Donate Your Extra Computing Power and Help Save Lives

Introduction: Donate Your Extra Computing Power and Help Save Lives

Many of you have computers that just sit there idling most of the time. By using BOINC (Berkley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing) you can donate your spare CPU and GPU processing time to distributed computing projects, some of which look for cures to cancer and AIDS, work toward creating an accurate map of the Milky Way galaxy, find prime numbers, simulate different solar cells to find the most efficient design, and much, much more.

Computer with Internet Connection
Approximately 10 Minutes

Step 1: Download and Install the Application

Start by downloading the BOINC application here . You want the recommended version, 32-bit if you're running 32-bit Windows, and 64-bit if you're running 64-bit Windows. (To figure out what version of Windows you have, click Start, right-click Computer, and click Properties. It will be specified under System Type.)

After you have successfully downloaded it, double-click the executable to install it. Default settings are fine.

Step 2: Attach to Projects

Now that you have the application installed, you will need to choose and attach to projects. A complete list of BOINC projects can be found here . As you can see, there are many options. Some of the most popular include SETI@home, World Community Grid, and Milkyway@home, but you can choose any project(s) that appeal to you. Once you have decided what projects you wish to contribute to, launch the BOINC application, click Advanced View, and click Tools->Attach to Project or Account Manager. Select your project from the list, create an account, and voila! Your computer should begin to download and run work units (WUs).

Step 3: BOINC Configuration

You'll probably want to customize when BOINC will run. To do that, click Advanced->Preferences and adjust the fields as necessary. For example, if you only wanted BOINC to run at night, change the hour settings under "Every day between the hours of" to 20:00 and 06:00, telling BOINC to begin computation at 8:00 PM and stop at 6:00 AM. 

Congratulations! You are now contributing your spare CPU power to do good deeds! But that's not all you can do.

Several BOINC projects now support using an OpenCL or CUDA enabled videocard to process workunits, doing it much faster than a CPU. When you attach to a project, it will have an icon for AMD/ATI or Nvidia videocards if it supports using those to compute. Just make sure your videocard is set to compute under the preferences, and you'll be contributing lots in no time! 

Step 4: Statistics & Conclusion

BOINC uses a statistics system to allow competition between members and teams. You earn cobblestones, or points, based on how many workunits you complete, how long they took, and how powerful your computer is. To see your statistics, simply go here and search for your username in the search bar. (Check the Cross Projects box first) The statistics can be confusing at first, but they're pretty simple once you get used to them.

Congratulations! You're now a cruncher. (BOINC lingo for someone who processes workunits) You're now helping to discover alien life, map the galaxy, and most importantly, save lives!

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