9 Easy Ways to Free Up Your Disk Space on PC (2023)
Running out of space on your computer can halt productivity, interfere with system updates, and often springs up when you least expect it. A filled-up hard drive can contribute to a sluggish system, trigger sudden crashes, and be a thorn you don't need amid an office deadline or cranking out a project for school. When your laptop exhibits signs of lag, unresponsiveness, or recurrent crashes, it's time to consider a deep-dive cleanup.
First, working out your available space on a Windows 11 computer is straightforward. Here's how:
* Click the File Explorer icon from the taskbar,
* Select This PC on the left.
* Under Devices and drives, you'll find your drive(s) listed, with the available space displayed for each.
If your PC is running low on free space, you can tackle the issue head-on. Here are nine simple strategies to liberate that precious disk space without breaking a sweat or the bank.
1) Uninstall unnecessary applications and programs
Are there unused applications and programs you don't use now and can remove? Uninstalling unnecessary files can help keep your computer working at peak efficiency.
If you aren't sure which files you should delete, and want some extra help working out how much space files are taking up on your hard drive, then use TreeSize Free to map your hard drive usage. This app gives you a visual chart of the files and folders to see which ones take up the most space. With this insight, you can make informed decisions about your file management strategy and effectively free up valuable disk space.
Remember, it's not just about deleting - it's about strategically pruning your digital garden to maintain a healthy, efficient PC ecosystem.
How to free up your Hard Drive: delete temporary files in Windows 11
* In Search on the taskbar, type 'disk cleanup' and select Disk Cleanup when it appears.
* Select the drive you want to clear specific files and click OK.
* From the Files to Delete, click on each option to get a description of the type of files, and check or uncheck the checkbox on files you would like deleted.
* Click OK to delete the group of files.
You can also delete system files by opening Disk Cleanup and choosing 'Clean up system files' to find those you wish to delete.
How to remove apps & programs in Windows 11 from the Start Menu
* Select Start and find the app or program you have decided to remove.
* Right-click on the icon.
* Select Uninstall and follow the prompts.
How to remove apps in Windows 11 from Settings
* Select Start and then Settings > Apps > Apps & Features.
* Select the app you want to remove.
* Select Uninstall and follow the prompts.
How to remove programs in Windows 11 from Control Panel
* In Search on the taskbar, type Control Panel and from the results,
* Select Programs > Programs & features.
* Right-click on the program you have decided to remove.
* Select Uninstall or Uninstall/Change and follow the prompts.
2) Use Storage Sense to sort your files
Storage Sense by Microsoft is a helpful Windows 10 and 11 tool that automatically sorts your files and free up space on your hard drive. This helpful tool is available on Windows 10 and 11 and can help improve your computer's overall performance.
Configure Storage Sense
* Storage Sense is off by default. To enable, select Start and then the Settings icon.
* Choose System, then Storage.
* Click on Configure Storage Sense or run it now.
* Choose the settings you prefer, including whether it is turned on/off, how often to run Storage Sense, when to clean up files, and more.
To delete unnecessary files, do the following:
* In Storage Sense, go to Temporary Files.
* Select any files you want to remove and press Remove Files.
Just be cautious when purging your Download or Recycle Bin folders to avoid accidentally deleting important files. By staying organized and using Storage Sense regularly, you can maintain a clean and efficient digital workspace.
3) Leverage OneDrive to free up more space
Free up space on your hard drive by saving files to the cloud. OneDrive Files On-Demand allows you to access all the files in your cloud storage in OneDrive without downloading them and using storage space on your computer. It also means you can access these files on all your devices, provided you have an internet connection.
How to turn on Files on Demand
In Windows 11, Files On-Demand should be enabled in OneDrive, but if it is not, do the following:
* Click the OneDrive icon located in the taskbar's bottom-right corner.
* Select the Help & Settings option.
* Click the Settings option.
* Select the Settings tab.
* In the Files On-Demand section, check the Save space and download files as you use them.
* Click OK.
To make files available only online:
* Open File Explorer.
* Select the OneDrive folder on the left.
* Select the files and folders that take up the most space.
* Right-click those and choose the Free up space option.
OneDrive’s free version provides up to 5GB of file storage. Purchasing a Microsoft 365 subscription raises this to 1TB and includes Office apps and services like Skype, Microsoft Teams, and Stream.
4) Defragment and optimize your hard drive
Defragmentation is unnecessary if your computer runs on a solid-state drive (SSD), as there's no benefit. Windows 11 optimizes SSD by trimming, which marks unused drive areas to speed up writing data to those segments.
However, defragmenting could offer noticeable speed improvements if your system still operates on a Hard Disk Drive (HDD). This process allows your computer to organize data more logically instead of scattering it randomly, resulting in faster, more efficient file access.
Regardless of your drive type, Windows' built-in disk optimization tool is designed to automatically perform defragmentation or optimization tasks tailored to your specific drive type (SSD or HDD).
How to run Windows 11 Defragment and Optimize Drives
* In Search on the taskbar, type Defragment. Select the Defragment and Optimize Drives option.
* Choose the drive you want to optimize or defrag.
* Click Analyze to check if the drive needs optimizing or defragmenting. If it does, click Optimize.
* Keep in mind that this process could take some time. If you're defragmenting an external drive, ensure it remains connected until the process is complete.
You can also automatically schedule optimization via the Defragment and Optimize Drives tool.
5) Empty your Recycle Bin
Whenever you delete a file from File Explorer or your Windows desktop, it remains on your hard drive until you empty the Recycle Bin located on the desktop.
The Recycle Bin can be set to a schedule of when it is automatically emptied by following the steps outlined in the Storage Sense section above.
How to empty the Recycle Bin on an ad hoc basis
* Right-clicking on the Recycle Bin icon on the desktop and choosing Empty Recycle Bin, or
* Opening the Recycle Bin and selecting the files you no longer need and wish to delete from your computer.
6) Transfer files to external drives
If you don't like needing the internet to access your files, you could transfer large files from your hard drive to an external drive. To do this, connect the external drive to the computer, and once it is recognized, follow these steps
* Open File Explorer.
* Select the files you plan to move.
* Click the Move to button from the "Home" tab.
* Select the Choose location option.
* Select external storage as the new destination.
* Click the Move button.
Follow these instructions to set the external drive as a permanent location to save files and other applications:
* Select Settings > System > Storage.
* Under More Storage Options header, select Change Where New Content Is Saved.
* From the available selections, choose the external drive to install future apps or any other files by default.
* Click Apply.
7) Clean your desktop
Using your desktop as a catch-all storage place for quick access is tempting. However, excessive clutter can bog down your computer. Each icon on your desktop consumes a slice of your system memory (RAM) and CPU's processing power. While a few icons or folders won't significantly impact your computer's speed, a sea of them can lead to sluggishness, particularly on older machines with limited resources.
It's better to neatly sort and archive your documents and images into designated folders within File Explorer or OneDrive. This practice keeps your desktop clean and ensures your files are systematically organized for efficient access and improved PC performance.
8) Third-party PC cleaners
Windows' built-in system maintenance tools do the same tasks as third-party PC cleaners, but these apps are convenient and may make you feel more in charge.
Professional PC cleaners help free up space by:
* Removing cookies that could slow down your computer.
* Identifying and removing duplicate files.
* Deleting junk files that cause your computer to slow down or to become unstable.
Iolo System Mechanic:
* Use detailed analysis and a choice of scans with the Iolo System Mechanic. This is an award-winning PC optimization software that helps free up space on your hard drive and clean up computer systems.
* Free or subscription options are available.
* CCleaner is a well-known and popular PC optimizer that helps free up hard drive space and clean up registries.
* The free and paid versions are easy to use.
9) Last resort options
The following tips can free up significant disk space but turn off crucial Windows features. Exercise caution when considering these options, as they are recommended only in dire need of disk space:
* Disable Hibernation: During hibernation, your system saves RAM contents to your hard drive, preserving the system state without power usage. Upon reboot, you pick up where you left off. You can turn off hibernation completely to free up space, but this will remove the hibernation option.
* Disable System Restore: You can disable System Restore entirely. However, this eliminates the possibility of using System Restore to revert your system to a previous state. Proceed with caution.
The steps outlined above will help keep your computer in good condition, so that it works efficiently to help you achieve your goals with less hassle. The key is regular maintenance. Stick to it, and your computer will stay in top shape, making your work easier and hassle-free. It's as simple as that.
How to Set Up Passkey on Your Google Account
Passwords are used to log into user accounts and access personal information. They usually consist of a combination of random letters and numbers designed to differentiate users and ensure only specific people can access data. Passwords have existed since ancient times. For example, members of the Roman army would utter a so-called watchword to identify whether they were a friend or foe. Fast-forward to the digital era and the modern-day password was introduced by Fernando Corbató at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1960 to provide access to private documents.
In the recent digital age, we have passwords for just about everything. As hackers become increasingly prevalent and sophisticated, creating secure passwords is more important than ever. The average person has around 100 passwords for various purposes, presenting its own challenges as we try to balance data security with remembering login details for email and social media accounts, online banking accounts, and more. Experts estimate a staggering 100 passwords are stolen every second, totaling over 8 million each day. Hackers are relentless in their efforts to steal information, but what if there were a better way?
