Category Archives: General

10 Ways to Increase Hard Disk Life and Performance

Performance of hard disk has always been an underrated aspects of the overall system performance. The hard disk were considered only as a place to store and people paid heed to how they affected the operation of the PC as a whole. Each time you read and write on the hard disk some performance is lost, because the disk subsystem is the slowest component in your computer system. There is not much to do about the fact, but you might be able to take a number of actions to make certain that the computer’s hard disk is always running in tiptop shape. We provide 10 ways to increase hard disk life and performance.

1. Remove duplicate files from hard disk

The first step towards enhancing the performance of duplicate files from hard disk. There are several free duplicate file finders that easily find all sort of duplicate files on the disk. Users can then remove all the duplicate copies and just keep a single one. You might use duplicate file finders such as Duplicate Cleaner. It might even find files that have some common content, even if the file names are different.

It is an important step in any hard disk cleaning exercise. Removing all the duplicate files from the hard disk can considerably reduce the space occupied on the hard drive.

2. Defragment Hard Disk

It’s one most widely known that speeds up the hard disk and improves performance.

Step 1: Now open My Computer. Right-click the disk that you want to defragment and click Properties. On the Tools tab, click the Defragment Now button.
Step 2: The Disk Defragmenter window appears. Click the Analyze button.
Step 3: An analysis of the drive is performed, and a message appears telling you whether or not you should defragment the drive.
Step 4: If the drive needs to be defragmented, click the Defragment button. The defragmentation process begins and may take some time, depending on how badly the drive is fragmented.

3. Checking up for disk errors

It’s easy to check the disk errors as another useful tool that is provided by Windows XP. The tool is available in the Tools tab of the hard disk properties sheet. It offers simple check box options to check for file system errors and recover bad sectors. The error checking tool needs complete access to the disk for its work. Sometimes the application is closed and the user needs to reboot before it starts to gain complete access to the disk. In case you use the computer a lot it’s a great idea to run this tool once for a month to ensure your disk is working perfectly.

To use the error checking utility

Step 1: Go to Start > My Computer
Step 2: Right click on the hard disk or partition that you want to check for errors
Step 3: Click on properties and then “Tools”
Step 4: Under “Error checking” click on “Check Now”
Step 5: Select the Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors
Step 6: Click on Start

This will scan the disk for errors and mark bad sectors

4. Compression/Encryption

In the NTFS you can compress folders and encrypt folders and files to stop unauthorized access of those files and folders. Given that the compression feature is impressive, compressed files takes longer to open and resave. If you want the maximum possible speed from the system you need to avoid compressing the drives.

Encryption will also reduce the performance in terms of the opening files. The encryption process needs to make sure that you have an authorized view of the file. In general the rule is to follow the encrypt files or folders that are necessary. Don’t get in the habit of encrypting everything.

5. To NTFS overhead disable the 8.3 filenames

NTFS is a feature packed file system that Windows XP users can work with. For compatibility with MS-DOS and old Windows 3.x systems, NTFS supports 8.3 filenames. It implies that the files are named with eight characters, followed by a dot and three-charecter extensions. It’s nothing wrong with it. Overload is unnecessary when you are not supporting older programs and systems. Some other programs depend on 8.3 filenames, so you need to turn off the 8.3 filename feature some programs might not work properly. It is unlikely at this point in time.

To reduce NTFS overhead we have the following steps

Step 1: Click Start>Run. Type regedit and click OK

Step 2: In the Registry Editor, navigate to
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM \CurrentControlSet\Control\Filesystem.

Step 3: Locate the NtfsDisable8dot3NameCreation entry and change the value to 1. This will disable the creation of 8.3 filenames
Step 4: Close Registry Editor

6. Master File Table

The NTFS Master File Table (MFT) keeps track of files on disks. This file logs all the files that are stored on a given disk. It includes the entry for the MFT itself. It works like an index of everything on the hard disk in much the same way that the address book. It makes the index of all these files so are easy to locate for defragmentation and for use by application.

You can add a registry entry to ensure the table is large enough and has the space it requires. It will take up more space on the hard disk that reduces overall NTFS overhead to help general performance.

