Monthly Archives: November 2016

Hard Disk Bad Sectors

Computers have hard disks that tend to develop bad sectors over time with constant use. The presence of bad sectors can prevent one from using the computer thus access files that have been saved in the hard disk. But what is a bad sector and what are the probable causes of its occurrence? This article explains this commonly used computer jargon to aid computer users in understanding how their hard disk works thus effectively address problems associated with it.

If you are a regular computer user, chances are, you have encountered a message that says there are bad sectors in your hard disk. Your computer may allow you to boot and reach the desktop display and access your files but in some cases, you may not be able to boot your computer at all.

What are hard disk bad sectors and why are these causing problems in your computer? An understanding of hard disk sector is required to clarify these issues.

Hard Disk Sector Defined

A sector is the basic unit of data storage on a magnetic platter, a metallic disk much like your compact disc, inside the hard drive (Figure 1). These sectors are arranged in a concentric manner relative to the center of the revolving disk. Taken together, the group of sectors make up a track. Of course you cannot see these things with your naked eye.

hard disk magnetic platter

Fig. 1. An opened hard disk showing the magnetic hard disk platter and the read/write head.

Each sector can hold a standard size of 512 bytes of data written by the disk head by transforming electrical signals into magnetic fields or do the opposite when reading. So the files you entered in your computer are stored in the many sectors of the hard disk drive along a track. These files, however, could not be accessed without an ID information. The ID information is a small space allocated to identify the sector’s number and location. This is used to locate the sector on the hard disk as well as provide for status information (if it’s good or bad) about the sector itself.

So what happens during those times you are alerted that your computer has bad sectors?

This simply means that the sectors where you record data are no longer accessible, hence are flagged by the hard disk as bad sectors and will no longer be read by the disk head. As data are written as a series of 1s and 0s, good sectors can be illustrated as 0011001010, while bad sectors are represented by 011?0?011?01. This means that data can no longer be read or written on that part of the hard disk with the question mark. The series of ones and zeroes are binary codes that represent symbols, letters or instructions.

Causes of Hard Disk Bad Sectors

Hard disk bad sectors normally occur in hard disk drives due to many reasons. Among the common ones are associated with the age of the hard disk drive, harsh operating conditions like high temperatures and vibration, overuse, among others.

Once your hard drive develops bad sectors, it is wise to save your data right away as long as you can still access some of your files. Your hard disk may be already old as hard drives normally last two years. If your files are no longer accessible or you can only access a part of it, you may try using softwares that can repair hard disk bad sectors. After disk repair, however, it is best to change your hard drive to avoid losing your precious data.

Best Monthly Laptop Computer Maintenance Tips

While there may be times you need to do something to keep your laptop computer working, it is wise to have a monthly laptop computer maintenance schedule to prevent loss of data that you have accumulated through time. The following are just simple tips to perform so that your laptop computer will serve you well through the years and make full use of your investment.

1. Scan Your Hard Drive for Problems

In the course of your surfing, copying, downloading and typing activities, some clusters of data are lost and cause your laptop to slow down or hang at times. Scanning the hard drive for problems can help solve the problem automatically and make your computer run smoothly. You can easily determine your hard drive’s defragmentation state by clicking the start button and typing “scan hard drive”. You will be guided by a menu to enable scanning and defragmentation of your files.

2. Arrange and Delete Unnecessary Files

You tend to accumulate files or data that you actually do not need. These may be old games that your friend shared with you, blurred pictures from your camera that you would not want, accidentally recorded videos, or downloaded materials which you already copied and used somewhere. These files accumulate precious storage space that can slow your laptop computer. Arrange your files and delete unnecessary files while going through them. If you don’t need those files, you might want to save them in a separate external hard drive or compact disc.

3. Uninstall Unnecessary Software Applications

Uninstall unnecessary software applications in your laptop computer. One way to find out which software application you don’t need is to list the applications you use and tally your usage. Find the best application you need and uninstall the seldom used ones. This will unload your laptop computer of applications that demand memory resources even when not in use. Revo Uninstaller is a good uninstaller that can remove deep-seated files that cannot be removed by the integrated windows uninstaller application.

