Ditched Windows 10 for Linux Mint – 1 Month on

There is a lot of talk about people ditching Windows for some variation of Linux but not many seem to have written a review of the switch after a month. In this article, I hope to help out my fellow noobs who are also considering to move to Linux Mint.

So why did I even consider the Switch?

To begin with, I was fed up of Windows being Windows. It was constantly updated at the most inconvenient times and the size of the operating system compared to Linux distributions. Linux Mint is also free and according to Lifewire “Linux Has Many More Free Applications”.

Linux is also considered to be safer compared to Windows. The Ubuntu website actually states “Anti-virus software does exist for Linux, but you probably don’t need to use it. Viruses that affect Linux are still very rare. Some argue that this is because Linux is not as widely used as other operating systems, so no one writes viruses for it. Others argue that Linux is intrinsically more secure, and security problems that viruses could make use off are fixed very quickly”. Like Ubuntu, Linux Mint has a huge and extremely helpful community which are always willing to help out.

But the main reason that I decided to switch to Linux Mint is the clean and professional interface.

Did I have any problems learning to use the system?

The simple answer is no. I have used Ubuntu many times in the past so I was familiar with Linux to begin with. I actually found Linux Mint easier to navigate compared to Ubuntu.

The Linux Mint Software Manager makes it easy to download the common apps and if the app isn’t listed a quick google search helped me install it within a few clicks. In terms of noticeable differences, the only difference I found apart from the interface were the fonts that programs used.

What about the software I used on Windows?

Yes, there were a couple of sacrifices but I managed to get up and running with alternatives fast. Here are some of the alternatives I used…

Windows:Linux:
Microsoft OfficeWPS Office and Office Online
Photoshop Gimp
OutlookThunderbird

The truth of the matter is that there are tons of alternatives for just about any task you can do in Windows – That’s what I found anyway.

It’s important to remember that there is a huge number of software distributors who distribute Linux versions of their programs. A great example is the web browser Firefox and text editor Brackets. Steam is also available! If you require a specific program which is available on Windows, Wine enables you to install it. But that’s a story for another day!

Is Linux Mint a keeper?

Yes, I would definitely say so! I feel more comfortable using Linux Mint compared to any other Linux distro’s I used. I have been testing another Debian based distro called Sparky Linux which I also like and will certainly review soon. But for now, especially as a beginner I will be keeping to Linux Mint.

Do you have any recommendations for new users? Comment below!

10 FREE Useful tools that every IT Tech needs

There are many great Free tools out there! In this article, I will summarise the tools that I think are worth using.

1. All in One – System Rescue Toolkit

All In One System Rescue ToolKit

The All in One – System Rescue Toolkit is a wonderful toolkit packed with a Live CD and a Windows executable. The toolkit includes various useful tools such as Boot repair, antivirus and data recovery.

Check out Paul’s website for more information: https://paul.is-a-geek.org/aio-srt/

2. Ninite – Install all your programs at once!

Ninite

Yes, you read correctly! Ninite is a great tool that not only saves you time but also the hassle of having to search the web for programs.

Check out their website: https://ninite.com/

3. Driver Pack Solution

DriverPack Solution

Have you ever found yourself searching for drivers for hours? I know I have! Driver Pack Solution is a great tool which finds and installs the drivers for you. Just be sure to make sure that you are installing only the things you want as it strangely adds other programs to your download list – all of which are useful.

Driver Pack Solution is available in three different versions including DriverPack Online which searches for the latest drivers, Driver Pack Offline (Network), this is an offline version packed with network drivers and the full offline version.

Driver Pack Solution is available here: https://drp.su/en

4. Active Kill Disk

Active Kill Disk Bootable

If you are planning to recycle your hard drive Active Kill Disk is a great tool which wipes the hard drive.

Active Kill Disk is available here: https://killdisk.com/eraser.html

5. Ubuntu

Ubuntu Desktop in Trial Mode

Yes, I know Ubuntu is an Operating System, but actually, if you boot it in trial mode you will find many useful tools such as GParted which is a partition editor and Power Statistics.

Ubuntu is available at: https://www.ubuntu.com/

6. Win Dir Stat

WinDirStat

Do you ever wonder what is using up all the storage space on your computer? Win Dir Stat will show you just that! According to their website, “WinDirStat is a disk usage statistics viewer and cleanup tool for various versions of Microsoft Windows”. The main feature that I like is the graph that shows disk usage.

Win Dir Stat is available on this website: https://windirstat.net/

7. BitDefender Rescue Disk

BitDefender Rescue Disk

There are so many of these available and I tried most but I like the BitDefender most, hence the reason I’m recommending it. Like many, the BitDefender Rescue Disk runs a scan outside of Windows increasing the chance of detection.

