November 22, 2016 by Lyle in Research,The Pit Blog
that total US shipment of PC were down 6.6% year on year for Q1 of 2016. Our analysis looks at the brands of the Windows PCs that ran PC Pitstop scans during the past several years. The PCs installed base analysis reveals that both desktops and portables have shown a consolidation of brand preference.
PCs Installed Base
HP appears to be the beneficiary of brand choice for both the desktop and portables PC branded systems.
Its interesting to note that the two leading brands of HP and Dell currently makes up over 50% of PCs in use.
Brand Loyalty - Have the rules changed?
As the maturity phase of the PC industry continues, consumer behaviors also change. Brand loyalty is a consumer behavior that often changes as an industry matures. An argument can be made that with the increased availability of online reviews and ratings, some folks might rely less on their past experiences. Online reviews and ratings always need to be scrutinized for honesty and reliability. However these reviews often give the consumers a wonderful resource for making educated purchases.
November 16, 2016 by Lyle in Research,The Pit Blog
How fast is your internet download speed? The average US download bandwidth speed for PC Matic home users for 2016 is 22,383 Mbps. Your internet speed affects your browsing habits. Many folks with higher bandwidth rates take it for granted. They stream videos and music, perform quick research and check and interact with their social web sites with little thought (or buffering). Those less fortunate probably have some sense of envy of the higher speeds.
A look at the US geographic download rates reveals each state's average speed. The data shows that the East and West coast states come in with the higher speeds. While, the sparser populated North-central and Midwest states lag behind the average. Higher population seems to correlate to higher internet speeds. Undoubtedly, the higher populated regions provide the economic environment for ISP's to invest in the internet infrastructure.
A more granular look of the average internet speed is shown here in the US geographic map by county.
PC Pitstop provides a tool to check your internet speeds. Check out the PC Pitstop's Internet speed tests
. Once you are on the speed test page, scroll down and click on one of the listed cities to see how your internet speed is preforming.
November 02, 2016 by Lyle in Research,The Pit Blog
The rotating platter hard disk drives (HDD) have been around since the early days of PCs. Technology improvements are allowing for the improvement of speeds and capacity. Basically the HDD technology involves a armature that moves across the surface of the platter. Using magnetism, the drive head reads and writes information to the disk. SSD stores its data on flash memory chips similar to the technology that is found on thumb and flash drives.
Solid-state drive technology has been around for decades. It wasn't until 2005 that Samsung declared SSD as a strategic market. Solid-state drives soon began to appear in high-in portable PCs. Over the years, capacities are increasing and prices are coming down. A recent quick internet research of SSD prices show that you can find 500GB drives for around $150.
Since SSD uses no moving parts, data writing and retrieval can be done much faster. They also are generally more rugged and reliable than HDD hardware. They consume less energy than the rotating platter technology and make little to no noise. Also, SSD do not have the concern of file fragmentation that the HDD have with their spinning disks and read / write armatures. Because of their ruggedness and low energy consumption, they are becoming more popular with portable PCs. With all the advantages that SSD has over HDD, price, availability and capacity are probably the primary factors constraining the acceptance of this new technology.
Whether your aging hard drive is making funny noises or if you would just like to see improved hard drive performance, do some research and see if a SSD is right for you. See Bob Rankin's post "Solid State Drives are The Future - Should You Upgrade
Our research shows that the popularity of solid-state drives continue to increase. As of October 2016, solid-state drives are found on approximately 8% of PCs processed through our scans.
October 25, 2016 by Lyle in Research,The Pit Blog
In 1995, Windows 95 operating system came out with 32-bit as a replacement for the 16-bit processing. In the early 2000's Microsoft introduced a version of XP operating system that was designed to run using the Intel Itanium 64-bit processor. All the versions of Microsoft's operating systems since then have been available in both 32-bit and 64-bit. As of September 2016, our research
shows that over 87% of all PCs are running with a 64-bit operating system.
A 64-bit system contains three components. First, the processor (CPU) must support 64-bit. The second component is the operating system must also be a 64-bit version. And finally the software application you are using must also be 64-bit in order for it to be able to make use of the technology. Note that 32-bit software will generally run on 64-bit systems but 64-bit software is not compatible with 32-bit machines. Remember however, running 32-bit software on a system with the wider architecture will not deliver improved performance.
Basically the bit numbers refer to the size of the data that the processor can handle per processing cycle. Theoretically, the more data that the processor can handle at one time, the faster the speed of the PC system. Another benefit of the 64-bit processor is in the amount of addressable memory it can handle. 32-bit processors have an upper limit of just under 4 GB of addressable memory. This limit includes RAM memory as well as other memory found on graphics and audio processors. 64-bit systems allow access up to 17 Billion GB of RAM. If your system processor is 32-bit, having more than 4 GB of RAM installed on your PC will not be a benefit.
Processing speed becomes important if you are running applications that contain a lot of graphics, such as games or audio / video editing. If you primarily use your PC to check Facebook and read emails, the increase processing power and speed probably won't be noticeable.
