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Best Arch Files 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]

Last Updated December 1, 2018
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Billy JacobsMy name is Billy Jacobs. One of the most important sections in the article – the comparison charts for best arch files in 2018!

Just read here for my top 3 recommendations. Why are these 3 arch files on top of my list? Well read on… We take a close look at some of the best arch files to help you get ripped.

Best Arch Files of 2018

Many brands have introduced arch files on the market. These brands have resulted in a variety for the user. These require that the consumers be well aware of what they are buying so as to make the best choice. I make the search easier for you, by reviewing the best arch files on the market.

The rating is based on multiple factors: The 3 metrics ‐ Design, Materials, Performance, and other indicators such as: Popularity, Opinions, Brand, Reputation and more. If you get well acquainted with these basics, you shouldn’t have a problem choosing a arch files that suits your need.

Test Results and Ratings

Rank №1 №2 №3
Product
Total 4.8 4.5 4.3
Ease of use
5 points
5 points
4 points
Size
4 points
5 points
4 points
Performance
5 points
4 points
4 points
Quality
5 points
4 points
5 points
Awards 1
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№1 – Clobeau Multifunctional A4 Leather Clipboard Office Meeting Writing Drawing Desk Board Pad Lever Arch Files Document Project Folder Binder Storage Organizer with Pen Loop

 
Clobeau Multifunctional A4 Leather Clipboard Office Meeting Writing Drawing Desk Board Pad Lever Arch Files Document Project Folder Binder Storage Organizer with Pen Loop

Pros
100% Brand New and Quality Guaranteed. Made of Upscale PU leather, hard cardboard, smooth touch. Perfectly fit for A4 document
Folding size:24*32*2cm; Opening size:50*32*0.5cm
Sturdy stainless steel clips inside to fasten papers, receipt, bill, files, etc,make paper/contracts well organisered, in avoid of mess or missing when you attend meeting or sign a contract. Can hold 20 sheets of paper
Cons
I didn’t notice a single drawback yet
 
Total:
4.8

Why did this arch files win the first place?

I don’t know anything about other models from this brand, but I am fully satisfied with this product. I am very happy with the purchase. It is definitely worth its money. The product is top-notch! I really enjoy the design. It is compact, comfortable and reliable. And it looks amazing! The material is stylish, but it smells for the first couple of days.

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Ease of use
5

5star

Size
4

4star

Performance
5

5star

Quality
5

5star

 

 

№2 – A4 Lever Arch Files Folders Black Cloud Covers Office Home use

 
A4 Lever Arch Files Folders Black Cloud Covers Office Home use

Pros
A4 Lever Arch Files Folders Black Cloud Covers Office Home Use
Paper over board lever arch files
Label area allows easy identification of folder contents
Cons
A little bit heavy.
Borderline outdated technology.
 
Total:
4.5

Why did this arch files come in second place?

Managers explained me all the details about the product range, price, and delivery. The material is pretty strong and easy to wash if needed. I recommend you to consider buying this model, it definitely worth its money. This is a pretty decent product that perfectly fitted the interior of our office.

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Ease of use
5

5star

Size
5

5star

Performance
4

4star

Quality
4

4star

 

 

№3 – Leitz 2-Ring 3-Inch Marbled A4 Sized European Binders

 
Leitz 2-Ring 3-Inch Marbled A4 Sized European Binders

Pros
575 Sheet Capacity
Fits A4 Paper – 8.27″ x 11.7″
Ring Spacing – 8cm
Cons
The price is slightly higher than other competitors.
Longevity is in question.
 
Total:
4.3

Why did this arch files take third place?

I liked the design. We’ve been using it for 2 months and it still looks like brand new. It is inconvenient to use due to the size. I am going to get something different next time. It doesn’t squeaks nor bents. Looks great in my apartment. A very convenient model. It is affordable and made of high-quality materials.

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Ease of use
4

4star

Size
4

4star

Performance
4

4star

Quality
5

5star

 

 

Arch Files Buyer’s Guide

If you keep the before points in mind, you can easily go out to the market and buy arch files, right? No!

What they’re used for

Lever arch files are files which consist of either plastic or cardboard with a two ring mechanism in which holds the documents into place. The lever arch file can only be open and closed using the lever connected to the two rings. Lever arch files can be found in many different sizes, depending on the amount of paper you want to store.  They are used both at home and in the office, and are seen to be a very effective way of storing documents.  They help to organise all your important information, which can also be separated into different groups using file dividers. It could even be suggested that lever arch files are the solution to unorganised chaos in the work place as they are very practical.

For example, if you were to print out all your invoices, you we would need somewhere to keep them, but must be able to access them both easily and quickly, a lever arch file would be your ideal solution. All the invoices could be kept in the lever arch file, whilst be separated by dividers for separate months or different categories etc. This would save you both space and time. All the documents will be placed neatly in a lever arch file, whilst little time will be needed to find different documents as it will all be fully organised.

Contact details are also kept in lever arch files; this is an easy way of accessing those most important numbers. For example internal numbers within a business that should be rang when a problem occurs, or if a customer has an enquiry for a different department within your business, the number can be easily found, which ensures a high standard of customer service throughout.

On a day to day basis, many students use lever arch files to store their university work in. this enables them to keep organised with their different years of work and different modules. This is seen to be very effective during revision time, as they can access different documents at ease. Using a lever arch file is a very practical way of time management when it comes to the revision period.

Here are some of the reasons why the lever arch file is preferred by one and all;

Logitech’s MX Master

In all seriousness, though, stress ailments from computer use are no joking matter at all. It’s axiomatic that if you repeat any physical task endlessly, eventually that body area gets overused and injured. Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and related nerve damage in the hand and wrist, though, are relatively new forms of RMS. Among the fastest-spreading occupational injuries, CTS saw its genesis in the typing pools that surfaced in the first decade of the 20th century. When computers became common for both work and play, CTS and similar injuries expanded by leaps.

Frequent keyboard use was bad enough, but mouse use has aggravated the problem in its own set of ways. Where keyboards caused repetitive strain from a relatively fixed position, mice can trigger this in other, less obvious ways. Strain on the arm is one aspect. Then there’s a host of tendon- and nerve-afflicting issues caused by physical features on the more “advanced” types of mousing devices we so enjoy for work and play. Orthopedic surgeons never had it so good.

The silver lining in this gloom is that the sheer cost of these injuries—in terms of pain, time off, surgery, and recovery costs—has awakened a general public awareness of computing and workplace ergonomics. Standing desks are now an option in the offices of some enlightened employers; provisioning people with comfortable peripherals now falls under the HR department at some companies, not the IT department. And while this relative awakening hasn’t resulted in the average person understanding the differences between their proximal phalanges and their gluteus maximus, it has raised the level of concern high enough to engage the attention of peripherals manufacturers. The result has been many interesting ideas to improve mice ergonomically, from physical design to software features, from subtle changes of shape to complete makeovers.

Make no mistake: Mouse overuse can still cause damage in the long term. But carefully weighing the ergonomic advantages offered by a mouse can lead to an informed purchase—and in turn, to fewer problems accumulating over the years.

Some mice are radical departures from the norm in the interest of ergonomic benefit; others work in smart design elements but look largely conventional. Here’s how to assess them all, but especially the latter. 

Mionix’s Castor

ANGLE TURNING. So far, we’ve only seen and tested this on Mionix mice: the Mionix Castor and the Mionix Avior 7000. However, it’s an intriguingly different (and potentially useful) feature to anyone interested in mouse ergonomics. As Mionix puts it, this literally “tilts the X and Y axes of the mouse up to 30 degrees to the left or right,” which gives you greater flexibility in terms of wrist and arm positioning.

TASK AUTOMATION THROUGH MACROS. Whether you’re running Microsoft Excel 201or Starcraft II, macros can help make lengthy, repetitive tasks simpler. And since cutting down on the amount of repetitive work is to your hand’s benefit, look for a mouse whose software supplies at least a basic, easy-to-use macro editor, with a few unassigned buttons to which those tasks can be allocated. Mouse reviews will get you the dirt on this; it can be hard to tell from the box.  et’s Get Shopping: Ergonomic Mice

Ergonomics isn’t a wand you can wave that makes injuries better, or prevents injury in the future. But a mouse that’s designed with some ergonomic features in mind can reduce the intensity of injury to the hands and arms of many people, while putting off the onset of these injuries’ symptoms for a longer period of time. There are no guarantees. (How could there be, with so many variables in play?) But it stands to reason that taking better care of your hands is essential to their health. And one important step along the way is using a mouse that fosters this.

The mice below, with the exception of the DXT, aren’t marketed as “ergonomic mice” first and foremost. But these are some of the better selections we’ve seen of late for comfort and/or adaptability. Consider them good jumping-off points for your search, not the be-all and end-all of options.

The Linux Kernel

So, what is the Linux Kernel? Let’s begin with the layman’s version: the Linux Kernel is essentially the boss of your computer once the bootloader assists it into execution. The kernel controls memory, the CPU, input and output, and any peripherals you connect to your computer. It controls what application can access what memory, and what user can run what task.

Now, the “I’ve got a degree in computer science” version:

Userland

The most important parts of userland are the GNU core utilities, also known as coreutils. This GNU toolset contains the base tools and commands to complete a Linux distribution on the most basic levels.

Some basic commands from coreutils that you need to familiarize yourself with: — Invoke the manual or more commonly referred to as “the manpages.” This is one of the most important commands. Wanna know how best to use “ls”? Type “man ls” on the command line and you’ll find out. cat — This command will spit out the contents of a text file to your terminal. rm — Remove a file from the system.

The Linux filesystem

Now let’s move onto the filesystem layout, the most detailed section of this article.

The filesystem layout in Linux is naturally different than what you’re used to if you’re coming from Windows. If you’re coming to Linux from Mac OS X, you’re in somewhat better shape. The filesystem is where your files live (obviously), as well as where all the above components are stored when the computer is turned off. The layout of the folders is what we really need to talk about. First off, if your background is in Windows, all of the \’s become /’s.

Example time

C:\myname\myfolder\myfile.txt in Windows, becomes /home/myname/myfolder/myfile.

Now, here’s a more general view of the layout of a Linux filesystem. It’s important you get familiar with this; almost all Linux filesystem layouts look like this, regardless of the distribution.

Don’t close your browser window out yet — we’ll walk you through these so that you know them like the back of your hand.

Slackware

Slackware is one of the oldest distros. Back in the early days, 1993, another smart guy named Patrick Volkerding — aka “The Man” — released Slackware. Volkerding is known as “The Man” because he is one of the few Benevolent Dictator’s For Life (BDFL) in the open source community. He also developed the first versions of Slackware all by his lonesome. There have been some rumors circulating lately that Slackware is going the way of the Palm brand. This is not true. The root of these rumors is that the Slackware website experienced some lengthy downtime this spring, though as of this writing it’s back up. If by chance it’s down when you see this, you can still obtain good ol’ Slack from here. You can also find torrents on a mirror.

