Thursday, 16 January 2014

Superspeed USB 3.0

The third generation of the USB interface introduced in 2008. Called "SuperSpeed USB 3.0" (SS USB), it provides a 10x increase from 480 Mbps to 4.8 Gbps and also reduces CPU overhead by no longer continuously polling attached devices. In practice, USB 3.0 devices do not achieve a 1000% speed increase. For example, a USB 3.0 external hard drive may provide only a 50% improvement over its USB 2.0 counterpart, because the drive's latency and circuitry are limiting factors.

Plugs and Sockets Are Different
Although additional pins were added to 3.0, older USB 2.0 plugs insert into 3.0 sockets for backward compatibility. Type A 3.0 plugs can be inserted into 2.0 sockets, but only Type A. That is not the case with Type B 3.0 and Micro-B 3.0 plugs, because they have a larger footprint .

SuperSpeed USB 10 Gbps (USB 3.1) from the USB-IF
The SuperSpeed USB 10 Gbps (USB 3.1) Specification adds a 10 Gbps speed mode that uses a more efficient data encoding and will deliver more than twice the effective data through-put performance of existing SuperSpeed USB over enhanced, fully backward compatible USB connectors and cables. The specification extends the existing SuperSpeed mechanical, electrical, protocol and hub definition while maintaining compatibility with existing USB 3.0 software stacks and device class protocols as well as with existing 5 Gbps hubs and devices and USB 2.0 products.
•Delivers 10 Gbps USB data rate
     *  2x improvement over current SuperSpeed USB 5 Gbps data rate
•Improved data encoding for more efficient data transfer leading to higher through-put and improved I/O power efficiency
•Compatible with existing USB 3.0 software stacks and device protocols
•Works with both existing 5 Gbps and new 10 Gbps USB 3.0 hubs and devices, as well as USB 2.0 products

As technology innovation marches forward, new kinds of devices, media formats, and large inexpensive storage are converging. They require significantly more bus bandwidth to maintain the interactive experience users have come to expect. In addition, user applications demand a higher performance connection between the PC and these increasingly sophisticated peripherals. USB 3.0 addresses this need by adding an even higher transfer rate to match these new usages and devices.
USB continues to be the answer to connectivity for PC, Consumer Electronics, and Mobile architectures. It is a fast, bidirectional, low-cost, dynamically attachable interface that is consistent with the requirements of the PC platforms of today and tomorrow.
SuperSpeed USB brings significant performance enhancements to the ubiquitous USB standard, while remaining compatible with the billions of USB enabled devices currently deployed in the market. SuperSpeed USB will deliver 10x the data transfer rate of Hi-Speed USB, as well as improved power efficiency.
•SuperSpeed USB has a 5 Gbps signaling rate offering 10x performance increase over Hi-Speed USB.
•SuperSpeed USB is a Sync-N-Go technology that minimizes user wait-time.
•SuperSpeed USB will provide Optimized Power Efficiency. No device polling and lower active and idle power requirements.
•SuperSpeed USB is backwards compatible with USB 2.0. Devices interoperate with USB 2.0 platforms. Hosts support USB 2.0 legacy devices.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Disk Alignment Software. MiniTool Partition Wizard

I have used with success as detailed below but with some caution needed.

This is freeware, .
I used this on a Samsung SSD 256GB drive which had my OS Windows 7 installed on it.
In case things went wrong I had done a backup of Windows 7 using Acronis True Image 2013.
Once I had selected the option to Align Partition the utility exits Windows and reboots.

Oddly once started in a DOS screen I noticed the partition being created was LBA 2048 but the size of the 256GB drive was being partitioned as  164500MB (160 GB).
After about 30 minutes the system rebooted and there were no problems apart from the partition size.
This was corrected using the Disk Management in Control Panel to extend the volume into the unallocated space as below.

After the first shutdown and restart the Chkdsk ran and corrected some orphaned entries.
Western Digital also has an alignment utility but only WD drives can be selected.
Paragon Alignment Tool v4.0 is available for purchase but since Windows 8.1 returns an error message on reboot " Stub Library wasn't initiated" and then opens back up in Windows 8.1 without running the disk alignment but reporting it is completed..
Oddly Aconis Disk Director 11 Home had no alignment option. A suggestion within Acronis Help said that just creating an image and recovering that image would resolve alignment issues but this did not work. The Partition was still not aligned after doing this.
Also many forums say that if you install Windows from any version after XP it is always aligned.
This was not the case on 2  PC's out of 5 that are on my Home Network which were installed from DVD Disk. There is a case for checking and running an alignment tool.

