The COVID19 situation had me thinking, isn't there something I can do to help that doesn't involve human to human contact? Turns out there is... and it's really interesting and informative. It's called protein folding. It's a computational biology project currently being used on many issues like Ebola, Zika, and Parkinson's. Now it's also being used on the COVID-19 virus, and you can help them do it faster with distributed computing. It's called Folding At Home.

"Folding@home (FAH or F@h) is a distributed computing project for simulating protein dynamics, including the process of protein folding and the movements of proteins implicated in a variety of diseases. It brings together citizen scientists who volunteer to run simulations of protein dynamics on their personal computers. Insights from this data are helping scientists to better understand biology, and providing new opportunities for developing therapeutics."


The best short description of what this is doing is:

"Viruses also have proteins that they use to suppress our immune systems and reproduce themselves. To help tackle coronavirus, we want to understand how these viral proteins work and how we can design therapeutics to stop them. "

by Greg Bowman
Screen grab of one of my machines on my renderfarm using GPU on project.

How You Can Join The Fight

If you have a powerful machine or powerful video card, you can use it to join the Folding@home project. Just follow these steps:

  • Install the Folding @ Home client onto your PC by downloading it here:
  • Run the client. That's it.
  • Now if you wanted to get fancy and make a team because you have a bunch of computers, you can setup an ID and a team and use that info on each of the clients.
  • If you want to join my team here's the info to input to your folding client:
    • ID: BigLittlePictures
    • Team: 238644

From here you basically just let it work either in the background when the machine is idle or you can force it to always run. I've thrown my entire renderfarm at it so it contributes when idle automatically! Either way it's nice to know the computer is doing something useful and contributing to an immediate issue. They even give updates with the distributed work units, so you know which project your machine is working on. Super cool!

A Few Client Notes From Experience

  • As seen in the image above, sometimes things appear idle. This is most likely because the servers are overwhelmed on their end, just let it go and it'll pick up a task when one becomes available.
  • Make sure you have updated video drivers, as this technology uses some recent implementations.
  • I just made all of mine use GPU only, as to not really disrupt my business activity.
  • The Donor stats page is often overwhelmed too because so many people are active. If it is overwhelmed it just says Bad Gateway, its a good problem because it means they have too much help. 🙂 Here's the BLP stats page....

Join in if you can!