You can put your spare computer’s calculation power at use! And it’s so easy that no one has excuses. All it takes is to download and install an application called Folding@home.
“But… wait a minute. You want me to install an application that steals computing power from my computer?”
Yes! I would just change the word steal for give or donate. But if you’ve never heard of Folding@home I do understand your confusion. Let’s start by defining what Folding@home is.
Folding@home is a software whose main functionality is to borrow computing power to a computational network. To understand this, start by remembering one of those supercomputers you surely heard about in the news (like the CRAY series); the purpose of these giants is to solve problems of various nature, including weather forecasting, seeking potential cures for cancer, simulating protein bonding, predicting floods and so on. Now imagine that this supercomputer, instead of being held entirely in a single room could be spread around the world. This would form a world-wide computational network (Side note: even those supercomputers, in reality, are networks) to which computers can take part by subscribing to it.
And in few words, that is what Folding@home does: at your own will, Folding@home (F@H for short) tells the network your computer is available to do some work.
Folding@home is maintained by a research centre at Stanford and it only serves noble purposes that target various diseases including Parkinsons and Covid-19.
How do I contribute?
That’s where the magic is. You don’t have to do anything. Once you have installed and launched the software, you can carry on with your life or… quarantine. Your computer is volunteering for you!
When F@H starts, after some time it will receive a problem to work on (in F@H this is called a Work Unit, WU for short). These problems are all prepackaged so that your computer can start working on them right away. When the time it takes has gone and your computer has successfully completed a task it will pack the solution and send it back to a special computer that assembles all the solutions.
Definition of Work Unit from F@H’s website: Your computer will periodically request protein data to be analyzed. The servers respond by assigning a Work Unit to the FAH client, and securely deliver it though the Internet connection to your computer. When the client completes that assignment, the results will be returned to the Stanford servers and more work will be assigned. Your computer may complete a Work Unit in a few hours, or a few days, depending on a number of factors.
How do I know what my computer is working on?
In the image below my computer is working on WU 11762.
To see what the WU is about I entered the WU number into this form to find out that my computer is simulating the main protease of the COVID-19. Pretty satisfying given how pissed off we all are for the Covid-19 situation.
A list of all active WUs can be found here.
The F@H network gives you points for every completed WU. If you want to keep your points you must require a PASSKEY as the username optional and is not enough to identify you. To require a passkey, fill out the form at https://foldingathome.org/support/faq/points/passkey/ and you’ll receive it in an email.
NOTE: sometimes it does not work. For me it worked the second time but had to wait the day after to retry.
Joining a team is totally optional but to be honest, the thrill of teaming up and have that sense of common purpose makes the F@H experience so much better that I think you are really missing out if you don’t join. The purpose of a team is to gather all points under one name. I founded a team called COROWNAGE which I invite you to join with number 247194.
To join a team you must enter the team number in the configuration.
Find F@H’s icon, usually found at the bottom right corner (Windows) task bar. If you don’t see it it might just be hidden in the small arrow pointing up. Once you found it, right click on it and select Advanced Control.
COME AND KICK Covid-19′s AND OTHER DISEASES’ BUTT WITH TEAM COROWNAGE! ❤❤❤ Enter 247194 as your team!
TEAM COROWNAGE PAGE @ Folding@home