Tag Archives: How To’s

What Computer – Which Computer is best?

What Computer

As technology is ever improving computers are equally changing, getting faster and smaller. The choice of computer was relatively simple when it used to be limited to either a Desktop or Laptop. Now we have Netbooks and Tablet PC’s to also consider.

What Computer – The Desktop

Custom PC - Cube PC
Custom PC – Cube PC

The Desktop PC is a relatively large computer and as the name suggests it normally sits on top of your desk with a separate display, keyboard and mouse. But even this format has expanded to include all-in-one computers like the Apple iMAC and Acers Z5700 touch screen. There’s also small format media PC’s similar in size to a shoebox but retaining the separate display keyboard and mouse.

The Pros/Cons: Generally you get more performance for your money and they are upgradable so there is some obsolescence built in. The Cons: Generally they are large and need a lot of desk space (but not always see Cube PC).

What Computer – Custom PC  the desktop solution

We still think the desktop PC has a lot to offer, particularly in its future proofing. We build custom PC’s using standard components which means that we can generally offer upgrades keeping pace with advances in technology and changing needs.

For example a customer buying a entry level custom PC  from us for say running Microsoft’s Office and maybe surfing the Internet then develops an interest in digital photography. In most cases this would generally mean buying a new computer or laptop but for our customers we can upgrade the memory and add better graphics capabilities and so for a much smaller cost they can continue to use the same computer for their new interest.

We’ve added more details on this in another post which can be read here.

Laptops Netbooks and ChromeAcer Ultrabook

Laptops have become much more popular in recent years with rapidly falling prices and ever increasing specs. However they do have drawbacks – not all Laptops are equal, they may look the same but what is inside can make a huge difference to the performance. Some laptops are just not that well made, check the reviews before buying and watch for the catch behind that temptingly low price. Some Laptops come with the previous generation CPU a slow Dual Core will frustrate even the most patient user. They can run very hot and even though they go also by the name laptop it’s best not to use them in your lap.

It’s also rare that they can be significantly upgraded so buy the best you can otherwise you could be forced into an early replacement purchase defeating that initial low cost outlay.

But get it right and a Laptop can be a great purchase – spend more than £600 to get a good one check that the processor is at least an i5 or AMD’s equivalent. Get one with at least 4Gb memory and 500Gb hard drive. And don’t forget that screen look for a bright HD screen that can be viewed in daylight.

Netbooks – those cut size Laptops have had their day tablet computers have over taken from them, but saying that I still use one for photography on the go, my Acer One has a ITB hard drive and built in SD card support meaning I can transfer my photos to the hard drive on the fly and view them on a relatively large screen.

Chrome – a new entry to the market, these are restricted to the Chrome OS (Linux) so you can forget running Microsoft’s products e.g. Office on them but you can add Apps, so there is some useful software out there. They are relatively slow though and are best restricted for use on the Internet. More powerful versions are coming online so watch out these could be the Laptops to have in the future.

What Computer – Which Computer is best?

What Computer

As technology is ever improving computers are equally changing, getting faster and smaller. The choice of computer was relatively simple when it used to be limited to either a Desktop or Laptop. Now we have Netbooks and Tablet PC’s to also consider.

What Computer – The Desktop

Custom PC - Cube PC
Custom PC - Cube PC

The Desktop PC is a relatively large computer and as the name suggests it normally sits on top of your desk with a separate display, keyboard and mouse. But even this format has expanded to include all-in-one computers like the Apple iMAC and Acers Z5700 touch screen. There’s also small format media PC’s similar in size to a shoebox but retaining the separate display keyboard and mouse.

The Pros/Cons: Generally you get more performance for your money and they are upgradable so there is some obsolescence built in. The Cons: Generally they are large and need a lot of desk space (but not always see Cube PC).

What Computer – Custom PC  the desktop solution

We still think the desktop PC has a lot to offer, particularly in its future proofing. We build custom PC’s using standard components which means that we can generally offer upgrades keeping pace with advances in technology and changing needs.

For example a customer buying a entry level custom PC  from us for say running Microsoft’s Office and maybe surfing the Internet then develops an interest in digital photography. In most cases this would generally mean buying a new computer or laptop but for our customers we can upgrade the memory and add better graphics capabilities and so for a much smaller cost they can continue to use the same computer for their new interest.

We’ve added more details on this in another post which can be read here.

Maxed out your hard drive! – clone a new one

I’ve had to do this myself on numerous occasions now – you’ve maxed out your hard drive there’s just no more room left for all those programs, images and music files you’ve downloaded.

Internal Hard Drive
Internal Hard Drive

An easy solution is buy yourself an external disk and move your data to that, but sometimes, particularly if it’s a laptop you just want a bigger drive.

I’d say this is not a job for the non technical as you need to go inside the laptop at some point but here’s the process.

You need to buy a replacement hard drive – I’d go for a minimum of 500GB it should be a 2.5″ drive and as this is an upgrade I’d buy one with a spin rate of 7200 rpm and go for a 16MB cache. This can have a significant improvement on the original 5400rpm drive, making power up and the running of programs almost a third faster.

You also need a external hard drive enclosure with USB – you need this as you will fit your new drive in this for the cloning process before installing into your laptop.

