Hey! Covid-19! We’re Not Going Anywhere!

That’s right, Science Translations, PC410.com, Startupware, even Graphcat, aren’t shutting down for Covid-19. And also, it’s remote work only for the duration of the emergency. Literally not going anywhere. All remote computer repairs, Windows tuneups, malware cleanups, and Windows upgrades are still possible and routine as long as the problem isn’t the internet connection itself. As for hardware, drop shipments are still working, and remote configuration is also available.

Working from home? FREE OFFER to new and existing customers, LOCAL ONLY: Free half hour of remote setup time for Splashtop Remote Access, plus a coupon for an extra free month on the Splashtop annual subscription. Local here means within my usual service range for onsite work once normality resumes its traditional limits, so that’s Carroll County and the north and west sides of Baltimore County. Daytime hours only, 9 to 5.

For more on the non-medical side of Coronavirus/Covid-19, read my March 10th newsletter, also free, available here: https://www.startupware.com/newsletter/

And for those who aren’t local, the discount coupon for Splashtop is also in the March newsletter.

HP Recall Notice, Will your power cord go up in smoke?

Hewlett-Packard announced yesterday that 6 million computer power cords distributed across the globe are a fire and burn hazard to customers. HP Power Cord
The power cords affected are coupled with HP and Compaq notebook, and mini notebook computers, as well as AC adapters provided with accessories such as docking stations, sold from September 2010 through June 2012.
Not all HP and Compaq power cords sold are at risk however. HP states, “The potentially affected power cords can be identified by a molded mark on the adapter end of the power cord. The molded mark will be “LS-15”.”
Molded Mark LS-15
Not all power cords with this molded mark are at risk, however there are serious cases developing and it is recommended that customers verify whether their power cord is at risk. According to Money.cnn.com, “Of the 29 reported cases, two involved burns and there were 13 claims of property damage.”
HP has provided an online tool to help customers to determine if their power cord is a potential hazard: http://h30652.www3.hp.com/
Witch successful verification, each customer affected by this program is eligible to receive a replacement power cord at no cost.

SSD Upgrade for your Notebook?

Slow notebook? A solid-state drive may be the best fix, and they are no longer expensive. And they improve battery runtime, too.

Computers are slow for many reasons:

  1. Malware, Adware, and PUPs taking up background cycles on work for their owners, not for you.
  2. Hard drive hasn’t been defragmented in, well, ever.
  3. Autostarts are cluttered with advertising crapware from the computer manufacturer, some as ads, some as phone-home junk.
  4. Not enough memory. Windows 7, 64-bit, requires 2 Gb of memory, and speeds up with 4 Gb. 32-bit installs can manage with 1 Gb, but still benefit from more memory. Windows 8.1 has similar needs.
  5. The antivirus is a suite product, with far too many autoplay entries, and it has taken over your notebook like the Borg on a mission. Switch to a non-suite AV.
  6. The installed hard drive is running at 5400 RPM. By comparison, most desktop drives run at 7200 RPM.

replace your hard drive with an SSD
Yes, this hard drive is technology from the 1970’s.

So, first, deal with any cleanups and updates needed. Then consider why a notebook should be running a storage device with spinning disks and motors, based on a cross between a photograph record and something akin to 8-track tapes and wire recorders. These spinning disks are technology from the early 1970s, known as Winchester Drives back then. Yes, they’re reliable if you don’t move them. But motors and moving parts don’t really work all that well in a travel notebook.

Why an SSD?

A solid state drive has no moving parts, just memory chips, and can survive a drop better than the notebook it’s installed in. A solid-state drive is many times faster than a spinning drive. An SSD uses less power than a hard drive, so battery runtime is significantly improved. All that is the good side.

And the bad side? Well, until recently, cost and reliability. As of now, solid-state drives are very reasonably-priced in the smaller sizes, up to 250 Gb, and that size works well for nearly all notebook owners. Reliability is approaching that of spinning hard drives, and many SSD’s have 5-year warranties, compared with 1 or 3-year warranties for mechanical hard drives, or drive warranties that match the notebook warranty on every drive installed by a notebook manufacturer. As always, use an external drive for backups, both as full-drive images and as uncompressed document files.

Yes, we’re installing SSD’s as upgrades to notebooks here at Science Translations, if you’re anywhere near Carroll County, Maryland, including Howard and Baltimore Counties. Call us at 410-871-2877, and we can tell you if it’s worthwhile for your notebook. We’ll ask for the computer model number, and how much space is used on the current drive, and can help find that information.

Floods Causing Hard Drive Shortages

by Jerry Stern
Webmaster, PC410.com, Startupware.com

First, the good news. Here in Westminster MD, I have hard drives in-stock for PC repairs and new systems. Not in central Maryland? Well, drives are scarce.

Floods in Thailand have caused extensive damage to factories that create at least a quarter of the world’s production of hard drives, and additionally create parts for hard drives made elsewhere. Hard drive prices have fluctuated, and inventories have disappeared from stores and online sellers. A basic hard drive that sold for $50 a month ago can be bought online as of today for $140, but only if you’re not picky about what brand, model, or speed of drive you buy. In my wholesale price lists, a distributor that usually stocks several hundred models of drives is showing 145 models as current, but only 5 as in-stock today, 13 drives ready-to-ship TOTAL, and every one of them is a specialty drive for a server, and priced to match. Even the old ‘IDE’ or ‘ATAPI’ hard drives are scarce, and they’re mostly used for system repairs now. There are ZERO in-stocks on the list today.

It’s going to be an interesting holiday season. Notebook computers for upcoming holiday sales are still available, but the selection may be uneven; most pre-built systems for the season are already built. Don’t expect Black Friday bargains on storage this year.

Projections I’m hearing from Western Digital put ‘significant disruptions’ as far out as mid-2012. They’re the worst-hit by floods, but all drive builders have problems in either flood areas or parts availability.

Back here in Westminster, I have enough drives to take care of my local customers; I’m still building custom PCs. Just don’t ask me to sell a bare drive without a computer attached.