The Bit-defender Rescue disk can be found on their website.

8. Portable Apps

Portable Apps Platform

Installing and uninstalling apps frequently can be a tiring task. There are various great utilities such as Wise Data Recovery that can simply be run of a flash drive. I have been using the Portable Apps platform since the days of Windows XP and it has never let me down. I highly recommend it! Just to make things clear, Portable Apps doesn’t only feature utilities but many other great apps and even games!

Find out more on their website!

9. WiFi Analyzer

WiFi Analyser

WiFi Analyzer is a great tool which can assist you with your WiFi. It shows the Wi-Fi channels around you which in return helps you to find a less crowded channel for your router. WiFi analyser also enables you to find the best area for your WiFi. Unfortunately, WiFi Analyzer is only available for Android which is bad news for people like me who use iPhones.

I haven’t been able to find an IOS alternative but if you know of one, Please let me know in the comments!

The app is available to download from the Google Play Store, at this link.

10. Virtual Box

Virtual Box enables you to run a separate system within the system you are running. It’s a great tool if you want to test out new programs or even new systems because the changes you make inside of Virtual Box shouldn’t affect your running system.

Do you know of any other useful tools? Let me know in the comments!

Budget SSD Test: PNY CS900 480GB

Solid State Drive’s seem to be the norm in PC’s these days but they can be expensive, especially when you want a decent amount of storage space. In this article, I will be reviewing the PNY CS900.

An SSD or Solid State Drive does the same job as a Hard Drive, the only difference is that it does it faster because there is no spinning disk and handle reading data.

Priced from £48.89 (Link to Price comparison Site). The PNY CS900 480GB SSD seems like a great deal, especially when you compare it to the Samsung Evo’s. On their website, PNY mentions that “The CS900 delivers all the most sought after features at an excellent value”. Which in my humble opinion I think it’s true! The drive also has an impressive 3-year warranty!

The CS900 is the mainstream performance line of PNY’s range making it an excellent price for bargain hunter.

Like most SSD’s, the CS900 is an excellent choice for power efficiency as they consume less power than hard drives. This is great news, especially if you are upgrading a laptop as it will make your battery last longer.

In terms of capacity, the CS900 line is available in many capacities ranging from 120GB to 960GB.

Specification:

Capacity:

Read Speed:

Wright Speed:

Memory Type:

Interface:

Height:

Warranty:

From 120Gb – 960GB

515 MB/s

490 MB/s

TLC NAND Flash

SATA III 6GB/s

7mm

3 Year

Tests

UserBenchmark Score: https://ssd.userbenchmark.com/SpeedTest/195106/PNY-CS900-480GB-SSD

My Test:

Would I reccomend it?

The PNY CS900 is definitely worth it! There are many cool SSD’s out there for a similar price, but this one still wins for me. The style is modern so it won’t look cheap and nasty in my glass case too.

I would definitely recommend this drive to someone who might be upgrading from a hard drive to an SSD or is building a PC.

Also Checkout…

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How to utilise old hard drives and SSD’s

Whether you are throwing your old computer away or have spare hard disks lying about, this article will hopefully give you an idea of what can be done with a hard drive.

It’s never a good idea to throw your computer away with your hard drive inside. This is because it will have personal data which can be stolen from the hard drive. If you are considering to throw away your hard drive please destroy it first! You can either physically destroy it or use a tool such as Active Kill Disk, otherwise, you can utilise it…

A hard disk is a device that you can store data on, so why not use it to store data even though it’s not inside of your PC? You can get a nice caddy which will convert into a portable hard drive. They cost pennies!

A portable hard drive can be used for many things such as creating a file archive, it can be a backup solution, if your TV is compatible you can record to it, you can store photos, videos, the list goes on! There are endless possibilities.

Spare Desktop Hard Drive?

If you have a spare hard drive from a desktop PC, you could use it for a number of things such as an external desktop drive or you can put it into a NAS enclosure.

External Desktop Hard Drive

Dynamode 3.5 inch enclosure

An external desktop hard drive can be used for many things such as regular backups or to extend the storage space inside your PC.

NAS Enclosure

D-Link ShareCenter 320L 2 Bay Nas enclosure

NAS stands for Network Attached Storage. NAS enclosures are a perfect solution for a busy household which uses more than one device. Due to the fact that they are on the network, you can connect more than one device at the same time.

Laptop Hard Drive or SSD?

Not a problem! It is possible to purchase smaller enclosures to fit 2.5″ drives.

