A CPU, or central processing unit, is the most important part of your computer. It's found on the motherboard and is responsible for executing every command you or an app makes. It opens apps, loads data, shows images - the CPU is involved with nearly everything on your computer.
Your desktop computer or laptop isn't the only device with a CPU chip. Your phone has one, your video game console has one, your smartwatch has one. If you've bought a car made in the last ten years, it probably has a CPU for its dashboard screen.
The CPU is a critical part of any modern device. Here's what you should know about it.
How CPUs work, and the different types
The CPU is the foundation of your computer, which is why it's generally the first thing listed in any computer ad. Without a CPU, your computer won't turn on, much less be usable.
Whenever you try to open a program or file, or type something, data is sent to the CPU. The CPU then decodes the data, and decides whether the command can be done. If it can, it'll be done. If it can't, you'll probably see the program you're using crash, stop responding, or give you an error message.
Since the CPU is handling data from every part of the computer at once, it's easy to overload a CPU by flooding it with commands. This is why your computer goes slower when you have too many programs open - you're constantly sending new data for the CPU to deal with.
And if your CPU is forced to deal with too much at once, you could crash your computer.
There are two major types of CPUs: x86 chips, and ARM chips.
x86 CPU chips
Among Windows-based PCs, x86 chips are far more popular, and are usually made by either Intel or AMD. Most Intel CPUs are a part of the Intel Core family, and have names like the Intel Core i3, Intel Core i5, and Intel Core i7. On the AMD side you have Ryzen CPUs, like the Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 9.
As a general rule, the higher the number in the CPU's name, the faster it will perform.
Although some of these CPUs are faster than others, they're all largely interchangeable because they all use a "x86 instruction set" - that's where the name comes from. In short, they all speak the same language, and can all understand and perform commands that the rest of the computer sends.
ARM CPU chips
Mobile devices, new MacBooks, and some Windows computers use ARM chips. These are less powerful and take less energy, making them perfect for smaller devices. They run a bit slower, but not enough that the average user will notice.
Apple has invested heavily into ARM chips over the past few years. Their most recent set of CPU chips, the M1s, were specially designed to run new MacBooks.
What it looks like inside your CPU
Modern CPUs typically feature billions of transistors etched into the silicon wafer that comprises the chip. The more transistors, the more powerful your CPU.
The average transistor count has jumped dramatically over the years; the Intel 80386 processor, an important CPU in the 1980s, had 275,000 transistors. Just a few years later, the 80486 had 1.2 million transistors. By 2016, the Intel Core i7 processor found in many mainstream PCs had 3.2 billion transistors. The Apple M1, found in the latest MacBook Pro, has 16 billion transistors.
The transistor count is far from the only factor that determines the speed and performance of modern CPUs. Clock speed is also a critical consideration.
The clock speed of the CPU - measured in gigahertz (GHz), or a billion cycles per second - is a measure of how many instructions the CPU can perform in a particular period of time.
You also have to consider how many cores your CPU has. Most modern CPUs are multi-core, which means they can divide incoming data and decode all the parts at once. It's like having six workers in an office compared to just one - much more efficient. Programs which are optimized for multi-threaded and multi-core CPUs can run dramatically faster.
Another component that affects the performance of a CPU is the cache. Most CPUs have multiple caches, such as L1, L2, and L3. Each cache has a specific purpose. The L3 cache, for example, is faster than the computer's main memory and is used to feed data and instructions to the cores without bothering the other caches.
Many CPUs also contain a graphics chipset, which allows it to control the computer's display. High-performance computers might have a separate graphics card or chipset, in which case the graphics data is handed off to that separate card.
If your CPU isn't going as fast as you'd like, you can try overclocking it. This is a process where you force the CPU to run faster than it's designed to go. It can give you better performance, but can harm your CPU if you overuse it.
Despite all this, the best way to find a good CPU is pretty simple: Just look for higher numbers. The newer your CPU's model number is, the more cores it has, the faster its clock speed, the better it is.
