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Q: What is Folding@Home?

A: Folding at home is a means of us taking our unused computer cycles to help Stanford University academics in medical research. The scientific bits can be found here. but simply put we will simulate the behavior of proteins and hence hopefully understand them.

Q: How can my spare cycles help?

A: The behavior of proteins, called folding, is very complex. To simulate this with one computer would take a major mainframe, but by splitting this calculation into minor steps and then giving these to computers all over the world the University can use their meager computers to combine our work and produce more results overall. That's where we come in, we download these little bits and along with their program which does the calculations, uploads the completed work and downloads new work, and so the cycle begins gain.

Q: What are these bits of work called?

A: These units are called 'work units', the number of work units you complete is one of the markers used in the statistics to which teams often allude.

Q: What other figures are used in the statistics?

A: The other statistic reported is your 'total score', this is based on the time you take to complete a work unit as compared to a P2-400 Mhz - which is expected to complete one work unit in one day. (If a P2-400 takes 3 days to complete a protein then the score allocated will be 3.

Q: Is there a time limit to returning a work unit?

A: Yes, 6 days.

Q: what is the minimum PC capable of running Folding@Home?

A: Using Q's 4 & 5 above the minimum spec of a PC should be a PC that can complete a work unit in 6 days, which running flat out is a PC that is 1/3rd the power of a P2-400 (anyone want to argue the ratings of both Intel & AMD is welcome to try and calculate the actual chips required). There should be sufficient ram to handle the operating system and the folding client (at least 64Mb on win9x), any less ram and you will use the hard drive swap file and therefore this too will have a slight affect on the requirements to run F@H v4 - usually you wont need to worry about this. You must also have an internet connection available.

Q: Can my puny PC really make a difference to the team?

A: Yes, yes & yes. The [H]orde mainly consists of single PC setups which allows flexibility should any machine go down, or anyone take a break the affect is minimal. A team with large 'farms' is susceptible to a large farmer taking a break and their performance will therefore take a larger hit.

Q: Are there any valid reasons not to fold?

A: Yes, valid reasons are:

  • You are doing another medical research based distributed computing project.
  • You will never get Alzheimer's neither will your friends or relatives whether present or future and you don't care about strangers who may.
  • Your PC runs at 100% all the time even when you are not in front of it.
  • They've already found the cure for Alzheimer's.

Q: I am on a dialup connection, can I get multiple work units and upload them all when they finish?

A: No, each folding work unit is based on previously submitted work and hence cannot support this feature (aka caching), however you can run multiple instances of the client by running them from separate folders, if you took part in folding1 then you should use the -local switch to launch the program, this effectively slows down each client but your overall work rate will be unaffected.

Q: I have a machine that can't connect to the net, can I still fold?

A: Yes. Download and install the client into a separate directory on the internet machine, configure it and download a work unit. Then stop the client and cut & paste the entire directory to the other machine & restart the client. When the work unit is complete reverse the order to upload the completed work and download the next unit. This has been tested & proven to work.

Q: Where can I see my stats?

A: Stats can best be seen here at

Note: When you first join you will be unlikely to see any stats for at least 6 hours after the first work unit is submitted.
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