Dynamode 2.5″ USB 3.0 SATA Hard Drive Enclosure

The smaller drives are ideal for travel, and you can either put in a Solid State Drive or a Hard Drive.

What if I have a M2 SSD?

You can still purchase an enclosure. There are actually some clever enclosures out there, some of which will let you convert the drive to a USB drive like the one below.

Aplic SSD Case for M.2 hard drives with sliding mechanism

Do you have any other ideas? Comment below!

Tips on making an old PC last longer

If you have an old PC or are thinking of buying an older second-hand PC, You are in the right place because in this article, I will give you advice on how to make that PC last longer.

This guide is for computers with modern operating systems such as Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10. It should work with older systems but I don’t recommend it because they are no longer supported by security updates.

So without further ado, here are 8 things you can do to keep your old computer running longer…

Please note!

I am not responsible for any damage caused by conducting these tasks, they are here as a reference only. If you are not confident doing these tasks please take your PC to a local repair shop!

1. Uninstall any programs you no longer use

Installed programs use up space on your hard drive and can run in the background using up RAM. Getting rid of them is a great start. The default Windows Uninstaller doesn’t always clean up everything the program has left. I, therefore, recommend something like Revo Uninstaller, which is a free utility that has advanced cleaning features.

Tip!

If you are unsure of what a program or file is, Google it. Uninstalling the wrong program can make your system unstable.

2. Clean your drive

No, I don’t mean taking your drive out of your computer and cleaning it physically, I mean cleaning it of any useless junk, such as temporary files. Windows has a built-in utility to do this known as Disk Clean-up which does a good job, but if you prefer something better, I would recommend Wise Disk Cleaner or CCleaner which are free and do an excellent job.

Tip!

If you are unsure of what a file is Google it first!

3. Defragment your hard drive

To begin with, it’s important to determine whether you are using a Hard Drive or a Solid State Drive which doesn’t need to be Defragmented.

The main difference between a Hard Drive and a Solid State Drive is that a Hard Drive is like a record player, it has a spinning disk and an arm that reads data. When the drive starts getting full it will write data wherever it finds space, meaning the arm will take longer to read data. Defragmenting your hard drive will fix this.

A Solid State Drive doesn’t have a spinning disk, it’s technically a chip. For this reason Solid State Drives or SSD’s are a lot faster and don’t need to be defragmented.

Windows has a tool called Defragment and Optimise Drives.

4. Disable startup items

Some programs are automatically set to start when you log in. You can save time by disabling these items. But be sure o only disable the items that you don’t use. Google is a great tool for checking what an item does.

In Windows 8.1 and 10, you can access your start-up items by pressing CTRL ALT DELETE, selecting Task manager and selecting Start-up from the bar. In Windows 7 or below search for “msconfig“.

5. Upgrade your Hard Drive to an SSD

As mentioned before Solid State Drives run faster. It will be criminal not to upgrade your Hard Drive to an SSD. But before you start…

Warning!

Your Hard Drive stores all data including your Operating System. You will need to transfer all of it when you upgrade to an SSD. You can either clone your Hard Drive using something like CloneZilla or reinstall everything manually. If you don’t feel confident doing this take your PC to a local repair shop.

6. Clean your PC

Over time, Dust gets inside your PC and clogs up the fans etc. Doing this will not speed up your PC, but it certainly should make it last longer.

This guide by Patrick Bisch from How-TO Geek shows a good way to clean your computer.

7. Upgrade your RAM

RAM or Memory is what allows you to run programs, without it you simply can’t run anything. It’s simple the more RAM you have the more programs you will be able to run without your computer slowing down. Not forgetting the fact that you should be able to run more demanding programs too.

Tip!

It’s important to check whether the RAM you plan to purchase is compatible with your Motherboard.

8. Upgrade to a less demanding Operating System.

This tip is great if you have an outdated system such as Windows Vista or XP. There are many free wonderful Linux Operating Systems opt there such as Linux Mint or Ubuntu that are not as demanding as a modern version of Windows.

Check out my Guide to installing Ubuntu:

Snab OverTone EP-101M – Great budget earphones!

Snab is a brand that I recently discovered when I was looking for new in-ear headphones. Being a fan of heavy bass, I was looking for something to suit my taste.

I first considered the Sony MDR-XB50AP which are part of the Extra Bass range, but they weren’t to my taste. But then a mate of mine said that he purchased the Snab OverTone EP-101M and that he was very happy with them, so I gave them a go. I was pleasantly surprised, not only was the sound clear but it was bassy just the way I like it.

