Tech Tips: Wireless charging, phone cases & hard drives | TheUnion.com

Tech Tips: Wireless charging, phone cases & hard drives

Doug Behl and Ken Getz
Columnists

I'd like to take advantage of wireless charging with my phone, but I use a case. Do I need to take the case off in order to wirelessly charge the phone?

We love wireless charging. Yes, we'll have to agree that complaining about the requirement to plug in a cable to charge our smart phones is clearly a "first-world problem," but it certainly is nice to simply plop the phone onto a wireless charging base and have it juice up without having even use two hands!

As with VCR tapes (you do remember these, right?) and the multiple formats (Betamax vs VHS) and one the one clear winner, there are/were multiple wireless charging standards.

Charging bases for one standard won't work unless your phone also supports that standard. Luckily, one standard quickly became the de facto standard, aided with the release of the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, which use the same standard, named Qi (pronounced "Chee").

At this point, a huge majority of phones that support wireless charging use this standard, and Qi wireless charging bases have become quite inexpensive.

So, back to the question: Do you need to remove your phone's case to charge your phone wirelessly? The answer is, as always, "It depends."

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Most cases should be fine, and shouldn't block the phone's charging. The thicker the case, the further from the coils your phone sits, and the slower it will charge.

If you're rocking a super-protective thick case, you may find that you are unable to charge the phone with the rhino shell in place. Ken uses a super-thin case with his iPhone 8, and there's no problem charging with that case intact.

Another issue to consider is that wireless charging can't work through metal, hence the change in phones to use glass backs rather than metal.

If you have a metal case, you will need to remove the case before charging. If you have a magnetic car mount that inserts a metal plate inside the case, that, too, will affect the charging capability.

In summary: Wireless charging, good. Metal cases, bad. Otherwise, you should be fine unless your phone case allows your phone to survive a fall from a tall building.

How much free hard drive space?

My computer has been running really, really slowly. Could this be related to the fact that I have a ton of videos, music, and photo files, and my hard drive is nearly full? I wonder if I removed some of those files, the computer would run better?

Most of the time, when people ask if their computer is running slow because they have too much stuff on their hard drive, we tend to chuckle.

We do that, as you might guess, because we're somewhat condescendingly thinking that the questioner has confused too little RAM (Random Access Memory), which could, and often does, cause computers to run slowly, with a lack of space in permanent storage (the hard drive), which generally doesn't cause the computer to slow down.

Definitely add more memory to your computer if you can, and if you have less than 8GB.

On the other hand, having a lot of stuff on your hard drive isn't generally a cause for alarm.

We say "generally," because there comes a point at which an overloaded hard drive can cause trouble. Your computer needs free hard drive space for swapping things in and out of memory, for general house-keeping, and for the constant maintenance that the operating system performs.

In general, the rule of thumb is that you should have at least 15 percent of your hard drive space empty. In general terms, then, for a 500GB hard drive, you would want around 75GB to be free space, and use up to 425GB.

This isn't a hard and fast rule, but it can't hurt. If you fill your hard drive so that very little space is free, the computer won't be harmed, but you may find that performance suffers.

Clear off some of the excess stuff (you don't need it!) to ensure that your computer runs as well as possible.

Doug Behl and Ken Getz spent years answering technical questions in private, and are minimizing the questions by pre-emptively publishing the answers. Hear Doug and Ken's tech tips on KNCO radio weekdays at around 8:21 a.m. and 5:38 p.m.; find full write-ups including links to the products they mention at http://blog.techtipguys.com. Submit your own technical questions to questions@techtipguys.com.