you ever tried to compare the features of two computers? What is more
important – a bigger hard disk or a faster processor? Will adding more
hard disk space make your computer faster? To answer these questions,
you need some understanding of what the components of your computer
actually do. Here is a quick guide to the anatomy of your computer.
(CPU – central processing unit)
– How fast you can calculate and do things:
This is the brain of your computer. If you can quickly work out how
much change you would have from $27.50 if you spent $8.96, you have a
fast processor. The CPU also interprets the instructions you give your
computer and then tells the other components what they need to do to
action your request.
– random access memory)
- How fast you can recall recent events and how many you can recall: This provides the short-term storage of information, just
like your short-term memory. It knows what you are currently working
on. More memory equals better multi-tasking – e.g. talking on the phone
whilst emptying the washing machine or displaying an email whilst
printing a document. Retrieving information that is being held in the
memory is faster than opening something from your hard disk’s long term
storage. When you open a document, your computer loads it in the memory
so it is faster for you to work on. The downside to this is that the
long term storage is only updated with your changes when you save your
document. Information in the memory is completely erased when the power
goes off or sometimes if your computer ‘crashes’.
Hard disk (or hard drive)
- How many older events you can recall:
This is the long-term storage for your files and settings. A child’s
long-term storage of memories would take up less disk space than an
adult’s, as we have more experiences ‘saved on our hard disk’.
Your computer’s hard
disk is a certain size and can fill up and run out of space if you don’t
Browsing websites also saves ‘temporary’ files on your hard disk, which
may not be deleted automatically. If you decide to delete some items to
free up some disk space, just be careful that they are old report drafts
and not critical Windows system files.
Motherboard – How your body parts communicate with your brain:
Your ‘central nervous system’ is how your brain tells the muscles in
your legs to contract so they move and you walk. This large electrical
circuit board in your computer is responsible for sending electrical
signals to and from every component. Everything plugs into it, either
inside your computer case or through ‘ports’ that stick out of the case
but are actually on the motherboard. Problems with your motherboard can
cause those signals to get lost or become corrupted, resulting in
erratic performance from your computer.
sound – Your eyes and voice:
The sound from your computer and the display on your screen may be
handled directly by your motherboard, or processed by individual ‘cards’
plugged into your motherboard. Cards can be replaced with newer,
improved models, which is like getting glasses or taking singing
lessons. The graphics card you choose will determine if your screen can
only show flat cartoons (2D) or vibrant images which seem to have depth
(3D). It will also influence if your computer can keep up with changes
to the images on your display (e.g. when playing games or editing
So, a larger hard
disk will increase the number of things your computer can remember, but
won’t necessarily make it faster to open documents. As technology
changes and improves each component, it can be hard to determine what
you really need for your particular situation. Talk to your local
Computer Problem Solver who can further translate the latest technology
jargon into something meaningful.
Contact us about
how we can put these
and other tips into action for you.