Archive for the Disk and File Mgt Category

Defragging Your Way to Speed!

Posted in disk, Disk and File Mgt, Utilities on November 20, 2008 by Ethan Dickenson

kaleidoscope_7I have tested several defraggers and have finally found a product that has won my heart. Ultimate Defrag is fast, it gives you the ability to store data where you want it on your drive, you can schedule, and do pretty much anything you can think of related to the subject of defragging (at least for a single user…) In fact, I have to wonder what the paid version of their product does (I’m thinking that it’s a tool designed for an administrator in charge of managing disk resources…). There are several wonderful things about this product, but there are two things that really stick out for me. First, we’ve all run the Windows defragging software that comes with NT or XP and I’m pretty sure that it’s the same software that came with Windows 3.1 and earlier. When you run that old program you select a drive, hit the ‘defrag now’ button, and wait for, God only knows, how long. I’ve had it take days and sometimes (about 50% of sometimes) it just hangs. But Ultimate Defrag is so much better, it gives you a clear visual that shows how the data is moving on your disk so you know exactly where it is in the process. It’s also much faster, it allows you to structure your defrag (I’ll explain more about ‘structure your defrag below) so you can get the job done in a few minutes. So that’s wonderful improvement number 1 and wonderful improvement number 2 is that it allows me to select where I want to put my data. For those of you who don’t understand what defragging does, and the average user doesn’t and, in my opinion, shouldn’t have to understand such a technical detail, running a defragging program lines up all the data on your disk. Let me explain… when your disk saves data as you are working it doesn’t do it as efficiently as it should because it is doing 100 other things at the same time and it puts your data wherever it makes sense at the time you download it. Therefore, you end up with data scattered all over your disk and between your data there are many spots on your drive that have nothing stored on them. This slows down your disk because when you want to save something large your disk is forced to put it in several of these little spots or someplace where it isn’t convienent to get at quickly and it slows down your computer and it can even cause your hard drive to crash. In fact, I would bet my bonus check, that it’s the most frequent cause of hard drive crashes. OK, now back to the second reason Ultimate Defrag is so freaking great… it allows you to select where you want your data stored. I save a lot of stuff that I don’t use very often, I just like to know it’s there and keep it around and if I do open it up it doesn’t matter if it takes an extra couple of seconds to pull it all together. So I’ve selected to store all my previous data on the inside track of my disk (‘inside’ meaning as close to the center as possible) Your disk can retrieve data most quickly from tracks on the outside of your disk, I want all the new stuff that I will continue to save to populate that area. Now, if I work in the ‘data field’ and I have many large databases that I need to get to on a regular basis, I might select to put that data on the outside of my disk where it could be gathered quickly. The point is, Ultimate Defrag gives me the flexibility to do just that. It’s such an improvement over the old crappy defragger that is part of Windows and it’s so much better than all the other freeware defrag programs I’ve used…, I believe it should be part of the Windows operating system.

Some advice for users like myself. If you’re a user that is a lot like me (not operating with a lot of databases that I need to do queries on all the time and I’m not terribly short on disk space) then you may find some value in reading about how I have used the product. There are several options this product gives you for 112008ultimatedefragrunning a defrag session, I just want to get the job done… and I’m sure you do to… When you open the product you will see a list of 6 ‘types’ of defrags you can run on the left side. I chose Auto, when you open the options you can select what percentage of your ‘frequently used’ data you want to be placed on the outer (faster accessed) tracks of your drive. The greater the percentage, the looser (and more wasteful) your defrag. I’m disk rich right now so I’ve got the slider at 75% over on my left side, on the ‘faster’ end. If I were cramped for disk I would slide it to the right towards the ‘optimize’ end. I did run all the defrag processes offered. The only problems I ran into involved creating an archive. This is not an option in the ‘auto’ defrag so don’t worry about it unless you’ve decided you need more and if you have ventured into that area then you might want to try all the settings but from what I’ve learned I will stay away from the ‘respect the archive’ button (because the program has hung whenever I’ve run the process with that option selected) but I will select the ‘place data close to MFT (the directory table) and respect the folder ini archive.

That’s everything I want to know about defragging and then some and my guess is that you probably feel the same way. Ultimate Defragger makes it as painless as possible. So, go to this site, download and run the product and I bet you find that your system speeds up and you can scratch that todo off your list!

