Q: How can I get the most juice out of my laptop’s battery? There are tons of things you can do to get more battery power out of your laptop. The three most important things on a laptop for battery performance are the hard drive, the screen, and the wi-fi. Let’s start off with the hard drive. The first thing you want to do is make sure you’re only running critical processes and programs. The more unneeded things run on your computer, the more your battery inevitably has to work to keep them running. Additionally, if you have music or movies that you absolutely need to play while you’re running out of battery power, play them off of a usb drive. This will keep the hard drive access to a minimum. I should also note that if you’re planning on watching a movie, you’re going to be running speakers, and your display a lot harder, so playing a movie goes on the list of things not to do when you’re trying to conserve power. Lastly, if you wish, or if you simply can afford to, invest in an SSD. Load your OS onto that to keep the primary drive from draining so much power. It’s also going to decrease boot times! Secondly, screen brightness is going to wear your battery out really quickly. There are two things you can do here. The first is simply lowering your screen brightness. Nothing complicated about that. Additionally, since text and web pages are mainly black words on white backgrounds, you can invert your screen colors. This will make the majority of your screen black and only the words white. This won’t buy you too much time, but it does help in a pinch. The wireless connection on your laptop is constantly sending and receiving data even when you’re not surfing the web. If you don’t need it, turn it off. You can also shutoff your antivirus for a little while, but make sure you enable it before you connect your wifi. Lastly, there are a couple of other things you can do to help. If you keep your laptop cool and allow the exhausts and intakes adequate space, your laptop will function more efficiently. In addition there are many power saving setting in your control panel or your settings menu, so check those out to make sure your computer doesn’t think it’s in performance mode. Q: Is there any way for me to recover something I’ve deleted? Years of irresponsibly deleting pictures and homework on my own computer led me to track down a solution a while back. I’m a pretty minimalist computer user, and when I don’t need something, I can usually delete it with no remorse. However, there are times when I do need to recover those files, and there is a program that I prefer to do this. The program is called Recuva. It’s super easy to use, and it’s a total lifesaver (when/if you install this program, make sure you uncheck the yahoo toolbar install option). As previously stated, the program is really easy to use. You simply specify what type of file you wish to recover and the last location of the file (which is not the recycle bin). It will then pull up all of the pictures or word documents from that location that have been deleted. If there’s too much for you to sift through you can specify more things in the advanced search. The best part is, this software is free! There are other options out there like DiskDigger, but Recuva is my favorite. It should also be noted, that because of my haphazard recycle bin trigger finger, I have started backing up ALL my files with a server. There’s a lot of redundancy there, but the 4 TB of storage space should be able to cover it. Server setup is something we will hopefully be able to cover in a future blog post. Q: Are there any better shortcuts to do things on my computer besides just copy and paste, and things like that? Well, I’m not really sure what all you know already, but if you’re looking for a list of common Windows 7 OS shortcuts, you can find that list here: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/keyboard-shortcuts Now, if you’re looking at changing shortcuts, and creating hotkeys to automate processes, then AutoHotkey is definitely the answer for you. I will preface this by saying some knowledge in scripting is required, but AutoHotkey has a great community of users that post their scripts often and give help, so most of the time it’s just a matter of searching for what you need.
