Copyright ,0 WM b)' The MrGraw-l-lill Compenles. All rigtlt~ reserved. 1\1.'I,r!Llnll:'llJ~~ !!1 the: Ul1il~ :$Iatt=!' of A meriee.

EXC~L ~ pl;rmiUcd; under lhe UniCcd SLiJ,l~~ CtlP'}"ri:!;;hl ,\I;L of 1976" nn pan IJ f ,Ihi~ pubhcution limy bot; rcprod lIA,::Q;,l (lor distributed ill any form .._,.by .'IIlI:,.' mcnns. Dr stored in :3 de mbnsn or retrieval system. without tha prior wri Lt~1I perm iaelon Gr Ihl:: publisJtl::r,


TI1.(: material in this eBook also appears in ttl't' prtm version ormls tjtle:~(J7-22:5j5:J-('"

A II 1 rndcm~I'l;:g arc tradcmn rksI at their rC'~IJCCliV€l (loWDCrs., H:;31l'iC',r than rllt o undcmerk :iym bo I :1.tlcr C'I.'''C1)' occurrence 01':1 tradcmn rked IlL'11~C'. we lISC 11L'lIfLCS ill L!in editorial Iashicu only. ,aJ~:!1) rhc benefit of she trademark owner, II ith J.O il'HcmioJI (If infringement or the Lmdcm~ri:, Where such designatio I~S: 3p pear i 1'1 this book, tI)C!}' ha v o been printed ",·ilh ,i uiual C~p:i.

McGmw~1 J ill cl3ook~ arc -lIV.J.i lnblc Itt special quu.lllily discounts to usc BS prcmi oms Dod sales promotions, or f-or IJSC LL1 corpom!c: tl"3il1ing :pfo.sF.lIP~. f("Jo;r mere inti:"J.rm~tioCln, please CClII[;,lC'[ Ge<Jr~c Hoare, SI:l€1;"i;,l] S3Ie~., 31 gc>orsLltCl~i"1;"€mi:::gF.l'ilL·.hiil.~ftl (')'1' (2 I:;;!) 9()4.40M.


TILi-s isa ccpyrighrcd work lIild The McGr,)~~···~lill Compnuies, lnc. (~McG~w·I·lill.'") .~nd its licensors reserve ;)11 rights ilL and 1(1 the work. US(.': ofrhia work is subject 10 th~ IL:-Im~ i;x('(.'f'!,[L~ pennlned under rhe Cnf.!YJi~111 A"I oil I [97G and Lilt=. [1l;':D1 In srerc and retrieve Qn~ (:0IJoY (ICll:tC work, Y(JU n'l:ny [j,Qt decompile. disassemble, reverse I!n:!!:io~cr, t9).-o,Ju~c. rOQ~l:it~r. e~3.t! (l.:,riv::ui~'~ works b . nscd upon, transmit. di$'lribu[~, disseminate. ~d[, publish {J( suhltcease jhe ,...·~lrk" Q'- !l[l,Y piU-:[ uf i1 w'ilhou1 McGr..L",·-l-Jill':;: prior cnn$Cr!t You m.·'IY use ~ljC1 w~fk for yoOli r own uoncommercinl {Llld personal US~: ;lilY oLhel' usc ~r liLt: work is S"!rkll~' ~hibi I,t.~. Your right re I,J~ .hL' 'I,l, Olt. In~)' 1:.1:: rcrmlnmcd it· vcu (::IU I 10 romp ly with these term 5:.

ruz WORK IS PROVIDED ·,,5 IS," M,GRAIV·IlILL AND ITS LICENSORS MAKE NO GUAR,\mEES OR WARI(,\NTlEiS 8S TO TH E ACClJRACY, AD EQU,\CY OR COM Pl ETEN ESS OF OR R ESlJLTS TO B.o OBTA IN ED FRm I. USI NO TH E WORK. INCLUDING ANY INFORMATION TIIAT CAN BE ACCESSED TIIROUGII TilE WORK VIA In'rERLJNK OR OTIIERWISe. AND ap Jl F.:SSLY ()I SCLA I fl.., AN Y WA It RA NT v, F:X fl 11F....sS' 0 r~ L Mill i 1::1), I ~Cl urn Nti HUT NOT Li M ITED TO LM!Ii' 11 sn WARRr\1'-,,'rnES OF M !ECI~ t\ NTAJ31 L [TY OR PI TNESS FOR /It. PA RTIC ULAR ru R_fOSE. M tG~\', .. · fl i II and i rs Ii censers de 110L warrant or SU:lJ'3ntoC"-C that the functions contained if'll the \\-\[J'I,: ..... ill meet yCJo"llr rcquiecmcnts cr Lh;)1 its epcmticn will bo unhucreaptcd oQl' error free, Neither nor its licensers shall be liable so yen. or anyone etse for eny inaccuracy. error cr cmissicu, regardless cf ecusc, in dill': work or for :!Iny damages ~~urLir1:S therefrom. Mc.Grnw-Hili has 00 ~-"spall5ibiliLy for tll'C' content of nny informetinn .~;:;:t;:esSle'(llh'-I)'I.Il:h. fiLe work, Umkt no circumstances slutl M~Gj."Iw·l~iU n ,:t£lit)or ils licensers be! liable [(lor ;In), indirect, ~1i(:id~1i1;;!i!. special, puni Ii ve. ccnsequemial Or si III i lar oL!2IrtI.Ii.:!!:L~ Ln;!1 reau It from 1_1I~ use M or i nabi Ii ry Ilj II~ the w[)rl:_, even if 'Lll)' of them bas l)("CI'I lLdvi~ 0 I the I'Qssibilily of sueh t;!."1I')~SC"S. Tl'li5: Ij1)lju[i L1JI of li,:l.biliIY sr,;!I11 ;,lj:'ll)ly 10 ,::my ~b~ro or cause wlJ.!l rscever 'MlIc;[ho:!l' such c l;:Jim 0.- en .. HI1: urises in contrecr. rcu or mherwise,

U rheberrec htl ich gesc h utztes Materia



.A,.;;._kJI.;)\V!..:d3"'t=lt~ rnuoducuon

xij :!o:iii





\\'hal":s Wh"'~1hc .\n:.1I.OOI)' uf a lie ][) the P,:u1~

Outside the Box Insid,,-chc Box ., Doctor's N~)I.s

PC Anatomy CI\CcUi:S1

I) 26 'lJ

Files and FoldcB



Tbe Fi].e ExLtli.~i(lIl R>2n:il.Ill[Il,gFil~

Ftlcs. fik:;: •• urd More Fllcs

FahJCJ:!1Dii(!(~Lr)ri cs

TIN.': Righl Tcnn

W:h~t Is.a F"91.u.;r'~ N:!Ivig:Hing Folders Crc<tLi:.gJDc.I'I!;[jng folders

WIu.::rc-SILJCl'!SS;J. .... '!;::11 •• , Doctor's N~-)k~

I; i I ee .Ii.I1,u Folders C hcclc I i::.1


Impro,-Ing on rcrfccuun ,. ~ , .


RC:I!io~:;, for Upgr,J.dill B R'::".ir~):IS for Rq'plac-.iflg


N of .'-\ II SyMC'm5)\ rc Upgradnblc Decide Of] the Ri~hL Up~r.jJJl.': f{~r You Cheek. the Specl ficatl on s , ....

