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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.

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!