Stop wasting your life – Buy an SSD

Stop wasting your life – Buy an SSD

It’s 2020, and if your PC is running its operating system, applications, and games on a hard drive, it’s time to take a long, hard look in the mirror.

With read and write speeds that are much slower than solid-state drives, you are literally wasting time – and your life – by using a hard drive to run your PC’s operating system.

How much time am I wasting? Well, it depends on the SSD you upgrade to and the hard drive you currently have.


Need for speed

For this article, we will use WD’s range of hard drives and SSDs to show the difference in performance.

A 1TB WD Blue 3.5-inch HDD will deliver a transfer rate of around 150MB/s (megabytes per second). It achieves this using a SATA connection to your PC, and it means that 150MB of data can be transferred every second.

The easiest and most affordable storage upgrade for users is to move from their hard drive to a SATA SSD, which uses the same connection type as the hard drive – but comes in a thinner 2.5-inch form factor and delivers faster speeds.

A 1TB WD Blue 3D NAND SSD provides read and write speeds of 560MB/s and 530MB/s respectively – a huge jump in speed.

For those with more budget (we will get to pricing differences in a bit), you can upgrade even further to an M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD.

The fancy name refers to the form factor – M.2 – and interface standard and protocols – NVMe and PCIe – of the drive.

A 1TB WD Black NVMe SSD gives users read and write speeds of 3,470MB/s and 3,000MB/s respectively, and connects directly to your PC’s motherboard without a cable.

Going up even further, the Aorus NVMe Gen4 SSD delivers read and write speeds of up to 5,000MB/s and 4,400MB/s when paired with the correct motherboard and CPU.

The graph below shows the typical performance of these three types of storage drives.

SSD Speeds

Price per GB

The faster speeds of SSDs come at a higher price, however.

You can pick up a 1TB WD Blue 3.5-inch HDD for between R600-R700 currently, whereas a 1TB WD SATA SSD costs around R1,900.

Prices increase further when moving to M.2 NVMe drives, and a 1TB WD Black NVMe SSD is priced at R3,500.

The graph below shows the price-per-GB measure of these drives.

Price per GB

Speed vs Price

Like most things in life, you get what you pay for.

Hard drives are cheaper but slower. If you have tons of photos and videos to store, an HDD is a good option – as the price-per-GB factor means it is affordable to keep all your data stored locally.

However, your operating system, frequently-played games, and frequently-used apps must be on an SSD.

The speed difference is noticeable in everyday use, and even turning on your PC and waiting for it to boot up is a much faster process.

SSDs deliver faster speeds which will result in you spending less time waiting for programs to load or applications save and load data – it’s that simple.

If you do any upgrades to your PC in 2020, make sure the first thing you do is buy an SSD.


SSDs on offer

The images below provide an overview of the common types of SSDs you can buy, and what a standard HDD looks like.


3.5-inch SATA HDD

HDD

2.5-inch and M.2 SATA SSD

It is important to note that SATA SSDs are available in 2.5-inch and M.2 form factors.

Do not mix up SATA and NVMe SSDs based on their looks alone – always check the read and write speeds.

2.5 SSD
M.2 SATA SSD

M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD

WD SSD

PCIe Card SSD

SSDs in a PCIe Card form factor, similar to that of a graphics card, are also available.

As they use the PCIe/NVMe interface like the high-end M.2 drives, they offer similar speeds.

PCIe SSD

If you have ADSL, you will need to find an alternative

If you have ADSL, you will need to find an alternative

Telkom is rapidly cutting off ADSL and VDSL fixed-line subscribers across South Africa as part of its plan to completely decommission its copper network.

What this means for current ADSL and VDSL subscribers is that they have to look for an alternative service to stay connected.

The most popular option is fibre, which provides subscribers with a fast and affordable uncapped Internet connection.

With speeds ranging between 10Mbps and 1Gbps, fibre remains unmatched in the value if offers subscribers.

Fibre-to-the-home and fibre-to-the-business connections are only available in selected suburbs across the country, however, and many DSL subscribers fall outside of these ‘fibre-ready’ areas.

For these subscribers, a fixed-LTE connection is a good alternative. These wireless connections are quick to install and offer affordable high-data-usage accounts.

