How to prepare for Windows 7 End of Life

The end is near for Windows 7 – here’s what you need to know

Windows 7 End of Life

This guide will explain how you can prepare for Windows 7 End of Life.

The Windows 7 End of Life is nigh. Come January 14, 2020

– or sooner for those who don’t download a recent security update – Microsoft will no longer update or provide support for Windows 7. This means that Windows 7 users will need to start thinking about finally moving on from their favorite Windows operating system.

This decision by Microsoft isn’t surprising. The decade-old operating system, which launched in July 22, 2009, may have been incredibly popular – and it still is with recent reports from Netmarketshare suggesting that Windows 7 is still being used on 39% of all PCs. However, in the shadow of Windows 10’s success, it only makes sense for Microsoft dedicate all their time and effort in improving the new OS.

If you’re one of those people, this guide will explain how you can prepare for Windows 7 End of Life. We’ll look at why the end of support for Windows 7 is so important, as well as the options you have, and how you can go about moving to Windows 10, Microsoft’s most recent operating system, as well as alternative software.

Windows 7 is still in use on 39% of PCs, according to recent figures

Windows 7 is still in use on 39% of PCs, according to recent figures

Windows 7 End of Life: when does Windows 7 support end?

Windows 7 End of Life begins on January 14, 2020. Up until that date, Windows 7 is in an ‘extended support’ phase.

As with all operating systems, after a while it doesn’t make sense, both from a financial point of view and in terms of time and effort, to keep old software patched and updated, especially when there are newer versions of the software out there.

Microsoft actually ended mainstream support for Windows 7 on January 13, 2015, which meant new features stopped being added, and warranty claims were no longer valid.

However, during the extended support phase, which Windows 7 entered after the end of its mainstream support, the operating system has still been patched and updated to make sure security issues and bugs are fixed.

When Windows 7 enters its End of Life phase, this support will end as well.

With the Windows 7 End of Life date now rapidly approaching, Microsoft is keen to make sure people know that support for the operating system is ending, and wants to encourage people to move from the operating system.

So, the company is releasing an update to Windows 7 – KB4493132 – which will display notifications reminding Windows 7 users to upgrade to Windows 10 before the End of Life date. This update is optional, but anyone with automatic updates turned on will receive it.

Microsoft also promises that the notification won’t be too obtrusive, and you can prevent it from appearing again, but it shows how seriously Microsoft is about getting people to stop using Windows 7.

Windows 7 is currently in its 'extended support' phase

Windows 7 is currently in its ‘extended support’ phase

Windows 7 End of Life: what happens next?

When Windows 7 reaches its End of Life phase on January 14, 2020, Microsoft will stop releasing updates and patches for the operating system. It’s likely that it also won’t offer help and support if you encounter any problems.

However, that doesn’t mean Windows 7 will stop working on January 14 2020 – you’ll still be able to use Windows 7 for as long as you want. So the good news is that you’re not going to wake up on January 15 to find your Windows 7 PC no longer boots up.

But just because you can continue to use Windows 7 in its End of Life status, it doesn’t mean you should.

The biggest issue with continuing to use Windows 7 is that it won’t be patched for any new viruses or security problems once it enters End of Life, and this leaves you extremely vulnerable to any emerging threats.

What’s more, if a large number of people continue to use Windows 7 after the End of Life date, that could actually be a big incentive for malicious users to target viruses and other nasties at Windows 7.

So, while Windows 7 will continue to work after January 14 2020, you should start planning to upgrade to Windows 10, or an alternative operating system, as soon as possible.

If you continue to use Windows 7 once it enters its End of Life phase you'll be vulnerable to viruses and other security threats

If you continue to use Windows 7 once it enters its End of Life phase you’ll be vulnerable to viruses and other security threats

Windows 7 End of Life: what should you do?

So, if you still use Windows 7, what should you do? There are a number of things we’d recommend you do in preparation for Windows 7 End of Life, and the first is to consider upgrading to a newer operating system.

While you have a number of choices when moving operating systems, for many people, the obvious and simplest option is to upgrade to Windows 10.

Windows 7 End of Life: upgrading to Windows 10

Upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10 has a number of benefits. For a start, because both operating systems are made by Microsoft the upgrade process is relatively easy, and in many cases you can keep your files on your PC.

This means you’ll experience the minimum of disruption when upgrading to Windows 10. Most programs you use will have been updated to work on Windows 10 as well, and the layout and interface are similar to Windows 7, so you shouldn’t find it too hard to adjust.

If you want to upgrade to Windows 10, then you can buy a copy, download the installation file and run it to start the process.

