Manage and configure your HDD

HDD spinning speed is one of the most important factors to increase PC throughput. Once you have a disk with good spinning speed, there are three tasks related to HDD:

1. Preparing the HDD with appropriate partitions. This can be done with windows but it cannot resize the partitions with data persistence. So, if you have to resize or split a partition without losing data, you need a specialized app.

2. Backing up the OS installation to recover if it get’s corrupted. It’s not “if” but “when” you will need this. By backing up your HDD, you can be back with stable PC within minutes after disaster.

3. Keeping the HDD de-fragmented. This is extremely important, I have seen the results of keeping HDD de-fragmented. The inbuilt de-fragmenting tool in windows isn’t enough.

So, what are the available options? Well, let’s keep it to the solution instead of comparing products here. Lately, I have being using three applications for each of the tasks mentioned.

1. For HDD partitioning, Partition Magic is ubiquitous but I have been using a better app named Acronis Disk Director Suite. The UI is more sophisticated and this allows you to split even the system partition.

2. For HDD backup and imaging, Acronis has a great app named Acronis True Image. This works seamlessly. Click here if you want see it’s comparison with Ghost by someone used Ghost extensively.

Both of these applications can either be used from within the Windows, or used as standalone tool without any operating system. The standalone tools are built on top of a compact Linux kernel and provides comprehensive window based UI.

3. And finally, for de-fragmenting HDD, first and only thing which comes in mind is Diskeeper. This application is amazing. It keeps your HDD healthy by scheduled and background de-fragmentation. Don’t forget to read the myths about fragmentation on Diskeeper site.

My experience with all three is excellent and I highly recommend them. All of them are $50 each but Newegg will give around 40-50% cheap. Though Acronis apps are as per your needs, Diskeeper is a must have. Your HDD will thank you every time Diskeeper will arrange bits on that platter surface.

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Notepad++

I have been using notepad for years but I needed a better text editor to improve my productivity. I tried a few of the options available and decided to stick with  Notepad++. It’s an open source project, simple, fast and have a lot of features. The most important feature for me is syntax highlighting and folding which it does for many languages.

Another feature I use a lot comes after configuring it as the “View Source” editor for IE. To open source files in notepad++, change your default program to open text files in notepad++ using Folder Options.

I know there are are more advanced editors than this. I haven’t tried them all but most of them are kind of real resource hogs or complex. If you haven’t tried notepad++, give it a try.

It doesn’t mean that I am saying notepad++ is an advanced editor than Vim or Emacs. But I really can’t think of a text editor for which I have to read tutorials. Really, tutorials for using a text editor is too much.

PS: There is a basic comparison of text editors at Wikipedia. If you can spare time, try as much editors as you want from the list. 🙂

Browser Wars… IE, Opera, Firefox…… or may be a new one

When I tried to analyze about the best performing browser, I got to know that there are around 30 web browsers [may be more] with noticable user base. Navigate to List of web browsers at Wikipedia for complete listing.

There is one more article at Wikipedia showing Comparison of Browsers for general and technical features. This article doesn’t give any comparison for the second most important feature, speed. [I’m considering security as first].

There is one more article written by Mark Wilton-Jones on browser speeds after putting them through a number of tests.

I personally feel that Opera out played every browser in the game. At least at Windows if not on Linux and other grounds. The only problem is the rendering problem we face while browsing the sites designed specific to IE.

I suggest Avant Browser for guys like me who have to browse the sites designed for IE during application development. This browser is a must have shell created over Trident layout engine. Trident is the layout engine for the Microsoft Windows version of Internet Explorer.

Though not related to this post, I would append one more fact to this post. This may be new to you too that even IE is not developed in Microsoft. Like lots of other applications, they bought the browser from ouside too.

For further reading:
Browser wars
Browser Wars II: The Saga Continues

Useful Link:
Opera 9.0 Preview 2 is now available for download

PS: Though I used Opera earlier, I thank Amit for turning me back to this excellent browser.