Price: €35.50 (£30.78 , $40.24)

Build Quality

The overall build quality is of a high standard, especially when comparing it to other headphones on the market of similar price. The primary material of the housing is aluminium which looks very stylish. The earpice’s are magnetic which eliminates them from getting tangled.

The cable feels strong and is formed of a firmly twisted wire with an elastic, slippery surface. The cable itself comes with a pre-applied clip which I found helps the headphones stay in place.

The cable also comes with a single button which you can use to answer calls and pause your music which is very convenient.

Sound quality

The sound quality is exceptional. I used many in-ear headphones from all sorts of brands such as Beats, Sony, JVC and Blitzwolf and for my taste, the Overtone 101M seem to sound better – but we all have different taste and the headphone brands mentioned all have their own strengths and weaknesses.

If your a fan of good bass and good quality sound then these headphones are for you!

Specs

  • Driver: Neodymium HD Dynamic
  • Driver Diameter: 10 mm
  • Frequency range: 20 – 22 000 Hz
  • Rated Power:    1 mW
  • Max Power: 10 mW
  • 93 dB S.P.L @ 1 KHz
  • Microphone sensitivity: -35 +/- 4dB
  • Impedance: 18 +/- 15% Ohm
  • Connector:    3.5 mm 90°Jack
  • Cable length:      1,2 m., Y-Cord
  • Other features: clip, Mic
  • Box Contains: Headphones, Silicon Ear Tips, Silicon Ear Bi-flange tips, Foam ear tips, clip, hard Carry Case

An end to Windows Phone

Whilst Windows Phone is not a popular solution for smartphones, it’s still used and Microsoft has just put a nail in the coffin to those remaining users…

In an article by Tom Warren from The Verge, Tom states that “Microsoft is planning to end support for Windows 10 Mobile devices in December”. This presents a lot of problems because even though Windows Phones aren’t that popular with the general consumer, they seem to be popular in the Business environment and why not.

From my experience of owning the Nokia Lumia 520 and 640, I actually got on well with those phones. In fact, I never experienced half the problems I experienced with Android Phones including constant WiFi dropouts, laggines and so on. But those issues may have been related to the actual phone rather than the Operating System. I actually like android too!

Tom also states that “Microsoft is now recommending that Windows 10 Mobile users move to iOS or Android devices”. Considering the security implications this is a solid move by Microsoft.

So What next?

Well, Microsoft seems to be concentrating on Mobile Apps for iOS and Android and in my humble opinion, it’s a good thing that Microsoft is still catering for mobile users but it’s a shame that they are getting rid of Windows 10 Mobile.

Check out Tom’s article: https://www.theverge.com/2019/1/18/18188054/microsoft-windows-phone-windows-10-mobile-end-of-support-updates

Lifecycle FAQ: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/18403/lifecycle-faq-device-operating-systems

Smartwatches – Do we need them? What do you think?

It appears that the world has gone Smartwatch crazy – or has it? In this article, I will talk about the advantages and disadvantages of owning a smartwatch and whether we can live without them…

To begin with, with our Smartphones are already giving us so many notifications, why would we want them vibrating and making noise on our wrist too? Well…

Watches were designed to tell the time! Why would you want to recharge your watch? I mean my Casio has a 10-year battery life whereas any Smartwatch I ever had needed to be recharged at least once a day.

In his blog, Mitch Goldfarb has summarised it accordingly: https://mitchgoldfarbblog.wordpress.com/2018/07/25/smart-phone/

Ok, Smartwatches are the next generation of watches, just like we moved on from the pocket watch to the wristwatch. They can actually be useful, especially for the business customer.

In order to make up our decision about Smartwatches, a good start will be to compare the advantages and disadvantages. I personally always liked the idea of having a Smartwatch and have had many in the past.

From my experience here are the advantages and disadvantages of having a smartwatch…

Advantages of owning a SmartWatch

1. Fitness

Fitness is the big one. However, it depends on the watch because not all watches are good for fitness. But there are some awesome choices available. Fitbit is one of the most popular brands when it comes to fitness watches. But, in the past, I used the Samsung Gear Fit 2 and I prefer it to my Fitbit Blaze. Right now I just use my Apple watch as its just as good.

2. Music

If you’re like me and love your music, most smartwatches offer the ability to control from your wrist so no more having to reach out for your phone in your pocket.

3. Pay

Some watches such as the Apple Watch allow you to make contactless payments, meaning that you don’t need to carry your wallet with you.

5. Travel

Many companies offer mobile tickets that also work on a smartwatch, once again making life more convenient. You can also have your maps on it for navigation purposes.

