Why Backup? Here Are NINE Good Reasons

It’s a really good question… why should you bother to make backups? It’s especially understandable if you’ve never experienced any sort of data loss. But I’ve got a list of NINE reasons, some of which may surprise you. Read on for that list, and ANSWERS to some of the best questions I’ve received about backups…

Do I Really Need to Back Up My Files?

I’m passionate about making sure that important files — programs, documents, emails, contacts, music, photos, and financial records — are NEVER lost due to a data disaster.

My goal was (and is) to teach people how to make backups easily, inexpensively, and automatically.

Over the past several years, I’ve received some really great questions about backups. I’m going to answer some of those questions here, but first, let’s get into my list of reasons why you need to make backups.

NINE Good Reasons for Backups

1) Hard drives don’t last forever. — Studies on hard drive life expectancy show that 22% of hard drives will fail in the first four years, due to factory defects, random failures, and parts that wear out. Failures due to factory defects tend to happen in the first 18 months of service. How old is your hard drive, and how lucky do you feel?

2) Viruses, power surges, and natural disasters happen. — Ransomware is spreading like wildfire online. It will lock all your files, and permanently delete them if you don’t pay a hefty ransom within a few days. Power surges can scramble data or zap files. Fires, floods and F5 tornado’s can tear the stuffing right out of your shiny gadget.

3) Stuff gets lost or stolen. — Even the most reliable hardware and top-notch virus protection won’t help if your laptop, tablet or smartphone falls into unfriendly hands. Only a backup will save your bacon.

4) Mobile gadgets break or get wet. — Have you ever dropped your mobile phone in a dirty slush puddle, or treated it to a wash/spin/dry joyride? I have. Have you ever dropped your laptop, watched it fall in slow motion, hoping that it will survive the fall? Been there, too.

5) Passwords get lost. — You followed the advice of the experts to use unique, secure passwords for your computer and your online accounts. But then you forgot… was it “2Much-L0ve4U” or “2Much-4U-2Love”? Dang it!

6) Accounts are compromised or frozen. — Your password was “PASSWORD” and you’re surprised you got hacked? Sometimes for no discernable reason, people get locked out of their Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, Facebook or other online accounts. Was it a software glitch, a denial of service attack, or did a hacker gain access to your account? You may never know. And without a backup, you may never again see your saved emails, contacts or files.

7) Data breaches are becoming commonplace. — Every week, it seems there’s another high-profile data breach, resulting in millions of usernames, passwords and other critical data becoming public. Equifax, Yahoo, Target, Chase Bank, American Express, Home Depot, Apple, Sony… who’s next, and how will it affect you?

8) Human error. — None of us are immune to the occasional finger fumble, brain freeze, or senior moment. Files or folders may be accidentally deleted, and sometimes you don’t notice until it’s too late.

9) Incorrect assumptions. — I’ve learned that some people just assume that their computer is automatically making backups. If you didn’t do something to make it happen, it’s not happening. And many users who have some sort of backup routine are not backing up the right files, or all the ones that need protection.

Your Backup Questions Answered

I’ve received hundreds of questions about backups. I can’t answer all of them here, but I’ll highlight some of the most interesting and common ones below:

Q: “Which free backup software do you recommend? Also, is there a paid product that you would recommend?”

Macrium Reflect backup software

A: My current favorite is Macrium Reflect. There’s a free version which is quite good, and a paid version that adds some extra features I like. Windows 7 includes the Backup and Restore feature, but I find it a bit clunky. If you have Windows 10, the File History feature is a really good option for PARTIAL backups. I used Acronis True Image (paid software) for years, but the recent versions have become bloated and buggy. Lots of people tell me they like EaseUS Todo Backup (also free) but I’ve not used it enough to recommend it.

Q: “What exactly is ‘The Cloud,’ and how safe is it?”

A: Cloud storage or cloud backup refers to files that are stored on an Internet website (sometimes called a server) instead of your computer’s hard drive or other local storage. The term “cloud” is used to create the impression of a giant hard drive in the sky, which provides convenient access to files that reside on the Internet. Examples of cloud storage providers are Google Drive, Microsoft One Drive, and Dropbox.