Overclocking a component in your computer - usually the CPU, and occasionally the graphics card - makes your computer run faster than it was originally intended. This lets you improve your computer's performance without spending money to upgrade or enhance your PC.
Not every computer can be overclocked, and there are some risks associated with overclocking as well. Here's everything you need to know.
What is overclocking?
Different computer processor chips run at different speeds - this is known at their "clock speed." A higher clock speed means a CPU can run more operations per second, and thus run your computer faster.
But even processors with different speeds are all made on the same assembly line. It's only after the processors are built that companies test them for defects, take out the more defective ones, and manually "throttle down" those chips to make them run slower in a computer.
That means that in theory, even these slower chips can run at faster speeds if you want them to - that's how they were built, after all. This is where overclocking comes in.
Overclocking lets you undo the throttling and run that slower chip at a faster speed, as if it were a less defective model.
To do this, you need to increase the processor's "multiplier," which can be found in your computer's UEFI or BIOS menu, causing the chip's clock speed to increase.
The pros and cons of overclocking
Overclocking is incredibly popular among computer enthusiasts, gamers, and anyone who regularly needs to run programs that take a lot of CPU power. This can include graphic design apps, 3D modeling programs, and more. Done right, it can increase your computer's performance essentially for free.
When you join discussions about building computers or buying graphics cards, you'll often find people talking about how easily their computers can be overclocked. Buying a less expensive graphics card that can be overclocked can save money, while still ensuring excellent performance.
In recent years, however, there's been some evidence that overclocking isn't as useful as it used to be. Modern CPUs already run so fast that overclocking can have little effect. And more important, improving your processor performance can be useless if the rest of your computer isn't fast enough to keep up. This is called "bottlenecking."
For example, if you have a slow hard disk drive (HDD), overclocking your CPU can't make it run faster. Likewise, programs that use your graphics card more than the CPU won't be helped by an overclocked CPU.
Overclocking comes with some inherent risks. Companies don't throttle down processor chips for fun - they do it because the chip has defects, and running it too fast can cause your computer glitches.
Too much overclocking can lead to instability and crashing apps, as well as the occasional Blue Screen of Death. Frequent crashes can cause data loss and frustration. In some cases, overclocking can even damage your CPU or graphics card permanently.
You need to weigh the sometimes-marginal performance improvements that come from overclocking against these risks.
How to overclock your processor
If you want to overclock your computer, first assess if your processor supports overclocking - not all do.
Intel adds an "K" or an "X" to the model numbers of the Intel Core CPUs that can be overclocked. For example, the Intel Core i9-10900K can be overclocked; the Intel Core i9-10900F cannot.
If you have an AMD CPU, the news is better - any "Ryzen" CPU can be overclocked.
You should also ensure your computer has adequate cooling equipment. Your CPU should have a heavy duty heatsink and large cooling fans. You might even want to use a liquid cooling system to deal with the extra heat generated by your faster CPU.
Your CPU will need enhanced cooling if you plan to run it at a higher clock speed.
To overclock the CPU, restart your computer and enter the startup menu in the computer's UEFI or BIOS. These startup screens vary dramatically from one manufacturer to another, so you'll need to look for the overclocking controls.
It's a good idea to increase the multiplier by a small amount, reboot the computer and test it. You can increase the clock speed in increments to get to the speed you are interested in.
Every time you increase the clock speed, spend a few hours "stress testing" the computer. You can use an app like Prime95 to temporarily run the CPU at 100% load to make sure there are no problems with the PC.
If your computer crashes, you get a Blue Screen of Death, or your programs won't open, return to the UEFI or BIOS menu and revert to a slower clock speed.
It's also possible to overclock your graphics card's GPU, though you can't do that from the UEFI or BIOS menu. To speed up your GPU, you'll need to use an overclocking utility - one of the most common is MSI Afterburner.
