I am one of those mythological creatures called “IT Guys.” Even though my actual area of expertise is so far removed from hardware, that sometimes I wonder why people automatically relate me to it. Sure, I started my career being a Computer Operator/Systems Administrator assistant, and I have built my own computer and fixed quite a few along the way. However, most of my career has been spent in the Business Analysis and Consulting arena. More recently I have gone back and picked up coding again which is enjoyable because I love wrestling a bug to the ground and killing it… yes I know they are some big bugs.

However, today I want to talk about a misconception that I continue to encounter. People seem to have a hard time with the concept of what a computer actually is.

A computer is a machine that manipulates data according to instructions. Those instructions are basically what programs are. Personal Computers come with an Operating System or (OS) that makes it easier for users to access their information and perform tasks. Hardware are the parts that actually allow you to access that day. Keyboards and mice are input devices, printers and monitors are display devices, but when it comes to computers you will be surprised how many people start to get confused.

A CPU is not the same as a hard drive or a computer. That box that sits on the floor is the actual computer, and inside of it it has a hard drive, a CPU, memory and other nifty cards that you might never hear about until one breaks or has to be upgraded. The CPU or Central Processing Unit is what actually does the calculations, it is also known as “THE CHIP” and its kind of arrogant that way since there are other chips in there. Nothing to do with “CHiPs” either. You have heard of “CHIP” makers like Intel and AMD… well maybe, but basically the more Gigz that little thing has, the more calculations it can perform and the “faster” your computer will be.

Now the hard drive or hard disk is what stores information inside that computer box or case. They are about the size of 1/4th of a brick now, but I remember the days when they were the actual size of a brick and weighted a lot more. The “bigger” the hard drive, the more data like movies and pictures you can store. There are also internal and external hard drives, but they are essentially just places where you store information.

Last but not least I want to talk about making your computer faster, and those informational that promise you better performance by just downloading something to your computer. If you want your computer to perform correctly you need to keep it clean. Every piece of software that you install and adds itself to your start up list will eat up resources. Resources (disk, memory, bandwidth) are limited, and the more things you have fighting to take them, the slower your computer will run. Your computer will only be as fast as your slowest resource. All the memory in the world will not make the internet faster if you have a slow internet connection. All the CPU computing power will not make your computer perform faster if you do not have enough memory and information has to constantly be read from disk.

I hope this answers some questions, and don’t be shy and send me your questions. I can always protect the person that asks by making them just another “user” 😉

Also if you are new here, read my article on password security.

8 comments on “CPU = HARDRIVE = COMPUTER

  1. My personal favorite is when I call up a customer about a dead PC and it turns out the monitor is off. No screen = dead right? Ugh…

  2. You sound like your goin though the same mid-life crisis I had bout 6 years ago, when I got fedup working for Gateway Computers phone support. It’s not that I dont like wrestling with computers and tackling tuff programing code. Its just that the better you become at doing those things, the more idiotic they seem to get. Trust me dood, they wont ever stop makin yer brain hurt till you get outa the IT related business. That why I movin over to Accounting. Maybe then they will just leave me alone and let me play with my numbers. ^_^

  3. LOL KCGeek,

    This was in no way any kind of rant, it was supposed to sound funny and be informative to the people that don’t already know these things. No mid life crisis :) I love the people that depend on our IT department.

  4. i am always fixing computers for family and friends so am accustomed to all kinds of computer madness. oh well you take it in stride. been wrestling with java code in school. that is fun.

  5. What do I do to fix the cup holder on my “computer”? I guess I need an upgrade so it can hold a 32 oz Big Gulp or something =)

  6. Cute

    My mom used to think that the computer itself was the hard drive. After all the case was hard.

    My little hacker boy son is the compuguru in our house. He gets tired of my friends calling him up with computer questions.

  7. IT is all I have ever known. And I have heard them all. My favorite one was, “My son just did a pull-up on the CD-tray and now it won’t go back in. Do you think you can fix it or do I need a new CD-ROM drive?”

    The most common problems are spyware and virus infections. People always ask me if it was something that they did or their children did wrong. I generally give them the benefit of the doubt and tell them that it is normal to be infected when your computer is connected 24/7. Most people feel better about that, since they are usually intimidated by computers to begin with.

    I always thought that I’d be out of a job since computers have become so main-stream and easy to use. But it seems that the ease of use is inversely proportional to the level of retardation of the user. Looks like there will always be ID10T and PICNIC errors well into the foreseeable future.

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