30 tech myths debunked

Even for a techie, it sometimes becomes difficult to tell fact from fiction -- so here is a collection of some popular misconceptions and our explanations to help clear the air.

Formatting and partitioning hard disk causes physical wear and tear: When you format a storage media, the partitioning software reads and write data in multiple patterns and then fills the entire partition (or disk, as the case may be) with '0's. This constitutes a read-write operation which is no different from any other write command, like for example, copying files. During partitioning process, the starting sectors of the drive where the partition table is stored is modified. In this case also, for the hard disk, it is nothing but another write operation. When you choose a quick format option, there is even lesser strain on the hard disk as only the file table is modified to read that partition as empty. In fact, this is the reason why recovering data from a drive after quick format is a lot easier than after a full format.

Deleting files from recycle bin ensures permanent deletion: This belief is another long timer in the list of PC related myths. Emptying the recycle bin gives you a false assurance that the files are really gone. In reality, Windows only marks the area of the disk occupied by the files in question, as 'empty', but does not proceed to remove the data itself. Thus, file recovery software can search the hard disk for files that are still present (after deletion). So long as the disk area of the file is not overwritten by any new data, recovery is possible. If you wish to delete sensitive files permanently such that they cannot be recovered, use a third party tool like eraser (included on this month's DVD).

The size of the page file must be set to twice the amount of RAM: Back in the days of Windows 95 / 98, when hard disk capacity was very limited (as little as 2 GB), this was a guideline to manually set the size of the swap file in order to eke out some performance, reduce defragmentation and save some hard disk space as well. Come larger and faster hard disks, no one really bothered much about swap file sizes. The little rationale that the above swap file rule had, is no longer valid. Today, you can let Windows manage swap files on its own or manually assign the first partition of your hard disk (fastest) for page file usage.

Magnets can destroy data on storage devices: This is true only for the sensitive floppy drives — place a powerful magnet on them for some time and bid good bye to your data. But then, who uses floppy drives these days? Flash drives are not made up of magnetic media and hence are immune to magnets. Hard drives can be affected by magnets — really strong magnets. The kind that are used in laboratories, the kind that might suck the iron out of your blood. Magnets found in homes, including those in speakers are simply not powerful enough to penetrate the magnetic shield of the hard disks and harm them. In short, no magnet in your home will cause you any data loss.

LCD monitors are not suitable for games and movies: This is not a myth per se as this was largely true till about two years back. Most LCD monitors lacked contrast, had poor response time and color reproduction was not spot-on either. A lot has changed over the last two years and today an LCD monitor can produce better quality images (read: higher contrast and color reproduction for movies) and has response times that are suitable for gaming. Going the LCD way is a wise choice for more than one reason. For one, it causes significantly lesser eye strain which makes it ideal for gamers who spend long hours staring hard at the monitor. Widescreen LCDs are suitable for movies which are increasingly coming in a widescreen format too. But watch out, there are quite a few LCD monitors out there that we can classify as sub-par in quality. Do read up reviews before you get one!

CD / DVD Media can last forever: Some disc manufactures claim shelf life of over 100 years for optical media, but that is only under ideal storage conditions, use of best materials and an error free process of writing data onto it. These three conditions are seldom fulfilled, and it is not rare to see CDs and DVDs burnt five years ago going bad by mere shelf storage (not used). It is hard to predict the shelf life of optical media, and there is much disagreement between manufacturers and researchers on the subject. If data is critical to you, it is best to make a second copy of it and replace it every two — three years. Store discs away from sunlight heat and dust, as these can accelerate the aging process.

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Kailas Shastry

PC World India
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