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What Is Vaguebooking? 5 Classic Examples

What is vaguebooking? You’ve probably heard the term being bandied about on social media, but do you understand what it actually means?

In this article, we’ll explain what vaguebooking is, and give specific examples of vaguebooking so that you’ll be able to recognize it when you see it.

What Is Vaguebooking?

There was a time when people kept diaries in order to express their innermost thoughts and feelings. Now, while digital journaling is a thing, people posts their thoughts on social media. Unfortunately, this often takes the form of vaguebooking, which can be extremely annoying.

But what is vaguebooking?

In a nutshell, vaguebooking is any update on a social network that is intentionally vague. While you will see people vaguebooking on Twitter and Instagram, it’s especially prevalent on Facebook. Which is where the name—a portmanteau of “vague” and the “book” from Facebook— comes from.

Status updates which fall under the category of vaguebooking can be long or short, but most comprise just a few simple words. Regardless of the length they all have one thing in common… to elicit a response—any sort of response—from friends and followers.

And that’s the point of vaguebooking. While the majority of us will only post on social media when we have something specific to say, vaguebookers take great delight in beating around the metaphorical bush. Seeking attention while giving away very little in terms of detail.

Examples of Vaguebooking

The easiest way to answer the question, what is vaguebooking?, is to give examples. So here are a handful of examples of vaguebooking which will help you recognize it when you see it.

1. Expressing an Emotion Without Providing Context

This is an expression of emotion in its most basic form. On this occasion it’s anger, but other emotions can replace anger quite easily. Instead of, “I’m so angry right now. Arrggh!,” it could be, “I’m so confused right now. Waagh!” or “I’m so miserable right now. Boohoo!”

2. Why Me? This Could Only Happen to Me!

This is a classic, and one of the most annoying forms of vaguebooking. It’s about as vague as it gets while still using words. With “Why? Only me…” you’re imparting the fact that something (likely bad) has happened that you need someone to ask you about.

3. Question Marks: The Purest Form of Vaguebooking

Sometimes you don’t even need words. A trio of question marks is enough. This is bound to get some kind of response from someone, whether it be more question marks or a simple “What’s up?” Which is all those who write this kind of status update are after.

4. How Is This Still a Thing?

Social networks aren’t always the nicest places to hang out. You can encounter idiots at every turn, and be exposed to every ism you care to mention. Which is disgusting. But if you’re going to out people, provide examples rather than vaguebooking about it.

5. When a GIF Is Meant to Sum Everything Up

If you find the right one, a GIF can say everything you need to say. However, vaguebookers abuse the medium by posting GIFs without context. Imagine, for example, finding a GIF of a baby cheering on your timeline. Without context, that could mean a host of different things.

Who Is Responsible for Vaguebooking?

So, who’s doing all of this vaguebooking? Sadly, everyone seems prone to doing it from time to time. You’ll find normally sane and sensible people vaguebooking in order to elicit sympathy or some kind of response from someone, somewhere. Anyone, anywhere. It doesn’t really matter who responds, as long as someone notices their cry for attention.

Vaguebookers cannot be pigeonholed, as they come from all walks of life. Vaguebooking transcends race, religion, gender, and class. And, despite being recognized for many years, vaguebooking seems to be growing as a trend.

We’re all partly to blame too, even if we aren’t the ones vaguebooking. If you have ever responded to vaguebooking on social media, you’re part of the problem. Allowing vaguebooking to propagate almost as malevolently as fake news.

Is Vaguebooking Harmless or Something More?

Vaguebooking is definitely annoying. Of that there is no argument. But is it merely annoying or a sign of something more worrying?

This article was originally intended as a rant against vaguebooking. However, as with most things, there’s another side to the story. At least potentially. Which is that some people’s use of vaguebooking could be a genuine cry for help.

Some people who vaguebook will be lonely, depressed, or suffering some kind of emotional turmoil. And if their family, friends, or wider support group is either unavailable or ignoring them, they’ll turn to strangers for help instead.

The key is recognizing a genuine cry for help as opposed to a selfish cry for attention. Which is difficult. If you do determine that someone is genuinely in need of counsel, either message them directly, or reply with a link to professional help.

How to Avoid Vaguebooking

It’s actually very simple to avoid vaguebooking. Just don’t post anything vague on social media. That’s it. That’s the golden rule.

If you have something to say then say it, loud and proud. Tell your followers that you’re upset over something, and spell out the reasons why. Or if you’ve received some good news, tell people when you can fill them in on the details properly, but not before.

While Hollywood movies rely on teasers and trailers to increase anticipation, you don’t need to do that yourself. Either say exactly what you want to say, with enough context so that people can understand what you mean, or don’t say anything at all.

And if you’re struggling mentally, maybe avoid social media altogether and talk to someone offline. Having a one-to-one conversation with someone who can actually offer practical help and/or advice is a much better idea than vaguebooking in the hopes someone will notice you.

How to Fight the Scourge of Vaguebooking

Have you seen someone you know vaguebooking? Did you respond by asking for more detail? If so, please don’t do that again. Discourage it by ignoring the vague status update. Or, even better reply with a link to this article instead. Together we can stop this vaguebooking madness.

And even if we can’t manage that, we should all be aware of the pros and cons of social media.

Image Credit: Byron Villegas/Flickr

Read the full article: What Is Vaguebooking? 5 Classic Examples

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How to Sideload Any File Onto Your Android Phone or Tablet

Once you move beyond the basics of Android, you’re likely to come across the term “sideloading.” And while sideloading is useful and not particularly complicated, if you’re not familiar, the process might confuse you.

Let’s look at what sideloading is, how it works on Android, and the various types of media you can sideload.

What Is Sideloading?

You’ve heard of downloading and uploading, but what is sideloading? In general terms, sideloading means transferring files between two devices of your own. It doesn’t necessarily require an internet connection, hence the “side” instead of “up” or “down.”

In the context of mobile devices, sideloading typically refers to moving files from your desktop computer to your phone so you can use them on your mobile device. For Android specifically, sideloading often means installing apps from outside of the Play Store.

However, because Android gives you the freedom to install and launch media from anywhere, sideloading works for more than just installing apps.

What Can You Sideload on Android?

Let’s look at the different types of files you can sideload on Android, then we’ll discuss how the sideloading process works.

Apps

Much of the time, people use Android sideloading to install apps from sources outside the Play Store. These come as APK files, which are Android package files (similar to EXE files on Windows).

There are many safe places to find APK files, such as APKMirror. You should be careful not to download APKs from random sites, as they could harm your device. Plus, don’t forget that downloading paid apps for free is piracy.

We have a guide specifically for sideloading apps on Android, so have a look at that for everything you need to know.

