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Computer Hope

The basics

Today, virtually every one has a Computer or seen or even working with it. The equipment is multi functional. There are different categories of Computer, depending on usage. It's usefulness stretches into medical, engineering, architectural, communication, industrial, private and many more fields. Computer is very versatile.

More than 80 percent of the people in front of the equipment: Computer - are end users. Users have limited knowledge on what to do when their Personal Computers (PC) or Desktop Computers in offices malfunction or break down. Anyway, one must not be a professional in other to use a computer. It is important that a user can administer the application required to carry out the duties. Where problems set in, contact the nearest Information Technology (IT) technician for assistance.  Books and Internet could be useful, if one can apply the knowledge gained, that is.

Computer hardware and software engineers have worked hard in engineering the different components of a Computer that withstand difficult working situations and environments. Besides malicious damage and wrong use/graceful degradation, a Computer can function for years. All it then needs is maintenance.

The maintenance culture is vivid in human being. If people do not take proper care of themselves, what is next? A new computer, after initial configuration does its jobs fine. As time goes by, wrong usage of applications, inadequate security and hardware/software degradation expose the Computer to bad conditions that lead to downtime. Note: Some Computer problems may be sometimes unforeseen! All you need is sort, - if you have a limited IT knowledge - the assistance the IT/Technician to troubleshoot the Computer.

Information on computer has no limit, and none is a waste. It is very dynamic; the technology is being improved on regularly to meet the next generations' demand because the world, as it seems today, eventually cannot do without the calculator – Computer.

End user:

This is the person who uses a computer, which includes programmers as well as novices.

An end user is any person who runs an application program. Back to top


Computer hardware is the physical part of a computer. The hardware is not regularly changed. Most computer hardware is not seen by end users; and they include: motherboard, Central Processing Unit (CPU), Random Access Memory (RAM), Graphic Card, Network Interface Card (NIC), Hard Disc Drives, Power Supply, Floppy Disc Drive… Peripheral hardware as the name indicates include: Printer, Monitor, Mouse, Keyboard and much other digital equipment, externally connected to a computer. Back to top


This device stands between hardware and software. An example of this is the read only memory (ROM).


This is generally referred to as a program used to operate a computer and similar devices. It is the most important program that runs on a computer, and is not a physical part of the device. Software could be subdivided into Application software – users apply this in their areas of interest, and System software referred to as Operating systems or any other one that supports application software…

An Operating system - OS - performs the basic functions such as identifying the inputs and outputs of the peripheral devices and controlling them.

Normally, users interact with the operating system through a set of commands. Back to top

Motherboard: motherboard: click to enlarge

A motherboard, also known as system board, main board, or on Apple computer as a logic board. Its basic function is providing the electrical and logical connections through which other components of the system communicate.  Essentially, this circuit board is made up of chipset, ROM and the buses interconnecting the various components. The buses of the microcomputer include the Front Side bus (System bus), Back Side bus and input/output bus (expansion bus). 

A typical motherboard contains the CPU, BIOS; Memory, mass storage interfaces, serial and parallel ports, expansion slots and all the controllers that control the standard peripheral devices.

Form Factors:

This describes the general shape of the motherboard. The commonest one found on PC include the AT and ATX versions.
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Central Processing Unit:

The CPU is the brain of the computer. In most occasions it is referred to as the processor, and is where calculations mostly take place. Speaking of computing power, the CPU, among others, is the most important element of a computer system. 

On personal computers and small workstations, the CPU is housed in a single chip called a microprocessor. Today, most PCs and workstations have two or more - multi-core - CPUs embedded one die -(Dual Processor). Usually, the processors are identically manufactured. They are mostly located beside each other on the same die. Each has its own path to the system front-side bus. This has increased the computing power of a computer. One has to take the advantages of this technology.

Two physical cores in one processor support better system responsiveness and multi-tasking capability than a single core processor.

There are two typical components of a CPU: The arithmetic logic unit (ALU) and the Control Unit (CU). The ALU performs arithmetic and logical operations; while the CU

The CU relate to ALU if the need arises, but its majore function is to move out Instructions from memory and decodes and executes them.
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RAM: ram: click to enlarge

Random Access Memory: it is most commonly found on a computer, and other devices such as a printer or a graphic card. Since RAM is faster to write to and read from, than hard disk, CD/DVD and floppy disk, it is where in a computer, the operating system, application programs, and data currently in use are kept for a quick reach by the CPU.

The two types of RAM :

They differ technologically on how they store data. DRAM needs to be refreshed many times within a second. SRAM is faster, does not need to be refreshed, hence, it is also more expensive than the other.

Both types of RAM are volatile. That is, they lose their contents when the power is turned off. Among the things that increase performance in a computer is the amount of RAM installed. The other type of memory is called Read Only Memory (ROM). The Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) is located in every PC. This firmware (BIOS) contains instructions and setup for how the system unit should boot and how it operates. It is not volatile. It stores important programs that a computer needs. It includes instructions on how a PC hardware has to be loaded and also the intructions on Power On self Test - POST. The POST ensures that every PC meets the requirments to correctly boot up. If the POST fails, the PC combines some beeps to indicate which device that has malfunctioned.

Maintenace: Keep the computer optimized to boast performance.

When you notice that the computer's performance is slowing down, the most common reason is the hard disk.

Hard disk:

Your computer's hard disk is a non-removable area that holds all the information available from your Computer. Over time, hard disks begin to lose their ability to store data efficiently.

Whenever a program crashes, or you experience some power outage, your computer may create errors on your computer's hard disk. Over time, the errors can slow your computer. This has to be checked.

An expert, will use step-by-step instructions in narrowing down the computer problems -Troubleshooting. Back to top


Graceful degradation is a very important feature of computer components. A graceful degradation in quality and standard of performance is the ability of,  not only a PC, but other well designed devices to maintain limited functionality even when a part of its hardware or software is damaged or rendered inoperative. In such a system, even the simultaneous loss of multiple components does not cause any downtime. It’s important that such downtime has to be avoided by keeping a good maintenance plan. Back to top


This refers to getting a computer started (a cold boot - from off position and a warm boot - restart) which involves checking the hardware, loading of the operating system and other basic programs. Back to top


Fixing unexpected problems when upgrading a PC can weigh heavily on the fact: the cost. However, the money you spend on a simple upgrade may be substantially less than what you would spend for a new PC. Well, if you value time, a new computer will be preferred because you will gain more power or added capability.

Adding more RAM is the cheapest, fastest and easiest upgrade for any. Or adding more hard disk drive to increase your storage capacity might equally be considered cheaper.

Modern pc components are plug and play compatible; upgrading your own PC has never been easier. Keeping your software and drivers current keeps your PC running smoothly. Back to top

The Basic Network:

Networking is a method whereby computing devices are linked together with hardware and software that supports data communications across these devices.

Most homes have more than one computer, and to greatly make good use of them, a network is required. The advantages include:

- sharing files among computers.
- sharing a printer connected to another PC.
- sharing single internet connection among several PCs etc.

One may consider either wired or wireless network type as an option. When wired network is applied, it is important to choose the right Topography.

The PCs in question should have the right hardware and software required; and decide whether dialup or broadband connection will be made.

Some network hardware include:

A computer network may fail to function effectively for many different reasons. Understanding basic network troubleshooting methods will help you recover quickly on home networks and elsewhere. Tools for troubleshooting some network problems include: Ping, ipconfig, Tracert ARP, understanding the TCP/IP utilities, etc. (whatis.com)

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