Get fibre or fixed-LTE now

If you are looking for a fibre-to-the-home, or fixed-LTE connection

Cyber Nugget offer affordable, uncapped fibre services in the majority of areas that have fibre coverage in South Africa.

For those who cannot get fibre, Cyber Nugget offer affordable Home Broadband (fixed-LTE) services over the best mobile network with 95% 4G coverage in South Africa, MTN.

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Warning to South Africans – Zimbabwe also started with 2 to 4 hours of power cuts per day

South Africans are grappling with regular load-shedding which can last four hours at a time, but this could be the start of something much worse.

This is the warning from Zimbabwe national Tafadzwa Choto, who said she has seen it all before in her home country.

In December 2019, the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority, Zesa Holdings, implemented electricity cuts for as long as 24 hours per day.

This was necessary because the country’s local power generation capacity was critically constrained, with demand far exceeding supply.

Zimbabwe’s Kariba South hydropower station’s reservoir was drained, its Hwange coal-fired generators kept breaking down, and it struggled to pay for imports from South Africa and Mozambique.

Zesa Holdings told stakeholders that load-shedding is now being implemented over and above the advertised schedule.

Choto told SABC News that the power cuts in Zimbabwe, just like in South Africa, also started with two-hour outages.

This has now changed, and Zimbabweans have to deal with power cuts of between 15 and 18 hours per day.

“If South Africans are not careful, they will go the Zimbabwean way,” said Choto.

Many load-shedding promises

Over the past decade, South Africans have often heard that load-shedding would be a thing of the past.

In 2007, when load-shedding was first implemented, the government said its Medupi and Kusile power stations would resolve the energy crisis.

In July 2013, Eskom CEO Brian Dames reiterated that South Africans will not experience power cuts going forward, thanks to the new power stations.

Three years later, former President Jacob Zuma said he met with Eskom management and assured South Africans that they will not experience load-shedding ever again.

Eskom CEO Brian Molefe reiterated Zuma’s claim when he told Parliament in August 2016 that load-shedding was a thing of the past.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan also said in April 2019 that there would be no more load-shedding in South Africa.

Load-shedding to last for years

While Eskom and energy minister Gwede Mantashe claim that load-shedding will last for between 18-24 months, energy experts disagree.

Energy advisor Ted Blom said an in-depth Eskom study showed that there will be at least five years of load-shedding. He added that this the best-case scenario.

Energy expert Mike Rossouw agreed. He said it will take at least five years for Eskom’s network to be stabilised.

Rossouw explained that poor habits have become the norm at Eskom, and to change this will take time and resources.

The situation is aggravated by design faults at South Africa’s two largest power stations – Medupi and Kusile.

SABC News interview

Government wants to create a new power utility separate to Eskom

Government wants to create a new power utility separate to Eskom

Government wants to create a new power utility separate to Eskom

Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe has said that the government wants to create a new power generation utility “outside of Eskom.”

The comments came at the opening address of the Mining Indaba in Cape Town on Monday.

Mantashe said the government plans to seek investors for the creation of a separate generation company as a “security measure.”

“As Eskom is grappling with all the electricity crises and problems, we must have a fail-safe option of giving energy, particularly with the pressure to close a number of coal-generating power stations,” Mantashe said.

“We must start generating energy and ensure that we go back to the comfortable days where we had a surplus of energy, because while we have that surplus of energy and competition in electricity generation, the price of electricity will be pushed down,” Mantashe said.

“By this time next year, we hope we can say we have a site for energy generation outside of Eskom. We want people to sell energy through transmission. We want to take the pressure off of Eskom,” Mantashe added.

Mines can generate own electricity

The Minister further said that the government is considering allowing mining companies to generate electricity for their own use.

“You will not need a license for that, you will just need to register and you run ahead,” Mantashe stated.

Eskom CEO André de Ruyter previously said it would be beneficial in the long term if the mining industry had its own electricity-generating capacity.

The Department of Energy is currently in the process of passing a revised schedule of the Electricity Regulation Act, which should give effect to the plans announced by Mantashe.

This follows after Eskom announced it will implement stage 2 load-shedding throughout the coming week.

Following load-shedding this weekend, Eskom will continue stage 2 load-shedding from 09:00 tomorrow morning until 06:00 on Tuesday – and will then continue with more load-shedding until Thursday at 06:00.

