Thursday, October 23, 2014

How Much Traffic Do The Internet’s Biggest Websites Get Each Day?

You’ve probably heard of every website on this list, and you probably know that each of them are massive, but have you ever wondered just how much traffic each site actually gets?
This infographic will break down how much traffic sites like Google, Buzzfeed, and others actually see on a daily basis. The numbers are truly staggering.
Click To Enlarge
How Much Traffic Do Top Websites Get Per Day   How Much Traffic Do The Internets Biggest Websites Get Each Day?


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Free, Unlimited Cloud Storage Is Here!

Free, Unlimited Cloud Storage Is Here! Is Hive Right For You?

Jessica Coccimiglio
There are lots of cloud storage services to choose from — but they all limit the amount of storage you get to some number of gigabytes, or cost money (sometimes both). When you hit a cap, you have to start deleting your files or, shudder, open a new account with a new service. Until now: Enter Hive.
hive homepage e1413588680416   Free, Unlimited Cloud Storage Is Here! Is Hive Right For You?
Hive, which launched October 13 this year and was included in this week’s Cool Websites & Tools, is…
The first free unlimited cloud service in the world.
That’s a bold claim, so there are a few important things you need to know that make it stand apart from lots of other cloud services. Hive doesn’t offer syncing, and unlike other cloud services, other people can’t delete things from ‘shared folders’ — they can only download.
For the privacy conscious: Hive is ad-supported, and reserves the right to screen your files, so look elsewhere for storing private files.
These things make Hive a good place to dump neat, innocent things for your friends and family to access, but not a good place for confidential, intimate, or work materials.

Getting Started With Hive

You can create a free account with Hive via email or with a social network. Hive asks that all users have a profile picture so it’s easier to identify your friends.
hive account e1413589215324   Free, Unlimited Cloud Storage Is Here! Is Hive Right For You?
After you get your account set up, your Hive will be empty. The interface as a whole is simple and clean, but can only be accessed on a browser wide enough (if you narrow your browser window the interface will disappear and request pops up to widen your browser). Hive also has apps for iOS and Android devices coming out soon.  
hive default 640x419   Free, Unlimited Cloud Storage Is Here! Is Hive Right For You?

Uploading & Sharing

Hive takes care of all your photos, your music collections, and your video libraries. When your friends add files, you’ll see updates that look something like this:
Hive Activity e1413591466146   Free, Unlimited Cloud Storage Is Here! Is Hive Right For You?
You can upload your files from a device or paste in a web link to files you want to add to your Hive. When the upload is complete, the file will be in your Transfer folder.
hive upload   Free, Unlimited Cloud Storage Is Here! Is Hive Right For You?
Move files to your intended folder for storage, and choose to share it with particular friends, or lock the folder for your access only.
hive edit folder   Free, Unlimited Cloud Storage Is Here! Is Hive Right For You?
Once a download starts,you will have up to 4 hours to complete before the session times out. For the time being, Hive is limiting the number of videos and songs that can be uploaded at a time. If you try to upload multiple videos, it will allow you to upload the largest one only. If you try to upload multiple songs, the first one hundred will go before you have to return and upload another hundred.

The Experience

The experience of using Hive is a little clunky. You can’t upload whole folders at once, so you may need to manually recreate a folder structure you have on your desktop. It’s frustrating that, unlike Dropbox or OneDrive, you can’t upload to exactly the folder you wish — all files go to the ‘Transfers’ private folder and then have to be moved internally.
I uploaded two small files (less than 1MB) which didn’t take long, but they stayed in the Processing stage for what felt like a full minute before they were marked “In Your Hive!”. A 9.3 MB song I tried to upload sat in the Processing stage for more than 30 minutes.
The Beta stage has some spelling mistakes here and there, and the file download button is labeled “Download to Mac” even though I’m using a PC, but many of these things should be fixed in the near-term.

The Premium Version

You might be wondering how Hive makes money. Hive is ad-supported, but the Premium version (which is available for free until the beta-period is over) lets you remove them. Hive’s Premium accounts also let you stream high quality music and HD video, and uncap your download and streaming speed to use your full bandwidth.
Hive Premium starts at $9 monthly. However, the more friends you have, the less the premium version costs. If you have over 100 friends, the premium version is free.