C bee k rhat You Can Physically Do IhC'- Upgrade

55 ,,6

56 5~ 5~' 6() 6l 6, 65 66 67 69 69 71 1,

Tj'(1I..1brl.:~Fn:!c; Upgrades F i nd i r.I~ Parts fer Older S}'SI cmti, Urgriid[n~ Dri vcrs

Benefits of U rGL.l.dins Dri vcrs _ Doctora Noses , .. ,

Urgr1ld~' Ch~~1-: I is:L

&lr. Compllling .....•.. " •. TILl': Threats Exist •

vtruscs , ... ,


U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h utztes IvI ateri"

vi The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide



Types ofTll.Feat

W nut M:.:II i clcus Coll'.:,:- I:::; C,itpabk 0 f . Virus Myths:


How Hackers Openee ., HackerMyths

Your Defense A!;U[ltSt the M umuders ill the G utc C QmflHJI~ Sense

I~i t'e\!,';111 s

Antivirus Sr)fi.w(u'f'

Sefc vs. Ur.~I(:- riles , .. ,', ... ~ •..... l f'Lh e W(}tS[ Does HfI jJpt'lt ..


Good Pas s ...... onts ~nd (lad Pass w crds Rul~s rcr ,Cn;:;lltlllS GO{H;ll~lss ...... or~lil Sensible JJolS~W(PI~ Use

S("(:Llf(:IIY Deleting Fi lcs •• ,

The AI'I~~OlllY of Di)l~1 ., Doctor's Nates

Safe Computing Check !~S1

n.lplng Io""",1I .,"'''''".,''''''''''''''''''''''''

If Yt!-!.JH:::!,~'a;: ~I Prublern. Chenccs Are, S(Jml;:()111: ll:J.l;" Il::ts ~I~J It Too •

Hetpl n ~ Yourself 0:11 Ih: Intc mel SUP[XI'Jt W.;;-b;si~ ... ';S

Search Bugines

tmemcr Fcru nu .. Newsgroups , ••• ,

\Vtlt'n IL) cnn If I Lh~ PmS-

On 1 i ne Tech 'sIJP['Of1, ""' Telephone S'Llf.'PO.rL Qrl-Sil-::-\V[!ItT3.rlry

Return W.IJLlSC ""'

Tech Support Tip's

I! YO~J H~I~·e to Pay fbr 1('ch Suppon Hidden Co StS or Il epfacemen [S

Subscctptice Services ._

AJ~ :S!.Jb;"' .. rfpl~()[~ Services Worth the CQS'L?

Ghlj,.:g Scmetb ill ~ Back _. D{u.:;1Qr~S, NQI";S, '""'

Help YQLU:.Y;;':t I Gll¢(!~ 1 lst ""'

\\'hal \'011 N ee d 10 FI,']H""""IHoo.sIll)' :;.rc Staying S::.1'"(' Checklist _._

Leave the f',.'1 OIlLCorS. to E,,,,pC.IS ""' Hand 1 i Il,g Dev itie:s Silf('ly

W hn t ts ~:h~{~ e f.1 ecertchy? ,."."

93 99 99 1111 iOJ 10' lOS 111& 1(16 106 107 IQS 109 IW 111 liZ 11'2 !lJ 113

115 116 117 IlL) 12U

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h utztes M aleri a

Cements vii

ESD (~.l~l':tt-o·'SUlLie Df,r,;.c.h?iJg_.e) ToCilI'S. tll'~hi;: Trude

Workshop Sl f~{y

DoCt01 's Notes _._

S~LY Safe Choi.'Ck list.

120 Itfl 110 IJI l_l!


The lktails;: Hardwilre


TI.cI'C C .. < .nd IlIcI'f,""r SupplJ' .•.•.•.. . .•.. .• .. . .•.. 135

1;:.jj~cti( of a l'C else .. , I J6

Cil~1,.': Types 1 J 6

Pemovr Ill!: !h~ Case 1.N

Sillirig CI~illling [~ln5lide.I')f the C'OI~e- 142

Cleaning the System .. , l~j

The PC Cool lug S~'5.~m 1.;16

Gtvi 11 ~ 1 he CoQ!illg System Ihlt OiKe-O"'~iI 146

Signs, ofTrooblc with the Cooling S)'St~IU ., 147

Imuruving the Coctlng S.~'sli:m 149

Po w e r S'LiPp ly Un i I ,( ['S tJ} 150

PSU Outputs .. , 151'

P'o .... ter Supply Connectors ... , ]5.2

A(i",Ul~'¢(1 r~ow.e, Maniigerf1ell[ (A ['r...f) Jl.r"uj. • Advanced Ci}Il(ienro1Lii(m and

Power lraertace (.,\CPI) 153

/~ Oucsricn of'Powcr .. , 154

Tl"J!jLlb~~ShOO! i 1lU- 'P S.Us 1 ss

DOClOf"S NOles ,.. I.;)"

PC Case and PSU Chl' . _, 15,7

Mothorboaroi RA.II. CI'II, and BIOS

159 160 161 16.1 167 I Iii 170 III In 112 17:l 174 1'74 175 118- IHO 180 181 132 !S:2 1S4

LlyOL11, or Form F 8C1()ot r...'-mhcrbCko'lrd Conuecricne BnckupBauery

Common 1M mht!t~o,m:l I-roh I ems Keep the IIl~iQC of'rhc c.,,~ Tidy

"['MLlbreshoorirlg RAl\1 E rrcrs Testing RI\M .. ,



C I~U and Soc keltSloc 'Types ... ,

(Jpgmding n CPU -


Signs orl;,{t~ble with the cru ", ... ~ .... ,


The DfOS ~lLd LIL"::: EEf'Rm ... 1

WhtlL Does: the BIOS IJoO"t ••• ,

Nof All BlOSs Arc rhc Snmc 0105 end j'OST Codes

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h utztes M ateri"

vi ii The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide





Accessing the D[OS N""'ig;:uing th~ 6l0S U pgradi n Q: the 9 [OS

D1)c tor's NOK';S GO;:-Il'O:"r.;tl.Cllt.'-'.:-kli:H

liard [)d,',S and Flopp)' [)r(\'<S Th.L:: Hard Drive

Hard Driw Upgrades •• ,

Mnsrcs/Stevc LaYlj'Llt u f Drives

l~ lOWY Drives

Flopl'~' Drive Prcblema Rcplacing u r-1{lPP'~1 Dri,'(,Hoppr Disk Care

Doctor'S Noles

Hard Dri ... ·I;1!='I(~r:ry Drive=-Trouhleshootlng!1A

1111,., [':WI SI.roge 1)",,1 ccs CWDVDlCD·R/CD·RW

Ccnunon Opt iot-ilt D rive I ~S.LI~ U pgrad in G. eDmvDo Dri ~·I.:S

E,~C~.,.m~l Srceage ., Tf,11l~1~~ Speed Physical Sp;1(X~

It's NN Ali' Ab0L11. :~h.;; Hardwnrc

IS]I External SL(H<IJ!e: Thll.L V(IoLl' A{;!.!.I~II~I Need?

Trcubleshooiing ~:ucrn:jJl Sl(lf;:)g~ •••• , Doctor's Noses

Ol'h¢:r SLora~-:-TmLllJ.leshooLlIlS C'li~.ckli:;\

i\to.utmts and Gr.lp'jl~s Adapltrs Tile ~,1ol1.il1)f .

l\1{mi!arC;a:r.cGmphics ~\dL1P!(!rS

OnbiJ.,·ml G rnph i es Ad;;) pwrs •••. .... roercos whh G r.;tphk~ Adeprcrs D(iClot"sNOICS

Monitors nnd GrfiJ,hllCs i\d:::lpt~fs-'--mub'li.::slwi}lit1.g Chccl .. I

Exp.a.fL!i.ionf:ard!Ji; •••••••••••.• , •• , ••• " ••••

r::,~r:!.n~i(m Slm!1.