Thank you so much for sending your questions our way. We had more questions come in, but had to limit the Q&A to three today because the answers to the first three had to be so in depth. We’re planning on showcasing the other questions next Thursday at this very same blog. Q: Is there anything I can do to fix a dead pixel? – Josh Well Josh, before we get into solutions, let’s first establish what a dead pixel is. A dead, or stuck pixel is a spot on your screen that is either always lit in a certain color, or always dark. The most common cause of a dead pixel is because of the liquid crystal inside the display building up in specific parts of the screen. Think of a dead pixel like a clogged artery. In many instances, dead pixels can be remedied. Now, another thing to consider is whether or not the pixel is dead or just stuck. Yes, there is a difference. If a pixel is actually dead, it’s not coming back, and you have two options. Either you live with it, or you ditch the screen and get a new one. However, if the pixel is only stuck, you have a few more options. The Rub – If your pixel is stuck, giving it a nice massage with your finger is probably the best way to bring it back to life. First make sure your monitor is on an all black or all white tone. This is going to make finding those rogue pixels easy. Next, wrap your finger with a soft cotton cloth, or something that won’t scratch up your display. My personal favorite is a microfiber cloth that came with my sunglasses, very nice indeed. Apply pressure, but make sure you’re not crushing the screen because you could damage the working pixels surrounding the bad one. Also, make sure you don’t put a hole through your display, because the manufacturer probably won’t cover that. The Sweat – This idea is a little risky, and not ScreenTek tested or approved. The basic idea is that if you stash your laptop someplace that isn’t ventilated very well, and keep your laptop from falling asleep, the heat will loosen up the pixel. Be warned, this isn’t guaranteed, and it could pose a potentially serious fire hazard. If you do this, make sure you keep an eye on the laptop. The Warranty – If your computer is still under warranty, by all means, contact the manufacturer and see what they can do. They may fix or replace it, and they may not, but it’s a valuable option to have in your back pocket just in case. Q: What, if any programs need to be selected for startup? – Amy Amy, this is a great question. Customizing your boot programs is one of the easiest ways to speed up your computer when it starts up. As for what you should kill and what you should keep, well it all actually depends on the programs you like to run. In order to customize which programs start when you boot the computer just type in “msconfig” into the search bar in the windows start menu. (This applies for Windows Vista and Windows 7. For XP Type it into run). Now go to the startup tab, and deselect anything you don’t want to start up right away. Here is where I would suggest exercising some caution because not all of these services are labeled well, so you may want to do some research on what you’re killing before you do it. My computer for example only has one service starting upon boot. That’s my rainmeter dashboard because I have a customized, interactive desktop that I do all of my navigation through. In the end, it’s mostly about taste and not functionality. At one point I didn’t have anything starting up. After you apply the changes you may be asked to reboot your computer. Go ahead, and keep your eyes peeled for faster load times. Q: What is Superfetch and how do I go about making it work? –Amy Amy, Superfetch is a process that computers that run Vista and up use. It was formerly known as PreFetcher in Windows XP, and it was pretty terrible. Now Superfetch has two main objectives. The first one is to decrease boot times, and the second is to increase application load efficiency. It does this by storing load data in your computer’s RAM (Random Access Memory) rather than the hard drive. When you boot up your computer, whether or not you’ve chosen to load any programs or services in msconfig, your computer still has processes and services that it needs to run. Superfetch records these actions and the order in which they are executed to make the load more efficient and thus, faster. All of the data are stored in a file on your computer in /Windows/Prefetch/Layout.ini, and yes, the folder is still labeled “Prefetch” in Windows Vista and Windows 7. This file is updated about every three days. Now in order to increase application efficiency, Superfetch preloads the programs you open and use most often in the computer’s memory. It even takes into consideration the times that you load the applications, so if you use mail more often in the morning, it will preload your email client in the morning, but maybe not at night. Superfetch finds the files critical to an applications first ten seconds of startup and loads that data into the system’s memory. The application data for Superfetch is stored in /Windows/Prefetch and it includes all of the .pf flies. Now, as far as making Superfetch work, unless you’ve previously disabled Superfectch, it should be working already. If your question is more on how to customize it and make it better, well that’s tricky. In order to edit which files are cached in Superfetch, you have to do some registry key editing, which is not something I nor ScreenTek recommends. A lot of scary stuff can happen in there, and unless you’re pretty knowledgeable in the ways of the registry, we don’t suggest you go in there. Now there is a loophole of sorts to making Superfetch run better. Superfetch’s performance depends solely on the amount of RAM you have in your computer, so the more RAM you have, the better Superfetch does it’s job. Most new computers these days come with anywhere between 4 and 8 gbs of RAM, which should be absolutely plenty for Superfetch However, if you’re running an older computer with a smaller cache of memory, a RAM upgrade might be a solid solution to speed up your computer. If that’s the case, let us know because a RAM upgrade tutorial is definitely something ScreenTek can help you out with. If there are any other solutions to any of these questions, please put them in the comments below. Additionally, please keep sending us your computer/tech questions. We’re always willing to help out our beloved fans!