It’s nice and easy, and you’ll be asked if you want to keep your files. However, we’d recommend that you still back up all your files and folders just in case.

While upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10 is the easiest solution, there are reasons why it won’t be right for some people. For a start, you’ll need to buy a Windows 10 license, and these can be quite expensive – if you were hoping to manage Windows 7’s End of Life without spending any money, this isn’t the way to do it.

Also, while Microsoft has done an admirable job of making Windows 10 able to run on older hardware, it’s still a modern operating system that might struggle to work well on your old Windows 7 machine.

Here’s the minimum specification for Windows 10:

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or SoC.
  • RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit.
  • Hard disk space: 16 GB for 32-bit OS 20 GB for 64-bit OS.
  • Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver.
  • Display: 800 x 600 resolution

If your Windows 7 machine doesn’t meet these specifications you won’t be able to run Windows 10 – and even if your machine just meets the requirements, Windows 10 won’t run that well. We’d recommend at least a 2GHz dual-core processor, 4GB of RAM (8GB ideally) and a 160GB hard drive for Windows 10 to run well.

If you don’t have the required hardware, but still want to upgrade to Windows 10, then you could upgrade your PC. This is a cost-effective approach, as you may only need to upgrade a few components on your computer to enable it to run Windows 10. Of course, upgrading your PC can be rather fiddly, and there’s only so much you can upgrade before it becomes easier (and more cost-effective) to buy a new PC.

Buying a new machine is another option, and Windows 7’s End of Life could be a good excuse to spoil yourself with a new and more powerful PC, with Windows 10 installed. You can quite easily move your files and folders to your new machine using an external hard drive.

One last thing – don’t be tempted to save a bit of money and upgrade to Windows 8. Although it’s more recent than Windows 7, it’s not going to be too long before that version too enters its End of Life stage, so you’re better off saving further hassle down the line by getting the newer (and let’s be fair, better) Windows 10.

Windows 7 End of Life: moving to Linux

The most cost-effective way of preparing for Windows 7 End of Life is to switch operating systems altogether, and install Linux on your machine.

Linux is an open-source operating system that’s completely free to use. It’s also regularly updated by a community of enthusiastic developers, so you can use it safe in the knowledge that it has new security patches applied to protect you from the latest threats.

There are a huge number of versions of Linux available, which are known as distributions or distros. While this wide range of distros can be overwhelming at first, it also means it’s easy to find a distro that’s right for your needs.

Linux is free to use, and the OS is regularly updated by a community of developers

Linux is free to use, and the OS is regularly updated by a community of developers

To help you get started, check out this guide to the best Linux distros.

One of the most popular distros is Ubuntu, and it’s ideal for people who are moving from Windows to Linux, as it’s easy to use and is supported by a lot of apps.

Another excellent option we’d recommend is Linux Mint. This uses a similar user interface to Windows 7, so you won’t find the transition too difficult, and most of the tools you need are included when you install it.

Another good thing about switching to Linux is that there are a number of distros that are specifically designed to run on older hardware. These distros can give your hardware a new lease of life, allowing it to run better than ever. Check out this pick of the best lightweight Linux distros.

Ubuntu is an ideal distro if you're moving from Windows to Linux

Ubuntu is an ideal distro if you’re moving from Windows to Linux

Some Linux distros can also be run off a CD or DVD – known as a live CD – which means they don’t need to be installed. This is also a good way of trying out a Linux distro before you commit to it.

There are downsides, though. First of all, as Linux is a completely different operating system to Windows 7, it means that some of your favorite apps, such as Microsoft Word, won’t be available.

The good news is that thanks to Linux’s popularity, many popular free programs are available for the operating system. And if a particular program isn’t available, there’s also usually a free and open source alternative that does the job just as well, if not better – for example LibreOffice is a popular open source alternative to Microsoft Office.

Elementary OS is one of the more stylish-looking Linux distros

Elementary OS is one of the more stylish-looking Linux distros

If there’s a Windows-only program that you can’t live without, and there’s no viable alternative, you can consider using WINE, a tool that allows most Windows programs to run in Linux.

No matter which distro you go for, there’s no denying that Linux is quite different to Windows in a number of ways, and that can create a bit of a culture shock. If you do go from Windows 7 to Linux you’ll need to spend some time learning how to use the new operating system – and that’s why it’s best to start looking now, rather than waiting until Windows 7’s End of Life deadline.

Also, while there are many professional-looking distros (check out Elementary OS for an example of how classy Linux can look), there are also some that aren’t quite as polished as Windows.