In any case, rumors be damned, development remains active, and Slackware 1is expected to land soon.

Installing Slackware

Hold onto your hats, newbies: you won’t find a mouse-driven, Windows-like UI to get Slackware installed. Instead, you’ll see a tried-and-true, text-based setup program. Lucky for you, it’s quite easy to use. Before you start the installation, though, you’ll be greeted by a message stating that you’ll first need to partition your disks with a / (root) partition and swap partitions. You have the option of using three utilities to carve up your drive: fdisk, gdisk and cfdisk. We recommend cfdisk.

Let’s break down the minimum requirements: swap – A 4GB partition should be enough, and if you have lots of RAM (read: 8GB or more) that should be plenty. / – Use the rest of your disk for this partition; it’s where the OS and your personal files will live.

It should look something like this

Partitioning is tough for newcomers, but hopefully the above helps out. Once you get past that step just type “setup”, select “Add Swap” and get used to pressing Enter. Sure, you’ll have to type in a few things like hostname, and root (user) password, but that’s about it.

Because of the manual partitioning we’ll admit it can be intimidating for those new to Linux, and those new to installing operating systems in general. With that said, the installation program does a great job of telling you exactly what you need to do. If you can read the screen, you can get a full Slackware installation up and running with little to no Googling.

Arch Linux

At years old, Arch Linux is a relatively recent addition to the Linux fold. First launched in 2002, Arch was designed as a “rolling release” operating system. That basically means that once you install Arch using the built-in package management, you’ll always have the current version installed. This is amazing in that you won’t have to wipe your system and reload an OS to get the latest and greatest, or go through a nasty upgrade process. Like Slackware, Arch is built around simplicity. As we said, though, this can be a good or bad thing depending on your appetite for a challenge. To get started, pick up Arch Linux here. If you’ve got a fast internet connection, we recommend doing a net-install so you get the newest version off the bat. That just means the installer will grab the latest packages from the Arch Linux servers so you’re automatically up to date after installation.

Installation

Arch Linux utilizes an ncurses-based installation program that doesn’t require too much pointing and clicking. All told, it’s a fairly involved installation, at least compared to Slackware. It does have an automated disk configurator, but even so, we can see where selecting the packages you want installed on your system could be overwhelming to newcomers. When you’re selecting package sources, we recommend “core-remote,” “community-remote” and “extra-remote.”

Once it comes time to choose a package, the process is broken down into two steps: group and individual selection.

Adding a package to the system

To add a package to the system is pretty simple as well. Let’s say you want to install Firefox. Peck out “pacman -S firefox” as the root user and a few moments later, Firefox should be ready to rock.

Additionally, pacman takes care of any so-called dependencies a package may have. For example, Firefox will require some libraries, in which case pacman finds and installs them for you.

Surviving your PGCE

Tips from course lecturer plus teaching resources on Guardian Teacher Network

Alison Hramiak recommends PGCE students max out on buying stationery but do try to keep your use of it under control. Photograph: Alberto Incrocci/Getty Images

Wining and dining

You need crockery and cutlery. Invest in a small complete set of each but only get two of everything out. Keep the rest under your bed.

A toastie maker will win you friends. It is a scientific fact that ham and melted cheese cures all ills.

Cheesy pasta is a student staple meal, so your colander and cheese grater will be your best friends.

Cutting carrots with a butter knife rarely shows promise, so bring a couple of good knives.

No one has ever owned enough Tupperware containers. Handy for everything.

Nice tea towels brighten the monotony of identical kitchens. Take a pile and wash them frequently.

A small wok is perfect for making meals for one (or two).

A new diary is essential for keeping track of everything: deadlines, socials, holidays.

Pick up lever-arch files and dividers for keeping your notes in order.

Your own laptop is pretty much a necessity nowadays, though libraries and JCRs may have machines you can use.

Make sure you have an external hard drive to back up important work (picture your third-year dissertation going up in a puff of cybersmoke), and get a couple of USB sticks to have in your pencil case, on your key ring, navel piercing etc etc.

Although many courses will record lectures, you can do it yourself with an inexpensive voice recorder.

Playing cards are a necessity for any games night, and everyone forgets them.

Keep at least one fancy dress outfit ready. At some universities, participation is mandatory.

Take a couple of shot glasses just in case. They double up as a handy button holders.

Take a ball or Frisbee for instant new friend points outside your accommodation.

Focal Length

The first number used to describe a lens is its focal length; in combination with the camera’s sensor size, this defines the angle of view covered by the lens, with smaller numbers indicating a wider angle. Zoom lenses are named using two numbers which indicate the extremes of the range, for example 18-55mm for a typical kit zoom lens. Fixed focal length lenses which don’t zoom (also widely known as ‘primes’) just have a single number (e.g. 50mm).

Here, we can see this lens’ key specifications expressed in terms of its focal length span (‘zoom range) which is 18-35mm, and its minimum aperture range, which is F3.at 18mm, and F4.at 35mm.

Other information here is specific to the manufacturer. ‘AF-S’, describes the type of autofocus motor, ‘ED’ means Nikon has used Extra Low Dispersion glass in the lens design, and ‘G’ denotes automatic aperture selection (rather than mechanical in earlier lenses). 

For the sake of convenient comparison, lenses are often referred to by their ’35mm equivalent’ focal length, for example a 18-55mm kit lens may be described as a 28-90mm equivalent. It’s important to understand that this means simply that an 18-55mm lens on APS-C covers the same angle of view as a 28-90mm does on a 35mm camera, not that the focal length of a lens changes on different formats.  80mm and longer  55mm and longer  42mm and longer  Aperture

The aperture of a lens is the second major parameter used in its specification, and describes how much light it is capable of gathering (see our glossary for more detail). Apertures can be expressed in several different ways, with F4, f/4, 1:all meaning the same thing. A smaller number means the lens has a larger maximum aperture and therefore gathers more light; an F2.lens collects twice as much light as an F4, for example.

A lens with a larger maximum aperture allows you to shoot in lower light, and (for example) take pictures indoors without using flash. Larger apertures also give decreased depth of field (i.e. how much of the picture in front of and behind the focus point appears sharp), which is an important aspect of creative photography.

A large aperture such as F2.gives a shallow depth of field, allowing the isolation of one element in a picture

Large aperture lenses also allow you to shoot indoors without having to resort to flash

Lens Mounts

Each camera maker uses its own proprietary lens mount, meaning that lenses can’t be swapped across brands; a Canon lens won’t fit on a Nikon body, for example, and you’ll cause damage to lens and camera if you try. There are a couple of exceptions – Olympus and Panasonic both use the Four Thirds mount for DSLRs, and the Micro Four Thirds mount for their mirrorless interchangeable lens compacts (ILCs). Samsung’s now-obsolescent SLRs were essentially re-badged Pentax KAF-mount models, however the company is now concentrating on its NX ILC series.

A number of third party manufacturers, most notably Sigma, Tamron and Tokina, also make lenses in a number of different mounts to fit the multiple camera brands. The table below lists the currently available lens mounts.

Zoom vs. Prime

Zoom lenses have become almost ubiquitous over the past few years, and at first sight buying a lens which is restricted to a single angle of view might seem pointless. But prime lenses still have some very real advantages; compared to zooms they tend to be smaller and lighter, have faster maximum apertures, and give sharper images. These factors make them extremely useful for specific purposes, for example low light shooting where a large maximum aperture is advantageous.

Fixed focal length ‘prime’ lenses are often much smaller and lighter than zooms covering the same angle of view. This is Pentax’s 15mm Flens alongside a typical wideangle zoom, the Tokina 12-24mm F- the size advantage is obvious.

Standard Zoom

A standard zoom is a general-purpose lens that covers a range of focal lengths from wideangle to moderate telephoto. The most obvious example is the kit lens that comes with the camera (generally an 18-55mm F3.5-5.for APS-C), but this can be upgraded to something with slightly more range and better optical quality, or with a fast F2.maximum aperture.

Most manufacturers offer general-purpose upgrades to their kit lenses with expanded zoom ranges suitable for a wide range of subjects, such as this Sony 16-105mm.

Telephoto Zoom

Often the second lens that photographers buy, the telephoto zoom effectively allows you to get closer to your subject, and is therefore useful for photographing such things as sports, wildlife, or children running around playing.

Telephoto zooms such as this Nikon 55-200mm allow you to zoom in on your subject.

Superzoom

Superzooms are all-in-one lenses which cover a full range of focal lengths from a moderate wideangle to long telephoto. They combine in one package the range of the kit zoom that came with the camera, plus that of a telephoto zoom, and therefore make perfect general purpose travel lenses. The technical image quality is often not quite as good as two separate lenses, but for many users this is more than made up for by the convenience.

Superzoom lenses such as the Tamron 18-270mm F3.5-6.encompass a wide range focal lengths from wideangle to telephoto.

Fast Prime Lens

Fast prime lenses come in all focal lengths, from wide angle to ultra-telephoto, but what they share in common is the ability to capture a lot of light in a relatively small, discreet package with high optical quality. Once an endangered species, this class of lens has seen a resurgence in recent years, and undoubtedly the most popular is the 50mm F1.8, or the more expensive 50mm F1.On a camera with an APS-C sensor this makes for a short telephoto perspective, ideal for snapping pictures of friends and family using natural light.

Fast prime lenses such as this Canon 50mm F1.allow you to shoot indoors in natural light without having to use flash.

Pancake Lenses

The word ‘pancake’ is used to describe slimline lenses that are designed to make a camera as compact as possible. These have enjoyed a resurgence recently as a natural companion for Interchangeable Lens Compact cameras, but are also available for SLRs (most notably from Pentax and more recently Canon).

Three slimline ‘pancake’ lenses, from Olympus, Samsung and Pentax.

Manual Focus Override

On most cameras and lenses there is a switch to change between autofocus and manual focus, and turning the focus ring when in auto mode can potentially damage the motor or gearing. Some lenses, however, employ a clutch mechanism that allows the photographer to tweak focus manually at any time without risking damage. In general this is limited to the more expensive ultrasonic-type lenses, but Pentax deserves credit here, as almost all of its current range has this feature (which the company calls ‘Quick Shift’ manual focus).

Some Olympus lenses, like the 17mm F1.shown here, offer manual focus using a ‘snap ring’ manual focus system. Pulling the focus ring back (towards the camera) reveals a distance scale, engages manual focus mode and gives an impressively mechanical-feeling manual focus experience.

Most mirrorless camera systems also allow manual focus override, but rather than using a switch on the lens barrel, this is generally enabled by a menu setting on the camera.  

Manual Focus Lenses

A few companies still make high quality manual focus-only lenses, even in this era of autofocus. These tend to be fixed focal-length lenses with metal barrels and premium optics. The principal names to look out for here are Carl Zeiss and Voigtlander. Certain specialist optics from the major manufacturers are also manual focus only, including Canon and Nikon’s tilt and shift lenses.

