38 terms

Computer Basics


Terms in this set (...)

A computer is an electronic device that manipulates information, or data. It has the ability to store, retrieve, and process data. You probably already know that you can use a computer to type documents, send email, play games, and browse the Web. You can also use it to edit or create spreadsheets, presentations, and even videos.
Operating system
-An operating system is the most important software that runs on a computer. It manages the computer's memory, processes, and all of its software and hardware. It also allows you to communicate with the computer without knowing how to speak the computer's language. Without an operating system, a computer is useless.

-Your computer's operating system (OS) manages all of the software and hardware on the computer. Most of the time, there are many different computer programs running at the same time, and they all need to access your computer's central processing unit (CPU), memory, and storage. The operating system coordinates all of this to make sure each program gets what it needs.

-Operating systems usually come preloaded on any computer you buy. Most people use the operating system that comes with their computer, but it's possible to upgrade or even change operating systems.

The three most common operating systems for personal computers are Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS X, and Linux.
You may have heard people talking about using an application or an app. But what exactly does that mean? An app is a type of software that allows you to perform specific tasks. Applications for desktop or laptop computers are sometimes called desktop applications, and those for mobile devices are called mobile apps. When you open an application, it runs inside the operating system until you close it. Most of the time, you will have more than one application open at the same time, and this is known as multitasking.
The cloud
You may have heard people using terms like the cloud, cloud computing, or cloud storage. But what exactly is the cloud? Basically, the cloud is the Internet—more specifically, it's all of the things you can access remotely over the Internet. When something is in the cloud, it means it is stored on servers on the Internet instead of on your computer. It lets you access your calendar, email, files, and more from any computer that has an Internet connection.
Basic Parts of a Computer
-The basic parts of a desktop computer are the computer case, monitor, keyboard, mouse, and power cord. Each part plays an important role whenever you use a computer.
Computer case
The computer case is the metal and plastic box that contains the main components of the computer. It houses the motherboard, central processing unit (CPU), power supply, and more.

Computer cases come in different shapes and sizes. A desktop case lies flat on a desk, and the monitor usually sits on top of it. A tower case is tall and sits next to the monitor or on the floor. The front of the case usually has an on/off switch and one or more optical drives.
The monitor works with a video card, located inside the computer case, to display images and text on the screen. Newer monitors usually have LCD (liquid crystal display) or LED (light-emitting diode) displays. These can be made very thin, and they are often called flat-panel displays. Older monitors use CRT (cathode ray tube) displays. CRT monitors are much larger and heavier, and they take up more desk space.

Most monitors have control buttons that allow you to change your monitor's display settings, and some monitors also have built-in speakers
Power cord
The power cord is the link between the power outlet and the power supply unit in the computer casing. If the power cord is not plugged in, the computer will not power on. To protect your computer from voltage spikes, you can plug the power cord in to a surge protector. You can also use an uninterruptable power supply (UPS), which acts as a surge protector and provides temporary power if there is a blackout.
The keyboard is one of the primary ways we communicate with the computer and enter data. There are many different types of computer keyboards, including wired, wireless, ergonomic, and multimedia. Although there may be differences in the location of some keys or features, keyboards are very similar and allow you to accomplish basically the same tasks.
The mouse is a peripheral that is known as a pointing device. It lets you point to objects on the screen, click on them, and move them.

There are two main types of mice: optical and mechanical. The optical mouse uses an electronic eye to detect movement and is easier to clean. The mechanical mouse uses a rolling ball to detect movement. Generally, a mechanical mouse is less expensive, although it may require regular cleaning to keep it working properly.

Traditionally, a mouse connects to the computer using a USB or PS/2 connection. However, you can also buy a wireless mouse
The central processing unit (CPU), also called a processor, is located inside the computer case on the motherboard. It is sometimes called the brain of the computer, and its job is to carry out commands. Whenever you press a key, click the mouse, or start an application, you're sending instructions to the CPU.

The CPU is generally a two-inch ceramic square with a silicon chip located inside. The chip is usually about the size of a thumbnail. The CPU fits into the motherboard's CPU socket, which is covered by the heat sink, an object that absorbs heat from the CPU.