Apple's Mac computers have an excellent reputation, but they're relatively expensive

Apple’s Mac computers have an excellent reputation, but they’re relatively expensive

Windows 7 End of Life: switch to Mac

Finally, you could use Windows 7’s End of Life as a reason to dip your toe into Apple’s ecosystem. Apple has a well-deserved reputation for building gorgeously-designed hardware that uses its macOS operating system, which is both easy to use and secure against internet threats.

Most programs that you can use in Windows are also available for Mac, although you may need to buy them again. There are also plenty of alternative programs, and you can use an emulator as well.

Check out the best Macs and MacBooks if you’re thinking of making the switch.

The downside of moving to Apple is that it’s the most expensive option. Apple’s products are notoriously expensive, so expect to pay a lot if you make the switch. However, Mac computers tend to age better than Windows PCs, so while you may spend a lot now, your new Mac should last you a long time.

Windows 7 End of Life: back up your documents

No matter which route you take, you should make sure that your documents are safely backed up. If you’re upgrading to Windows 10 from Windows 7 on the same machine the transfer of your files is part of the process, but it’s best to back up just in case something goes wrong.

If you’re moving to Linux or a Mac device, or to a new Windows 10 machine, you’re going to be either formatting your hard drive or moving to new hardware, so you’ll want to back up your data so that you can transfer it your new device/operating system.

And external hard drive enables you to move your files between machines

And external hard drive enables you to move your files between machines

There are a number of ways to do this. You could copy your files to an external hard drive – or you could use a cloud storage service, which uploads your data to the internet, then allows you to download and synchronize the files on your new device.

Dropbox is a good choice for this, as it works with Windows, Linux and macOS, making it easy to move your files from one machine or operating system to another.

You can also transfer files between computers using a cloud service such as Dropbox

You can also transfer files between computers using a cloud service such as Dropbox

If you’re going to live life on the edge, and continue to use Windows 7 once it enters its End of Life phase, then we’d still recommend backing up your documents regularly. You’ll be more at risk from viruses, and if there’s an issue that prevents your Windows 7 machine from booting, Microsoft might not help, so having regular backups of your important files will potentially save a lot of time and stress later.

 Windows 7 End of Life: sticking with Windows 7

If you run a business that still uses Windows 7, then you have a dilemma. Upgrading all your PCs to Windows 10, and retraining staff, might prove tricky before Windows 7’s End of Life on January 14 2020.

However, you don’t want to risk running an operating system that doesn’t get security patches. The good news is that Microsoft will be offering Windows 7 Extended Security Updates, which will continue to deliver updates and patches for Windows 7 business users after January 2020.

However, these extended security updates will cost money on a per device basis, and it’s now been revealed just how much these Windows 7 extended security updates will cost.

For support for Windows Enterprise users using Windows 7 for the first year after the End of Life date (January 2020 – January 2021), the cost is $25 (around £20, AU$35).

This rises to $50 per device (around £40, AU$70) for year two (January 2021 – January 2022), and $100 (around £80, AU$140) for year three (January 2022 to January 2023). It appears that at the moment that Microsoft is hoping by 2023, Windows 7 use will be small enough to stop offering the extended security updates.

As this is a per device cost, businesses with numerous PCs running Windows 7 will soon find this very expensive.

If they are using Windows 7 Pro, then those prices are even higher, with $50 (around £40, AU$70) for year one support, $100 (around £80, AU$140) for year two and $200 (around £150, AU$280) for year three.

If you’re a non-business user who wants to keep using Windows 7, then you could theoretically sign up as an Enterprise user, as there’s no minimum purchase necessary for the Windows 7 ESU, but we wouldn’t recommend it.

Have a great week from all of us at Zoha Islands and Fruit Islands

Why Desktop PCs Just Won’t Die

Tablets and smartphones seem to be taking over the computing world. Tech pundits have been predicting the death of the personal computer for almost a decade, and there were predictions back in 2012 that within a few years you wouldn’t be able buy a desktop PC. Are PCs inevitably going the way of buggy whips? Here’s my take on why that’s that’s not going to happen any time soon…

The Desktop is Dead. Long Live the Desktop!

It’s true that mobile computing devices are gaining market share at the expense of desk bound PCs. But the number of PCs sold per year has remained remarkably stable for the past few years. This chart from Statista shows PC shipments worldwide from 2009 to 2019. There is a definite drop from the peaks in 2011-2012, but the last few years have shown little change in the total number of units sold.

