Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New Storage Technologies: Big Breakthrough or Too Little, Too Late?

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Vol. 2, # 69 - Apr 29, 2009 - Issue # 78 
 New Storage Technologies: Big Breakthrough or Too Little, Too Late?

  1. Editor's Corner
    • New Storage Technologies: Big Breakthrough or Too Little, Too Late?
    • Follow-up: Web-based Services
    • Quotes of the Week
  2. Cool Tools
  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • Talking about Windows
    • Office 2007 SP2 is available now
    • Exploring Windows newsletter
    • Using social media for emergency preparedness: it's on the Vine
  4. How to: Using the New Vista Features
    • How to access newsgroups with Windows Mail
  5. Vista Security
    • Vista is 60% more secure than XP
  6. Vista Question Corner
    • Can I run OS X on my Vista computer?
  7. Vista Configuration and Troubleshooting
    • Some files not encrypted correctly when you use EFS
  8. Windows 7 Preview Corner
    • Windows 7 on a Netbook
  9. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  10. Product of the Week
    • WhiteSmoke: The # 1 English Grammar & Writing Software!

Your Current (free) Antivirus Costs You $200!

Huh? Yes, you read that right. Do the math with us for a sec. We recently asked you how much you paid for your Personal Computer and peripherals. The vast majority answered that it was about $1,000 total. Now, the average old-style antivirus (paid or free) you install, hijacks about 20% of that PC, in CPU and Memory. Bingo, there's your lost 200 bucks! Time to switch don't you think? Get VIPRE. It's not a resource hog, does not slow down your PC, and is only $30 per year. Get your 15-day eval here and experience VIPRE for yourself:

Editor's Corner

New Storage Technologies: Big Breakthrough or Too Little, Too Late?

Space: it seems you can never have enough of it. When we moved to a house that was almost 1000 square feet bigger than the old one, we wondered how we would ever fill all that space. Four and half years later, there are no empty rooms or closets, and the garage contains the overflow. Computer storage is the same; in the beginning, a 5 MB hard drive seemed roomy. When I bought my first 1 GB drive, I thought it was huge. Now it won't even hold the operating system. A few years ago, we could hardly imagine having a terabyte of storage space on the network. Now we have twice that on a single computer. It's like a law of nature that no matter how large your space, your collection of "stuff" - whether that's furniture or knick-knacks or electronic files - will expand to fill it.

We can blame software bloat for some of this, but it's not just the OS and applications that take up more room. Today's data files are enormous compared to those we stored in earlier times. I still have a few dozen floppy disks from the 1990s (the contents have, of course, been copied to other media many times since then) that held most of my user data. It consisted primarily of text documents and low resolution photos, with most of the files only a few KB in size. Today's digital cameras create high quality, high resolution photos that can reach 30 or 40MB file sizes in RAW format. Good quality video files are even larger: an uncompressed video in 640x480 resolution and a 30 frame-per-second frame rate can require more than 200MB to store a mere 10 seconds of footage. Some audio formats, such as .WAV, also result in large file sizes (around 50 MB for an average song).

Of course, you can reduce the amount of storage space needed for pictures, video and music by using compression technologies. For example, storing songs in MP3 format instead of .WAV, or saving pictures as .JPGs instead of .TIFs or RAW files will greatly reduce the file size - but that comes with some loss of quality. Another option is to use the file compression technology built into Windows to reduce storage space needs. This is done by right clicking a file or folder, selecting Properties, clicking the Advanced button on the General tab, and checking the "Compress contents" box. A disadvantage is that if a file or folder is encrypted, it can't also be compressed. You can also easily "zip" folders containing multiple files in Vista to compress the contents. Right click it, select Send To, then select Compressed (zipped) Folder.

Even with compression, you're likely to experience an ever-increasing need for more storage space. This is especially true if you record or download high definition movies and TV programs, each of which can be several gigabytes in size. Luckily, vendors keep coming up with ways to create larger and larger storage media, often at lower and lower cost. The price of a one TB hard drive today is about half what I paid for a 1 GB drive in the mid-90s, and it's also faster.

Traditional platter-based hard drives give you a lot of storage space for very little money, but they also have disadvantages. Those moving parts introduce potential points of failure. They're especially vulnerable to being dropped (although they're not nearly as fragile as the first ones were; back in the 80s we had to "park" our drive heads - lock them in place - before we dared move the computer). They're also relatively big and heavy and use quite a bit of power.