What is a Passkey for Google accounts?
Tech giant Google has recently introduced passkeys, a digital credential used to identify account holders. Passkeys allow users to access personal data using a QR code, PIN, pattern, or biometric sensors like facial recognition or a fingerprint. By using passkeys, users can authenticate their login details without physically entering any information. Passkeys are different from traditional passwords because they form part of a cryptographic pair. One-half of the pair links to a website and the other half is privately stored on a device, generating a secure code when users log into accounts.
Passkeys fulfill multi factor authentication requirements in one simple step and replace traditional passwords and OTPs like 6-digit SMS codes. Besides offering a safer alternative, passkeys improve the user experience by removing the need to physically type out a password each time we want to access information. Although this may seem insignificant, anybody that has repeatedly entered a wrong password while trying to hurriedly access an account will feel the benefit.
What is passwordless login?
Traditional passwords leave users vulnerable to a range of cyberattacks. To conquer this, more and more account providers are adopting passwordless login, allowing users to access information without typing a password or answering security questions. In addition, passwordless authentication may or may not be combined with multi-factor authentication for ultimate security.
Google passkeys make it easy to access account information using a fingerprint, facial recognition, screen lock pattern, QR code, or security key. Passkeys can be used across multiple platforms to access Google accounts and other apps or websites. During the transition to a passwordless future, Google will still allow users to access accounts with their password.
How to set up and use a Google Passkey?
Passkeys provide a more secure way to sign into a Google account. To create a Google passkey, users should open the web version on their Windows 10 or 11 PC. The PC must have a Bluetooth function and Chrome browser, and those using a smartphone or tablet should ensure they are close to their computer. Once these basics are fulfilled, users can set up Google Passkey using the following instructions:
* Click the account icon on the top right hand side of the Google Account page.
* Once the Google Account page is open, click Security to display the current security details and account sign-in methods.
* Click the Passkeys tab.
* Manually enter the current account password to verify your identity.
* Click Create a Passkey and then Continue.
* Finish set up by verifying your desired sign in method, for example facial recognition.
Next time you log into your Google account, you will be asked whether you wish to manually enter a password or use Google Passkey. Selecting Google Passkey will bring up the facial recognition camera, fingerprint option, or security key input pad.
What are the benefits of using Google Passkey?
Passkey authentication uses advanced technology to protect users from potentially detrimental cyber attacks. Here are some benefits of using Google Passkey for maximum online security.
1. Easy to remember
Traditional passwords require users to manually enter a random sequence of letters and numbers — and remember them, too. Some websites even request that passwords include upper and lower case letters and special characters such as an exclamation mark. To make it more difficult for hackers to guess login credentials, users should also refrain from using the same password for multiple accounts. With a different password for each website or application login, it is easy to lose track of which password unlocks each account. Google Passkey eliminates this issue using unique biometric data such as facial recognition. With Google Passkey, you will never forget another password ever again.
2. Secure access
Security experts have been exploring ways to enhance password security for years, but creating a secure password ultimately depends on the user’s preference and memory. For convenience, up to 51% of web users reuse passwords, making them vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Unlike passwords, passkeys are resistant to cyber attacks like phishing, and relying on unique biometric data like facial recognition or a fingerprint is more secure than interceptable SMS codes.
As over 80% of data breaches stem from compromised passwords, finding a balance between security and storage is another headache for security experts. Rather than manually entering a Google account password when checking emails, users may choose to write it down or save it in a specified spreadsheet or browser. Intercepting a browser or compromising a computer could grant hackers unwarranted access to private accounts. Passkeys are generated automatically and strong enough to never be reused, making them difficult for hackers to guess. Moreover, passkeys are only stored on a user’s device and not in the Cloud or elsewhere, making interception by cybercriminals highly unlikely.
3. User-friendly and convenient
If you have ever been locked out of an account because of a forgotten or mistyped password, you will know how time-consuming and frustrating it is to restore account login information. The cumbersome but important password recovery process is necessary to protect personal data and unwanted login attempts.
Passkeys ensure security without frustration. Convenient and user-friendly, passkey login requires users to scan a fingerprint or their face without typing a long combination of characters or numbers. With passwordless authentication, users can access their accounts and data on the go without fearing the dreaded forgotten password button.
Cybercriminals are adopting increasingly sophisticated phishing techniques, and password security has never been more important. As cybersecurity technology advances, traditional manually entered passwords may soon be a thing of the past. Passkeys use biometric data such as facial recognition or a fingerprint to access accounts, enhancing security and reducing the likelihood of password theft. Passkeys remove the need to type multiple passwords from memory, relying instead on unique biometrics, a QR code, or a PIN that is never saved on the Cloud or in a spreadsheet. Moreover, passkeys are automatically generated and never reused, making them virtually unguessable by hackers. As we enter a new generation of password protection, tech experts like Google are providing helpful ways to enhance online security and keep our valuable passwords away from malicious cybercriminals.
High Ping Problems? 7 Simple Ways to Boost Your Gaming Speed!
Pose the question "What is high ping?" to a seasoned gamer, and a shudder will run down their spine. High ping is an anathema to their online gaming experience. The villain behind the infuriating video game lag. You guessed it right; it’s high ping.
Ping measures latency, which is how quickly a signal travels from and returns to your computer. Within games, this latency is the delay before the game reacts to your commands. If you've ever found yourself inexplicably hit by a virtual enemy despite ducking behind cover, you've met high ping.
High ping creates an annoying delay between your moves and the server's response, causing your gameplay to limp at a frustrating pace. Pro gamers try to dodge high pings by investing in high-end hardware, but what about casual gamers? Well, this guide is for you. We will show you how to fix high ping and reduce lag in your online gaming.
Understanding High Ping
A ping test is essentially a digital sonar, bouncing a tiny data packet from your device to a server and back again. The round trip's duration reveals latency or delay, measured in milliseconds (ms).
With ping, a lower score is better:
* Under 20 ms: Elite level, mandatory for Twitch affiliates
* 50 ms or below: Ideal for professional gamers
* 50 to 100 ms: Acceptable and typical for most broadband users
* 150 ms or higher: Brings noticeable lag into play.
* 300ms or more: Unplayable with long delays and erratic movements.
The lower the ping, the quicker a game can be played. High ping often causes lagging. So, to reduce lag, you need to also reduce ping.
What is a good ping for gaming?
In online gaming, latency or lag is critical. It quantifies the time your in-game actions take to hit the server and return. The server juggles your moves and others, establishing a roundtrip data exchange that holds sway over your gaming experience.
High ping equals lag, and lag disrupts your game, jumbles graphics, and impedes smooth streaming. Anything under 50 ms counts as 'low ping,' while over 150 ms gets you into the undesirable 'high ping' range.
In genres such as first-person shooters (FPS), racing, or real-time strategy games, a low ping ensures a smooth, rapid gaming experience. However, the perfect ping speed fluctuates across games:
* FPS games: Hover under 50 ms to remain competitive.
* Racing and Sports games: Less than 50 ms is the target.
* Real-time strategy (RTS) games: Anything below 150 ms is acceptable.
* Massively multiplayer online (MMO) games: Ping is less critical, but aim for under 150 ms.
The lower your ping, the faster your game reacts, offering you a competitive advantage. Persistent lags could even lead to a defeat. So, fixing high ping is vital.
Most online games display your ping time along with other players or servers. Be warned; some FPS games might even automatically kick you out if it's too high.
How to test my ping?
Want to know where you stand? A ping test can help you see if you'll experience dips in responsiveness during gameplay. Here are two simple ways to conduct a gaming ping test:
1. In-game check: Many online games, especially FPS games, let you check ping directly. This test offers the most accurate snapshot of network performance for your specific game and server. Dive into the game settings and scout for an option like display performance stats or display network options. Note: The terminology may vary by title.
2. Internet ping test: Visit Speedtest and hit the Go button. The tool will test servers in your area and estimate the ping you can anticipate in online games. Check the latency score.
Speedtest Global Index allows you to check countries or major cities to determine where you stack up in speed and latency.
What causes high ping?
Several factors can cause ping spikes during gameplay. Here are 8 high ping factors:
1. Distance from the router: Are you gaming from the basement while your WiFi router is upstairs? Your ping might suffer if you're too far away from your router. A longer journey equals a higher ping.
2. WiFi woes: If your WiFi connection is unstable, it could lead to a higher ping. Walls, floors, and other physical obstacles will affect your WiFi signal. WiFi is convenient but less stable than using a wired connection.
3. ISP Issues: To manage network traffic, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) may throttle your bandwidth during peak usage. Less bandwidth equals a slower data transfer rate, resulting in a higher ping.
4. Outdated hardware: Your modem or router might be obsolete or have technical issues. You will see higher pings if your hardware can't keep up with the data flow.
5. Resource hogs: Other processes can suck up your network resources. Downloads, updates, or other online activities can choke your bandwidth, resulting in a ping spike.