I maintain that data stored in the cloud is MUCH safer than files stored on a local hard drive. Do you use 256-bit encryption for your sensitive files at home? Do you have a staff of highly-trained professionals constantly monitoring your computer for break-in attempts? How about strong physical security that includes gated perimeter access, 24×7 on-site security guards, and security cameras? Do you have a fire detection and suppression system, backup power, and a disaster recovery plan in the event of hurricane, flood or earthquake? You can bet your cloud storage provider has all that and more in place to safeguard your data. It’s probably much easier for the NSA to hack into your home computer than to get into any one of these cloud servers. Some people point to all the high-profile breaches reported in the news, but it’s important to note that none of those compromised companies were cloud service providers, who focus on data security above all else.

Q: “What is the difference between a full system backup and a file backup? What is the difference between what *should* be backed up and what *must* be backed up?”

A: In a nutshell, a full system backup (or image backup) includes EVERYTHING on your hard drive — the operating system, program files, and your personal files. A file backup usually refers to a backup that only includes personal files such as documents, spreadsheets, music, photos, etc. That’s better than no backup at all, but my recommendation is to make regular image backups, followed up with a series of “incremental backups” that catch any changes since the full image backup.

Q: “If I get hit with ransomware or other malware, will that also affect the backups on my external hard drive, thus making recovery impossible?”

A: Yes, that can happen. That’s why I recommend backing up your backup. One way is to have two external drives, which you swap out weekly or monthly. That’s unfortunately a manual process, but I discuss other options in my ebook.

I Object!

I’ve heard lots of reasons for not doing backups. The most common one is “I’ll do nothing and HOPE for the best.” But there’s a problem with that. (Actually 9 problems, see above.) HOPE is the strategy of the fearful, the uninformed, and the procrastinator. In this case, “doing nothing” is almost certain to lead to disaster. BUT… if you knew you could protect ALL your information on ALL your devices with little or no expense, and make it happen automatically, wouldn’t that be great? Wouldn’t it be awesome to have CONFIDENCE instead of HOPE?

Other people say “Backups are too complicated or time consuming.” That might have been true 10 or 15 years ago. My first backup system used a tape drive that took forever to run, was prone to error, and was hard to set up. After that, I tried making backups on diskettes, CDs and DVDs. That was a hassle, and I never remembered to do it as often as I should have. But today we have “plug and play” devices that will start making automatic backups as soon as you plug them into your computer. Getting started with an online backup service is almost as easy, and both options can be configured to run at night, or when your computer is idle.

Another one I hear often is “Backups are too expensive.” As I mentioned earlier, there are some really good free backup software options, and some clever ways to access gobs of free online storage. Don’t trust your data in the cloud? A 1-terabyte external hard drive costs less than $50 now. Still too expensive? How about a 128GB USB flash drive for about $20?

Have a great week from all of us on the ZI Staff

[CAUTION] Hard Drive Makes a Clicking Sound?

‘My 2-year-old hard drive is making a clicking sound. It started recently and seems to be getting more frequent. Sometimes I hear a repeated click-whir sound when starting or using my computer. Does this mean my hard drive is going bad?’ Yikes! Read on to learn what that means, and what you should do if it happens to you…

Impending Hard Drive Failure?

Generally a clicking sound coming from your hard drive is a Very Bad Thing. It could be a harbinger of horrific hardware happenings, or the drumbeat of data disaster. So my immediate advice is “BACKUP YOUR HARD DRIVE!” as soon as possible. If the drive fails, you’re out of luck. In fact, even if you don’t suspect a problem with your hard drive, it’s wise to make regular backups so you can survive a hard drive failure with only minimal inconvenience.

On Windows, you can check your hard drive for errors (and sometimes fix them) by running the CHKDSK utility. To do so, click the Start button, then type CMD, but don’t press Enter. Right-click on the CMD.EXE icon at the top of the search results, then click “Run as administrator.” If you get a User Account Control popup, click YES to continue. When the Command Prompt window appears, type CHKDSK C: /F /R then press Enter. The /R option tells CHKDSK to scan for bad disk sectors, and the /F option means to fix any errors found.

You’ll see a message informing you that “CHKDSK cannot run because the volume is in the use by another process. Would you like to schedule this volume to be checked the next time the system restarts?” This happens because CHKDSK cannot operate on the drive from which you have started Windows. Reply Y, then restart your computer. CHKDSK will run before loading Windows, and you may see a bunch of geeky stuff on the screen while it’s scanning your disk. On Windows 8 or 10, you’ll just see a black screen with the Windows logo and a progress indicator.