Ilel (Pl".riphl"rol Comporonr InWl'CO;1Il'::Cl) AGr (Aeecl..: rn Lcd G;·~;:.!LL~:S ron) .. _ . ISA (I'rlL1LlSlry S1:"lntl,lrJ Anthite"i;;lorr;)

Card Rcmcvnl imd Rtr.l1in~ ••.

C ard RcmoKd ... . _ ..

Repl;]'1;: iuit; an (:": p..i n sion C=1_r~1 •• • •••.

189 ]9{I 1'92 19J 19:4

195 19~ 1% '99 204 ?O,~ ~05 LOR 2[1') 209 :2LO

:lJ.l 214 2]5: 216 224 227 22Ji, 12K 229 2Jn JJn 2JI ~Jt

U rheberrcc htl lch gcsc h utztes Iv! ateri"




Spec! ul Cousidcrut i ona {flf Other C:'1Jds Gn'lph.i cs Car(b. .,



SoundCards , ... ,

Doctor's Notes

Expansion ("ard.s-FinifiGlnetnDVill Checklist

Networking ~ " , ,

what ise Ni.':i",OJ!o:.'~

Decisions. Deei alens, Dccisi ens .. N';;:[WGr"- Hnrdwarc

The NCI work 1 f1 terrace Canl . Ncrwork Ccblc _

Network Hub

Troublesboor i Ilj_: Net ..... ork 1·1 erd wese ., \'Vi rel css Network SolnLLOR!1.

Wireless 1·1 ub}RoLJR~~ •

\Vin:-.Io1;'.SS S~'ClIrl1:Y Docter's NOleS

recrwork in~ Chcckl is~ ...

Cements ix

2jB ass 25H 259 2)9 2(,[1 261

26.1 2·M 2M 266 16{; 26~, 271 2-74 276 216 278 2~0 2S1 282

Connections .' .. ,., ,., ......•..... , ......•...... ,

Tile Sitri:tl POrI

Signs. cfTroubfc with Serial POrts _ Repairing Serle! rCJoIH "', •••• ,

A (idirtg Seri~ I, &'(H1::>

TIIa:i?Q_filltd 1'(111 '"

Signs ufTrouble 'i'.".i~h Parnlfcl Ports • 'l'IIeUSB PO:r1

Signs. of1'I'{Iuble wich US.U Pons •• ,,' Tlll~ Fi rcWircll EliE J ];94 Por.

Signs OI,'Ti"{fllbk with f,ir¢Win;: f)oI),r1£ Doctor's Noses . " ,

Pens-e- TI cub !....:s.hootjng Check I ist .. ,

Input))",'!"" ,

ThI:K'::vb~iHJ " , , ,

H cok i,n.!} U P a Keyboard

Kcvboard Mn j Il1Ct! an ec

Signs, ot"K~ylHKird Trouble

TILt:' Mouse

Hooking Up';J, Mouse .,,' Mechanicnl M()I_.l~ Optlcal Bill! Mcus I! Optical No~D.ilIl,,\'I(n.lic! Si'::;IU uf Mcuae "rroobrc

Gf'.:1phics '['fllJlt'1~

Hcokiug Up a Graphtcs Tabler Ma iutenance of G raphics 'Tab lcrs

297 .29S 299 2W 301 302 .103 )OJ .]{I" .10:5 )0, aos JU5 300

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h utztes M ateri a

X The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide



H ock lng up a '''''::11 earn f',_'J" intennnce I)f Web (';;WI'IS DigiLll1 Video (DV)

Hocklrtg Up IJV 'ITa;lb~es:IKIt!I Lng DVs _ Digital Cumeras

If o"ldug Up' ;t Dt:g,i~.a ~ DUlli;':TLI. ., Tru;lb~eshO(!liltg Dlgital Cameras JOlS-1Lt}::s.

Hookrll'g. Up' <:IJ rojsrlck Maimennnce i,)fJ'o.Ys:[kl~S Other Input Devices D-oClor'sNOII.."'S

]npul D.;-vic~s-- Tr{ll.lbl¢;5hC{nil-I,~ Che,].::li.s1 ._

J()(j Jm; JQ6 JI17 107 JOl 311& )<)8 ,i}'J J] ] JJ'2- )]1 313 31·1 ns



FU. S),slrm t,n" ...

Tnking Cure I)ftll.;;.'; File System .,

H erd Error'S n nd Soft Errors .... , TyIXS 01"1~il.e SySL:;-rllS

Checj;; i t1 g t.1:1 e [)rive for Errol's ••

Free Tools

NQ' S{J Free Tools Snfa Install cf Sohwnre

JI? J:W J20 n! 323 32:4 m .ll4 JJ.l :ll, J)j J_1~ JJS »)9 .>00 342 144 347 :1<7


The Opcmt i i1 g Sy.w~ In

Repair crthe OpcmLiug SYS1i,::r.I Uprrnre orne Ollermill,~ System Upgr;td.c- crrhe Opcmtlag System Taking Core of the Ope[";;t1it~:; System I.Nt Piles

VQ.:;1.o:r'::;; NOI~

fite Sysrcro Cure Checklist , .. _

Backup 14,

Whil[ ] sn [lac k"lli] 350

Tvp ....... a of B~.f,':kLlI)S ],:Y2

_~~~ m

How ro Dv 8 B8C;J.;.~II' J57

The .M i.'Imml ~VI erhod J).?

Tbc Uti lity Method 35 i

Disk CJo:ninr; 359

I~ ow 0 flen ro Buck Ull" .l61

How Long il} Keep the Backup 361

P rti!c~Lilig Backups 363

Keeping Bnck ups OtT- Si(~ 3-M

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h utztes Iv! ateri a





n uekup M ediu P res and Con s Disaster RoI,,'C~WI;.'r,.'!:'

D':';(;lOt"S NOIt's

1) uckup Ch(;:ckl is.

'mpro,'lnl: Performance ... d S ta bUI~· G~t1io.g the Best Out [If Games

Signs. 0 f Problems wiih Games Tips fur Better Gmnjng lrnrmvin[l Your Online E1I[K:rit[Wc •••

Ti:p~ for Optimum Online Performance Hardware Delvers

\Vb~1l [1'.(; Time rc G¢'~ n Nlo}w Driver \VinoLl(fj.",s. XP-Signcd Drivers vs. UndgnL'd Drivers Drive r Rollback

Windows X r' System l-"::'i~:S1 ore \'Vi n"Jmvs. U pilate J s ~LI{$

lnsru IlinG. \Vltldl)i,\'s Updmc Controls Tranbteshoorlne wlndc w s Updntc l)Q~'QT'S ~tlk'S , ••

lmprcvmg I)~tf"'nnllrk.'l~ en ecklist

~lnJdog L"orc ohhe Internet ,., ~ . ~ . ~ , ~ .

COl1n~c'lhfitr-M(likm [)i~kUI}

PhDlle Lme Q{l:)1 i ry

The Mr)ilt"ITt Cab!e

Tll.;;Mmj'oI;lll , ••• ,

Co nnectlvl L~'- DS'UA DS LrC:il.bte

Prcbtems witJ. DSU ADS Ur.."':1 hie ••• " •••• ,.,


Dec lde 0.1 \\lIH) VOl) Acruat ly .t\~! Instal I: Am ivirus S(I nwaee

Email on Web P a gcs .,

web Drcwsers Cookies ., Proxy Servers Joteruer Till)e S.'!'lIC Dcctor's Netes • Modem C't.l(~~~dist ,

"rebsilc~ , , .

Tno"" , , , , , .. , , .. ,., , .