4. Dust Off Dirt from Your Laptop Computer

Dirt building up in your computer can cause electronic malfunctions especially if you are living in a humid zone. Water vapor easily adhere to dirt surfaces and clog the fan of your laptop computer. Cleaning the accessible moving parts can prevent squeaking fan sounds due to friction that may lead to overheating of sensitive electronic parts.

5. Copy Your Laptop Computer Files Into an External Hard Drive

Copy all the files of your laptop computer into an external hard drive with large storage space. A difficult to remove virus might infect your system and destroy your files. If your files are important, make it a habit to save it right away into a separate external hard drive, USB flash drive or compact disc. It pays to have redundant files to prevent major problems due to the volatile nature of computer data.

6. Create a Restore Point

Create a restore point when you think you have made an optimal software application installation that you would want to maintain in your laptop computer. This spares you the need to reinstall everything when the computer crashes. Again, it is easy to access the restore point procedure by typing “create a restore point” in the windows search application box or in internet browsers. This will save you time which can be devoted to other activities.

7. Clean Your Registry

Clean your registry by using popular applications like CCleaner. A free version is available. Cookies accumulated during internet browsing, trash in the recycle bin, file links in your office application will be removed to bring back your laptop computer up to speed.

8. Download and Install Software Updates

Regular software updates are made available primarily to address security issues. These software updates can effectively block new viruses or malwares that can slow down your laptop computer, destroy your files, or steal your personal data.

Speed Up Your Computer in 5 Simple Steps

Do you feel that your slow computer could do with a bit of speeding up? Computers can become slow for a number of reason, but the most common one is lack of regular maintenance. In this post I’m going to show you how to speed up your computer in five simple steps.

1. Get rid of infections

Viruses, malware and spyware are the most common causes of PC slow-downs. That’s why you should check your computer for infections on a regular basis to ensure top performance. Keep your antivirus updated with the latest definitions and use additional anti-malware software for good measure. Malwarebytes is an excellent program that can find and remove infections that are often missed by a lot of antiviruses.

2. Disable excess startup items

If your computer takes a really long time to start, you might have too many programs launching on Windows boot. Disabling excess startup items will free up system resources and make your PC boot faster. To disable unnecessary startup items, go to Start – Run – type msconfig and hit Enter. Then navigate to the Startup tab and disable things you don’t need. After all, you can always launch programs like Windows Live Messenger and Skype manually whenever you need them.

3. Check your hard drive for errors

As time goes by, your hard drive can accumulate a large number of logical errors and bad sectors. These errors can significantly reduce computer performance and potentially cause data loss. Fortunately, there is a built-in Windows utility that can detect hard drive errors and repair them. This tool is called Check Disk. Here is how you can run it:

Go to (My) Computer and right-click on your main hard drive.
Go to Properties and navigate to the Tools tab
Click on the Check Now button under error checking.
A new window will appear. Make sure you check both checkboxes.
The tool will prompt you to schedule the scan for the next reboot. Do that and reboot your computer.
Check Disk can take quite a long time to complete the scan, so make sure you don’t need to use your PC for a while.
4. Clean your disks

Did you know that simple tasks like browsing the web and working with files creates hundreds of junk files? These files accumulate over time and take up hard drive space. They also slow down your computer because Windows needs more time to process all the files. The solution is to remove junk files. To do that, use the Disk Cleanup tool:

Go to Start – Programs – Accessories – System Tools
Select Disk Cleanup
Let the tool analyze your drive and then check the checkboxes for the categories you wish to cleanup.
5. Defragment your computer

Defragmentation is something that can speed up your computer a lot. That’s because accessing fragmented files takes a lot longer than accessing the defragged ones. Windows has a built-in defrag utility, but it’s not really effective, unless you use Windows 7 where the defragmenter is quite good. That’s why you’d be better off using a third-party defrag program that can defragment both the files and the free space.

These simple steps will help you speed up your computer and keep your system healthy.