Disk Alignment - Does it Matter ?

In Windows (since XP) If you go START and run msinfo32.exe all the System info for your PC is displayed. It is a long document msinfo32.txt on earlier versions of Windows but about a quarter down you come to  Storage -Disks. Later Versions of windows  are easier to read and tabbed.
There is a line at the bottom of the disk info called Partition Starting Offset and a figure in bytes.
If you take this figure and divide it by 4K (4 x 1024)which is 4096 and end up with a whole number then your disk is "aligned".
example:- 1048576 divide by 4096 gives 256, a whole number.
If you end up with a decimal point your disk is "not aligned"
example:- 32256 divide by 4096 gives 7.875
Why is this important?

AS SSD  is a Freeware Utility that will do this much easier and also do a Benchmark test of disk performance. It  also works on conventional  hard drives bit is also a handy tool for SSD owners as it allows them to reveal the performance of their device and detect potential problems in due time/
Here is a SSD drive that is not aligned with RED Text in the top left and an overall  score of 411,due to low readings in the 4K-64 Thrd for read and write

After using an Alignment tool in another piece of Freeware called MiniTool Partition Wizard the results are improved and the SSD Drive now aligned.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Dropox file saved as .tmp (tempory file).

Your Microsoft Office file goes missing in Dropbox and can not be located.


Temporary file in Dropbox has replaced the original file.

It is normal for Microsoft Office to open a file such as myfile.doc and while it is being edited make a copy and name it ~my file.tmp.

When the file is saved the original is deleted and the temporary file is renamed back to the original.
When some applications (such as Microsoft Word, Money Excel, or PowerPoint) open a file, they will often save a temporary file in the same directory and name it in one of the following ways:- Name begins with ~$ (a tilde and dollar sign) or .~ (a period and tilde) Name begins with a tilde and ends in .tmp, such as ~myfile.tmp ("Description of how Word creates temporary files").

Dropbox does not sync these temporary files on any operating system.

Every time this has happened in Dropbox ,I have recovered the file by renaming it and the extension ( tmp) back to the original file name.

This is still a mystery but I think that the Office application must be open when switching off the PC and has not completed the action of renaming the .tmp file but has deleted the original.

I am still investigating.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Conduit is installed with EASEUS Partition Master- What is going on ?

I am  amazed that the very useful partitioning software by EASEUS is installing the nuisance Conduit.
Here is the screen clip of the installation (which I abandoned)  and whether you select Express Install (never recommended) or even the Custom install which is always the safer option to avoid unnecessary Add Ons or Toobars being put in your browser.
What on earth do they think are they doing ?
It is like offering you a free complimentary virus isn't it.
Or is it possible that the download has been compromised anyway ?
I have asked EASEUS but no response.

The Search Conduit malicious browser hijacker secretly installs on your computer without your consent. It usually installs when you download video codecs and ActiveX updates. It also spreads through adult websites. Search Conduit also goes by other names, such as,, and


  • Search Conduit is primarily designed to reconfigure settings for browsers such as Firefox and Internet Explorer. Once reconfigured, Search Conduit redirects searches performed on popular search engines such as Google and Yahoo to Search Conduit opens ports that drop additional malware onto an infected computer and affects DLL files used to improve a program's functionality. 


  • If your browser keeps redirecting to, run antivirus and anti-spyware scans to remove Search Conduit and related browser hijackers. To increase the chance of detection, update your security programs virus or spyware definition list before running system scans. In addition, run weekly scans to improve computer and online security. Manually removing Search Conduit and related malware is difficult because they hide in system folders and the registry, so using a security program is a safer alternative.


  • To avoid accidentally downloading Search Conduit and other malware, download content such as video codecs and programs from trusted sites. Some sites, especially those that promote pirated software, secretly package downloads with Trojans and spyware that cause computer problems.