A processor's speed is measured in megahertz (MHz), or millions of instructions per second; and gigahertz (GHz), or billions of instructions per second. A faster processor can execute instructions more quickly. However, the actual speed of the computer depends on the speed of many different components—not just the processor.
The motherboard is the computer's main circuit board. It's a thin plate that holds the CPU, memory, connectors for the hard drive and optical drives, expansion cards to control the video and audio, and connections to your computer's ports (such as USB ports). The motherboard connects directly or indirectly to every part of the computer.
Power supply unit
The power supply unit in a computer converts the power from the wall outlet to the type of power needed by the computer. It sends power through cables to the motherboard and other components.
RAM (random access memory)
RAM is your system's short-term memory. Whenever your computer performs calculations, it temporarily stores the data in the RAM until it is needed.

This short-term memory disappears when the computer is turned off. If you're working on a document, spreadsheet, or other type of file, you'll need to save it to avoid losing it. When you save a file, the data is written to the hard drive, which acts as long-term storage.

RAM is measured in megabytes (MB) or gigabytes (GB). The more RAM you have, the more things your computer can do at the same time. If you don't have enough RAM, you may notice that your computer is sluggish when you have several programs open. Because of this, many people add extra RAM to their computers to improve performance.
Hard drive
The hard drive on your computer is where the software is installed, and it's also where your documents and other files are stored. The hard drive is long-term storage, which means the data is still saved even if you turn the computer off or unplug it.

When you run a program or open a file, the computer copies some of the data from the hard drive onto the RAM. When you save a file, the data is copied back to the hard drive. The faster the hard drive is, the faster your computer can start up and load programs.
Expansion cards
Video card: The video card is responsible for what you see on the monitor. Most computers have a GPU (graphics processing unit) built into the motherboard instead of having a separate video card. If you like playing graphics-intensive games, you can add a faster video card to one of the expansion slots to get better performance.

Sound card: The sound card, also called an audio card, is responsible for what you hear in the speakers or headphones. Most motherboards have integrated sound, but you can upgrade to a dedicated sound card for higher-quality sound.

Network card: The network card allows your computer to communicate over a network and access the Internet. It can either connect with an Ethernet cable or through a wireless connection (often called Wi-Fi). Many motherboards have built-in network connections, and a network card can also be added to an expansion slot.

Bluetooth card: A Bluetooth dongle: Bluetooth is a technology for wireless communication over short distances. It's often used in computers to communicate with wireless keyboards, mice, and printers. It's often built into the motherboard or included in a wireless network card. For computers that don't have Bluetooth, a USB adapter, called a dongle, can be purchased.
Cleaning the keyboard
Cleaning the keyboard
Clean the mouse
Clean the monitor
Keep your computer cool
Safeguarding against malware
Backing up your computer
External hard drives
Online backup services
Delete files
Run the Disk Defragmenter
Run a Disk Cleanup
take care of yourself to (don't sit at the comp for 14 hours a day)
Dial-up is generally the slowest type of Internet connection, and you should probably avoid it unless it is the only service available in your area. Like a phone call, a dial-up modem will connect you to the Internet by dialing a number, and it will disconnect when you are done surfing the Web. Unless you have multiple phone lines, you will not be able to use your land line and the Internet at the same time with a dial-up connection.
DSL service uses a broadband connection, which makes it much faster than dial-up. However, it is unavailable in many locations, so you'll need to contact your local ISP for information about your area. DSL connects to the Internet via phone line but does not require you to have a land line at home. Unlike dial-up, it will always be on once it's set up, and you'll be able to use the Internet and your phone line simultaneously
Cable service connects to the Internet via cable TV, although you do not necessarily need to have cable TV in order to get it. It uses a broadband connection and can be faster than both dial-up and DSL service; however, it is only available in places where cable TV is available.
A satellite connection uses broadband but does not require cable or phone lines; it connects to the Internet through satellites orbiting the Earth. As a result, it can be used almost anywhere in the world, but the connection may be affected by weather patterns. A satellite connection also relays data on a delay, so it is not the best option for people who use real-time applications, like gaming or video conferencing.
3G and 4G
3G and 4G service is most commonly used with mobile phones and tablet computers, and it connects wirelessly through your ISP's network. If you have a device that's 3G or 4G enabled, you'll be able to use it to access the Internet away from home, even when there is no Wi-Fi connection. However, you may have to pay per device to use a 3G or 4G connection, and it may not be as fast as DSL or cable.
Hard wear needed
Modem: Once you have your computer, you really don't need much additional hardware to connect to the Internet. The primary piece of hardware you need is a modem.

