Mr. Modem: Choice of storage devices is a personal matter

Posted Tuesday, Aug. 05, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

Mr. Modem’s sites of the week

An Optical Illusion

This site doesn’t present old, boring optical illusions (is it a chalice or two faces?) that have been around for eons. Instead, it features modern interpretations of illusions. The site is presented blog-style, so scroll down the page and prepare to be illusioned.


Mesothelioma Guide

A comprehensive resource for victims of asbestos exposure and their family members that features current information about improving one’s prognosis, life expectancy and treatment options. Also available is a free, 200-page guide, plus support and advice books. The online community invites patients to connect with other individuals, including caregivers and survivors.



A joint effort with Aspire 2 Inspire, created to encourage middle-school-age girls (as opposed to middle-age school girls) to embrace engineering, math, science and technology as future career paths. The site includes more than 60 videos and essays contributed by women working in a variety of fields for NASA and sharing their personal, inspirational experiences.

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I’m dithering between purchasing an SD card and a thumb drive for the storage of photos, documents, etc. Is one better than the other or should I get an external hard drive?

There really isn’t a right or wrong answer to your question. SD (secure digital) cards and thumb drives basically use the same technology. I use thumb drives because I like their small size and convenience. I use several in rotation for my backups because swapping thumb drives into and out of a USB port is fast, easy and within my ability to perform mechanical tasks.

The thumb drives I use for backups are typically 32 and 64 GB, though SD drives are available up to 1TB (terabyte) capacity, which is a staggering 1,000 gigabytes. (Why the gigabytes are staggering is being investigated.)

In your situation, you can’t go wrong with either of the options under consideration. I also have external drives, which work very well, though in recent years I have gravitated more toward flash or thumb drives simply because of their smaller size.

About six months ago my computer was very slow. A friend of a friend offered to fix it. I gave it to him and he said he cleaned out all the junk. Now my PC is very slow again, all kinds of junk has returned, the printer isn’t working, the clock isn’t working, and I can’t install new programs. I’m thinking my computer has been hacked. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

I wouldn’t conclude that your system has been hacked, and in many cases, when a system is truly hacked, a user doesn’t even know it. How’s that for a comforting thought?

The wild card in all this, of course, is the friend of a friend. What changes that person made to your system is anybody’s guess, but at a minimum, I would suggest getting in touch with that person and explaining the problems you are experiencing.

Unfortunately, there are many incompetent people out there “fixing” computers under the guise of helping others, which may or may not be the situation in this case. On the plus side, it’s those well-intentioned-yet-inept individuals who help keep legitimate computer repair people and services in business.

Since we have no way of knowing what the friend of a friend did with your computer, I would take the computer to a reputable computer repair person or facility (or have them come to you if they make house calls) and have them check out your system thoroughly.

Sluggish computers are quite common because of adware and other forms of malware, so more likely than not that’s the culprit, as opposed to being hacked. Insufficient memory (RAM) is also a frequent cause.

Mr. Modem publishes “Ask Mr. Modem!” each week, featuring PC tips, tricks and plain-English answers to your questions by email. For more information, visit

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