Music, Books, Videos, and Other Media

If you’re interested in sideloading something other than apps, you have plenty of options. With the right apps on your device, you can enjoy music, ebooks, movies, and other kinds of content:

  • Music: Install one of the best offline music apps for Android and you can enjoy your MP3 collection anywhere.
  • Books: Using Google Play Books or another Android ebook reader, you can load up free ebooks to read on your device or transfer your collection.
  • Movies and TV: VLC is a great all-around choice, allowing you to enjoy any kind of video files you have saved locally.

You could sideload podcasts as well, but it’s much more convenient to just use an Android podcast app to subscribe to your favorite shows and download them automatically.

Custom ROMs and Other Modding Tools

Finally, Android sideloading is an important tool when you’re modifying your device. Using the Android Debug Bridge, or ADB, you can push files from your desktop to install custom ROMs on your Android device.

This is an advanced use, though, so we won’t go into detail about it here.

How to Move Sideloaded Files to Your Android Device

Once you have an appropriate app installed on your phone to handle sideloaded content, the next step is moving the files to your device. This assumes you have content ready on your desktop to move to your phone, so download anything you want to move first.

No matter which method you use, when you place files in your phone’s storage, don’t forget where you put them. Android has several folders already set up for common types of media, such as Music, so either use those or make new folders if needed.

Using a USB Cable

Access Android File Explorer

The most straightforward way to move files to your Android device is by connecting your phone and computer using a USB cable. This lets you simply move the files from your PC to your phone like you would across other folders. While connecting a cable isn’t as convenient as other ways to do this, it’s faster and more reliable than wireless methods.

On Windows, you don’t need anything special to move files over USB. However, on a Mac, you’ll need the free Android File Transfer tool installed first.

Download Files Directly on Your Phone

If you don’t want to bother with a USB cable, it’s often convenient to download files directly on your phone. For instance, if you want to sideload an app, you can just visit the APK download site using a browser on your phone and download it there.

This saves you from having to connect your phone and PC physically. However, it might not be an option if the media you want to sideload only exists on your PC, such as a large MP3 collection.

Move via Cloud Storage, Bluetooth, or Similar

To move data from your PC to phone without a cable, you can rely on wireless methods. If you use a cloud storage app like Dropbox or OneDrive on both devices, put the files in your cloud storage folder on your computer and then open them on your phone.

We’ve also shown how to connect your Android device and PC using Bluetooth. While wireless methods are convenient, keep in mind that they’re slower than transferring over USB and more susceptible to interference. If you have a large file to transfer or are on a slow network, you’re better off connecting physically.

If none of the above methods work for you, see other ways to transfer files from Android to PC.

Accessing Sideloaded Files

Now that you’ve placed files on your device, all that’s left to do is open them. For this, you’ll need an Android file explorer app, so download one of those if you don’t have one already.

Using the file explorer, navigate to where you saved the sideloaded content, then tap to open it. Depending on the type of media, Android will either launch it in your default app, or ask which app you’d like to open the content in.

If it opens in an app that you don’t want to use (such as music opening in YouTube Music instead of a new local music manager you installed), see our guide to managing default apps on Android to change it. Otherwise, you can open the content in any supported app and enjoy it there.

For some kinds of content, you might be able to launch the files through the given app instead of your file manager. For instance, an ebook manager might ask you to specify a folder where your ebooks are stored. If you point this at the folder containing the books on your phone, the manager app will update its content when you add new files to that folder.

Installing sideloaded apps requires additional steps, so be sure to check the guide linked earlier for more help with that.

Take Advantage of Android Sideloading

Now you know how to sideload any type of content on your Android device. Your phone can handle pretty much any type of entertainment file that a computer can, making it easy to take your favorite media on the go. Once you establish a routine for moving new files to your device, it won’t take much time at all.

For more on things worth sideloading, check out the best alternative Android app stores.

Read the full article: How to Sideload Any File Onto Your Android Phone or Tablet

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5 Weird Noises Inside Your Computer Explained

During standard use, your computer should run fairly quietly. While you can expect the fans to get louder when doing intensive tasks like gaming or video editing, you shouldn’t hear scratching, beeping, or rattling from inside your computer case.

If you do hear unusual or loud noises from your computer, it could be a sign that something is wrong. A component could be failing and need replacing. We’re going to explore what the different noises from your computer mean.

1. Clicking or Scratching

Hard disk drives (HDD) were once the standard for computer storage due to their low cost to capacity ratio. However, solid state drives (SSD) are now affordable and a much better option.

Using an SSD means your computer will boot faster and you can access your files quicker. SSDs are also less prone to failure compared to an HDD because they use flash memory, meaning there are no moving parts. You can find out more in our guide to how SSDs work.

If you’re still using HDDs, it’s important to know that they are mechanical. To read data on an HDD, a needle skirts across a sensitive magnetic plate. Any damage to that plate can lead to data loss.

This is why you shouldn’t move an HDD when it’s turned on because you could jolt the needle and scratch the plate. Alternatively, it could be damaged if dust or dirt finds its way inside.

If your HDD is failing, you will usually hear a grinding, clicking, or scratching noise. All of these are serious and can lead to data loss. If you hear these noises, immediately backup your data and stop using the drive. You should then buy a new HDD or take the opportunity to upgrade to an SSD.

2. Coil Whine

Coil whine is a shrill, high-pitched squeal that comes from electronic components. In your computer, it’s often emitted from the graphics card or power supply.

As power passes through the coils of these components, they vibrate and create the whine noise. The noise will change depending on how much current is passing through—so if you’re playing an intensive game, the graphics card will need more power, resulting in a louder coil whine.

Your components may not produce audible coil whine. Also, if you’re not sensitive to high-pitched noises, you might not notice it anyway. Either way, coil whine is not dangerous, it’s just a natural byproduct of an electric part.

That said, coil whine can be annoying. Some part manufacturers will class it as a defect and offer a free replacement, so contact them if you find it bothersome.

3. Whirring or Humming

Fans help keep your computer cool. The case and power supply will have them, and your processor and graphics card likely will too.

Their volume at standard load will depend on what type of fans you have and the dampening power of your case. As your computer demands more power, the components will get hotter and the fans will speed up to keep everything cool.

As such, hearing whirring or humming isn’t necessarily bad. It’s the sound of the fans spinning. That said, if the fans are always spinning at maximum load, it could be a sign that your computer is overheating and you need to cool it down.

There are ways to silence loud computer fans, like buying quiet case fans from respected manufacturers, installing anti-vibration mounts, or using software to control the fan curve (where you set the fan speed to correlate to specific temperatures).

4. Is Your PC Rattling?

If you can hear rattling from your computer, the first thing to do is remove anything that you have sitting on top of the case—an external drive, headset, figurine, or whatever. A vibration inside your computer could transfer to the case and shake things you have sitting on it.

If that doesn’t solve the problem, the rattle is probably being caused by a fan. First, turn your computer off, open it up, and ensure that all of your cables are neatly tied back and far away from any fan blades. The rattle could be the fan clipping the wire and that’s only going to lead to a short circuit.