If CHKDSK offers to “convert lost chains to files”, recover lost data, or fix something else, you should accept. (If CHKDSK tries to sell you a cheap Rolex, politely decline the offer.) After CHKDSK finishes, and you’ve restarted normally, you may want to see the CHKDSK results. To do so, click the Start button, type EVENTVWR, then press Enter. This will open the Windows Event Viewer. Click on Windows Logs, then Application. Scroll down until you see the Wininit item in the source column. Click on that line, and you’ll see the CHKDSK log file. Hopefully, you’ll find the phrase “Windows has checked the file system and found no problems” there. If not, the drive may be damaged.

But before you trash your troublesome drive, you should try one more thing… Some hard drives are very sensitive to non-level surfaces, and will not function properly if they’re sitting on a slant. Shut down your computer, make sure your system unit is on a flat surface (use a level to make sure), and then restart. I was all set to give up on an older computer that was doing the click/whir routine, but I noticed it wasn’t sitting on a level surface. As soon as I fixed that, the problem was gone!

If your computer won’t start, don’t assume that hard drive is a goner. A few years ago, my hard drive got totally mucked up, and nothing I tried could restore the drive to working order. But I found a wonderful program called TESTDISK that was able to analyze the disk and recreate the damaged partition table and boot record. I was certain that all the data was lost, but TESTDISK did the job for me, and the computer was able to start just fine.

Sometimes odd noises may come from a cooling fan inside your desktop computer. If you are brave enough, pop open the hood on the system unit, turn on the computer, and see if the noise is coming from a fan. It’s much cheaper to replace a bad fan than a failed hard drive.

Have a great week from all of us at ZI

Reasonable region script time?

What is a reasonable amount of total script time for each type of region? The amount beyond which you’d start to see noticeable region performance degradation (sim lag) if we assumed each region on a processor is the same region type with the same total script time?

Running scripts is the lowest priority task for the server so it won’t usually affect other functions but that means too many scripts will cause script failures and that can be a problem in itself.

It’s also important to note that scripts can trigger lag events. HTTP requests will increase the Net Time, vehicle script are likely to add to the physics time and so on.

Also, launching new scripts can cause lag. When an avatar enters the sim, the server has to load all the script it carries with it and that will cause a short lag peak. If the avatar is heavily scripted, it may be a very high peak. Usually those peaks are too short to be significant but if it’s a sim where people keep tp’ing in and out all the time, it can become a serious issue.

In other words, even though script lag generally is a thing of the past, it’s still a very good idea to try to keep the script load as low as possible.

What is a “safe” amount of total script time? 

Depends on what other tasks the server is kept busy with. If the total frame time is higher than 22ms, it’s an overloaded sim. If the spare time is less than a millisecond or so, the sim is pushed hard enough you must expect occasional glitches but not continuous poor performance.

I have to chime in here because there is some misrepresentation of the facts. While it’s true that while running, scripts run in “Spare Time” and won’t impact anyone directly, scripted attachments can still significantly impact a sim in many ways. As mentioned, scripts can trigger other laggy behavior based on what they do. Worse though, is when scripts are “moved” in and out of a sim. When someone TPs, all the scripts in their attachments need to be suspended and “moved” to the new sim. The code, the data, the current state for each and every script needs to be dealt with. There is the network impact of the actual transfer of that data, but also this triggers the Region change event, which will cause new HTTP connections / handles to be created for any script that needs them, etc. There is also the impact that instantiating the script has on the region’s script engine, accepting the data, scheduling, etc. etc. etc. There is a LOT that happens behind the scenes that is completely transparent to you. After all this stuff happens, things settle down and run smoothly again but for heavily loaded avatars it can take several seconds for things to calm down. Meanwhile, everything else in the sim will stutter. This freezing behavior can be seen when testing in an empty sim using an unscripted observer and a heavily scripted test subject, monitoring the region statistics. See what happens when both heavily scripted versus unscripted avatars TP in and out. It may surprise you.

Each server only has a fixed amount of real memory (RAM) for each region running on it. Each script takes “some” memory, the more scripts running, the more memory used by those scripts and the less is available to “other” things the sim uses memory for. Once a sim runs out of real memory, it uses virtual memory, which is going to be a crappy desktop-grade SATA drive (cause they are cheap.) This causes the sim to lag horribly as it’s swapping in and out bits and parts to and from the disk as needed to that Very Very slow storage. Once a sim starts swapping significantly, you pretty much have to do a restart. Scripts are not the only cause of low memory here, but they can be a significant factor in a busy sim.