An alternative to the hard disk that's gaining ground, especially with notebooks and netbooks, is the solid state drive (SSD) which uses flash memory instead of magnetic platters and has not moving parts. It's smaller and lighter and more energy efficient, and data access is faster, especially for read operations. However, it's also expensive and capacities are lower. The largest SSD that's readily available is 256GB, and prices for that capacity start at over $500. Compare this to the $279 price for a traditional hard drive with almost 8 times as much storage (2 TB).

For most of us, the traditional drive makes the most economic sense for data storage. But for backups and portability of data, there are some new, exciting options in the wings. General Electric recently announced that their research division has achieved a breakthrough in the field of holographic storage, which will allow for DVD-like discs that will hold 500 GB of data (a regular DVD holds about 8, while Blu-ray discs top out at 50).

Over on ZDNet, Andrew Nusca speculates that this may have come too late, noting that "the latest trend ... is to connect your set top [box] and media player to the Internet. That connectivity means content will flow directly to your viewing area - no media needed ...". He suggests that we are headed toward a "medialess" world, and then asks "And if not, hasn't flash media proved itself a more worthy and useful format?"

I have to take issue on both counts. First, I believe we are far from a "medialess" world. Even if we do end up streaming all or most of our HD content to our TVs and never storing it (and I'm not so sure that's given), that's only one element of the data that we store on our local computers. Many of us create a lot of original content. That includes our digital photographs, personal digital videos (what we used to call "home movies"), large PowerPoint presentations that incorporate many visual and audio components, and large Word documents with embedded graphics. We also back up large amounts of email, our web sites, and other big files (or big numbers of smaller files).

Flash drives and cards are certainly convenient and proven to work, but capacities are still relatively low and prices fairly high (32 GB is around $80-100). Based on past progress, we won't see a low priced 500 GB flash drive/card for several years. And sometimes all the USB ports are in use, or USB has been disabled. I think there is a market for a low cost, super high capacity DVD-type disc. I don't think streaming will do away with the need/desire for enormous traditional hard drives, either. Tell us what you think at

Follow-up: Web-based Services

Last week, I took a look at so-called "cloud" services from a different perspective: not as a replacement for traditional computing, but as a supplement. I reviewed some web-based services, particular Windows Live services, that I think can be useful for the average computer user. Many of our readers offered their opinions, both in agreement and disagreement.

This comes from David A.: "I feel that web-based services (especially the free ones) are great. The only worry I have is if the power to those providing the services goes out or they are doing an update or upgrade which takes the service down (just when you need it) or the service just plain disappears. I have seen a couple of providers just up and vanish."

Mike S. said, "I am blogging using Live now, and finding Live, at least as a brand, is trying to be all things, covering all services to all people. It has a tendency to be feature bloated and detracts a bit from the small things I want to accomplish in the Live cloud. Still a good effort and makes things easier for the average user." He then went on to say, "By reading some of the many publications out there touting cloud computing ... you would think cloud computing is going to take over the world and that all traditional forms of computing will yield to the cloud. As you pointed out, this is not the case."

Chris H. brought up this obstacle that would have to be overcome before service-based computing could ever become ubiquitous: "I like the idea of cloud computing, and I would use it a great deal more except for one thing: upload speed. Asynchronous connections are pretty much standard, and in my case I get 7 mgbps download vs. about 256 kbps upload. What an extreme difference. I do use the cloud world for my documents, but to think of uploading my pictures and mp3's into the cloud - or any other backup service - is almost prohibitive."

Ron H. had this to say: "Basically, I've found out about Windows Live and like it. The calendar help me keep my personal things scheduled. And I can have additional calendars for others I mingle with and yet keep separate. I didn't understand the Spaces and SkyDrive alternatives. But I like how you suggest they tend to work well together. I'm all for that. But having not enough time to get basic things done, I don't feel I had time to pursue those aspects. Your links to how they work will likely help make my research far more efficient. I don't use my system for business purposes. So keeping it simple should prove adequate for my needs."

And Larry E. said, "I'm all for the "in conjunction" approach to cloud-based services. Just as I depend on Yahoo Mail to maintain my various email files, and my ability to access and respond to them from anywhere, I can see value in having selected documents available to me from anywhere. I'm anticipating being on the road a lot more in the not to distant future, and expect to use such serves more extensively then."

