How Healthy And Fast Your Hard Drive Is With These Two Free Windows Applications

healthy hard drive
Except for fans, the typical hard drive is just about the only piece of a modern computer that still has moving parts. While solid state drives are becoming more popular every day, most of us still use at least one regular hard drive, spinning platters and all. Because those platters are spinning around at 5400 or 7200 PRM (and sometimes even faster) for countless hours, you would do well to check on their health every now and then.

Also, even if your hard drive is perfectly healthy, it may still pose a performance bottleneck on your system: Reading and writing files to a regular hard drive are two of the slowest operations computers have to do these days. So how can you tell if your hard drive is healthy, and how can you tell how fast it is?

Health: CrystalDiskInfo

healthy hard drive
First things first – let’s start with health. CrystalDiskInfo is a free tool, which we’ve mentioned more than three years ago. Well, it is still around, and it is still an excellent tool. It is under constant development, with the latest version released early March. CrystalDiskInfo lets you see a wealth of information about your hard drive, using the drive’s S.M.A.R.T self-monitoring interface. For example, we can see that the hard drive above (the newest drive in my system) has been operating for 4,411 hours, which are 183 days – during which I restarted my computer 28 times. This is an interesting bit of trivia, but it also lets you estimate how close your drive is to failure: many vendors specify something called “MTBF”, or “mean time before failure” for their hard drive.
Another important metric you can see above is the drive temperature, 43 degrees Celsius (if you prefer Fahrenheit, CrysalDiskInfo can do that too). Much like the MTBF, this information can be used to estimate how well your drive is doing: I searched for the specifications of this hard drive (WD20EARX), and found them on the Western Digital website. WD specifies an operation temperature of 0 to 60 degrees Celsius for this drive, so now I know I’m in range (albeit on its high end).
Other measurements are very technical, but fortunately, CrystalDiskInfo makes life easy by just stating that the drive’s health status is good.

Speed: DiskBench

healthy hard drive
Now that you know how healthy your hard drive is, it’s time to find out how fast it is, and this is what DiskBench does. Unlike CrystalDiskInfo, DiskBench does not contain large color-coded buttons and indicators: You get five very businesslike tabs, and that’s it. Each tabs lets you run a different sort of test on your drive. Above you can see the batch file creation test: This test rapidly creates a number of files, and shows you how long each operation took.
There is one very important thing you should watch for when using DiskBench: As you can see above, the application lets you change the block size used for creating files. For some crazy reason, it also lets you specify block size in gigabytes (GB). When I first started testing DiskBench, I mistook this setting for file size rather than block size, and set it to 2 GB. My computer completely choked – I haven’t seen Windows 7 become stuck so badly in a very long time. I was unable to run Task Manager or do anything else for over fifteen minutes, and ended up hard-booting the computer. Scary.
So again: Block size is not like file size. If you want larger file, you should increase the number of blocks (“Initial number of blocks” and “Block increase” in the particular test above).
That said, DiskBench provides interesting metrics, and can let you decide where you want to place page files and other important files.

Suggest Other Free Benchmarking Tools

When you want to gauge your hard drive’s health, what do you use? Have you made the leap to an SSD yet?
Source:- makeuseof

4 Tips For Securing PDF Documents

securing pdf documents
In the world of electronic documents and paperless offices, the PDF (Portable Document Format) has become an essential document format. A PDF file is readable on multiple operating systems, in a wide variety of programs and is able to retain document formatting regardless of the device, operating system or program it is viewed on. Users can also easily organise PDFsbookmark pages for reading later or even convert PDF to eBook format. But it’s not just these great features which make it such a popular format of the business world: There’s also the topic of PDF security.

When you create PDFs for business purposes there are a number of security concerns you may have, ranging from who can view it to how the content can be re-used. It’s therefore vital to understand your PDF security settings well and to know what protection features are generally available. Here are some of the top PDF security tips.

1. PDF Documents Can Be Secured Using Public Keys Or Passwords

All PDF security relies on encryption, but the method for obtaining access to the file can vary according to your security needs. Many business documents use a password to unlock the file as it is a simple way to give access. Clients can be told passwords via the phone for access to the files you have sent electronically, thus stopping an intercepter from gaining access. However, it is also possible to pre-define who has access to the file according to public keys, making it impossible to gain access to the document unless you are the intended recipient of the file.
Note that encrypted protection of PDF files will not stop someone from deleting the file. You’ll need to ensure the file access rights on your computer are sufficient to ensure the document is safe.

securing pdf documents

2. Some Documents May Be Printed Even When Password-Protected

If you have decided to password-protect your PDF documents, you may be surprised or relieved to know that it is possible to allow print-only access to a file even without the password. This is both something to note when ensuring your documents are fully secured and something to try if you’ve locked yourself out of an important document. This could be very important to remember in the future!