Common. Hie .Hs"u::n:i!jofi.l1; ... ., •• ~. ~ •. , ...... , ...... ~. , •. , •

Index ..•. , .... ,., ... ", ...••.... , .... "" ..... , ... " ... , ....

Cements xi

:167 ]6' )69 J7I J71 J7] 37,1 J16 ,77 ']7') JSO 1&1 lBl J84 386 lHl

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h utztes Iv! ateri a



No book ever gers written in j so lat i on. Behi n d every good book is a go od [cam. A 1.01 of people haw worked tirelessly 10 take this book from the initial idea through to print

To start with, a hig ';;;:lhank. you" is due to SCfJU Rogers end Jane Brownlow. who saw rhc potential of this idea in the f rst p lace. M)' s inc. rest thanks \Q you both, Thanks also go \Q Agatha Kim for "1.1 the help, useful tips, timely prods, and for keeping [he whole project moving along. Cheers!

Thank also 10 Madhu Pras her an" Judith Brown, who worked miracle, and transformed my Word documents full or weird style, and markup into this polished final product tho' you see. Thank you'

Thanks also to "lithe other folks 01 McGrow-HiWOsborno,. who worked on this book but whom I didn't get rhc pleasure ofmeeting Dr talking to. Thanks!

A special thanks 10 Kathie for Inking hundreds of ph()(()l,;raphs of components of all kinds for (1[;, book. I really appreciate your hard work and dedication I() perfection ill milking sure that what [ Wi.HHL:":d in the shot looked great. Thank you very much!

Finally, thanks to all those around me who helped in many and varied ways with this project. from spotting my Spelling mistakes Or sloppy sentences 10 making sure 11l.lH my mug always. had tea ['II 'it. Thanks!

No electrons were harmed or mistreated during the writing of this book, but lots were terribly inconvenienced, Sorry.

Adrian Il~ Kingshry-Huglws June 2004 www.kingsley-hu gil


U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h "Illes M ate,i a


If you arc reading this, you probably have a computer. If I'm right and you do, the I~ the re's a ve ry good chance th ar it' s i IHP~l rtan t W you, e L iher person H 1 i Y or professionally, or both, Another thing I can safely "'SSUII1. is that you probably know what it feels like when your computer goes wrong.

Computers arc all around us today) and they've become an almost essential tool (1 f eve ryday li fe (in off ce 5] homes, schoo ls, bu sine sses, an d even carried 'I,.'i,I ith us when we are On the mo ..... e)_ Yet frequently when they let us' down, it is just, <11 rhe time when we need them most, and this can he frustrating for people who don't know what is wrong or how 10 fix it. W'OLlI,jn'l ;1 be great 10 be able 10 dojust that? And wouldn't it be really great to be able to upgrade your PC without shelling out a 10' of money I'm somebody to do it for Y(lU" 0, would you like to be able 1<) set up your computer so that irs JUSt the 'way you wam h, 3S well as being safe and secure for you and your family?

In choosing a PC, we have It great deal of choice when il comes to what kind we want (desk lOP. laptop, tablet, handheld), We arc ulso nu .. .cd witha siaggcring array of hardware that can be connected to our pes, such as a mouse, keyboard, speakers, microphone, and printer. You may additiounlly have already connected (or would like [0 connectj a digital camera) scanner, video recorder, cell phone, portable music player, GPS receiver, as well as a whole hn'Sl of wireless peripherals (enabling yon to iruerface and interact with other devices by using radio signals),

There is also an important choice to be made' when it comes Ito \ v -hat operating system (OS) you have loaded onto your PC. This can be mind-bogglingly confusing and scary for' both tbe beginner and the experienced owner alike, and just ,.bOU1· everyone around has 4Hl opinion to offer Oil which as is bL!;:O;I,! B~H only you can appreciate your OWJl needs .. and i(s irnportaru to make On informed choice.

FIX~]':'YOURSELF HOME REMEDY All ope raring system N no longer something thatyo« nf:"ce.'~sQr.ily hove to prryfr)1; andseveral fiee openning' systems m't:!' cIlTf'(~nflJ' available.

A ncr the' OS comes the choice ot'whar soil-ware: you want to install, This can range from expensive off-the-shetfsoftware to free downloadable software'.

Once you've got yO\LI computer set up and started using it. you win no doubt begin accumulutlng dnta (such as word processor documents, photographs from


U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h utztes IvI ateri a

xiv The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide

dig hal cameras. web pages; downloads, email, and so on) that you will \v,mlt ro keep safe for the future. Storing your dma on different media (CD" floppy disks. DVDs. portable memory) is a snap these dol" if you have a I'C. You con <V,eD create your own CDs and DVDs that can be played on your home entertainment system. Using these, you C"" easily and eheaplyshare huge amounts of video, phOIO', and other data with ["mily and friends. (CD, cost mere ",.1)(" and DVD, stan at around " few dollars.)

Add to all this the heady power we now pOS5CS.~ to connect our own computer to other c om put. rs on n network or vi" (he lnte met, so th at we call share both resources and information. We can send nnd receive information to and lrom anywhere in the world quickly and easily, without any fuss, 01' huge cost. You can 3CCe,i,j,S in formation ~nd resources on almost any subjecr you care to choose, as well as communicate with like-minded people from all parts ofthe globe.

There are several ways to connect to the Internet, depending on your geographical location, budget, and how much time you plan to spend online. For the vast majority of'people, dial-up using n modem is still tbe waythey connect 10 the Web, bUI some choose to access the Internet by high-speed DSL connections, or e v 'en satellite connections. For those QJl lIH.~ move, the option exists to connect to the Internet yin cell phone. I f, hmVCV(~T. you want to free yourself from your desk, you wilt W[LlH to go for the ultimate wire-free lnternct experience, by fooling yoursel f up with a WiFi Internet connection. \ViFi otlers high-speed Internet access to tho se with i n ra nge o t~ an access po int (c barges, III ay apr Iy J and is becoming a popular option, especially lor people on the move, with more and more access points being installed in restaurants, hotels, and cafes daily, But if'.') not just for people who want to surf the Wcb and check. their email while on tile move; a wireless network is fi1Sl becoming the ~ilSYI no-fuss, no-wires, no-holesin-the-wall. solution for creating home and office networks.

PC DOCTOR'S ORDERI Wireless networks and high-speed Internet connections are sUPeJ; but it is vitotif yo« have these in place, IJwlyou take much grealf21' cart' when u COmeS W pl··Olr:.:¥::fillg ymw PC (or network 01 PC.~) from attacks by vtnaes awl hackers.

So all in all. a PC ls probably the most versatl le and multipurpose piece of equipment ever made. allowing the owner unprecedented flexibility and scope, Com pulers seem I ike l be pcrfcc t lee ~l[IQI ogy to nc com puny U~ II I L J n [0 the 21 :-i.l century, and every day sees an increase in the f:ailb and trust we place in them to solve 01.11' problems. and manage our busy lives. They M'C seemingly without flaw or weakness.

U rheberrcc htlich gesc h utztes M ateri a

Introduction XV

But wait, that's not entirely accurate! They do have one major flaw thm strikes owners and users alike the world over: the}' can, go wrong, and go wrong often, in an a lrnost in fini te number Q f ways.

This defect comes as a dirccr result of having such a powerful, complex, and flexible 1001.

NOTE The compte.xily ofa Pc. bOllr the hardware and the software. rcaUy is qui'e slagg~rfllg_ We wen1lG the moon on for less con~')I,lthlg power than you have (II )'~)ljl- dispasot ill theform ofa home Pc.