Second, while you’re in there, double check that all your components are firmly attached. Look for any loose screws. Likely culprits here are drives that aren’t stable within their bays or an incorrectly mounted motherboard.

If none of this works, the rattle could very well be coming from the fan itself. Use some compressed air to clear out any dust that mounts up on the fan blades. Also, over time the fan bearings will wear out. If confident, you can take the fan apart and lubricate the bearing.

However, do not do this for your power supply fan. Opening up a power supply that hasn’t lost its charge can result in death. If the power supply is under warranty, send it for repair. Otherwise, buy a new one.

5. Fix That Beeping Computer

When you turn on your computer, it performs a power-on self-test (POST). This essentially checks that everything is working, after which it then boots to the operating system.

If the POST fails, you will likely hear a combination of beeps. These are coming from your motherboard to tell you what the problem is. It could indicate a number of things, including failure in memory, the CPU, the GPU, or the motherboard itself.

However, if you always hear a single beep and your computer passes POST, this isn’t anything to worry about.

You should refer to your motherboard’s manual to determine what the beeps mean. There is no universal guide for this. If your computer is pre-built by a company like Dell or HP, refer to their manual or contact them for support. Whatever the case, it’s something you should resolve quickly.

How to Silence a Noisy Laptop

Hopefully you now have a better understanding about what those noises inside your computer are and which ones you need to worry about.

If you’re using a laptop and want it to be quieter, check out our advice on how to silence a noisy laptop fan.

Read the full article: 5 Weird Noises Inside Your Computer Explained

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How to Organize Windows Files Using Both an SSD and HDD

You probably know that a solid-state drive (SSD) is a huge upgrade for your computer because it runs much faster than a mechanical hard disk drive (HDD). However, since SSDs are more expensive, you might not be able to afford a large enough SSD to store all your data on.

In that case, what’s the best way to use an SSD and HDD combo? We’ll show you how to use an SSD and HDD together for best results.

Basics on Using an SSD and HDD Together

Just in case you’re not familiar, it helps to know the differences between an SSD and HDD. Essentially, because SSDs have no moving parts and use flash memory, they can read and write data much faster than an HDD can with its spinning platters and reading head.

This results in everything loading faster, including your operating system, app launches, file transfers, game loading times, and similar. Thus, in a perfect world, you would have all your data on an SSD to keep everything running smoothly.

However, SSDs are much more expensive than a comparable HDD. At the time of writing, you can buy a decent 1TB SSD for around $100, while that same amount would get you a 4TB HDD.

If you build a desktop, you can choose what drives to put inside it, making cost the only issue. But some prebuilt desktops and laptops come with a small SSD and larger HDD. Let’s look at how to prioritize what data goes where.

Use Your SSD as a Boot Drive

The most important item to keep on your SSD is the Windows operating system itself. Having your OS on the SSD will speed up all Windows elements, including booting up, shutting down, and launching programs.

This will make the biggest speed difference, which is why you’ll sometimes hear “boot drive” used to describe a small SSD primarily used for Windows. As of version 1903 (the May 2019 update), Windows 10 requires at least 32GB of space to run.

However, there are a few ways to shrink your Windows install size further. One of these is disabling hibernation if you don’t need it, which will save a few gigabytes.

While 32GB isn’t a whole lot, you also need to leave some additional space to have room for updates. Windows won’t run well if your drive has barely any space free.

Windows Drive Space Free

Finally, when Windows is on your SSD, your user profile will be as well. This won’t take up a lot of space to start, unless you start adding a lot of photos, videos, and similar (which we discuss below)

Decide Which Apps to Install

After installing the Windows OS, you’ll (hopefully) have some space left over for apps. But with limited space, which ones should you install on the SSD?

All programs benefit from the speed of an SSD—long load times will be shorter, and shorter load times will become almost instant. Thus, the most important apps to keep on your SSD are ones that you use most often. Productivity apps like Office, photo editors, and your browser are all relatively small in size and will benefit from the speed.

If you use any heavy-duty software like video editors or IDEs for programming, those will run much better on an SSD too. However, those take up a lot more space, so you might not have room for them. Prioritize apps you use the most often that are small.

Another category of apps that get a huge benefit from an SSD is video games. SSD speeds drastically reduce load times, so you may want to install the games you always play to that drive. But since many modern games take up dozens of gigabytes, you may only have room for one or two.

Where to Put Files

When you install most apps, they put some necessary files in the Program Files folder, which you can’t move. But many additional files don’t need to live on your SSD.

For instance, while you might have VLC installed on your SSD, you don’t need to keep movies and videos there. They’ll still load in an acceptable time from an HDD, and once they’re open, an SSD won’t provide much additional benefit.

Pictures, documents, and downloads are all other types of content you can keep off the SSD. Unless you open something all the time, the slightly faster file load time isn’t worth the used space.

You should change your default download folder in your browser to avoid saving downloaded files to your SSD all the time. In Chrome, click the three-dot menu and choose Settings. Scroll down to the bottom and expand the Advanced section, then find Downloads.

Here, either click the Change button to pick a new folder for downloads or enable Ask where to save each file before downloading if you want to pick every time.

Chrome Change Download Location

Organizing Your Second Drive

When you’re using a single drive, you probably don’t think much about where you install new programs or put files. But with two drives, you must be more intentional about where you put everything. We’ve talked about general ideas above, but what does this look like in practice?

Open File Explorer and navigate to This PC to see all your drives. Assuming you installed Windows on the SSD, the regular Windows folders will already be in place there. But you’re free to do whatever you’d like with the secondary drive.

Try creating folders for each type of content you put on the drive. For example, you might create both a Program Files and Games folder at the root of your HDD. Then when you install a program that you want to keep off your SSD, just select that location during the install process.

Windows Second Drive Organization

Using Libraries

If you have many files split across drives, the Windows Library feature can come in handy. This allows you to specify certain locations that contain similar types of files and view them all in one place.

Libraries are hidden by default in Windows 10. To show them, open File Explorer and go to View > Navigation pane > Show Libraries. You’ll then see Libraries in the left panel, which contains default collections for file types like Documents and Pictures.

Windows 10 Show Libraries

To edit a Library, right-click it here and choose Properties. In the Library locations box, click Add and pick a folder you want to include in it. Repeat for as many folders as you want to add to that library. It’s also useful to click a folder and choose Set save location to set it as the default place when you save to that Library.

Windows Edit Library Locations

Using this, you can see all the files scattered across your two drives in one view. That way, you don’t have to remember where you put a specific file.

Moving Files Between Drives

It’s easy to move files from your SSD to HDD later, too. In File Explorer, simply select the files you want to remove from your SSD and press Ctrl + X to cut them. Then browse to a new location on your HDD and press Ctrl + V to paste the cut files.