Fitting a new Hard Drive to a Humax Fox T2 (Click of Death)

The Seagate Pipeline HD series of drives from Seagate are now catalogued and supplied as Video 3.5 HDD which more accurately defines their optimum purpose.
They can be used in a PC of course but is really the drive of choice for Personal Video recorders (PVR).
I have just fitted this (Jan 2014) to A Humax Fox T2 recorder having been quoted £150 for a factory repair (yes just out of the 2 year warranty)
With a Philips screwdriver with a magnetic tip to lift out the loose screws it took about 5 minutes.
Only the tiny fan connector was awkward to get at. The drive is in cage with silent resilient mounts.
Powering up the drive was recognised as needing formatting for PVR use. Contrary to reports I had read where this takes hours it was about 3 minutes and all the scheduled recordings were still in place.
No need to pack and ship the Humax off for repair.
How do you know if you need a new drive anyway ?
If the Storage Option on the Menu is greyed out and cant be selected (make sure no recordings are taking place) or if you are hearing the "Click of Death" (Google It) or if you can access Storage a hard drive test reports an error code that formatting alone does not cure.

Here is the Data Sheet Information
Optimised for high-definition consumer DVR applications
* Low power, quiet hard drives fine tuned for consistent, dependable delivery
of multiple high-definition video streams with capacities from 250GB to 4TB
* Designed to meet Energy Star and other strict consumer power consumption
* Quiet drive operation to enhance customer viewing and listening experiences
* Easy-to-manage multi-room video delivery of up to 16 simultaneous
HD streams
* Qualified for operating temperatures up to 75°C to meet the rigours of the
consumer electronics set-top box market
* 24×7 operational profile to meet the always-on demands of the DVR market

Friday, 10 January 2014

How to format an external hard drive as FAT32 in Windows 7

The options in Disk Management in Windows 7 for formatting an external HDD is NTFS or exFAT.

I need a drive to swap between an iMAC and a Windows 7 PC.
A Mac will read an NTFS drive but wont write to it so I have been using USB memory sticks.

Today I found out how to format a large SATA external drive as FAT32  to make this process easier.

A small program called fat32format.exe is run through the Command Prompt (cmd) and run at Administrator level.
It is important that any explorer windows are closed that refer to the drive being formatted as an error code results if not.

How to
Download a copy of fat32format.
Extract the single EXE file to somewhere suitable, like C:\.
Click Start-Run and enter
Note :- Run as Administrator
When the command prompt opens, type this - C:\ is the place you extracted the exe file to. Note if this sort of command line stuff makes your head hurt, you should probably give this a try instead
    CD /D C:\

press enter and then type this. You need to replace f: with the drive letter you are trying to format.
    fat32format f:

You should see this displayed
    Warning ALL data on drive 'f' will be lost irretrievably, are you sure (y/n)

Now when it says this, it really means it. If you format the boot sector, FATs and root directory will be filled with zeros. By typing pressing Y and hitting return, you're also absolving me of liability for whatever was on the disk before.

Assuming you don't bail out at this point you should see something like this -
    Warning ALL data on drive 'f' will be lost irretrievably, are you sure
    (y/n) :y
    Size : 250GB 488392002 sectors
    512 Bytes Per Sector, Cluster size 32768 bytes
    Volume ID is 1bdb:2c1d
    32 Reserved Sectors, 59604 Sectors per FAT, 2 fats
    7629261 Total clusters
    7629260 Free Clusters
    Formatting drive f:...
    Clearing out 119304 sectors for Reserved sectors, fats and root cluster...
    Wrote 61083648 bytes in 0.988463 seconds, 61796609.106193 bytes/sec
    Initialising reserved sectors and FATs...

This means that all has gone according to plan. It should take about 4 seconds per Terabyte to format the disk. You can run chkdsk f: at this point if you're curious, and see something like this -
    The type of the file system is FAT32.
    Volume Serial Number is 1BDB-2C1D
    Windows is verifying files and folders...
    File and folder verification is complete.
    Windows has checked the file system and found no problems.
    244,136,352 KB total disk space.
    244,136,320 KB are available.
         32,768 bytes in each allocation unit.
      7,629,261 total allocation units on disk.
      7,629,260 allocation units available on disk.