The type of Internet access you choose will determine the type of modem you need. Dial-up access uses a telephone modem, DSL service uses a DSL modem, cable access uses a cable modem, and satellite service uses a satellite adapter. Your ISP may give you a modem—often for a fee—when you sign a contract, which helps ensure that you have the right kind of modem. However, if you would prefer to shop for a better or less expensive modem, you can choose to buy one separately.

Router: A router is a hardware device that allows you to connect several computers and other devices to a single Internet connection, which is known as a home network. Many routers are wireless, allowing you to easily create a wireless network.

You don't necessarily need to buy a router to connect to the Internet. It's possible to connect your computer directly to your modem using an Ethernet cable. Also, many modems now include a built-in router, so you have the option of creating a network without having to buy more hardware.

Most routers also act as a hardware firewall, which helps prevent others from gaining access to your computer through the Internet.

Network card: A network card is a piece of hardware that allows computers to communicate over a computer network. Most newer computers have a network card built into the motherboard, so it probably isn't something you'll need to purchase. The network card will have an Ethernet port, a wireless connection, or both.

If you have a laptop with a wireless connection, you can access the Internet at any place that offers a Wi-Fi connection. Many restaurants, coffee shops, bookstores, hotels, and other businesses offer free Wi-Fi. In addition, many cities provide free Wi-Fi in public areas such as parks and downtown areas.
Web browser
The World Wide Web is a virtual network of websites connected by hyperlinks (or links). Websites are stored on servers on the Internet, so the World Wide Web is a part of the Internet.
Setting up a home network
Setting up a network
Before you set up your home network, you'll need to have a working Internet connection. The exact process of creating a network will vary depending on the type of computer you have, as well as what type of Internet service you have. You should use the instructions provided by your ISP (or the ones included with your router) when setting up your network. The following steps will give you an idea of what to expect.

If you have a separate router, connect it to the modem, and make sure it has power through the power adapter. If you have a combined router and modem, you won't have to do this.
Connect all nonwireless devices to your router using Ethernet cables. You may also need to connect your computer to the router until setup is complete, even if your computer has a wireless card.
From your computer, you will need to create the SSID and password or passphrase for your router. You now have a wireless network that you can begin connecting wireless devices to.
On each wireless device, you will need to go to your network settings and select the name (SSID) of the network you just created. You will then be prompted to type your password.
At this point, your home network setup is complete. If your network isn't working, the instructions from your ISP should include some troubleshooting tips. You can also call your ISP's technical support number if you're still having trouble.
Getting to know your computer's OS


(to learn more^)
The screen you see when your computer has finished starting up is called the desktop. Depending on what kind of operating system you have, the desktop will look different, but it generally consists of menus at the bottom, top, and/or sides of the screen, with the rest of the screen containing a desktop background, or wallpaper. The desktop background area can also contain any files, applications, or shortcuts you want to have quick access to.
Starting up a new computer
When you start up a new computer for the first time, it will walk you through several steps to set up and personalize it. These steps usually only take a few minutes, and some of them are optional. The exact steps will vary depending on what type of operating system you are using, but here are a few things you will usually be able to do.

Selecting a location
Choose a language and location: Your operating system may have many different languages installed, so you'll need to choose the one you want to use. You may also have the option of choosing your location.
Watch a welcome video: Your computer may play a brief welcome video during the setup process, so it's a good idea to turn your speakers on to get the full experience.
Create a profile or account name: Your computer will need to have at least one account name that you'll use to sign in. You can also choose to create a password for extra security. If others will be using the computer, you can set up separate accounts for each person later on.
Choose a wireless network: If you have an existing wireless network, you can select it during the setup process. If you don't have one, you can skip this step (we'll talk about Internet and network settings in the Connecting to the Internet lesson).
Register your computer: You'll probably have the option of registering your computer, which will send your name, address, and other information to the computer company. If you don't want to register at this point, you can skip it.
Migrating your files and settings
Windows Easy Transfer
If you have another computer that has all of your files and settings, you'll probably want to copy them to the new computer. This is known as migrating. It's possible to manually move your files using an external hard drive, DVD-ROM discs, or an existing home network. This can be time consuming, and you may not be able to move all of your settings to the new computer.