Terms & Services, Privacy & Security

I want to re-iterate that it’s bold to claim to provide free, unlimited file storage. Expect a catch.
I rarely read Terms & Conditions (I, like many of you, would rather risk signing my soul away than suffer through legalese that probably won’t impact me anyway), but I did this time for you, my dear readers. The following are some pertinent points that I’ve freed from legal jargon from Hive’s Terms & Services section.
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, so don’t take this as legal advice. The below information reflects Hive’s Terms & Services as of this writing only; Hive may update their terms whenever they want, and the onus is on you to check for changes.
Hive’s headquarters is Hong Kong, China. I reached out to Hive to inquire about regarding the implications of this, and Hive CEO Thierry Lehartel had this to say:
The company is incorporated in Hong Kong but 100% of our infrastructure is running out of Germany. We are taking privacy and security very seriously and this is the reason why we have as partner and investor Link11 who is a leading German anti-DDOS security provider. In addition Germany offers on the most [sic] stringent framework for data and privacy laws and no customer information will ever be released unless required by law. 
Make of his answer what you will.
Hive may (but has no obligation to) pre-screen, flag, filter, modify, refuse, or remove any content. I imagine that by ‘modify’ Hive means (as specified in their T&S section “Your Permissions And Instructions to Hive”) that Hive may make changes to files to conform and adapt to technical requirements of connecting networks, devices, services, or media.
If you use a disproportionately high amount of Hive’s resources, or if Hivesuspects you’re profiting from their service, they can terminate your accountafter an email warning, if you don’t respond. So, don’t ruin it for everyone. Of course, they don’t specify what counts as ‘disproportionate’, so we’ll have to wait and see.
Hive may cease service at any time without notice. Though you shouldn’t expect otherwise from any cloud service.
You are only permitted to use Hive to manage and play lawfully acquired files from your own personal collection that you have the right to store/retrieve/share. So keep your unlawfully acquired files on your own storage devices, capisce? Not that you would have any unlawfully acquired files.
You are not permitted to use Hive for illegal file-sharing, or to operate your own content application. But you weren’t going to do those things anyway.
You must ensure your files are free from malicious or harmful code. No one should need to say it twice: don’t ruin it for everyone.
Hive may use/disclose your personal information to law enforcement or to their partners. At least they’re up-front about it?
* Editor’s Note: Since the publication of this post, Hive has clarified their privacy and security policies with a strong pledge.

What to Expect

Thierry Lehartel told me that a mobile version of the web app will be coming, including an offline mode.
We have a lot of ideas on experience and how the platform could be used but we will wait for user feedback before moving ahead. On the platform, short term is really Quality of Experience and making sure the application and streaming are fast and high quality. New features will come in due time but we want the foundation to be rock-solid.

Will You Use Hive?

Hive seems ideal for simple, social file-sharing between friends. Hive could be a great place to put videos of your indie band’s jam sessions for friends to stream, photos for relatives to download, or Creative Commons-licenced DRM-free music or games for siblings to share. Hive doesn’t seem the most appropriate place to store files for work, especially since at this time there is no desktop application or syncing folder.
What do you think? Is there a place for Hive in your life? A spot in between “I’m going to put this up on Facebook” where files quickly fall off your friends’ newsfeeds, and “I’m going to put this file in Dropbox/Google Drive” where files can only be accessed and edited by select individuals?
Did Hive’s CEO adequately assuage concerns of privacy, security, and the company headquarters based in China? How do you feel about your data being stored in Germany instead of in the United States? Is anywhere more secure than right at home?
Image Credit: Hive Logo Light via hive.im  Source: www.makeuseof.com

New Battery Technology Recharges in Two Minutes

New Battery Technology Recharges in Two Minutes, Lasts Twenty Years

There’s a new battery technology on the horizon, and there’s a good chance it’s going to change the way you use your devices — soon.  By replacing the graphite anode in lithium-ion batteries with titanium dioxide nanotubes, researchers at Nanyang Technical University of Singapore have been able to dramatically improve the charge time and durability of lithium-ion battery cells.
Why is this important?  Because, right now, all of us, in one way or another, find ourselves planning our lives around the limitations of modern battery technologies.
Consumers don’t buy electric cars, because batteries aren’t good enough (despite the vehicles themselves being faster, more efficient, and more durable).  Consumers worry about the charge of their smartphones.  Patients with implantable medical devices like pacemakers have to worry about the charge levels, and the consequences can be dire.  Modern batteries, despite massive advances in the recent years, are slow to charge, don’t store very much power, and degrade quite quickly.  As a result, they form the long tentpole in a lot of areas, from augmented reality to self driving cars.
There are a lot of new battery technologies on the horizon, but this one is notable for how close it is to commercialization.