There is steady demand for PCs — to the tune of about 250 million yearly — and it’s unlikely to go away. Here are five reasons why desktop PCs will not die:

Ergonomics: Tablets and smartphones literally cause pains in the neck when used for extended periods. They’re harder to use for typing than a desktop with an expansive keyboard. Their displays are smaller than those of typical desktop PCs. Fine cursor control is difficult or impossible on tablets and smartphones. Have you ever created a spreadsheet, presentation, or a 10-page document on a smartphone? When faced with a choice between mobility and comfort, mobility often wins. But when people don’t need mobility, they usually choose comfort over saving space.

Compute Power and Storage: Desktop PCs can accommodate faster, more powerful processors than mobile devices, and can control more peripherals simultaneously. They are almost infinitely expandable. If you need several terabytes of storage in a PC or Mac desktop, it’s not a problem. Tablets and smartphones can’t even come close, in either raw power or storage capability.

Work habits: When you really need to buckle down and crank out work, a desktop PC helps you get into the groove. It stays in a specific space called a “workspace” at home or office; just going there and sitting down at your “workstation” helps put you in a productive frame of mind. Conversely, when it’s time for a break you can escape your immobile desktop PC easily. You needn’t take time to pack up it and its cables, and you don’t have to lug it around while you’re not using it. But the mobile gadgets, with their incessant pings, beeps, and notifications will constantly demand your attention and distract you from getting things done.

One of the must-haves in my computing environment is dual-screen capability. Mobile devices are designed to be small and portable. So you’re never going to replicate a dual 24-inch monitor setup on a smartphone or tablet. Once you’ve had the experience (and productivity boost) of working on dual screens, you’ll find a single monitor setup (even with one large screen) very restrictive. I typically work with a web browser on one screen, and a word processor or spreadsheet on the other. Programmers benefit from having source code one monitor and the actual running program on the other.

Expand ability/Repair ability: If your desktop PC needs more RAM, you can open the case and pop it in. If you’ve outgrown your hard drive, you can swap in a larger one or just add a second one. Desktop and laptop computers use mostly commodity (off the shelf) parts, so if one component fails, you can find replacement parts and fix it yourself — usually with just a screwdriver. Hard drives, RAM memory, video cards, power supplies, monitors, the CPU and even the motherboard can be replaced without too much hassle. You can even use a different brand if you like.

But mobile devices such as your iPhone, iPad, or Android device are typically sealed up tight. You can’t replace or upgrade the SSD hard drive in your mobile device. If the screen cracks on your smartphone or tablet, you can’t just buy a new one. If any component breaks or fails, you’ll have to send it away for repairs, which may be more expensive than buying a new one. You can’t even replace the battery in most smartphones.

Finally, consider external peripherals. Try connecting a scanner, or an external hard drive to your mobile device. What about a second monitor? Where are the USB ports? Heck, it’s a hassle just to print something from a mobile phone or tablet.

Cost: Miniaturization is always more expensive. You will never see a tablet that costs as little as a PC of comparable capabilities. And as I mentioned before, getting a PC serviced is cheaper than comparable repair of a tablet, or even a smartphone.

I know I promised five reasons, but it’s always good to exceed expectations right? So here’s one more I thought of while putting together my thoughts on this topic.

Security: Have you noticed how many news reports of hacking and data losses involve mobile devices? Public WIFI is a security risk that most users don’t even understand. And it’s much easier to lose a smartphone than a desktop PC. Many employers restrict the loading of data onto mobile devices, and constantly struggle with network-connected mobile security risks.

Desktop PCs still have an important role in both home and business environments, and I just can’t see that changing for many years to come. For many, a good laptop is the ideal compromise between mobility and the advantages of a desktop PC. Of course, nothing prevents you from owning a desktop PC, a laptop, a tablet, and a smartphone — except your budget.

Have a great week from all of us at Zi And Fi

Top 15 Most Read & Shared Posts on AI, VR & Virtual Worlds for 2019

Another year comes to an end, and we thought we would share the top 15 stories about our virtual world just in case some of you missed them from our friends over at New World News.

My Top 15 Most Read & Shared Posts on AI, VR & Virtual Worlds for 2019

Roughly in chronological order:


From “Afrofuturist Artist Creates Stunning Portraits Of Black Artists With Deep Dream AI Algorithms

Watch: Machine Learning Music Composed From Re-Synthesized Fragments From 100s Of Terabytes Of LA Phil Recordings

From “Watch: Interview With Ebbe Altberg On The Future Of Second Life & Sansar”

Screen Shot 2019-12-27 at 1.42.15 PM

From “Things We Lost In The Flood: A New, Massively Multiplayer Loneliness Simulator Where Players Can Only Share Messages In Bottles With Each Other — And If Enough Players Win, Self-Destructs

Many more below!