Steps 1: Click Start>Run. Type regedit and click OK

Step 2: In the Registry Editor, navigate to

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM \CurrentControlSet\Control\FileSystem

Step 3: Create a REG_DWORD entry and name it NtfsMftZone Reservation

Step 4: Set the value of the entry to 2.
Step 5: Close the Registry Editor.
Step 6: Set the value of the entry to 2

7. Stop Hibernation

In Windows systems like XP the Hibernation feature is quite handy. It can be shared with others to optimize Windows XP disk performance to switch off hard disk Hibernation mode in Windows XP. To use this mode follow the steps below

Step 1: Click Start
Step 2: Control Panel
Step 3: Power Options Properties
Step 4: Click on the Hibernate tab and clear the Enable Hibernation check box

8. Clean up unnecessary files and optimize the Recycle Bin

The number of temporary files, temporary Internet files, recent documents list in Windows start menu, download files and log files which Windows XP generates. In case you want the hard disk to perform in the best possible way, just delete all the junk files from it. It is an overstuffed hard drive that makes Windows XP work harder. Make sure that you have the system in place to keep the old files and junk cleaned up and removed.

Make sure you optimize the Recycling Bin. The size of recycle bin is the percentage of hard drive.

Step 1: Right click on the Recycle Bin and choose Properties
Step 2: In the Recycle Bin properties, move the recycle Bin size slider from 10 percent to 3 or even 1 percent. It is still a decent amount of storage since you now have a larger disk to work with.
Step 3: Click OK

9. Convert to NTFS

NTFS is better than FAT/FAT32 and allows users to use some management features of Windows XP that FAT/FAT32 does not support. Try to convert any FAT/FAT32 drives to NTFS. It’s only exception is the rule used in a dual-boot system that also boots earlier version of Windows that doesn’t support NTFS, such as Windows 98 or Windows Me.

To convert FAT or FAT32 drive to NTFS follow the steps below

Step 1: Click Start>Run. Type command and click OK.

Step 2: At the command prompt, you will use the Convert command to convert the FAT drive to NTFS. Keep in mind that the conversion process is completely safe and all of your data will remain as it is. The command and syntax is as follows:

convert D: /FS:NTFS
Press Enter.

Step 3: Conversion may take several minutes, depending on the size of the drive. When the process is complete, simply exit the command interface. If you converted the boot partition, you will be prompted to reboot the computer.

10. Remove the temporary files

Windows creates a lot of temporary files during the normal operation. They try to clean up those files while some of them stay and keep accumulating. For instance file fragments, browser cache, memory dumps, log files, cookies, Recycle Bin.

Windows provides a built-in tool to clear such files that is not as efficient as some of the free disk cleaners available in the market. You can use FCleaner, CCleaner, and Comodo System Cleaner.

MS Office 2010 vs MS Office 2007

Microsoft is leaving no stone unturned to promote its new Office suite. Recently Microsoft announced a “technology guarantee” program that read “Sell Office 2007 today and your customer can download Office 2010 free”. The customers purchasing and activating Office Home and Student 2007, Office Standard 2007, Office Small Business 2007 and Microsoft Publisher 2007 between March 5 and September 30, 2010 will be eligible for free upgrade to a comparable version of Office 2010. However, before moving to an upgraded Microsoft Office version you would always look for advantages of installing it over the previous version. Microsoft ensures that those looking to go for an upgraded version of Office 2007 have enough reasons to support . We draw a comparison to elucidate how MS Office 2007 better’s Office 2010.

Updated Ribbon

Office 2007 made headlines with innovative ribbon menu system Office 2010 takes it to the next level with a more intuitive ribbon. It provides a new home menu system. Instead of opening up a dropdown the entire window changes color and provides the save, open, close preview and other options. The enhanced Ribbon across Office 2010 applications allows users to access commands quickly and customize tabs to personalize the experience in your working style.

The home menu system offers detailed information on modifications, authors, file size, and permission. The new print and print preview menu that definitely changes the layout most PC users are used to. The new menu by simply cleaner than that of Office 2007.

