Quick and easy guide to Folding@home

Tags:
Home Computers Distributed Computing
JamieKavanagh
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If you have ever wondered what Folding@home is and whether you should participate in it or not, this post is for you. I have written this quick and easy guide to Folding@home so you can get to grips with what it is and why you should join in. I hope it helps.

What is Folding@home?
Folding@home is a project run by Stanford University's Chemistry division’s Pande Group. The idea is to use distributed computing to learn more about how and why proteins fold. This folding process needs to be understood because when things go wrong with the fold, diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Huntington's disease and some cancers can occur.

It would take a supercomputer a very long time to work this stuff out so the scientists developed a distributed computing client that uses your computer when you’re not using it. Each client takes a tiny piece of the puzzle, computes the solution and sends it back to Folding@home.

How can I get Folding@home?
To begin contributing, all you need is the client and a computer.

1. Download and run the Folding@home installer.
2. Run through the installation wizard as directed.
3. Select Set up an identity.
4. Enter a name, team and a Passkey.
5. Click Save and Done.

Once installed, allow the app to run in the background and it will perform calculations either while you’re using your computer or when it is idle. If run as a background process, it takes a lower priority than Windows tasks so it doesn’t slow your computer down or get in the way.

The default installation settings will work with most computers but if you want to tweak how yours works, the guys at Stanford have written a very comprehensive guide to advanced tweaking.

Folding@home is an excellent project that uses what would otherwise be wasted clock cycles to help contribute to curing some of the world’s most dangerous diseases. It is well worth getting involved with!

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