All in all, responses to this way of using the cloud get much more support than earlier articles on the possibility of a cloud "takeover." Not all responses were positive, though. Vic G. wrote: "Once again there is someone willing to push every thing she has heard about on the rest of us that don't care. The majority has let it be known that they, at this time, are not interested in the cloud computing but you are still pushing. Just one more person who thinks they [sic] know what the rest of us poor uninformed shleps need. No thanks." Folks, it makes no difference to me whether you use web services or not and I have no reason or desire to "push" them on you if you don't want them. My intent was to share my own experiences in the hopes that some people might find them interesting or useful.

Thanks to all of you who wrote!

'Til next week,
Deb Shinder, Editor

PS: Did you know this newsletter has a sister publication for XP users called WXPnews? You can subscribe here, and tell your friends:

And for IT pros, there's our "big sister," WServer News, at

Look for the VistaNews fan page on Facebook!

Quotes of the Week

Did you ever see an unhappy horse? Did you ever see a bird that had the blues? One reason why birds and horses are not unhappy is because they are not trying to impress other birds and horses. - Dale Carnegie (1888 - 1955)

Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances. - Thomas Jefferson (1743 - 1826)

My definition of an expert in any field is a person who knows enough about what's really going on to be scared. - P.J. Plauger

Keep The Bad Guys Out With The Sunbelt Personal Firewall

Why do I need a firewall? Together with antivirus and antispyware, a firewall is a "must" to protect your computer. PC Magazine gave the Sunbelt Personal Firewall a "Very Good" rating with 4 Stars and a conclusion of "good protection". Check out the Reviews on the site and it will be clear why you need the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to protect your PC. One good example: Unlike the Windows XP and Vista Firewall, you can tell the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to look carefully at the data leaving your browser, so that sensitive information like your credit card numbers, email address, bank account, social security number and PIN code do not get stolen by hackers!

Cool Tools


Why backup when you can syncronize? Synconizations is easier and faster than backing up. Try it!

I need a program for autofilling my passwords, shipping info personal info - not a toolbar widget. Roboform is the real deal!

Ever use a download manager? You might not know what your missing, try this one!

Rip DVDs for your iPhone, iPod touch, Apple TV, or iPod Video Nano. Bundle includes video converter too! Free Trial:

Advanced Vista Optimizer does a great job tweaking Vista for Max performance.

Eliminate your online traces with CyberScrub. Privacy equals security.

Your Uninstaller! 2008 takes the place of the clunky Windows Control Panel "Add/Remove Programs" and offers many other useful functions

Kill the background tasks belonging to (legitimate) software that run all day. Why? To get your speed back!

News, Hints, Tips and Tricks

Talking about Windows

This new web site takes you behind the scenes with IT pros and Microsoft engineers like Mark Russinovich, to find out what really goes into creating the next generation of Windows and find out more about Windows 7.

Office 2007 SP2 is available now

Service Pack 2 for Microsoft Office 2007 was released last week, and you can download it from the Microsoft web site. You'll need to have Vista SP1 or XP SP3 installed before you install it. There are a number of performance improvements and security and stability features, as well as the added ability to open, edit and save documents in OpenDocument format and PDF (previously a separate add-on was required to save in PDF). You can get it here:

Exploring Windows newsletter

For tips on using Vista, direct from Microsoft, you can sign up for the Exploring Windows newsletter. It's free and this month's edition has articles on 8 ways to save time with Vista, how to quickly locate files on your PC, and how to save time and money with your Windows Mobile phone. Sign up here:

Using social media for emergency preparedness: it's on the Vine

In several different cases, such as the California wildfires and the Mumbai terror attacks, individuals and organizations have pressed social networking services like Twitter into service to disseminate information and coordinate responses. Microsoft is beta testing a new service called Vine that lets you keep up with what's going on in different geographical areas, and they're marketing it as a tool for organizing community activities and staying in touch in emergencies. You can read more here:

How to: Using the New Vista Features

How to access newsgroups with Windows Mail

You may not need Vista's built-in mail client for sending and receiving email; many folks have the much more robust Outlook as part of Office, or use web mail services such as Hotmail or Gmail. But what if you need a way to access newsgroups? You can set up Windows Mail to download your selected newsgroups without using the email functionality. Here's how:
  1. Open Windows Mail and on the main menu bar, click Tools.
  2. Select Accounts.
  3. In the Select Account Type window, choose Newsgroup Account and click Next.
  4. Enter your display name and click Next.
  5. Enter the email address you want to use for the newsgroup (you may want to use a secondary account here, to avoid spam bots that scan newsgroups for addresses). Click Next.
  6. Enter the name of the Newsgroup server (for example, to access Microsoft's newsgroups, enter and click Next. Note that some news servers require you to log in; in that case, check the "My news server requires me to log on" checkbox and enter the appropriate username and password.
  7. Click Finish.
  8. In the Subscribe to Newsgroups dialog box, you can download the list of newsgroups that are available on the news server. This may take a while.
  9. In the list of available newsgroups, highlight the one(s) you want to subscribe to and click the Subscribe button.
  10. When you're finished subscribing, click OK.
  11. Now you will see a list of your subscribed newsgroups in the left pane.