We compiled a list of books, ranging from fiction to memoirs, that paint a portrait of the Asian-American identity and experience.
Asian-Americans make up one of the most diverse and rapidly growing racial groups in the nation. Ever since the beginning of Asian migration to the US began with Chinese immigrants in the 1800s, Asian-Americans have consistently shown that we are a force of cultural, artistic, and political power.
Literature plays a crucial role in the empowerment and understanding of underrepresented groups. We compiled a list of books - ranging from fiction and graphic novels to essay collections and memoirs - that each paint a portrait of the Asian-American experience. Each one, whether harrowing or funny, modern or classic, conventional or experimental, is part of a centuries-old, distinctly American literary tradition that is especially important right now.
11 books that delve into the Asian-American identity and experience:
"Interior Chinatown" by Charles Yu
This experimental novel, which won the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction, is written in the form of a screenplay. It centers on Willis Wu, who acts on a police procedural called "Black and White" and is chasing his dream role of "Kung Fu Guy." However, he must first work his way up through a series of roles, including "Generic Asian Man" and "Background Oriental Making a Weird Face."
It's a satire of racist Hollywood tropes, containing deeply profound commentary about what it means to exist in a world that sees you as a caricature. Yu, who previously worked as a corporate lawyer and writer on HBO's "Westworld," takes the racism of the entertainment industry and holds it up to the real-life pain, joy, and disillusionment that define the Asian-American experience.
by Charles Yu (button)
"Sour Heart" by Jenny Zhang
"Sour Heart" is a collection of bildungsroman (coming of age) stories told from the point of view of various nameless young daughters of poor Chinese immigrants, mostly taking place in New York City. Zhang's raw perspective on the immigrant experience is one that you're not likely to find anywhere else.
Her imagery is often aggressively frank, coarse, and seething with unfettered emotion — to me, it illuminates the dual ugliness and beauty present in many immigrant parent-child relationships. Her young narrators go through sexual exploration, self-discovery, and survival, all while trying to navigate close family ties. This book shows the power of fiction to illuminate the underbelly of everything, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to experience a different side of the Asian-American coming-of-age narrative.
by Jenny Zhang (button)
"From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement" by Paula Yoo
It's not widely known, but the Asian experience in America has been marked by horrific physical violence since we first arrived in this country, from mass lynchings to day-to-day hate crimes.
The 1982 murder of 27-year-old Vincent Chin was considered a turning point in both Asian-American civil rights history and the journey towards criminalizing hate crimes in the US. He was celebrating his bachelor party when two white autoworkers beat him to death. They were initially only required to serve no jail time — just three years' probation and a $3,000 fine. But Asian-American activists lobbied to argue that it was a racial crime, and the men eventually received federal charges.
Vincent's road to justice parallels that of many victims of anti-Asian violence today. Yoo's book is written for young adults, but it's an important read for all those looking to know more about AAPI history.
by Paula Yoo (button)
"America is In The Heart" by Carlos Bulosan
This Filipino-American memoir — and the oldest book on this list — recounts the life of author Carlos Bulosan, who immigrated from the Philippines to the United States in 1930. It's remarkable in the fact that it provides a critical perspective of working-class Asian-Americans at the early stages of Asian immigration to the United States.
Most Asian immigrants to the US had to face a number of race and class struggles compounded together, which is a lens that sometimes gets lost in modern-day discourse. This autobiography has evolved over the years into a classic activist text, making its inclusion in any discussion of the Asian-American experience especially crucial.
by Carlos Bulosan (button)
"Pachinko" by Min Jin Lee
While very little of this novel actually takes place in the present day, let alone in America, it's a sprawling book that follows four generations of a Korean family and shows how trauma accumulates over time. From immigrating to Japan to eventually going to the US, the family's story is marked with heavy sacrifice, both emotional and physical, as everyone struggles to survive and stay together.
