Litigation Support Tip of the Night

June 12, 2020

Flash memory can be erased, and it generally is faster than other types of storage because no moving parts are involved.   Flash memory retains information even when powered down, in contrast to the RAM of a computer.  It's possible to overwrite flash memory many times.   

SSD (solid-state drive) usually includes flash memory, but will also have additional components.  NAND 'NOT AND', is form of flash storage used in removable flash drives and SSDs.  Data can only be rewritten on a NAND a limited number of times. 

Solid-state drive

 Hard disk drive

1. A SSD device does not include any moving parts.  It differs from a hard disk drive (HDD) which stores information on spinning disks. 

2. SSDs are more expensive than HDDs. 

3. Data can be accessed on SSDs more quickly.

4. SSDs are sturdier than HDDs.  

5. HDDs can retain data longer than SSDs, which tend to lose data after about 2 years. 

6. SSDs use less power than HDDs. 

April 14, 2020

Not every network cable that you plug into your laptop for internet access is the same.  Ethernet or CAT cables vary in strength - there are several common categories.   A Cat 3 cable will only be able to handle 10 Mbps, whereas a Cat 6a cable can handle up to 10 Gbps.   

Cat 3 and 5 cables should be avoided as most internet connections will allow for speeds of far more than 10 Mbps.   A Cat 5e cable is enhanced to prevent crosstalk between channels in the cable - it can handle up to 1 Gbps.  It's likely that most cables you'll find in use in 2020 will be Cat 5e cables.  

A Cat 6 cable can also support 1 Gbps and will generally be faster than a Cat 5e cable because it is more tightly wound.  Speeds will slow down as the length of a network cable increases.  Upgrading to a Cat 6a cable can almost entirely eliminate the crosstalk factor 

The category of a cable should be printed on its body.

June 3, 2019

If you are using a Dell laptop, be sure to turn off the touchpad zoom option.   In Windows 10 go to Settings . . .Devices . . .Touchpad . . . Additional Settings . . . Dell Touchpad settings.

Turn off the zoom gesture.  It is sure to mess you up. 

and click the option for 

May 3, 2019

Nirsoft has another get free utility called BlueScreenView, which can be downloaded here.    BlueScreenView will generate a table listing information about the times in the past that your PC has crashed.  It scans minidump files to get this information.   

A minidump contains memory for a single process.  

November 1, 2018

Recently I got some bad advice from an Apple Genius at the Apple Store near the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.   He advised me that I should let my battery run down to 5% or lower as often as possible in order to maximize the battery life.    This is not the way to get the most out of your iPhone's lithium battery.  

Apple makes clear on its official site, that, "There’s no need to let it discharge 100% before recharging. Apple lithium-ion batteries work in charge cycles. You complete one charge cycle when you’ve used (discharged) an amount that equals 100% of your battery’s capacity — but not necessarily all from one charge."   Xfinity, Comcast's, internet, cable and telephone service, explains on its mobile phone information site, that phones using nickel ion batteries had a memory charge problem that required a full charge to be depleted so each section of the battery could be continuously used.   Phones with lithium batteries should not be fully discharged each day.  "[I]f you let your battery drain completely every day, it will last 500 days. If you charge it before it drains and top it off throughout the day, you’ll stretch out the time those 500 charges will last."

A Popular Science article recommends letting the battery life go down to only about 50% per cent before recharging and avoiding recharging fully.   "Shallow discharges and recharges are better than full ones, because they put less stress on the battery, so it lasts longer."

Battery University provides detailed research into this issue.   "If at all possible, avoid full discharges and charge the battery more often between uses."    The lower the discharge percentage, the higher the number of discharge cycles.


March 31, 2017

RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks - this fun acronym refers to digital storage units which use multiple disk drives to improve performance or for data redundancy.   Keep in mind that this means that RAID units are designed to operate faster and ensure that data is available if a drive fails.   It does not mean that a single RAID  unit operates as a back-up archive.  A RAID unit will not account for problems when files are corrupted or deleted.   So if a file on one of the RAID disks is deleted, it will be automatically removed from the mirrored disks in the same unit.

There are several different kinds of RAID configurations, and they are each assigned a number.

RAID 0 - employs striping to distribute the contents of a file evenly across the multiple disks in a RAID unit.    This lets concurrent read or write operations run more quickly, but if one disk fails, the entire volume is lost.