Don’t Forage – Terabytes of Free Storage Available Online

Posted in Disk and File Mgt, Download Management, Free Storage on Internet, Frequently Updated, Utilities, Web Site on September 19, 2007 by Ethan Dickenson

This post is about file storage, not to be confused with photo storage, or a backup service. File storage can be used for a lot of different things and I’ve done my best to describe each service below. Generally, I’m talking about any type of file, could be photo, video, audio, text, word… files that you want to share with people, files that you want to store just to be safe and have another copy somewhere, or files you use for a website or a blog. All the services below allow you to link to the file you have uploaded to their site. spiderdanceToday you can store files and grant online access to your friends or the world. The amount of free storage available to everyone in the world is unlimited now. The computing industry has changed so dramatically. See the last paragraph of this post for my thoughts on this subject. But immediately below are links and descriptions to plenty of free storage on the web. I have not identified a ‘best of breed’ in this category because, as you will see, they all have slightly different market niches, messages, limits…

eSnips – Create an account and you can upload 5Gb of music, pictures, video, whatever you want. This site is designed to share with your friends and/or everyone in the world, however, the site your friends go to has so many scripts on it that it some browsers can’t read the page. I don’t want to put a negative spin on eSnips at all because their back end, which you will deal with, is great and I’m sure they will address issues as they come up. They have a flash uploader that works well for uploading several files. You can select several files at once, the file structure is straight forward, and you can mark files as private and manage a nice little 5GB archive for yourself at their site. They also have an uploader that integrates into your web browser and I really like the features it provides. You can tag, describe, and name your files before you upload and you can select to resize photos… If you can, this native uploader that integrates with your browser is the way to go. So enjoy eSnips because they are truly a great site.

MediaFire – is the first free storage site that I found that offers unlimited space. I wasn’t that wild about their upload page, it is pretty basic but it works and you can set it to download several files at once (about 8 I think) but you have to select each file. I bet they come up with something better soon, because today they are a little behind the curve on uploaders but that could change any day. MediaFire gets points for it’s file structure and sharing ability and, of course, the unlimited space.

Microsoft’s SkyDrive – offers a puny 500mb free and I recommend that you use it! They are a very stable organization and who knows whatsmall kid dance is going to happen with the economy. This site is not designed for you to put a file up and share it with the world. It is designed to be thought of as a remote drive for you personally. I keep personal documents that I really need on this site. I also have a Window’s Live Space account which is like your Windows homepage and is integrated with SkyDrive. I think you’ve got to have a .net ID, which I recommend you take the time to get if you have not done so yet, and the site also integrates with your xbox 360 gamertag. The uploader is file by file so nothing special there but the file structure is the most familiar the most secure and dependable. So if you’ve already drank the coolaid go get yourself your 500MB and sing your praise to the great SkyDrive in the sky.

SendSpace Lite – This service was originally organized as a site to transfer large files and that is still their primary marketing spin. I think they used to have a limit on the amount of data that you stored on their site but they evidently have switched it to ‘unlimited’ recently. The individual file transfer size limit (not to be confused with total storage limit) for free users is 300MB but you can split and join files and they have a good FAQ on their page about it. SendSpace has an uploader (beta) that you download and it runs on your PC. This is not a site you should use for backup because they are very clear about the service being ‘as is’ and without warranty and basically, if the service is available, you can use it. However, with the unlimited restrictions on the amount of data that you can store and the effective locally running uploader, you could push a lot of data out to them very quickly and efficiently but their marketing message is pushing strongly away from providing the type of service you need to depend upon for backup or general availability. You can read about it on their FAQ.

This is a great site to use if you’ve got some large datasets that you may want to share with other people and/or you just want to keep ‘casual’ backups of that data around. It is a great spot to put the large files that you might normally delete from your system. Their ‘MAX’ service (fee based) offers a lot of options which I think would be really valuable to software developers or copyright owners who need to manage the distribution of media. You can set limits on the number of downloads or the amount of time a download is good for. But everything I link you to in this site is free. I only wanted to point out the marketing position of the site and their major direction. Regardless, SendSpace can be of great value to home users like us who take advantage of free services.

I’m giving you 2 different links to SendSpace, they have a program that gives me points if you sign up for a free account through the first link. The points go towards their fee based service which I don’t know if I would find value in or not. Regardless, I guess I would prefer that you sign in through the first link but if you have any reservations about doing that please go a head and use the second link (which is the same you would get if you Googled ‘SendSpace’).

Divshare – I can’t find a size limit to the amount of space a registered user has on this site. They don’t advertise ‘unlimited space’ like some of the others but they don’t talk about size restriction either. They talk about the limit of a single file transfer of 200MB (2GB if you are a paying customer) but they don’t mention a ‘total size’ for any single user. Divshare has a great flash uploader and you can upload entire folders with it. They also have a native loader that is fast, easy and works really well. DivShare is clear about your files being available “forever” and they give you a link so you can share your filesgirldancer with anyone you please. You can also password protect your files. There is no search engine at their site so files are only shared with the people that you refer to the site. You can create your own ‘player’ at this site and put your logo on it. This is a great tool for maintaining a blog or a website and I may utilize it for that purpose in the future, especially if I decide to add video. I just found out they have an uploader that is integrated with WordPress so I’ve downloaded that and will report back and update this post once I see how it works.

