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Category: Computer Tips

Managing Data Storage

flash drive: a data storage device
A flash drive is a popular data storage option.

In the past, we talked about different choices you can make regarding data storage, but now we’ll touch on what to do with that data to ensure you never lose it. For many of us, data storage management stops after saving something to the hard drive. It’s easier to save something and assume that it will be forever safe in our hard drives, but this is a dangerous practice to keep. It is much wiser to keep various safeguards to ensure you won’t lose any important data. Read more

Dust: A Silent PC Killer

a dust covered PC fan
A dust covered fan from a neglected PC.

Dust is all around us. It is in your car, your house, in the air outside; there is no escaping dust. Check under a piece of furniture that hasn’t been moved in a long time, there will be a thick layer of dust coating the floor. This same principal stands true for your computer; if left for too long, dust can completely coat the insides. Most people assume the insides of a computer will be fine because they are covered; as long as the PC works, there’s no need to open it up. Unfortunately, dust can still accumulate inside of a computer and while it may seem like there are no immediate problems, dust can do serious damage to a PC, if left unchecked. We’ll look at some negative effects of dust in a PC, and offer some tips to help maintain a clean and healthy PC.

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SSD VS. HDD – How Are They Different and Which Do I Need?

If you’re looking into buying a computer, you’ve probably been looking into storage options and have found there are two types of drives to choose from: a solid state drive (SSD) or a hard drive (HDD). Why is one so much more expensive? Which one is faster? How are they different? This guide will hopefully help you make this decision based on what you need.

HDD – Old Faithful

Hard Drive
A hard drive (or HDD) with the cover removed.

Hard drives are the most popular form of storage; most likely the computer you are viewing this on has a hard drive in it rather than a solid state drive (SSD). A hard drive’s main components contain a spinning disk where data is stored and a head that moves and “reads” the data on the disk when you access information. One of the main draws of hard drives are that they can have large amounts of storage at relatively low prices; a definite plus for people with a lot of data to store. At Lotus Computer, we use hard drives in our models for customers who love the large storage spaces. This Lotus Astra i5 comes equipped with a 1TB HDD, perfect for storing family memories, music collections, and business documents.

SSD – The New Kid on the Block

Solid State Drive or SSD
A solid state drive (or SSD)

In function, SSDs are identical to HDDs. In form, they are radically different. While hard drives store their data on a spinning disk, solid state drives store information on flash memory chips; they work with the same technology as flash drives. This allows data to be stored without the need of a moving part to access it; this helps to improve access speeds for applications and processes that are running. Another type of SSD is the M.2 drive; the smaller and faster form of SSD that can also hold large amounts of data. Rather than being an actual drive it is a small card that plugs directly into the motherboard. But for what it makes up for in size, speed, and storage, it loses in cost; these can be more expensive than a regular SSD. At Lotus Computer, we prefer SSDs because of the great reliability, fast access speeds, and cost-effectiveness. Many of our laptops, such as this Lotus Eclipse 650, come with SSDs to provide our customers with a clean browsing experience. As for M.2 SSDs, this Lotus Axis 700 and other high-end Lotus models come with a lightning fast M.2 SSD, for those looking for a premium storage experience.

 

SSD or HDD – Storage Wars

There are many different factors to consider when deciding on an SSD or an HDD. If you need to access data and open programs faster, you would want an SSD. A hard drive is good for people who are worried about price and not concerned with fast access speeds. Hard drives are cheaper, but SSDs are quieter and store data in a way that can avoid fragmentation (i.e. it uses storage space much more efficiently).  Because of the architecture of a hard drive they will always be larger and bulkier than a SSD, and due to the nature of technology shrinking as new iterations come out, solid state drives could potentially get smaller as time goes on. SSDs are less prone to breaking since there is no disk that can get scratched or broken because of mishandling the computer.

Results – It’s in Your Hands 

In the battle between the drives, there is not clear winner. It comes down to personal preference and what your specific needs are. Someone looking for performance, form factor, and durability will steer more toward an SSD. An HDD is the better choice if you are worried about price or have high storage needs. If necessary, you could always get your computer with one of each to suit both needs.

HDD SSD M.2 SSD
Speed Slower due to moving parts Faster because of flash memory technology Lightning fast transfer speeds
Storage 60GB – 10,000GB (10TB) 60GB – 4,000GB (4TB) 120GB – 2,000GB (2TB)
Size (rough estimate) Large 3.5″ drive (brick) Smaller 2.5″ drive (deck of cards) Very small drive that fits on motherboard (stick of gum)
Noise  Louder due to spinning disk  Silent Silent
Price 250GB for ~$25.00  250GB for ~$100.00 250GB for ~$125.00
Durability Reading disc wears out after a few years, prone to failure  Very durable and long lifespan Long lifespan, but somewhat thin and delicate design

 

Dangerous New Malware: Popcorn Time

Recently, MalwareHunter detected a new malware currently in development. All computer users are at risk. This malware is called Popcorn Time. Popcorn Time seeks to devastate users in three stages. First, it locks users out of their computers. Then, it demands payment. If payment is not received, all data is stolen and deleted.