Better multimedia Editing

The clear that Microsoft upped the multimedia editing options form the last iteration. Image editing has been improved in office 2010. There are new tools for screen capture in Word 2010 and PowerPoint 2010. You can even remove the backgrounds with the new Office. Now Microsoft PowerPoint has in-video editing. You might even remove backgrounds with the new Office. All this implies you can do so much more without even using Photoshop.

This features takes Office 14 to a new level. Suppose you wanna trim some parts of a video clip before presentation or you might be looking to apply professional styles to a video like reflection coupled with 3D rotation. PowerPoint 2010 now includes some powerful video editing features.

Broadcast Slideshows within PowerPoint

This is one of the most exciting new features of PowerPoint 2010. Now you can deliver live PowerPoint presentations over the web and anyone sitting in any part of the world can get connected to the web browser.
Distribute the slides as video

In PowerPoint 2010 you can convert your presentation into a video file that can be uploaded on YouTube or distributed on a portable media player such as the iPod. Moreover, the video conversion runs in the background that allows you to use PowerPoint while creating the video.

More visually enhancing

Office 2010 comes with an array of design options to help you generate better ideas. It includes new and improved picture formatting tools such as color saturation and artistic effects that allow you transform your document visuals into a work of art. Office 2010 offers new SmartArt® graphic layouts and a wide range of new pre-built Office themes to create fantabulous designs in Word.

Real time collaboration and communication

Not just the web version, the desktop version of Office 14 also sports a real time buddy list of sorts that shows what individuals are currently editing within a document. Now you can see who is online and who is working on what. This is a great revamp when compared to Office 2010.

Stronger Security Settings

Office 2010 improves upon Office 2007 with respect to author settings, restricted editing and protect mode. This stops you from accidentally editing a file you download until it is enabled.

Embed Web Videos in the Presentation

Office 2010 provides a significant advantage over Office 2007 by allowing users to embed video clips from the Internet into PowerPoint presentation. Now users can just copy and embed code from YouTube or any other video sharing site. The video can be pasted anywhere on a slide.

Quick Steps in Outlook

Microsoft Outlook includes a new Quick Steps feature in the Outlook. With Quick Steps you can create a sequence of commands and apply them to the Outlook item with just a click. For an example, you can use quick step for Send and Delete that will delete the email from your inbox after replying.
Now users can compress the long e-mail threads into a few conversations that can be categorized, filed, ignored, or cleaned up.

Built-in PDF Writer

The Office 2010 programs include a built-in PDF writer that helps you to save documents into PDF format with a click. In 2007 you had to use add-on separately but now you will have native PDF support.

Simpler Document Printing

Microsoft Word 2010 has completely revamped the print dialog. Take an instance, you can tweak printer settings like margins and preview the changes side-by-side.

Creating better data insights and visuals

Excel 2010 introduces a Sparkline feature that tracks and highlights important trends with new data analysis and visualization. The Sparklines feature allows clear and compact visual representation of data with small charts within worksheet cells. Filter and segment into PivotTable data in multiple layers using Slicers to spend more time analyzing and less time formatting.

Export MS Access Database To MySQL Database

Here are few tips (with undocumented features) to help you export huge MS Access database (production database with real data) to MySQL.

Use mdbtools utilities as described below:

mdb-tables displays the list of tables in MS Access

mdb-scheme export the MS Access schema to MySQL database. The documentation doesn’t mention that MySQL is supported. You should use the following command:

mdb-schema [-S] database mysql

You may need to replace column names if they collide with MySQL reserved keywords. few column names like GROUP, PRIMARY & CROSS.

The schema created contains drop tables. You can use grep -v to exclude them. Additionally you should add drop database followed by create database commands at the very top of the file when you are importing to a new database. This is essential because you may have to go through multiple passes. Having drop table when a table is not there creates problem as also not having them creates problem when the table has already been loaded. So I remove the drop tables and instead drop and re-create the database for each run by the process described above.

mdb-export exports MS Access tables to CSV format. What is not emphasized is that you can directly create INSERT statements instead of a CSV file. Converting it directly to SQL INSERT statements is very helpful, especially for converting data types. Use it like shown in the sample:

mdb-export -I -R’;\n’ MSAccessDatabase.mdb Table > Table.sql

Note: Replace MSAccessDatabase.mdb with the full path of your MS Access Database, Table is Table name. You can save the output in any file, I just chose Tablename.sql for convenience.