There are some venues that will automatically eject people with lots of scripts. What they fail to understand is that by the time they count scripts on someone, it’s WAY too late. The damage is done and the sim is already calming down to be only very minimally affected by the avatar’s excessive scripts. I would NOT recommend those systems.

The bottom line though – if the scripts are in stuff on your sim, go for it. As long as they run smoothly, your good. Just be aware that things may start to behave badly when the laggy avatars hit.

My advice is to monitor your scripts and the avatars that come to your region. Restarting the region is a band aid in most cases and never gets to the root of the problem FAT AVATARS! that’s right I said it “FAT” I will write more on rendering cost and avatar scripts later on but the fact remains the same while most estate owners deal on a daily basis lag reports 99.9% of the time its due to “Fat” over scripted avatars.

More on this subject to come have a great week from all of us at ZI

What Is Microsoft Up To?

Microsoft is not noted for shaking up the tech industry, except when it’s not supposed to (think of the disastrous Fall 2018 Update). The company whose Windows operating system powers the vast majority of the world’s PCs is about as “disruptive” as a public utility… something it aspires to be, after a fashion. But in recent weeks hints of Microsoft’s future plans have cropped up, and they could cause disruptions of the status quo. Here’s what you need to know…

How Will Microsoft be Changing in 2019?

Microsoft definitely shook up lots of people in 2018, but the biggest news was the fallout from the buggy Windows 10 October Update that left some users with the dreaded “blue screen of death” and others experiencing deleted documents. Microsoft had to take the unprecedented step of pulling the update from their servers until they could fix the problems. On November 13, 2018, Microsoft re-released the Windows 10 update (also referred to as Version 1809) and as far as I can tell, it’s still slowly rolling out.

So we’re hoping for better things (and improved quality control) in 2019. First, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella confirmed during a January media event that a consumer version of the “Microsoft 365” Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) subscription is coming in 2019. The business edition, available since mid-2017, includes licenses and maintenance of Windows 10, Office 365, and Enterprise Mobility+Security. The consumer version will likely look similar in terms of what you can do with it, although it may include non-work things such as gaming-related services; after all, “Microsoft 365″ should include everything Microsoft offers.

Before I go on, let’s clear up 365 possible points of confusion. Microsoft has a long history of confusing and constantly morphing product names. The email program “Microsoft Internet Mail” was bundled with Windows 95, and was renamed as “Outlook Express,” which turned into “Windows Mail,” which turned into “Windows Live Mail.” Meanwhile, Hotmail became Outlook.com. But there’s still a thing called “Outlook” which is not the same as “Outlook Express” or “Outlook.com”. And that’s just one example. Microsoft’s antivirus nomenclature has been equally confusing over the years.

So when Microsoft announces that they’re working on a consumer version of “Microsoft 365″ what they really mean is that they’re going to add a bundle of goodies to “Office 365″ and try to convince customers who are already paying $100 a year, to pay another $50 or so. The new, improved Office 365 may include a free upgrade from Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro, some extra security features, and upgraded messaging tools. It may even get a new name, we’ll see.

Today, most consumers get Windows 10 and other Microsoft software by buying new hardware. Tomorrow, you may buy a Microsoft 365 subscription that includes financing for the hardware on which the SaaS runs. Microsoft dipped a toe into this business model in 2018 with its “Surface All Access” and “Xbox All Access” programs. Surface All Access, for instance, lets shoppers choose a Surface tablet or laptop, accessories, and an Office 365 subscription. The monthly cost ranges between $24.99 with a Surface Go tablet and $54.96 with the flagship Surface Pro 2 laptop. There’s no interest charged if you make monthly payments on time.

There are two catches to this program. First, you can get it only at a physical Microsoft Store, of which there are only 116 in the whole world. (Perhaps they should partner with Starbucks, which seems to have 116 stores in every city.) Second, you have to apply for a Dell Preferred Account, offered by Dell Financial Services. I guess Microsoft is not ready to get into the consumer financing business yet, but contracted with Dell for credit services during this “All Access” experiment.

There’s no reason “All Access” must be limited to Microsoft hardware. One day, you might visit a Microsoft Store and bring home a Dell, HP, or other computer brand. You might even get an Android phone, but I doubt any iPhones will be available. You could even build your own machine and bring it to life with a tailored “All Access” subscription purchased online. Whatever hardware you get, Microsoft will be there too.