How Titanium Dioxide Batteries Work

carcharging   New Battery Technology Recharges in Two Minutes, Lasts Twenty Years
So how does the new breakthrough work?  In a conventional lithium-ion battery, the negative terminal (anode) is typically made of fine graphite, which has a relatively high surface area, allowing it to react efficiently with the acid in the battery, producing a current (or drawing a current, during charging).  However, these reactions are not perfect, and, over time the battery loses capacity.
Right now, typical batteries lose a substantial fraction of their maximum charge capacity in just five hundred charge cycles (a little more than a year’s worth of being charged every day) — and, because the reaction generates heat, there are limits to how much juice you can pour into a battery without increasing the inefficiency of the reaction and risking thermal damage to the battery.
The team at NTU solved this by developing a simple, inexpensive technique for converting titanium dioxide, an abundant industrial material, into nano-tube structures about a thousand times thinner than a human hair.  This makes the chemical reactions that make the battery work substantially more efficient.
This has two effects: first, the battery can take more current with less heat, allowing the battery to be charged to 70% capacity in about two minutes.  Second, the battery’s chemical reactions are more efficient, both during use and recharging.  That means that the battery degrades much more slowly, allowing the same battery to potentially be used for more than two decades without being replaced.

Faster Charging and Longer Life

The batteries also ought to be somewhat more dense, since the nanotube gel can bind to the terminal without the need for glues, a change in design that increases overall reactant mass.
nanotubes 569x500   New Battery Technology Recharges in Two Minutes, Lasts Twenty Years
These new batteries will likely have wide-ranging implications, including helping to drop charge times at vehicle charging stations down to wait times comparable with traditional gas automobiles (the golden sub-five-minute-range). They may also save drivers from having to replace their batteries every few years, a chore that can cost thousands of dollars.
It also makes it much more practical to ‘fast-charge’ your devices throughout the day, as needed.  Forgot to charge your phone last night?  No problem — you can throw it on the charger, and it’ll be ready to go by the time you find your other sock.  These contribute a lot of value to the way we use our devices, and will go a long way towards freeing us up from charge anxiety and letting us use our devices in a more natural, unencumbered way.
It’s not the silver bullet of denser, faster charging, and more durable, but two out of three ain’t bad.

New Batteries Coming Soon

Because the technology can be integrated into existing battery manufacturing processes, it’s likely that it’ll hit the market sooner rather than later.  The creator, Dr. Chen, is in the process of licensing the technology to a battery manufacturer, and expects the first batteries made with the technology to hit the market within two years.
pileofbatteries   New Battery Technology Recharges in Two Minutes, Lasts Twenty Years
Rachid Yazami, the co-inventor of the graphite-anode lithium-ion battery and Dr. Chen’s colleague at NTU, feels that Chen’s technology is the logical next step forward for battery technology
“While the cost of lithium-ion batteries has been significantly reduced and its performance improved since Sony commercialised it in 1991, the market is fast expanding towards new applications in electric mobility and energy storage. [...] Ideally, the charge time for batteries in electric vehicles should be less than 15 minutes, which Prof Chen’s nanostructured anode has proven to do.”
Are you excited for the future of battery technology? Which applications would most impact your life? Could this be the tipping point to buying an electric vehicle for you? Let us know in the comments!
IMAGE CREDITS: BATTERY VIA SHUTTERSTOCK, “BATTERY RECYCLING“, BY HEATHER KENNEDY, “ELECTRIC CAR CHARGING,” BY ALAN TROTTER, “NANOTUBES-300,” BY JAMES JOEL, “CARBON NANOTUBE,” BY GEOFF HUTCHISON   Source: www.makeuseof.com

I Make $2000 A Year Selling My Personal Information

I Make $2000 A Year Selling My Personal Information, You Too Can 



If you use the Internet, everything you do is being tracked and sold, and you’re not making a penny from it. I’m not here to encourage you to install some plugins to block it all though – far from it. I want you to do as I’ve done and embrace the idea of selling your personal information and feedback, but actually get something in return. Don’t be one of those suckers that sells their information for nothing!
Am I crazy? Maybe, but the $2000 worth of cash, coupons and free products I receive every year from using all these tactics suggests otherwise.
Speaking of free stuff – don’t forget we review and give away loads of gadgets every week.

