Tagged: Hard disk drive

How to Erase Your Data From an Old Computer or Phone

delete data

If you’re disposing of old documents such as bank statements and tax forms, security experts recommend shredding the paperwork so it can’t be used by identity thieves. Simply deleting the data by emptying the “trash” folder won’t totally wipe all that information away.

Before you dispose of an old personal computer, the experts recommend that the very least you do is reformat your hard drive and reinstall the operating system. A better bet is to wipe your hard drive clean. It’s a practice everyone should be familiar with, since it may be the top recommendation for preventing identity theft.

However, many consumers and organizations are turning to a paperless world, and records once held in filing cabinets are now stored on computer hard drives. But computers eventually get replaced, and old computers are donated, recycled, handed down or refurbished — often with personally identifiable information (PII) still on the machine.

An even easier way to do this, provided the user has Windows Vista or better, is to create a system repair disk and then format the hard drive using the standard format command.

Make sure that the computer technician is one who understands that deleting a file, formatting a hard drive or reinstalling an operating system doesn’t render the data unrecoverable. Those technicians will know enough to identify the proper tools to wipe your drive.

Eliminating personal data from personal computers kept at home is relatively easy. The real problems lie with mobile devices and work computers. Smartphone and tablet owners now store a great deal of personally identifiable information on these devices.

Apps are available to “wipe” the devices if they are lost or stolen, but the technology is still relatively new and these apps leave some data behind. Ideally leave your banking, personal emailing and social networking to your home computer. That way, you can control what happens to your personally identifiable information when the time comes to get rid of your old equipment.

Share your thoughts in the comments below and don’t forget to like this post.

Source: Associated Press


How to improve Mac Speed?

Despite your best efforts, your Mac is running a bit slow. A slow working computer is a problem faced by almost all of us at some point of time or the other, and can really be very frustrating when you’re trying to do some important work. Hard disk space is filling up fast and applications are getting sluggish. Don’t worry too much, it happens to everyone. There are some basic things you can do that might help reclaim disk space, remove some clutter and generally speed up your Mac.

 One of the best ways to speed up any aging computer is upgrade the hardware, so invest in a larger hard drive or more RAM if you want to make an old machine feel younger and more agile. Some machines, such as the Mac Mini, adding memory or a new hard drive amounts to performing the equivalent of open-heart surgery. Best to have a pro do it. Following are a few easy things which you can do on your end and can see some improvement.

1. Hard Disk space: Sometimes when your hard drive gets too full drive it can slow down your Mac considerably. But don’t start deleting your important data yet – here are a few things you may not know about that eat up space on your Mac drive.

  • Take a hard look at your applications folder– you can always free up a little space by delete some of  those unused shareware apps.
  • Delete unused language packs– You probably aren’t using the Farsi language localization on your machine. Even if you are, then you can probably still get rid of French or German.
  • Know what you’re storing– Download Disk Inventory X (alternatives: Grand Perspective or Where’s The Free Space), which will give you a nice graphical overview of what is using space on your drive. If it is indeed those precious family photos, consider moving them off to a USB or Firewire external drive. Or burn them to DVDs.

2. Speed Up Slow Applications:  Biggest reason for mac being slow is the applications running on their Mac. Here are a few common culprits.

  • Safari — Safari is fast and lightweight, but it can get bogged down if your browsing history is excessively large or if Safari is storing a ton of Autofill entries. One easy way to reset nearly everything at once is to select Safari > Reset Safari in the application menu, which will clear all your caches.
  • DashboardDashboard widgets are handy tools, but they eat up RAM — sometimes even when you aren’t using them. This leaves less RAM available for the applications you actually are using. Head into your Applications Folder, select the Utilities Folder and look for Activity Monitor. Activity monitor is a great way to see what applications are using the most memory. If you see a lot of Dashboard widgets high up on the list, consider disabling them.
  • Firefox — If you’re using versions 2.x or 1.x of Mozilla Firefox, you’ve probably noticed that the browser tends to take it’s sweet time after it’s been running for a while. Try uninstalling any unnecessary extensions. Reducing the add-ons you’re running to about 3 or 4 will speed up most installations. Your best bet is switching to the latest version of Firefox 3.5, which shows substantial speed improvements over its predecessors.
  • Universal binaries — If you’re using an Intel Mac, make sure that all your applications are universal binaries. Older software compiled to run on PowerPC machines will be noticeably slower on Intel machines. If there’s an upgrade available, download it and run it instead.