Ch-ch-ch Changes

That’s just the way Microsoft would like things to be, so you may be forced to turn and face the strange new world of software-as-a-service and hardware bundles. Windows’ share of the desktop computer market peaked years ago and now stands just over 81%. (Apple is second with 13.5% of the desktop market.) Whether this “All Access” model can reverse that decline remains to be seen. But Microsoft is definitely moving away from the concept of buying software, to a subscription model.

I started this piece with a dig at Microsoft’s quality control failures in 2018. The Windows operating system and Microsoft Office have traditionally been black box, or proprietary software. That means users can run the software, but the public is not allowed to see the underlying code. That’s understandable from the perspective of protecting trade secrets and market share, but it seems that the size and complexity of these systems has outpaced Microsoft’s ability to ensure that a well-tested, quality product is delivered.

By contrast, Linux, Libre Office, and other popular software is developed with an “open source” philosophy. The source code is developed by skilled collaborators, and is available for anyone who wants to see it. This approach allows independent programmers and security researchers to examine the code and find problems faster than the proprietary model. I mention this here, because rumors are flying that Microsoft will be using open source components to improve security in Windows Core OS, which is the platform on which future versions of Windows will be built. So that’s a hopeful sign.

Keeping an eye on this more to come. Have a great week from all of us on the Zi Staff

Are You Ready for Hardware Security Keys?

Are you tired of unlocking your phone or computer a hundred times a day? Would you like to login to all your favorite websites with a single tap, and never remember another password? That’s the promise of hardware security keys. Let’s take a look at the current offerings, and you can decide if one is right for you…

You Might Want One of These On Your Keychain

Last summer, “hardware authentication” was briefly buzz-worthy thanks to Google’s announcement of the Titan Security Key. It was pretty impressive to read that 85,000 Google employees who used Titan went a whole year without a single compromised account. Google urged everyone to upgrade to hack-proof hardware authentication. Today, you can buy the Titan Security Key for $50 in the Google Store.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like many consumers are buying Titan, or any of its competitors. Whether the problem is cost, convenience (another thing on a keychain), or apathy to security concerns, hardware gadgets like Titan and the Yubico YubiKey just have not caught on among private citizens. But that hasn’t prevented the rise of many copycat products, some of dubious quality.

Yubico, the leader of this small, slow-moving pack, has at least seven YubiKey products for various applications. The classic YubiKey 4 ($40 on Amazon) gets a 4-star rating average from 286 customers, making it the most popular model by far among Amazon shoppers. The YubiKey works with Gmail, Facebook, Dropbox, Twitter, Dashlane, LastPass and “hundreds of other services.” It’s also touted as waterproof, and crush resistant. Just plug YubiKey 4 into a computer’s USB port and tap the gold circle to activate. If you don’t want something that big on your keychain, the $50 YubiKey 5 Nano, works the same and is about the size of a dime.

The EveryKey wants to replace not only your passwords but also the heavy, noisy mass of metal keys you carry everywhere. Everykey generates secure passwords for your website accounts, and will unlock them with one touch. It also promises to unlock your phone, laptop, and at some time in the future, your house and car, as long as they have Bluetooth capability. When your Everykey is close to one of your devices, you can access it without a password. When you walk away, your device locks back down.

And yes, that’s antivirus pioneer John McAfee on EveryKey’s home page and in its video. McAfee claims he founded EveryKey in 2015, but fundraising for the venture seems to have started as much as three years earlier. EveryKey’s original $99.99 price has eroded to $59.20 on Amazon, where it has a 2.5 star rating average from only 22 customers.

The Fetian ePass NFC FIDO U2F Security Key ($16.99 on Amazon) sounds like a mouthful of acronym soup, but it’s not hard to parse. “NFC” means it works with Near Field Communication, the protocol that enables tap-and-go payments via smart cards or phones. “FIDO” is the Fast ID Online set of security standards developed by nearly 300 members of the FIDO Alliance to ensure interoperability. “U2F” is the Universal 2-Factor authentication standard developed by Google and Yubico. Customers give the ePass 3.5 stars. Complaints among a total of 89 reviews include dead-on-arrival units, another that failed after five months, and no tamper-proof packaging.