System addict…

One last word. When choosing a camera system to invest in, it’s important to appreciate that the lens has just as great an impact on the image quality as the camera. Lenses tend to last longer than cameras too, becoming obsolete less quickly than bodies, so it can be worth spending a little bit extra to get the quality or flexibility you really want. Most of the major players have broadly similar lens options (and there are plenty of third-party alternatives for those that don’t), but inevitably each has its relative strengths and weaknesses.

If you have a specific application that needs specialized lenses (or other accessories) it’s worth doing some research before committing to one system or another; dpreview’s lens reviews and user forums are an excellent place to start. Oh, and once bitten by the lens buying bug, many enthusiasts find it hard to stop; you have been warned…

Sound Converter

Available via the package manager, Sound converter provides basic batch audio file conversion. Select the files or drop in an entire folder, choose the output format and bitrate from within Edit > Preferences and basically, you’re done.

Handbrake

Handbrake is a popular multi-platform video transcoder. It can be used to convert DVDs to MP4, MKV, AVI and OGM. It offers additional features like chapter selection, burning subtitle into the picture, cropping and scaling.

If Handbrake converts your DVDs to MP4s, DeVeDe takes in video files and creates DVDs and CDs that you can run on your regular home CD/DVD players. DeVeDe is available for Windows as well.

Binders

Ring binders are great for use in the office or at school and university. They’re not as bulky as lever arch files, so are easier to carry but they can hold a decent amount of documents too. These binders are made exclusively for hole punched paper and come in two ring or four ring variations. Two ring binders are more common as paper is usually punched with only two holes but four ring binders offer extra stability and security when holding larger quantities of paper.

The binder’s rings are pulled apart when sheets of paper need to added or removed and there are two types of rings used for binders. O-ring binders are more common and use a circular ring shape with the mechanism attached to the spine of the binder. D-ring binders have a mechanism that is fitted to the back cover and use a squarer ring shape that enables documents to sit straight against the edge of the binder. The size of rings will determine the capacity of the binder and sizes start from 15mm and go up to 65mm with standard ring binders using a 25mm ring size.

A5, Aand Aring binders are designed to be hard-wearing and are available in paper over board, polypropylene over board or PVC constructions. Ring binders come in multiple colours and many include spine labels while some have a cover pocket so you can easily personalise your binder.

Magazine Files

Magazine files provide a great open filing system on your desktop or within an office cupboard. Available in Aor foolscap sizes, these files are primarily designed to hold magazines, brochures and literature as well as contracts and proposals. Thanks to their cutaway design, contents are accessible and files can be easily labelled for categorisation and identification purposes.

Cardboard magazine files come flat-packed but have a self-locking design that is easily assembled within seconds. Lightweight yet sturdy enough to hold most documents and magazines, these files come in a variety of different widths and are a good cost effective filing solution for most offices.

Plastic magazines files are available in a variety of widths, as well as a good range of colours and styles. Designed for everyday usage, these files are durable and can be easily moved around the office. Polystyrene magazine files are similar to plastic files but they offer strong resistance to high impact and are a good option if files are placed on a high shelf on a bookcase or in a cupboard.

Document Wallets

Document wallets sit between plastic pockets and box files for filing and storing documents. They hold a larger quantity of documents than plastic pockets but take up less space than box files. They are also available in a wider range of sizes from Aand Ato DL and Awallets. These types of wallets don’t use a filing mechanism so sheets don’t have to be punched to be filed either.

Traditional document wallets are made from heavyweight manilla card and feature a flap opening so documents can be added and removed easily. Available in a good range of colours, these wallets are best used internally within offices and often feature space on the flap for labelling and identification.

For a more professional look, popper document wallets are typically made from polypropylene and have a flap opening that is secured by a popper so documents stay protected within the wallet. As a result these wallets are good for taking files out the office or for taking work home from school. 

Folders

Manilla, board and plastic folders are another option for holding loose sheets of paper together and while similar to presentation folders, these folders are more suited for internal office use. The folder styles available include square cut, spring file, cut flush, cut back and elasticated and they come in Aor foolscap sizes. These folders typically only take unpunched sheets of paper except the spring file folders which are designed to hold punched sheets of paper with their flat bar mechanism.

Square cut and spring file folders are basic in design but open flat out so are useful for easily finding and examining documents. Both cut flush and cut back folders are open on both sides to give quick access to documents but with cut flush folders there is no overlap between the two sides of the folder while cut back folders have one side that is cut back so documents can be searched without having to remove them from the folder. Elasticated folders also open flat out but have elastic straps across their front to securely hold papers and documents while on the move.

Folders are available in different materials with square cut and spring file folders usually made from manilla or card while cut flush and cut back folders are made from polypropylene. Manilla and card is hard-wearing and available in a range of colours but plastic folders offer protection to documents from spills, dirt and moisture. Elasticated folders are available in both manilla and plastic versions.

Plastic Pockets

Plastic pockets are used to hold loose sheets of paper and protect them from damage. Perfect for use in lever arch files or ring binders, Aplastic pockets generally open at the top and are available in multi punched, pocket or cut flush styles. Multi punched pockets usually include a reinforced strip for added strength when the pocket is inserted into a folder or binder. Cut flush pockets open at the side but don’t have punched holes so are best used as separate folders for documents.

Clear plastic pockets are common but a variety of different colours are available and most pockets are suitable for use in presentations or for holding contracts, quotations and proposals.

Disk Drive Storage

Your hard disk drive is where all your files are kept. The quantity of storage will differ by design, but preferably search for a computer system without any smaller than 500GB of storage area. Lots of brand-new business computer systems use a minimum of 1TB of hard disk storage, enabling you to save numerous files, images and video files. You might likewise wish to think about a strong state drive, instead of a standard hard disk. They have no moving parts so they have the tendency to last longer.

Random Access Memory, or RAM, is where your computer stores files for fast access. For instance, the more applications you use all at once, the more RAM you will utilize. When the majority of your RAM is made use of, your computer system will decrease substantially. Similar to a hard disk drive storage, the quantity of RAM will differ by design but try to find business computers with a minimum of 2GB of RAM to guarantee ideal efficiency throughout your work day.

Resolution

If you are going to carry out regular video conferences or you operate in a field handling graphics and other multimedia, you require a display screen with a high resolution. The greater the resolution, the sharper and more comprehensive images that will exist. If you seldom deal with images or video and the only visuals you make use of are a reporting dashboard and team management modules, the resolution of the computer system ought to not be a top priority.

Guarantee

The service warranty on your computer is necessary to cover any technical concerns that might occur with your gadget. Several manufacturer warranties cover the parts of the computer system and any maintenance that have to be completed. The majority of company computer systems are just covered for one year (even business insurance brokers are more useful here!) but many of the very best designs are covered for or more years.

In general, your objective is to discover a computing device that can handle all the work you perform in your industry. Each design will differ and it depends on you to discover a gadget that is dependable, effective and efficient in all your wants and asks.

How we picked

In 2015, we surveyed readers to find out what makes a great wireless mouse. Most of our readers prioritized comfort (which includes grip, how the mouse glides across a surface, and overall feel), sensor performance and type, connection type and dongle size, button placement and variety, useful software, battery life, and warranty coverage.

The three main computer mouse-grip styles are fingertip grip, palm grip, and claw grip. Video: Kimber Streams

Based on our survey feedback, this is what you should look for in a wireless mouse:

Comfort

Size: Comfort can vary based on hand size, so we sought out average hand measurements for adults. Using hand anthropometric data collected by the Georgia Tech Research Institute (taken from studies conducted in 200and 2008), we combined men’s and women’s hand measurements to find that the average palm size is inches, while the average middle finger length is 2.9inches. We also broke down a 198study of hand anthropometry commissioned by the US Army and found similar results: a 4-inch average from the base of the participants’ palm to the base of the middle finger, and a 3.23-inch average from the base of the middle finger to the tip.

Grip: Among our survey participants, the most common mouse grip was fingertip at 4percent, followed by palm at 3percent and claw at 1percent. (All three grips are demonstrated in the image above.) We used all three grips with every mouse we tested in order to evaluate comfort.

Handedness: We found that 9percent of our respondents use their right hand to operate a mouse, even though only 8percent of the readers surveyed said they were right-handed. (In fact, one of the panel members during our 201testing was a lefty who uses a mouse with his right hand.) We previously tested a dozen ambidextrous mice, but we didn’t find a great full-size mouse for the percent of left-handed mousers.

Connection: The wireless signal shouldn’t cut out during ordinary use across short distances.

Connection options: Some mice can connect only via a 2.GHz radio-frequency (RF) USB wireless receiver—aka a dongle—others connect via Bluetooth only, and some mice support both. Wireless mice that support Bluetooth and USB dongles are the most convenient for most people because they will fit every situation, but they also tend to be more expensive. Most people don’t need to spend the extra money for that capability, but it’s a nice bonus.

Dongle size: If your mouse uses a wireless receiver to connect to your device, that dongle should be as unobtrusive as possible. The receiver should extend beyond the USB port far enough to let you get a good grip to remove it, but no farther, and it shouldn’t block adjacent USB ports.

Buttons: Every wireless mouse should have the standard right- and left-click buttons. Half of our respondents said that they use the back and forward buttons on the side of the mouse, so we looked for mice that have at least two side buttons for added functionality (although many offer more than that). We also noted the placement of the buttons and whether they’re awkward to use.

Useful software: Many wireless mice come with bundled software that allows you to track battery life and customize buttons, sensitivity, acceleration, scroll speed, and more.

Battery life: A great wireless mouse should last a few months on a charge, at the very least. Constantly replacing batteries is an inconvenience, and when some mice offer years of battery life, there’s no reason to settle for less.

Warranty: Although most defects covered by the warranty should present themselves within the first year of use, longer warranties are nice to have.

In 2017, we researched 60 mice from major manufacturers such as Apple, HP, Logitech, and Microsoft and found 1new models we wanted to test: The Anker 2.4G Wireless, Logitech M220, Logitech M330, Logitech M535, Logitech M585, Logitech M590, Logitech MX Anywhere 2S, Logitech MX Master 2S, Microsoft Designer Bluetooth Mouse, Microsoft Surface Mouse, TeckNet Pro, and VicTsing MM05We also retested our previous top picks—Logitech’s Marathon Mouse M705, MX Master, Performance Mouse MX, and M720 Triathlon, and Microsoft’s Bluetooth Mobile Mouse 3600.

How we tested

We put each wireless mouse through a battery of sensor tests based on those that manufacturers use to test gaming mice to rule out any subpar sensors. We also tested each mouse on a variety of common mousing surfaces, including a desk, a hard mouse pad, a soft mouse pad, a wood floor, fabric, glass, and a mirror. We then used each mouse for part of our workday, every day, for a week to evaluate comfort, button placement, and software.