Now a few more General System Tips to improve system’s speed

  • Restart your Mac very oftenA Mac running OS X can go on for a good long time. If you enter ‘uptime’ in launch terminal, you can see how long it has been since the last reboot. When you restart, a lot of useless stuff will be flushed out and will increase speed.
  • Reset PRAM: After shutting down the computer, wait for 30 seconds before turning it on. Immediately after that, hold down Control + Option + P + R, instead of the usual boot, you can see the screen light up, and play the Mac chime. When this is done thrice, release the keys. The computer will boot up.
  • Clean Out Your Start-up Items — If your Mac is slow starting up, open your System Preferences and click accounts. Select your username and see what’s listed in the start-up items. Sometime applications will inject themselves here without asking (or even if they asked, you may not want them anymore). Getting rid of some start-up items can speed up your boot time.
  • Clean Up Your Desktop — If your desktop is covered with dozens or even hundreds of icons, you may see your performance suffer. Mac OS X treats each desktop icon as its own window, which incurs a small memory hit. For most people this won’t be an issue, but if you have hundreds of icons, it might help to move them off to another location.
  • Fonts — although they won’t produce a huge performance gain, getting rid of any corrupt fonts will make your Mac more stable. Open up Font Book, select all the fonts in the Font list and choose File >> Validate Fonts. Font Book will open a new window with icons to show font’s status. If a font is corrupt, select it and click on the Remove Checked button. Font Book can’t actually repair corrupt fonts, for that you’ll need a commercial utility like FontAgent Pro ($100).
  • MacKeeper’s Wise Uninstaller: Most of us do not use at least 30% of apps installed on our Macs. However, even if you drag these apps to the Trash, their add-ons widgets, preference panes, and plug-ins will remain on your hard drive. Unlike the Trash, MacKeeper’s Wise Uninstaller will completely remove your applications together with their components which you can view separately for each app.
  • Check your Activity Monitor: From Applications/Utilities, launch Activity Monitor, select My Processes, and click on % CPU. The items at the top of your list (say the first 10) are the ones taking up your CPU time and effort. If they are not urgent, you can close them and direct the CPU’s attention to what you need to do. Again, you can close down the applications which are not required for the work you are doing at the moment and are running in the background.

but sometimes your computer is taking longer to boot because your hard drive is about to crash to always run a hard drive health check first and When in doubt contact Stellar Phoenix Solutions.

  • Call us at 1 855 BY STELLAR (297 8355) or click here to complete a service request form.
  • You may also visit their website directly to learn more about our capabilities

Is it ok to run computer for hours without shutting it down?


Most of us let our Desktop or Laptop run for days…weeks..or even years put together. Is it safe? will that impact my data? will that impact its performance? We at Stellar Phoenix face many such questions on daily bases. There is nothing wrong in leaving a machine run for extended hours. A computer has more detrimental impact from electrical spikes and failure of drives etc than simply leaving the PC running.

Heat can be your biggest enemy. You will find that even with the energy new conservation settings available, heat is produced when power is consumed. Yes with proper ventilation the IC components will remain in the tolerable operating range of temperature. However life span is shortened by heat. However variance in temperature from shutting off, then turning on (cool/hat) also damages the chips lifespan.

The most important component that is affected mostly is the hard drive unfortunately its the worse component to crash because it holds all your important data. A hard drive usually is made for 3000-5000 hours of normal usage. Hard drive manufactures offer 3-5 years of manufacture warrantee but Customers replace disk drives 15 times more often than drive vendors’ estimate, according to a study by Carnegie Mellon University.  The comparatively high replacement rates are not surprising because of the difference between the “clean room” environment in which vendors test and the heat, dust, noise or vibrations in an actual work environment. Experts have also seen overall drive quality falling over time as the result of price competition in the industry.

We can also argue that the same hard drives are part of these sophisticated servers and they run for years put together then why will the same hard drive crashes in my desktop or laptop?

Server rooms have anti-static floor finishing, maximum electrical intensity of computing equipment of 300 watts per square foot, heating, cooling and humidity controlled environment 72°F (+/- 2°F) and 45% RH (+/- 5%). Nothing like an actual daily work environment.

We at Stellar Phoenix would suggest one should not let a machine run un-attended for hours together. One should always shutdown of not then leave your machine on hibernate mode to avoid any permanent data loss