RAID 1 - does not use striping  - so each file is entirely on one disk, but there are redundant copies of the file on the other disks, so if one disk fails, the data can be recalled from one of the others.  The problem is that data can only be written at the speed of the slowest drive since all of the drives must be updated.

RAID 2 - in this configuration, the spindles on each drive are synchronized, and each sequential bit of a file is stored on a different drive.  This is a largely obsolete configuration, and is not used on any newly manufactured RAID units. 

RAID 3 - in this configuration the spindles are also synchronized, but the data for a file is spread across drives at the byte level.   RAID 3 is very rarely used. 

RAID 4 - this configuration uses block striping - a block usually being 512 KB.   [8 bits in a byte].  

RAID 5 - The data is distributed so that if one drive fails, the data can be assembled from the others.   A minimum of three drives are required.    It also uses block level striping. 

RAID 6 -  like RAID 5 this also uses block striping, but allows for recovery even if two drives fail, and requires a minimum of four drives.   

December 26, 2016

If a USB port on your PC is not functioning it may be because the operating system has disabled it in order save power.    You can re-enable it by following these steps. 

1. Press the Windows key, plus R, and type in regedit.   Press ENTER and your Registry Editor will open.

2.  In the folder tree to the left, browse to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SYSTEM \ CurrentControlSet \ services \ USB   - if the USB folder doesn't already exist, you can create it.

3. On the right, right click on the file named 'DisableSelectiveSuspend' and choose Modify.

4. Set the Value Data to 1.

Now after restarting your PC, the USB ports may be reactivated if they were disabled to save power.

December 25, 2016

HD Tune is a program you can use to monitor your drive performance.  It can be downloaded here.   There is a free 15 day trial membership, after which you must purchase a license for $35.    

This little utility will show you the temperature of internal or external hard drive, and also provide the following information about how the drive is running:

1. File Benchmark - shows how fast data transfers (both reading and writing), how many MBs per second, based on different file lengths:

2. Random Access - HD Tune will also measure the random access speed of the drive - as you can it takes longer to access data from discontinuous blocks. 

3. Automatic Acoustic Management (AAM) -   many hard drives contain mechanisms to reduce the vibration caused by positioning a head over the platter of the drive.   Most people will be familiar with the clicking noise that a computer makes when the head is positioned at the targeted sector of the platter to access data.    AAM can make the drive operate more quietly, but will increase random access time.   Newer Western Digital and Seagate drives no longer include this feature.

4.  Error Scan - HD Tune can also scan a drive for errors.   It creates a map indicating where damaged areas are located.   An associated speed map will indicate where read performance is both high and low.

5. Folder Usage will very quickly provide a breakdown of the size of data contained in various locations in the folder structure of the drive. 

6. HD Tune also contains a secure erase function. 

September 21, 2016

I have a six year old Toshiba Satellite with a big 18" monitor - it's a desktop replacement really.  I bought it loaded with lots of VRAM in order to help with the successful presentation of video clips using Trial Director.   See the Tip of the Night for April 12, 2015.   Lately my laptop has been shutting down without warning - ostensibly it's overheating and needs to power down to protect the motherboard.  The problem may stem from the cooling fans (located at the bottom of the laptop) being clogged with dust.   While I did try blowing air through van ducts and out the vents on the side of the laptop, I think I have had better luck keeping it running simply by placing at a lengthwise on top of a coffee table book.   This keeps the fans elevated and clear. 

SpeedFan is available for download here .    While it's not able to access the fan speed settings from my particular laptop it can apparently do so on other hardware.    It's a good little utility to see how hot your machine is running.   See the temperatures listed below for the Graphics Processing Unit, Hard Drives, and Core Processors.

March 4, 2016

I love that there are helium sealed drives - this is just an inherently cool thing.   Helium sealed drives use less power, are quieter, generate less heat, and are more resistant to dust and debris which can lead to drive failure.   Helium is less dense than air, and this allows the drive to spin with less turbulence and take up less power, and also generate less sound through vibrations.   The drive operates at a cooler temperature because less friction is caused in the helium environment.     Because a Helium drive is smoother and more stable more platters (the circular discs that rotate on a spindle) can be fitted inside the same space.     The encasing needed to seal in the helium also keeps out particles than can effect the performance of the drive. 


Western Digital currently offers several multi TB helium sealed drives. 




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Sean O'Shea has more than 15 years of experience in the litigation support field with major law firms in New York and San Francisco.   He is an ACEDS Certified eDiscovery Specialist and a Relativity Certified Administrator.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the owner and do not reflect the views or opinions of the owner’s employer.


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