3. PDF Security Can Be Used To Prevent Copying

You may have PDF documents which you’d like to make generally available, but which you’d prefer weren’t easy to copy (for whatever reason). For instance, PDF security can be used to ensure people can’t copy and paste your text, can’t print the file in high quality or save as another sort of document. This DRM (Digital Rights Management) can be really useful when sending files to clients for a preview before they’ve paid for the work. Unencrypted PDF files can allow users to cut-and paste text as well as extracting images from the PDF document. It’s even really easy to convert PDFs to Word documents.
securing pdf documents

4. Some Encryption and PDF Protections Can Be Broken Or Avoided

Despite all this encryption, a determined PDF copier would re-type the text or take a screenshot of your document. There are also many services available online to remove PDF encryption. With different levels of encryption available and many high-powered computers around to break that encryption you’re never completely safe, but it will deter most people.

More About PDF Security

Note that there are a number of different ways to encrypt your PDF files as numerous programs can create and access PDF files. Generally, look under “permissions”, “protection”, “security” and “encryption” to access the security controls for your PDF.via[makeuseof]
What are your best tips about securing PDFs? Let us know in the comments!

Lavasoft Launches Version 10 Of Popular Anti-Malware Software Ad-Aware

Lavasoft just released version 10 of Ad-Aware. As always, Ad-Aware promised to give users peace of mind by keeping them safe while they work and play with their computers. Ad-Aware protects computers from viruses, spyware and adware. Of course, there is a free version as well as two premium versions. The free version offers enough protection for most users. If you are interested in getting the free version, or downloading a trial of one of the premium versions, download it here.

The main feature that this update brings is faster performance. This version of Ad-Aware uses far less system resources than previous versions. Version 10 of Ad-Aware also includes a completely redesigned user interface that is easier to navigate. It also includes enhanced real-time monitoring and download protection, which stops malware before it is opened and prevents it from getting the chance to do any damage.
Ad-Aware has also added game mode, which monitors in the background without interrupting while users play a game or watch a video full-screen. It also uses less system resources than older versions, so gaming performance will not be affected by having the protection running in the background.
The Ad-Aware interface is super-smooth and everything seems to work better than the previous versions. It is definitely worth checking out if you are looking for a new method of protecting your computer.
Source: Lavasoft

The Best Jailbreak Apps For iOS 5

As you may know, I am a huge proponent of jailbreaking. I have jailbroken every iOS device I have ever owned and I can guarantee you that will never change. The freedom of being able to tweak your device to make it your own is so awesome. Of course, if you are using your jailbreak to do illegal things, that is a problem, but as long as you are using it ethically, than there is nothing wrong with having a little fun with your device.

Since iOS 5 launched, developers have been hard at work coming up with creative ways to get their jailbreak applications to work with it, and even finding new ways to make use of the features added by Apple. It took a while for a proper untethered jailbreak to come along for iOS 5, but now that it is here, it is great to see how the jailbreak community has come out in full force, bringing some of the best jailbreak stuff we have seen. These apps will work with your iOS 5 device, and they are some of the coolest jailbreak stuff I have ever seen.

Downloading The Apps

To download any of these applications and tweaks, all you need to do is search for the name in Cydia. It does not get much easier than that!

Zephyr ($3.00)

This cool tweak adds gestures to iOS multitasking. You can swipe up from the bottom of the screen to bring up the multitasking drawer. When in an app, you can also pull from the left or right to switch seamlessly between other applications that are running in the background. It is the quickest and easiest way I have seen to make use of iOS 5’s multitasking feature, and it makes me wonder why it was not included out of the box.

StatusGoogle (Free)

This is a simple tweak, but one that is very useful. It simply adds a Google search box to the notification center, allowing you to search the web quickly and easily at any time. You will need to enable the tweak from the notification settings screen, and you will also want to move it to the top, otherwise the keyboard will not line up properly when it pops out.

AnyLockApp (Free)

One of the coolest features of iOS 5 is the ability to double tap your home button and quickly bring up your camera without having to unlock your device and find the icon. However, what if you do not use your camera and you want quick access to another app from your lock screen? Well if that is the case, you should check out AnyLockApp. It allows you to choose almost any app installed on your device. This is especially useful for people who use an app like Camera Awesome or Camera+ instead of the default camera application.

Music Controls Pro (Free 5 day trial, $6.00 after trail)

This neat tweak allows you to control your music right from notification center. It shows you the album art, controls volume and even sends a song via AirPlay. For music lovers, this is an awesome tweak. It hides in the notification center until you need it.

