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.