Result for Drive I 80GB Drive

Microsoft Windows [Version 6.1.7601]
Copyright (c) 2009 Microsoft Corporation.  All rights reserved.
C:\Users\Terry>cd downloads
C:\Users\Terry\Downloads>cd fat32format
 Volume in drive C is Windows 7
 Volume Serial Number is E4EE-F3D0
 Directory of C:\Users\Terry\Downloads\fat32format
10/01/2014  08:35              .
10/01/2014  08:35              ..
10/01/2014  08:35            49,218 fat32format.exe
               1 File(s)         49,218 bytes
               2 Dir(s)  169,662,734,336 bytes free

'fatformat32.exe' is not recognized as an internal or external command,
operable program or batch file.
Usage Fat32Format X:
Erase all data on disk X:, format it for FAT32
It is also possible to specify a cluster size for the disk, e.g
Fat32Format -c1 X:  - use 1 sector per cluster ( max size 137GB for 512 bytes pe
r sect)
Fat32Format -c2 X:  - use 2 sectors per cluster ( max size 274GB for 512 bytes p
er sect )
Fat32Format -c4 X:  - use 4 sectors per cluster ( max size 549GB ... )
Fat32Format -c8 X:  - use 8 sectors per cluster ( max size 1TB ... )
Fat32Format -c16 X: - use 16 sectors per cluster
Fat32Format -c32 X: - use 32 sectors per cluster
Fat32Format -c64 X: - use 64 sectors per cluster
Fat32Format -c128 X: - use 128 sectors per cluster (64K clusters)
Version 1.07, see
This software is covered by the GPL
Use with care - Ridgecrop are not liable for data lost using this tool
C:\Users\Terry\Downloads\fat32format>fat32format i:
Warning ALL data on drive 'i' will be lost irretrievably, are you sure
(y/n) :y
Failed to open device - close any files before formatting and make sure you have
 Admin rights when using fat32format
 Are you SURE you're formatting the RIGHT DRIVE!!!
GetLastError()=32: The process cannot access the file because it is being used b
y another process.

C:\Users\Terry\Downloads\fat32format>fat32format I:
Warning ALL data on drive 'I' will be lost irretrievably, are you sure
(y/n) :y
Failed to open device - close any files before formatting and make sure you have
 Admin rights when using fat32format
 Are you SURE you're formatting the RIGHT DRIVE!!!
GetLastError()=32: The process cannot access the file because it is being used b
y another process.

C:\Users\Terry\Downloads\fat32format>fat32format I:
Warning ALL data on drive 'I' will be lost irretrievably, are you sure
(y/n) :y
Failed to open device - close any files before formatting and make sure you have
 Admin rights when using fat32format
 Are you SURE you're formatting the RIGHT DRIVE!!!
GetLastError()=32: The process cannot access the file because it is being used b
y another process.

C:\Users\Terry\Downloads\fat32format>fat32format i:
Warning ALL data on drive 'i' will be lost irretrievably, are you sure
(y/n) :y
Size : 73GB 143577088 sectors
512 Bytes Per Sector, Cluster size 32768 bytes
Volume ID is 100a:392e
32 Reserved Sectors, 17523 Sectors per FAT, 2 fats
2242843 Total clusters
2242842 Free Clusters
Formatting drive i:...
Clearing out 35142 sectors for Reserved sectors, fats and root cluster...
Wrote 17992704 bytes in 0.78 seconds, 21.88 Megabytes/sec
Initialising reserved sectors and FATs...

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Does your extra large colour ink cartridge seem to have run out far too early ?

Unless you have printed  a ton of stuff or lots of A4 photos on glossy paper it may come as a shock that your £25 cartridge has run .
First estimate how much you have printed and if seems unreasonable try this.
The software on your printer utilities are usually a waste of time and show a new cartridge as half full after printing the test page sometimes.
I have a very sensitive scale for my mail which measure in grams  and once I weighed a cartridge I had thrown in the bin. In comparison to the weight of a brand new one they were almost exactly the same weight. I then ran the print utility to clean the  printer heads as in the manual. A test print still showed that black was OK but the colour was streaky and very feint.

After giving it one more cleaning cycle it was the same.
I then thought of getting a tissue and cleaning the head with alcohol ( IPA in an aerosol). When I placed the head in contact with a dry tissue all 3 colours appeared and a test print was back to normal.
This cartridge fished from the waste bin gave me loads more A4 photos so it was OK all the time.
I have seen loads of reviews moaning about cartridges and think that often it could be  that they are not empty at all.
I  usually go weeks between doing colour prints on an Inkjet Printer  as I daily use a Laser Printer so that was probably the reason.