BiteSMS (Free with ads, $10 premium license)

BiteSMS is my favorite jailbreak tweak ever made. It takes everything about texting on the iPhone and makes it better. You get quick reply, quick compose, contact pictures in the message list, the ability to send messages on a schedule, timestamps on all messages and so much more. It integrates nicely with iOS 5, as tapping a message in the notification center opens quick reply, instead of closing your current app to launch messages.


I have spoken about how amazing SBSettings is, and I stand by that claim. Now, with iOS 5, you can integrate SBSettings toggles directly into the notification center, if you do not want a separate pop out. Being able to get access to key settings right from your notification center is a huge time saver. If you have a jailbroken Apple device, you should have SBSettings installed.


Ever since the launch of iOS 5, developers are getting creative and finding their own ways to take the awesome features of the OS and make it their own. If you own a jailbroken iPhone, you should check out these apps, as they will make your life better.via[ghacks]
What are your favorite iOS 5 compatible jailbreak apps? Let us know in the comments!


Gmail: mobile phone can now send among other senders

Maybe it has already noticed one or the other: you can receive on an account of various Google accounts emails but also send emails. So I can, for example, my work account to link to Gmail and use Gmail from anywhere to write under a completely different e-mail address. Anyone interested in this subject who can read my information and instructions: Gmail - Tips & Tricks . Building on this subject, it is interesting to know that now can also set the mobile Gmail app the sender.
This was not possible before, and seems to have been implemented clandestinely. By clicking on the sender field can switchen it between the sender accounts. By the way,the mobile Gmail app for IOS, which was initially so terrible , is now my default iOS - even if she gets even more unfortunately for the Android counterpart. If not for you, the sender must be changed, so you will log off and back on again. ( via )

Malicious Android application stealing banking credentials

Malicious Android application stealing banking credentials

A new form of smart Android malware can not only steal your online banking information, but update itself in the future and secretly send contact information stored on your device off to the Bad Guys. Security researchers at McAfee have discovered a malicious Android application capable of grabbing banking passwords from a mobile device without infecting the user’s computer.

From a McAfee blog post on the subject, penned by Malware Researcher Carlos Castillo: "To get the fake token, the user must enter the first factor of authentication (used to obtain initial access to the banking account). If this action is not performed, the application shows an error. When the user clicks “Generar” (Generate), the malware shows the fake token (which is in fact a random number) and sends the password to a specific cell phone number along with the device identifiers (IMEI and IMSI). The same information is also sent to one of the control servers along with further data such as the phone number of the device."

The app also includes a number of nasty lines of code that could be used to obtain users' contact lists and then send them off to a control server. "From man-in-the-middle attacks we now see more sophisticated, remote-controlled banking Trojans that can get more than one factor of authentication and update itself to, for example, modify a phishing attack to get other required credentials–such as the name or the ID number of the user–to perform electronic fraud," writes Castillo. "Due to the increasing popularity of Android and mobile-banking applications, we expect that more threats like this will appear."

If Mobile banking does take off, beware, since the Android security architecture won't be able to stop those types of attacks, given the ease with which users can be tricked, via social engineering attacks, into installing third-party applications.

Google +: Hangouts now possible with new apps

Google Apps and Hangout? Yes, I know - has been around longer. Google Docs and YouTube were so long with the video chat in Google veknüpft +. Now Google has the API Hangout released into the wild is supposed to mean: the beta-phase is completed. From now on, developers can use this API to develop applications for themselves Hangout.
To celebrate the day Google skin then immediately get out a few more apps that you can use via the Hangout. This includes not only the already known applications such as slideshare now the well-known service, a poker game, a quiz and also an application where the Hangout participants can paint together.
In the video chat window, you can these apps in a new tab, or you choose to display the last used applications. I must admit that I'm still not used often to video chat, but with the release of the API or the anticipated apps I could probably be persuaded to beat often times to keep my scruffy face in the webcam.
What do you think? Exciting feature redundant or? And how do you video chat use at all? Via Google + - or are you rather go on Facebook or Skype?
Source: Google via network world

‘Anonymous’ Hackers To Shut Down Internet On Saturday, March 31

The hacktivist organization known as Anonymous has announced its plans to disable the internet this Saturday, March 31st. The group has been known to bring down websites, large ones at that, but has never attempted something as large as the entire internet before.
This announcement, other than its enormous scope, should come as a surprise to nobody. Indeed, they threatened retaliation for the arrests of 25 of their members last month. But their plan for Saturday isn’t about vengeance. Instead, it is about combating the still live threat by Congress on the autonomy of the internet through revised versions of the Stop Internet Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA). These pieces of legislation, which saw the largest online protest in history, along with ACTA, do indeed represent a serious threat to the internet as we know it.