It's clear that Lee understands a crucial fact about the Asian-American, more specifically, and the Korean-American experience: that one way or another, the emotional burdens of our ancestors often become our own. The immigrant story of survival is crucial to understanding much of the Asian-American experience today, and Lee explores that with a stark, touching lens.
by Min Jin Lee (button)
"The Gangster We Are All Looking For" by lê thị diễm thúy
This semi-autobiographical novel, written by post-colonialist writer and performance artist Lê Thị Diễm Thúy, tells the story of a young girl who flees Vietnam and moves to San Diego with her family in 1978. She tries to assimilate to American culture while also trying to survive the trauma of losing her brother in Vietnam and navigating her parents' violent relationship.
Asian-Americans are often subject to the "model minority" stereotype of being privileged and wealthy, approximate to whiteness in their ability to assimilate. However, the model minority myth fails to take into account those of us whose experiences are defined by the violent trauma of migration and colonization that in turn mars our experiences in the US. lê thị diễm thúy's novel captures the psychic pain of those experiences — and is an important read for those seeking to understand the Vietnamese-American story.
by lê thị diễm thúy (button)
"Minor Feelings" by Cathy Park Hong
Reading this collection of essays felt like scratching an itch that I didn't know I had. Hong's voice is a resounding one in the world of Asian-American creative nonfiction, one that seeks to break out of the mold completely and resists the categorization of Asian-American authorship altogether as it relates to the fetishization of otherness and trauma.
Her writing, at times rageful and at times deadly calm, comes through as one of the few to take on Asian-Americans as a collective group. Most importantly, she recognizes that the future of Asian-American activism is reclaiming the revolutionary roots of the "Asian-American" grouping, which was created in solidarity with Black activists during the Civil Rights era. If you're looking for a modern-day manifesto for the Asian-American soul, I can't recommend this book highly enough.
by Cathy Park Hong (button)
"American Born Chinese" by Gene Luen Yang
"American Born Chinese" is a graphic novel that will change your view on graphic novels. Gene Luen Yang takes the comic form and uses it to tell a heartfelt story about growing up Chinese-American. Reading this book in middle school was an eye-opening experience because I had never seen a comic that represented me, let alone my identity struggles.
The characters include The Monkey King (based on a traditional Chinese folk tale), a young Chinese kid facing bullying from his white classmates, and Chin-Kee, a racist stereotype personified as the Chinese cousin of a white boy. All the character's stories become woven together by the end, making it an amazing feat of storytelling that hits you right in the chest.
by Gene Luen Yang (button)
"Native Speaker" by Chang-Rae Lee
This was one of the first novels I ever read that featured an Asian-American protagonist, and ever since then, it's always been on my list for most powerful novels about the Asian-American experience.
It's about a Korean-American man named Henry Park who has to spy on a Korean-American politician. Along the way, he struggles to keep his marriage together after a devastating tragedy and attempts to reconcile his own identity as a Korean-American person living in a world full of espionage and betrayal. It's subtle and understated while wrestling with so many themes integral to the Asian-American consciousness, like the conflict of wanting to assimilate into a society that shows you again and again that it only sees you as a foreign threat.
by Chang-Rae Lee (button)
"Interpreter of Maladies" by Jhumpa Lahiri
Jhumpa Lahiri's Pulitzer Prize-winning debut work contains nine short stories that explore different facets of the Indian-American experience. The characters range from a young Indian-American couple mourning a terrible loss, to a mentally troubled young woman in India, to a young white boy who stays with an Indian university professor's wife after school.
"Interpreter of Maladies" is a book that I turn to when I need to be comforted and transported by prose; the stories are all so skillfully written, with a compassionate and inventive eye for unique perspectives.
by Jhumpa Lahiri (button)
"Baseball Saved Us" by Ken Mochizuki
In this picture book, Shorty, a young Japanese-American boy whose family has been interned by the American government during World War II, turns to baseball to escape the harsh reality of his situation.