6. Overcrowded network: Too many devices on your network can slow it down. Each device shares the network's bandwidth, so more devices mean less bandwidth for each computer, leading to a potential ping increase.
7. VPN usage: VPNs encrypt your data for privacy, but this process can slow down data transfer rates, which increases your ping.
8. Server sluggishness: Sometimes, the game server might be slow to respond due to high load or technical issues. Playing games on a server located in your country will improve your ping.
Remember, identifying the source of your high ping involves a bit of detective work. But fear not; with patience, observation, and settings tweaks, you can reduce your ping and return to smooth gaming.
7 Simple Ways to Lower Ping
To achieve the best ping for your gaming device, you'll need to streamline your internet connection and address the root cause of high ping. Here are six strategies to reduce your ping:
1) Check your internet connection
Poor internet connection is the leading cause of high ping. If your internet speed isn't up to par, your online gaming experience will falter.
A bad internet connection can be due to a terrible connection from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or dated hardware, including your modem or router. Here's a checklist to optimize your connection:
* Inspect your hardware. Ensure that your router or modem isn't grappling with technical issues.
* Check physical connections. Ensure all cords are securely connected and free from damage.
* Clear the path. Any physical barriers between your device and router can weaken the WiFi signal.
* Move your laptop. Try positioning your PC nearer to the router for a stronger signal.
* Diagnose device issues. Investigate if your device settings could be causing the high ping. Check unnecessary background processes or if automatic updates are running while gaming.
* Check Firewall and Security Software: While essential for device safety, these can also interfere with your game's network traffic, causing latency issues. Consider adding your game as an exception to your firewall or security program.
* Check Power Settings: Your laptop's power-saving modes can limit its performance. Ensure your device is set to a high-performance power setting when gaming.
* Reboot your router. Resetting your router to clear the cache and potentially restore your internet speed.
We have a detailed guide on how to boost your internet speed. If your connection still crawls after trying the steps above, switch to a new ISP or upgrade to a higher-speed package.
2) Close background programs and apps
Internet speed is one thing, but the available bandwidth is another. Your game performance will suffer if multiple processes eat into your network resources.
Programs and apps that run in the background can slow your computer down, leading to higher ping. These apps can also use up a lot of your internet bandwidth.
If you want your game to run smoothly, close any non-essential apps, including:
* Streaming services: Spotify, Netflix
* Video call apps: Zoom, Skype
* Instant Messaging: Slack, Teams
* Live-stream platforms: Twitch
* Backup Services: iDrive
Closing these before gaming frees up bandwidth and processing power, likely reducing your ping. Use Windows network settings to see if any apps use more than their fair share of internet bandwidth.
3) Optimize network usage
Every connected gadget draws from your total available bandwidth. With multiple devices competing for bandwidth, your game can stutter, upping your ping. Here’s how to clear the lanes:
* Limit the number of connected devices: Reduce the number of devices simultaneously using your network. Talk with others at home or plan your gaming sessions during low-traffic times. Less competition for bandwidth means more for your game.
* Regularly check and manage your network: Your router’s management interface or network monitoring tools can be your traffic cop, flagging bandwidth hogs. Spotting and eliminating these resource gluttons can bring your ping down.
Optimizing your network usage should give your ping a decent boost.
4) Use an ethernet cord
Get a stronger and faster connection by connecting your device directly to your router. While an ethernet cord may not be the most flexible option, a wired connection is more stable than a wireless one, which can fluctuate with competing demands and suffers packet loss from encryption technologies.
Invest in a powerline adapter if your PC is far from the router. This device lets you run a stable wired connection from any power outlet in your house.
Remember, when gaming, stability is king. An ethernet connection delivers that. But if you’re confined to WiFi, ensure you’re on a 5GHz network instead of a slower one.
5) Check the game server’s ping
Sometimes, high ping is not about your setup but the game servers. A high ping on their server will result in a high ping during your gameplay. You can check their ping by:
* Finding the server’s IP address
* Checking on Game Server Ping, which lists popular video games.
Server traffic fluctuates throughout the day. Some games see a surge in players during peak hours, which can strain server resources and increase ping times. So, consider scheduling your gaming sessions at off-peak hours.
Finding the sweet spot for gameplay can require some experimentation. Play at different times to see when you experience the lowest ping. This trial-and-error approach can help you pinpoint the best times for lag-free gaming.
6) Choose the nearest game server
In the digital world, distance still matters. The physical gap between your device and the game server affects communication speed. Simply put, the farther away the server is, the higher your ping.
Many games let you choose the server you connect to. Always pick the server nearest to your location for the best ping. By shortening the distance, you'll speed up the back-and-forth data exchange, thus lowering your ping.
7) Change the game settings
If high ping persists, consider adjusting your game settings. Today's games have stunning visuals, but these detailed graphics demand more from your device.
Your game's frame rate significantly affects this. Higher frame rates offer smoother animations but can contribute to high ping. So, try lowering your frame rate from the game settings and check if your gameplay improves.
Other settings like graphics resolution, audio quality, or screen refresh rate can impact your game's performance. Dialing these down might compromise your visuals but can significantly reduce lag, ensuring a smoother, faster gaming experience.
Crush the lag! Lower your ping for smoother, snappier, lag-free gameplay. By fine-tuning your network, managing your connection, and adjusting game settings, you're armed to enhance your gaming performance. Happy gaming!
Maximizing Your Marketing Strategy with Social Media for SMBs
Why is social media important for business?
With a whopping 4.48 billion people globally on at least one social media platform, it is of little surprise that social media has become a promising space for businesses to grow. The rapid growth of this phenomenon only illustrates the magnitude of this trend - having involved up to 4.48 billion people in 2023 right up from 2.07 billion in 2015, social media, undeniably, is powerful.
Why is social media important in digital marketing for small businesses?
Marketing is especially key for the survival of small-to-medium businesses, and this is where a social media presence can be vital. In the initial stages of a company’s development, the name of the brand can be largely established online, through the busy pages of social media. If done well, solidly-planned social media marketing can stimulate a small-to-medium business to grow its client base exponentially.
Social media tools for you to use
When faced with the question of which social media tools to use, the global big names in tech – such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, Reddit, Pinterest, and Twitter – often spring to mind.
With these options in hand, however, it is necessary to always bear in mind that not all tools are created for the same purpose. Although Instagram does account for more than one billion monthly users, over 60% of its audience are between the ages of 18 and 34. Geography plays a significant role as well; while Snapchat is hugely popular among the American youth, it is actively used in India as well, which can be valuable information if part of your market lies in that area of the world. Knowing your target client base (i.e., their preferences for social media from an age and geography point of view) can help you craft your strategy more wisely.
How can you come up with a social media strategy?
The primary goals of social media are twofold: to raise awareness of your brand, and to turn that awareness into revenue. Any measures taken on your social media page should be planned to reach either one of these two results.
Some people may carry the illusion that social media takes mostly just ‘common sense’ to maintain. Whether it be posting images of products, writing captions under posts, or responding to clients’ questions, these may seem like tasks that can be accomplished ‘intuitively’ on the surface.
In reality, to come up with a solid social media strategy, one needs to be trained in a variety of areas. Since social media strategies are a relatively recent concept in marketing, businesses around the world are still continuously learning and concocting innovative ways to boost sales through social media.
The points below illustrate potential social media marketing strategies for your business:
1) Engaging with the audience with small contests, giveaways, or ‘friend-tagging’
On social media, the goal is to attract as much attention as possible. Through small contests (e.g., ‘the best caption for this photo wins a free jumper’), giveaways (‘share this post and you will be considered for a lucky draw’’), or friend-tagging (‘tag a friend who may enjoy this sundae this weekend’), businesses may be able to attract more traffic onto their sites.
2) Using social media management tools and analytics to the fullest
Social media management tools are key when it comes to marketing. Analytics can help you understand the demography of your follower base. This allows you to understand whether your social media page is indeed attracting the intended type of consumers.
3) Working with influencers
With influencers attracting a lot of attention on the internet, it can sometimes be beneficial to approach them to promote your product (e.g., inviting them to review your products or asking them to announce a discount code to their followers). However, it is important to choose influencers whose values and styles align with yours. Carefully analyze each potential influencer's follower base - are they the target consumers for your product? - before initiating contact. The size of an influencer's following is also an important consideration, as a larger follower count typically implies a higher chance of sales. However, larger influencers tend to be more expensive to work with, so it's essential to budget and evaluate wisely beforehand.
4) Seasonal strategies
Social media pages are a highly efficient way to advertise your promotions and seasonal strategies are often seen on businesses’ social media. This can often be reflected by an increased wave of posts around Black Friday or Singles’ Day deals in November. Many businesses would also adapt their products to the season at hand, using social media as a tool to get potential consumers to try the new products (e.g., for coffee shops, pumpkin spiced lattes in October)
5) Working with other brands
Social media also allows you to work effectively with other brands (assuming they are not your competitor, of course). For example, if your SMB sells wine, it may be a good idea to do a promotion post with another SMB that sells cheese.