The -R’;\n’ ensures that each SQL INSERT is followed by a semicolon and then a new line.

You may need to modify this to substitute column names, if you have previously changed them while importing the schema to prevent conflict with reserved MySQL keywords.

Pre-launch Checklist Before Make Your Site Live

Sometimes we the developers, up our site live and face some problems. this is very often happen when deadline comes nearer. if we maintain a pre-launch checklist before make our site live then we may not face such problems like:

1. Error Management: check whether your site has a 404 not found page that includes links to functional pages. this may happen when you port an existing site to some major changes. so include some pages links to this page so that user can easily find the working page.

2. Valid Markup: check whether every page validate as XHTML or at least HTML. otherwise you may find several problems in different browsers and may be a real mess if you browse from mobile phone.

3. Basic Browser Test: check your site’s pages in many browser as you can. specially FF3, IE6, IE7, IE8, Safari, Google Chrome.

4. Minimal Semantic: Check whether every page has unique and relevant title, meta description and meta keywords. without this your search engine rank will suffer.

5. Control Search Engine Indexing: Check if you created a robot.txt in your webroot or not. it’s better for search engine crawler.

6. Favicon: Check whether your site have a favicon file or not. if you omit the favicon icon then each visitor to your site will add an additional 404 ’favicon.ico’ not found error message to your log files.

7. Minify JS and CSS files: Minification is the act of stripping out whitespace and comments as well as implementing other space saving techniques such as consolidating CSS statements and refactoring JavaScript variables to minimize size.

8. Consolidate JavaScript and CSS: Try to avoid inline javascript and css code.

9. Search Submission: Create a valid XML sitemap and submit your site for search engine indexing.

10. Compress Throughput: Enable gzip compression on your web server, it will greatly improve your network throughput at the cost of a negligible amount of CPU overhead. You can also make it happen using php code at top of the page.

11. Domain Distribution: Keep your external files accessed by your site like images, js, css distributed over several domains. Many browsers, by default, will not make more than two simultaneous connections to a single domain. But it will make many connections to different domains simultaneously. You can use sub-domains but it will cost a slight delay as each domain needs to be resolved before any requests can be sent to it.

12. Common URL Checks: Check if the passwords or back-end source code be accessed by simply navigating to a URL? Some common examples to check are:

http://YOURSITE.com/.svn
http://YOURSITE.com/.htpasswd
http://YOURSITE.com/config.inc

Importance of Sitemaps

Presence of a sitemap will help index your web pages faster, and rank them better. With a sitemap, you needn’t submit each of your individual pages to search engines separately. In this article we will see the importance of sitemaps, and how you can add a sitemap to a blog.

Normally, Google bots crawl and index all pages on a website automatically. However, these bots can always miss some pages. The missed pages are usually standalone, without incoming links from other pages. You can find out which of your pages are actually indexed by Google with this search query: “site:the URL” (please notice there is no space next to the colon). This query will list all the pages indexed within the URL.

Importance of Sitemaps

New blogs may not get any considerable increase in traffic, even if their posts are regular. The cause may be that only the home page of the blog is indexed, and individual pages just escaped the index. Due to this, these blogs won’t get any traffic these individual pages can bring.

Dynamically updated websites should definitely have a sitemap. Search bots access newer pages for indexing through links from the already existing pages, while the indexing is happening. If any of your internal pages is standalone, it may not get indexed at all. A sitemap can help get these standalone pages indexed.

Another reason behind sitemaps is that the search bots find it difficult to crawl pages whose navigation is built using JavaScript or AJAX. Search bots are built to crawl only text links. So, by submitting a sitemap, you will make crawling and indexing of your pages easier for search engines.