Government wants to create a new power utility separate to Eskom
Slow Internet in South Africa to continue for much longer

Slow Internet in South Africa to continue for much longer

South African Internet users who are experiencing slow international connectivity speeds will have to wait until at least next week for the issue to be resolved.

The slow international speeds are caused by “unusual and simultaneous dual cable breaks” on the WACS and SAT3/WASC systems, which occurred on 16 January.

The WACS and SAT3/WASC cable systems are deployed in the Atlantic Ocean and connect various African countries to Europe – including South Africa.

The WACS system enters South Africa at Yzerfontein in the Western Cape, while the SAT3/WASC system enters at Melkbosstrand, also in the Western Cape.

Slow repair time

For the cables to be fixed, a cable repair ship must travel to the location of the breaks.

Adverse weather conditions in Cape Town initially prevented the cable repair ship from departing to fix the breaks.

Once conditions improved, however, the ship was given permission to set sail from Cape Town harbour last night.

The ship – called the Leon Thevenin – will take several days to reach the first repair site, though, and even more time to reach the second repair site.

Openserve said it is expected to reach the first repair site on the WACS/SAT3 cable on Tuesday evening (28 January), unless weather conditions cause further delays.

After this cable break has been repaired it will start its journey to the second cable break – which will once again take several days.

Live tracking

Users can track the journey of the Leon Thevenin on the Marine Traffic website.

Battery theft epidemic in South Africa – 125 robberies per week

Battery theft epidemic in South Africa – 125 robberies per week

MTN is fighting a relentless and expensive battle against battery thieves in South Africa.

MTN base station security manager Blake Cross tweeted a video detailing the extent of the theft in the wake of increased load-shedding across the country.

“The theft of cellphone tower backup batteries and the vandalization of tower infrastructure has reached epidemic proportions,” the video stated.

“As many as 125 incidents of battery theft a week have been recorded by MTN alone. In April of 2019, MTN had 733 batteries stolen from its sites across the country.”

The worst-hit areas in terms of battery theft are Soweto, Tembisa, Vereeniging, and Parktown in Johannesburg.

Cross said that MTN would take every available step to protect its infrastructure from criminals and called on communities to report theft.

War rooms and criminal syndicates

MTN executive for corporate affairs Jacqui O’Sullivan told MyBroadband that Cross has been instrumental in creating awareness and guiding the operator’s infrastructure across the country.

O’Sullivan added that criminals are co-ordinated and use load-shedding to their advantage when stealing batteries from cellphone towers.

“Network operators across the country have been battling sophisticated syndicates that have been stealing batteries daily,” she said.

“However, load shedding is seeing entire neighbourhoods cloaked in darkness at predictable times, which is offering criminals greater cover for their thieving.”

When there is load-shedding, MTN sources additional generators to support existing infrastructure and regional “war rooms” are established to ensure the operator has an hour-by-hour account of its systems.

Significant threats

“Despite significant investments in battery backup systems and generators, MTN’s mobile sites continue to face significant threats due to Eskom’s ongoing load shedding,” O’Sullivan said.

“The constant outages are starting to have a direct impact on the performance of the batteries,” she said.

“If outages continue, the battery’s integrity is compromised because of the insufficient time to recharge and due to the excessive drain on the battery.”

Extra on-site security is also needed to protect the batteries, generators, and other equipment from thieves and vandals during load-shedding.

This results in even more increased costs which, if not addressed, may need to be passed on to the consumer.

MTN urged South Africans to report incidents of cable theft or suspicious activity via the following channels:

  • Bidvest Protea Coin Hotline – 086 101 1721
  • MTN Fraud Line – 083 123 7867

Battery theft epidemic in South Africa – 125 robberies per week
Telkom ADSL and fibre shocker

Telkom ADSL and fibre shocker

Telkom released its interim results for the six months ended 30 September 2019, which show a big decline in fixed-broadband subscribers.

Telkom’s fixed-line broadband subscribers – which include ADSL, VDSL, and fibre-to-the-home customers – declined from 974,181 in September 2018 to 781,255 in September 2019.

This means Telkom lost 192,926 fixed broadband subscribers over the last year, which equates to a 19.8% decline in its customer base.

While it is not surprising to see a big decline in ADSL subscribers, it is shocking that Telkom was not able to migrate them to its own fibre network.

