Pulling out the power cord from an awake computer can put the machine at risk for hard drive failure. Interrupting a hard drive writing process could result in a mess of data all over the digital space. The ideal way to shut off a computer should always be the "Shut Down" option in the OS. If the computer is locked up, find a reset button or hold the power button for a few seconds before attempting to touch the power cord.
Richard is wondering if pulling the power cord on a computer (while it is on) hurts the machine. Leo says it is risky because if the computer/hard drive is in the middle of a writing process, pulling the plug could spew data all over the hard drive. Not to mention, physical damage could occur during the interruption as well. It is only okay to pull the cord when the computer is frozen solid and locked up. Unplugging is only a last resort, so always try to hold the power button first before attempting to cut off the power.
Imaging a hard drive is basically creating an exact mirror copy of the hard drive. The copy is bootable and can be blasted onto the same or new hard drive fairly quickly. Of course, it can get out of date since the image is "frozen" in time, so making an image every month is a good idea. However, it is also smart to make a file-by-file backup procedure for extra peace of mind. It is recommended to use both backup methods in order to conserve important media and files.
Timothy started a new job and he's using a 5-year-old Mac Pro. Leo says that's not that old, actually. Leo prefers them to the recent models. Tim says that there's not a lot of RAM — only 4GB. Leo says that 4GB is OK for most things he'll do online and for documents. But he recommends running the activity monitor to make sure all the RAM is functioning. Sometimes, though, a program doesn't release the RAM when it no longer needs it, and it may be that is what's happening here. The hard drive may be slowing things down as well.
Chuck says his hard drive is filling up, and he has no way of finding and deleting the files that are using up the most space. Leo recommends using a free program called WinDirStat, which will give him a visualization of the files taking up space. It will also give him the option to delete files. Chuck should just make sure to empty the Recycle Bin after he deletes files.
Walter has a Windows 10 computer, and the hard drive consists of 284GB in the apps and games portion, but the apps and games only seem to add up to 4.5GB. The total drive is 570GB. Leo recommends getting WinDirStat. This is the best way to see how much space is used on the hard drive. It's a more visual representation of what's free and what's used.
Operating systems can sometimes be very vague when it comes to identifying used and free space on a computer. If you've ever seen the "other" category taking up a large percentage of space on your hard drive, then this should help clear that up.
Steve has a Lenovo X1 that has intermittent boot up problems. Leo says that hard drives can fail or have "flakey spots" with corrupted areas. That makes them unreliable. He can use SpinRite to mark off the unreliable sectors and move the data to a better spot. Or he can just replace the hard drive.
George would like to know the best way to transfer his files from his old Windows XP computer to his Windows 7 system. Leo says that Microsoft has a files transfer program built into Windows that does a fairly good job. But this is a great opportunity for George to make a backup. He should go and buy a USB external hard drive, and backup everything in his Documents folder. The advantage to this is that he'll have a backup on a separate drive while transferring his files over to the computer.