Effect on Traffic and Search Engine Optimization

Lack of sitemap will not cause your site to rank lower for its optimized keywords. Without a sitemap, all indexed pages within your site will rank just as it would with a sitemap.

However, sitemap will greatly increase traffic of a site, merely due to the fact that the newer pages will be indexed far faster and show up in search queries. Also, any unindexed pages within the site will be indexed by search engines, driving traffic to those pages. The effect will be a big boom in traffic.

A blogger adds content to his site to get a steady traffic growth. Hard working bloggers may add hundreds of posts to their blogs in a year. If a hundred of these pages are not indexed by search engines, imagine the loss of traffic. He can get all those pages to the search index, by adding a sitemap.

Adding a Sitemap to Blogs

You can create a sitemap with an online sitemap builder and add it to your blog. These sitemap builders crawl a website through internal links and enlist all internal pages into an XML file.

Besides XML, you can also use HTML sitemaps, which was the traditional sitemap format. The advantage of HTML is that, you can use it with both search bots and human visitors, while XML sitemaps contain pure XML source code, which a human being may not understand. HTML sitemap is nothing but a directory page within your website, which links to all the internal pages arranged by categories.

Once the sitemap is ready, upload it to your web host and link to it from your Google Webmaster Tools interface.

If you don’t already have an account on Google Webmaster Tools, sign up and verify your blog. It provides two means for verification: Meta tag authentication and HTML file upload. Verified webmasters can add sitemap for their blogs by following the instructions given.

You can build sitemaps online with one of these websites:

* Xml-sitemaps.com
* Automapit.com
* Makeasitemap.com
* Sitemapdoc.com
* Freesitemapgenerator.com

Offline Sitemap Builders

If you are using an offline sitemap builder, you shouldn’t run it when you are logged into the site. Offline sitemap builders, run from your own system, can get access to your blog hosting account if you run it when you are logged in. It means, the comment deletion and post deletion links will be accessible to the program, which will index them. This will cause your important posts and comments getting deleted automatically.

Adding Sitemap to Blogger Blogs

Within Blogger blogs, you cannot upload an XML sitemap. There is no file upload feature within Blogger, unless you use self-hosted blogs. There is a good alternative to this for Blogger platform. You can use your blog’s RSS or Atom feed as sitemap. Follow these guidelines to add the feed sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools.

1. Access Google Webmaster Tools with your Google account.
2. Within your website profile, click Add below Sitemap.
3. Choose the sitemap type as General Web Sitemap.
4. In the text field, complete the blog feed URL. For this, you only need to add “feeds/posts/default”.
5. If you are using feed syndication services like FeedBurner and have set it as the default feed in the blog’s feed setting, then use “feed/posts/default?rss” instead of “feeds/posts/default”.

The sitemap, once added, needs to be approved by Google before it will have an effect. Once approved, Google will periodically access the sitemap to index any unindexed pages within the site. This way, all newer pages are guaranteed to be in the Google index.

Conclusion

Importance of the sitemap in traffic of a website shouldn’t be underestimated. Professional websites even provide a link to their sitemap on the home page. It can be also a great alternative for users to navigate the site.

Best Practices for SaaS Software Testing & QA

Corporates come across immense challenge when they migrate from traditional development platform to SaaS based software deployment. The constraints can be language for different regions, performance issues etc. When we think about testing for SaaS based software, we primarily emphasize on three things; a> Scalability b> Released Processes and c> Architecture.

SaaS based software testing can be categorized in the following areas.

a> Functional Testing: As like any other platform, you have to make sure that the functionality of the software is working properly. The following test can be conducted to confirm this ie.

* Manual test scripts
* Exploratory charters
* Checklists
* End-to-end scenarios

You can also use some type of tools like Selenium to automate regression test.

Multi Platform support: You can use both physical and virtual machines to test on multi platform like Windows, Mac and Linux and also on the browsers like IE, Firefox, Chrome and Safari.

Security: You have to keep an eye of your SaaS software from any external threat. In order to do this, you have to plug the gap so that cross-site scripting and other security loopholes can be avoided.

