This is almost a scam. Almost because you can get something like it for free– you will still need to buy a USB drive if you don’t already own one, but these days thumb drives are dirt cheap. I’m guessing the Xtra-PC unit does what the manufacturer says it does but read on and I will tell you how to get a superior product for the cost of the electricity to run your computer and router. Oh and a USB drive which you might already own. Here’s their claim:
Xtra-PC is a small thumb drive you simply plug into your computer’s USB port and it instantly transforms your old computer to like new. It works with any computer (Mac or Windows) laptop, desktop, and netbooks made in 2004 or later and it is hands down the fastest, easiest solution to getting yourself a new computer without spending $400, $500, $800 or more – guaranteed. No more staring at spinning wheels or hourglasses ever again!
It’s a little over the top, especially that part about the spinning wheels and hourglasses. What you get is a live system. Which means that all the files needed to run your computer is on that USB. The USB becomes your “new” hard drive, and the system is run from the RAM that is already on your computer. You plug that device in a USB socket and when the computer starts up it will see that drive and load all of the files it needs from that drive and ignore your old files. Yes, I’m being overly simple but out of necessity, bear with me.
As much as they state that you just need to plug it in and restart your computer, it’s not quite that simple. You will probably have to make a change to the start up sequence of your existing system. It’s not all that scary, just a couple of key strokes.
Before I get into that let me just say that you might not have to do anything. That is to say, your computer by default, might be set up to find the USB drive when you boot up your system. Mine an HP laptop didn’t find the USB drive and I had to make it so it would. If your computer finds the USB drive it will begin to load the files necessary to run the live system. It will not make changes to your computer. Everything it needs to run “like new” is on that USB drive and it will use your systems memory (RAM). The downside is that when you shut down your system you lose all unsaved work. So you will need to save your work to another USB drive or lose it.
If you want to have a “new computer” as described above in the Xtra-PC ad but don’t want to kick out the cash– get the free version, a really good version, just download Ubuntu, or Linux Mint or some other variation of these Free Open Source Software systems (FOSS). You will need to create a bootable USB or DVD before you can use the system. That’s right you can also run a live system from a DVD as well. There is also free software that will allow you to easily make one or both of the above.
If you have to change the Boot Mode for a PC to “Legacy” instead of “UEFI” to do that you will need restart your computer. Here are some generic instructions from NeoSmart Technologies web-site:
Immediately after powering up your PC, as soon as the manufacturer logo (e.g. Dell, Lenovo, HP, Toshiba, Samsung, ASUS, Acer, Gateway, etc.) shows up on your BIOS splash screen, you will have the option of pressing a special key. This key changes from PC to PC, it all depends on your PC’s make and model.
Typically, you will see a brief note at the bottom or top of the screen indicating what the key is. One such screen is visible to the right, note the legend in the top-right corner indicating F2 will start the BIOS setup and F12 will present the boot selection menu.
Some common options include the F2, F8, F12, and Del keys. However, it could be any of the one hundred other keys on your keyboard.
Find the Boot tab, using the arrow keys navigate to that tab. Now look for Legacy Support, or Legacy CSM or UEFI/Legacy Boot (Both/Legacy Only/UEFI Only), each manufacturer has a different name for it but it will say something like the above. The bolding means that’s the option you need to select.
Settings and Exiting
In order for the changes to the Secure Boot configuration to take effect, the BIOS/EFI/UEFI configuration options must be saved. The common keyboard shortcut to save and exit is F10.
After correctly giving priority to the CD/DVD over the local hard disk, you will need to save changes and exit. Again, the exact steps depend on your PCs make and model, but generally navigating with the ← and → arrow keys will let you reach the options of “discard changes and exit” vs “save changes and exit,” amongst others. It’s important that you choose the “save changes and exit” option! The keyboard shortcut F10 is often synonymous with “save and exit” but you should make sure before using it.
click on the hyperlink above for a really simple guided tour of how to change the settings.
Linux Mint, Ubuntu etc. are fully functional systems. It comes pre-loaded with office software and many other programs. It will do everything that Xtra-PC will do and I am betting it will do a lot more. If you like it and want to keep it you can install Linux or Ubuntu on the systems hard drive. But that’s another post. Before you shell out hard earned cash for the Xtra-PC, try the free stuff first. BTW I use Linux Mint and I love it. I started with Ubuntu, and it’s pretty good too.