This means that other fibre players like Vumatel, Octotel, and Frogfoot are outperforming Telkom in the fixed-broadband market.

Telkom ISP losses

The company has also suffered serious losses on its Internet service provider (ISP) services over the last year.

Telkom Internet all-access subscribers declined from 550,606 in September 2018 to 476,763 in September 2019.

This decline is closely linked with the company’s loss of its dominance in the fixed-broadband market.

Telkom has a poor reputation among consumers, and South African subscribers who want to migrate to fibre would much rather use ISPs like Afrihost, Supersonic, or Axxess.

Big fixed-broadband decline

The table below shows Telkom’s large fixed-broadband decline over the last two years.

Telkom Fixed-Broadband Subscribers
DateSubscribers
Mar-032,669
Sep-0312,000
Mar-0420,313
Sep-0437,000
Mar-0558,278
Sep-0595,920
Mar-06143,509
Sep-06190,172
Mar-07255,633
Sep-07335,112
Mar-08412,190
Sep-08491,774
Mar-09548,015
Sep-09602,720
Mar-10647,462
Sep-10699,368
Mar-11751,625
Sep-11795,419
Mar-12827,091
Sep-12841,831
Mar-13870,505
Sep-13898,203
Mar-14926,944
Sep-14971,319
Mar-151,005,286
Sep-151,015,307
Mar-161,027,507
Sep-161,018,405
Mar-171,003,521
Sep-17999,311
Mar-18981,176
Sep-18974,181
Mar-19847,650
Sep-19781,255

Satellite Internet – Another option when Telkom turns off ADSL

Satellite Internet – Another option when Telkom turns off ADSL

 

Telkom is actively migrating ADSL customers off its copper network and onto newer technologies, and while it does attempt to offer equivalent services on fibre or LTE, it does not always get it right.

In a number of cases, Telkom customers in areas without fibre or LTE coverage were left without any Internet connection after the company turned off their ADSL connection.

These users could try to argue with Telkom’s customer support and get their connection back up and running, but it would still be prone to downtime and cable theft.

Instead, there is another connectivity option available – satellite broadband.

Q-KON is a leading satellite company which offers a fixed broadband offering named Twoobii, which delivers a reliable, high-speed Internet connection for a reasonable price.

MyBroadband spoke to Q-KON CEO Dawie De Wet about the company’s satellite broadband products and how they compared to fibre and ADSL.

Infrastructure-independent

“The Q-KON satellite service provides a reliable connection for telephony, security surveillance, corporate VLAN data, retail point-of-sale service and business broadband,” De Wet told MyBroadband. “It is the ideal service for any business that needs reliable and trusted communication.”

“Twoobii is the best option because it offers customers a fixed-fee (‘uncapped’) service with predictable performance and no risk of failure due to network damage such as cable theft.”

He added that the Twoobii service was focused on the business market with services priced from R1,499 and equipment priced at R572 per month.

As satellite broadband does not need towers or cables, it is far more reliable than other technologies and has coverage across the entirety of South Africa, De Wet added.

“Satellite is not dependant on any towers or cables and it is ‘always-on’ with no network failures,” he said.

“The biggest advantage of Twoobii is that it supports quality telephony voice service and value add services such as surveillance video alerts, corporate VLAN integration and end-to-end network optimisation, e.g. implementation of corporate SD-WAN services.”

Competition and future

De Wet said that Q-KON has seen great uptake of its Twoobii satellite broadband offering, which he attributed to a number of factors.

“Some customers need a reliable service for business operation such as surveillance, then for the retail sector we provide a simple solution to ensure point-of-sale credit card transactions, while schools, clinics and government offices require standard broadband services,” he said.

“The new technology enables us to provide satellite services at very competitive rates, typically at less than R50 per GB.”

Satellite Internet will always be a necessity for solving specific broadband requirements in South Africa, De Wet added.

“In the short term, it is to complement the fixed and mobile networks and provide services to the ‘off-grid’ locations.”

He said that broadband users who rely on mobile would benefit from the increased reliability and lower cost of satellite broadband offerings.

“With regards to the future, trends such as IoT and 5G will drive the overall demand, creating bigger urgency to connect all ‘off-grid’ fixed and mobile users,” he said.

