, but at a, for the most part, cheaper price. The majority of computer manufacturers, except for Apple, also offer products with AMD processors. AMD’s Athlon processors are budget models while Phenom and FX are mainstream and high level respectively.
  3. ARM. ARM processors are generally used in smartphones, mobile devices and tablets. Apple’s iPhone and iPad; Samsung’s Galaxy line and HTC devices all use some form of ARM processor in their mobile devices. A rule of thumb is, if it doesn’t have AMD or Intel in the name, it’s most likely an ARM processor.
When you’re looking for a new computer, it’s important to pay attention to the processor, as it will ultimately determine what you can do with the computer. If you’re ready for a new computer, and are unsure of solutions open to you, please contact us.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
March 9th, 2012

Keep your laptop in good shape and extend its life over the long term with these useful and practical tips.

Despite the growing popularity of smartphones and tablets, nothing beats the personal computer for general, all-purpose computing. But even so, many people today still prefer a portable computing device to one tied to a desk—thus explaining the popularity of laptops over desktop computers.

Laptop computers, however, can suffer more abuse than desktop-bound devices since they are carried around and used everywhere. Here are some tips to help you extend the life of your laptop, keeping it in tip-top shape for as long as possible.

Power

  • Don't overcharge your battery. Overcharging or leaving your laptop plugged in all the time with the battery on will actually reduce battery life over time. Batteries were designed to be fully used and then recharged from time to time. If you are not going to be mobile, remove the plug from time to time or, if your laptop is constantly on your desk, remove the battery.
  • Manage the power settings in your laptop to extend battery life. Laptops nowadays have different power settings to extend battery life, such as reducing brightness, CPU speed, and other settings.
Storage
  • Defragment your harddrive. Over time, a computer's disk can become fragmented – meaning data written by the computer is scattered all over your harddisk. This makes your drive work harder, reducing its lifespan as well as slowing it down. Defragment your disks to have data written in contiguous spaces to reduce this effect.
  • Offload unused data to another place. A better way of reducing the work your disk needs to do and increasing its life is by using an external storage device, such a USB memory key or external drive. Offload things like old documents, movies, and photos. If others need access to this data, store it in a place where content can easily be shared so that you don't have to copy files back and forth. You can share files using a network attached disk (NAS) or a cloud storage service such as Dropbox or Google Docs.
  • Use SSD. If you can afford it, or if you are buying a new laptop anyway, go for SSDs (Solid State Disks) which, unlike traditional Magneto-optical disks, have no moving parts and have longer lives – and are faster as well.
Other Components
  • Avoid overheating. Laptops were designed to run cool, usually with heat vents or internal fans. Avoid obstructing these vents or fans by covering them up, such as putting your laptop on the bed or couch which tends to block them.
  • Maintain cleanliness. Components such as the keyboard, mouse, and screen tend to get dirty over time with dust or sweat and oil from your fingers. Other things such as food and can spill over these components and ruin them as well. Make sure you clean your laptop from time to time, as debris tends to build up and damage electronic parts.
  • Protection. Whenever possible, use protective gear such as covers and cases to protect your laptop from wear and tear when being transported. Avoid leaving your laptop in places where they can be sit on or stepped over as well.
These are just some tips to help you extend the life of your laptop. Know of some more? Contact us and share your tips!
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware