Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Out With the Old?

Let's make a clean sweep at the end of the year by talking about defragmenting your hard disk.
It's not as simple as it used to be, due to today's large hard disk sizes, but is still essential to keep file fragments from getting scattered.

As files are written to a hard disk over time, their fragments get saved in non-contiguous spaces. You'll know it because when you go to open files, you hear the hard drive working to pull the fragments from each space on the disk. If it takes longer and longer to open frequent files, you'll know they are being stored in non-contiguous space.

Think of it like looking through your office for random pieces of paper that all belong in one folder. You waste time hunting for the scraps and putting them back together in the right order. Long term, there is a risk of being unable to grab all the pieces, which is how files become corrupted.

The larger the file, the longer it takes to find all the remnants. So if you routinely work with very large files, defrag is an important tool.

When drive heads have to work harder, seeking fragments across a large space, chances of a drive crash increase. This problem is compounded by today's super large drives.

What to do?
Go to Start/Programs/Accessories/System Tools and you'll find Disk Defragmenter. When you open it, click Analyze or Details and look at the map - even if it says only 0% or 4% fragmented, run the program anyway.

It's best to run Defrag overnight, because you can't use the computer while it is reorganizing files. If you're impatient you can use a utility like Diskeeper to maintain the disk over time, or look into the new Defrag utility Microsoft is launching with Vista.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

"I only have eyes for ... all your data," says Google

A Chicago Tribune article today addresses privacy concerns with using some online software, specificallly Google Desktop. Too many web users think of such offerings as a free service or cool tool, but the profit motive of billion dollar companies should send a warning message.... they're in it for the money.

When Google offers their Desktop tool, allowing you to store and track searches, including searching files on your own computer, you are allowing Google to read, store and track your data for years, until 2038 in the example cited in this excellent article by the Tribune's David Greising and John McCormick.

"Google's Desktop program, a virtual file management system, scans all of the users data - text files, tax returns, electronic wills and such. It indexes and stores the data on enormous server "farms" all around the world.
Desktop even automatically stores copies of deleted files. "

Lest you think it is not within their right to do so, the article points out a fact I repeat over and over to clients: Read the privacy statement, even the legalese. By agreeing to such terms, you're signing away your privacy rights.

The irony in the Google cool factor is that you can search your desktop on your own, using Windows Explorer or third-party products like EnFish that don't report the data back to the vendor.

You pay a price for "free" services.

Any questions, email