The Noisecast
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November 29, 2011 @ 1:00 pm CST

Remember Folding@Home? Get back to it!

Written by: Chris Ness
Tags: , , ,

Now that winter is upon us, we need to heat our homes again. What better way than to max out the CPU on every computer you own? As our favorite DJ reminded us recently, we have the power to help science (and we freakin’ love science!) for free, with only about 5 minutes of our time. That’s how long it takes to install the client, then it runs in the background, eating up those leftover CPU cycles.

On top of being goody-goodies, we also have the opportunity to brag about how much better we are than other people at saving the world. If you look at our Stats Page you can see that we’re gaining on Dell. It’s because we’re using Lenovos, probably. Either way, if you’ve got a spare computer (or PS3) grab the client and let that beast warm your home, while you save lives.

Below is the original write-up I did about it. It’s a general how-to guide, and includes download links and such. Some of the data may be a bit outdated, but you get the idea.


You Could Be Saving Lives, By Not Using Your Computer

Okay, not really. But you can still do good. Have you ever heard of Folding@Home? It uses a concept called distributed computing to crunch through “Work Units” (or WU) that are periodically retrieved from the home server. Once the computations are done, your computer sends the results back to the home server and requests a new WU. 

But why would I do this?
Because you’re a good human being with a heart – and a few free CPU (or GPU) cycles. Your typical computer rarely runs at full tilt all the time. Folding@Home (or F@H) utilizes the unused cycles on your computer to plow through WUs – in the background. The process itself is given the lowest possible priority, so it won’t interfere with your day to day tasks.

What am I folding, your laundry?
Nope, sorry. I deal with my own skidmarks. However, you will be simulating the assembly process of proteins – a process called folding – with this program. Proteins folding improperly can lead to diseases such as sickle cell, Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, and many more. By allowing F@H to simulate the process, you are giving scientists the ammunition to fight these diseases.

Dude, that’s sweet. I want to participate!
Awesome! Participation is simple: Head over to the F@H Download Page and grab the client that is right for you. The CPU client works on (almost) any system, and many operating systems are supported. If you have a fancy-pants video card, you’re in luck! You can run the GPU Client! Have an idle PS3 laying around? Boy, you’re in luck too! Head on over for instructions on how to download and install the client!

Cool, it’s downloaded, now what?
Well, I am sure glad you asked. It seems that our mortal enemies friends over at Engadget have their own team! We can’t just let them keep stomping on us, right? That’s no simple task, since they have a five year head start, but we’re doing this for science first. The denziens of #whitenoise have already established a team, and are currently the fastest growing group on F@H.
Once you install the program, you will be asked for a username and team ID. Our team is 195000, and your username can be whatever you want, but we recommend using your Gawker username. If you want to see our team progress, head on over to the stats page. You can use your username on as many different computers as you want. In fact, if you’ve got a few extras laying around, put them to use! It will boost your score and again, help science. However, do not use computers that aren’t yours. Sorry, IT guys.

If you have any questions about the program, check out the Official FAQ.

About the Author

Chris Ness
Chris "Kevlar" Ness is a Former Marine, college student, and father. His interested in Tech was sparked by a 5 year stint fixing crappy electronics for Uncle Sam, and is currently chasing the dream of working in IA. He is a WP7 fanboy, avid social media advocate, and he drinks a little too much. Find him on Google Plus


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  • andrew_berge

    Alright, i’m back on. Hopefully if we can get a lot of people going again, we can make it fun by overtaking lots of teams :)

    • Justin Zegart

      Hell yeah!

      *bro fist!*

  • Gumper

    Electricity bills will vary by usage. My old P4 loves to spend my money.

    • Kevlar Menace

      I tossed both of mine. Last time I ran them both on F@H:disqus  at the same time, I had to cool my apt during the winter.

  • Waly Kerkeboom

    I get asked for a passkey. What’s with that?

  • Justin Zegart

    Don’t forget to register to get your own unique pass keys as well people. 
    If you use your registered username and passkey after 10 successful folds you start getting bonus point multipliers which give you insane points.

    Use this link to register:

    Don’t miss out on these bonus points. 

    • andrew_berge

      Where can i enter this if i’m currently folding? Is it too late?
      Is adding it to the cfg file enough?

      • Justin Zegart

        I would wait for the fold to finish and relaunch it with the passkey. Not sure which client you are using though, I am using the Beta V7 Client which has a very nice GUI.

      • Kevlar Menace

        It should be right under the area for your name, if you’ve got a pop up config box. If you’re running the console client, you’ll probably have to re-launch and set it up that way.

  • Anonymous

    We recently overtook Dell. Yes, that Dell. 

    • Justin Zegart

      I know, it was awesome!

  • Justin Zegart

    We need more people folding! We are kicking ass left and right in the ranks right now.