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Computing Myths Part 2

posted 14 Sept 2010, 08:48 by Mpelembe   [ updated 14 Sept 2010, 08:50 ]

Last week I began a list of computer myths I hate the most,
in an attempt to set the record straight. I tried to fit
this in a 600 word article but that just wasn't enough. So
I'm back again to hopefully finish the list.

Unnecessary Screen Savers

Screen Savers have been redundant for many years now but yet
many users still insist on having them on their machines. The
idea of a screen saver stemmed from the days of monochrome
monitors; these had a tendency to suffer an incurable 'burn
in' if a still image was left on the screen for an extended
period of time. There is no longer a need to have your
screen saver turned on as modern monitors, especially TFT's,
don't suffer from this affliction. To extend the life of the
monitor and to save power, you would be better off having
your PC automatically switching the monitor to standby mode
after a set period of time. To activate this feature head to
control panel, double click on the power options icon and
then select how long you would like the PC to wait before
the monitor is switched in to standby when it's not being

If you don't 'stop' a USB device before unplugging it from a
PC you'll mess it up.

Your computer will most probably moan at you and make a
violent noise if you remove a USB device before stopping it
correctly from within Windows. Whilst it is true that if you
do this with a device such as a flash drive or USB hard drive
whilst it is juggling data around that some real damage can
be done there is no real reason that unplugging a printer,
scanner, camera and so on without first stopping it will
cause any damage to the device.

Overzealous Defragmenting

I have covered defragmenting before in Click but very
briefly I'll quickly recap for those who are unsure what I
mean by this term. A computer will not always write a single
file in a continuous space on the hard disk but will often
write the file in several pieces on the drive in whatever
space is available. Over time this can lead to the drive
becoming 'fragmented' which results in the computer working
harder, and as a result taking longer when accessing the
hard drive as the data has to be read from several different
areas of the disk, rather than being read in one continuous

A defragmentation program, such as the one provided free in
Windows, is used to reorganise the files of the hard drive
so that, where possible, a file is always stored in one
piece rather than scattered across the drive. The problem is
that these programs can become addictive and often lead to an
obsessive desire to have every file on your hard drive
defragmented. I know people who run these utilities several
times a week and the simple truth is that there is nothing
wrong with a fragmented drive. Modern Operating Systems
attempt to keep fragmented files to a minimum and even a
large amount of fragmentation will make a relatively small
difference to your overall system speed.

Whilst we're on the subject, it is worth noting that it's
quite normal that some files cannot be defragmented; this is
because they are being used by Windows and as such they can't
be moved around. There are ways to get around this but since
this space is more often that not occupied by temporary
virtual memory, it really isn't worth worrying about.

I can't argue with the fact that if your hard drive is
genuinely very fragmented then running a utility such as
Windows Defrag can result in some modest speed increases but
please, don't get in to the habit of doing it more than a
couple of times a year. Pleas ignore the person that comes
up to you and tell you how much of a difference it makes
when they spend two hours per week defragmenting their hard

About the Author:

Chris Holgate writes a weekly article of all things tech
related.  He is a copyrighter of the online Ink and Toner
website Refresh Cartridges . These articles can be
found in an archive at