Sunday, August 26, 2012

Speed Up Your PC or Apple Computer With A Solid State Drive Upgrade Part 1

Solid State Drive Upgrade Part 1


Does a solid-state drive really improve the speed of your system?

Yes, absolutely.  Solid-state drives are extremely fast. They can breathe new life into a PC or Mac computer where the performance is being dragged down by a conventional hard drive. The SSD’s are expensive and limited in total capacity but they may be worth the investment.

Please call iComputer if you have any questions regarding an SSD upgrade.

Conventional hard drives are usually the biggest bottleneck in any computing environment. If you can speed up disk activity, especially the read times, the effects on system startup, application launch times and other data processing actions can be impressive.

SSDs, with no moving parts, have fewer opportunities to break down.  It means that bumping the computer doesn’t risk corrupting the data.  Second, with no moving parts, there is less energy expended, meaning a longer battery life.  Lastly, since the computer can pull up the data immediately on an SSD instead of looking around on a spinning disk, information can be transferred at much higher speeds and computers can start up faster as well.

If a solid-state drive does not have any moving parts, how does it store data?

Solid-state drives do not use motors and magnets instead they use electrical currents.  While a conventional hard drive works by changing the magnetism of sectors on a spinning platter, solid-state drives have lots of tiny transistors.  Instead of magnetism, SSDs use very complex electronics to store and retrieve data. An SSD is very similar to any other computer chip in your computer (such as the processor or CPU), but it only reads, writes, and stores data.

When two identical machines running identical installations; one with an SSD and the other with a traditional hard drive, it is not uncommon for the computer with an SSD to start up in less than half the time of the computer with a conventional magnetic drive.

A new SSD can speed up your computer in several ways:

  • Less power draw, averages 2 – 3 watts, resulting in 30+ minute battery boost.
  • Boot times will be significantly reduced.
  • Around 20 seconds average boot up time.
  • Launching applications will occur almost instantly.
  • Saving and opening documents will not lag.
  • File copying and duplication speeds will improve.
**  Generally above 200 MB/s and up to 500 MB/s for cutting edge drives.
**  There are no moving parts.
**  Because there are no moving parts SSDs are silent.
**  No vibration.
**  Less heat – SSDs have a lower power draw and because there are no moving parts little heat is produced.
**  Overall, your system will feel much snappier.
**  SSDs have a lower failure rate because there are no moving parts and also SSDs are safe from any effects of magnetism.
SSD Disadvantages
  • Cost: Solid state drives cost more per gigabyte than standard hard dives.
  • Capacity: Solid-state drives have smaller capacities than standard hard dives.
  • Slower Write Times: The write times for solid state drives are typically slower than standard hard drives.  Also, SSDs have limited write-cycle lifetimes.
**  Even though SSDs access data more quickly, it takes longer to save data to these drives.  The limited number of write cycles is troubling. Traditional hard drives have almost-unlimited write cycles, meaning that data can be erased and written over and over, again but SSDs’ write cycles are limited.

The final verdict is that SSDs work at speeds that far exceed the performance of conventional hard drives.  Also, they have no moving parts to fail or wear out.  Here’s how to maximize the performance of your Windows PC or Mac computer: (to be continued)
Please call iComputer if you have any questions regarding an SSD upgrade.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Is Your Mac Running Slow? Try These Easy Steps To Keep Your Apple Computer Optimized

Here is some shocking news about Apple computers.  What most Mac users seldom experience are Mac computer issues, but Apples do have problems, just like any other computer.  They are rare but they do occur.  We’ve all stared in disbelief at the spinning beach ball of death, or have seen hours of work go down the drain because of an unknown error, causing the Apple to crash.

Unfortunately, the truth is, Macs do have issues and can slow down and eventually crash.  We have seen these issues on Macs plenty of times after many years of computer service as a computer repair company.  In addition believe it or not, they also get…viruses (gasp!).  Don’t worry though we can help you take preventive measures to avoid all of these kinds of problems that may affect your Apple computer.

The first thing you can do to avoid the spinning wheel of death is increase your RAM and upgrade your Mac’s hardware such as the hard drive.  This will make a big difference in the functionality of the Mac, because the ram will make your computer run more efficiently and also increasing the hard drive capacity will give you more room for your data; the hard drive upgrade may only be necessary if you are running out of space.
However knowing that everyone is looking to save a few bucks these days, here are five free tips that you can easily do yourself to optimize your Mac, and prevent the spinning beach ball from slowing down your Apple anytime in the near future.  But before you get started uninstalling and deleting items from your Mac OS, do yourself a favor, make a Time Machine back up of your data so you do not end up kicking yourself for deleting things that you actually need.

Start Up Items: Application programmers often times add code to the Mac’s start up items, and if there are a lot of these applications with code in the Apple’s start up system, it will bog it down and cause it to run slow.

To remove these unnecessary pieces of code:
  • Click System Preferences
  • Click Accounts
  • Click Login Items
  • Highlight the app
  • Click the minus button at the bottom of the list
  • You will still be able to use the program, but now it will only run now when you need it instead of running all the time in the back ground.
Get Rid Of Extras Bloating Your Mac OS: Macs have a lot of extra stuff built into the OS, such as multilingual capabilities including a myriad of languages you do not speak to compatibility files for dead Mac architectures like Power PC. You can download a free app called Monolingual to remove any extra languages.

It is also a good idea to get rid of support for old hardware in your Mac OS. If you are running an Intel Mac, and are not using any older programs, you can remove any support for PowerPC and ARM.  Make sure to be extra careful removing these items, because if you remove a language or architecture you need, you will need to do a reinstallation of your Mac OS X or resort to the Time Machine back up to get it back.

Delete Programs You Do Not Use: When deleting applications you do not need, make sure to remove ALL the support files for that particular app.  Many people think uninstalling an app on a Mac is just a matter of dragging the app from your Applications folder to the trash.  Although this removes the actual program, many support files for the application remain on your computer and will slow it down. You can use a free or inexpensive utility to clean up all of these bits of leftover software.  Some goods ones include AppCleaner, AppTrap, AppDelete or Hazel

Deep Cleaning Your Hard Drive: Running your disk utility can help your Mac system run smoother and you can do this without any extra software. Go to Disk Utility (in Applications > Utilities) to verify and repair disk permissions (which determine what apps can do specific functions with certain files on your Mac) and verify and repair the disk itself.
Turn Off Unnecessary Widgets: When Apple introduced the Dashboard, a lot of the common tasks became cool widgets. Weather forecasts and stock prices are a couple examples.  These small little apps were meant to be convenient and easy for the Apple user.  But the only problem is that widgets are constantly running in the background, using all your resources like ram and processing power.  The more Widgets you have the more resources Mac OS X has to give them. Remove any unnecessary widgets to better utilize your resources.
Restart Your Computer: It is common for Mac users to keep their systems running without restarting them, and putting them asleep is not the same thing.  If any running software has any memory leaks, leaving them open will start to drain more and more of the system’s memory.  Some applications including Safari and other browsers use a lot of memory and may not fully release it when the tabs are simply closed.  Quitting and restarting these memory hogs will reduce memory consumption, at least for a time. Restarting the entire computer will reset OS X’s virtual memory system and reset some things; after restarting, the system should typically feel snappier.

Please call iComputer if you need help with any of these steps to keep your Apple happy.

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