Doug Behl and Ken Getz: Block annoying texters and callers on iPhone
Q: I seem to be getting a lot of unwanted texts on my iPhone. Some are from a particular someone I simply don’t want to hear from; others are from random strangers. I know I can simply disregard these texts, but I’d love to be able to block the messages so I never see them at all. Does the iPhone provide some way to do this, or do I need to involve my mobile phone company?
A: It’s so irritating to get unwanted texts (or phone calls, or Facetime calls), especially when the texts or calls come in at inappropriate times. We might suggest that you never sleep in the same room with your phone, or at least, use the “do not disturb” feature so that you don’t get awakened by the unwanted communication, but that’s not really a realistic solution: If you don’t want to hear from someone, you should be able to ensure that you don’t hear from them.
Luckily, iOS (the iPhone operating system) makes this task relatively easy. There are several ways to get to the option to block a call from someone. In the Phone app (that is, the application your run when making or receiving phone calls), click the Recents tab at the bottom of the screen. Find the unwanted call, and tap the “i” icon to the right of the call listing. If you need to, scroll up as far as you can—at the very bottom of the call record, you’ll find the option to Block this Caller. Tap it, then tap Block Contact, and you won’t receive any more calls from this number.
If you want to block texts from a particular person, the steps are similar. In the Messages app, find the message thread from the person you don’t want to hear from. Tap the Details link at the top of the message thread. In the Details page, next to the name of the person sending the text, tap the “i” icon, and just as before, scroll to the bottom of the listing and tap Block this Caller.
In the Facetime application, locate the call from the person you’d like to avoid, and tap the “i” icon to the right of the name. Scroll to the bottom of the Info page, and tap on Block this Caller. Tap Block Contact, and you’ve done it!
The same sorts of techniques should work with other phones and operating systems, as well. But as you’ve seen, it’s easy to block phone or Facetime calls, and texts, on your iPhone. There’s no need to accept any communication you don’t wish to receive!
Should You Use Windows Drive Compression?
Q At your suggestion, I replaced the hard drive in my Windows computer with a solid-state drive (SSD). Because my old hard drive was pretty large, and wasn’t nearly full, I economized by getting a much smaller SSD—they’re kind of expensive! At this point, my new SSD is getting filled up with content, and I really don’t want to replace it again. I’ve heard there’s some way to compress the contents of disk drives. Can I use this disk compression to save space on my SSD? And if I can, should I?
A: We’re glad you “got with the times” and upgrade to an SSD, which should speed up your disk accesses (and your computing) a lot. But SSD drives are significantly more expensive than standard hard drives with spinning platters, so you, like most people, opted for a smaller drive than you had originally. To answer your first question: Yes, modern versions of Windows (we’ll talk about Windows 10) support disk compression. Actually, they support file, folder, and/or disk compression, so you have a choice as to what you compress. And yes, it works. But should you use it?
To be honest, in its early days we used to worry about the safety of disk compression. After all, if the files are stored in some compressed format, what happens if the disk drive dies? Or if the computer dies, and you need to extract the files from the hard drive? Because Windows provides the compression/decompression algorithm, if Windows isn’t running, you can’t get to your files!
The fact is that these worries aren’t the important ones. With more mature disk compression, and easy/fast backups, safety shouldn’t be the deciding factor. Instead, think about what happens when you compress the contents of a disk: Every time you read the contents of a file, Windows has to decompress the file and its contents. This takes processing power, and time. If you want to move a compressed file to a new location, Windows has to load it, decompress it, and then recompress it in its new location.
So, the deciding factor really turns out to be the processing power of your computer. If your computer is old, and feels slow, you won’t want to enable this feature. It will certainly add a noticeable lag to your computer sessions. If you have a modern computer that feels generally fast enough, you should be fine.
The other question is, of course, how much space will disk compress save you? Again, the answer is “It depends.” Windows can’t compress files that are already compressed. If you have a disk full of compressed ZIP files, for example, turning this feature on won’t save you any space. Image files, like JPG files, tend to not compress at all.
If you have a disk full of text files, however, you can expect a good amount of compression and savings, as these files tend to compress very well. Therefore, the actual space savings you’ll see depends on the kind of content you have on the disk. As a general rule, expect somewhere between 10% and 20% disk space savings. If that’s significant to you, it’s worth giving it a try.
To turn on disk compression, start by making a full backup of your hard drive. Please, do not skip this step. Once you’ve done that, in Windows Explorer, right-click on the drive in question, and select Properties from the context menu. The option to compress the drive will vary its location based on the version, but in Windows 10, it shows up on the Properties page as an option titled Compress this drive to save disk space. Select that option, and let Window do its thing.
As we said, there’s no guarantee how much space you’ll save, but if you have a modern computer and you’re running out of disk space, it’s worth giving this option a try (as long as you have a working backup in place first)!
Doug Behl and Ken Getz spent years answering technical questions in private, and are minimizing the questions by pre-emptively publishing the answers. Submit your own technical questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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