Keep in mind that you should only do this with user data like pictures and videos. Cutting and pasting program data to a new drive usually doesn’t work (unless it’s a portable app), so you’re better off uninstalling and reinstalling to the new location.

That’s really all it takes—whenever you install a new program or download a large file, think about whether you want it to load quickly and if it’s worth using your limited SSD space. That will help you decide where to put it.

Managing Your Space Over Time

Depending on how much free space your SSD has, you’ll need to check in on your free space occasionally. Several factors can use up space on your SSD without you noticing, including the following:

  • User data from programs. Even if you install apps to your secondary drive, a lot of software will save files to your AppData user folder and/or the ProgramData folder.
  • The Recycle Bin. By default, deleted files go to your Recycle Bin, which lives on your boot drive. If you never empty this, the contents of the Recycle Bin could take up several gigabytes.
  • Software and Windows updates. Patches to both installed apps and Windows itself may take up more of your space over time. This is why you need to keep a buffer of free space.

Using tools to free up space in Windows, such as the Disk Cleanup tool, will help you manage these leftover bits. Also take a look at TreeSize Free, which shows you the folders taking up the most space on your drive. Uninstalling apps you no longer use will help free up space too.

TreeSize Windows

The Perfect SSD and HDD Combo

While SSDs are superior to HDDs in most regards, we’ve seen how to use them both in harmony. Hopefully, you can upgrade to a larger SSD before long. But until then, you know how to manage your files between drives.

If you’re moving everything to a new drive, see how to use Clonezilla to clone your drive. You might also consider partitioning your hard drive.

Read the full article: How to Organize Windows Files Using Both an SSD and HDD

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Analog Radio vs. Digital Radio: How They Work and Their Differences

Across the globe, radio is undergoing a monumental shift from analog to digital. The basics are still the same: you can use digital radio to consume music, news, and other information over the air. But digital radio also brings the promise of better signal quality, a wider range of stations, and more information about what you’re listening to.

Here’s everything you need to know about the differences between analog and digital radio.

How Does Analog Radio Work?

In order to learn about digital radio, you first need to learn how analog radio works. That way, you can understand the difference between analog and digital radio, and why it’s a good idea to make the change.

Analog radio obviously isn’t a new technology. In fact, it pre-dates the 1900s. Guglielmo Marconi is credited with the first successful application of wireless technology after sending out the first radio signal—consisting of a single letter, “S”—in 1895.

While radio broadcasting grew in popularity through the 1920s, it took years of legal battles for Nikola Tesla to be finally awarded the US patent posthumously in 1943. Although fierce rivals, the impact of Marconi and Tesla lead to the use of analog radio as we know it today. And in all honesty, not much has changed since Tesla’s first “modern” radio. In fact, a lot of vintage gear is still in use.

The technology itself is remarkably simple. Analog radio has two main parts, a receiver and a transmitter. The transmitter sends radio signals—called continuous sine waves—using one of two types of modulation to carry information. These two types of modulation are Amplitude Modulation (AM) and Frequency Modulation (FM).

The differences between AM and FM analog radio signals include:

  • The frequency range (around 1MHz for AM or 98MHz for FM)
  • The width of the frequency band
  • And the transmitter power

The receiver in a radio captures these signals, then removes the continuous sine wave leaving only the information in the modulation. And this is what you hear on the radio.

Why Is Analog Radio Being Replaced?

Analog radio is starting to show its age. That’s not to say it doesn’t work, but digital radio offers a cleaner signal with less interference from weather, distance, or other devices.

This is why it’s inevitable most countries will switch to digital radio eventually, with Norway leading the way.

Digital radio offers different features that aren’t possible with analog radio, including:

  • More channels and radio stations
  • Cleaner audio with high bitrates
  • The ability to pause and rewind live radio
  • Quicker tuning by searching for stations rather than certain frequencies
  • On-screen information including the song and artist, radio show presenter, guest, phone number, or details about the ad you’re listening to

Your radio or receiver may already work with digital radio. In the US, you’ve probably heard it called HD Radio. In Europe, it’s commonly known as DAB (digital audio broadcasting). Each of these formats is similar, with only slight differences in how they work with digital radio signals.

How Does Digital Radio Work?

Like analog radio, digital radio sends a signal through the air that a receiver captures and plays through your speakers. The main difference between the two is that digital radio doesn’t send complete information all at once. Instead, it converts the audio to digital information. Then it compresses the digital information and transmits it in pieces.

The receiver captures these pieces of information much like it would with an analog signal. But instead of playing them, it decodes the data and pieces it together first. While this seems like an odd process, it actually makes the digital signal less likely to suffer from interference.

Analog radio is more prone to signal degradation from competing signal sources. This is why you hear a lot of static and hisses with AM and FM analog radio stations.

Digital radio doesn’t have this problem for two main reasons:

  1. Receivers have advanced amplifiers which help to filter out competing signals
  2. The digital signal is simpler, making it easier to filter out interference

Digital radio is also sent redundantly, which means your receiver can piece together the signal even if a few parts go missing along the way.

The Downsides to Digital Radio

DAB Radio

Digital radio isn’t perfect. One of the biggest downsides is that when the signal gets too bad, you lose it completely. In contrast, with analog radio, you can still listen to the fuzzy signal and put up with bad reception. That’s not an option for digital.

As we mentioned above, digital radio drops out completely when the signal gets too weak. This means you’re more likely to lose a station as you move too far.

Another problem with digital radio is the lag caused by transmitting the audio signal in pieces, and then re-constructing them before playback. If you have a digital radio, put it next to an analog radio and tune them to the same station. You’ll notice a significant delay in the digital radio.

Finally, you can’t retrofit analog radios to work with digital. That means you’d need to upgrade your receiver, car stereo, or boombox to take full advantage of digital radio. Luckily, there are tuners, adapters, and smartphone radio transmitters available if you want to avoid the expense of a full upgrade.

When Will Analog Radio Die?

Old analog radios on a bookshelf

There’s no confirmed timeline for analog radio to die out completely. In fact, there are plenty of reasons to keep it operational in some capacity. Especially since analog radio is more useful in an emergency situation. But a mainstream shift to digital radio is already taking place.

Most major radio stations already emit their programs for analog and digital radios, and most new cars and radio systems are designed to work with digital. It’s only a matter of time until you find yourself with more digital radio options than analog, at which point you may as well make the switch yourself.

Chances are, you can already listen to some digital radio stations on your phone. Just check out these digital radio apps to get started.

Read the full article: Analog Radio vs. Digital Radio: How They Work and Their Differences

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What Is Puppy Linux? Everything You Need to Know

You probably know that Linux can run on most devices. You may even know that it can perform most tasks—for example, supercomputers, web servers, and even low spec systems.

One Linux distribution that is particularly adept at running on computers with minimal system specification and resources is Puppy Linux.

What Is Puppy Linux?

Originally released in 2003, Puppy Linux is a family of Linux operating systems that are fast, versatile, and compact.