From “Watch: Real World Location Virtually Recreated To Scale In Minutes

Why The Metaverse Needs Gameplay & Gameplay Mechanics

Linden Lab Hit By Wrongful Termination Lawsuit Alleging Discrimination & Retaliation For Raising Concerns About Its New Payment Service, Tilia

Linden Lab Officially Promoting Resource-Heavy Second Life Content That Drastically Hurts SL User Experience

Screen Shot 2019-12-27 at 1.41.19 PMFrom “How To Make Second Life Look Like This — Even On A 10 Year Old Computer

Blizzard Employees Strongly Support Company’s Punishment Of Hong Kong Advocate & Player Censorship Of Sensitive Chinese Topics – Blind Survey

Philip Rosedale Supports Andrew Yang For President, Suggests Ways To Implement Yang’s Freedom Dividend

VR Install Base As Of Q3 2019: Oculus Quest Just Below Half A Million, PSVR On Track To Pass 5 Million By The New Year

Despite $2.6 Billion In Funding, Magic Leap Sold Less AR Headsets Than Jeri Ellsworth’s Tilt 5 Kickstarter

John Carmack, VR Pioneer Who Once Described Developing VR As A “Moral Imperative”, No Longer Focused On Developing VR

Snowcrash Set To Become HBO Max Streaming Series, Will Ironically Compete With Actual Metaverses For Viewers

HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM ALL OF US AT Zoha Islands and Fruit Islands, We hope all will have a prosperous 2020. We will continue our best service to our current residents, And always in hopes of building new business with new residents.

The Christmas Truce

From all of us at Zoha Islands and Fruit islands to all of you. Have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I chose to post this Christmas story as I found it inspirational for the times we live in this world today. May it find its way to inspire others around our globe and in our Second Life World.

Inspirational Christmas Story

The Christmas Truce
by David G. Stratman

From his book We Can Change the World

Inspirational Christmas Story

It was December 25, 1914, only 5 months into World War I. German, British, and French soldiers, already sick and tired of the senseless killing, disobeyed their superiors and fraternized with “the enemy” along two-thirds of the Western Front (a crime punishable by death in times of war). German troops held Christmas trees up out of the trenches with signs, “Merry Christmas.”

“You no shoot, we no shoot.” Thousands of troops streamed across a no-man’s land strewn with rotting corpses. They sang Christmas carols, exchanged photographs of loved ones back home, shared rations, played football, even roasted some pigs. Soldiers embraced men they had been trying to kill a few short hours before. They agreed to warn each other if the top brass forced them to fire their weapons, and to aim high.

A shudder ran through the high command on either side. Here was disaster in the making: soldiers declaring their brotherhood with each other and refusing to fight. Generals on both sides declared this spontaneous peacemaking to be treasonous and subject to court martial. By March 1915 the fraternization movement had been eradicated and the killing machine put back in full operation. By the time of the armistice in 1918, fifteen million would be slaughtered.

Not many people have heard the story of the Christmas Truce. On Christmas Day, 1988, a story in the Boston Globe mentioned that a local FM radio host played “Christmas in the Trenches,” a ballad about the Christmas Truce, several times and was startled by the effect. The song became the most requested recording during the holidays in Boston on several FM stations. “Even more startling than the number of requests I get is the reaction to the ballad afterward by callers who hadn’t heard it before,” said the radio host. “They telephone me deeply moved, sometimes in tears, asking, ‘What the hell did I just hear?’ ”

You can probably guess why the callers were in tears. The Christmas Truce story goes against most of what we have been taught about people. It gives us a glimpse of the world as we wish it could be and says, “This really happened once.” It reminds us of those thoughts we keep hidden away, out of range of the TV and newspaper stories that tell us how trivial and mean human life is. It is like hearing that our deepest wishes really are true: the world really could be different.

Christmas in The Trenches – Song

To listen to this inspirational Christmas story in song

Words & Music by John McCutcheon, c. 1984, John McCutcheon / Appalsong

This song is based on a true story from the front lines of World War I that I’ve heard many times. Ian Calhoun, a Scot, was the commanding officer of the British forces involved in the story. He was subsequently court-martialed for ‘consorting with the enemy’ and sentenced to death. Only George V spared him from that fate. — John McCutcheon

My name is Francis Toliver, I come from Liverpool.
Two years ago the war was waiting for me after school.
To Belgium and to Flanders, to Germany to here,
I fought for King and country I love dear.

‘Twas Christmas in the trenches, where the frost so bitter hung.
The frozen fields of France were still, no Christmas song was sung.
Our families back in England were toasting us that day,
Their brave and glorious lads so far away.