Whew, this was a more detailed post than I intended it to be. However, unlimited space free of charge is truly worth taking some time to explain and I do wonder how all this will effect our computing environments and our culture. It is an amazing change that the market will take a while to digest and figure out how to use. Once that happens and the value is recognized and taken advantage of, the implications of this free unlimited space will reach deep into our culture. 15 years ago a 40MG drive ran you a couple hundred dollars and now you can get an unlimited amount of space for free on the Internet. You can store and grant on-line access to files of nearly any size and content (varies by service – IE nudity). It is truly a revolution and it is changing the way we think about computing. Once data transfer rates quadruple (or more, next 5 years) and space isn’t a problem, then think of the amount of media that will be hitting us. It’s out of control today but in 5 years it is going to have a gigantic impact on our culture.

GDrive – Google Hard Drive – 2GB, Searchable, Backup Space…

Posted in Disk and File Mgt, Download Management, Google, Security, Utilities on September 15, 2007 by Ethan Dickenson

When Gmail really opened up their doors and allowed anyone to sign up for an account I created one for each of my children and another one for me. This meant I had 5 gmail accounts each with 2gb storage limit (total 10gb) and I remember thinking that it would be a real asset if I could use it. I’ve found a freeware program that really makes gmail accounts efficient for file storage. gmaildrive

All you do is install this and it creates a gmail hard drive. So it shows up in explorer as C:\My Computer\GmailDrive. Click that drive and it asks you to login to your Gmail account and you check the box that tells it to keep you logged in. Then you can just drop files on that gmail drive and it takes care of sending them to your gmail address as an email (totally transparent to you) and it works pretty quickly. I have not tried it with super large files, I think Gmails new attachment cut off is 20mg so I’m sure it will not work with a file much larger than 20mg. It does not move the file that is dropped on it, so that file still exists on your PC, it just copies it and sends it to gmail behind the scenes.

I normally wait to write about new freeware until I have the opportunity to test it for a while but this is such an important breakthrough for everyone that I thought I should tell you about it right away. This program will really improve the home user’s ability to backup important files easily and quickly and then having a great way to search for those files on the front end is truly wonderful. The fact that you don’t have to deal with setting up where to save the files to and how to retrieve them or deal with any of part of that is a really wonderful thing. All you have to do is have a Gmail Account, install this program, and start dropping files on it and everything is free of charge to you! I can’t say enough good things about this program and what it means to myself as a home user.

ps – If you don’t have a Gmail account yet I really think you should sign up for at least one. Even if you don’t plan on using it for email, you should grab it for the space. You’ll also have access to blogger and picassa (photo storage) and a whole bunch of other Google stuff (Google Groups, Google Reader (newsreader)…. Just go to and sign up… it is quick, easy, and very beneficial.

Get Down With a Couple of Tools

Posted in Disk and File Mgt, Download Management, Firefox, Firefox Extension, System Monitoring on September 15, 2007 by Ethan Dickenson

Down Them All (DTA) and Download Status Bar (DSB): I run both of these download extensions. I started with Download Status Bar when Ff first came out so I’m comfy with it and like grabbing my download history from it. DSB also gives you a GUI picture on your status bar of your download progress and when it’s done you can double click the download and it will execute. An argumSonicent could be made to drop Download Status bar and just use DTA, I like both but the meat of what you need is in DTA… It lets you look at a complete web page and see every object embedded in it. Then, if you want, you can download them all but it also provides a way to filter that information so you only see certain types of files, for example .gif but, of course, there is a filter editor so you can strip out whatever file type you need to. You can also set up a directory so that it always stores a certain file type in that directory or just have a favorite directory to download stuff into. You can pick when you tell the download to start. It handles auto renaming and basically everything you need in a download manager. In fact, for several years I ran Free Download Manager but I dropped it because Down Them All (DTA) has everything I need in a download manager. Anyone who downloads stuff (which is nearly everyone) would benefit from having these extensions.

Down Them All

Download Statusbar

When it Comes to Firewalls – Tried is True – Sygate Returns

Posted in Disk and File Mgt, Download Management, Network Monitoring, Security, System Monitoring, Utilities on September 12, 2007 by Ethan Dickenson

I checked out Comodo, ran it for over a month, and in that month I had to de-install it 3 times and I went through at least one Comodo required reboot every week and when I was having trouble sometimes I would do three in a day, but today I was in a rush and had to get some things done so when I got the dreaded message about my session being reset I’d had enough and I quickly de-installed it and reinstalled Sygate.