The installation footprint of Puppy Linux is under 300MB, yet it comes ready with all the common daily apps you need. This makes it ready to use out of the box, which means it is suitable for everyone, whatever their age.

Further, there’s a nice macOS-style default dock to ensure simplicity on the desktop. And if you don’t like the way Puppy Linux looks, it’s customizable, with a selection of themes and desktop wallpapers.

Puppy Linux has been around for so long that it boasts considerable variety. Along with the various official versions, there are hundreds of “puplets”, custom Puppy Linux creations focused on specific requirements.

The small download size of Puppy Linux means that you can install it on an old-fashioned CD-ROM, a USB flash drive, an SD card, or any bootable storage media you can find. You can install Puppy Linux on a PC, in a virtual machine, or even a bootable USB device.

What Puppy Linux Isn’t

Now you know what Puppy Linux is. But what isn’t it?

Well, Puppy Linux isn’t like most other Linux distros. For a start off, it isn’t a single distribution. Rather, it is a collection of distributions with a shared philosophy.

These distributions are intended to “provide consistent behaviors and features” so it shouldn’t really matter which “flavor” you choose. Puppy Linux is divided in to three general groups:

  • Official Puppy Linux distributions are for general purpose and maintained by the Puppy Linux team using a system build called Woof-CE
  • “Woof-built” distributions built with Woof-CE are also available, mostly designed with specific needs in mind.
  • Puplets, meanwhile, are the third type of Puppy Linux distribution, usually maintained by the Puppy Linux community. Among these are non-English puplets and special purpose puplets.

While Puppy Linux isn’t based on a specific distro, you’ll find versions built on Raspbian Buster (for the Raspberry Pi) and Ubuntu. There’s even a Slackware version.

Key Puppy Linux Features

As a lightweight Linux distribution, Puppy Linux isn’t going to give you anything fancy. While the desktop is pleasing to look at, the default view can be tweaked with a new theme or background if necessary.

Various tools are preinstalled with Puppy Linux

In fact, one of the first things you’ll see when you boot Puppy Linux is the option to start customizing it.

Meanwhile, you can easily install additional applications. The Puppy Linux package manager delivers pretty much all the Linux software you can imagine, although many common dependencies are absent. As such, some apps and utilities may take some time to install.

What will you need to install? Well, here’s what you won’t need:

  • Abiword
  • HexChat
  • PeasyPDF
  • GIMP
  • Inkscape
  • Firewall
  • DeaDBeeF
  • Transmission
  • Claws Mail
  • Firefox (as the Light browser)

Further, Puppy Linux features a host of utilities covering everything from launchers to networking tools and media players.

Which Puppy Linux Should You Use?

With so many versions of Puppy Linux available, you might be wondering which is the best version to use.

Choose the version of Puppy Linux to suit you

Well, it really depends on what device you’re planning to use.

  • If you have a modern 64-bit PC, use the Ubuntu Bionic 64-based BionicPup64. This is compatible with Ubuntu repositories.
  • Want the benefit of an LTS (long term support) distro? Ubuntu Xenial’s XenialPup is available in 32 bit and 64-bit versions.
  • For older systems, Ubuntu Tahr has 32- and 64- bit builds of TahrPup.
  • Use a Raspberry Pi? Raspup is the obvious choice, and lighter than Raspbian Lite.
  • For a barebones Linux experience, the Slackware-based SlackoPuppy has 32- and 64-bit builds.

As Puppy Linux is so compact, it won’t take you long to download and try them all out. Just download Puppy Linux to begin.

How to Install Puppy Linux

Installing is simple. Just copy the downloaded ISO to a bootable device, load it into your computer, restart, and wait for live boot menu.

The small size lets Puppy Linux boot on any CD or USB stick and run with a weak CPU and low amount of memory. If there’s no hard drive, Puppy Linux can run from any bootable USB device.

Ready to install? Fortunately, this is one of the easiest Linux installations you’ll come across. Select Applications > Setup > Puppy Installer then follow the instructions. These are a little different to what you would normally see installing an operating system.

Install Puppy Linux

You’ll be prompted to manually create a partition, using the preinstalled GParted partition manager. Take a moment to right-click the new partition and select the root flag to save time later. With the installation target device selected, confirm all options then choose the Frugal installation.

This has several benefits, e.g., saving your personal settings in a dedicated save file, improving dual booting, etc. It’s preferable to the Full installation, which should be saved for limited systems with slow CPUs.

The Frugal installation means that you need to save your session when shutting down Puppy Linux. However, the operating system is so lightweight that this is an acceptable concession. When you do this, click Save, select a name, choose encryption, then save to your preferred location. Also, if you’ve decided to rely purely on the live environment, any changes you’ve made can be saved in the same way.

Installation is completed once you install Grub4dos to create a boot menu. This is required whether you have other operating systems installed or not.

It’s simple, and ensures your settings are retained following a system upgrade.

Can You Use Puppy Linux on a High Spec PC?

If you have a low-spec computer, it makes sense to run something with lower resource requirements. But what if you have a top-end, high specification computer?

Well, you should be looking at an operating system that runs as fast as the system will allow. From a performance point of view, this could mean everything is slick, efficient, and fast. Critical updates will be installed as necessary, reducing exposure to security issues; some of these can cause performance slowdowns. Similarly, be sure to use the built-in firewall.

While some Linux distros preinstall elaborate themes available with the slickest desktop environments, Puppy Linux doesn’t. While you have the option to make your installation look amazing, if performance is your preference, this low-resource distro is a great option.

Looking for a Lightweight Linux Distro? Try Puppy Linux

The rest is up to you. You can do whatever you wish with Puppy Linux from here on out. Many people choose Puppy Linux over traditional distributions because it works, runs fast, and has great graphics for a lightweight distribution. Therefore, you get more work done quickly and have the distro stay out of your way so that it doesn’t bog you down.

Short of space but want to install Linux? Puppy Linux is only one of several lightweight Linux distros you should consider.

Read the full article: What Is Puppy Linux? Everything You Need to Know

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Which Linux Shell Is Best? 5 Common Shells Compared

Happy using the bash shell in Linux? Or would you prefer to try out an alternative? There’s tsch, fish, KornShell, and Z Shell to choose from. But which of these popular Linux shells is best?

What Is a Linux Shell?

Usually, when you write an application, it’s done in a high-level language that humans can understand. Examples of these are C#, Java, C++, etc. Believe it or not, your computer sees everything as 1s as 0s or, as commonly known, binary or machine code.

A compiler will then translate the high-level language into a binary file like an executable. This binary file is what you execute to launch said application.

Now, this is a very high-level view of what happens; just remember, your computer needs a translation layer. This sits between what you’re telling it to do and how it can understand that.

A shell is what’s known as an interpreter. Similar to a compiler, an interpreter translates the human code into machine code. One of the differences is that an interpreter does this one statement at a time. Meanwhile, a compiler scans the entire program and translates it all into machine code.