Sell Your Shopping Habits

Each week when my wife and I unpack our shopping, we scan the barcodes using a quick and simple little device; we then hop onto a website, upload a picture of the receipt and plug in the scanner. For this simple act that takes no more than 10 minutes a week, we get about $3 worth of points (which can then be swapped for things like Amazon or iTunes vouchers).
barcode scanning   I Make $2000 A Year Selling My Personal Information, You Can Too
This might not sound like much, but it adds up to a tidy $150 a year. You can sign up at ShopAndScan.com, but be aware that you might not be accepted into the program. ShopAndScan is UK only, but the Nielsen panel is similar and operates worldwide (UK users, register here), and though they pay out in competition form rather than regular points, the average return for your efforts will be much the same.
Cost: 10-20 minutes a week
Reward: About $150/year, or prizes.
You can also sell your shopping info right back to the supermarket you bought from, which brings me onto the next point…

Loyalty Cards and Store Credit Cards

You need to do your own research here, but savvy shoppers can get remarkably good rewards from store loyalty and credit cards. Hear me out!
If the word “credit card” makes you run, then you’re thinking about them wrong and probably suffer from a lack of self control. Here’s the secret that credit card companies hate: pay your bill in full at the end of every month by direct debit, never withdraw cash (it incurs an immediate accrual of interest, unlike regular spending which only accrues interest if you don’t pay it off), and never spend more than you can easily afford to pay off immediately. It’s really not that hard: don’t use your credit card for credit. The exorbitant APRs don’t matter, because you’ve never going to owe money on them. Their profits are all made on those who spend beyond their means, and you’re not that foolish.
clubcard   I Make $2000 A Year Selling My Personal Information, You Can Too
I personally use a Tesco combined loyalty and credit card with no fees – to buy and pay literally everything, including household bills. As well as rewarding me with loyalty points for purchases at any store (not just Tesco), it also means they know how to keep me shopping at their supermarket by sending me coupons I can actually use. The exact rate of return is 0.5% on Tesco purchases and 0.25% everywhere else. Again – it might not sound like much, but that’s a small trickle of points on everything I buy (and return rates can be far more generous than that in some countries).
Cost: Zero, because you won’t be overspending.
Benefit: Cashback, or reward points – anywhere from 0.5% to 5%.
There are certainly better “reward” rates out there, but most have a monthly fee or minimum spend which you’ll need to do the math for.

Broadband Speed Tests

A recent UK survey showed that cable internet speed (by which they mean the only national cable service provider, Virgin Media) on average outperformed similar fibre services from the national provider, BT. The reason they know this is because hundreds of people just like you or I have volunteered to plug a box into their router which continually monitors the uptime and quality of connection. At no point is your internet traffic “captured” or slowdown experienced, but your contribution will ensure that accurate speeds can be measured and providers kept honest.
samknows   I Make $2000 A Year Selling My Personal Information, You Can Too
SamKnows is the biggest such monitoring group in the UK and USA, covering all the major providers. They recently announced that instead of quarterly draws, all participants would receive a 6 month subscription to Netflix from next year. That’s right – plug in another router, and get free Netflix. (Note: we couldn’t find any information about rewards in the USA, it seems like there are none).
Sign up to join the waiting list for the USA or UK and Europe. No other effort is required once accepted: just plug the unit into an outlet and your modem, and let it run. You’ll have full access to speed data it collects via an online dashboard or mobile app.
Cost: Zero.
Benefit: Free Netflix (in the UK)

Product Testing

If you follow me on Twitter (you really shouldn’t), you’ll know I’m a sucker for free stuff. Here’s how these programs work: I click a button to say “count me in!”, and a few weeks later $10-20 worth of coupons arrive in the mail to get a certain product completely free. After trying the product, I jump online and post my thoughts, with supermarket loyalty points bonuses for publishing something to Twitter or Facebook. There’s no minimum follower count required, so even if you’re a relative social media nobody you can still take part.
These programs serve to offer feedback to the manufacturer and help the viral reach of a new product launch. In the UK, BzzAgent and Tesco Orchard are the largest panels. For US residents, Dealicious Mom has a long list of programs you can join, though I can’t vouch for any of them personally.
Cost: Your Twitter followers might start to hate you. Do you care? I don’t!
Benefit: Free stuff. 

