Tuesday, January 30, 2018

SSD or HDD? Find it Out

SSD and HDD are the two storage components for the computers. When you're building or upgrading your PC, and you get to the business of storage, what should you go for? Building a PC can be hard enough before you get as far as thinking about what storage you're going to have inside it. But when you do get there, it's one of the most important parts of the build and a crucial thing to get right.
You can go for a Solid State Drive (SSD) or a more traditional Hard Disk Drive (HDD). There are merits to both, but what's going to be best for your build, and your budget?

What's the difference between the two?

In its simplest form, an SSD is flash storage and has no moving parts whatsoever. As a result, they're smaller and take up less space in a PC case, in some cases even mounting directly to the motherboard. SSD storage is much faster than its HDD equivalent.

HDD storage is made up of magnetic tape and has mechanical parts inside. They're larger than SSDs and much slower to read and write.

Why use an SSD?
If you're building a PC for any purpose, you're going to want speed. If you only have HDD storage in your machine, then speed isn't something coming your way. Windows will take longer to boot up, applications will take longer to load, files will take longer to open and save.

The beauty of an SSD is that this waiting time is dramatically reduced, even on cheaper drives, when compared to HDD. Anything you load on it will perform actions much quicker.

One of the best uses for an SSD in a PC is as a boot drive. This means installing a small-ish capacity drive on which your Windows 10 operating system will live and boot up from every day. By doing this, your PC will boot up and be ready to go in a flash. You can also put your most frequently used software on there for a similar effect.

The lifespan of an SSD isn't as lengthy as that of a HDD, but you can certainly use an SSD as your only drive in a PC. Many laptops only have SSD storage, for example. You're not looking at a short-term life, but compared to HDD storage it is reduced. SSDs don't handle being written to as well over time, but a boot drive wouldn't suffer this.

SSD prices have come down a lot in recent times, too, with the price per gigabyte much lower than it once was. Large capacity drives are still expensive, as are the highest performing ones, but generally speaking, they're more affordable than ever.

Why use a HDD?
The best case for HDD is mass storage. This type of drive is cheaper than SSD and available in some quite massive sizes. Have a lot of games or media to keep on your PC? No problem, you can get one or more drives over 1TB in size for a fraction of the cost of their SSD equivalents.

PC cases usually have space for more than one drive, meaning you can stack up as much mass storage as you can stash and your budget will allow.

Price per gigabyte is still much less than SSDs, and large capacity drives won't take all your money. 
An efficient system would have an SSD to boot Windows from and one or more HDDs for mass storage.

Our ultimate recommendation is to opt for a mixed system with HDD mass storage and an SSD boot drive for your Windows 10 install. This way you'll get a balance of price, performance, and space, and you'll have a well-rounded machine for all occasions.

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Friday, January 12, 2018

Top 10 features to Consider While Purchasing a Switch for Your Small Business

A reliable network is the foundation for any successful business. The network switch, a key cornerstone of any network, connects all the computers, printers, servers, and storage devices in your office, giving your employees access to shared resources.

A reliable network switch keeps data traffic moving efficiently, keeps unauthorized users from accessing sensitive data and allows you to add new users as your business grows.

Yes, the ideal switch will protect your small business network and give your company room to grow. 

Here’s a list of the Top 10 features to consider when purchasing a switch:
  1. Easy to configure: Look for a switch that provides common configurations for all the devices you might connect it to, including PCs, printers, and IP phones. For example, Cisco Smartports technology lets you click on a port and assign a configuration for a device, such as for an IP Phone. The switch then automatically configures that port to support the phone.
  2. Easy to manage: A managed switch gives you more control over the traffic traveling in and out of your network. Make sure it offers a Web-based user interface so you can easily handle setup, security, and traffic prioritization. The switch should also include an easy-to-use device discovery tool to help connect it to other devices on your network. Also look for advanced features such as remote management and online software upgrades.
  3. Energy efficiency: Switches consume a surprising amount of energy because they’re always on. Make sure you find one with features that optimize power use, such as a fanless chassis. A “green” switch can help you save money by cutting back on utility bills, so it’s good for your business as well as the environment.
  4. Power-over-Ethernet ports: A switch with power-over-Ethernet (PoE) ports instantly becomes another source of power in your office. PoE, also called “in-line power,” lets the switch provide electricity to networked-attached devices, such as video cameras, IP phones, wireless access points, point-of-sale devices, or security card readers. Using PoE switches gives you more placement options for devices and eliminates the need for separate power supplies, as well as the costs of running additional cable and circuits.
  5. Quality-of-Service (QoS) support: QoS gives priority to certain types of network traffic, such as real-time voice data. For example, QoS gives priority to telephone traffic over e-mail traffic, ensuring that the quality of a phone call isn’t degraded when someone downloads a large file.
  6. Security features: I can’t stress enough the importance of network security, and a switch with built-in security features is a must-have in order to protect a business’s vital data. A Look for a switch that includes the following:
    • embedded security for encrypting network communications
    • access control lists (ACLs) for restricting areas of the network from unauthorized users and guarding against network attacks
    • virtual LANS (VLANs) for segmenting the network to separte work groups or grant visitors access to the Internet without giving them access toall areas of your network.
  7. Support for IPv6: This is the newest version of the Internet Protocol (IP), which is the technology computers use to send data to each other over the Internet. Purchasing a switch that supports IPv6 now ensures that it will continue to work with next-generation networking applications, operating systems, and other devices as they become available.
  8. Expandability: Choose a switch that can grow with your business. As your business grows and you’ll need to support more users and devices, your network needs to be able to support that growth and maintain a high level of performance.  
  9. Interoperability: Getting locked into one vendor for all your technology needs is a concern for many small businesses. Choose switches that are built to work with other devices and are part of proven designs.  This will protect your investment long into the future.
  10. Support for multiple native languages: Your switch should be able to be used in any location by any employee, regardless of the local language. For a switch to offer true multiple language support, the user interfaces and documentation should be translated in several languages, including English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, and simplified Chinese.
Of course, your criteria for purchasing a switch will vary, but these Top 10 features will serve as a solid baseline when researching your options.

Have you purchased or researched a switch lately? How do these features stack up against your criteria?

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