The shell, then, is an interface for you to interact with your operating system (OS). As you type commands into the shell, it’s responsible for interpreting those commands and making the magic happen. Operations like copying files, piping, listing files are all within a shell’s remit.

Several Linux shells are available. To find out all the shells that are available on your system, open the terminal and type:

cat /etc/shells

To find out what shell you’re currently using type:

echo $0

What is the best Linux shell

But are you using the best Linux shell? Let’s look at what is available.

1. Bash

This is by a mile the most popular shell among Linux users. It’s hard to even think about shells without the Bourne-Again Shell (bash) being a part of the equation. Many Linux distributions ship with bash as the default shell because bash is the default GNU shell. Released in 1989, it also boasts a few decades of healthy development behind it.

Bash’s predecessor is The Bourne Shell (sh) which is one of the original Unix shells. One attractive feature to sh programmers was that they could port their scripts directly to bash entirely unchanged. Bash also offers several enhancements to its predecessor:

  • Command completion
  • Command history

Often online documentation will assume you are using bash. However, it is not without its shortcomings—as anyone who has ever written a bash script can attest to! It’s not that you can’t do something, it’s that it’s not always particularly elegant to read and write.

2. KornShell

Is KornShell the best Linux shell?

Commonly known as ksh, KornShell is a popular alternative Linux shell that originated out of Bell Labs in the 1980s. There aren’t many differences between bash and ksh, but each has minor advantages over the other. Ksh, for example, has the cd old new command. If you were in the directory /Downloads/foo/bar/one/foobar and you needed to get to /Downloads/foo/bar/two/foobar you just need to enter:

cd one two

Veterans of ksh will advocate it’s superiority by mentioning its scripting benefits. These include:

  • Better loop syntax
  • Natural ways to repeat commands
  • Associative arrays

Unlike bash, it’s tough to find help for ksh online. If you want to give ksh a try you enter:

sudo apt install ksh

ksh

3. Tcsh

Tsch shell on Linux

Tcsh can trace its roots back to the early days of Unix. It’s an improved version of the C shell (csh) and features:

  • Programmable command-line completion
  • Command-line editing
  • Adding arguments to aliases
  • Easy command history access

You can run any command by typing !n replacing n with its corresponding number in the displayed history. History tab completion in tcsh works by typing:

!a<TAB>

This expands to the last command that started with the letter “a”. Comparatively, in bash, you would have to type !a:p to first see the command, followed by !! to execute it.

To give tcsh a try, type:

sudo apt install tcsh

tcsh

Tcsh is the default shell for BSD based systems like FreeBSD. The big selling point for tcsh is its scripting language, useful to anyone who is primarily programming in C. This makes tcsh useful for prototyping small C programs without getting confused over things like which brackets you’re using. This problem tends to happen if you’re continually switching between C programming and shell scripting.

4. Fish

Use the fish shell on Linux

Among all the seriousness of Linux, the team at fish have embedded a sense of humor in their project. On their website, the tongue-in-cheek title reads “Finally, a command line shell for the 90s” although fish (“friendly interactive shell”) was developed in 2005. Beyond the touted “Glorious VGA Color,” are some enhancements over other shells:

  • Commands with invalid syntax display as red
  • Correct syntax appears in blue
  • Auto-complete suggestions
  • Command completion based on the man pages on your machine.

This feature adds the syntax from the man page of newly installed software to your auto-complete suggestions. If you’d like to get more familiar with the command line, fish can be a great place to start.

To sample what fish is about, type:

sudo apt install fish

fish

5. Z Shell

Z Shell on Linux

Many would consider this to be leaving the best shell for last, which would be completely understandable. Zsh has similarities to bash and ksh and incorporates many of the features found in them as well as tcsh. Zsh features:

  • Navigable autocompletion list
  • Superior spelling correction
  • Command line completion
  • History shared across terminals
  • Globbing (wildcard characters for filenames)

Globbing in zsh is very useful. Typing:

vim /u/l/b/a<TAB>

Would open the file:

/usr/local/bin/autoupdate.sh

Zsh can take a while to configure on first use if you don’t go with the default config. To give it a try, enter:

sudo apt install zsh

zsh

Which Linux Shell Is Best for Me?

The fact that these options are available is brilliant. Each is a glimpse into computing history, where programmers decided they wanted to make things their own way.

The substantial differences between these shells can be found in the scripting syntax. Each shell has a particular set of nuances that separate them from each other. As it stands, bash dominates in terms of market share, which makes finding help much simpler. Bash is simply the best all-rounder, meeting the needs of all but the most advanced users.

When you’ve settled on a Linux shell, be sure you’re familiar with the basics of shell scripting.

Read the full article: Which Linux Shell Is Best? 5 Common Shells Compared

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What Are Reloaded Games and Repacked Games?

If you’ve explored the gaming scene for long enough, you may have come across game torrents labeled with two terms; “Reloaded” and “Repacked.” While these may sound like sequels for The Matrix, they have a whole different meaning when describing video games.

In this article we explain what repacked games and reloaded games are, and discover whether or not they’re legal.

What Is a Reloaded Game?

When you see a “reloaded” game, it can mean one of two things. Either the Reloaded group cracked and uploaded the game, or the uploader re-uploaded the game.

When “Reloaded” Means the Reloaded Team

The Reloaded team's website

Sometimes when a game is labeled “Reloaded” (or “RLD”), this means the Reloaded piracy group cracked the game. Crackers will often “sign” their work to show that they’re responsible for it.

The Reloaded team is notorious on the internet. They started up in 2004, and have many high-level cracks under their name. One of them was Spore, which Reloaded released four days before the release date with its draconian SecuROM DRM stripped from it. Since then, Reloaded has become a famous team amongst pirates who rely on them for free games.

When “Reloaded” Means a Re-Upload

Sometimes, “reloaded” means the uploader has tweaked the original files and re-uploaded it to internet. This may be because someone took down the original link, or the uploader tweaked the game to make it run better. As such, they use the term “reloaded” to tell people that the files are a recent upload.

What Is a Repacked Game?

When a game is labeled as “repacked,” it means the uploader has shuffled the files around to minimize download times. It tells downloaders that the uploader took the base files, “repacked” it to lower the file size, then re-uploaded it for everyone to use.

When a cracking team first breaks into a game, the total file size can be huge. This is because the software contains the full game, without any compression or removal of unnecessary features.

As such, if the cracker then uploads this to the internet, it may take a long time for downloaders to download the games onto their system. Even if they do manage it, the game will take up a large amount of space on the downloader’s hard drive.

How Crackers Reduce a Game’s File Size

When reducing a game’s huge file size, a cracker may compress files to reduce the file size. They’ll locate the files that take up the most space (such as sound and texture files) then pack them up to make the overall download size smaller.