Become a Mystery Shopper

Finally, there’s the elusive world of mystery shopping, in which you’ll visit a retail location and make some observations about things like the service quality and queue length. You’ll need a good memory, a sharp eye, and a knack for cloak-and-dagger approaches!
Depending on the assignment, you’ll be rewarded with cold hard cash, a free meal, or a certain amount to spend on anything you like in the shop. It’s hardly get-rich-quick scheme (though some people have made a job of it) – as well as spending your time actually visiting the shop, you’ll also need to fill in a short survey afterwards and upload a receipt – but if you take assignments you’d otherwise be doing anyway (like buying gasoline from a local station or visiting KFC), you can’t really go wrong.
Gapbuster is open to anyone worldwide – you’ll need to complete some basic training on top of assignment specific training before starting though. Marketforce pays more, but the assignments are more complex. UK readers: be sure to read this detailed MoneySavingExpert thread before getting started.
Cost: Varies – usually 20 minutes of online questionnaire on top of any time spent doing the assignment.
Benefit: Varies – typically up to about $25 per assignment, in cash or free products.

Your Opinion Counts, So Stop Giving It Away For Free

You can’t really give up your day job, but know that your opinions, survey input, feedback and shopping habits is actually worth money to companies – and if you’re not getting something in return, it’s about time you started.
Are you getting anything in return for your personal information and opinions? Are you making money online? Let us know about any other ways to do this in the comments!
[Image credits: Shutterstock - Barcode Scanning] www.makeuseof.com

The Best Free Remote Desktop Connection Manager

11 Tips For Using Team Viewer – The Best Free Remote Desktop Connection Manager

Once upon a time, LogMeIn was the go-to remote desktop service. But TeamViewer has always been the superior alternative, even more so since LogMeIn ended their freemium model.
If you’re new to TeamViewer, it is an excellent, feature-rich, and free program (for private use) with an intuitive interface. Granted, they do have premium features you can upgrade to, but as we explore the ins and outs of TeamViewer, you’ll discover the “basic” free program has all you need in a remote desktop client.

TeamViewer Is Cross Platform

1 TeamViewer Platforms   11 Tips For Using Team Viewer   The Best Free Remote Desktop Connection Manager
It’s very rare that one program works for everything across the board, but TeamViewer does just that – Mac, Linux, PC, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Windows 8/RT. So whatever you and your clients/friends/family use, TeamViewer is all-inclusive.

Multiple Simultaneous Remote Sessions

Whether you need to help several people or want to access a second computer while helping someone else, the multiple sessions feature enables you to do that. In the top left corner, you’ll notice a “+”, which launches a new tabbed session within the same window.
2 TeamViewer multiple sessions   11 Tips For Using Team Viewer   The Best Free Remote Desktop Connection Manager

Record Sessions For Later Viewing

Often times you might wish to review a session in order to remember something or to refer back to when you helped someone with tech support. While connected, go to “Extras” and “Record” in the toolbar at the top. Then you’ll see three options: Start, Pause and Stop. While a recording is in progress, a “REC” symbol (like on those old-fashioned video tapes) will appear in the top right corner of the window. Upon stopping the recording, you’ll be prompted to save the session file.
3 TV Record Session record sessions   11 Tips For Using Team Viewer   The Best Free Remote Desktop Connection Manager
The video file is opened and played by TeamViewer and can even be converted to other video formats.

Seamless File Transfer

4 TV Record Session File Transfer   11 Tips For Using Team Viewer   The Best Free Remote Desktop Connection Manager
Though there are some excellent ways to share files, having a constant medium to do so makes it so much simpler, especially when working with folks who are “computer illiterate”. To do this, go to the TeamViewer toolbar, then “File Transfer”. You’re presented with two options: “File Transfer” (access files to share from your PC) and “File Box” (drag and drop files to share).
5 TeamViewer File Transfer 2   11 Tips For Using Team Viewer   The Best Free Remote Desktop Connection Manager
Need to send a file, but don’t want to hassle with connecting to another machine? Go back to the primary TeamViewer screen as if you were to remote connect, but instead check the “File Transfer” option, then click “Connect to partner”. Simply move the files by dragging and dropping.
6 TeamViewer Send file   11 Tips For Using Team Viewer   The Best Free Remote Desktop Connection Manager
The third option is to go to the Computers & Contacts windows, right click the user/computer you want to send a file too, and click the “paper clip” icon.