However, your computer probably has a built-in tool to help you migrate your files and settings, and it may appear automatically during the setup process. This tool will let you choose what you want to move, and it will automatically move the selected items to the new computer. PCs and Macs have different tools for this purpose.
Installing peripherals
If you have a printer, scanner, webcam, or other peripherals, you can connect them at this point. Many peripherals are plug and play, which means they will be recognized by your computer as soon as they are plugged in. Other peripherals may include software that needs to be installed before you can begin using them. Use the instructions included with the device to install it if necessary.
Setting up a computer: Laptop
Open it and press the power button. If the battery isn't charged, you'll need to plug in the AC adapter. You can continue using the laptop while it charges.

If your laptop has any peripherals, like external speakers, you may want to read the instructions below because laptops and desktops generally use the same types of connections.
Setting up: Desktop computer
Step 1

After unpacking the computer and peripherals
Unpack the monitor and computer case from the box. Remove any plastic covering or protective tape. Place the monitor and computer case where you want on a desk or work area.

Think about where you want your desk or work area to be located, and where you want your monitor, computer case, and other hardware to be. Be sure to place your computer case in an area that is well ventilated and that has good air flow. This will help to prevent overheating.

Step 2

Locate the monitor cable. There are several types of monitor cables, so the one on your computer may not look like the one in the image at the left. If you're having trouble finding your monitor cable, refer to the instruction manual for your computer. (If you have an all-in-one computer that's built into the monitor, you can skip to Step 4).

Step 3

Connecting the monitor cable to the VGA port
Connect one end of the cable to the monitor port on the back of the computer case and the other end to the monitor. Hand tighten the plastic-covered screws on the monitor cable to secure it.

Step 4

Unpack the keyboard and determine whether it uses a USB (rectangular) connector or a PS/2 (round) connector. If it uses a USB connector, plug it into any of the USB ports on the back of the computer. If it uses a PS/2 connector, plug it into the purple keyboard port on the back of the computer.

Step 5

Plugging the mouse into a USB port
Unpack the mouse and determine whether it uses a USB (rectangular) connector or a PS/2 (round) connector. If it uses a USB connector, plug it into any of the USB ports on the back of the computer. If it uses a PS/2 connector, plug it into the green mouse port on the back of the computer.

Step 6

If you have external speakers or headphones, you can connect them to your computer's audio port (either on the front or the back of the computer case). Many computers have color-coded ports. Speakers or headphones connect to the green port, and a microphone connects to the pink port. The blue port is the line in, which can be used with other types of devices.

Some speakers, headphones, and microphones have USB connectors instead of the usual audio plug. These can be connected to any USB port. In addition, many computers have speakers or microphones built into the monitor.

Step 7

Plugging the power cable into a surge protector
Locate the two power supply cables that came with your computer. Plug the first power supply cable into the back of the computer case, and then into a surge protector. Then, using the other cable, connect the monitor to the surge protector.

Step 8

Plugging the surge protector into a wall outlet
Finally, plug the surge protector into a wall outlet. You may also need to turn on the surge protector if it has a power switch.
Mobile device
A mobile device is basically any handheld computer. It is designed to be extremely portable, often fitting in the palm of your hand or in your pocket. Some mobile devices are more powerful, and they allow you to do many of the same things you can do with a desktop or laptop computer. These include tablet computers, e-readers, and smartphones.
Tablet computers
Like laptops, tablet computers are designed to be portable. However, they provide a different computing experience. The most obvious difference is that tablet computers don't have keyboards or touchpads. Instead, the entire screen is touch-sensitive, allowing you to type on a virtual keyboard and use your finger as a mouse pointer.

Tablet computers can't necessarily do everything traditional computers can do. For many people, a traditional computer like a desktop or laptop is still needed in order to use some programs. However, the convenience of a tablet computer means it may be ideal as a second computer. Below are some of the main features you can expect with a tablet computer.