They’ll also go through the game files and remove elements they deem unnecessary. For instance, a lot of games come with different language options. These games contain sound files for each of these languages, so the user can swap between them at will.

Someone repacking a game can lower the file size by removing the language files that aren’t in their native language. They will then upload the files stating what language the game is in, so people know what to expect when they download it. As such, if someone doesn’t care that they can play the game in French or Italian, they can save space and download time by grabbing an English-only repack.

A repacked game may also come with a crack. Cracks are special tools that can bust open the copy-protection of a program. Once the user downloads the files, they can apply the crack themselves and play the game without issue.

Are Repacked and Reloaded Games Illegal?

As you may have guessed by now, you’ll find these terms on pirating and game torrent sites. One is a tag for a cracking group, while the other is a sign that someone has heavily reduced a game’s file size.

Either way, if you see one of these tags on a game, there’s a very high chance that by downloading it you’re committing piracy. Even if the game is so old that it’s technically abandonware (what is abandonware?), it’s still a substantial gray area both legally and morally.

As such, if you see a game with one of these tags, it’s best to leave it be and find a legal way to download the game. For modern games, Steam and the Epic Store are both excellent picks to find it; for older titles, Good Old Games (GOG) may have it. If it doesn’t, GOG does have a “recommend a game” feature that you can use to raise awareness for your game.

Yes, these options do involve spending money, which isn’t an ideal situation. However, there are plenty of issues when illegally downloading games, ranging from a broken game to viruses and malware. You’re better off waiting for a Steam sale or Humble Bundle than running the risk of downloading a bad file.

How to Legally Get Free Games

The Epic Game store's free game section

Even if you’re short on cash, you don’t need to resort to piracy for something new to play. These days, there are swathes of games you don’t need to pay to play. This is either because the game uses a free-to-play model, or a store gives away a paid game.

For example, there are plenty of free games on Steam that won’t harm your wallet. Game services such as PS Now, Steam, and the Epic Store also give away games for free periodically, with Epic doing a unique “free game every week” campaign. It’s worth keeping tabs on them to see what’s new.

If you’re willing to pay a little bit of money, you can get lots of games for a single monthly fee. PS Now and the Xbox Game Pass (what is Xbox Game Pass?) are like the Netflix of video games. You just pay a small amount of money to unlock a considerable library. It’s by no means free, but it is a fantastic way to play games on a low budget.

Getting Smarter About Piracy

“Reloaded” and “repacked” are two terms you’ll see if you frequently pirate games. Crackers use them to tell you more about the upload, whether it’s a cracking group’s signature or an indicator that the uploader reduced the file size.

If you tend to turn to torrenting services for your entertainment, you should learn all about the dangers of downloading pirated games.

Read the full article: What Are Reloaded Games and Repacked Games?

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Why RAM Boosters and Task Killers Are Bad for Android

If you use Android, you may have heard advice about using a RAM booster or task killer app. Scroll through the Google Play Store and you’ll see a ton of task killers on offer with high reviews.

This may lead you to ask if RAM boosters really work. As it turns out, your phone doesn’t need these kind of apps and using them can even harm your performance. Let’s see why.

A Primer on RAM

Before looking at how task killers work, we must understand what RAM is and its purpose for your phone. RAM stands for Random Access Memory and is a fast yet volatile type of storage used by computers and phones.

Operating systems—whether Windows, Android, or something else—use RAM to store currently running programs. This means when you open an app on your phone, Android loads it into RAM. It keeps the app there for a while so you can easily switch back to it and pick up where you left off without reloading the app fully.

RAM is volatile, meaning that when you shut down your phone, everything stored in it disappears. This contrasts with the permanent storage on your phone, which obviously persists between reboots. Loading something from RAM is much faster than pulling it from main storage, though.

See our quick guide to RAM if you’re interested in more information.

How Android Uses RAM

Now, because your device only has so much RAM, you might think that manually managing processes is essential. This is easy to assume if you’re a Windows user.

On Windows, the OS keeps unused RAM free for programs that may need it in the future. If you have so many processes running that they fill up your RAM, Windows has to switch to the page file. This is a chunk of your storage drive that acts as pretend RAM when the system needs more.

Even an SSD is still much slower than RAM, so you’ll feel the slowdown when Windows uses the page file. At that time, it’s a good idea to close some running programs and free up RAM.

32-Bit Apps Task Manager

But this isn’t the case on Android. While it’s not a perfect adage, Android follows the “free RAM is wasted RAM” principle from Linux. The Linux kernel puts “unused” RAM to use for caching, which makes your system performance feel smoother.

Practically, in Android, this means that apps you opened some time ago will stick around in RAM until newer apps need that RAM. Android discards the older apps to make room for higher-priority processes based on your usage.

An Example of Android’s RAM Usage

To take an example, let’s suppose (for simplicity’s sake) that your device has 4GB of RAM and each app takes up 500MB. That means your phone can hold eight apps in RAM before it runs out of room (we’re excluding RAM used by system processes here).

Now, say you open four apps and check each of them for a minute, then put your phone down for 30 minutes. When you pick it back up, if you open any of those four apps, they’ll resume right where you left them, since your phone kept them in RAM.

If you then open up five more apps, the fifth will exceed the amount of RAM on your device. Android will thus analyze which app in RAM is least important based on which ones you’ve used most recently and which apps have priority. For example, if you’re playing music on Spotify, Android will keep that background process alive even if you haven’t opened it in a while.

From there, Android discards the least important app from RAM so it can hold the one you just opened. If you switch back to the app that was discarded, it will have to load from a cold state again.

Why Task Killers Are Terrible

Now that you understand how Android uses RAM, let’s consider how task killers affect this operation.

Most task killers and RAM boosters follow a similar format: they show you what apps are currently running (and thus using RAM), then offer to free up some RAM by having you tap a button to kill those processes. After closing, it shows you that those apps aren’t “wasting resources” in the background anymore.

The problem is that after you kill those apps, they have to start up again from scratch next time you open them. Plus, some processes will start up again right after they’re killed, as they need to run in the background for various reasons.

Thus, killing apps constantly is a waste of resources compared to just letting the app stay in RAM so you can quickly swap back to it when needed. As discussed, Android is smart enough to juggle what’s in RAM based on your usage, and the RAM you “free up” by killing tasks doesn’t contribute to performance.

Continuing the above example, say you’ve opened four apps recently, so Android has them all in RAM. If you run a RAM booster at this point, it will likely kill all those apps to “free up memory.”

This is pointless—if you’re going to use those apps in a few minutes, freeing up the memory they used doesn’t do you any good. Android keeps recent apps in RAM to make your experience as seamless as possible, and task killers interfere with that.

Additionally, some task killers can run automatically in the background and kill apps on a schedule. This uses up some of your system resources and offers nothing in return.