Vista Security

Vista is 60% more secure than XP

The latest version of Microsoft's Security Intelligence Report (SIR) shows that the malware infection rate for Vista with SP1 is 60.6% less than for Windows XP with SP3. That's quite a difference, and - along with the end of mainstream support for XP, which occurred earlier this month - a good reason to stick with Vista and not exercise the "downgrade option" that some hardware vendors are offering computer buyers. Read more here:

Vista Question Corner

Can I run OS X on my Vista computer?

I was wondering if you've heard in your travels about a way to dual boot MAC OS X Leopard on a Windows Vista computer. I've checked the VistaNews archives and there are a number of articles with the reverse senario. Any assistance would be appreciated. - Jim M.

Legally, the answer is no. The Apple license does not allow you to install OS X on a PC. That includes installing it in a VM. Technologically, it's possible to install OS X on an Intel PC with at least the SSE3 instruction set for the IA-32 architecture. This is reported to have been done by a number of people, but the OS X code has to be patched to allow it to run on a non-Apple computer.

Back when Apple first switched to Intel chips, a web site called the OSx86 Project sprang up, devoted to helping people run OS X on non-Apple hardware. Apple promptly sued the site owners for violation of the DMCA. This hasn't stopped numerous hobbyists from continue to explore ways to accomplish this. Last year, we even heard about a hardware dongle made by a company called Efix that makes your PC capable of running OS X, but can't vouch for the veracity of those reports. And there are reports that many people are running OS X on netbooks like the MSI Wind.

Unfortunately, your only legal option for running Leopard is to buy a Mac. The least expensive is the Mac Mini, at $599 to $799, depending on the configuration. And the good news is that you can legally install Windows Vista (or XP or Windows 7) in a dual boot setup on the Mac.

Vista Configuration and Troubleshooting

Some files not encrypted correctly when you use EFS

When you use the Encrypting File System (EFS) to encrypt a file in Vista, you might find that an unencrypted temp file, EFS0.tmp, can be retrieved by using a file restoration tool. This obviously compromises the confidentiality of the file. There is a hotfix available from Microsoft to address this problem. You can find out how to get it by reading KB article 963046 at

Windows 7 Preview Corner

Windows 7 on a Netbook

As readers of my blog know, my own attempt to put Windows 7 on an original EeePC didn't work so well, due to the tiny SSD drive. Newer models of the EeePC and other netbooks usually come with bigger SSDs or with even larger capacity traditional hard drives, eliminating this problem. So how does Win 7 run on one of those? Adrian Kingsley-Hughes has been testing it and has a verdict:

Fav Links

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

Disclaimer: VistaNews does not assume and cannot be responsible for any liability related to you clicking any of these linked Web sites.

Product of the Week

WhiteSmoke: The # 1 English Grammar & Writing Software!

WhiteSmoke 2009 is an innovative proofreading and editing tool with a single aim - to help you write better. Whether you simply want to compose well-written emails to family and friends, or you need professional results for business and corporate settings, WhiteSmoke consistently delivers. Unique WhiteSmoke features include an advanced grammar checker, spell checker, style checker ... and more! Use WhiteSmoke with MS Word, Outlook, and all other text-based programs. 75% OFF!!! Exclusive Offer for Vista News users!

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Personal & Educational Use Only This blog consists mainly of FREE newsletters from computer web gurus that I receive. I thought you might like to see them all in one place than try to discover them on your own. A moderate amount of editing may be done to eliminate unrelated repetitious ads or unnecessary text which bloat the post. However I have given the authors full credit and will not remove their site links because you deserve to see where it comes from and they deserve to get credit for what they have written. Your use of this site is simply for educational purposes. For more computer-related help go to: CPEDLEY.COM for free software, advice and tips on low cost products which are very helpful. If you want to contact the editor, please go CPEDLEY.COM and check the Contact page for email address.