Mobile OS: Different types of tablets use different operating systems. Examples include Android and iOS. You'll usually be able to download free updates to your OS as they become available.
Solid-state drives: Tablet computers usually use solid-state drives, which allow the computer to boot up and open programs more quickly. They are also more durable than hard disk drives.
Wi-Fi and 3G/4G: Because they are optimized for Internet use, tablet computers have built-in Wi-Fi. For a monthly fee, you can also purchase a 3G or 4G data plan, allowing you to access the Internet from almost anywhere.
Bluetooth: In order to save space, tablet computers have very few ports. If you want to use an external keyboard or other peripherals, they will often use a wireless Bluetooth connection.
E-book readers
E-book readers—also called e-readers—are similar to tablet computers, except they are mainly designed for reading e-books (digital, downloadable books). Examples include the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook.

E-book readers have either an e-paper display or an LCD display.

E-Paper: Short for electronic paper, this type of display can usually only display black and white. It is designed to look a lot like an actual page in a book. Unlike an LCD display, it is not backlit, so the text stays readable even if you're outdoors in full sun. Many people consider e-paper to be more pleasant to read because it causes less eye strain. However, it generally can't be used for videos or other applications because the refresh rate is too low.
A Kindle e-reader with an e-paper display
LCD: This is the same type of screen found on tablet computers and laptops. It's more versatile than e-paper, but it's often more difficult to view in bright sunlight because the image becomes washed out. Because an LCD screen can display colors, this type of e-reader is better for viewing magazines and books with photos. Many LCD e-readers (such as the Nook Color) are basically tablet computers because they can perform many different tasks in addition to displaying e-books.
A smartphone is a powerful mobile phone that is designed to run a variety of applications in addition to providing phone service. Smartphones are basically small tablet computers, and they can be used for web browsing, watching videos, reading e-books, and playing games.

Smartphones use touchscreens and operating systems similar to those used by tablet computers. Many of them use a virtual keyboard, but others have a physical keyboard, which allows the entire screen to be used for display purposes.

Internet access is an important feature of smartphones. Generally, you will need to purchase a 3G, 4G, or LTE data plan in addition to normal cell service. Smartphones can also connect to Wi-Fi when it is available; this allows you to use the Internet without using up your monthly data allotment.
A laptop is a personal computer that can be easily carried and used in a variety of locations. Many laptops are designed to have all of the functionality of a desktop computer, which means they can generally run the same software and open the same types of files. However, some laptops, such as netbooks, sacrifice some functionality in order to be even more portable.
How are Laptops different from Desktops
Touchpad: A touchpad—also called a trackpad—is a touch-sensitive pad that lets you control the pointer by making a drawing motion with your finger. Many touchpads now include multi-touch gestures, which allow you to perform specific tasks by making gestures with more than one finger. For example, a pinch gesture is often used to zoom in or out.
Battery: Every laptop has a battery, which allows you to use the laptop when it's not plugged in. Whenever you plug in the laptop, the battery recharges. Another benefit of having a battery is that it can provide backup power to the laptop if the power goes out.
AC adapter: A laptop usually has a specialized power cable called an AC adapter, which is designed to be used with that specific type of laptop. Some of these cables use magnetic MagSafe connectors that will safely pull out if someone trips over the power cable. This helps to prevent damage to the cable and the laptop.
Ports: Most laptops have the same types of ports desktop computers have (such as USB), although they usually have fewer ports to save space. However, some ports may be different, and you may need an adapter in order to use them. For example, the monitor port is often a Mini DisplayPort, which is a smaller version of the normal DisplayPort.


(to learn more ^)
Write down your steps: Once you start troubleshooting, you may want to write down each step you take. This way, you'll be able to remember exactly what you've done and can avoid repeating the same mistakes. If you end up asking other people for help, it will be much easier if they know exactly what you've tried already.

Take notes about error messages: If your computer gives you an error message, be sure to write down as much information as possible. You may be able to use this information later to find out if other people are having the same error.

Always check the cables: If you're having trouble with a specific piece of computer hardware, such as your monitor or keyboard, an easy first step is to check all related cables to make sure they're properly connected.

Restart the computer: When all else fails, one of the best things to try is to restart the computer. This can solve a lot of basic issues you may experience with your computer.
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