Adjust Visual Settings

7 TV Record Session Visual Settings   11 Tips For Using Team Viewer   The Best Free Remote Desktop Connection Manager
Various visual settings can be modified to bring in the feel of actually using the computer you’re remote connecting to, or to optimize the speed and decrease resolution for slower connections. You can do this by going to “View” in the TeamViewer toolbar (while connected). You’ll be presented with several options: “Quality”, “Scaling”, “Screen Resolution”, as well as “Show whole desktop”, “Remove wallpaper” and others. Also note the “Full Screen” button below the “Extras” menu.

Text, Audio And Video Chat For Quick Communication

8 TeamViewer Chat   11 Tips For Using Team Viewer   The Best Free Remote Desktop Connection Manager
There’s no reason to download a 3rd-party chat client or call the person – TeamViewer’s integrated chat feature takes care of the hassle. This will appear on the top right side of the screen, and may be minimized on default. Just click the small “arrow” and the chat window will expand. From here you can immediately use text chat or audio/video call the person.

Remote Access Via Phone Or Tablet

9 mobile1   11 Tips For Using Team Viewer   The Best Free Remote Desktop Connection Manager
You’re in a jam. You don’t have your laptop, but you need that file now! t’s never been easier with TeamViewer’s apps for almost every mobile platform: Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Windows 8. You can use it to access files and control your or someone else’s computer. In addition to being versatile and accessible, mobile interface is simple and intuitive to operate.
TeamViewer Remote Control app for AndroidMore TeamViewer apps for Android

Share Only One Window

10 Share window   11 Tips For Using Team Viewer   The Best Free Remote Desktop Connection Manager
Perhaps you want to do a presentation, or need help only within a specific program. If you don’t want to show your whole computer off, you can click the double arrow in the top right corner of any window while TeamViewer is running and select the contact you want to share the window with.

Create An Account

11 Create an account   11 Tips For Using Team Viewer   The Best Free Remote Desktop Connection Manager
Sounds basic, but one of the most useful ways TeamViewer can help you is if you create an account. Can you use TeamViewer without one – of course, that’s the beauty. But with an account, you are able to set a personal password, log into any of your TeamViewer-enabled devices and so much more.
To do this, go to “Connection” in the upper right corner of the TeamViewer window and click “Setup unattended access”. Follow the directions to for a Computer name and password and you’re done!
12 unattended access   11 Tips For Using Team Viewer   The Best Free Remote Desktop Connection Manager

Use Your Browser

13 browser   11 Tips For Using Team Viewer   The Best Free Remote Desktop Connection Manager
Can TeamViewer get any more accessible? Yes it can – through any browser. Simply sign in and you can access any of your contacts’ or your own devices. You get the same remote control functionality, but all within your browser – super helpful if you need to access your device or help someone from a public computer or while at work.

Explore The Options

14 Extras Options   11 Tips For Using Team Viewer   The Best Free Remote Desktop Connection Manager
Though TeamViewer works great with its default settings, to get the most of it, you should really take a look at all of its options. Go to Extras > Options and scroll through the various side tabs from General to Advanced.
15 Options 2   11 Tips For Using Team Viewer   The Best Free Remote Desktop Connection Manager

Bottom Line: Give TeamViewer A Try

Whether you’ve been using TeamViewer for some time, but didn’t know about some of these features, or you’ve been searching for a solution to your remote control needs, TeamViewer is one of, if not the best remote access service available. Hopefully these tips will help you get even more out of TeamViewer.    Source: www.makeuseof.com

