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January 2019
More Tech Myths

Five more tech myths that you should stop believing!

More tech myths. Are you a believer?More tech myths. Are you a believer?
In my December 2017 newsletter I debunked five myths about modern technology. Here are five more myths that you can dispense with.

More signal bars means better cell service.
While having more bars helps, it doesn't necessarily guaranty excellent results. The bars are an indicator of how close you are to the nearest cell tower. However there are other factors that can impact the “speed” of the Internet on your device, such as how many people are also using the network at the same time.

You should defragment your hard drive.
This used to be true but in the “modern age” that is no longer the case. Because of the way that conventional magnetic hard drives read and write data the individual data bits that should be right next to each other tend to get jumbled around. So when you open a file the drive would have to read from maybe a dozen different places instead of just one. That results in a slower computer.

In “ancient times” you would have to run a utility program to put all the pieces back where they belong. Now-a-days that feature is built-in to most major operating systems and runs automatically as needed. You don't have to do anything.

What's more is that on Solid State Drives, (SSD's) it's a bad idea. The memory cells in an SSD have a limited number of read write cycles. Running a defragmenting program only serves to shorten their lifespan.

You shouldn't use 3rd party chargers for your phone or tablet.
This myth suggests that a 3rd party charger might damage your device. There are two issues here:

  1. The charger provided with your phone, tablet or laptop might provide more power and therefore recharge your device faster.
  2. Charger quality can be a problem. While equipment made by reputable companies like Belkin or Anker generally work fine. The “Knock Off” chargers made by unknown companies have a high failure rate. They are poorly designed and often use low quality components that can fail prematurely and can even cause fires. You can usually tell which chargers are the “el-cheapo” types by their ridiculously low price.
Truth is often stranger than fiction!Truth is often stranger than fiction!

Airport X-Ray machines can damage/erase memory cards.
While the x-ray machines at airport security checkpoints can ruin unprocessed photographic film from non-digital cameras. But your memory cards are safe, at least from the level of radiation emitted at the checkpoint. Sandisk is a major producer of flash cards. They offer this assurance on their website. So airport security checks shouldn't be a problem unless your memory cards are laced with some sort of contraband.

You should buy the warranty on any new electronic gadgets that you purchase.
Not all warranties are created equal and some are a better deal than others. While many outlets push the warranties because they make money selling you what amounts to an insurance policy these warranties often cost more than the value they provide. Next time you purchase some pricey new tech toy ask about the return policy. Often you can return the item within thirty days, no questions asked. Some stores will even allow you to exchange an item or get store credit without a receipt. Given the failure rate of new electronics is very low, assuming that you didn't take your new toy with you when you went water skiing. If something does go wrong and you find that you do need a warranty you can still call the manufacturer. A reputable company will have a means of contacting them for technical assistance. Making a few phone calls could be a better idea than an expensive warranty. Remember that the squeaky wheel gets greased!

And remember always back it up!

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