In 2015, we put together a panel of people with varying hand sizes to test wireless mice and discuss which they liked and disliked to supplement our survey results. We did this again in 2017, bringing in seven new panelists to test previous picks and new contenders. We measured each panel member’s mousing hand from the base of the palm to the base of the middle finger, from the base of the middle finger to the tip, and from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the pinkie with the panelist’s hand spread wide.

Though our panelists in both 201and 201had a wide range of hand sizes, their average measurements align with the average hand measurements we found in other studies: inches (palm), 3.inches (finger), and 7.inches (spread).

After two years, the Logitech Marathon Mouse M70is still the best mouse for most people because of its low price and excellent balance of features: medium size, ergonomic shape, eight customizable buttons, long battery life, and Logitech’s Unifying Receiver, which lets you connect up to six Logitech keyboards and pointing devices via a single USB port. Although it can’t connect via Bluetooth, and its software is less intuitive than the newer Logitech software used by most of our other picks, the inexpensive Marathon is the best mouse for most people who want to plug in their mouse and go to town.

Comfort is subjective, so we were pleasantly surprised when the Marathon emerged as the clear comfort favorite among our testers. Eight of our 1panel members liked the size, grip, and button placement of the Marathon best, and four ranked it second best. Only one person ranked it fourth in comfort, but they still enjoyed using the mouse. The Marathon has soft, matte-black plastic on the left and right sides that provides a comfortable grip, and the hard gray plastic on top didn’t cause our hands to sweat or stick. Its shape is ergonomic and comfortable for all three grip styles, and most of our testers loved it regardless of their hand size. Our larger-handed testers preferred Logitech’s Performance Mouse MX for its size and hand support, but one said that the Marathon would still be “suitable for extended periods of time.”

The Marathon’s sensor tracked smoothly on nearly all of our test surfaces, but without Logitech’s high-end Darkfield sensor, present in more-expensive mice, it doesn’t work well on glass and mirrors. And while a few readers have noted that the Marathon’s off-center sensor makes the pointer difficult to control, none of our testing panel (across all grips) experienced these issues, so we don’t think this is common. If you’re concerned, take a look at our other picks, which all have centered sensors.

The Marathon has an unobtrusive Unifying Receiver for easy plug and play; it can’t connect over Bluetooth.

The Marathon comes with a Logitech Unifying Receiver, a 2.GHz USB dongle that extends beyond the USB port just far enough so you can get a good grip to remove it. If you have another Logitech device that supports the Unifying Receiver, you can use Logitech’s SetPoint software for Windows or Logitech’s Control Center software for Mac to connect multiple devices to the same dongle, freeing up valuable USB ports. The Marathon can’t connect over Bluetooth like most of our other picks, but most people who just want plug and play shouldn’t pay extra for Bluetooth yet. The Marathon also may not be the best option if you own a new computer that has only USB-C ports, since you’d have to connect its USB-A Unifying Receiver to an adapter or hub.

All of the Marathon’s nine buttons are well-placed and easy to reach: left-click, right-click, a button to toggle between ratcheted and infinite scrolling (smooth scrolling that lets you glide to the top or bottom of a page quickly), forward and back buttons on the left side of the mouse, an application-switcher button on the bottom left of the grip, and a scroll wheel that you can tilt left or right and press down. The left- and right-clicks are satisfyingly springy, and the side buttons are solid without feeling mushy. Our only complaint is with the application-switcher button on the thumb rest: It works just fine, but we found it difficult to locate by touch.

You can customize all the buttons (except the scrolling toggle) with Logitech SetPoint or Control Center software. This older software—replaced by Logitech Options on newer mice—tracks battery life and allows you to customize sensitivity, acceleration, scroll speed, and other settings, but the Marathon also works as a plug-and-play device if you don’t want to mess around with granular adjustments. Without the software, the thumb-rest button and the scroll-wheel tilt buttons don’t work, but all other buttons are operational. Although Logitech’s SetPoint and Control Center software don’t have the intuitive design of its newer Options software (which works with most of our other picks), it gets the job done.

After we used the Marathon for a few full days of work, SetPoint indicated that the Marathon’s battery was still full, giving an estimate of 1,08days (nearly three years) of use remaining. We used the same mouse on and off for a year and a half, and the battery was still nearly full, with an estimate of 89days (about two and a half years) remaining. We haven’t used it every day, but even so: This mouse feels like it might never die.

The Logitech Triathlon (right) has a higher back arch than our top pick, the Logitech Marathon (left).

Seven new panelists tested the Triathlon in 2017, and they ranked it the second-most comfortable wireless mouse behind the Logitech Marathon M70Everyone liked the grip and the button placement of the Triathlon, but one panelist pointed out that it didn’t fit their hand as well as the Marathon because of the Triathlon’s higher back arch. (The highest point of the Triathlon measures inches, about a half-inch taller than the Marathon, which stands at 1.inches.) The Triathlon is coated in a grippy matte plastic that was enjoyable to use for a full workday and didn’t make our palms sweat.

As with the Marathon, the Triathlon’s sensor aced all of our surface tests except glass and mirror. If you need a mouse with a better sensor, check out our upgrade pick. The Triathlon’s sensor is centered, unlike the Marathon’s, so we don’t expect any issues controlling its pointer.

The Triathlon’s third side button allows you to switch between three paired Bluetooth devices.

It has the same nine buttons as the Marathon Mouse M705, plus the Bluetooth device toggle. The Triathlon’s buttons share the Marathon’s buttons’ strengths and weaknesses, with crisp left- and right-click panels and responsive, easy-to-reach side buttons, but a mushy application-switcher button on the bottom of its grip.

You can customize all of the Triathlon’s buttons except the scrolling toggle, pairing toggle, and left- and right-click buttons. Although its left- and right-click buttons are swappable, you can’t program them to do anything else like you can with the Marathon. The Triathlon works with Logitech’s latest Options software, which tracks battery life and allows you to customize sensitivity, as well as pointer speed, scrolling speed, scroll direction, and smooth scrolling. Options is much more intuitive and enjoyable to use than the older SetPoint and Control Center apps.

The Triathlon also supports Logitech’s Flow software, which allows you to move your cursor between multiple computers on the same network and even copy and paste between the two—even between Windows and Mac computers. Most people don’t work across multiple computers, but this is an exciting new development for some professionals. Like the Marathon, the Triathlon still works as a plug-and-play (or pair-and-play) device if you don’t need customization. (Without the software, the scroll-wheel tilt buttons don’t work, but all other buttons are functional.)

Logitech claims that the Triathlon’s battery will last for two years, although we haven’t been able to test that. We used the Triathlon for a handful of days over the course of a month, though, and the Options software said that the battery was still completely full. It also comes with a one-year limited hardware warranty, compared with the Marathon’s three years.

Logitech MX Master 2S Wireless Mouse

If you spend all day using a mouse, we recommend spending more for the Logitech MX Master 2S. Our panel found it comfortable for all grips and hand sizes, even though it’s a bit larger and heavier than the Marathon. The MX Master 2S is an upgrade over our main pick in just about every way: It has a better sensor, it can pair and switch between multiple Bluetooth devices, it has six programmable buttons and a second scroll wheel for your thumb, it supports Logitech’s Flow software, and it has a rechargeable battery.

The MX Master 2S’s contoured shape and thumb rest make it comfortable to use for long periods. All our panel members liked its size and shape and praised the comfy soft-touch coating. Our largest-handed tester still preferred the size and palm support of the Logitech Performance Mouse MX, our pick for very large hands, and one of our smaller-handed testers liked the Marathon Mouse M705’s size better. But even those two agreed that the MX Master 2S was a comfortable fit. The MX Master 2S measures 3.inches wide, inches long, and inches tall, and it weighs 5.ounces—larger and heavier than the Marathon all around, but smaller than the Performance.

Our upgrade pick uses Logitech’s Darkfield sensor, and in our tests it worked on all surfaces, including glass and mirrors. Like our runner-up, the MX Master 2S can pair with up to three devices via Bluetooth and lets you quickly switch between them (in this case, by pressing a button on the bottom of the mouse). If your computer doesn’t have Bluetooth, or if you prefer a dongle, the MX Master 2S can also connect via an included 2.GHz wireless Logitech Unifying Receiver. But the Master 2S offers no place to store the dongle inside, unlike most wireless mice that have dongles.

The Logitech MX Master 2S has a second programmable scroll wheel on its side.

In addition to snappy, satisfying left- and right-click buttons, the MX Master 2S offers six programmable inputs: a clickable scroll wheel, a button just below the scroll wheel, back and forward buttons on the side, a button integrated into the thumb rest, and a second programmable scroll wheel on its side. (By default this side scroll wheel is set to horizontal scrolling, which is great for graphic designers or video editors, but we’ve found that configuring it to scroll between browser tabs is life-changing.)

The MX Master 2S’s primary scroll wheel feels crisp but lacks left and right tilt. You can switch it between ratcheted and infinite scrolling, and you can toggle between them using a remappable button just below the scroll wheel. The MX Master 2S also has SmartShift, which automatically switches between scrolling modes based on how fast you flick the wheel. (SmartShift worked surprisingly well in our tests, but it can be frustrating if it triggers too easily. You can adjust the sensitivity of the feature using the Logitech Options software, or disable it completely if you dislike it.) The Master 2S’s back and forward buttons are stacked at a diagonal angle, though, which makes them somewhat awkward to use. And like the Triathlon and Marathon, the MX Master 2S’s thumb-rest button is mushy and difficult to press.

The Master 2S supports Logitech Options, as well as Logitech Flow, which lets you move your cursor between multiple computers—even between Mac and Windows—on the same network. You can also copy content and drag files from one computer to the other.

The MX Master 2S has shorter battery life than the Marathon or Triathlon. Logitech claims the MX Master 2S will last up to 70 days on a single charge, while the Marathon and Triathlon last for years. We used the Master 2S on and off for around three weeks, which consumed about a third of its battery life according to the battery meter in the software. At this rate, we expect it to last for nearly 70 days. Three LEDs embedded in the palm rest display the battery level when you turn the mouse on, and the Options software also notifies you on your computer when the MX Master 2S’s battery is running low. The battery recharges via the included Micro-USB–to–USB cable (or any similar cable), and you can continue to use the mouse while it’s charging. But because the battery is built in and can’t be replaced, you’ll have to buy a new mouse someday when that battery degrades and no longer holds a charge.

The MX Master has a one-year limited hardware warranty—shorter than the three-year warranty Logitech offers for the Marathon and the Performance MX—but most defects covered by the warranty should present themselves within the first year of use anyway.

A mouse for larger hands

The Performance Mouse MX is our pick for giant hands. It’s larger and cheaper than the MX Master 2S, but it’s too large for most people.

If you have big hands or prefer large mice, we recommend the Logitech Performance Mouse MX. The Performance is even larger than our upgrade pick, making it the most comfortable to use for larger-handed people. Plus, it has nine programmable buttons, more than any of our other picks. But it has a mediocre scroll wheel and it lacks the MX Master 2S’s thumb scroll wheel, Bluetooth, and support for Logitech’s latest software. This mouse costs nearly twice as much as our main pick, but it’s much cheaper than the MX Master 2S, so if you have huge hands and want to spend less, the Performance MX is a great option.