How To Really Speed Up Your Computer

How To Really Speed Up Your Computer – Common Myths & What To Do Instead

Joe Keeley
You might have noticed that your computer has never been as fast as it was when you first got it. But do you know why our devices slow down over time? Many of us have a number of misconceptions about sluggish PCs, so let’s crack these open and find out how to actually speed things up.
There are myths about slow computers that still get rehashed to this day: keeping too many files slows your machine down; you need to buy as much RAM as possible; viruses are designed to make everything run sluggish. In actuality, these statements aren’t true. Although they do have nuggets of truth contained within, it’s time to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Common Myths

Let’s run through some common misconceptions about slow computers. First, however, it’s worth pointing out that you shouldn’t feel foolish if you’ve believed or acted upon them. They’re “common” for a reason and in the past I’ve been under the impression that some of these were correct too.
Also bear in mind that the majority of these misconceptions won’t have actually harmed anything, although they might have caused you to misuse your time or money. But don’t worry about that now: let’s dissect them and see what we can learn.

Misconception 1: Malware is the reason for a slow computer

While it’s certainly true that being infected with viruses and spyware can slow things down, more often than not you won’t notice much of a difference if your system has been infiltrated. These programs are designed so that you won’t notice them. The developers don’t want you to realise there’s something untoward going on, else you might attempt to remove it. Malware is mostly designed to steal your information – for as long as possible.
avg   How To Really Speed Up Your Computer   Common Myths & What To Do Instead
If you do suspect foul play, the best thing to do is to check your machine’s health. In fact, this is something you should be doing regularly; daily is best. We ran a comparison of some free anti-virus tools, checking the performance and interface of products such as AVG and Microsoft Security Essentials. More recently, we also reviewed Avast separately. Be aware, that you should only ever use one anti-virus program; not only do multiple anti-virus programs not make your computer safer, they can also cause software conflicts.

Misconception 2: Clearing personal data from your hard drive will boost performance

Most often, clearing personal data from your hard drive won’t speed up your computer. This could mean your photos, videos or music – no matter how huge these files might be, it doesn’t matter one bit. Unless…
There is one caveat to this. If your drive is dangerously low on space (like only a couple of GB being free), then your computer will drastically slow down. This is because most programs need room to dynamically grow and decrease in size, usually through the creation of temporary files. If there’s no room on the drive to store these, your system will crawl.
hdd   How To Really Speed Up Your Computer   Common Myths & What To Do Instead
To overcome this, you can delete some of your files or invest in a new drive. You don’t even have to ditch your current drive if you don’t want to. Just get an external drive, attach it to your system and offload some of your less-often accessed data on there.

Misconception 3: Replacing and upgrading components is guaranteed speed

While you might think buying a new hard drive or investing in more RAM is going to get silky smooth performance, this isn’t strictly true. It actually depends on your system and the specific component that you’re buying.
Hard disk drives (HDD) are mechanical devices, meaning they have moving components inside. When you ask your computer to load up some data your hard drive has to physically work; it spins a platter and scans it with a magnetic head to find the data. Hard drives are commonly classed by revolutions per minute (RPM). Simply put, the higher this figure, the quicker your data can be accessed. You’ll notice improvement the greater the RPM, but eventually this becomes negligible for common use.
The real upgrade is going to come from moving from a HDD to a solid state drive(SSD). SSDs use flash memory, like a USB stick or SD card, and don’t have any moving parts, thus can access data quicker. SSDs are currently much more expensive than HDDs, so it can make sense to split your system into two drives. The SSD can hold the operating system (the data that powers your system and is constantly accessed), while the HDD can contain all other files.
ram   How To Really Speed Up Your Computer   Common Myths & What To Do Instead
RAM is another component that is commonly thought of as providing buttery speeds. RAM is essentially where data in use is stored, so that the system can access it quickly. As you might expect, the more RAM you have, the more temporary data can be stored on it.
The idea that RAM offers greater speeds for your computer is true – for the most part. As you’ve probably expected, this comes with some pitfalls. 32-bit versions of Windows are only capable of using up to 4GB of RAM. You can have as much as you want inside your system, but it’ll never use anything over the limit. Handily, Microsoft provides a list of the memory limits for all versions of Windows.