The internment of Japanese-Americans has sparked a literarytradition of picture books that tell the fictional — and sometimes real — stories of children in these camps. This book, with its somber art style and touching story, is an amazing testament to how poignantly children's books can convey stories of injustice.
Most importantly, it's a vital educational tool for those who want their children to learn about the American tradition of ostracizing and dehumanizing entire communities of people, and the longstanding racism and xenophobia that inspire these events.
The GOP of 2021 is increasingly defined by worshipping Donald Trump, as the party builds a cult of personality around a former president who left the White House in disgrace less than two months ago. Experts warn it poses an ongoing threat to democracy in the US - as evidenced by the Capitol attack he stoked.
Trump became the GOP's supreme leader five years ago. The GOP did not even bother to issue a new party platform in 2020, instead pledging to "enthusiastically" support Trump. But Trump's personality cult has endured past his disastrous response to the COVID-19 pandemic that killed more than 400,000 during his time in office, the economic crisis and job losses that came with it, and his 2020 election loss.
"Whatever Trump personally decides to do about his political future, the fact that GOP lawmakers continue to perform their loyalty acts to him on television bodes nothing good for the health of our democracy," Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a New York University historian and expert on facism, told Insider.
Trump was impeached for inciting the fatal insurrection on January 6, but loyal Senate Republicans ensured he was acquitted. This left the door open for Trump to run for president again in 2024.
Jason Stanley, a philosophy professor at Yale University and author of "How Fascism Works," recently told Insider that Trump's acquittal showed authoritarianism remains a "potent force" in the US.
In short, the Trump personality cult has reached toxic heights in 2021.
A golden statue of Trump
At the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in late February, a gold statue of Trump was unveiled.
Attendees lined up to take photos with the statue like a mall Santa Claus. Based on images from the event, you almost wouldn't know that Trump incited a fatal insurrection at the Capitol just weeks before.
The Republican party is no longer the party of Lincoln - a party that advocates smaller government and few constraints on free enterprise and civil liberties - it's now the party of Trump. That's the general message from top GOP lawmakers recently. Trump may have been a one-term president who lost the GOP the White House, House, and Senate in just four years, but the party's loudest voices still see him as their best hope.
"I know Trump can be a handful, but he is the most dominant figure in the Republican Party," Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told Fox News' Sean Hannity in mid-February. "Trump is the most consequential Republican in the party."
Speaking directly to Trump, the South Carolina Republican said: "You own the Republican Party, my friend."
GOP Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, another close Trump ally, in a February 24 tweet declared that Trump is "the leader of the Republican Party."
Trump even commands loyalty among Republicans he attacks
It's not entirely surprising that figures like Graham and Jordan are continuing to prop up Trump, as they were among his top allies in Congress during his presidency. But even Republican leaders whom Trump viciously attacked have continued to stand by him.
GOP Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in late February said he'd "absolutely" support Trump if he's the 2024 GOP presidential nominee. Roughly two weeks before, McConnell was excoriating Trump for inciting a violent insurrection at the Capitol, describing the former president's actions as a "disgraceful dereliction of duty."
Though McConnell bashed Trump in that speech, he also voted to acquit him. Trump, who has never taken kindly to criticism, ripped into McConnell over his remarks in a lengthy statement. He called the Kentucky Republican "a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack."
Even still, Trump apparently has McConnell's support in 2024.
Similarly, Georgia's Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, whom Trump has relentlessly attacked, on Wednesday said he'd "absolutely" support the former president if he's the nominee in 2024. Trump at one point shared a tweet suggesting the Georgia governor would be jailed for not challenging his state's election results, but Kemp has still not abandoned him.
"As I said, again, I worked very hard for the president. I think his ideas ... will be part of our party for a long time in the future," Kemp told Fox News' Neil Cavuto.
Trump has repeatedly lambasted Kemp, expressing regret about endorsing him. But obedience to Trump is seemingly the ultimate tenet of the GOP at the moment - as Republican lawmakers prioritize fomenting culture wars regarding topics like Mr. Potato Head and Dr. Seuss amid an ongoing pandemic - and even figures like McConnell and Kemp are towing the party line as they fight for political survival.