The Logitech Performance Mouse MX (right) is longer and wider than the Marathon Mouse M70(left) and the Logitech MX Master 2S (middle), making it better suited for larger hands.

Five out of seven panel members said the Performance was too large to use comfortably every day, but our two largest-handed testers said this mouse—which measures 5.inches long, 3.inches wide, and 1.inch tall—fit their hands just right. For comparison, the Marathon Mouse M70is considerably more compact at 4.inches by 2.inches by 1.inch, with the MX Master 2S falling in between the two at inches by 3.inches by inches. Four panel members mentioned that the contour of this mouse dug into their palm on the pinkie side, near the wrist. The MX Master 2S, our upgrade pick, did not have this problem.

Like our top pick, the Performance Mouse MX uses Logitech’s Unifying Receiver instead of Bluetooth to connect to your laptop.

The Performance has a Darkfield sensor, like the MX Master 2S, which allows it to track smoothly on all surfaces, including glass and mirrors. The Performance connects only via Logitech’s Unifying Receiver, though; it doesn’t have Bluetooth like the MX Master 2S.

The Performance Mouse MX has nine customizable buttons, more than any of our other picks: the same button selection as the Marathon, plus an additional Zoom button on the left side. We preferred the MX Master 2S’s fantastic thumb scroll wheel in place of the Performance’s Zoom button, though. We also didn’t like the Performance MX’s scroll wheel, even though it tilts unlike the MX Master 2S’s. Ratcheted scrolling feels imprecise, and the scroll wheel’s built-in down button feels mushy. The Performance MX’s application-switcher button in the thumb rest is surrounded by a plastic frame with a sharp edge that can dig into your thumb, another problem unique to this mouse.

The Performance works with Logitech’s older SetPoint and Control Center software, and doesn’t support Logitech Options and Flow like the MX Master 2S does.

The Performance Mouse MX comes with a three-year limited warranty.

The competition

The wireless mice we tested in 2017, as well as our top picks from 2016.

We tested the TeckNet Classic Wireless Mouse M00and TeckNet Pro 2.4G Ergonomic Wireless Mobile Optical Mouse—popular, inexpensive mice that look similar to the Marathon Mouse M70Both models have fewer buttons than the Marathon and lack infinite scrolling, plus their scroll wheels feel mushier than the Marathon’s and they lack software for customizing the mice. Although they’re reasonably comfortable for the price, we don’t recommend them over our top pick.

The VicTsing MM052.4G Wireless Portable Mobile Mouse is another popular cheap mouse that looks similar to the Marathon, but it wasn’t as comfortable in our testing. It also has fewer buttons, lacks infinite scrolling, feels less sturdily built, and lacks customization software.

Our former upgrade pick, the Logitech MX Master, has been replaced by the Logitech MX Master 2S. Compared with the older version, the 2S supports Logitech Flow and has longer battery life—70 days, up from 40, according to Logitech. If you don’t care about longer battery life, or Logitech Flow support, the MX Master is still a great mouse for nearly half the price.

Our panel described the unusually shaped Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Mouse (aka Sculpt Ergo) as “surprisingly comfortable” and praised its great scroll wheel. Its unusual shape forces a very specific grip, however, and our testers didn’t like the glossy surface, the mushy side button, or the intrusive Windows button. Our smallest-handed tester said the Sculpt Ergo was too big, and our largest-handed tester said it was too small.

Microsoft’s Sculpt Comfort Mouse sports a large blue strip with a Windows logo that opens the start menu when pressed, and supports swipe-up and swipe-down gestures that work in Windows. It has a great scroll wheel, but our panel didn’t like the glossy-plastic surface and thought the mouse was too flat and too long.

We tested the older Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse Surface Edition, which has a touchpad in place of a scroll wheel that provides audible and haptic feedback. But the touchpad is unreliable, and the underside of the Arc Touch is hollow when in use, which means the mouse has a terribly uncomfortable grip. Our complaints with the Arc Touch Mouse’s grip apply to its successor, the Surface Arc Mouse, too.

The Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 4000 has one fewer side button than our top pick, and all our testers agreed that it was a little too small. The scroll wheel lacks ratcheted scrolling, and most panel members said the scroll wheel was too smooth to use effectively.

The Logitech M220 Silent and Logitech M330 Silent have no buttons beyond left-click and right-click and cost the same as our top pick. The M220 also felt like a cheap toy; when we picked it up, we could hear what sounded like rattling parts inside.

The HP X4000b Bluetooth Mouse has only three buttons, and our panel registered a variety of complaints about its design.

When our panelists tried out the Kensington SureTrack Any Surface Wireless Bluetooth Mouse, they noted its lack of palm support and low-set, mushy scroll wheel. Its sensor also jumped a little on textured surfaces in some of our tests.

The Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse T630 was one of two Bluetooth touch mice we tested (along with the Apple Magic Mouse, below), and our panel universally disliked it. This model comes with a very short, 4.5-inch micro-USB cable that plugs into the underside of the mouse, rendering the T630 unusable when charging. Most gestures worked reliably, but the T630 had trouble differentiating between one-finger and two-finger swipes.

Apple’s Magic Mouse is too flat and uncomfortable for extended use. You also have no way to take advantage of the Magic Mouse’s best feature—its integrated touch surface—on Windows. (Without additional software, it will pair with a Windows machine and work like a basic mouse, giving you cursor control, left-click, and right-click.) By installing the bootcamped drivers available here, you can add a battery-life indicator as well as natural and one-finger scrolling to Windows, but no other functions are available.

Jump back.

USB 3.0 ports and devices have been shown to radiate radio-frequency noise (PDF) that can interfere with the performance of devices using the 2.GHz wireless band. Affected devices include both mice that rely on 2.GHz radio-frequency USB dongles and mice that connect via Bluetooth. The noise can radiate from a port on your computer, a port on the connected device, or the cable connecting the two. For example, if you have a USB 3.0 hard drive plugged into a USB 3.0 port, the interference can come from the port on your computer, the USB cord, or even the drive’s USB connection. If your wireless mouse constantly drops its connection, you should try plugging it into a USB 2.0 port, if available, and keep the dongle and mouse away from active USB 3.0 ports and devices. If you’re still having trouble, you can plug your wireless device into a USB 2.0 extender to move it farther from the source of the interference.

Sources

Norman Chan, How To Test a Gaming Mouse for Tracking Accuracy, Tested, June 5, 2013

Natalie Shoemaker, Logitech Marathon Mouse M705, PCMag, October 11, 2010

Brent Rose, The Best Wireless Mouse, Gizmodo, November 8, 2011

Joel Santo Domingo, Logitech MX Master 2S, PCMag, June 1, 2017

Unlock the internet with a VPN today

If a lot more people start to use encryption, then encrypted data will stand out less, and surveillance organizations’ job of invading everyone’s privacy will be much harder. Remember – anonymity is not a crime!

Encryption Key Length

Key length is the crudest way of determining how long a cipher will take to break. It is the raw number of ones and zeros used in a cipher. Similarly, the crudest form of attack on a cipher is known as a brute force attack (or exhaustive key search). This involves trying every possible combination to find the correct one.

If anyone is capable of breaking modern encryption ciphers it is the NSA, but to do so is a considerable challenge. For a brute force attack:

A 128-bit key cipher has 3.x10(38) possible keys. Going through each of them would thousands of operations or more to break.

Ciphers

By far the most common ciphers that you will likely encounter are those OpenVPN uses: Blowfish and AES. In addition to this, RSA is used to encrypt and decrypt a cipher’s keys. SHA-or SHA-are used as hash functions to authenticate the data.

AES is generally considered the most secure cipher for VPN use (and in general). Its adoption by the US government has increased its perceived reliability, and consequently its popularity. However, there is reason to believe this trust may be misplaced.

The United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) developed and/or certified AES, RSA, SHA-and SHA-NIST works closely with the NSA in the development of its ciphers.

Given the NSA’s systematic efforts to weaken or build back doors into international encryption standards, there is every reason to question the integrity of NIST algorithms.

The New York Times, however, has accused the NSA of introducing undetectable backdoors, or subverting the public development process to weaken the algorithms, thus circumventing NIST-approved encryption standards.

News that a NIST-certified cryptographic standard – the Dual Elliptic Curve algorithm (Dual_EC_DRGB) had been deliberately weakened not just once, but twice, by the NSA destroyed pretty much any existing trust.

That there might be a deliberate backdoor in Dual_EC_DRGB had already been noticed before. In 200researchers at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands noted that an attack against it was easy enough to launch on ‘an ordinary PC.’  Microsoft engineers also flagged up a suspected backdoor in the algorithm.

NIST-certified cryptographic standards are pretty much ubiquitous worldwide throughout all areas of industry and business that rely on privacy (including the VPN industry). This is all rather chilling.

Perhaps because so much relies on these standards, cryptography experts have been unwilling to face up to the problem.

Perfect Forward Secrecy

One of the revelations in the  information provided by Edward Snowden is that “another program, code-named Cheesy Name, was aimed at singling out SSL/TLS encryption keys, known as ‘certificates,’ that might be vulnerable to being cracked by GCHQ supercomputers.”

That these certificates can be “singled out” strongly suggests that 1024-bit RSA encryption (commonly used to protect the certificate keys) is weaker than previously thought. The NSA and GCHQ could therefore decrypt it much more quickly than expected.

In addition to this, the SHA-algorithm widely used to authenticate SSL/TLS connections is fundamentally broken. In both cases, the industry is scrambling fix the weaknesses as fast as it can. It is doing this by moving onto RSA-2048+, Diffie-Hellman, or  Elliptic Curve Diffie-Hellman (ECDH) key exchanges and SHA-2+ hash authentication.

What these issues (and the 201Heartbleed Bug fiasco) clearly highlight is the importance of using perfect forward secrecy (PFS) for all SSL/TLS connections.

This is a system whereby a new and unique (with no additional keys derived from it) private encryption key is generated for each session. For this reason, it is also known as an ephemeral key exchange.

Using PFS, if one SSL key is compromised, this does not matter very much because new keys are generated for each connection. They are also often refreshed during connections. To meaningfully access communications these new keys would also need to be compromised. This makes the task so arduous as to be effectively impossible.

Unfortunately, it is common practice (because it’s easy) for companies to use just one private encryption key. If this key is compromised then the attacker can access all communications encrypted with it.

OpenVPN and PFS

The most widely used VPN protocol is OpenVPN. It is considered very secure. One of the reasons for this is because it allows the use of ephemeral keys.

Sadly this is not implemented by many VPN providers. Without perfect forward secrecy, OpenVPN connections are not considered secure.

It is also worth mentioning here that the HMAC SHA-hashes routinely used to authenticate OpenVPN connections are not a weakness. This is because HMAC SHA-is much less vulnerable to collision attacks than standard SHA-hashes.  Mathematical proof of this is available in this paper.