Swiping Apps Away Isn’t Necessary, Either

Even if you don’t use a task killer, there’s a built-in feature of Android that acts similarly to a RAM booster if you go overkill with it. The Recents screen, which you access by swiping up from the bottom and holding (or hitting the square button on the navigation bar) lets you easily switch between recent apps.

If you swipe up on an app, you’ll clear it from the Recents menu and also close its process. Many people do this obsessively, swiping away all apps in the switcher every time they’re done using their phone.

This is not necessary! Closing apps that you were just using has the same effect as ending them with a task killer. You’re making your phone work harder because it has to start them anew next time you open them. This would be like if you completely closed your desktop browser and launched it again every time you wanted to navigate to a new page.

Think of the Recent menu as a handy shortcut switcher, not a list of open apps that you need to close. Only swipe an app away if you don’t want cluttering up the switcher or really don’t want it to run in the background.

How to Really Make Android Feel Faster

Chances are that you installed an Android task killer because your phone feels slow. Thankfully, there are several steps you can take to improve your Android device’s performance that don’t involve killing tasks.

We’ve looked at tons of ways to actually make your Android phone faster; check those out for actionable advice.

Avoid Android Task Killers at All Costs

We’ve seen that Android RAM boosters and task killers are useless at best and can hamper device performance at worst. In the end, it’s best to just let the Android OS do its job by managing memory on its own. Having free RAM doesn’t improve performance; you’ll get the best results when apps stored in memory open quickly.

Now that you aren’t killing apps all the time, check out the best ways to multitask on Android.

Read the full article: Why RAM Boosters and Task Killers Are Bad for Android

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Can You Actually Hire Computer Hackers Online?

In films and TV shows, there are always hackers for hire. From action movies to crime procedurals, a skilled computer hacker can help disable security systems, locate confidential information, or piece together a crime in seconds.

It’s easy to dismiss this as fiction and creative license, though. That said, it does make you wonder whether there really are genuine hackers for hire.

Is Hacking Legal?

glasses in focus on a laptop

In most people’s minds, hacking is an illegal activity. Reported hacking incidents often involve criminal behavior for harmful or unlawful outcomes. Despite this common impression, hacking covers a wide range of technical skills, only some of which are illegal. Before hiring a hacker online, it’s important to note the difference between white hat, grey hat, and black hat hacking.

While many of the techniques are the same, the intent and expected outcomes differ between the three groups. When most people discuss hacking, they are usually referring to black hat hackers. This group is traditionally classed as cybercriminals as their primary objective is often personal or financial gain. However, they could also be working on behalf of government agencies involved in nation-state cyber attacks.

White hat hackers use similar methods, but their goals are different. In place of personal gain, white hat hackers help organizations and individuals to improve their security by performing penetration testing. These tests are pre-agreed, and the objective is to highlight security weaknesses.

Given the positive outcome, this is also referred to as ethical hacking. As you have permission to compromise systems, ethical hacking is legal as well. Grey hat hackers sit somewhere between the other two categories, often compromising systems without permission but to strengthen security rather than profit from the lack of it.

Can You Hire Black Hat Hackers?

a person editing code on a laptop

Given how lucrative illegal hacking can be, there are black hat hackers for hire available online. However, you won’t find them advertising their services on a professional website or listing their achievements on LinkedIn. The most common way to find a black hat hacker is through online forums, chat rooms, and the dark web.

Most also won’t accept traditional payment methods like credit or debit cards. Instead, you’d be expected to pay with something less traceable. In many cases, this will be a pseudonymous cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. Even if they did offer card payments, it’s probably unwise to trust a black hat hacker with your personal information.

Though, just because you can find black hat hackers online, doesn’t mean that you should purchase their services. Even if you aren’t performing the hack itself, you have initiated an illegal activity, making you party to the crime. Unless you are already experienced with criminal practices, you will often be easier for law enforcement to identify as well.

Popular sites like hackers24hrs, hirehacking, and thoriumhacks have prominent search result positions. However, reviews and comments elsewhere do not paint them as reputable services. Generally, if you want to hire a hacker to break into someone’s account, install malware, or obtain sensitive information, this will not fall under white hat or ethical hacking.

Additionally, there is no guarantee or legal agreement once you hire a black hat hacker. There’s always the possibility that they will take your money but fail to deliver the service. It’s also likely that your target will be a person or organization you know or have been affected by. In which case, the hacker could find information with which to blackmail you.

Overall, we strongly recommend that you don’t hire black hat hackers or involve yourself in illegal activity.

Can You Hire White Hat Hackers?

two keys in a door lock

As a white hat hacker’s objective is to identify weaknesses so you can improve your security, their services are widely and legally available online. However, very few organizations add a white hacker label to their business or website, so it’s essential to thoroughly research a company before entrusting them with this work. That said, you can use these websites to teach yourself how to hack legally as well.

Additionally, if you search the internet for legit hackers for hire or similar, you’ll be presented with a broad set of results. It won’t be immediately obvious which services fall under which category, and the legal status of what’s on offer. This makes it even more critical that you research the company before purchasing their services.

Although white hat hacking is a descriptive grouping for many kinds of ethical hacking, you’ll need to determine the most suitable type of hacking service you require. Penetration testing—attempting to break through security measures—comes in many forms. For example, one of the most popular segments is network pen-testing.

One of the most critical areas is your connection to the wider internet, so it makes sense that this is the most common ethical hacking service available. Likewise, physical pen-testing, where hackers attempt to break into real-world spaces, is an offline equivalent. However, you may also want to test the effectiveness of your software and hardware too.

It’s often said people are an overlooked security risk. Social engineering is a form of white hat or ethical hacking explicitly focused on your systems’ human element. The social engineer will attempt to trick, confuse, or gain other people’s trust to bypass security measures and extract information.

Beware of Scams and Set Boundaries

Someone paying for goods using the NFC on a credit card.

As hacking is a generic term for a wide range of services—some legal, some not—it can be a challenge to find reputable hackers. To exploit those who are aware of the work’s illegality, some hackers and criminals operate scams, knowing that victims are unlikely to report the crime to the police or authorities.

As such, you must research your chosen hacker or hacking firm before investing in their services. Most white hat hacking groups are legitimate businesses offering a legal and vital service. However, as you would with any other product or service, look for reviews, comments, and complaints before handing over your money.

Although white hats aren’t hacking for malicious reasons, you should also set boundaries for their work. If you only want them to test specific systems or software, or break into them, but without accessing personal or confidential information, be sure to agree on this before the work starts.

Finding Hackers for Hire

Although the terms can be confusing, it is possible to find genuine hackers for hire online. However, it’s important to note the difference between illegal black hat hacking and ethical white hat hacking. Before purchasing their services, be sure that you feel comfortable with the service and the agreement’s terms.

If you’d prefer a career in the industry rather than hiring hackers, legal options are open to you. For instance, it is possible to earn a living as an ethical hacker.

Read the full article: Can You Actually Hire Computer Hackers Online?