6) Using social media for paid advertisements
Given the public's attention on social media, it serves as an excellent platform for marketing your products. Social media advertisements can help boost your business's outreach, and algorithms can assist in reaching your target market more efficiently. There are businesses that do not have a social media page but still opt for paid advertisements using social media platforms.
Adding on to the above, also mention-worthy is the creative and artistic aspect of social media planning (that is, the ‘appeal’). There is an entire realm of knowledge surrounding things such as ‘techniques to take “Instagrammable” shots of your product,’ or ‘how to make a multi-photo collage grid for your Instagram page.’ Writing attention-grabbing or memorable captions for an online audience also requires skill and long-term understanding of how an audience reacts to posts. As marketing largely concerns the visual sense, investing effort into the more artistic side of your social media page can really level up your game in the long run.
Has my social media strategy worked?
With social media becoming increasingly powerful in commerce worldwide, a critical question for businesses to ask is whether their strategies worked. Social media, after all, takes up time, skill, and effort - it imposes an extra cost on manpower, and it is therefore important to evaluate the revenue it brings along the way.
The tricky part, however, is that there aren’t any hard-and-fast ways to determine whether a particular strategy has worked in a company’s favor, and, if so, how much. The following are certain pointers that may provide the illusion of a brand growing, but more caution is needed to determine its validity in the longer term.
Followers and subscribers: With ‘followers’ or ‘subscribers’ being a buzzword, it is one of the indicators of the success of a social media page. However, followers on your page don’t always bring in the revenue you expect. Followers may visit your page solely to enjoy your content as a form of entertainment or to benefit from any free information you provide. Interestingly, it is often the case that followers do not end up purchasing what you have to offer.
Social traffic: Social traffic is where a potential client gets directed to your company’s website via social media. While this may seem like progress, traffic does not always result in the desired commercial outcome if visitors don’t end up purchasing anything or doing anything meaningful on your page. If the above are not always reliable milestones, then what benchmarks can you use to evaluate the outcome of your social media strategy? Here are some ideas:
Speed of growth: Try a social media tactic in a given period of time (e.g., interactions with followers on stories or ‘tag-a-friend giveaways’) and observe the growth of your page during that period. If your sales tend to rise exponentially after a certain strategy is put into place, then something may be working for you.
Coupon codes: When running promotional events on social media (e.g., having an influencer promote your product or sharing a limited-time promotion on an Instagram reel), coupon codes can suggest the results of such an approach. This helps your business understand more concretely what works and what doesn’t.
Engagements: While a high number of followers is not always meaningful, engagements (i.e., shares, likes, comments, verified reviews) can actually help build a name for your brand. How engaged is the public with your products? The whole point of social media, after all, is to ‘communicate’ your business to the public, and that needs to be a two-way street.
Visitor on-site behavior: Attracting more visitors to your company’s website? Great! But are they taking your products seriously when exploring your website? If the visitors you attract tend to bounce after clicking on merely a couple of links, then that may be a sign that your social media strategy is not attracting the most ideal group of people
Conversions: These are analytics that can help track how many visitors to your page actually end up in ‘meaningful’ commercial action. Such action can be sales revenue, or meaningful inquiries from potential customers, although it is ultimately upon you how a ‘meaningful’ action can be defined. Should your website traffic lead to an increased number of purchases, a helpful approach would be to understand, in a more ‘qualitative’ sense, how that happened (e.g., was it the first-time customer discount? The photography and marketing of the product?). At the end of the day, conversions are a highly practical benchmark and are probably the most practical way to evaluate whether your strategy worked.
Google Analytics and Google Console: For a more accurate and insightful understanding of your page's traffic, Google Search Console is an invaluable tool. Previously known as ‘Google Webmaster Tools’, Google Search Console helps users understand the interaction between search engines and their webpages. It provides a clearer picture of online traffic, such as your crawl rate (i.e., how many Google 'crawlers' scan your site) and keyword monitoring (e.g., what types of keywords lead people to your page and how you can adjust your site based on that). Google Analytics can also help you understand your potential customers by revealing information such as the demographics of your site visitors, their location, and how much time they spend viewing each product (i.e., 'engagement').
As entertaining as it is, it isn’t surprising that social media is here to stay in the long run. There is no one-size-fits-all social media strategy for any business, so it would be wise for SMBs to take social media seriously and experiment with as many strategies as financially possible.
How Small and Medium Businesses Can Make a Positive Environmental Impact
It is no secret that our living habits put intense pressure on our planet. Since 1750, around the start of the Industrial Revolution, humans have increased the abundance of carbon dioxide, a harmful gas for the human body, in the atmosphere by nearly 50 percent. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 99% of people breathe air that exceeds WHO quality standards, jeopardizing our health and burdening healthcare systems worldwide. Moreover, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American family wastes around 180 gallons of water per week through water leaks alone, adding up to almost 10,000 gallons per year.
Movements like Earth Day bring our attention to the significant impact humans have on our planet and the urgency in finding a solution. Environmental sustainability starts with taking responsibility to change our lifestyles and striving to create and regain the balance between human life and our planet’s natural environment. It urges us to conserve natural resources to benefit future generations. Although the Earth’s climate has changed dramatically since the beginning of time, current global warming levels are occurring at a pace unseen for the past 10,000 years. Many companies are reviewing their conduct and implementing sustainable business practices to reduce their impact on our irreplaceable planet.
Climate change vs. sustainability: are they the same issue?
The terms climate change and sustainability are often used interchangeably. Although the two overlap in many ways, they are separate terms in their own right.
Have you ever heard someone complain about the recent boiling hot summers or how it never used to be this warm? Or perhaps you have experienced snow later in the year than before? These shifts in weather patterns are a result of climate change. The Earth’s temperature has increased by an average of 0.14°F (0.08°C) each decade since 1880, this rate has more than doubled in the past ten years. Aside from rising temperatures and extreme weather, the impact of climate change also includes increased sea levels and land degradation. The future of our planet depends on how much carbon dioxide and other toxic gases we emit over the next few decades.
Sustainability refers to how people tackle the impact of climate change. For example, many prefer to cycle short distances instead of driving or reuse old items instead of throwing them away. Our current situation stems from the actions taken by previous generations of people and businesses who were unaware of the impact of environmentally unfriendly practices. The good news is we can now implement sustainable practices to improve our lives without endangering future generations.
Why is environmental sustainability important for SMBs?
SMBs account for 90% of businesses worldwide. However, they often lack the funding or expertise required to implement more sustainable practices and may not even be aware of their impact on our environment. Some industries, like the petrochemical industry, significantly contribute to plastic pollution, and their practices can harm local communities. Although it is impossible for a person or business to single-handedly reverse the impact of our actions on the planet, improvements are achievable by working as a global team. Plastic pollution could be eradicated by 2040 if companies and governments work together to find a feasible solution.
As SMBs ensure the functionality of international supply chains, they hold the key to creating a more sustainable supply chain network and a greener planet. As the world continues to battle rising inflation levels after the Covid-19 pandemic, and an increasing number of SMBs are prioritizing cost reduction. It is financially beneficial for companies to preserve energy by switching off lights and air conditioning systems when not in use. Creating a more sustainable business in this way reduces costs while protecting our environment.
Is being environmentally friendly beneficial for SMBs?
Sustainability in business is becoming increasingly important as people start waking up to the reality of climate change. Aside from introducing new legislation, governments around the world are offering incentives and subsidies to businesses and individuals willing to change their environmentally unfriendly ways.
For the second consecutive year, the theme for Earth Day 2023 is “Invest in Our Planet,” encouraging governments and businesses to facilitate change and create a more prosperous environment through sustainable practices. The movement aims to teach companies how to be kinder to our planet and work together to build a healthier economy for our planet. It also urges companies to make the necessary changes to protect future generations.
Here are a few ways that being environmentally friendly is beneficial for SMBs.
1. Government tax deductions for greener businesses
Governments worldwide are keen to encourage environmentally sustainable practices and decrease the impact of climate change. Although 48% of companies in a recent study said they are unlikely to take action against climate change due to a lack of funding, governments are trying to help by introducing green business grants. In 2022, President Joe Biden signed the largest climate bill in US history, the Inflation Reduction Act (RDA). The legislation helps companies combat climate change and introduce more energy-efficient practices through green energy grants for small businesses. There is also a multitude of tax incentives aimed at reducing the burden on our planet, such as tax credits for installing renewable home energy systems and purchasing eco-friendly cars.
2. Attract new customers with eco-friendly practices
Thanks to internationalization and the rise of social media, information is more accessible than ever. As such, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of company business practices and their environmental impact. A recent study showed 93% of global participants have started to take sustainability more seriously because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In a separate survey conducted in February 2022, 51% of respondents said environmental sustainability is more important to them now than the year before.
Consumer demands are evolving, and going green is a way for companies to help the planet while remaining attractive to new and existing customers. Moreover, paying more for environmentally friendly products does not appear to impact consumers’ price sensitivity levels, with over half of participants in a recent survey stating they would pay more for products from a sustainable brand. Whether consumers purchase online or in a physical store, they have a plethora of products to choose from. Sustainable business practices and a green reputation help ensure customers choose your brand over others.