Load and Stress Test: It may be possible that your software is used by large number of users simultaneously. So, it is crucial that you conduct some type of Stress or Load test to simulate real life scenario. You can try Jmeter as a stress tool.

Disaster Recovery and Rollback: If system is down due to any power outage or other disaster, it should be brought up as soon as possible. Additionally, there has to be rollback option to the last known good version of the data.

Language: Since, Saas platform is used by different clients from different locations, you have to make sure that it supports the international language.

Remote Usage: Since, clients from different locations can use the SaaS platform, it is important that those people can access to the system with good response time. You can use some kind of emulators to conduct the test. But, the best thing to create real life situation is to use the collaborators. They can conduct the test and report the results.

What is Software Escrow

What is Software Escrow:

When you arrange for your software to be written by an external developer, you and the developer can agree that a copy of the source code will be given to a neutral third party – an escrow agent. The agreement should mention that under what terms and condition the source code is going to be released.

When do you need Escrow account:

When you contract out your software to be written by any outside developer, you need to make several decisions. One of the crucial part is what the developer will do in terms of source code during delivery of the software. You may need the source code down the road to make necessary changes or any bug fixes. What is going to happen if the outsourced company goes out of business for bankruptcies or the developer may die. On the contrary, the developer may want to retain the software or may ask you extra money to release the source code. That’s where the role of the escrow account arises. You can request the company or developer to retain the source code with a third party agency, the escrow account.

What is Software Source Code:

Source code is a collection of statements written in human readable programming language. Programmer write source code to instruct the computer about the type of action it will take. The source code that builds the program is kept in a text file or database. When you purchase a program, usually, you receive the executable code and that is a machine language format. In order to change the software or any other fixing of bugs, you need the source code.

What is Software Escrow agreement:

Choosing the right Software Escrow services is the next major step. Although, you can do a google search to find many listing, but, it is equally important to know their pricing, how long they are into Software Escrow the type of services they actually offer and the number of Escrow actually claimed. Also, you can check any negative feedback about those companies through Better Business Bureau.There are three types of Escrow agreement Plan, namely, Single user Plan (SUP), Multi User Plan (MUP), Investor Security Plan(ISP).

* SUP: The single user plan is for software that will only be used by one business. Usually, it is going to be highly customized software and the cost is also very high. There are three signatories for this agreement, suppliers, the licensed user, and the software escrow agent.
* MUP: In this type of plan, the software is sold to many different users or licensees. This is suitable for packaged software. There are two signatories, the escrow agent, and the software supplier.
* ISP: Investors Security Plan is to protect software investors from fraud or scams,as huge sums of money are often involved with software development. In this case, investors, developers, and the escrow agent need to sign the agreement

What is the cost of software Escrow :

* In most cases, software escrow companies will charge both the beneficiary and the developer for getting their services. In this way, the cost is usually diversified so that the load is not going to be very high for every participant in this contract.
* If there is more than one beneficiary, everybody has to pay the fee. Generally, the fee is the same that they would have paid in case there is one beneficiary.
* If there is more than one developer, all of them have to pay the fee to the Escrow account. Escrow agreement does not only protect beneficiary, it also protects the developer. Most of the software Escrow services provide yearly and renewal rate

What are the procedures for Software Escrow:

* Agreement: The Escrow agreement is done among licensor as depositor, his licensee as beneficiary, and an escrow agent.
* Deposit: The licensor, as per the escrow agreement, delivers the asset to be escrowed, and change the ownership of it, to the escrow agent. The asset contains a copy of a source code and a copy of an object code, documents such as design, specification, flow chart, manual, maintenance material etc.
* Custody: The escrowed agent puts the asset in a sealed container. Once it is sealed, the agent or other person is not allowed to access it.
* Delivery: If any incident mentioned in the agreement occurs, like lisensor goes bankrupt, no maintenance for a certain period of time, the licensor’s closing his place of business, etc. the agent delivers the asset to the licensee on request. If the licensor raises an objection for delivery, he can hold the asset till the matter is settled between the parties.
* Fees: The licensor usually pays the fees. licensee is allowed to pay it to secure the continuance of custody.