What is Popcorn Time

Popcorn Time is the name of a specific form of ransomware. Ransomware is a type of malware seeking to elicit money or favor out of unsuspecting users. This ransomware in particular demands bitcoin. Bitcoin is a computer-driven monetary method. A single bitcoin is currently equivalent to about $800 USD. Not all ransomware operates on bitcoin.

What does Popcorn Time do?

Screenshot of Popcorn Time ransomware

Computers are infected when the user clicks a link to the malware. Infected computers will show the above screen as it locks users out of all files stored on the computer. The computer becomes useless for seven days. The target decides whether to pay the ransom. If the target cannot pay,  another option is available. The target may also spread the malware to other computers.The link must be sent to two or more people to meet the demand.

Once demands are met, a decryption code is sent to the target. However, the time allotted by the malware is important. If the time expires all files on the computer are stolen and deleted. If the decryption key is entered incorrectly, all files are stolen and deleted.

How is it spread?

As previously stated, The second option for “payment” of the ransom amount is sending a link of the malware. If the link is clicked, the computer becomes infected. Popcorn Time is spread by other people. The people spreading the virus are already infected. At risk places include email and social media accounts. Anywhere a link can be posted is a likely target. Because this malware is spread by other people, anyone with a computer is vulnerable.

How can users protect themselves?

  • Do not click unknown links (even when sent by close friends).
  • Exercise caution when using social media and email accounts.
  • Back up all files on an external hard drive regularly.

Although this malware is still classified as “in development”, it is important for users to remain cautious when  on the computer. The best protection is prevention.

A safer experience with Lotus

Although our computers run Windows and are equally vulnerable to malware such as the Popcorn Time ransomware, Lotus is known for helpful and friendly service that can help users avoid attacks like these. We’re happy to share our knowledge with our customers and offer tips on how to avoid malware. We also offer Linux-based computers that are all but immune to such attacks. If you don’t know how to protect yourself online, then our friendly computer experts will help you learn how to stay safe online. Can your other PC brand say the same? Experience the Lotus difference today!

Turn Windows 10 suggestions off on this screen

Windows 10 Tip: How to turn off suggested apps in the Start menu

What are Windows 10 Start menu ads?

Windows 10 is nice. It looks beautiful, has great features that are useful, and it generally works quite well. But Windows 10 is also a platform for Microsoft to make money on ads. It’s part of their strategy to expand their business without relying on selling software. Ever wondered why Windows 10 is a free upgrade? All the data collected for ads is anonymous — just like Google ads, for example — but you’re still seeing ads in Windows. A lot of people just don’t like that. One thing Microsoft has recently added to Windows 10 is “suggested” apps on the Start menu. It can be a useful feature and there’s no real harm in having those suggested apps show up on the Start menu. But what if you just don’t want to see them? Good news, it’s really easy to get rid of. We’ll show you how to get those Windows 10 suggestions off your Start menu.

 

Turn Windows 10 suggestions off on this screenHow to turn Windows 10 suggestions off

To turn off those suggested apps or ads, just do the following:

  1. Open the Start menu
  2. Click Settings
  3. Go to Personalization
  4. Click the Start tab in the left column
  5. Turn off the “Occasionally show suggestions in Start
  6. You’re done!

Now you know how to turn off Windows 10 Start menu suggestions. It’s that easy.

 

Windows 10 customer service from LotusNeed an easier Windows 10 computer?

Windows 10 is still pretty new and not all that easy for many people to get used to. We understand. At Lotus, we make fast, quality, easy-to-use computers and support our PCs with friendly, USA-based service. If you have a Lotus computer, you can always count on us for help. We can help with questions like how to turn Windows 10 suggestions off, and can help with many other things, too! Whether you have a computer problem or just a question about Windows, your Lotus computer will give you access to our friendly customer service.

Shop for a Lotus PC today

New Computers with Ubuntu 16.04

Ubuntu 16.04 Computer LogoIntroducing the new Ubuntu 16.04

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS “Xenial Xerus” brings a host of new features to the Ubuntu table. Ubuntu Linux – an open source, free operating system – has seen lackluster releases in recent years, with few noteworthy changes letting it stand out from other Linux distributions. Xenial Xerus, however, finally calls attention to some long-requested details, making Ubuntu 16.04 a welcomed (and much needed) release. With this new release, an Ubuntu 16.04 computer becomes a realistic choice for people who are thinking about switching away from Windows. Here are some of the new features.