The Thetis Security Key ($16.95 on Amazon, is also FIDO and U2F compliant, and gets an impressive 4.5 stars from 181 customers. Unlike pricier products that leave delicate gold-plated contacts exposed, the Thetis’ rugged, foldable design guards against mishaps.

A Thetis reviewer made an interesting observation: “Technically, very few sites supports U2F protocol, BUT Google and Facebook are INCLUDED. And, as you know, Google and Facebook provides authentication for millions of sites. So, using U2F for Google and Facebook and using them for authentication covers, literally, millions of sites.” I guess he’s OK with Google and Facebook tracking every site he visits.

The cheapest gadget definitely looks the part. The U2F Zero is no more than a bare circuit board, probably hand-made to order by a geek named “Conor” at his kitchen table. But it’s U2F compatible, gets 4.0 stars from 60 reviewers, and it’s only $9.86.

Even though they seem handy, I think it unlikely that hardware authenticators will ever catch on as aftermarket purchases. Even the bare-bones U2F Zero is ten bucks that most people won’t spend to replace free passwords. But these devices may find their way into OEM devices, becoming a standard “accessory” just like a phone charger.

Are you interested in a hardware security key that can manage your logins, and unlock your gadgets? I personally have many passwords for many programs, websites, cellphone, computers and forget passwords on accounts in secondlife so much I purchased and use  YubiKey  for all. Of course keeping your passwords secure is always the key and changing them often helps in this. In weeks to come we will cover the how to on passwords and updates with these keys.

Have a great week


Oculus Quest vs. Oculus Rift

The Oculus Quest and Oculus Go are the new kid’s on the block, but can they beat the Rift?

Lets just make it simple Oculus Go as much as the price out shines Rift or Quest at $179 32gb and $279 64gb  even at entry level this headset will disappoint in many ways and that starts with the 3 point of view vs 6 point of view sensors to Rift and Quest and only one controller mouse vs 2 handheld controllers Rift and Quest. Okay need I say anymore? Now lets get to the meat of Rift and Quest.

In 2018 the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset had far more competition than when it launched, and much of it comes from Oculus VR’s other virtual reality products. While the Go is more of an entry-level headset, the Quest has the same price tag as the Rift, and many unique features which make it a worthy competitor for its older brother. To find out which is the best VR headset, we pitted the Oculus Quest vs. Oculus Rift in a classic head(set) to head(set) battle.


The Oculus Rift is the older of the two designs and though it does show, it’s not an antiquated device. It sports a similar fabric-coated exterior to the Quest, a similar tri-strap adjustable head mount, and built in audio. But it’s not identical to the Quest. The Rift is lighter by a full 100 grams, due to the onboard hardware of the Quest, which includes its own processor and battery for wireless operation.

That does mean that the Rift trails wires, where the Quest does not, making the latter a much cleaner-looking headset, especially considering its newly revamped front plate, which wraps around the corners where the four Oculus Insight tracking sensors are located.

Instead of over-the-ear headphones like the Rift, the Quest comes with similar audio to the Oculus Go — a spatial audio solution hidden in the head strap. That makes it easier to hear what’s going on in the environment around you, whilst still being fully immersed in your VR experience. It’s not necessarily better quality, but it certainly makes it easier to remain present in both the real and virtual worlds.


The Oculus Quest is the most powerful standalone headset Oculus VR has ever produced, packing a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor with onboard graphics, 64GB of onboard storage, and a battery that gives it between two and three hours of life per charge. As impressive as that all is though, it falls well short of what the Rift can offer, since the wired headset is tethered to a gaming PC. Oculus suggests much higher minimum specifications and the ceiling is far, far higher for potential performance than the Quest’s — think RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti graphics cards. Yet no matter how powerful the PC you hook it up to as well, there’s no concern about battery life, since the headset is powered by your PC via a wired connection.

Although that means that the Rift is capable of running much more detailed virtual reality scenes than the Quest — and for longer — its display has fewer pixels. The Rift’s dual-OLED panels are limited to 1,080 x 1,200 pixels per eye, working out to 2,160 x 1,080 resolution in total. In comparison, the Oculus Quest has twin OLED displays that are 1,600 x 1,440 each, or 3,200 x 1,440. That makes for sharper overall visuals, with a noticeably reduced screen-door effect on the Quest, but its in-game textures, shaders, and models are a far cry from the Rift’s PC-powered visuals.

