How-To Geek

From the Tips Box: Labeling Your Flash Drive, Turning C Batteries into D Batteries, Silencing Your Hard Drive with Elastic


It’s time to delve into the tips box and share this week’s top reader tips. Today we’re looking at tips and tricks to help you recover your lost flash drive, turn C batteries into D batteries in a pinch, and silencing your HDD with elastic bands.

Labeling Your Flash Drive


How-To Geek reader James shares a tip on making sure his lost flash drives finds its way home:

Although I’m very careful with my flash drives, accidents happen. In order to increase the chance that I’ll get my flash drive back I’ve done two things. On the outside of the black casing I used a fine tip silver Sharpie marker to write my phone number. I also changed the volume name from the manufacturer’s name to my phone number. This way if they look at the drive or plug it in they’ll come across my number.

Putting the information on both the volume label and the physical casing of the flash drive is the kind of smart redundancy we can get behind. Thanks for sharing James!

Turning C Batteries into D Batteries


The tail end of winter brought some nasty blackouts to the Northeast US this year, Mark writes in with his work around:

Earlier this year there was a massive blackout that lasted for a week in my neck of the woods. Overall I was prepared for it but I didn’t anticipate the huge run on D-cell batteries as people stocked up for their flashlights and electric lanterns. Stuck with tons of C-cell batteries but very few D-cell batteries I stumbled on a solution. You can space out the C-cell batteries with quarters. They don’t last as long but if you’re desperate it’ll keep the lights on.

There’s a good chance Mark is my neighbor, near or far, and we shared in the same miserable blackout. I really wish I would have known this trick last month!

Silencing Your Hard Drive with Elastic


If you’re a stickler for silence, you may be willing to go this to length to keep things quiet:

I love a quiet PC. I managed to get everything about my computer really quiet except the hard drive. I’m not quite ready to make the jump to an SSD yet (although as soon as the prices drop again, I won’t be able to resist). My solution was to use heavy duty elastic ties to suspend my speedy but vibration prone hard drive inside the case. Now I can’t hear it unless I have my ear pressed right to the vent holes.

There are kits on the market that have silicone washers and other silencing elements, but if you really want to minimize all vibration on a traditional hard drive a bungie-suspension sure sounds like the way to go.

Have a great tip to share? Shoot us an email at and we’ll do our best to get it on the front page.


Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 03/31/11

Comments (7)

  1. indianacarnie

    I’ve used the C to D cell battery thing. Wonder if those bungee cords really work? Its one of those ideas you just HAVE to try! haha…………….. even if its a sham.

  2. GoodBytes

    The “Turning C Batteries into D Batteries” tricks works best with rechargeable batteries, as a D and C rechargeable batteries, uses a small AA battery inside. Notice how rechargeable C and D’s batteries are crazy light compared to the alkaline version.

    As shown here with the Energizer brand D size (but affect all different brands and is similar situation with the C size):
    So assuming you always used D rechargeable batteries, you won’t notice the drop in battery life.

    As for the “Silencing Your Hard Drive with Elastic”. Yes this similar system comes with Antec SOLO cases. The problem with design is that you don’t want to move your computer, while ON or Off. Older HDD’s or the crappy low end ones, don’t have a place where the head store itself when not in use so that bumps or movement won’t break the HDD permanently beyond repair (head busted).

    The best solution, which provide 0 compromise, and provide very very close to the same performance, is to get a computer case with rubber/silicon (silicon is better) gourmets/washer (wtv you want to call them) (any descent one has that feature):
    As mentioned on the article.

    Here more info, if you not familiar: with them
    Basically you have special screws that pass in these rubber/silicon thing, and secure the HDD with the HDD bottom holes. Basically, as the screws does NOT go in fully inside squishing the rubber, and the rubber/silicon is on both sides, the HDD “floats” on the rubber/silicon pads, which absorbs all vibrations, but the screws keep the HDD in place to avoid the HDD from fallen, or bump in the case during movement.

    Another computer trick:
    Instead of attaching the computer fan with screws… use something like this:

    These are a bit difficult to install, and might require a moment of your time to do. Maybe get extra ones if the you get impatient and break them. But they are wonders. I happy to see more and more OEM’s using them in their higher end systems on both Home and Business class systems.
    Basically they absorb all the fan vibrations.

    Of course, nothing beats good quality fans.
    If you choose to buy fans here is the rule of thumbs.
    Usually descent fans and up, feature the above mentioned silicon attachment with them.
    And, you have to choose between quiet or cooling. You can’t have both.
    What is the top of the line fans in term of quietness. Noctua fans. Winner of over 1000 awards for all it’s products put together. This company located in Austria, produces special computer case fan and CPU heatsink solution to turn your computer into a super quiet ones. I have them in my computer. And since I have them, even under the most quietness moment in a clsoed room, I don’t know if my computer is ON or OFF, if I don’t look at the screen or LED light indication on the case (I also have the HDD on the silicon washer, and sound damping panels). But Noctua fans are NOT cheap. They are really expensive. But personally, if you seek for dead quiet computer (well you’ll still hear your GPU fan which you can’t do much about it, other than get an after market heatsink+fan solution for it) they are worth it.

    Another trick, is to use sound damping material in the computer, which you apply around the inside of the computer case. Be sure to buy ones specifically designed for computer cases. Not only they are pre-cut to your case size, more or less. But also, they don’t retain heat as much as other non-specialized solutions, which can lead your computer to overheat especially if you don’t have adequate cooling to start with. Some computer case like the sleek Fractal Design brand cases, and the Antec P series already have that feature embedded. These also help reduce computer noise.

    Another trick.. this one is not computer related:
    Use shaving creme as your WD-40. Ok it’s far from being a good long term lubricator. But it does work well, never the less. It’s great if you need some at one spot, and you know you won’t need to lubricate other things. Also it doesn’t make any mess and doesn’t leave any marks… but it will smell like shaving creme for a few hours. :) Of course, don’t use it on motors, fans, garage doors. Use only on small things, like a simple door hinge.

    Another trick. The power of white vinegar.
    Do you have pots and pans that lost their looks at the inside, have stains your can’t seams to be able to remove. Sure you COULD use bleach, but that will do permanent damage to the pan.
    But what you can safely use, is white vinegar (NOTE FOR NOT STICK PANS). Apply a bit, spread around, wait 30sec or so, and rinse. You can brush it with a gentle brush (you don’t want to scratch the pan) if stains is really stuck on it. After drying them, they looks like new or almost.
    For more delicate wear, you can use lemon juice. It’s strong enough to do the same job. You might need to wait a bit more than 30sec though.

    Well that is all that comes to mind for now.

  3. asdf-chan

    Protip: Install Gentoo

  4. fdsa-chan

    Protip: Install Gentoo

  5. Snert

    Myself, I don’t mind a bit of noise when things are working.
    Sort of ‘lets me know stuff is happening as it should’ and any unusual sounds get my attention.

  6. Anthony Maw

    Anybody heard of SSD’s? Doesn’t get any quieter than that.

  7. adctbf

    in a win vista destop icon dont show o any one

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