Another area that was once problematic to 64-bit systems was that the drivers files used for hardware to work properly within your system were not always available to support the new technology. Things have improved significantly but occasionally you may hear about a printer or other hardware that doesn't work because a 64-bit version of the driver software is not available. The same goes for software. One of the biggest complaints of early adopters to this technology was that software developers were slow to come out with a 64-bit version of their applications.
If you still are using the 32-bit technology and don't use the processing hungry applications, there probably isn't an urgent need to upgrade. Its likely the next PC you purchase will have the wider architecture and operating system as 32-bit PCs are becoming harder to find.
In the wake of the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack last week
on the Internet performance management company, Dyn, we’ve learned of some unsettling security vulnerabilities for millions of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. It was discovered the DDoS attack utilized the Mirai botnet
to hack thousands of IoT devices and to take down domain name service providers to popular websites like Twitter and Amazon, placing the importance of cyber security back in the headlines.
In terms of internet security, only a few days before the attack, PC Matic
conducted a poll among the IT community on whom is responsible for maintaining the internet’s safety and security. With over 575 IT pro respondents to our Spiceworks poll
, 80% felt it is not just one group or body’s responsibility; rather, every user is responsible for keeping the internet safe and secure. A mere 7% felt it was the IT pros and network providers’ responsibility, and only 2% believe it is up to government regulators.
While we’ve posted several posts on security best practices and cyber education, does majority of America think everyone is responsible for the Internet’s safety and security? If not, who should be? Let us know your input in the poll below.
October 11, 2016 by Lyle in Research,The Pit Blog
It seems that browser wars have been around forever. During the early 1990's, the browser of choice was Netscape's Navigator. Netscape's massive successful IPO in 1995 got the attention of Microsoft. Microsoft began delivering their Internet Explorer bundled with their operating systems. The browser wars were underway. Some readers may recall the 1995 battle between Netscape and Microsoft Internet Explorer. There was a back and forth war of adding new features by both companies. Microsoft with its successful OS and huge cash reserves was no match for Netscape. Microsoft practice of delivering their Internet Explorer bundled with their operating systems for no additional cost caused the downfall of Netscape.
Netscape was subsequently sold to AOL in 1998 and the Netscape browser saw a quick demise. Microsoft was called into court in 1998 on anti-trust charges for their practice of embedding their IE browsers into their operating systems and making it hard for consumers to install competing browsers on their Windows OS computers. Microsoft lost the case and was instructed to separate their OS business from their software business. However, before this could be fully implemented, the appeals process removed much of the enforcement. In 2002, 96% of Windows users were using Internet Explorer.
Since that time, there have been several browsers start up. Its is interesting to note that one of them, Firefox, came from the soul of Netscape. Microsoft's once monopolistic control began eroding as a result of good-old competition. The browser war continues today.
Below is a chart showing the average percentage of browsers that have been used during the past 6+ years for folks visiting the www.pcmatic.com web site.
The data shows that the combined usage of Internet Explorer and its new replacement , Microsoft Edge totals approximately 38% in 2016. Chrome has been ramping up and currently comes in a close second at approximately 36%.
Regardless of what your favorite browser might be, the Netscape - Microsoft war during the mid-1990's likely played a role in the fact that all of the mainstream browsers today are freely distributed.
October 05, 2016 by Lyle in Research,The Pit Blog
The PC Pitstop Research Memory Trends chart
shows that the percentage of PCs that have more than 4 GB RAM is accelerating.
The chart below shows the average amount of Memory found on PCs for each year since 2008. The overall average found on PCs in 2016 is just under 6 GB.
The chart shows that the increase by year has been fairly linear and that Desktops are growing at a bit faster of a pace. RAM or Random Access Memory consists of integrated circuits of transistor memory cells that are used by the computer to transfer data extremely fast by your processer. Your PC uses this memory to store and access much of the data used in its low level processing. RAM can also be used by your PC to automatically and temporarily store data from your hard drive that it determines is needed to support your current activities.
Adding additional RAM to your system is generally considered a easy and cost effective way to increase the speed of your PC.
September 27, 2016 by Lyle in Research,The Pit Blog
Back in the mid-1990, the optical drive was introduced for use in PCs. One of its primary purposes for the CD-ROM player was to replace diskettes for distributing software. It also allowed users to play their audio CDs on their computers. The optical drive quickly caught on quickly. The technology evolved to include CD-ROM writers followed by DVD players and burners. During the first decade of 2000, Blu-ray high definition technology gained popularity.
Then came advances in internet bandwidth. Video on demand and online streaming replaced the need for the PC hardware required for multimedia tasks such as playing audio and video discs. Software could be downloaded efficiently from the internet. A paradigm shift was well underway.
The following chart shows the decline in attach rates for optical drives on PCs since 2010.
The data shows that Laptop PCs have always trailed the Desktop for the presence of optical drives. It's intuitive that just by the nature of portables, weight considerations often led to the removal of the optical drive from its configuration. While there will always be some demand for these drives, research shows that technology is changing the role that they once had.