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9 Things I wish I knew before I started playing Folding@Home

Feb 17, 2020
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9 Things I wish I knew before I started playing Folding@Home

View: https://imgur.com/ikcc3j1


The world’s fastest-growing MMO, Folding@home, is an addictive grind despite the occasional server issue. The community is super-welcoming, with room for everyone from casuals to diehards, and it’s very easy to pick up. But as with any good MMO, there are always some tricks to make levelling up go faster. Here are some things I wish I’d known when I started:


Folding isn’t just for idle PCs

The general idea with Folding@Home is that it uses your PC’s resources while the system is idle to run its protein simulations. However, many users find they can actually fold while doing light office tasks, web browsing, and watching videos with no problems. YMMV, but give it a try.


You can play games while folding

Top scientists on the PCG forum went a step further and ran games while folding. Older titles ran with no difference, and some AAA titles ran smoothly too. Your results may vary depending on your system, but don’t let fear of losing time for (other) gaming put you off folding.


It gets updates

Games as a service are all the rage. FAH is getting new content – the recently-released 7.6.9 client lets you set a preference for Covid-19 projects. Huge quantities of the available work relate to research on Covid-19 anyway, but it’s nice to be able to set a formal preference if that’s what introduced you to folding. Finish your current work units before downloading the new client.


You can get certificates (on demand!)

Bringing up your donor stats lets you click on your Work Units completed to get a Collector’s Edition, signed certificate – brush aside those swimming badges and scout trophies to make room for:
View: https://imgur.com/a/IxWtg6N

Personal certificates and team certificates, Oh My!

You get VASTLY more points with an identity and passkey.

While you can fold in anonymity – and Mx. Anonymous is PC Gamer’s 26th highest ranked contributor(s) – setting an identity lets you generate a ‘passkey’ that stops others from pretending to be you and lets you access the Quick Returns Bonus.
Getting a passkey doesn’t require account creation or log-in. You just ask for one here and it appears in your inbox


It has graphics!


When I first tried using the Protein Viewer, it just ran a demo video. No idea what changed, but I can now watch the magic of my GPU folding proteins like a champion wrestler folding their opponent! Also, there seems to be little difference in resource usage or power consumption, going to full from medium. Crank up the power!


Quick returns Bonus

FAH relies on work units being returned so more can be generated serially. So the quicker you return projects, the more points you get given. Delaying a project (e.g. by pausing it) reduces the points you get at the end.

If you know you’re going to break from folding once your current Work Unit completes, tell the client to finish the current unit and stop. Then you aren’t given another Work Unit you instantly need to pause.



You can navel-gaze stats endlessly

View: https://imgur.com/a/gTmnZQ2

There’s a whole universe of stats available, beyond your score listed on the FAH control panel. Extremeoverclocking.com collates team and user stats, averages points per day or week, and predicts the next people who you will conquer - or who will overthrow you.


They run world and community events

The current crisis is one that no single person or part of gamers can overcome alone. Instead, defeating it is a communal effort. Get involved early and often to play the biggest role possible. Join ASAP and start levelling up.

There are plenty of ways to get involved outside of the game client. FAH is holding a competition to design their new logo, as well as volunteers to squash bugs and develop a new open source client.
 
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