Misconception 4: Cleaning your registry speeds up your system

This is perhaps one of the grandest myths of all. All over the Internet you’ll find programs advertising the fact they can provide massive performance improvements to your computer by cleaning out your registry. This is utter nonsense. Registry cleaners provide no good use.
The registry is a database that Windows and other programs use to store settings. Your registry may have some outdated files in it, perhaps from software you’ve used in the past and have since uninstalled. You might think that you need to get rid of these, but fact is they’re kilobytes in size and you’d never notice a difference even if they got removed.
chart 1   How To Really Speed Up Your Computer   Common Myths & What To Do Instead
The problem with registry cleaners is that they can end up removing things that are needed. Messing with the registry is not to be done lightly. You can severely break your system and it isn’t worth the risk.

Misconception 5: A fresh install of the operating system is the ultimate way to gain speed

It’s entirely possible to just wipe everything on your system and do a completely fresh install of your operating system. Some computer manufacturers will have this function built in as a recovery partition, allowing for a few simple button presses and reverting everything back to how it was when it left the factory. You can factory reset your Windows PC in a few different ways.
Naturally, this is going to help speed up your system because it’ll remove everything you’ve ever stored or installed on the computer since you got it. While you might fancy the idea of nuking your system and going back to day one, it’s not entirely advisable for a number of reasons.
First of all, perhaps most obviously, you’ll have to go through the effort of putting data back on and reinstalling programs you need. It goes beyond that, though – think about any tweaks you’ve made to your system in getting it set up just how you like it.
xpwallpaper   How To Really Speed Up Your Computer   Common Myths & What To Do Instead
Following on from this, unless you actually change the way you use your computer then it’s eventually just going to slow down again anyway. All those programs will build up once more and you’ll be left in the same position as before the wipe. While a fresh install can be advisable when nothing else speeds up your system, it shouldn’t be the go-to choice.
A more advisable approach to take is to create regular images of your system. Lots of programs will let you do this. Creating an image of your system essentially means making a mirror copy of absolutely everything. Unlike data backup, which usually just copies your personal files, a system image will replicate every single bit of data stored on the drive. You can choose how often you want it to take an image, but every month is a good place to start. That way, if you experience severe system slowdown, you can revert back to a former copy of your system.

The Best Ways To Speed Up Your System

We’ve covered misconceptions on how to provide speed, so let’s now turn to methods that actually will provide enhancement. Handily, we’ve already published lots of content on how to accelerate your Windows machine.

Windows 7

Most of these tips are ones that any user can carry out, regardless of their technology proficiency. For example, you might not be aware that some programs have been given permission to start automatically and constantly run in the background. Some of these you might not even use that often, if at all (in which case uninstall them), so keep your eye on start-up programs.
msconfig   How To Really Speed Up Your Computer   Common Myths & What To Do Instead
Additionally, some of the more fancy visual elements of Windows 7 can be disabled to offer greater performance. If you can forgo things like animations and Aero Peek, get turning them off. Besides, there’s no use in something looking good if it doesn’t work as well as it could. You’ll especially notice a benefit if you’re on an older system.

Windows 8

The Task Manager in Windows 8 is great for determining what programs are using up the most of your system’s resources. It’ll break every program down to show how much CPU, memory, disk and network juice they drain. The old processes list is still available for those who prefer it, but the new task manager allows you to see at a glance what might be causing issues.
Windows 8 Task Manager Processes   How To Really Speed Up Your Computer   Common Myths & What To Do Instead
Another great benefit about Windows 8 is that it includes its own security applications, meaning you don’t have to bog your system down with third-party suites. Not only will it check for viruses and spyware, but it’ll also analyse how trustworthy the programs you download are.

The Windows Speed Up Guide

This is the top dog of speed up guides. Everything you could ever want to know about the speed performance of Windows is comprehensively detailed here: why it slows down, how to maintain peak power, troubleshooting steps, and more.
If you’re serious about wanting to get the quickest computer you can, look no further than our Speed Up manual.

How Do You Ensure Your Computer Runs Smoothly?

We all love having speedy computers, right? Although it can sometimes be difficult to find the root cause of system slowdown, it’s always worth hunting down what the problem is. Life’s too short to be sitting around waiting for Windows to slowly decide its next step.
Just remember not to get caught up with some of the misconceptions discussed. There certainly are ways to make your computer faster, but things like registry cleaning and personal data deletion aren’t usually the way to go.
What are some system slowdown myths you’ve come to realise aren’t true and how do you speed up your system?
Image Credits: magician Via Shutterstock, Mr Robot has some RAM by isherwoodchris, licensed under CC BY 2.0  Source: www.makeuseof.com

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