The Rift handles high-speed motion better than the Quest too, because while its displays are a lower resolution, they have a higher refresh rate. The Quest runs at 72Hz, while the Rift has a fixed 90Hz. That should make it more comfortable for the user too, helping to avoid the dreaded VR nausea.

Tracking and controllers

oculus quest review 2

Both the Rift and the Quest offer high-end virtual reality tracking and inputs, but they take a very different tack with it. The Rift uses the classic external-tracker design using Oculus’  Constellation tracking cameras. Although they aren’t as capable a tracking solution as the HTC Vive’s Valve-developed Lighthouse trackers, they are perfectly capable of offering roomscale tracking in spaces up to 8ft x 8ft with three sensor set ups and more with four.

The Rift’s external trackers mean it’s possible to track the controllers almost anywhere you place them, whether that be behind your back or under objects — as long as they remain in the field of view of at least one camera.

In comparison, the Quest offers a theoretically unlimited tracking area thanks to its use of “inside-out tracking,” Insight sensors on the headset itself. One is located in each corner for a total of four and they scan the environment around the user, tracking their location and movements within it, as well as the motion of the controllers. Oculus debuted what it described as “arena scale” tracking at Oculus Connect 2018, where a number of Quest users walked around a tennis court-sized gaming area at the same time without any major tracking problems. This was further enhanced by the headset’s lack of any wired-tethers, letting users roam freely without being tied down.

However, the controllers must remain within the field of view of the headset’s wide-angle sensors in order to remain tracked. Early testing suggests their field of view is wider than the user’s, but tracking behind the back, or when the user is leaned in close to something, is unlikely to be possible at this time.

Each headset provides a full six-degrees of freedom to the wearer, tracking positional movements, as well as tilt and orientation of the headset, but each solution has its strengths and weaknesses.

Controllers are much the same for both. The Rift uses Oculus’ now classic Touch motion controllers which provide trigger, grip, and gesture inputs, and the Quest uses a modified version of those with a relocated tracking ring. Each provides for nuanced, detailed, inputs into virtual reality with the use of both the wearer’s hands.


Having been on the market for more than two and a half years, the Oculus Rift has a library of games, VR experiences, and 360-degree media numbering in the low thousands. It has a variety of supporting marketplaces and ecosystems, including Oculus Home, Steam VR, and VivePort, and a robust developer and user base that all but guarantees continued support and growth in its content catalog in the future.

The Oculus Quest, on the other hand, is brand new and isn’t even set for release until Spring 2019. As it stands there are a handful of bespoke applications and experiences being used to demo the new hardware and there will no doubt be more when it is eventually released. But Oculus VR is said to be hoping that developers will port their existing Rift games to the Quest to help flesh out its library of content.

Although we would be surprised if the Quest didn’t have a decent spread of applications at, and soon after, launch, the Rift is going to have the more robust catalog of titles for some time to come.

Older VR, done well, wins out

There’s no denying that the Oculus Quest represents the future of consumer virtual reality in many ways. It’s entirely wireless and untethered, has a reliable and borderless — if still imperfect — tracking solution, and sports a more detailed display than its older sibling. In comparison, the Oculus Rift can feel quite antiquated with its chunky cable tether, its reliance on external sensors, and a defined tracking area. When combined with its requirement for a powerful gaming PC, it’s a much less intuitive and forward-thinking VR experience.

Yet with think the Rift is the better option. It’s not going to be the headset of the mainstream in the future and it’s going to feel increasingly dated in the years to come, but if you have a gaming PC, there’s a better VR experience to be had right now with the Rift. For the $400 that both headsets cost ($399 for the Rift with three sensors) you get access to a ton of content on the Rift, today, and its visuals, although less crisp, are much more richly detailed, run at higher frame rates, and are not restricted by battery life.

The cable tie is a drag — literally at times — and we would expect a second-generation Rift to adopt many of the exciting new features of the Quest, but for now, the Rift is still the more high-end VR solution.

The only real must in this setting is having a decent gaming PC. If you do, buy the Rift, if you don’t and don’t plan to, waiting for the Quest is probably a better bet.

Overall winner: Oculus Rift

The overall reason I am interested and vested in VR and these headsets is we are evolving into a new platforms with Sansar and High Fidelity and having the right gear in mind just makes sense. No this does not mean Second Life is dead! But it does mean we have other choices to enrich our online world experience although still in its infancy VR headsets will be our new standard years down the road. However many won’t transcend  with the new technology as easy.

Have a great week