 

Get an Ubuntu 16.04 computer

At Lotus, we like to offer choices to our customers. All our computers come with Windows, but some are available with elementary OS (which is based on Ubuntu). If we offer elementary OS on a model you like, we can install Ubuntu 16.04 upon request.

Some Lotus computers with Ubuntu 16.04 available include our Solstice 540 laptops, and Astra desktops. Or if you’re looking for a custom desktop, we can install Ubuntu for you as well. Just let us know if you’re interested in an Ubuntu 16.04 computer and we’ll help!

Ask us about a PC with Ubuntu preinstalled

 

Computers with Ubuntu 16.04New features in Ubuntu 16.04

Now you can move the Unity launcher

Linux is famed for its sometimes overwhelming customization options, but Ubuntu’s Unity platform – designed with smartphones, tablets, and notebooks in mind – tended to fall behind in options. This was especially true with the Unity Launcher, which was locked permanently to the left edge of the screen. With Xenial Xerus, though, the launcher can now be moved to the bottom of the screen, allowing users to decide on what space is more comfortable for them.

No more online search results in Unity Dash

Unity Dash (the Ubuntu equivalent of the Windows File Explorer) was bogged down by internet search results whenever the user would attempt to look for files, including local desktop searches. Due to search data being collected from these file searches, privacy concerns arose among Linux users. These concerns prompted Ubuntu to take action, and as of Ubuntu 16.04 online search results are disabled by default in Unity Dash.

Ubuntu Software Center is replaced by GNOME Software

Considered a resource-heavy and unreliable piece of software, the Ubuntu Software Center had long overstayed its welcome in the Ubuntu OS. As of Ubuntu 16.04, the Software Center is replaced with the GNOME Software application, allowing for a much smoother, more reliable experience for the user. This helps an Ubuntu 16.04 computer user have an easier time downloading and updating apps.

 

Ubuntu 16.04 Computer FeaturesSoftware Updates

Several pieces of software have been updated for this Ubuntu release, including:

  • Mozilla Thunderbird 45.0
  • Linux Kernel 4.4
  • Python 3.5
  • LibreOffice 5.1
  • Chromium 48
  • Firefox 45
  • Docker 1.10

In addition the GNOME Calendar is now included by default, another inclusion from the GNOME project to help push Ubuntu towards a sleeker experience.

Learn more about Ubuntu and its features

 

A better Ubuntu

For both Ubuntu veterans and curious new users alike, Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus is a refreshing and considerable improvement over past Ubuntu releases. Marrying the simplicity of Unity Ubuntu with the modernity of more up-to-date Linux distributions, Xenial Xerus is truly an Ubuntu to get excited about.

For more information on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, check out its release notes here: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/XenialXerus/ReleaseNotes

 

Custom Computers

The Best Small Business Computer

How to find the best small business computerHow to find the best small business computer

If you run a small business, you know how important technology is to the success of your business. If a computer goes down, it can cause delays when you’re helping customers, or worse. That can cause major headaches, and it’s important to find the best small business computer. An affordable and dependable computer will give your business better value.

How do you find the best computer for your small business? What does a computer need to have to be the best for your business?

  • Reliability — The most important thing for a small business computer is the ability to run for years without hiccups or failures. A small business computer should use quality components and built for reliability.
  • No junk or bloatware — Even business computers from large brands come with tons of bloatware and junk a business doesn’t need or want. Trials of antivirus programs, games, and software you don’t need add up to a bloated Windows PC. The first thing an IT administrator does with a new computer is remove the bloatware. There’s a reason!
  • Security — Every business values a secure computer. Bloatware makes for a less secure computer, but it’s important to use good security practices as well. Lotus doesn’t install bloatware and our friendly experts can help your business with security tips for the most secure experience.
  • Value and low cost of ownership — Business owners always consider price when buying equipment. But they also consider value. It makes more sense to buy a quality product that costs a little more today, if it’s going to last longer and have less chances of failing than a cheaper product. This reduces overall cost of ownership, on top of reduced energy costs through efficient computer design.
  • 100% USA-based support — Ever called one of the large PC brands for tech support and talked to someone overseas? Talking to someone overseas for free is nice and all, but you need help you can understand. That’s why Lotus offers tech support and customer service based entirely in the United States. We know our product and speak your language, so you can expect the best small business computer support.

As you can see, a small business computer is more than just any computer. It has to offer business-grade reliability, have no junk pre-installed, offer better security, and be affordable in the long run. Lotus makes computers that offer all this, and covers its computers with friendly and knowledgeable USA-based customer service and tech support.

 

Lotus Astra is the best small business computerRecommended small business computers

Let’s be honest. Your best choice is not a computer from the large brands you’re used to. If you’re buying your business computer off the shelf at your local big box retailer, you’re probably not getting the best value or the right equipment. A business computer is specially made for business.

When looking for a computer for your small business, consider Lotus. We custom build computers specifically for business, and we offer a level of support you just won’t find anywhere else.

 

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