Despite their obvious intricacy and processing power~ computers arc still incapable of looking after themselves in even the most bask of ways. If you compare a modern! iop-of-rhe-l lne PC 10 even a relatively basic cart you wi ll see many omissions relating to control and care of the system, Cars have simple, easily readable systems that are designed to give the user clear warnings relating 10, amongst other things, dropping oil levels, insufficient coolant, broken fan belts, and defective brakes; they can even remind us when a service is due. Fire up Ol PC and you see nothing like lhi~ at all. No (!t,1]S or gauges-s-even electronic oncs +show you system speed, system temperature (CV(;fI though, as. you will

sec la let, one 0 f [11 e III ost corn mon Oil u S(~S o f en ttl poneru raj 1 urc in a PC ca n he directly linked to system temperature), not even a service reminder!

What This Book Has to Offer

Before we go any further. let rne get one thing dear: no single computer book ever w ritte n is go ing (0 cont a in (he so I ution (0 all poss ib le prob le rns thai a PC can suffer, There are just 100 many ailments, Ih:11 can afflict your system. Btu that doesn't mean you are powerless 1,0 do anything about them! And this book aims to help you solve the most common problems. as well as teach you how to find answers to the rest

NOTE Even ([Ilisled (In{~~ Ihedm:ilme..lIlf~d ailments fhal (;011 a.lfljet an op~r(Jting systetu sud: as i~f1crosaj' Wludows XP. a/is book would be

se ..... "C1YJI volumes long.

If every PC mil ed 0 If" prod uct io 11 I i no, eac h i dent ical to (11 e previous one, eac h loaded with all the. software. and! yon couldn't upgrade them Or add more software or peripherals, it might be possible to como up with solutions (0 every possible PC problem, But things aren't like tluu, There is no such thing as ~I standard PC

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h {jutes M ateri a

xvi The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide

(although in the early days of the PC attempts were made to create standard PC,)_ an d the re are wide: vari at i 011 So between d i ffe ren t brands a ~l d model s. The permutations ere almost infinite:

• Di {loren I m oth erbeards

• DitTl':ren[ processors

• Varying amounts and types of RAM

• Di ffercm hard drives

• Di ffcrent graphics cards

• Different mice/keyboards

• Di ffercnt m ousernats (onl y jo ki n g!)

T\ ... ·o pes that are identical with regard to manufacturer and even model can comain vastly different components. One type GC graph ics card might have been replaced by another .. Or perhaps they WH out nf'hard drive's from One manufacturer aud bought drives from a different manufacturer that were of rhe same SlZC and speed. NQ single book can even pretend to come close to listing every problem the PC owner may ever encounter, Add !O this the wide variety of additional software and hardware most owners attach to the system after p u rchase, which further complicates the accurate diagno~illg or a problem.

So, although this book will CO,,", many common problems I'hat affect PC", my goal is ro empower you with the 'kill' and information you need to be able 10 track dQ\VIl the root causes of the issues you come up against and to give you the knowhow to deal with the problems once you have c ... orrectly identified them. Until you understand what the re "1 problem is there is IW point in trying 10 Ilx il.

Why Bother with Doing It Yourself1

Before you get ~I screwdriver out and set to- work opening the case or go delving into the Illes buried in the operating system, J think you need to uudcrstand nor only the advantages (and powcrl) of being able 10 deal with problem. yourscl f'but also the reason why you oro laking charge ofthem yourself.

lf'you've read up to (his point, I'm going to assume that you fall into one of rbe following grf)lJP~:

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes M ateri"

Introduction xvii

• YO" are "computer owner and you have" problem (or problemsj rhat you'd like to gel rid 01:

• You OWn a computer and so far yOUT system is running great, and you want 10 keep it Ihm way.

• YOUI' computer is a few years: old and you'd 1i.1«: 10 give it a new lease on lite.

• You're thinking of building n computer and want "good grounding in what all the bits are and how [11"y Ii [ together,

• You bought this book by accident thinking L( Wi;it;. a horne health-care manual,

But be fO[IL.~ we get down to iden ti frill g all d! fi xi ng prob lem s, le l \i 10 ok at how PCs are usually sold and the safeguards that oro in place 10 protect you when thblgS go. wrong" We'll also look et why so many PC owners don't realize their system needs any aner-sales car-e~lhat is. until i!, goes wrung.

lmagiuc you want to buy a new PC, Now imagine walking into your local computer stow Or electrical retailer so you can take a look at what they have to offer. You've done quite a bit of research on the lmernet and in computer magazi nes, and you've come up wi ih the rig h [ ] eve] of speci fLei.ui On fo r w h m you want.

NOTE We "II be deciphering (_{'IIerylh;ng yem nCi2J W knowobont ("{)mpmer spectftcauons 'mel;

Strolling around the 'tore, you see n few systems thai match your requirements, A salesperson notices (bar you are interested and sidles Over to you. You exchange a few questions about performance and price, and perhaps the salesperson tries to sell you sorueihing a little more expensive than the nne you',l planned <In. {A fter .11 .. they wouldn't b. snl e speople if they didn't try <h"I!) You're not convinced tom the more expensive system is. worth the extra cash that the store wants for il~ and 50 yon stick W 11h your p lanncd budget and specification.

PC DOCTOR'S ORDER! I(·~· never a bod idea to stick: with yuur planned bridget. and spec{jicafian.(ly'Ou do think' that you wanf to clwnge your plans, I i./.'Jugg~st sleeping on it be/ore you buy. Wdg'lllp tflf! fIV-} and COliS t..'CU'f·/ljl/y.

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes Iv! ateri"

xvi ii The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide

You're now sure that the system you are looking at initially, the one based on your research, 'is the right system for yOIJ.~ so you decide 10 buy ~1, The salesperson takes your order and tries once again to sell you some other things. to go with your system, such as n printer. You think about {his and remember {hot your current printer is a bit poor, and you decide to rreai yourself to n new one to go with your new PC. You're happy, and the salesperson is also happy. A'S you gel ready to pay, there's a chance llml the sutesperson will otter to sell you all extended warranty. Right 011 cue, you are offcrcd un extended warranty {)It tbo system you .1tC buying. You decline because you feel you've spent enough, You {hell pay for your goods, and you leave the store happy with your new PC nll packed away in a few

card board boxes.

Every day, thousands or PC, are soldjust like this. (OK, not all are wid over the counter. with IlHU1Y nowadays sold by mail order or over the Internet or telephone.) But there is OD" common omission usually present in 99.99 perccm ofthese sales. That one thing is rarely, i f ever, mentioned. "What is that?' ~ r hear you ask.

[{'S this. The buyer (you) is rarely, if ever, told {hot (be PC be or sbe just bought w il I Il eec ::. [ I (3);l a Sill all amount () F ~ .. are ;J nd ~J nen tion fronl [he owner {you) if" th.;.1' want W g~' the most out ~)f it. J f you buy a car. you are ruurincly wId how much. and how often it will need scrvicing.H'you buy u pel, you will undoubtedly be given quite specific "care and feeding' advice. The some goes for clothes, IlO matter what the COSL In tact. most t.hings that you buy come \ v -ith instructions

as t.o how you can ca re for I he prod II ct 8: ftcr you btl y j t.

Computers, ·it seems, don't need any nfter-sales care, or at least, none that

you are usually told about. Tim salespeople certainly don't tell you {ita, your new computer will need regular attention. OK. maybe it's. buried somewhere in one

of the many manuals supplied with a new system, but generally {he manuals {hot come with systems rarely! if ever, make any mention of how you should rook after a new PC system. 11. seems lhM you just sel. LI up, plug II LTI,. and L11l1 jl_ You keep on dOing this until it IlO longer works right, at which point you wonder if you're supposed to go out and buy a new one and start On the cycle once again.