How can businesses be more sustainable?
There are many ways for businesses to be more sustainable. The main problem is many companies do not know where to start, and lack the budget resources to find out. Even if they understand their impact on the planet, some SMB owners simply do not wish to change their actions. Conducting an environmental impact assessment could help identify areas in which companies can improve, and the journey to becoming a more sustainable company is easier than many think.
1. Daily operations and facility management
On average, paper waste accounts for an estimated 70% of office trash. Many businesses store files and documents on a server, which saves physical space but requires a lot of energy to run, especially as they must remain cool to prevent overheating. More files means more energy is used, however some servers are powered by green energy. Moreover, it is good practice for company employees to regularly delete unnecessary files to reduce the amount of energy used.
The digital devices used by employees also significantly impact the environment. SMB owners can consider purchasing second-hand and recycle or trade in old devices once they reach the end of their lifespan. Laptops tend to use less energy than desktop computers, and purchasing efficient equipment helps to reduce wasted energy. Employees should also adopt good practices and switch off devices upon finishing their shift, noting that sleep mode or screen savers do not necessarily save energy.
2. Supply chains and procurement
According to the World Economic Forum, eight supply chains, including food, construction, and electronics, are responsible for 50% of global carbon emissions. Moreover, just a few companies bear the weight of these emissions. Companies can create sustainable supply chains by encouraging suppliers to reduce emissions through recycling and reducing the amount of waste they produce. Suppliers can also analyze their processes and find ways to decrease wasteful activities and boost efficiency.
Reducing supply chain emissions is challenging, but SMBs and suppliers can lessen their carbon footprints by working together.
3. Employee training and education
Educating staff on the impact our actions have on the planet creates awareness and promotes more sustainable practices in the office and at home. SMB owners can arrange sustainability training and encourage employees to consider how to create an environmentally friendly office. From providing reusable cutlery and going meat-free once a week to purchasing office plants and switching off lights, there are many ways for employees to get involved. Introducing eco-friendly challenges or incentives for carsharing or cycling to work can also motivate employees to help SMBs move towards their green goals.
4. Marketing and promotion
As consumers become increasingly concerned about purchasing eco-friendly products, SMBs must find ways to mark themselves as a sustainable business. SMBs should develop a green brand image and show consumers they are environmentally conscious. They can even use their position to educate consumers about the negative impact of littering and plastic pollution. Green practices and a green brand image build credibility and will attract new customers. However, SMBs should be careful to match their actions with words and not partake in greenwashing, where companies spend time and money to position themselves as green without actually implementing green practices.
Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) refers to a set of standards that demonstrate a company’s environmental impact and transparency. Adopting an ESG strategy benefits SMBs as it shows customers and potential investors they are serious about protecting the environment and community and taking accountability for their actions if things go wrong. The environmental aspect shows how a company decreased its environmental impact, including developing greener products and using recycled materials. Social refers to how a company benefits the wider society, such as helping the community or funding educational initiatives. Finally, governance examines whether a company acts ethically. Promoting these aspects as part of a green marketing strategy lets companies expand their client base while helping the environment.
Love the planet with Acer TravelMate Vero
As consumers become more concerned about the state of our planet, some companies are replacing traditional plastics with Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) plastic, a process that uses recycled everyday items like plastic bottles for manufacturing. Made from recycled materials and 30% Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) plastic, Acer’s TravelMate Vero laptop is an eco-friendly PC that does not compromise quality.
The device is loaded with a high-performing processor and impressive memory, making it just as powerful as other business laptops without the negative environmental impact. Users can also switch to Eco+ mode when not in use, allowing enhanced energy efficiency with the Verosense™ smart battery management app.
Carefully made by environmentally conscious designers, TravelMate Vero laptops include no painting, printing, or plastic stickers. The laptops are made with ocean-bound plastic and 100% recyclable packaging, so SMB owners can rest assured their employees are using an environmentally friendly device while working remotely or in the office.
Whether through tax incentives or creating more sustainable business practices and supply chains, everyone has a part to play in helping the planet. While implementing a green strategy may seem overwhelming, there are many ways SMBs can decrease their environmental impact. Companies should encourage employees to walk or cycle to work and celebrate sustainable behavior that helps the environment. Furthermore, examining and identifying areas for improvement in the supply chain also contributes to greener production. Government incentives and tax deductions are designed to reward companies for sustainable conduct and can relieve the short-term burden of supply chain restructuring or purchasing environmentally friendly equipment. Movements such as Earth Day and Earth Week remind us of the urgency of changing our actions and being kinder to our planet. Acer is a pioneer in its commitment to delivering outstanding, environmentally conscious products made with our planet in mind. Read more about Acer’s steps to protect our planet and bring a positive impact on our environment. Providing employees with eco-friendly computer systems like the Acer TravelMate Vero protects the environment without sacrificing performance. The durable device is made with recycled materials and is perfect for working on the go or in the office. By choosing TravelMate Vero, you choose our planet.
Tips and Tools to Help Students with Effective Self Learning
Flipped learning is an increasingly popular classroom model offering student centered, interactive learning, aided by technology. Following the flipped learning model, students prepare for a class by studying pre-class homework, then spend class time actively engaged in a wide variety of learning activities.
Effective self learning outside of the traditional classroom environment is an integral part of the flipped classroom model of blended learning. In this article, we will share a range of tips to help students make the most of self directed learning. These tips will cover how to use Microsoft and Acer tools, as well as offering some general pointers for creating a self supervised learning environment that is conducive to effective study.
How does the flipped classroom work?
Regardless of the level, from elementary to university, a flipped class does as it says, and literally flips the traditional class structure of the teacher giving a lecture and example problems in class, followed by students completing problem sets for homework. Active pre-class reading and research materials such as online videos, lectures, and discussions maximize learner engagement during class.
Independent learning before the class creates a learner centered model by introducing topics to the students at home. In the flipped classroom, increased contact time spent in class can be used to explore topics in greater depth, through project based learning, and concept practice.
The key benefit of the flipped classroom is that the student is essentially having the lesson/lecture at home before the class, allowing more in-class time for teacher-student contact. Flipped classrooms have proven beneficial to learners, with active learning helping students to understand complex concepts, while developing valuable intrapersonal skills.
Making the most of pre-class homework time
Evidently, learners need to put in the prep hours before class so that they know what is going on when they step into the classroom. Thankfully there are ways to ensure that independent study space and habits are helping, not hindering students’ education.
Firstly, try to stick to the study schedule suggested by your teachers. If they expect 60 minutes of prep before a class, make sure that you have reserved that time to study. Ensure that you have a quiet space with a suitable table and chair where you can study without interruption from family, friends, or pets.
In an ideal world there would be a designated desk where you are able to amply prepare before class. If you need music to study, concentration music for work is a good idea and one that we will return to later, but lay off any tunes that may distract you. Speaking of distractions, during your allotted study time, put your phone on silent and make sure that it is out of arm's reach, not sitting on your desk, distracting you.
What is the Pomodoro Technique, and how will it help you to focus?
This time management method was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s and uses a simple kitchen timer to help you overcome procrastination (putting things off). In fact, the Pomodoro Technique is a highly effective way to manage your time: focus on a task for 25 minutes then take a 5 minute break. The good news is, you (probably) won’t have to cook any tomatoes while studying and you don’t need a kitchen timer.
Windows 11 has a handy focus feature, essentially a built-in Pomodoro timer called a focus session to help you block out distractions while you study. When you start a focus session, a few things will happen:
* A focus timer will appear on your screen
* Do not disturb will turn on
* Apps in the taskbar won’t flash to alert you
* Badge notifications on apps in the taskbar will turn off
So, how can the focus feature help students in the flipped classroom?
1) Before class
Students can use the focus session feature to watch the video lectures assigned by their teachers. They can set a timer for the duration of the video, connect their Spotify account to listen, and select the task from their Microsoft To Do list.
To minimize distractions and stay on track with your learning goals, there are three ways to start focus on Windows 11:
* From notification center: select notification center in the taskbar. Choose the length of your focus session. Select Focus to start your session.
* From Settings: Select Start > Settings > System > Focus > Start focus session.
* From the Clock app: Select Start > All apps > Clock. In the clock app, select Start focus session.
Focus works with the Clock app, allowing you to play music and see tasks from Microsoft To Do. When starting a session, a focus timer will appear on your screen. To access additional focus tools in the Clock app, expand the focus timer. Let’s not forget the tunes, link your Spotify account to the Clock app and your music will play when you begin a focus session:
* Select Start > All apps > Clock.
* In the Clock app, select Link your Spotify. Sign in with your Spotify account. Select the playlist you want to listen to.
2) During class
Students can use the focus session feature to work on homework or projects in class. They can set a timer for a suitable amount of time, and work on a specific task from their Microsoft To Do list. After the focus session ends, they can take a short break and then start another focus session. This way, they can apply the Pomodoro Technique to divide their work into manageable chunks, improving their productivity and efficiency.