I was lying with my messmate on the cold and rocky ground,
When across the lines of battle came a most peculiar sound.
Says I, “Now listen up, me boys!” each soldier strained to hear,
As one young German voice sang out so clear.

“He’s singing bloody well, you know!” my partner says to me.
Soon, one by one, each German voice joined in harmony.
The cannons rested silent, the gas clouds rolled no more,
As Christmas brought us respite from the war.

As soon as they were finished and a reverent pause was spent,
“God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” struck up some lads from Kent.
The next they sang was “Stille Nacht,” “‘Tis ‘Silent Night,'” says I,
And in two tongues one song filled up that sky.

“There’s someone coming towards us!” the front line sentry cried.
All sights were fixed on one lone figure trudging from their side.
His truce flag, like a Christmas star, shone on that plain so bright,
As he bravely strode unarmed into the night.

Then one by one on either side walked into No Man’s Land,
With neither gun nor bayonet we met there hand to hand.
We shared some secret brandy and wished each other well,

We traded chocolates, cigarettes, and photographs from home.
These sons and fathers far away from families of their own.
Young Sanders played his squeezebox and they had a violin,
This curious and unlikely band of men.

Soon daylight stole upon us and France was France once more.
With sad farewells we each began to settle back to war.
But the question haunted every heart that lived that wondrous night:
“Whose family have I fixed within my sights?”

‘Twas Christmas in the trenches where the frost so bitter hung.
The frozen fields of France were warmed as songs of peace were sung.
For the walls they’d kept between us to exact the work of war,
Had been crumbled and were gone forevermore.

My name is Francis Toliver, in Liverpool I dwell,
Each Christmas come since World War I, I’ve learned its lessons well,
That the ones who call the shots won’t be among the dead and lame,
And on each end of the rifle we’re the same.

Note: For an engaging movie based on this inspirational Christmas story, click here. For an article in a leading U.K. newspaper on one of the last survivors of the Christmas Truce, click here. For more on the history of the Christmas Truce, click here and here. For a highly decorated U.S. general describing how wars are waged largely to fill corporate coffers, click here.

See you next year from all of us at Zoha Islands and Fruit Islands We thank you all for another great year!

Here’s How to Clean Up Your Hard Drive

It’s December and another year is about to end and its time to check up on your PC. NOW BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!

Are you running low on hard drive space? Does it take forever to find your files or do backups? Do you have lots of duplicate files? Maybe you’re getting that annoying LOW DISK SPACE message. Don’t ignore it, or your computer could soon begin to malfunction. Here are some free tools to clean up your hard drive and make sure your computer is running smoothly…

Clean Computer Clutter

Digital clutter can clog up your hard drive, slowing down normal operations and making it difficult to find the information you need. Unnecessary and duplicate files accumulate every time you use a computer. It’s good practice to clean out computer clutter every once in a while.

Of course it’s a problem if you have no room to store your music, photos, or videos on your hard drive, but low disk space can also adversely affect the performance of your computer. When your operating system runs out of RAM memory, it will try to create virtual memory by grabbing a chunk of hard drive space. If there is not enough space available, your applications may fail, or you may not be able to open large files.

Even worse, when you run low on disk space, Windows will begin to delete System Restore points, or even switch off the System Restore feature entirely. If restore points are missing, System Restore would not be able to undo changes made to your system for a specific time frame in the past.

Computer housecleaning should really start the day you turn on a new PC. Most computers come loaded with unnecessary and often unwanted programs. The software developers pay computer vendors to install their trialware on new PCs, hoping that new buyers will try and purchase. Among experienced users, such programs are known as “crapware”.

PC-Decrapifier is a free specialized uninstaller utility that scans any PC (new or used) for known crapware. One click is all it takes to uninstall all the crapware that PC-Decrapifier finds. The program also displays a list of all other applications on your system; you can check off any that you wish remove and PC-Crapifier will launch the standard Windows uninstaller. Just make sure and double check that it doesn’t remove any apps you DO want to keep.

NOTE: Don’t be fooled by sneaky “Download” ads that sometimes appear on the website. Click the BLUE “Download Now” button, or you could end up with the wrong program.

Some programs cannot be uninstalled by Windows, for various reasons. Others uninstall only partially, leaving behind folders and files that clutter your computer. Revo Uninstaller is an advanced uninstaller that removes even the most stubborn program. AppZapper is a similar program for Mac users.

More Hard Drive Cleaner Uppers

Web browsers generate a ton of digital detritus. Browsers store images, cookies, download histories, and other temporary files that they might need again. These files are handy but not strictly necessary. They don’t get cleaned up automatically, either. Utilities such as CCleaner
and Privazer sweep up browser clutter as well as other traces left on your computer by Windows.