NOTE Maybe fjOw you cor:! nnderstond why manUfilCII..n:el"8 and resellers don't :Jllppf,1 allY instructions for caring for your system.

When most people buy" computer, they think wry little about the kind of"<""e and JC;eding"lh.i it will need. In fact, I'm convinced that lII0'("PC buyers (especially first-time buyers) thinka PC is just like all the other home entertainment and

e lecrronic equi pment found in their 110mc and wou'r need anything beyond a quick wipe d own with" duster every 50 often just to keep i { looking fin e.

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes Iv! aleri"

J mrod u eti 011 xix

This issimply "0' rruel

The modern PC is without a doubt the single most complex piece of equipment that people have in their homes, (1 f you don' t bel i eye me, try !l ndi ng so meth in g in your home tn at 'h as more: bmw n s and keys on it and is anywh ere ncar as \1 ersati lc.) This added complexity means Ih~H it needs more after-sales care than your stereo or TV, or even your ca r. YmJ r new pe rso n ill com purer system w j II co me w j th ;, warranty covering defects in pans, but il~5 important to be-ar in mind that this warranty is limited-c-usually 12 motuhs-c-aud I assume that you want your

co m p utcr W last lougc r than I h m!

PC DOCTOR'S ORDER! Be dull" "bow ,"Iial .<01'/ 4w(IP'I'{lJIly your systetn comes willI" Docs your ~'_Iarramy mean dun you have 10 get J'OW· 0y:sfl~m back 10 1'h(' store/mansfacturer; 01' wilt d1l.:J.1 pick illlp? Or will lhey send an engiuee« out? Do you ge! another computer while yoU/;_~ is being fixed> H'tu"nmli({S where you end uplmHing the bi/I to retnm ,"I system (,,"(111 end IIp co,wing pm a 101 of numey: EI?wl calling well support lines elm be C!';;,

It is beyond Ihis warranty period that 'taking care of yOIJr syS[e,lll really pays on~ However, don't put off starting a good maintenance routine until your warranty is up" Stili not convinced? Well. here is just a small list of simple things that can ::.ff"eN the performance and MS~ of use of y~)UT system that are easy to remedy (as you will see shortly):

• Dirt stuck in rhe mouse causing erratic pointe-r movemem

• Dirt)' keyboard causing sticky keys

• Dust collecting (In fans causing noise

• CD. ROM drives not reading discs properly due 10 dirt on 'he lase,

All of these are annoying, All are, howe-vel". easy to flx. To find oUI, how, keep reading.

Protect Your Investment

Why should Y"" be interested in taking care of your new PC? After all, modem

e lectron i c d cv ices are pretty rei i a bl c. an d when th j ngs go wrong yQU usu a 1] Y IJ ave a warranty to fall back on) don't you'!

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes Iv! ateri a

xx The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide

The first and most obvious reason for taking care or you!" PC is a financial nne.

YOUI' computer system has probably cost you a lot of money, so it's wise to make sure you gc t the most out of w hal yo 1,1 spent

Let's say you've bought your system and go, it home and taken i{ om of the box. I f'you are lucky, you have set up your system, plugged it in, and Rotten it going quickly and easily. (There is always a chance th;)t you were unlucky and brouglu il horne or!ly to filld il DOA-D~~d 011 Arrival.) A~ the owner ofa new PC'~ worries about its reliability and nnw long it will last arc probably not paramount ill your mind. You'Il he too busy exploring jl~ discovering what it can do, and! trying Out new things. ICs very easy ro be lulled into ( .. omplacency about how much care a PC actually requires.

i\tfo£t PC manufacturers are: 'Very good when it cernes to dealing with the early teething troubles that new PC owners experience. They or" often bappy 10 help with setting up the hardware and any software that came bund led with the system. However, this generally changes once you: begin to experience problems that nrc unrelated to the original hardware and software supplied (such as software CQnfliCLS, problems with other peripherals, Or conncctjng your PC to a network). There are many reasons for this, the most likely being Ihat in order 10 sell computer systems at competitive prices. manufacturers and retailers need to cut their profit margins, This means a less-generous support package. It would also be unreasonable to expect manufacturers and retailers to have the knowledge and manpower to offer such a comprehensive package for every possible combination of'peripherals and software ,hat could be. applied 10 {heir products.

PC DOCTOR'S ORDER! Be ",,'am Ihal you mighl be dwrged./iJ,. support iSSlI{,?S (hot ariS(,?fivm hardware 0'1(1 software you '11,(? odded to [he system .{~flftl· pl.lli;:bljW:.'. l/yor1 have' any d(wlus (II all obollf Ih~~ kind o.(1jIIPIJrJI"! YOII can exp~cl, usk! ~fY01l$litlllClve'yaw· doubts. osk to IwVt:.: if hI writing.

Maybe It's All in tile Manual!

You're always told to mak(~ sure rhar you read all the manuals and paperwork lha. come with anything you buy. Docs any of {his give {he PC owner any "care" informanon?

No! The- manuals and instruction leaflets that come with a nevi! system don't mention much 4.lbOl'II 110W you should care for your system (beyond 'the obvious keeping it dry ",,,I not dropping it). ,Vlm{ 1\'" manuals d<l give you is" rundown of

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes Iv! ateri a

J mrod u eli 011 XX i

YOLir warranty rights along with all [he: telephone numbers, email addresses. and website addresses that YOlL will need if yourun into trouble, Combine this with the fact that modern electronic devices arc pretty reliable, and there is u good chance that you will get mOlLY years of service from a computer, even if you don't perform any maintenance on il. (in ruuch the same wny that you hear stories of cars running for 111md red S Q f' thousands 0 r miles wi 1 hout an oi 1 ch nnge or a servi ce), II 's a 1 so very easy to be drawn ioto a false sense of security by reassurances ()f telephone support and wurranties. Why waste lime and effort on maintaining your system when you have these to fall back on"! W"mmty and telephone support might sound good when you buy rbe system, but in the real world, all hut the best (and most cosily) support usually means lengthy downtimes and long, boring, expensive telephon e ca II s.

PC DOCTOR'S ORDER! Check' YOII, docnmomation to see whemer telephone support iJJ: o_jfi;#'ed Oil a toit-free phone nmnbf!l:

Returning Your System-and Your [)ata!

Very often, • defective system will need to be returned to the manufacturer. which mean S you will be w ithou t it for some time, Return ing th L:': system also ru cans being without access ro oil {he data stored on it-work. photo" email and {ax and financial records. Hew would you cope with this? \Vhal would )I·(H.! do ifthe w('II"SL came to the worst=you get your system back from repair, your data j,"j. gpne, and the system is buck to the sante suite that i( was in when it First Carne (H.H of the box?