3) After class
Students can use the focus session feature to review what they have learned or prepare for exams. They can set a timer for a suitable amount of time, and work on a revision task from their Microsoft To Do list. They can also connect their Spotify account to listen to some music that enhances their memory or relaxation. After the timer is up, they can take a longer break and then start another focus session. This way, they can use spaced repetition to reinforce their learning and retention.
Before we move on to cover how Microsoft To Do can help your independent studies in more detail, it should be noted that your task list can be integrated into the Clock app. This will enable you to choose the tasks you want to to work on in each focus session.
To do, or not to do, is not an option with Microsoft To Do
If you have to do lists plastered over your wall, that’s cool, but try Microsoft To Do. This cloud-based task management application can be easily integrated with the focus session widget in the Clock app. For a more streamlined approach to organizing your day, and staying on top of everything, integrate the two:
* Start a focus session from the notification center, the Settings app, or the Clock app
* In the focus session widget, click on the Tasks icon on the right side of the screen
* Sign in with your Microsoft account and grant permission to access your Microsoft To Do tasks
* Select the task you would like to work on during your focus session and Check it off once it is done
* You can also add new tasks, edit existing tasks, or switch between different lists from the focus session widget
Take a break
Following the Pomodoro Technique, it is important to take regular breaks in order to stay focussed. It is equally important to encourage students to practice healthy computer habits from an early age and avoid getting into bad habits, including sitting for too long, straining, and getting too close to your computer. Often, students are so engrossed in their work that they sit too close to their screen for too long. This can impact eye health. Thankfully, Acer User Sensing software has some helpful features to help students avoid bad habits: a break reminder, and a screen distance reminder. These added features can help students to establish healthy computer habits from an early age. Acer TravelMate B3 11, B3 Spin 11, and B5 14 all come with Acer User Sensing software to remind users to take regular breaks in order to stay healthy!
Microsoft, Acer, and the flipped classroom
We hope that this article has been informative and that you managed to stay focused until now. Self learning requires self discipline, strategy, and the correct tools to stay on track with your study goals. The Clock app in Windows 11, along with Microsoft To Do, Acer break reminder, and Acer Screen Distance Reminder combine to help learners effectively organize their time and have productive independent study sessions. Through correct use of these tools, and energized by regular breaks, students can benefit from self learning time, effectively preparing relevant materials before class.
How 'Flipped Classrooms' Empower Students to Thrive
Thinking back to our school days, most of us were taught in a classroom environment and completed homework at home. Discussions were encouraged within the classroom and prepared us for independent studying in our own time. Flipped classrooms are a type of blended learning in which the traditional learning approach is literally flipped around. Students receive class content at home through pre-recorded videos and then attend school for further practice and questioning. In other words, students receive and preview the content at home and complete extended learning in the classroom.
Global education systems went through a severe shakeup during the Covid-19 pandemic. Once travel restrictions were implemented and country-wide lockdowns announced, children could no longer physically attend school, and teachers scrambled to grasp the world of online learning. Although flipped learning was introduced in 2007 by chemistry teachers Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams, it was helpful in soothing the educational crisis created by the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite initial teething problems, many children thrived in an online learning environment. Even after the pandemic ended and in-person classes restarted, 60% of parents with K12 children would consider continuing home-learning. Despite the post-pandemic new normal, online learning and flipped classrooms remain a vital part of today’s education system.
What is a flipped classroom?
Besides flipping the emphasis of the traditional learning style from in-class to at-home, a flipped classroom model incorporates the following four pillars of learning.
* Flexible environment: educators are known for their fast-thinking and flexible attitude to classroom learning. The flexibility of a flipped classroom accommodates a range of learning styles and integrates video and online learning tools into the traditional education approach.
* Learning culture: flipped learning challenges the traditional style of making the teacher the main source of information and encourages independent learning instead. The teacher’s role is to facilitate learning rather than simply delivering instructions. As such, the learner becomes the focal point, and class time is restructured to create a more in-depth learning opportunity for students.
* Intentional content: materials and lesson content are intentionally split between what should be taught in class and what students should study at home. Time-strapped teachers can choose which information to deliver in person and allow students to conduct tasks that require more repetition or in-depth research at home.
* Professional educator: teachers adopt a less prevalent role in flipped classrooms, but their presence and guidance are still important. Without them, traditional or flipped learning cannot occur. Professional educators know their students best and can gauge which tasks are suitable for learning at home or in class.
How do students in Grades 12 and below benefit from Flipped Classrooms?
Flipped classrooms connect the dots between online and physical learning. Teachers may initially believe the most important part of flipped learning is motivating students to learn from home, however valuable class time is designed to encourage a higher understanding of materials. This learning style may seem unfamiliar at first, but there are many benefits to a flipped learning style.
1. Encourage a learner-centered approach
In movies, on TV, and even in our own lives, we are used to seeing teachers as the classroom’s main event. Traditional roles are reversed in a flipped classroom, and students are at the forefront of a learner-centered approach. With flipped learning, students are no longer seen and not heard, as they take an active role in their studies. Rather than seeing homework as a chore, students take responsibility for their classwork at home, which prepares them to manage their schedules in the working world.
2. Increase student engagement and learning
Instead of overloading students with information during a short class, flipped classrooms encourage learners to watch online videos and pre-learn at home. Students then come to class with prior knowledge of the topics and can ask structured questions, work on live problems, and partake in constructive discussions with classmates and teachers. This prior understanding helps students stay engaged throughout classes and empowers shy or less-confident students to contribute their ideas. Flipped classrooms encourage independent learning and critical thinking, helping young learners prepare for their life beyond school.
3. Create happier teachers
Teachers enter the profession to do what they love — inspire the future generation through education. However, many teachers are under immense pressure to deliver high education standards within a limited time. In traditional classroom settings, teachers may not always get enough time to cover all of the syllabus details and work before the bell rings, leaving students to take unfinished work home as homework. Although some initial preparation work is required, a flipped learning approach takes the pressure off teachers and allows students to conduct in-depth research and learning at home before attending class. Happier teachers create a stress-free learning environment and more inspired students as a result.
Which tools enhance flipped learning?
Flipped learning relies on collaboration tools to facilitate online learning. These team collaboration tools connect students while allowing them to access their school work via handy communication apps. They also hold educational videos and lectures that form the basis of class discussions. Microsoft Teams and the Learning Accelerator are examples of platforms intended to enhance flipped learning.
How to use Microsoft Teams for flipped learning
Microsoft Teams is a communication and collaboration platform packed full of features for flipped learning. In conjunction with Acer laptops, the outstanding system delivers seamless communication to students and teachers and is free for those with a valid email address. Microsoft Teams collaboration tools are trusted by over 270 thousand educational organizations worldwide. Here is how they can improve the flipped learning experience for your school, too.
1. Chat function
The integrated chat function allows students to communicate with classmates and teachers and ensures they are always up to date with the latest information. Students can use the feature to discuss class presentations, group activities, and solve problems. The chat function also supports GIFs, emojis, stickers, and polls to enhance engagement and ensure a happier learning environment.
Smooth communication is the key to successful flipped learning. The Calls feature from Microsoft Tools allows students to make audio or video calls for a more active learning experience. Students are encouraged to use screen sharing, whiteboard, and live captions to support the calls. Students should use a laptop with a good HD webcam, microphone, and speaker to ensure clear communication during learning.
The handy Meetings feature enables students to arrange and join online meetings with classmates and teachers. They can attend live class discussions or meet privately with peers to work on group projects. In addition, students can enter breakout rooms, raise their hands, or send reactions and feedback to actively participate in meetings.
One of the most crucial features for those working or studying from home is the option to share files. The Files feature from Microsoft Teams lets students access and share documents with classmates and teachers, facilitating group work and ensuring they never miss a deadline. Students can also use the OneDrive integration platform to sync files across devices and even access them offline.
The Apps feature allows users to add and use apps within Microsoft Teams to enhance their learning experience. These Apps include Kahoot! to create and join quizzes, or Flipgrid to design and share class-related videos. Moreover, students can take notes during classes and organize their work using the OneNote app.
How to use Learning Accelerators for flipped learning
If you have used Microsoft Teams, OneNote, PowerPoint, or Word, you have probably already used Learning Accelerators without even knowing. Learning Accelerators allow teachers to develop personalized learning paths for students. These learning paths may include content from popular sources like YouTube, Khan Academy, and Ted-Ed. Learning Accelerators also track students’ performance and provide constructive feedback. Here are some additional features offered by Learning Accelerators.
1. Reading Coach
The Reading Coach tool helps students practice reading using specialized exercises. Integrated reading exercises give gentle guidance through pronunciation, syllabification, reading speed, and vocabulary retention, which help students become more confident in their reading skills. The Reading Coach supports and encourages students with various learning differences, boosting literary confidence and helping them to overcome shyness.
2. Reading Progress
Learning Accelerators accumulate unique data and insight analytics to help teachers track students’ progress. Students can use the Reading Progress tool to track their reading skills and receive actionable insights. This helps readers focus on specific areas for improvement, giving targeted advice rather than a blanket approach. The Reading Progress tool streamlines the creation of the reading assignment and the review and analysis process to support students in their reading journey.