Use FOSS Software

The terrifying scale of the NSA’s attack on public cryptography, and its deliberate weakening of common international encryption standards, has demonstrated that no proprietary software can be trusted. Even software specifically designed with security in mind.

The NSA has co-opted or coerced hundreds of technology companies into building backdoors into their programs, or otherwise weakening security in order to allow it access. US and UK companies are particularly suspect, although the reports make it clear that companies across the world have acceded to NSA demands.

The problem with proprietary software is that the NSA can fairly easily approach and convince the sole developers and owners to play ball. In addition to this, their source code is kept secret. This makes it easy to add to or modify the code in dodgy ways without anyone noticing.

The best answer to this problem is to use free open source software (FOSS). Often jointly developed by disparate and otherwise unconnected individuals, the source code is available to everyone to examine and peer-review. This minimizes the chances that someone has tampered with it.

Ideally, this code should also be compatible with other implementations, in order to minimize the possibility of a backdoor being built in.

It is, of course, possible that NSA agents have infiltrated open source development groups and introduced malicious code without anyone’s knowledge. In addition, the sheer amount of code that many projects involve means that it is often impossible to fully peer-review all of it.

Despite these potential pitfalls, FOSS remains the most reliable and least likely to be tampered with software available. If you truly care about privacy you should try to use it exclusively (up to and including using FOSS operating systems such as Linux).

Pay for Stuff Anonymously

One step to improving your privacy is to pay for things anonymously. When it comes to physical goods delivered to an actual address, this isn’t going to happen. Online services are a different kettle of fish, however.

It is increasingly common to find services that accept payment through Bitcoin and the like. A few, such as VPN service Mullvad, will even accept cash sent anonymously by post.

Bitcoin

Bitcoin is a decentralized and open source virtual currency that operates using peer-to-peer technology (much as BitTorrent and Skype do). The concept is particularly revolutionary and exciting because it does not require a middleman to work (for example a state-controlled bank).

Whether or not Bitcoins represent a good investment opportunity remains hotly debated, and is not within the remit of this guide. It is also completely outside of my area of expertise!

One important thing to understand is that Bitcoin is not inherently anonymous. The exciting thing is that with care, you can make it so.

I have written a very detailed five-part guide on Buying Bitcoins to pay for VPN anonymously. Most of the advice in it applies equally well to paying for other online services anonymously. Below is a summary of the main points.

There are a number of basic approaches you can take

Buy Bitcoins Anonymously, then ‘clean’ them with a mixer service

Neither the cheapest nor the most anonymous method, this is the most convenient. It does ensure a fairly high degree of anonymity.

A mixer service basically anonymizes your Bitcoins by swapping them with multiple other users, making it very difficult (but not impossible for a determined investigator) to follow the chain back to you. Services such as this are, of course, not free (Blockchain.info for example charges a 0.5% fee).

Many automatic exchanges require you to prove your real-world identity. In this case it is easy to determine that you have purchased Bitcoins, but not what happens to them after that, if you mix them. pre-paid credit cards

This method is somewhat location-dependent, but in most areas it is possible to buy pre-paid ‘gift’ credit cards over-the-counter in shops. These can then be used to buy Bitcoins anonymously if you perform the transaction through disposable email addresses, etc. Alternatively, you can just use the card to buy online services directly!

Other Anonymous Payment Methods

In addition to pre-paid credit cards and good old cash, there are plenty of alternative crypto-currencies out there. Bitcoin is by far the most popular and stable crypto-currency, but others are available.

Do be sure to check out my extensive guide to buying Bitcoins and paying for VPN services anonymously, starting 

Anonymize Your Internet Use

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and the Tor network are the most popular technologies for achieving privacy while on the internet. They hide what you get up to online from your ISP and therefore the government. They can also hide your true identity from websites you visit and services you use.

On the face of it, these two technologies appear to serve a similar purpose. In reality, they are very different beasts. While there is some overlap, their primary use-cases are very different.

VPNs are a suite of technologies that

I have written an extensive VPNs for Beginners guide aimed at discussing all major issues related to VPN use in detail. Please consult this for further information.

Note, however, that although a VPN can provide a high level of privacy (if a good no-logs service is in place), it does not provide anonymity.

This is because a VPN provider can* always know what you get up to on the internet. If you require true anonymity then you need…

The Tor Network

Tor provides a very high degree of true anonymity, but at the cost of day-to-day internet usability. When using Tor:

Tor is free, and the real beauty of the system is that you do not have to trust anyone. Its design means no-one can discover your true identity.

It can also make a handy anti-censorship tool. However, many governments go to great lengths to counter this by blocking access to the network (with varied success). *Using Tor and VPN together

It is possible to use Tor and VPN together to provide meaningful security benefits. For a discussion about this, and suggested VPNs that support such configurations, please see Best VPNs when using Tor.

Tor Vs. VPN

Tor is a vital tool for internet users who require the maximum possible anonymity. VPNs, however, are a much more practical privacy tool for day-to-day internet use.

For a detailed look at Tor, plus a full discussion on its pros and cons versus using a VPN, please see my Tor Network Review.

Other Ways To Stay Private Online

VPN and Tor are the most popular ways to maintain anonymity and evade censorship online, but there are other options. Proxy servers, in particular, are quite popular. In my opinion, however, they are inferior to using a VPN.

Other services which may be of interest include JonDonym, Lahana, I2P and Psiphon. You can combine many such services with Tor and/or VPN for greater security.

Browser Fingerprinting

The way in which your browser is configured (especially the browser plugins used), together with details of your Operating System, allows you to be uniquely identified (and tracked) with a worryingly high degree of accuracy.

A particularly insidious (and ironic) aspect of this is that the more measures you take to avoid tracking (for example by using the plugins listed below), the more unique your browser fingerprint becomes.

The best defense against browser fingerprinting is to use as common and plain vanilla an OS and browser as possible. Unfortunately, this leaves you open to other forms of attack. It also reduces the day-to-day functionality of your computer to such an extent that most of us will find the idea impractical.

The more browser plugins you use, the more unique your browser is. Drat!

Using the Tor browser with Tor disabled is a partial solution to this problem. This will help make your fingerprint look identical to all other Tor users, while still benefiting from the additional hardening built in to the Tor browser.

I discuss browser fingerprinting in detail in this article.

In addition to browser fingerprinting, other forms of fingerprinting are becoming more common. The most prominent of these is canvas fingerprinting, although audio and battery fingerprinting are also possible.

Great Browser Extensions You Should Use

Pioneered by Firefox, all modern browsers now support a host of extensions. Many of these aim to improve your privacy while surfing the internet. Here is a list of my favorites that I don’t think anyone should surf without: uBlock Origin (Firefox)

A lightweight FOSS ad-blocker that does double duty as an anti-tracking add-on. Chrome and Internet Explorer/Edge users can instead use Ghostery. Many users find this commercial software’s funding model to be somewhat shady, however.

Use a Search Engine that Doesn’t Track You

Most search engines, including Google (in fact particularly Google), store information about you. This includes:

The search engine usually transmits this information to the requested web page. It also transmits it to the owners of third party advertising banners on that page. As you surf the internet, advertisers build up a (potentially embarrassing and highly inaccurate) profile of you.

This is then used to target adverts tailored to your theoretical needs.

In addition to this, governments and courts around the world regularly request search data from Google and other major search engines. This is usually duly handed over. For more details, see the Google Transparency Report on the number of User Data Requests received, and the number (at least partially) acceded to.

DuckDuckGo

The best-known alternative search engine, and one we have examined in some detail here, DuckDuckGo pledges not to track it users. Each search event is anonymous. While in theory an infiltrator could track them, there is no profile attached for them to access.

Unfortunately, many users do not find DDG’s search results to be as good as those returned by Google. The fact that it is a US-based company also concerns some.

StartPage

Another popular Google alternative is StartPage. It is based in the Netherlands and returns Google search engine results. StartPage anonymises these Google searches and promises not to store or share any personal information or use any identifying cookies.

Ixquick

By the same people who run StartPage, Ixquick returns results from a number of other search engines, but not Google. These searches are as private as those made through StartPage.

The above search engines rely on trusting the search engine providers to maintain your anonymity. If this really worries you, then you might like to consider YaCy. It is a decentralized, distributed search engine, built using P2P technology.

This is a fantastic idea, and one that I really hope takes off. For now, however, it is more of an exciting curiosity than a fully-fledged and useful Google alternative.

Update: Please check out my new Privacy Search Engines 201Group Review.

The Filter Bubble

An added benefit of using a search engine that does not track you is that it avoids the “filter bubble” effect. Most search engines use your past search terms (and things you “Like” on social networks) to profile you. They can then return results they think will interest you.

This can result in you only receiving search returns that agree with your point of view. This locks you into a “filter bubble.” You do not get to see alternative viewpoints and opinions because they are downgraded in your search results.

This denies you access to the rich texture and multiplicity of human input. It is also very dangerous, as it can confirm prejudices and prevent you from seeing the “bigger picture.”

Delete Your Google History

Of course, we only have Google’s word that they really delete this data. But it certainly can’t hurt to do this!

In order to prevent Google continuing to collect new information about you, visit Activity Controls. From here you can tell Google to stop collecting information on your use of various Google services.

These measures won’t stop someone who is deliberately spying on you from harvesting your information (such as the NSA). But it will help stop Google from profiling you.

Even if you plan on changing to one of the “no tracking” services listed above, most of us have built up a substantial Google History already, which anyone reading this article will likely want deleted.

Of course, deleting and disabling your Google history will mean that many Google services which rely on this information to deliver their highly personalised magic will either cease to function, or not function as well. So say goodbye to Google Now!

GNU Privacy Guard

PGP was once open source and free, but is now the property of Symantec. The Free Software Foundation has taken up the open source OpenPGP banner, however, and with major funding from the German government has released GNU Privacy Guard (also known as GnuPG or just GPG).

GnuPG is a free and open source alternative to PGP. It follows the OpenPGP standard and is fully compatible with PGP. It is available for Windows, OSX and Linux. When referring to PGP, most people these days (including myself) mean GnuPG.

Generating a PGP key pair in Gpgwin.

Although the basic program uses a simple command line interface, more sophisticated versions are available for Windows (Gpg4win) and Mac (GPGTools). Alternately, EnigMail adds GnuPG functionality to the Thunderbird and SeaMonkey stand-alone email clients.

I have written a full guide to setting up GnuPG in Windows using Gpg4win.

PGP on Mobile Devices

Android users should be pleased to know that an Alpha release GnuPG: Command-Line from the Guardian Project is available.

K-Mail is a well-regarded email client for Android with PGP support built in. It can be combined with Android Privacy Guard to provide a more user-friendly PGP experience. A good guide for getting GPG working on Android is available here. iOS users can give iPGMail a try.

Use PGP with Your Existing Webmail Service

PGP is a real pain to use. Such a big pain, in fact, that few people bother. Mailvelope is a browser extension for Firefox and Chrome that allows end-to-end PGP encryption within your browser.