As leading Republicans enable and amplify this personality cult around Trump that whitewashes his legacy, it's also revealing deep fractures in the party.
In a mid-February statement explaining why he was voting to convict Trump over the Capitol riot in the former president's Senate impeachment trial, GOP Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska warned about the dangers of "tribalism." Sasse was effectively calling out his Republican colleagues who were standing by Trump despite the damning, indisputable evidence against him on top of his relentless attacks on the foundations of America's democracy.
"Tribalism is a hell of a drug," Sasse said. "If we allow tribalism to repeatedly blind us against defending our institutions, we will lose them."
Reacting to the gold statue at CPAC, GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois tweeted, "Idol worship isn't conservative. #RestoreOurGop." Kinzinger was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for inciting the Capitol attack on January 6. Like Sasse, he's a minority in the party of Trump.
"It makes no sense why anybody thinks embracing a disgraced, twice impeached president is the path forward for the party," former GOP Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania said March 1 on CNN. "The fringe elements of the party have too large a voice ... it's a cult of personality."
Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, who joined Sasse in voting to convict last month, also thinks the Trump personality cult is a losing formula.
"If we idolize one person, we will lose," Cassidy told CNN's Dana Bash in late February. "And that's kind of clear from the last election."
Though Trump lost in 2020, he still earned more votes (74.2 million) than any presidential candidate in US history other than Joe Biden. He was an unpolished leader, but that was a large part of his appeal for many Americans turned off by establishment politics - they liked that he wasn't a traditional politician.
That said, Trump's unabashed racism and xenophobia also drove many voters away from him while fostering controversial policies that diminished America's global reputation. Moreover, his bungled handling of the pandemic revealed Trump as incapable or unwilling to lead the country through the crisis. Trump deliberately downplayed the threat of COVID-19 - a virus he contracted and was hospitalized for as president - and America became the epicenter of the pandemic under his watch.
Trump's cult of personality is straight out of the authoritarian playbook
Cult of personality is defined by Merriam-Webster as "a situation in which a public figure (such as a political leader) is deliberately presented to the people of a country as a great person who should be admired and loved."
The concept is often associated with the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and Stalinism, as well as leaders like China's communist founder Mao Zedong. Both were portrayed as larger-than-life figures with all of the answers.
In the present day, despots like North Korean leader Kim Jong Un continue this tradition, in which they essentially mandate the public worship their every move. Russian President Vladimir Putin has also sought to build a personality cult during his roughly two decades in power, painting himself as a macho figure with annual, shirtless (and heavily photographed) excursions in Siberia.
"Many Republicans embrace former president Trump because of, not in spite of, his incitement of violence on January 6th," Ben-Ghiat said. '"Getting away with it' has always been at the center of Trump's brand, and he diffused a culture of lawlessness within and around the GOP that fueled January 6th and raised his status as a cult figure after."
Shares of GameStop surged 19% on Thursday, bucking a broader market slump amid a massive sell-off as the chatter on Reddit appeared to gain traction yet again.
Wiping out its earlier losses, GameStop rose to its highest level since the beginning of February, when the frenzy surrounding the video game retailer lost steam following the massive short squeeze that drove prices up in January.
The spike Thursday came later in the session, when several Reddit users on the Wall Street Bets subreddit began posting consecutively, rallying behind the stock.
Among the most popular posts was published on Thursday morning saying "GME IS UNSTOPPABLE," which received more than 10,000 upvotes, the equivalent of "likes" on other social media platforms.
At around the same time, Ryan Cohen, a GameStop board member, tweeted a photo resembling a stuffed toy from a Pets.com advertisement. Some users in the comments interpreted the post as a positive outlook for the video game company.
GameStop closed higher by 6.10%, at $131.76 on Thursday.