3. Search Coach
Putting queries into words is tough, but the Search Coach is here to help. The Search Coach tool teaches students how to form effective search engine prompts to find required information. After entering the prompt, NewsGuard finds trusted sites without displaying distracting or inappropriate advertisements or pop-ups. This steers students away from false or misleading information and provides high-quality data. As just 10% of K-12 students can accurately differentiate fact from opinion, it is vital they acquire information from trustworthy sources. Moreover, developing skills to find information quickly and accurately will help students in their future careers.
4. Search Progress
The Search Progress tool is integrated into the Search Coach and monitors the development of students’ literacy skills by providing insights into their search activity and behaviors. Moreover, the tool identifies ways to refine their search prompts over time, which helps students refine their queries and acquire targeted information. Search Progress also allows teachers to understand the thought processes behind students’ research by providing a detailed search history.
5. Speaker Coach
Public speaking can be overwhelming, but it can also be enjoyable with practice and the right mentor. Luckily, the Speaker Coach tool is created to do just that. Real-time coaching helps students improve their presentation skills by rounding up and evaluating key presentation points. The intelligent Coach even gives personalized feedback on areas such as pitch, pace, and the use of filler words without the pressure of performing for an audience.
6. Speaker Progress
This new tool streamlines the process of creating, reviewing, and analyzing speaking and presentation assignments. Teachers and students can view a summary of positive feedback and areas for improvement. Moreover, teachers can conveniently review students’ recordings and track progress, saving them time and effort.
7. Microsoft Reflect
The well-being of students is paramount to a safe and productive learning environment. Feeling sad, overwhelmed, or a mix of unidentifiable emotions can hurt students’ learning progress, and these feelings must be identified and addressed appropriately. The Reflect tool allows students to identify and express their feelings safely and creatively while teaching them how to communicate and navigate difficult emotions. The Feelings Monster assists in finding the right words to describe feelings and helps students recognize and communicate them before becoming overwhelmed.
Acer devices for flipped learning
Schools should equip students with high-performance technology to get the most out of flipped learning. Acer’s integrated device features deliver an engaging learning experience for students. High-quality audio effects facilitate crystal-clear calls, while upward-facing speakers provide higher-quality audio at high volumes, facilitating smooth communication. Moreover, dual microphones capture voices and make it easier for students to understand each other. This boosts the effectiveness of group discussions and is useful when multiple people speak at once.
Temporal Noise Reduction (TNR) technology improves the quality of webcam images by sensing and reducing noisy pixels and is perfect for use in low-light conditions. However, using webcams can mean students are susceptible to hackers or cybercriminals. As student safety is crucial in class and beyond, Acer has installed a camera shutter to ensure privacy even when the webcam is not being used. Alongside these features, the TravelMate B5 14 from Acer also comes with a 14” screen, for more comfortable viewing, which is perfect for student life. Combining low power consumption with high performance, the device supports nine hours of battery life to ensure students make it through a full day of classes.
Flipped classrooms bring students to the center of the learning experience. Students are expected to take an active role in their learning by conducting independent research and studying before class time. This pre-learning arms students with an overview of topics and allows them to repeat facts or words as often as needed. Students are given a range of online learning tools such as videos or presentations to strengthen their understanding. Once in the classroom, teachers will analyze their students’ comprehension by organizing presentations or group work. Microsoft Teams is the perfect flipped classroom assistant, providing coaching guidance and tailored reading help to boost students’ skills and accelerate learning. Of course, learning on a high-performance device such as an Acer TravelMate laptop will deliver an outstanding experience with enhanced audio and video quality, while keeping students safe from cybercriminals.
Acer Swift Edge 16 (2023) Review: The Edge You’ve Been Waiting For
The Acer Swift Edge 16 is a sleek and thin yet powerful laptop that boasts a large 16-inch OLED display and AMD Ryzen 7040 “Phoenix” Series processors, AMD’s new lineup of mobile chips that feature a dedicated AI engine. As Acer’s latest offering in the realm of ultrathin laptops, it is designed to provide a seamless blend of performance and portability. If you’re an on-the-go professional, photographer, or tech-savvy consumer, you can’t go wrong with how much punch the Swift Edge 16 packs into its light frame. So without further ado, let’s take a closer look at its standout features:
* 16-inch, 3200 x 2000 OLED display, 120Hz
* AMD Ryzen 7 7840U with AMD Radeon 780M graphics
* 32 GB LPDDR5 RAM
* 2 TB PCIe Gen 4 SSD
* 1.23 kg (2.71 pounds)
* 357.5 x 245.9 x 12.95 mm (14.07 x 9.68 x 0.5 inches)
* Two USB Type-C (USB 4 40Gbps, USB charging 5V), two USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, HDMI 2.1, MicroSD slot, headphone jack
* 1440p QHD webcam
* Wi-Fi 7 powered by Qualcomm FastConnect 7800
* Olivine Black
A Visually Delightful OLED Display
One of the key highlights of the Swift Edge 16 is its stunning 16-inch 3.2K OLED display, which looks great whether you’re browsing, working, or binging your favorite shows. Acer Swift OLED panels can display over a billion colors, offering deep blacks as low as 0.0005 nits and a peak brightness of 500 nits. They cover 100% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, which is the standard color space used in the digital cinema industry for precise color grading of content—and have received Eyesafe certification ensuring better protection for your eyes by reducing harmful blue light. On top of that, if you enjoy some light gaming on the side, the 120Hz refresh rate (coupled with AMD RDNA 3 integrated graphics) helps to achieve those coveted smooth and responsive frames.
Freedom to Unplug
Designed with mobility in mind, the Swift Edge 16 features a well-constructed magnesium-aluminum body that can be easily opened with just one hand, adding a convenient quality-of-life feature to the device. Its ultrathin profile of only 12.95 mm and lightweight chassis weighing just 1.23 kg makes it incredibly portable. While you're on the go and need the freedom to unplug for longer stretches, it offers the flexibility to be productive while traveling, working, or just taking a break. This is made possible by AMD's Zen 4 architecture, which optimizes the CPU’s power consumption for extended periods of unplugged use.
Unleashing the Power of AI
While we’re on the subject of the CPU, aside from delivering exceptional performance, the new Ryzen 7040 Series mobile processors from AMD also feature a dedicated AI engine dubbed Ryzen AI. With AI coming to the fore in 2023 as a mega-trend, it allows for better AI hardware integration into the CPU, for more powerful AI experiences while freeing up the processor for other workloads. In other words, it helps to ensure fast and efficient computing without compromising on tasks that rely on AI. With the way AI has influenced the world of tech lately, it should be a handy addition for the future.
Wi-Fi 7 and Windows Studio Effects
As one of the first laptops to feature Wi-Fi 7 and Qualcomm’s FastConnect 7800, the Swift Edge 16 ensures that you stay connected and productive, even in demanding networking environments. This means enhanced speeds of up to 5.8 Gbps and ultra-low latency of under 2 ms—along with what Qualcomm calls High Band Simultaneous Multi-Link technology, a feature that optimizes connection on 5 and 6 GHz bands, for a more reliable and seamless wireless connection.
This makes for an amazing video calling experience on the 1440p QHD webcam featuring Windows Studio Effects, which is a set of features that utilizes Ryzen AI to enhance your experience while video calling with effects such as auto-framing, gaze correction, and advanced background blur.
Equipped with the Microsoft Pluton security processor, the Swift Edge 16 enjoys extra protection against potential cyber threats. If you haven’t heard of the technology, it offers improved hardware security by guarding sensitive data like encryption keys, credentials, and user identities by isolating them from the rest of the system. Having this added layer of security means you have one less thing to worry about while on the go.
It's All in the Details
Despite its thin and light design, the Swift Edge 16 doesn't compromise on usability, featuring a full-sized backlit keyboard (with number pad) that feels firm and responsive while typing. It also has two Type-C USB 4 Ports, HDMI 2.1, a MicroSD slot, two standard USB-A ports and for you audiophiles out there, the good old headphone jack.
The Swift Edge 16 lives up to its promise of providing an edge where performance meets portability. With its stunning OLED display, powerful hardware, and intelligent features, it caters to the needs of modern professionals and tech enthusiasts on the go. Whether you're a content creator, a hybrid worker, or someone who values mobility without compromising on power, the Swift Edge 16 is a worthy companion.
Z-Library Domains Seized Again by FBI
Z-Library, the shadow library project that provided access to millions of textbooks, novels, journal articles, and magazines was shut down in November 2022 when U.S. authorities seized a number of the organization’s domain names. Despite the efforts of law enforcement, the project never fully went away. Z-Lib even staged an official comeback in early 2023 by working around the previous domain name issues. However, the project has been disrupted again by further FBI domain seizures.
Z-Library domains seized
The Z-Library site was taken down in late 2022 after it had become too popular for its own good. Earlier in the year, a Tiktok group had caused the hashtag “#zlibrary” to trend, with the hashtag eventually garnering more than 19 million views and drawing massive publicity to the site. However, law enforcement activities had in fact already been well underway prior to the #zlibrary hashtag going viral, with the Authors Guild and other copyright protection advocacy groups working together to shut down the service.