Do you still need to put www in a web address

It was always necessary too put www as the start of a URL ( uniform resource locator or more commonly called a web address) 
If it was put in a Google search box by mistake instead of in the top address bar it just gave confusing results and didn't find anything of use.
Things seem to have changed as of Jan 2014 but in  the past, it was common to specify the difference via a prefix for consistency. So for example, Acme Industries might buy the domain-name ‘’, then set up one or more computers to host the different services they have. When you want to use one of the services, you enter the appropriate host name:
So why does it still work without ‘www’? Because most web-servers allow you to accept different URLs and then redirect them  as necessary. For the convenience of users, most companies and organizations set up a rule to have the web-server handle connections to the hostname on port 80 (the “web port”), or redirect it to another system if the web-server is a different machine.

If your Browser has Ad-Ware such as is the Fix

First a lesson in good PC housekeeping.

Downloading and then accepting the Quick Install option on any program you put on your PC is never a good idea.
If you have an option for a  custom install  go for that and then untick the boxes which offer  to install any toolbars or add ins  in your browser.
Also beware of accepting any unknown links via email on your PC.
Even beware of software that says it will fix a problem that you have just searched for in Google as this is the most common way to give rogue software even  more control over your PC.
I have just found out that  receiving a YouTube video link can now carry an embedded trojan link without you knowing it.
I also view with some suspicion the very top results in a Google search if they look a bit odd 
It is worth reading the above paragraph line by line again.

Conduit Search bar is called Adware, which will setup as your homepage without your permission.
If you go to settings it probably will not let you change it back to your original Homepage.
When you want to search on the Iinternet you are then  forced to use conduit search which show you only their suggested Results and their suggested Advertisements.
When you click on these they will actually get money by every click of your mouse.(it is the same with the ones in Google down the right hand side or the top but at least they are safe and honest about it)
It will  change your homepage  in Internet Explorer, Chrome and other Search engines.
Usually fiddling around with Settings  (Home page reset or Pop Up Blocker re-enable)will not fix it.
Conduit is actually a browser hijacker, that is marketed through some other free downloads, and once it has installed it may add a  Conduit Toolbar, and modify your browser homepage and default search engine to search through
Conduit Search will probably show advertisements and paid links while searching results, and could gather search words through your searches. 

How to Fix it ?
Download Adware Remover Tool v3.5  (or later version, don't worry this one is safe ! ) Conduit Search bar is called Adware, this will  control  your homepage without your permission
This will remove Conduit Search automatically from your browser,
This is a Freeware utility specially deigned for Adware Removal. 
This tool can remove adware from Internet Explorer, Firefox, Mozilla Firefox and their registry as well..
At the end of the scan it will offer to change your Homepage to This is not abnormal behaviour as it needs a home page to respond to or your browser will start up as a blank page.
My preference is to accept this and then change it in settings to
It is Freeware but you can make a donation via Pay Pal to the Author

If your Chrome Browser is taken over by Pop Ups, Ads or Spyware

There are a number of sites that are hell bent on taking over your Internet Browser.
If you have Google Chrome as your default browser this is how you regain control.

In the top right hand corner of Google Chrome (Jan 2014 anyway) there is an icon with three parallel lines. this is the Access Menu to go down for Settings
Click on settings to get this menu and go to the selection "On Start Up " and then "Open a specific page or set of pages . Click Set Pages
There may be a number of URL's listed in there especially if you have been taken over by Pop Ups, Malware or Ad-Ware
Click "Add New Page" and put in what you want as your Home Page.
A Home Page is where your Browser will start off from by default.
Type that in ,click OK, and delete all the others until only that one moves to the top of the list.
Exit and close the Browser. Restart your PC might be a good idea but may not be necessary
Next time you click on Chrome it should go to the normal Google UK search Page.
If it doesn't work and you are still getting the same problem there are 3 more fixes.
I wont detail them here but in other pages.
(They are as follows,  re-Enable the Block Pop Ups option in Chrome, Run MalwareBytes Free  and Install Ad-Blocker Free )