Other meme stocks such as AMC Entertainment and Koss however joined the rest of the market, closing lower for the day. The Nasdaq 100 erased gains for the year, plummeting from its February 12 peak.
Your PC or Mac's central processing unit (CPU) is like its brain. It's the piece of your computer that tells every other part how to work, which programs to launch, which pictures to show, and more.
Your CPU usage - in simpler terms, how much of the CPU's energy is being used - is measured with a percentage. When your computer is idle, your CPU usage should float around the single digits or low teens. When running videos, games, or other intensive applications, the CPU usage should jump, but still never stay at 100% for too long.
If you've noticed performance issues, like a slow startup time or lagging apps, you'll want to check your computer's current CPU usage. That way, you can make sure the CPU's usage percentage is staying in a healthy range, both when your computer is idle and running at high gear.
The majority of users access the internet using wireless devices, like phones or laptops. These devices connect to the internet using Wi-Fi, wireless signals that broadcast throughout your house.
But if you've been using the internet for a while - or you have a desktop computer that you don't use Wi-Fi for - you'll probably be using an Ethernet cable instead. Ethernet cables are wires that physically connect your computer to a router or modem.
Ethernet cables can seem clunky or restricting, but they can substantially improve the speed and stability of your internet.
Here's what you need to know about Ethernet cables, how they work, and what makes them a handy alternative to Wi-Fi.
An Ethernet cable 'hardwires' your computer to an internet connection
An Ethernet cable, sometimes referred to as a network cable, is a cord that runs from a router, modem, or network switch to your computer, giving your device access to the local area network (LAN) - in other words, giving it internet access.
The benefit of hardwiring your internet connection is that it's faster and more consistent. Without walls or other objects blocking your Wi-Fi signals, you don't have to worry about sudden drops in internet speed.
Gaming with an Ethernet cable means less lag and faster loading times for multiplayer games. And every major game console can connect with an Ethernet port - although to connect a Nintendo Switch, you'll need an adapter.
Just be careful not to unplug your cable while you're using it, as doing so will disconnect you from the internet instantly. Luckily, Ethernet cables are made to snap snugly into place, so it's hard to pull them out accidentally.
Ethernet cables come in a range of lengths and colors, but both sides of the cord are the same, regardless of the brand of cable or device you're hardwiring.
Ethernet accessories can help you connect any device
Although newer, slender models of laptops don't tend to have Ethernet ports, you can still utilize an Ethernet cable with a USB or USB-C adapter.
Another common accessory to pair with an Ethernet cable is a network switch. This add-on lets you convert an Ethernet connection into multiple ones, allowing you to, for instance, hardwire both your Xbox and Chromecast to the internet at the same time.
Dropbox is one of the most popular cloud storage solutions in the world, supporting more than 14 million paying customers as of December 2019. Like most online services that have a long history dating back to the early days of the web, Dropbox's past includes hacks and data breaches.
In the years since, Dropbox has shored up its security substantially. Today the service's 256-bit AES encryption and support for additional security tools like two-factor authentication is competitive.
The service authenticates all user connections to the server, whether it's via a web browser or mobile app, and Dropbox uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)/Transport Layer Security (TLS) to protect data as it moves between Dropbox's users and the servers.
Moreover, Dropbox routinely tests its own hardware, software and processes for security vulnerabilities, and makes sure to alert users if Dropbox detects an attempted login from a new device or location. There have been no known large-scale hacks on Dropbox since 2012.
How Dropbox may be vulnerable
"Their current encryption standards make the odds of a hack less likely, but no cloud-based solution is completely safe from new and emerging threats," said Kristen Bolig, founder of SecurityNerd.
Aside from the risk of an attack on Dropbox itself, one of the most dangerous vulnerabilities is on the user end of the Dropbox experience. Users - especially corporate customers - routinely face phishing attacks and social engineering attacks designed to trick people into giving up credentials and access to accounts.