Maybe Comodo is technically a better firewall at keeping out everything you could possibly run into on the net but maybe the effort that goes into attaining that rigid level of security is too much. You have to draw the line somewhere and Comodo requires too much management. Those tasks eat into productivity and spending all day working on your firewall defeats the purpose of being secure. I really wanted Help MeComodo to work and I tried very hard to stick to my selection but I wouldn’t want my readers going through the hassles that I’ve had to. I’ve never had a problem from Sygate letting something bad through and I’ve never had to de-install it because I’d answered “no” to one of it’s approval prompts. I’m going to keep looking at firewalls because Sygate has ceased development on the product but for now I’m going back because it works 99.99% of the time and that is good enough for me and just about everyone else too. The thing that is really annoying is that Comodo’s GUI tells makes it look like I’ve corrected the issue and things should run but the only way to get my Internet connection up and running again was to de-install it and that just isn’t acceptable.

I’ve had a long history with Sygate, for those of you who are new to my issues with Firewalls please continue to read below. Or if you just want the to download the most practical Firewall I’ve been able to find you can just download it from this link.

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CYA – Get Cozy With Mozy – Have You Been Saved Yet?

Posted in Disk and File Mgt, Security, Utilities on September 11, 2007 by Ethan Dickenson

mozy.jpgThose who read my blog regularly know (because I mention it too often) that I went through a hard drive crash about 6 months ago.  It was a nightmare but it was made a little easier by the fact that I had been running Mozy against ‘my documents’.  I didn’t get back what I expected.  They don’t replace your image files but they did save my butt by replacing all my spreadsheets and text documents.  Not bad for a free service.   You get 2GB of free backup space and that goes a long way if you are just backing up ‘my documents’.  Especially if you fence off your Music and Photos.  It is true that most people require more than Mozy’s free service to adequately backup their PC’s but Mozy is sure better than nothing and it is enough to limp along on if you don’t want to spend some pretty significant bucks on another hard drive or a fee based backup service.  Especially when you consider the free space that is available on the Internet now.  You can push important image documents out to Picassa, Flicker, or Microsoft’s Live Space.  I’m working to scan and store most of my important files on the Internet.  So even someone who should know better, like me :), can get along without spending any money for a backup solution if they are anal about keeping up with a plan.  A word of caution, even if I am careful, I don’t have any way to backup my program files but the good news is that I’ve got all the download locations saved on this site and all my software is free!!  So I’ve got that covered as well!  

Mozy will install 2 processes that run all the time but it is just a scheduler and I shut them both down frequently.  I reboot enough to stay reminded about turning the service back on.  It notifies you if you have not backed up your files in 7 days.  The download and setup are painless and the backup isn’t too bad on your resources either.  All things considered, Mozy is a great service.  They saved my butt so I owe them one.



Unzipping Has Always Been More Fun!

Posted in Disk and File Mgt, Download Management, Utilities on September 6, 2007 by Ethan Dickenson

 I’ve seen most zip program on the market and there are many that work well. For the last few years I’ve been using Filzip and it is a very efficient tool for unzipping. The average user isn’t concerned with how tightly their zip utility packs data, we expect the technical people to deal with that issue. Our primary focus is on usability and, to be specific, on unpacking zipped files because most of us unzip all day but only zip occasionally. Unzipping has always been for fun!

When you install Filezip it will put an icon on your text menu so the next time you right click on a file (any file) you will see a Filezip icon. Once you go to the icon, the third option is tozip unzip the package to whatever directory you are currently in. Filezip then will create a folder in that directory with the name of the file you are unzipping and put all the unzipped files into that new directory. This makes sense and I’ve come to love Filezip for it. You can also create a ‘favorite’ directory and it will do the same when you choose that option.

It’s easy to create archives in Filzip too and there are a plethora of features available for zipping the files including encryption and password protection but most importantly, it’s great at unzipping the files you download and that saves you a lot of time.

Download Filezip

Filezip can read and unzip the following archives (which is nearly everything Windows related archive as far as I know).

Ace, Arc, Arj, BlackHole, Cabinet, Filezip Encrypted (.fea), Filezip backup script (.fzs), GZip (.gz, .tgz), Jar,
Lha (.lha, .lzh),Game Package Archives (.pak), Rar, Tarred, UU encoded (.uue, .uua), XX encoded (.xxe), Zoo archives
(.zoo) and zip archives.