NOTE Don't e{n/111 on gening!tee help 10 mCOliW- your los: dam. Fc~~ If ony, computer manntacuners 01' rescuers will take for your data. l1rqJ ~L!iU assume that _)lOll have made copies C!.fanyliting important before yQur computer lL'eut wroug_

A common solution offered is to include" recovery disc that is designed to return your system to its original out-of-the-box state, While these can be quite effective solutions, any data stored 'Oil your computer wi.11 beerased (as will any ad d i tiona 1 so fi w ar~ an d. hard ware d rivers lha'[ yen ~ h !lve i nsmll ed). So I hi S s ho L11{j on~y be used as a last resort or if you have fin up-to-date copy of all your dara,

\ v -hich technical support mayor may tint tell you when ~hey tell you 10 usc. the disc, It's always" good idea {Q periodically think about the important data that's on your PC, and it's not always as obvious as. you first think. It's easy to think ubout

U rheberrcc htl lch gcsc h (jutes Mate';"

xxii The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide

data as being the correspondence, emails, and I::.;..: records saved on YOW" PC; bm there might also be other dat:) that's almost as. importaut to you, For example:

• 0 "me pro [; les

• Stins ami video Crom digital cameras 3t1d camcorders

• S aved J me met fn verite Ii nks

• Software that. you paid for and downloaded [rom tile lnternet

• M Llsic thru you paid for nnd do\\'nlt)a,l"d From rhe lnreruet

• Lists of recipes, plans, or hobby-related material that you've collected

• Anything else that you've created ami saved 011 your ccrnputcr that is i m portan t to you

NOTE Nrnliirlg hems hCWtllg Q sensible bo('li.'i.l]1 schedut«: "lI sirawyou latev l' • .:hal you need w keel} and the best ways to keep if.

However, a little hit of ruuinreuance goes a long way" Over the course of this book, I will show you that ta ki II g cure 0 f you!' 'Y'tC ttl need not take u r too much 0 I' your limo (perhaps a couple of hours a month) and that this is time well 'pont on keeping the computer running when you compure the lime, effort, and disruption you would be put through by 0 problem that could hove been prevented.

Still Need Convincing?

Want "not her reason why you should take core of your computer? Looking after your system will also save you money" lt's 1l fact, Not only will it mean IJmt yO~J

su ffcr less downtime ItI]{J :WPPQTt costs. bur with rcgnlur maintenance. YOliT s),ste!ll wijllast longer and hold its value bL':Ut:'T_ lt~s great tu upgrade a system or buy u new one if you need the extra power or resource" that ore offered, but upgrading because your current system is unstable or badly maintained is a poor reason. You didn't ge: the full value nul of the old SY:Sil£n11 and you are unlikely 10 get full use of the next. By nor taking proper care of" system, you are not only making mom for" whole host or potent ia lly experts i ve pro blern s to com e you, way, bu t you are also. quite literally, reducing the effective IiI'" of your computer.

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h utztes Iv! ateri"

Introduction xxiii

Un fortunately, there are aLIj.Q [hose problems that you cannot prevent, no matter how ru 1:..1 ch carc you lake 0 r yo LI r system. The two most com III 011 reason s In r system failure are

• 01 d age: the s ystem en countc rg a fa il ure because n component has su ffered a fault due 10 wear and tear,

• De recti \'C' com pone 11 ts: th c .s. ystem en counte rs a rai] urc beca IJ sc a component has suffered a. fault resulting from a defect in its manufacture Or installation. This mayor may nol happen within the warranty period.

It's Never Too tare to Begin

Don'l think that just because you didn't begin a comprehensive routine of regular maintenance ()I~ your system as SOOn ;)'S yOI,1 bought .~ from the store that u's too late 10 start, 11 certainly jSIl't~ True, the earlier you begin a maintenance routine the better. but that's no reason to abandon u system to fate just because it didn't get the riglu kind oftender loving care straight out of the box. Whether your system is six da ys old o r six yea rs 0 [d ~ your camp u ter \V i' I, wit h1.1 lit dou bt, bene fi t fro rn TIi!g_U lar attention.

Do More-Quickly and Easily

Ask yourself these simple questious and make n note of'rhe answers that you come up with.

• Why ,10 I h,we a PC!

• What do I wont (0 do with it'?

• What software do j usc most 0" my PC"!

• \\'hat hardware do 1 use most Oil my PC?

• Do I have hardwere/softwarc installed that I never use?

These might sound like very simple questions, but answering them docs give you the opportunity W consider how you make use of your computer and what. things are on it that you really nee-d. It abo helps you to steer away from software and hardware that you don't need, since unnecessary additions often only serve 10 complicate matters,

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes Iv! ateri"

xxiv The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide

PC DOCTOR'S ORDER! COIISider ctll<yilliy , r hell oddill,g drivers onto mOJ"{1 than one computer in order 10 (lc(.'eJ.'s Imr(h1"CH'C suets as a drgit(l/ camera ar camcorder: Do yOIl /'(!(j/(Y need to O["C.'(,s.f~ it./i"(Jm bOl11 computers? Ifyo« really do" the» that's fh,«, bn! don·, do it ijymj lhill~: II won 't be used. Every unnecessary piece of hardware added 10 your-PC increases she comptexity of/he system as m::11 uS eats into preotous s,ystem resources $!/('11 as memory lind processor time ($(J1,u:lim,~s even when the hardware tsn ., physicatly attachea}.

One of the main advantages of a well-mniutaincd system is. that it works when you want it to. There j s nothing m ore all noy i ng and fru stratin g tha n go ing to your cumpllI(':r to do ,s.nrn~[hing and finding lh~ll you c .... {W~\ do it b~C';'lWH;:: the system crashes. is unstable. Or the soflware Or hardware yO~J warn to usc doesn't work. You then either have to put aside what you were doing and fix the problem or abandon what you were doing altogether, This is the reason why you should spend :SOm(~ time :smting tip your system properly not only when you g(~t it but also each time you add new 'SOflW[We and hardware. Then carry our maintenance on the system regularly in order to keep it running at peak performance.

Having hardware or software Gil your PC tbat doesn't work properly can have a widespread effect on the reliability and performance YGU get from your computer. For exam pi C!' if you have: a rn ousc ~ scanner, or printer that is u 't working right, this can cause you to have problems with other hardware or even software-related pr()bl(:n~s_ These problems usually build up ifnot dealt with and then snowball until you have a PC that is crippled beyond usability.

Why Not Leave It to the Experts?

Many PC owner'S have had a problem lh~H they can "I, see how ro II., themselves

(H have hInt problems and had them ~QIYc(i by all "expcrt.t' lt can be argued that taking any problems you have to all C}i.(J[,Tt fur attention is the best ~bil1g you can do, lf'you don't have the skill, knowledge, or know-how to solve tho problems or issues you are having, then this might seem like the only option open to you, short of buying another PC_

There are five imp()flant reasons why PC owners would rather become their own ~'PC Doctors" as opposed 10 relying on of her experts:

• Relying 011 experts is expensive, very expensive iu fact. JUSl getting an engineer out to your home or olflce is not going to he cheap, and thnt's before they startrnckling the problem! !fyou take the cheaper option and

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes M aleri"

J mrod u eti 011 XXV

rake your PC tothem, you then have ,\11 the hassles of dismantling your PC. packing. it into the car, taking it to a shop, and having to collect 1JI(:' PC and reassemble it Qr!C~ again.

• Normally, tlrings have gone badly wrong by rhe time you call in the experts. There is, usually a period that comes before calling out un engineer when one or more problems have been getting progressively worse, Justas running a C-ur until something major breaks is. a bad ideal because it's ultimately going 10 cost you more than if you'd serviced the car regularly, running a computer to destruction leads to the same kind of increase 'in repaircosts.

NOTE PC problems rart.d)\' ~r(W(]1;jll.~·f "go {IW(I)'_!' Quiw tha I-eVeI"sej 111(::.:J.~ gmw in both scale and diverstty and in mmoJ!(wce level.

• To most," PC is a personal thing, and a great many PC owners really hate it, when others use and modify their system. Also, when you let someone else loose 011 your system, Y()U ~,.rCo!H~l.i.\l\"·I1YS made aware ~)fall. lhe changes made. 'What was changed? WJ'Iat was deleted or moved? What was copied?