Approximately 200 domain names associated with Z-Library were seized on November 4, 2022, by the U.S. Department of Justice. Around the same time, Russian nationals Anton Napolsky (33) and Valeriia Ermakova (27) were arrested in Argentina on suspicion of running the Z-Library site, and the pair were charged with criminal copyright infringement, wire fraud, and money laundering.
Work-arounds Z-Library used to open up again
Although access to the Z-Library project was made more difficult with the shutdown of its public domains, the site continued to exist on the darkweb through the encrypted Tor and I2P networks, offering millions of pirated articles and books. For users skilled in using Tor for Z-Library or who knew how to access Z-Library via I2P, accessing content was almost as easy as before.
Additionally, in mid-February 2023, Z-Library officially staged a comeback on the public-access Internet by launching secret personal domains for users that are accessible via a universal login page.
Website administrators often take steps with their operations to mitigate disruption caused by domain name seizures. A common method is to have a list of backup domains that can be deployed when needed; this approach is known as a hydra setup. Z-Library has utilized a hydra-inspired scheme to get their website back up and running on clearnet, so that users unfamiliar with the darkweb can easily regain access to its content. The scheme involves offering a unique and private domain name to each and every user.
To access their unique domain names, users were instructed in a blog post to visit singlelogin.me, where they were able to log in to their account (with their existing Z-Library login) or create a new account and then be redirected to their personal domain. Users were requested to keep their unique personal domain names private, to ensure the domains would not be immediately seized by law enforcement.
The domain names in question are subdomains of newly registered TLDs (top-level domains; i.e., acer.com and bing.com) that each rely on different domain name registries. Each user is given two personal domains, and these are listed on each user’s personal profile page.
Z-Library domains seized again
In May of this year, several of the new domains of Z-Library were seized by U.S. authorities:
“Unfortunately, one of our primary login domains was seized today,” Z-Library wrote in a message on its Telegram account on May 5. “Therefore, we recommend using the domain singlelogin.re to log in to your account and register. Please share this domain with others.” The domain name they were referring to was singlelogin.me, which now displays an enforcement message from the U.S. Justice Department and FBI.
This marks the second time within a year that Z-Library has had its domains taken over. However, the total number of new domain names that Z-Library controls is unclear, and what we may be witnessing is a high-stakes game of whack-a-mole.
Impact of the Z-Library shutdowns
Hundreds of users welcomed the site’s return in early 2023, with people posting enthusiastic comments on Z-Library’s blog.
Scholars, researchers, and students—most of whom are financially disadvantaged—use the shadow library to obtain free books and journal articles. According to Z-Library itself, college students and professors of universities worldwide comprise the largest group of users of the service. These users are typically located in developing countries and are usually unable to afford access to all of the thousands of journals that exist. For these users, Z-Library is a lifeline to global knowledge that is crucial to completing their degrees and furthering their research.
Several Z-Library alternatives exist that offer similar features and services, such as free ebooks, audiobooks, articles, and more. We listed five sites in our previous article on Z-Library, and here are a few more worth checking out:
* Sci-hub: Sci-Hub has been estimated to contain 95% of all scholarly publications with issued DOI numbers. Sci-Hub reported in 2022 that its collection comprises 88,343,822 files.
* Library Genesis: Countless ebooks and articles are available on LibGen, which was the original source of all Z-Library content.
* Standard Ebooks: This site contains books that are in the public domain or copyright-free.
Users will be pleased in the short term with Z-Library’s creative method for bringing back clearnet access to its content. Whether its elaborate hydra scheme will be effective long-term remains to be seen and is a topic we will be keeping up-to-date on.
What is TPM?
As hackers become more sophisticated and find increasingly deceptive ways to access computers, devices must be equipped with the latest security technology. A Trusted Platform Module (TPM) is a small chip that protects a computer from malware or other cyber attacks. The TPM is found on a computer’s motherboard and is usually pre-installed onto devices with a recent version of Windows. When users switch on their devices, the TPM will quickly scan for any signs of hacking and automatically generate a cryptographic key to power up if everything is normal.
TPM 1.2 vs TPM 2.0
TPM technology is a hardware-based security approach that provides a root of trust. Its features have evolved as technology advances, protecting users by assessing and reporting the platform integrity of a device. Earlier versions of Windows are usually installed with TPM 1.2 and meet basic security specifications. TPM 1.2 is activated when a computer is switched on and provides measurements and validation of components before they can be loaded into the memory. Moreover, TPM 1.2 supports necessary cryptographic functions and can store up to 2048-bit RSA keys.
TPM 2.0 offers newer and more advanced security support designed to address the limitations of previous versions. With the ability to store up to 4096-bit RSA keys, TPM 2.0 provides enhanced flexibility and supports newer cryptographic algorithms. TPM 2.0 offers distinct security advantages over TPM 1.2 and is compatible with most major operating systems, including Windows and Linux.
How does TPM work? How to use a TPM?
TPMs are cryptographic modules that enhance the security of devices and networks. They offer numerous security features, including tamper-resistance and integrity measurement, and protect data via encryption and decryption. A TPM creates encryption codes that are stored between the TPM chip and the computer’s hard drive.
TPMs defend a computer from the get-go, running advanced checks to safeguard devices against malicious code from the second it is switched on. They also prevent unauthorized access to data: if the TPM chip is missing or there are signs the device has been tampered with, it simply will not turn on. TPMs are installed directly onto the device’s motherboard and are activated upon switching on a device. As such, they do not require any additional action from the user.
Do I already have a TPM?
Whether or not a computer already has TPM depends on when it was bought and which Windows version it uses. Devices purchased after 2016 usually come with TPM 2.0. Older devices may be equipped with TPM 1.2 or have no TPM at all.
Can I add a TPM if I do not have one?
Those comfortable with the ins and outs of a computer should be able to add a TPM 2.0 chip to its motherboard. Users should be mindful of when their device was built, as older computers may be unable to run Windows 11. Moreover, getting a TPM up and running may not be as easy as it seems.
There are generally three installation options for TPMs:
* A discrete TPM chip that comes as a separate component in a semiconductor package.
* An integrated TPM solution that uses dedicated hardware integrated into one or more semiconductor packages. This is usually separate from other components.
* A firmware TPM solution that runs the TPM in a Trusted Execution mode as part of a general computation unit.
What are the benefits of using TPM?
Although TPMs are unseen by users, they are crucial for running a secure device. Here are three ways using a TPM can benefit your computing experience.
1) Data encryption
Security is more relevant than ever before. Despite this, there are still a large number of unencrypted data transmissions that are easily readable by hackers. There is a risk of unencrypted data being intercepted during transmission, with a staggering seven million unencrypted data records compromised daily. TPM uses advanced software and hardware algorithms to protect plain-text data through encryption.
2) Protects from start-up malware
Specialized fast-acting malware can compromise computers during start-up, causing destruction before antivirus software has noticed something is wrong. TPMs establish a root of trust by verifying the boot loader first and evaluating whether or not the device has been tampered with. If something untoward is detected, the operating system will refuse to boot the system. If not, the computer will start as normal.
3) Storage safety
Studies show that 55% of people recall passwords from memory. If you have ever forgotten a password and endured a grueling reset process, you will know how frustrating memorizing passwords can be. But the alternatives are often riskier, with 20% of people stating they store passwords in their email accounts. Despite obvious vulnerabilities, these methods lack proper protection. Users can safely store encryption keys, certificates, and passwords inside a TPM, which offers more security than other methods.
What are the limitations of using TPM?
With cyber-attacks on the rise, there is no question Microsoft is doing all it can to protect users. TPM 2.0 is another effort to ramp up security in the face of rising cybercrime, however there may be some limitations.
1) Unclear installation
For those less comfortable with tinkering, finding out whether or not a computer has a pre-installed TPM could be challenging. If there is no TPM installed, users may try to install one themselves or purchase an additional TPM just in case. However, additional TPMs cannot necessarily protect against all kinds of attacks.
2) Does not prevent all attacks
TPMs may not be able to protect against so-called cold boot attacks, in which sensitive information is accessed from a computer’s random accessed memory (RAM) once the computer switches off. RAM data is usually erased when a computer shuts down. However, during cold boot attacks, criminals can quickly freeze the RAM and transfer its contents to another device. TPMs prevent keys from being loaded into memory, but they cannot prevent keys from being captured if they are already in the memory.
3) Compatibility issues
TPM 2.0 is compatible with most major operating systems, such as Windows, Linux, and macOS. However, earlier TPM versions are not compatible with non-Windows operating systems, meaning that some users may not be receiving the most recent protection.
With rising cases of cyberattacks, computers are undoubtedly more secure with a TPM. A TPM checks devices for tampering or malware even before it starts up and will simply refuse to switch on if it detects any unusual activity. Most devices purchased after 2016 already come with TPM 2.0, offering advanced protection for Windows 11 users. Devices purchased before this year may have TPM 1.2, although some have no protection at all. For maximum security, it is beneficial to check which TPM version your device has and install or upgrade it if necessary. Doing so will protect your device from malicious malware and provide ultimate password protection.
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