Duplicate files are another form of digital clutter. Duplicates are especially common among music and image files. Utilities such as Auslogics Duplicate File Finder (FREE) use metadata to identify duplicates, or do a byte-by-byte comparison of files that have common names and sizes. EaseUS CleanGenius is a duplicate file finder for Mac OS X users.

Windows itself comes with a Disk Cleanup utility that many people find useful. It lets you select the disk(s) and user(s) whose files are to be tidied up. You can specify the types of files to be deleted, i. e., temporary files, downloaded ActiveX and Java program files, Service Pack backup files, etc. It won’t find duplicate files, however. From the “Computer” window, right-click a hard drive, select Properties, then click the Disk Cleanup button.

Here are some other tips that should work on any system to reduce the load on your hard drive:

  • Delete photos, videos and audio files you no longer need. These files can be HUGE sometimes.
  • Look through your Documents folder for old or unwanted word processor and spreadsheet files.
  • Clean up your email folders – Inbox, Sent, Trash, Junk, etc.

Here’s my secret weapon when it comes to really cleaning up a hard drive. JdiskReport is a disc usage analyzer for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X systems that visually represents the space taken up by various files and folders on your hard drive. You can use it to find large files, overstuffed folders, and other hard-to-find junk. WinDirStat (for Windows only) is similar, but displays the information about large files and folders in a “treemap” format that some people find very helpful. KDirStat is a Linux version of WinDirStat. Mac users may want to check out GrandPerspective, which does a similar job.

The Ultimate Hard Drive Solution  

If you plan on selling, giving away or disposing of your old computer system, you’ll want to ensure that your hard drive is truly clean, so that none of your sensitive files can be recovered. You can use free software like DBAN or K*llDisk to overwrite every piece of data on your hard drive with zeros. Now that’s a clean hard drive. If you’re really paranoid, destroy the hard drive with a drill press, a sledge hammer, or run it through an industrial shredder, as demonstrated in this video.

The amount of digital clutter that builds up on a computer varies greatly from one user to another. It depends on your uses of the machine and the Internet. Some people need to clean house every week or every month, while others can go longer without suffering any noticeable performance degradation.

I suggest that if you want your computer to run flawlessly CLEAN UP once a month and never have to worry about one day you precious PC does not start as it should.

Have a great week from all of us at Zoha Islands/Fruit Islands

Sockets, Caches and Cores, Oh My!

Been thinking about upgrading the CPU in your desktop, because it’s a slow,cheap computer you bought three years ago? But the jargon is getting you down? I Can demystify all the talk of sockets, cores, clock speed, cache, etc?’ Read on to learn more about the ‘engine’ under your computer’s hood, and what upgrades make sense for your computer…

What’s in a CPU?


When buying a car, what’s under the hood may matter a lot to you; or it may not. Some people don’t care how many cylinders an engine has as long as the car has leather seats, remote start, and the test drive is satisfactory. The same is true when buying any computerized device, be it a desktop PC, notebook, tablet, smartphone, or digital wristwatch.

This article is for readers who like to know what’s under the hood. We’re going to look at what a CPU is, what’s in it, and what really matters when comparing specs instead of hands-on performance.

The “engine” of a computer is its CPU, which stands for “central processing unit.” Physically, a CPU is a circuit board loaded with electronic components that talk to each other and, through hardwired channels, to other parts of the device. Each component is in a CPU for the same reason pistons and timing chains are in a car’s engine: they work best when they’re as close to each other as possible.

Two typical CPU components are the Arithmetic Logic Unit (ALU) and the Control Unit (CU). An ALU does the simple math that is the foundation of all digital computing: it adds and subtracts, that’s all. Combinations of many such simple operations, executed at lightning speed, yield multiplication, division, exponentiation, and even more complex computations. The CU inserts “math problems” into the ALU and extracts solutions that are passed to other components.

The Clock is Ticking…

The clock or “timer” provides an electrical signal that regulates the speed and timing of data flow and computations. To avoid errors, it is essential that data arrive at the point where it is to be manipulated at the right time; you don’t want to start calculating the square root of a number before the number arrives. (Yes, computers are dumb enough to try that, if unregulated). Regulating the clock speed also prevents overheating; the faster a CPU works the more waste heat it generates.

