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Product recommendations, reviews, and guides.

Mushkin Atom USB Drive

Mushkin Atom DriveI am always looking for a better flash drive and my current favorite is the Mushkin Atom. The Atom is not the smallest physical size drive, but it is faster than most of the competition. I use my flash drive with PortableApps, which allows me to have most of my apps on a flash drive. This is a great way to keep all your apps when switching between two Windows computers. The only downside I have found is that Google Chrome does not work as well. It is a bit slower for some reason. Firefox is my preferred browser and the PortableApps version works very well. As to the Mushkin Atom performance, I ran a quick test with USBDeview for Windows and read results were a third faster than my previous Sandisk drive.

Mushkin Atom 32GB Speed Test

This test was run on the Mushkin Atom 32GB USB3 flash drive with USBDeview 64. Your results may vary depending on your computer and USB port.

I have been using the Atom for about 3 months without any issues on a Windows 7 laptop.

Dell T105 CPU Upgrade

AMD OpteronLast year I broke down and bought a Dell PowerEdge T105 Server because it was relatively inexpensive and I needed a new Windows box at home. While it came out of the box with a modest Dual Core Opteron 1.8GHz cpu, I definitely wanted something faster in the future. Well the time came this week and I found the AMD Opteron 1224SE 3.2GHz on Newegg.com simply too good to pass up. At $115.99, the price is just right for an AMD based processor. This was an OEM processor, so it came as is, no heatsink or instructions included.

The PowerEdge T105 is pretty easy to upgrade. Since this was a processor upgrade, make sure your T105 Server has the latest BIOS update from Dell, if it needs it. Dell provides no documentation that I could find that the 1224SE is supported or not, so I had to gamble that it would work for me. You will want to look the Dell manual for uninstalling the Dell heatsink if you are haven’t removed the heatsink before. There are two screws you will need to remove and then plastic case surrounding the heatsink, comes loose when you lift it up and back. Once you have the heatsink off, you might want to clean it off and apply a small amount of Arctic Silver to the new cpu. In all the upgrade took less than 20 minutes.

So far the differences in speed are apparent when launching applications, however if you have not upgraded the memory, you probably should do that too. With the 8GB of RAM and Dual 3.2GHz Opteron the server feels a lot more responsive than the stock configuration from Dell. You can get the memory relatively cheap from Shop.Kingston.com and cheap AM2 processors from Newegg.com.

ESET NOD32 Version 3

ESET NOD32 Version 3 Anti-VirusIt is pretty much agreed upon that in the Windows world of computing running a computer without anti-virus software is like jumping onto a busy highway and expecting to not get hit. No other platform has as many viruses and now spam infections as Windows. Given that, most Windows users will need to setup some sort of anti-virus application. In this review I will cover why ESET NOD32 should be considered one of your top choices as well as why buying anti-virus software in general can be difficult.

NOD32 Options

All software makers pretty much distinguish between two classes of software these days. You either buy personal software for home use or you spend more and purchase business (sometimes referred to as enterprise) software. It use to be that ESET offered one solution that you could install on Windows2000, WindowsXP workstations and Windows Servers, but they recently changed their software pricing model to make a clear distinction between personal home software and what they call the business edition. It is now no longer possible to buy just 1 license of NOD32 Business Edition so that you can run it on your server. You must instead purchase 5 business licenses and then you will be able to download the Business Edition. The Home Edition no longer installs on any type of Windows Server, it will only install on Windows Workstations! My biggest problem with this is that I run a home server and so I can no longer buy cheap anti-virus software. Almost every vendor now requires a 5 business license limit, so even if I just wanted one or two licenses, I no longer have that privilege.

However if you are not like me, and just have Windows XP or Vista workstations, then you can buy ESET NOD32 Home Edition pretty cheaply. The cheapest way to buy the Home Edition is to just purchase an OEM version. You should be able to find OEM versions for sale on Newegg.com and save yourself a few dollars in the process.

Other than the Home versus Business editions, you can purchase ESET Smart Security which is both an anti-virus and anti-spyware utility. The Smart Security suite is more expensive than NOD32 alone, but it will save you the expense of buying a separate commercial spyware utility.

NOD32 Interface

The software takes a few minutes to install and by all accounts is a relatively easy install. The installer will require the usual Windows restart. From this point on, any time you start Windows, you will get a NOD32 splash screen once Windows gets to the desktop, letting you know NOD32 loaded. The green logo will then appear in your systray and you can click on it to bring up NOD32. Version 3 of the software differs from version 2.7, in that version 3 gives you a nicer looking interface and hides the old style 2.7 setup screens. You can even configure NOD32 to show a simple interface if you think the Advanced Interface is still too cluttered.

NOD32 Protection

NOD32 offers real-time file system protection, email protection, and web access protection. You can turn off email and web access protection if you find those features too intrusive. The web access protection works quite well, it alerted me when I visited a site that had been compromised by a cross-domain JavaScript call. Overall I have been using NOD32 for over a year and in that time it has caught multiple virus problems and best of all, has not slowed my system down in the process.

Other than NOD32, I have tried Computer Associates Anti-Virus products which are very inexpensive compared to other vendors. However it is my opinion that NOD32 is the top anti-virus product in quality for Windows at this time. Business users though might want to look at Sophos who offers enterprise class anti-virus and spam solutions with a good reputation for quality. For home user though, NOD32 is still my best recommendation.