Their mode of attack is par for the course for Anonymous. By using a method known as distributed denial of service attack the plan is to attack what Anonymous calls the internet’s thirteen root servers. If the servers are overloaded with request from IP address, it will stop redirecting others. In essence, anyone else trying to access the internet will get the web equivalent of a busy signal. A momentarily lapsed internet will not affect other communications which rely on separate internet frameworks and devices. But the enormity and daring of this undertaking is something to consider. In a world utterly reliant on the internet, whirling around at lightning speeds, the lack of access to the internet, albeit even if for only a day, will certainly have its repercussions, whether cultural or technological or both.
But is it even possible?
According to the security firm Errata Security’s Robert Graham, not so much. In a statement on the issue, Graham went on to say that while such an attack was possible it is unlikely to succeed on Saturday. He holds that even if Anonymous is able to cause problems on the local level, the attack will never go global. But he warns that “just because I say Anonymous can’t do it doesn’t it mean it can’t be done.”
But even with the advanced warning, Alan Woodward, a professor in the department of computing at the University of Surrey, thinks that Anonymous could do some real damage. In an opinion piece for the BBC news, Woodward cited Brian Honan, an information security expert for BH Consulting, as saying “unfortunately, despite [DNS] vulnerability being widely known for many years, a large proportion of DNS servers are still not configured correctly to prevent this type of attack.”
Even the VP of Radware Security, Carl Herberger stated that he is surprised that many of his colleagues are not taking the threat seriously. He credits his concern to several DNS vulnerabilities, some of them due to design flaws and social engineering vulnerabilities, but also from insiders interested in “ideological payback.”
While I do not know what will happen on Saturday, part of me does wish for them to succeed. The sheer boldness of it makes me root for the underdog in the fight. But that being said I feel that even if they should fail in Operation Blackout, they will still have succeeded in pressing the issue of internet censorship. My hope, whatever transpires on Saturday, is that the online community stay ever vigilant in opposing any legislation which would damage and censor the greatest tool for the sharing of ideas and promotion of freedom the world has ever known. And that, for me, is a big enough win.via[pnosker]

Microsoft Windows gets 8 cloud backup

Ok, there probably will be subject of interest to only a few, since it is the server version of Windows 8 is. Version 8 of the Windows Server ships with a cloud backup.The ugly word cloud, which simply means: we can use Windows 8 server operators to secure our data outside of their own infrastructure - the Internet. Is then called Microsoft online backup.
Currently, users can test the U.S. for fun and get 10 GB of memory. According to Microsoft, is to configure the online backup can be managed more easily. Inkremetelle backup and encryption? Of course. Passive monitoring administrators who are interested in the topic, for further information gladly look over here .via[caschy]

Google with its own Tablet Store

Techies of the world actually wait every hour that someone from Google on the stage, a cylinder of the present then a tablet is taken. * drum roll * € 199 . So it is already rumored and believed - and ASUS or Samsung, it should be - maybe even later on his own home, with Motorola Mobility. While it was sold as the Galaxy Nexus of God and the world, Google's tablet is perhaps in its own online store selling additionally.
Seems the Kindle and the iPad to be working - at least those are the only tablets, which you can assign to a certain extent, but other devices are unfortunately only "ran a distant second" to find individual stories or less. According to reports the Wall Street Journal , these "powered by Google" Tablets are perhaps even subsidized, so they really get going places on the market. Apple also had success with - only who were smart, who can be costly for mobile operators subsidize their iPhones;) via[Caschy]

Photo Recovery Software

It is relatively easy to erase pictures on a digital camera. Hitting the wrong button could delete all pictures at once with no apparent way of recovering the pictures. Digital cameras usually do not provide the means to recover deleted pictures. The only viable option would be to use photo recovery software like Free Art Plus Digital Photo Recovery to recovery erased photos on the digital cameras.
The photo recovery software is compatible with every Windows operating system since Windows 95 and should work with all memory card types. Two of its biggest selling points are the ability to recover pictures from formatted memory cards and that it can even identify and work with cards that Windows detects as corrupted.
The portable software provides two recovery options. The first is to recovery images directly from the memory card while the second will create an image of the memory card on the computer which can be parsed for photos afterwards.
digital photo recovery
Memory cards can be accessed directly if they are visible as a logical drive in Windows. If that is not the case a memory card reader has to be used instead. The last step involves picking the image formats supported by the camera. Some users might be tempted to select all but this could lead to corrupted photos and is not advised. The easiest way is to look at previously saved images or the digital camera’s manual to find out the formats that it saves the photos in.
The photo recovery software supports currently the formats JPG, TIF, DNG, Canon CR2, Konica-Minolta MRW, Nikon NEF, Olympus ORF, Pentax PEF, Sony ARW, SRF and SR2 plus a few additional RAW formats that might not be supported fully but can be recovered nevertheless.