When comparing CPUs, you’ll see clock speeds measured in GHz (gigahertz), and ranging from about 2.0 GHz to 5.0 GHz. Back in the day, you could assume that a higher clock speed (more gigahertz) meant a faster CPU. But because there are two major chip vendors (Intel and AMD), and multiple CPU families offered by each (such as Intel’s Xeon, Intel Core i3/i5/i7/i9; AMD’s Ryzen, Athlon and FX), you can’t assume that any longer.

However, if you’re comparing CPUs within a family, clock speed numbers have more meaning. A 5.00 GHz Intel Core i9 should outperform a 4.4 GHz Intel Core i9. But you should make no such assumption when comparing (for example) an AMD Ryzen 9 3950X (3.5 GHZ) to an Intel Xeon W-2235 (3.80GHz).

Down to the Core

If you have an aging personal computer that’s struggling to keep up with modern apps and operating systems, should you junk it and buy a new one, or upgrade its capabilities? Will a new monitor, more memory, or a faster hard drive make you happier than a CPU upgrade?

So far we’ve discussed the three essential components that comprise a basic CPU: the ALU, the CU and the timer. This bundle is often called a “core processor” or simply a “core.”

Today, many devices contain multiple cores. Each works on one part of a computational job and feeds its result to another component which combines results from all cores to produce a whole solution. This process is called multi-processing, and it’s de rigueur in modern devices.

Generally speaking, the more cores the better. You can buy CPUs with two, four, six, eight, sixteen or (if you’re really rich) thirty-two cores. But to continue with the car metaphor, you don’t need a 16-cylinder race car for runs to the grocery store! Most desktop users will be quite satisfied with a 4-core CPU, such as those in the Intel Core i3 series. The Intel Core i5 CPUs can sport six processor cores, and the Core i9 can have up to eight processors. AMD’s Ryzen series has 4, 6, 8, 16 and 32-core models.

Unfortunately, not all software applications that can take full advantage of multi-core technology. Such software must be “multi-threaded,” meaning it’s written to process data in multiple parallel sets of operations simultaneously, each thread using one core. Operating systems such as Windows 7, Windows 10, Mac OS X and Linux can take advantage of multiple cores, but if your application software is single-threaded it will use only one core even if multiple cores are present in your CPU. Video games and video editing software typically take good advantage of multi-core systems.

Cache vs. Cash

The “cache” of a CPU is a block of RAM (random access memory) used to speed up data access. Ideally, it stores the most frequently accessed data stored in the “main memory” RAM chips that are separate from the CPU. Cache memory is used to minimize the amount of time required to copy memory from RAM to the CPU. Those tiny fractions of a second add up when you’re doing billions of calculations per second.

Faster and larger cache memory is always better, but the amount of cache memory that you need depends on how much data is typically moved at one time. A Word document isn’t nearly as big as an HD video file. Handling email doesn’t require the lightning speed that a gamer wants.

When comparing CPUs, you may see mentions of L1, L2, L3 Cache. L1 cache is always tiny, ranging from 32 to 640 KB (not megabytes or gigabytes). L2 and L3 cache numbers are more important. Honestly, I’ve never paid much attention to these figures, because I’m not crunching numbers for NASA or killing armies of invading zombies. But if you want to build a hot rod, look for L2/L3 cache numbers that are 10 MB or higher. Interestingly, Intel’s web pages describing the latest processors don’t even mention cache levels. Instead, they speak of Intel® Smart Cache, with figures ranging from 12MB to 16MB. Just be aware that more cache will mean more cash, and you probably won’t be able to tell the difference in most cases.

Socket To Me

All the data that moves in and out of a CPU needs a road to travel on. Actually, there are many roads consisting of short, thin wires sticking out of the bottom of a CPU. These wires plug into sockets in the motherboard, completing connections that allow data to flow to different components (graphic processor, hard drive controller, etc.).

Various socket configurations have arisen over the years that improved data flow in different ways. You would have seen names like Socket 1 through Socket 7 on 486 computers in the early 1990s. Since then, an alphabet soup of socket names and numbers have arisen. You’ll only care about the socket type if you plan to upgrade your motherboard with a bigger, badder CPU. You’ll need a CPU that’s compatible with the socket on your motherboard, unless you plan to swap them both.

Bottom line, clock speed, the number of cores, and the amount of cache memory are all factors to consider when choosing a CPU. But so is price, and the intended use of your computer. And remember that those numbers should only be compared within a processor family.

Will you be able to tell the difference between an Intel Core i7 and an i9 while you’re on Facebook or watching cat videos? Will an 8-core AMD Ryzen beat the pants off a six-core Intel Core i9 while playing World of Warcraft? My best guess is maybe to both. This article was meant to help you understand the jargon involved.

Have a great week from all of us at Zoha Islands and Fruit Islands.