You will also need some software to be able to clone your drive – I’d recommend a free program called TODO Backup which can be downloaded from here:- http://www.todo-backup.com/

The Process

  1. Install your new hard drive into it’s enclosure
  2. Connect to your laptop via USB and make sure that your computer recognises it.
  3. Run your cloning software and following the instructions, make sure you se t your laptop drive as the source and the USB drive as your destination.
  4. Depending on the size of your drive the cloning process can take several hours so make sure your laptop is connected to the supply otherwise the process will fail when your laptop runs out of power and shuts down.
  5. When the cloning process is complete shut down your laptop.
  6. Remove the new cloned drive from it’s enclosure.
  7. Remove your drive from your laptop – it usually just slides out but sometimes it’s in a cradle and so you will have remove the drive from this.
  8. Install the new drive first into the cradle if it has one  and then slide into the connectors on the laptop.
  9. Now comes the good part – restart your laptop and all being well your new drive boots and shows your all your programs and Windows Explorer lets you see how much more space you have.
  10. However you may find it’s exactly the same size as the old drive as it’s cloned it exactly. To get around this you need to resize the partition for which you will need Partition Software which is also a free download from here:- http://www.partition-tool.com/
  11. Now you can install your old drive into the enclosure and this gives you the bonus of an external drive that’s a complete backup of your original files and data.

I need to add a note here – sometimes the new drive needs to be re-mounted – what this means is you need a Windows systems disk to run Repair and this will remount your drive and update your boot record.

Maxed out your hard drive! – clone a new one

I’ve had to do this myself on numerous occasions now – you’ve maxed out your hard drive there’s just no more room left for all those programs, images and music files you’ve downloaded.

Internal Hard Drive
Internal Hard Drive

An easy solution is buy yourself an external disk and move your data to that, but sometimes, particularly if it’s a laptop you just want a bigger drive.

I’d say this is not a job for the non technical as you need to go inside the laptop at some point but here’s the process.

You need to buy a replacement hard drive – I’d go for a minimum of 500GB it should be a 2.5″ drive and as this is an upgrade I’d buy one with a spin rate of 7200 rpm and go for a 16MB cache. This can have a significant improvement on the original 5400rpm drive, making power up and the running of programs almost a third faster.

You also need a external hard drive enclosure with USB – you need this as you will fit your new drive in this for the cloning process before installing into your laptop.

You will also need some software to be able to clone your drive – I’d recommend a free program called TODO Backup which can be downloaded from here:- http://www.todo-backup.com/

The Process

  1. Install your new hard drive into it’s enclosure
  2. Connect to your laptop via USB and make sure that your computer recognises it.
  3. Run your cloning software and following the instructions, make sure you se t your laptop drive as the source and the USB drive as your destination.
  4. Depending on the size of your drive the cloning process can take several hours so make sure your laptop is connected to the supply otherwise the process will fail when your laptop runs out of power and shuts down.
  5. When the cloning process is complete shut down your laptop.
  6. Remove the new cloned drive from it’s enclosure.
  7. Remove your drive from your laptop – it usually just slides out but sometimes it’s in a cradle and so you will have remove the drive from this.
  8. Install the new drive first into the cradle if it has one  and then slide into the connectors on the laptop.
  9. Now comes the good part – restart your laptop and all being well your new drive boots and shows your all your programs and Windows Explorer lets you see how much more space you have.
  10. However you may find it’s exactly the same size as the old drive as it’s cloned it exactly. To get around this you need to resize the partition for which you will need Partition Software which is also a free download from here:- http://www.partition-tool.com/
  11. Now you can install your old drive into the enclosure and this gives you the bonus of an external drive that’s a complete backup of your original files and data.

I need to add a note here – sometimes the new drive needs to be re-mounted – what this means is you need a Windows systems disk to run Repair and this will remount your drive and update your boot record.

Malware ‘Security Shield’

Malware Security Shield screenshot
Malware Security Shield screenshot

Watch out for the Malware “Security Shield” – I’ve fixed 2 PC’s with this already, whatever you do do not click on it as it will take you to a site demanding $79. Fortunately there’s a fix which you can download usually from your Anti-virus supplier or search the net. Be aware though you’ll have other viruses/trojans that need fixing.

‘My Security Shield’

My Security Shield
My Security Shield

This site offers a more comprehensive guide to identification and removal of this Anti-spyware app ‘My Security Shield’ which changes periodically in design but the removal is essentially the same at bleepingcomputer.com. I also recommend the use of Malwarebytes a Malware removal App which can be found for free download at download.com

Malwarebytes Screenshot
Malwarebytes Screenshot

NTFS for MAC – NTFS file system support for MAC’s

NTFS for MAC


NTFS for MAC – NTFS file system support for MAC’s

If like me you find yourself using both a PC and a MAC on a regular basis you must have come across the situation where swapping files between the 2 is needed. Unfortunately MAC does not support NTFS file systems.

Fortunately there is a utility which you can download to get around this NTFS for MAC. NTFS-3G installing this lets you read and write to NTFS formatted external hard drives. It also supports other file formats as well which is a bonus.

Apple – Downloads – System/Disk Utilities – NTFS-3G

A file system driver for the NTFS file system, enabling write support and other advanced features.

NTFS-3G Screenshot
NTFS-3G Screenshot