6. Reply on the go

Many smartwatches offer the ability replying to your messages and emails.

7. Apps

Apart from the stuff mentioned above, most smartwatches that are either Wear OS or Apple Watch OS have tons of apps available which not only can boost your productivity but can actually be fun.

8. Watch faces

Most smart watches allow you to customise the watch face to suit your style

The Disadvantages

1. Loads of notifications

I don’t know about you but I’m not a fan of notifications and I’m sure you don’t want them vibrating away on your wrist, especially when they already are on your phone.

2. Battery

Most smartwatches I ever used only have a short battery life, the only exception was the Pebble Classic, if anybody remembers them.

So now that I wrote about the advantages and disadvantages…

  • Do we actually need them? No.
  • Are they useful? necessarily.
  • Are they worth it? Yes!

What do you think about smartwatches? Leave a comment below…

While your here check out my video…



New Video: Dell Optiplex 380 – Restoration

There’s so much you can do with an old PC, I turned mine into a Linux learning machine running Linux Mint!

Upgraded parts

Before I installed Linux Mint, I decided to upgrade some of the components to make it run smoother. The Dell Optiplex 380 came to me with Windows XP installed, but it actually has a Windows 7 licence sticker. Unfortunately, this particular processor will not run Windows 10, but I decided that it will be a great PC to learn Linux on without the need of dual booting or using virtual box.

Ram

It came with 2 GB of RAM which I upgraded to 4 because that is what I had to hand.

Storage

The computer came with a 80 GB hard drive. 80GB it a very small amount of storage space. Linux mint shouldn’t have a big issue with it but I decided that it will be best to put an SSD in there.

Check out:

In the past, I have made a video about installing Windows 10 onto the Dell Optiplex GX280. The problem was that the processor an Intel Pentium 4 did not support essential features. I overcame the issue by doing some upgrades.

10 Reasons to use Ubuntu

Ubuntu is one of the most popular Linux distributions. Here are 10 reasons why you should use Ubuntu.

1. It’s Free!

Yes, It’s Free. Ubuntu is based on Debian Linux which is also free. One of the biggest advantages of Ubuntu is the fact that you don’t need to buy programs and pay for program subscriptions. There are free alternatives for most paid programs. For example, Libre Office, which comes pre-installed, offers a Word Processor, Spreadsheets, Presentation and more.

Ubuntu is also free to download from their website. All you need a storage device such as a flash drive to install it from.

2. It’s user-friendly

If you are new to Linux systems, Ubuntu is a great starting point. In fact, you don’t need to know how to code to use it. The interface is modern and stylish giving a clean feel.

3. Huge community

Ubuntu has a huge community which is usually willing to help you. So if you get stuck with something, just google the issue, there’s bound to be a solution. If not ask on the forums.

4. Loads of flavours available

Sounds tasty right? Ubuntu flavours are versions of Ubuntu, they usually have a different interface. A great flavour to check out is Lubuntu. There’s bound to be one to suit you!

5. It’s secure

Ubuntu is very secure. You can’t say it’s 100% secure because nothing connected to the internet is. If you compare it to Windows which needs antivirus software, it’s more secure. There are tons of users that say “You don’t need an antivirus program on Ubuntu”. I would still recommend a basic scanner such as ClamTk which is a basic on-demand antivirus scanner. Just to be on the safe side, especially when transferring or sending files to Windows users.

6. Customization

Are you a fan of customization? Ubuntu certainly is! In fact, you can customize it as much as you want! if you don’t like how it looks, change it! Customize it to how you like it so that it meets your needs and requirements.

7. Good compatibility

Ubuntu runs very well with hardware. In fact, every time I tried to install Ubuntu on a PC, all the drivers were already there! Unlike in Windows where on some occasions I had to search the internet for hours to find a compatible driver that works properly.

8. Low system requirements

If you have a low-end PC and you find that it struggles to run Windows, Ubuntu is a great choice for a replacement. Not only does it use less storage space compared to Windows, but it’s also less demanding.

If you have an old PC hiding away in the attic you could give it a new life with one of the flavours or even Ubuntu itself. It depends on the specs of course, but if it’s compatible why not?

9. It constantly gets better

Ubuntu is well supported and new versions are released often. In fact, the theme has recently got an overhaul.

10. Loads of free software in the Software centre

You no longer have to search the internet to find programs. Ubuntu Software Centre is packed with loads of cool programs. It just makes life a lot easier for you, especially when you’re looking for a program by genre.

Are you convinced yet?

Check out the guide below to find out how to either test or install Ubuntu…

Also worth checking out…

Have you tried Ubuntu? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think!