And not all security concerns originate with hackers and criminals. Dropbox's user base crosses international boundaries, and Dropbox may opt to share user data with government agencies and law enforcement from time to time - the service has formal guidelines that dictate its behavior based on official requests.
How to protect yourself as a Dropbox user
All that means your risk of a data breach with Dropbox is low, but not zero, and there are steps you can take to ensure your own security.
Chris Hauk, consumer privacy advocate with Pixel Privacy, recommended enabling Dropbox's two-factor authentication. "This ensures that if a third-party attempts to log into your Dropbox account, you will be notified via email or text message."
Simple human error is also a risk - Dropbox allows users to store files in easily exposed public folders, for example, so it's important to be careful about where files are placed.
And for the ultimate in security, both from accidental public folder disclosures as well as hacks, security experts like Security.org's Chief Editor Gabe Turner suggest using file-level encryption on important files stored on Dropbox. You can encrypt and password-protect documents created in Microsoft Office, for example, or with a third-party app.
This eliminates the risk of Dropbox itself accessing your files with the company's own encryption key or handing your information to government authorities.
The war in Afghanistan is over, if President Joe Biden wants it.
Well, to be a little more precise, the 20-year US military intervention in decades-long Afghan civil strife is scheduled to be concluded on May 1 of this year per the terms of an agreement negotiated between our government and the Taliban.
That deadline can be met and Biden's campaign pledge about Afghanistan fulfilled if he chooses to ignore his advisers and stick with his predecessor's plan.
That's a big "if," and a recent report from Vox, citing unnamed officials in the administration, suggested Biden keeping the deadline is already "off the table." It shouldn't be.
For all their differences, leaving Afghanistan is a point on which Biden and Trump agree - and for all Trump's failure to end the US role in this war as he promised, the May 1 deadline is worth keeping.
The reasons to leave are manifest: We've occupied Afghanistan for the span of a generation. We've fielded deployments north of 100,000. We've suffered and inflicted tens of thousands of casualties, many on innocent civilians. We've spent and borrowed trillions.
And, for all that, we have not eradicated terrorism or built a stable democracy or guaranteed human rights or fostered peace. Another year of fighting won't change that. Nor will another 10.
"Washington has spent $2 trillion in Afghanistan just to stay exactly where it was almost two decades ago," as the Atlantic Council's Emma Ashford recently explained at Foreign Policy. "And if Biden doesn't withdraw now, we'll all still be having this argument in five or 10 years, with no substantive improvement to the situation."
This is a lost war which is not worth our while to continue, and everyone but the Washington establishment knows it.
And speaking of Washington, that brings us to the absurdities typically presented as reasons to stay. As Ashford observed, it's "the Washington establishment that wants Biden to throw out Trump's Afghanistan policy." She pointed to the findings of the congressionally mandated Afghanistan Study Group (ASG), which were published last month.
"The group actually ignored the recommendations of its own advisors," Ashford said, "which advocated two options: withdraw by the May deadline, or negotiate a single, one-time extension to push for political settlement."
Instead, the ASG advised the Biden administration to keep US boots on the ground in Afghanistan indefinitely, prolonging the occupation until an "independent, democratic, and sovereign Afghan state" somehow emerges from the ether.
It should go without saying that any person of good conscience wants Afghans to live in freedom, peace, security, and prosperity with a transparent government that respects - and is competent to protect - their rights.
But by now, approaching the 20th anniversary of the US invasion in 2001, it should also go without saying that these are not conditions the United States can create for Afghanistan. It's not that the goal is wanting in merit. It's simply a goal we have proved, year after year and administration after administration, we cannot accomplish.
Biden would be wise to recognize this difficult truth and break this miserable and pointless pattern. That means putting the May 1 deadline back on the table and bringing all our troops home.
Bonnie Kristian is a fellow at Defense Priorities, contributing editor at The Week, and columnist at Christianity Today. Her writing has also appeared at CNN, NBC, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, and Defense One, among other outlets.