It works with popular browser-based webmail services such as Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! and GMX. It makes using PGP about as painless as it gets. However, it is not as secure as using PGP with a dedicated email client.

Secure Your Voice Conversations

Regular phone calls (landline or mobile) are never secure, and you cannot make them so. It’s not the just the NSA and GCHQ; governments everywhere (where they have not already done so) are keen on recording all citizens’ phone calls.

Unlike emails and internet use, which can be obfuscated (as this article tries to show), phone conversations are always wide open.

Even if you buy anonymous and disposable “burner phones” (behavior which marks you out as either worryingly paranoid or engaged in highly criminal activity), a lot of information can be gathered through the collection of metadata.

VoIP with End-to-end Encryption

If you want to keep your voice conversations completely private, then you need to use VoIP with end-to-end encryption (except, of course, when talking in person).

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) apps allow you to talk over the internet. They often also allow you to make video calls and send Instant Messages.VoIP services allowing cheap or free calls anywhere in the world and have thus become extremely popular. Skype, in particular, has become a household name.

Unfortunately, Skype is now owned by Microsoft. It has perfectly demonstrated the problem with most such services (which is a very similar problem to that with email). VoIP connections to and from a middleman may be secure, but if the middleman just hands over your conversations to the NSA (as happened with Skype) or some other government organization, this security is next to meaningless.

So, as with email, what is needed is end-to-end encryption where an encrypted tunnel is created directly between the participants in a conversation. And no-one else.

A Note on WhatsApp

The very popular WhatsApp app now uses the same end-to-end encryption developed for Signal. Unlike Signal, however, WhatsApp (owned by Facebook) retains metadata, and has other weaknesses not present in the Signal app.

Despite these issues, most of your contacts likely use WhatsApp, and are unlikely to be convinced to switch to Signal. Given this all-too-common situation, WhatsApp provides vastly improved security and privacy that your contacts might actually use.

Make it easier to find the lampshade you want

You don’t have to just trawl through hundreds of lampshades trying to find the exact right size or shade to fit your lamp. If you’re armed with certain pieces of information, you can shortcut your search to find the perfect lampshade.

If you have the dimensions of your old lampshade

Usually you measure a lampshade across the top to get a “top width”, across the bottom to get a “bottom width”, and along the “diagonal slant” (or vertical height for drum shades) of the side of the shade, to get a “slant height”. Consult our section below about how to measure a lamp shade if you need help. But once you know the measurements, why not jump straight to the exact right size lampshades and skip the ones that won’t look right?

If all you have is a lamp base without a shade

Fear not, because you can actually figure out the exact right size of lamp shade you need based on the size and shape/style of your lamp base. Consult the section of this guide regarding how to measure a lamp shade for tips on what size shade you’ll need depending on your lamp base size.

Generally you’ll want to get an idea of the right “size” of lampshade you need first before you consider the shape or color, otherwise it won’t have appropriate proportions and will look too big or small.

Once you have an idea of the size you may need, consider the shape of the lamp base to help you decide what kind of lamp shade to look for. See our section on How to match the shade shape to the lamp base for simple tips about matching the lamp shade shape to the style of the base. While it may be easy to just throw a typical empire shade onto your lamp, it will look better when the shape of the lampshade complements or balances or brings out the shape of the base.

Popular Lampshade Colors

Lampshades feature a wide spectrum of colors to suit almost any lamp base and environment. You will likely want to complement the base of the lamp by choosing a lamp shade color that is either understated (as to let the lamp base be featured), or to make the shade a focal point (e.g. with a more understated base). It’s also possible to strike a balance between the two components, for example picking up colors in the base to bring out with the shade – similar to how you bring out the color of your eyes.

Black Lamp Shades

A black lamp shade can allow a lamp to be understated but also gives your lamp and air of sophistication, and can also be quite a modern look. Sleek black shades might match your black furniture or act as a balance against white or brightly colored elements in the room. Explore some examples of black lamp shades.

White Lamp Shades

A white lamp shade similarly can give your lamp a look of elegance and sophistication especially allowing the lamp base to be featured if it is colorful or interesting. White shades are clean and purifying, and may reflect upon white elements in the room or act as a canvas for other colors you wish to feature. Explore some examples of white lamp shades.

Red Lamp Shades

Believe it or not, red lamp shades are one of the most searched-for colors on the internet. A red shade would likely highlight warmer tones in a lamp base or be a striking statement against an understated lamp base. Red shades might just highlight your favorite color ro pick up red or warm accents in the room. Explore some examples of red lamp shades.

Orange Lamp Shades & Yellow Lamp Shades

Orange or yellow lamp shades are not typically as popular as a color choice, since yellow tends to be quite a bright color which will stand out in a room.  You’d probably pick an orange lamp shade or yellow lamp shade if it particularly matched the lamp in some way or is part of your room’s color scheme. Explore some examples of orange and yellow lamp shades.

Green Lamp Shades

Green lamp shades also are one of the less popular colors for a lamp, mainly because green is quite a distinct color and tends not to be featured in lamp bases. Green shades may however complement a green or earth-toned or natural theme in your room and could complement a natural-toned lamp base well. Explore some examples of green lamp shades.

Blue Lamp Shades

Add a blue lamp shade to your table lamp or floor lamp and you’re instantly into making a cool statement. Blue is actually one of the most searched-for- colors of lampshades online, perhaps due to the relative rarity of blue coloring in nature in general. A blue shade will likely look quite contemporary and give your lamp a deliberate, designer look. Pair it with a lamp with blue in the base or perhaps white or black. Explore some examples of blue lamp shades.

Purple Lamp Shades and Pink Lamp Shades

Yes, pink is in. And purple too. Pink lamp shade are quite sought after and perhaps this is due to the fact that many people replacing lampshades are women. It may be a stereotype, but yes, women do seem to like to buy pink shades. And some men too, of course. A pink shade would look great on a white or gray or perhaps red or pink lamp base. Perhaps a pink or purple lamp shade would look great in a girls’ bedroom. Explore some examples of pink lamp shades and purple lamp shades.

Cream Lamp Shades

Cream lamp shades are a classic. Not so pure as to be white, but somewhat softened and warming. A cream lamp shade will match well to many lamp base designs and colors especially more classically or traditionally styled lamps. Sometimes cream includes off-white or egg-shell which are more neutral or reddish tones. Explore some examples of cream lamp shades.

Beige Lamp Shades

Beige is all the rage. A beige lamp shade suits many modern homes where beige and browns provide a soft, comforting and nurturing environment. Beige shades can complement well with brown furniture or perhaps a beige couch. Often a beige lamp shade will complement a fancy decorated lamp base well. Explore some examples of beige lamp shades.

Brown Lamp Shades

Brown lamp shades add a darker, comforting warmth to a room. A brown shade can complement a more decorative lamp base of many colors or a more plain design. With a brown shade, you can pick up on the browns in your furniture or textiles in the room. Explore some examples of brown lamp shades.

The Practical Uses of Different Lamp Shades

Different types of lamp shades serve a different purpose. Besides shielding your eyes from the glare of a light bulb, their shape is not purely for decorative reasons. The correct shade greatly affects the kind of light the lamp gives off, as well as where that light is directed. Different types of lamp shades correlate to different functions for practical purposes, be it sitting nearby, at a distance, or as an ambient light source. If you are not as concerned about how the lamp assists you in your daily activities, you may prefer to make a choice purely for decorative reasons.

Empire lamp shades for table lamp provide a spread of light for a bedside desk as well as for reading in bed.

A bell shade atop a floor lamp provides a maximum area of illumination for sitting beneath to read.

A drum lamp shade on this pendant light, radiating strong and focussed light downward over a dining table as well as illuminating the room with ambient light via the ceiling.

Bell lamp shades for table lamps provide a local spread of light for nearby seating.

A pair of floor lamps with flat drum lamp shades prove strong ambient and local light for a softer mood.

The opaque drum lamp shade on this lamp provides a decorative, less functional ambient light over a narrow side-table.

How Home Lamp Shades Affect the Light

Light emits from different shaped shades in different ways, which affects how far the light is useful and for what purposes. Light emitting from the top of the shade produces a reflected ambient light bouncing off the ceiling, while light emitting below produces a more focused light surrounding furniture. Additional light shines through the sides of the shade itself, whereby a white or light-colored shade allows the most light to pass through. Darker-colored shades and hardback shades tend to block more of the light.

Drum lamp shades provide an medium spread of light from both ends

An empire shade provides most light from the bottom, the least from the top

A bell shade provides a balance between light from the top and a wide spread of light from the bottom

Light from Bell Lamp Shades

TIP: Also consider also what other sources of light are in the room – if you have bright light from a main light fixture, your lamps may provide accent lighting, or mood lighting when used alone. If you need them to be a primary light source for sitting and reading, opt for a more flared shape of shade such as empire/coolie, provided it complements the style of the base. Also consider a hard-backed shade for increasing the light output from below the shade.

Hard-Back Lamp Shades

Lampshades hold their shape either due to a hard lining or with the use of a metal framework. A `hard-backed` shade is typically lined with plastic or or other materials designed to prevent light from passing through the sides of the shade. The hard lining allows the shape of the shade to be quite firm and less likely to change over time. The firm backing is glued into place behind a more attractive outer material.

Soft-Back Lamp Shades

A soft-back shade does not have a firm lining, although it may still potentially be lined. The lining, however, would be flexible, such as a linen or paper, and so does not provide support for maintaining the shape of the lampshade. As a result, soft-back or `un-backed` shades require additional vertical supports between the bottom and top of the shade to maintain shape.

This soft-backed drum lamp shade emits light through the shade itself, for a softer light, and reveals a textured pattern in the shade material.

Cylinder Lamp Shades

Cylinder-shaped lamp shades are taller than they are wide, with vertical straight sides. These tall shades are best for unusually tall lamp bases, or floor lamps. They funnel equal amounts of light out of the top and bottom without spreading the light outwards, producing a large amount of ambient reflected light.

Because they are so much taller than wide, their proportions look good on narrow lamp bases. Their very open-ended nature maximizes the amount of light output.

Drum Lamp Shades

Drum-shaped shades are similar to cylinder shades except they are flatter, typically wider than they are tall, similar to a musical drum. Drum shades look good on a variety of table lamps and floor lamps, but also can be suited to pendant light fixtures. With vertical sides, maximum light emits through the top and bottom of the drum shade producing ambient reflected light in the room.

When used in an overhead pendant it provides ample light output for visual clarity. On a table lamp the drum shade gives a contemporary, modern look. A drum shade is well suited to a lamp base with wide proportions. Being open-ended allows a maximum amount of  light to be released through both ends of the shade. 

Floor Lamp Shades

Floor lamps typically require a slightly larger shade than table lamps. Also due to the height of the lamp, they tend to look better with a drum or floor-style shade. A floor shade is almost a drum shade, except the sides are slightly slanted. This shape complements the proportions of the floor lamp.