Q-KON CEO Dawie de Wet
“Energy Vaults” could save South Africa from load-shedding

“Energy Vaults” could save South Africa from load-shedding

InovaSure recently partnered with the Kannaland municipality to construct a R1.2-billion solar farm in the region, which will deliver reserves of renewable energy to combat load-shedding.

During off-peak periods, the solar farm system will be able to draw energy from Eskom and store it for release later, and the power can be used to supplement shortages during peak hours or sent to nearby municipalities such as Mossel Bay.

“This will ease pressure on the grid, thereby protecting residents against load shedding – and also generate an income for the Municipality,” InovaSure said.

This solution is named the InovaSure Energy Vault, and it has been implemented successfully in various other countries over the past 10 to 40 years.

This is just the beginning of InovaSure’s strategy to deliver power reserve systems across South Africa, however, as it plans to install its Energy Vaults across the country.

Government support

“The ultimate goal is for InovaSure to eventually roll out this technology to the rest of South Africa and, ultimately, the entire continent,” InovaSure said.

The Energy Vault project is supported by key stakeholders in Government such as the Central Energy Fund, the National Treasury and the Development Bank of Southern Africa. It is also supported by international partners in the BRICS alliance and various collaborating organisations.

“The documents for the project are currently being processed by the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the National Treasury and is expected to start construction in the Kannaland Local Municipality within the next couple of months,” InovaSure said.

InovaSure said it has invested a significant amount of effort and money into finding a solution for the electricity supply issues in South Africa.

The Energy Vault solution could help to reduce peak demand on the national power grid by rebalancing off-peak usage and reserving it for demand relief during peak usage times.

Through a national public-private partnership, InovaSure aims to provide energy security in South Africa by providing more municipalities with this technology.

The plan to install 120 Energy Vaults

InovaSure has posited a strategy for rolling out 120 InovaSure Energy Vaults across 20 different municipalities.

It stated that this level of energy security could help to mitigate the sensitivity of the national grid by reducing peak demand by 4,000MW per day.

As the first municipality to receive one of these Energy Vaults, Kannaland will be able to provide businesses with a far more reliable supply of energy.

“On top of this, InovaSure will set up a Public Benefit Organisation into which a significant portion of the proceeds of the Energy Vault will be paid. This money will then be used to uplift the local community, mostly through the provision of free educational media,” said Kannaland municipal manager Reynold Stevens.

The Energy Vault project will be funded by InovaSure on a “build, own, operate, and transfer” basis and will be handed over to the Municipality over a 25-year period using the money generated from the distribution devices.

Initiatives like InovaSure’s Energy Vault and a renewed push for private power generation point to a potential solution for South Africa’s load-shedding problem originating from the private sector.

This follows after Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter voiced his support for the unbundling of Eskom and the plan to allow independent power producers (IPPs) to generate their own electricity.

InovaSure Energy Vault

Public Wi-Fi warning in South Africa

Public Wi-Fi warning in South Africa

Public Wi-Fi warning in South Africa

If you can avoid using public Wi-Fi, you should. This is the view of ESET Southern Africa CEO and cybersecurity experts Carey van Vlaanderen.

Speaking to ENCA, van Vlaanderen said public Wi-Fi hotspots are notoriously insecure and make it easy for criminals to target unsuspecting users.

“We have a situation where the networks are not authenticated at all, or where you have to authenticate and give your personal information to unknown parties,” she said.

She said cybercriminals often create malicious hotspots in public areas where they steal personal information which you send over the Internet through a man-in-the-middle attack.

These hotspots are not easily identifiable as malicious and often have a very similar network name (SSID) to the official public Wi-Fi hotspot in the area.

How to protect yourself
Van Vlaanderen advised South Africans to avoid using Wi-Fi hotspots if they can and rather use their smartphone or a mobile dongle instead.

If users do not have a choice other than to use public Wi-Fi, she said it is advisable to take precautions.

Use reputable security software on your laptop or mobile device to protect yourself against malicious hotspots, ransomware, and phishing attacks.

Do not use public Wi-Fi to do online banking or send other sensitive information over the Internet.

Use a virtual private network (VPN) if you have access to one.

Follow general online safety guidelines, like opting for websites which are secure (HTTS) and using strong passwords.

Carey van Vlaanderen interview below