A floor shade distributes light out through the bottom with a slight spread, illuminating a larger area around the lamp base. Similarly, the top of the floor shade is less open, slightly restricting the amount of ambient reflected light shining out through the top. Often a floor lamp is located near to a seating area and thus provides a cone of light which can extend at least partly across the furniture. Floor lamps, in general, provide a large amount of light close to functional spaces.

Empire Lamp Shades

Empire-shaped lampshades strike a balance between slanted sides and visually-appealing proportions. These straight-sided shades are found commonly on many table lamps and some floor lamps. The narrower opening at the top is still large enough to vent heat from the light bulb, yet allows the bottom of the shade to flare more in order to spread light outwards.

This wider cone of light illuminates a wider area beneath and to the sides of the lamp, providing a hotspot of local light ideal for reading and other activities. Since most of the light is cast downwards, there is less ambient light reflected off the ceiling and more light spread outward near to seating areas or top of furniture. Empire shades are popular lamp shades for table lamps.

Coolie Lamp Shades

A coolie lamp shade features a very wide spread of light, since the top of the shade is very narrow and the bottom very open. The sides of the coolie shade are heavily slanted. Coolie shades tend to be flatter (less height) due to the proportions of the shape.

The coolie shade restricts ambient light emitting from the top of the shade, while maximizing the amount of light spreading out from the bottom. The shape of the shade also directs the light to spread as widely as possible to the sides of the shade for maximum coverage. This can be useful when your lamp is serving to illuminate tasks or projects or for reading.

Bell Lamp Shades

The bell shade is very popular and provides an elegant, relaxed shape. The sides of the shade curve inwards producing a shape that resembles a `bell`. The flare at the bottom helps to distribute light outwards for maximum coverage, while the top of the shade remains quite wide to help facilitate the escape of heat and ambient light.

The bell shade is well suited to table lamps with a more curved base shape. Empire lampshades are popular lamp shade for table lamps to use.

Oval Lamp Shades

With an oval-shaped shade, looking down on the shade from above reveals an oval shape rather than a perfect circle. The shade wider than it is deep, front-to-back. An oval or flatter style of lamp base goes well with it. It can help to situate a lamp on a narrower piece of furniture closer to a wall without extruding into the room, helping to ensure the lamp will not be knocked over by passers by.

Oval shades are less common but look good when their shape complements the shape of the base. An oval shade may have an oval profile from the top, while having any of the other shapes when viewed from the side, such as an oval bell, an oval empire, an oval drum etc.

Square and Rectangular Lamp Shades

Square and rectangle-shaped shades complement a lamp base which is very rectangular in appearance. Suited mainly to contemporary modern lamps, they work well with floor lamps and table lamps. The rectangular shade has flat edges rather than circular edges, and thus produces corners. Some varieties of square shade also feature a ‘cut corner’ as a decorative modification to its shape.

Square or rectangular shades are most obvious when viewed from above or at an angle, but from the side may feature a bell shape (pagoda), drum shape, or empire shape. Rectangular or square shades with a very narrow or no opening in the top may be thought of as a pyramid shade.

Art-Glass Lamp Shades

Art-glass is a special kind of toughened glass designed to be lighter and less fragile than real or tiffany glass. Lamps with an art-glass shade make a bold statement. Commonly a single piece of art glass is used in a very unique hand-crafted shape. Since art-glass can be molded into endless shapes, it can be manipulated to resemble flowers, animals or even traditional shade shapes with unusual edge designs.

In addition to the shape, art-glass shades feature extraordinary patterns of vibrant color, with swirls of multiple hues mixed in. While art-glass lamps are readily available, finding replacement glass shades is less simple – usually through contacting the manufacturer of the original lamp, since each piece is so uniquely specific to the lamp itself.

How to Match Lamp Shade Shape to the Lamp Base

A base featuring a curved profile is complemented by a curved bell shade. You can see here the pattern of a curve ending in a platform is repeated from the base to the shade, albeit inverted. Bell shades match well to a curved base profile.

A barrel, drum lamp shade or cone-style lamp base is reflected well by a rounded drum/cylinder shade. Rounded/cylindrical bases tend to work better with rounded shades than square shades.

Sometimes shapes are directly repeated in the base as in the shade. Here, trapezium shapes occur multiple times and the shade is an extension of the base’s design theme. Since the base’s view from above/below is a square, the square shade works well.

Bases with a square or rectangular profile do well complemented with a rectangular shade. Since these angular shapes tend to be more modern, a square/rectangular shade is a good match.

Sometimes the shape of the shade may reflect the shape of only a portion of the base. Here, trapezium/pyramid shapes are repeated in the shade and the foot of the base, as well as in the patterning of the shade itself.

Proportions of shade and base should be reasonably similar. Here an unusually tall/thin lamp base is well complemented by an unusually flat/thin drum lamp shade, continuing the theme of elegance. Also very narrow lamp bases look good with a drum or rectangle shade.

While both lamp base and shade here are circular, since the base features a bold shape, the shade chosen is also a boldly contrasting shape. Use a partly contradictory or balancing shape of shade for added drama. Notice the shade is still round and the base is still round when viewed from above or below.

While this lamp base bends outward, the shade bends inward. Both elements thus feature a curved surface, but they work together to form a balance. This also produces a flowing visual line from the bottom of the lamp to the top. Notice also the need for a square-style shade due to the base’s square sides.

Matching with your furniture

As an extension of your lamp, consider the furniture it sits on or is near to. What shapes do you see there? What are the proportions like, as a whole and for individual parts?

Rectangular furniture: is likely to be best complemented by a more angular or rectangular shade

Sculptured rounded furniture: is likely to match best with a more rounded shade especially if the furniture has rounded corners

Proportions: Is the furniture wide and flat or tall and narrow? Consider how your lamp may complement or balance the shape

Decor: Consider the rest of your room’s theme. Think about the textures and colors and shapes that your lamp could tie into. Is there a strong color that you’d like to match or contrast with?

Lampshade Sizing Rules

Shade height should be about 3/the height of the base. The bottom of the shade should be wider than the widest part of the base. Shade width should approximately equal the height from the bottom of base to socket.

Reading lamps need a wider shade to provide plenty of light. 

Consider the Bulb

Be sure you have 2-inch separation from bulb to shade, especially for higher wattage bulbs. Be sure the top opening is wide enough to vent the heat. Compact Fluorescent bulbs are great for most lamps because they burn cooler, but you may need larger harp since CFL’s are taller than standard light bulbs.

How to measure a lamp shade

Find the right size shade for your lamp. Follow these tips for correct measuring.

Shade Dimensions are typically given Top x Bottom x Height on the SLANT. Be sure to measure the slant height and not the vertical height.

The taller the lamp, the larger the shade. Most table lamps take a shade with a bottom diameter (B) of 16″ or less. Floor lamps take a shade with a bottom diameter (B) of 16″ or 18″ or larger.

Measure the lamp’s height from the bottom of the base to just below the socket(s). The basic rule of thumb is that the shade you choose should have a bottom diameter (B) that’s approximately equal to this measurement.

Choosing the Right Fitter 

A “fitter” is simply the way the shade connects to your lamp. Most lamps have “spider” fitters. Other common fitters include UNO or clip-on fitters. Check your existing lamp against the diagram and descriptions below to determine what type of fitter you need:

Choosing the Right Drop

Shades with a spider-type or UNO-type fitter usually have some distance between the top edge of the shade down to the center of the fitter. This makes the fitting less visible when viewing the lamp from the side but does raise the position of the shade by the drop distance.

Shades with spider-type fitters typically feature a 1/to 1-inch drop.

Shades with a Slip-UNO fitter have several inches of the drop which varies per-shade since the fitter has to drop down to below the bulb.

Threaded-UNO fitter shades typically feature a drop of to inches so as to conceal electrical attachments above the shade.

Coolie Shade

Simple designed straight-sided shades that usually feature a bottom width 3-times larger than the top, resulting in a shade that emits most of the light from the bottom.

Distance from the top of the shade to the center of the fitter.

Fitters

The metal structure that attaches the shade to the lamp base. The most common type is the Spider Fitter which resembles a spoked wheel and connects to a harp with a finial. A Clip-On Fitter features metal loops allowing the shade to attach on top of the bulb. Larger clip-on shades are designed to attach directly to a standard Edison bulb, while smaller chandelier shades have smaller loops to fit a candelabra bulb. An Uno Fitter is designed with a larger center opening which fits snugly into the socket. Slip Uno Fitters feature a large drop and rest on the socket of a table lamp. Threaded Uno Fitters actually screw on to the socket so it can hang downward, typically on down-bridge floor lamps.

Hardback

A stiff backing applied to the inner surface of a lamp shade to keep its shape over time. During the creation of a hardback lampshade, the fabric is laminated over a stiff but bendable backing material, typically a plastic such as a styrene. The hard backing helps the shade to keep its form, prevents drooping or warping, and extends the life of the shade. With a hardback shade it often becomes unnecessary to use extra metal framework running between the top and bottom of the shade, since the backing maintains the shape. This removes the shadows or blocks to light caused by the presence of vertical framework showing through the shade.

Lampshade

Decorative covering, usually fabric, used to diffuse and direct the light from the bulb. A properly chosen shade will enhance the base and bring out its best features without competing with it for attention. (The life of the party can also use it as a hat late on a wild evening.)

An additional surface applied to the inside of a lamp shade, used to filter or reflect light. A reflective lining such as gold or silver helps to reflect light away from the shade surface and focuses it out of the top and bottom. This keeps the outer appearance of the shade the same color and tone as when the light is off. This is useful for dark or black shades that you want to stay dark-looking even when the lamp is on. It also prevents the shade from absorbing some of the light, increasing overall light output. A reflective lining also hides the appearance of a bright-spot from the light bulb, as seen through the shade. Other types of lining include plastic, linen and other fabrics, each with its own degree of diffusing and reflecting light. Some linings allow some light through while also increasing the output through the top and bottom of the shade.

Slant Height

The measurement from the outermost tip of the top edge of a lamp shade, to the outermost tip of the bottom edge, on a diagonal and in a straight line. We use the slant height to describe the `height` (length of the side) of the shade. The slant height is easily measured outside the shade, even when the shade is installed, and should be measured in a straight line regardless of any curvature in the shape of the shade. Bell shades are just as easily measured, measuring in a straight line from top to bottom, ignoring the curved surface. (Since most shades do not have vertical sides, it is difficult to get an accurate vertical measurement, usually requires the shade to be removed from the lamp. It is easier and more intuitive to measure the outside of the shade on the slant from top to bottom.)

Metal receptacle at the top of the lamp base that holds the bulb and usually contains the switch. A slip-UNO fitter or a harp generally sits beneath the socket.

 

 

 

 

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Final Word

First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.

Most important, have fun and choose your Arch Files wisely! Good luck!

So, TOP3 of Arch Files

 

 

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