• You know the background story to your computer: what' been added 10

it or changed'! What changes did you notice befor-e the problem started? Whilt was the last thing you did? Experts won't know (or necessarily ask} these things, so they won't know where to lock for the problem. Once you rake responsibility lor maintaining your own computer, yon will begin to lake note Of changes you make and also notice the 'subtle changes that occur as" result. You will then be better placed than 'he professionel ro solve problems quickly and easily before they ever become serious enough to need an ex pert.

• Experts don't always have the answersl JUSl as manuracrurers couldn't possibly be expected to provide answers for every combination of hardware and '0 ftware poss i ble, nci tit er c on ex pens be expec ted '0 have spec ia i is! knowledge OfYOUf problem, Whnr they do have is access to technical

in formation, usually found freely on the tnrerucr, and the. confidence to use tluu information. Sometimes experts will merely return your system to its. out-of-the-box state, similar 10 lJIC recovery disc mentioned above. which is ofhule, if any, use.

U rheberrcc htlich gesc h (jutes Iv! ateri"

xxvi The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide

Experts Are Never Around When You Need Them

The computer in the home is 110 longer looked at as theluxury lha; it was a few years ago. The horne PC is now just as much 0. tool for getting things done: as is the car, dishwasher, or oven, and more and more, W~ are beginning to rely on if to rake the strain out of runny mundane things that we have 1:0 do in Our lives.

One of the reasons behind the PC be-com ing a useful toe)] is because il allows us 10 do things in so rnuch less time than would be possible without it. Writing u repo rt fa r work 0 r term pa per is so much qu icker an dens ier on a W ord processor than on a typewriter . Filling in your tax return using a computer program that's designed for tho job is substantially quicker and easier (and also a lot lc ss prone 10 error) than doing it. by hand,

\Ve rely 011 being able to sit down iii. Our horne Or offlcc COmpU!l;T and gel 011 with these .• lungs WhCl1 we want to, B(':CfiUSC" computers give us the ability to do things a lot faster than previously possible, \W have" tendency-some of us more tho" omers=to lcnve more and more of the things that we have to do until the last possible moment before getting starred.

NOTE TakcfUing a. tax return for example: solnvare is available that enables yrRl to lNe your' return in '{~\'S time Own it wonki lake tofil! Ou' the paperform«. And once ).10'11 've fintshed, )FOij call then s-rlbmN the form OWN· IJW lmerner easter and faster than YOIi coutd prim if nut, pc.~' w'e porodise .!orjHo('rO!j·lill(1IU1'0"'-th(J! is. wailllJ~jJ go H'I"OIlg.

13tH what if you switch Oil your PC and nothing happens, Or when yO~J lead up the word processing or financial scflwarc, instead of being greeted by IIH.~ application, you ore presented with au error message? Well, if the task you were going to do wasn't urgent, then you arc going to suffer some inconvenience, but no harm is done. BUi, what if it is a time-critical task? Yom sales presentation is in the morning, or you have to get Ih::.t homework in on time, but you can't print it our, These t hi n gs are in l portaru a u d can even carry fina n ci a I penal ~ ies j f you don ~ t gri::.! them done,

What do you do now?

It is "I times like these that you will enjoy and fully appreciate the ability 10 be calm, take " deep breath, and see beyond tile problem and begin looking for solutions yourself' Scrnetirnes rhe solutions art': simple, Other iimes tbey are not. working through the problem methodically. the solution 10 the problem you're facing is likely to reveal itselfto you; whore", if you take" random approach to problem solving, you ·1l[C just as likely W make matters WLJrs.~,

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes Iv! ateri"

J mrod u eti 011


NOTE Leaving things mHd the deadline is neV(i:r recommended. The stress is just 1I0r l·vorth ill lfthe probtem ,you have is t'w result ofsome hardware defec: orfautt. there will incvitobiy be .tome delay before you can gal repltiC"fWWIU part« tofi» the system.

Benefits of "Pix-It-Yourself

Huge benefits aw,ail those who choose 10 take control over their personal computer system and choose to solve the problems they encounter themselves.

Some of these benefits we've already looked at and oro quite obvious:

• S ",'ill g m oney Even the sirn p lost 0 f PC pro b I e rns can be qui te expensive to' solve ifyou [Uty for technical suppon or use an expert.

• S av ing ti me By gctti n g on an d n xiu g the pro b tern yourscl f, you can be back working a 101 faster than having 10 walt for someone else to I." it.

• Valuable leaming experience lf you toke your PC to someone else to be fixed and you get t be same probl ern agnin, it will cost you ti me all d money to gel it fixed again. If you fix it yourselfthe 11m tlme, the next time you get a similar problem, it will be quicker and easier to fix" as well as be more COSt e nee tive.

• SausraeUon Successful problem solving can be very satisfying, Some problems ar e e asy 10 solve, while others can be a bit more challenging. Either WI-.y~ geuing the system back into working order brings. with :il, a great ~cnSt~ ofsnrisfaction.

• !VIoklng your PC better Because only you really understand the variety of task s you un derl a ke w lth your PC and exaetl y how you want I Q Lise if! you are the best person to be spearheading any upgrading you undertake. There's nothing wrong with getting novice from others regarding hardware and software upgrades. but remember that your needs might be different from theirs.

• Privacy If your PC bas personal or private information stored on i1

(na mes, addresses, fina n cia I in fo rmati on, posswo rds fOT on I inc servi ces, erc.), or it is used for business, then you might not feel comfortable allowing Others to have access to it (especially if you ha, .. e to leave IhL'; system with them). In situations like this. fi.x,ing and upgrading your own 5yS((~m might be the best option.

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h utztes Iv! ateri"


The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide

There are also a whole host of nther fringe benefirs of being the person in charge of repairing and upgrading your PC. By upgrading and repairing your own computer, you arc sure or what parts arc being added and thut they arc exactly WhUI you asked for. You'll also be sure !O get all the manuals and discs IhO! come Wi.11, the newly added hardware, Also, because you purchased the pam yourself, you have greater control over returns and warranty-related issues,

A~ you C~t[1 see, there are a lot of compc.lling reasons why you should be taking care or y()UJ' own system!

Benefits of Building Your Own System

Just as there are major benefits to caring for and fixing your own PC, there are major benefits to building your Own. system from scratch, Y(':.S. in some respects it is" far bigger undertaking; many people feel overwhelmed by {he sheer "umber of dj ffereru parts they Deed to choose and assemble. Thei r most common worries generally revolve around getting p.<H1.~ thru arc compatible Llnd what IhlZY will do j C parts are d~f~liv~ ..

NOTE By the wid of this book )'011 will. have all the .. ~kms and infi"}rmafiGn (and confidence) fliaf >'ou need 10 be able 10 choose the parts and f)'~sG..mhll! a PC compietetv from scratch.

Briefly, here are SOme of the advantages of building your Own system over buying, one ready made;

• You sa v e money: even at ioday's cut-throat prices, il is, still normally cheaper to build your own system {han it is to buy it ready mode.

NOTE The I"e(/,mn ~~!hy lmifdilrg )I.ow· own system ts cheaper than buying ONe "of/rhe sbel]" is because of rhe addttioua! CO,./ f!lcom(JIJIIY braudiug, manuats. discs, (ech support, andso OIl.

• You. gel what you wnnt: one of the main advantages to building a system from scratch [50 that you know exactly what it contains. You can choose The pans thnt best S"i1Ib. sppllcarion you intend for your PC.

• You get complete information: you are .sU1'~ to get all the manuals. discs, drivers, warranty cards, and other related bits. and pieces that come with the components. These can be invaluable when ir comes. ro solving hardware problems or dealing with warranty-related issues,

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes M ateri"

Introduction xxix

• 11 is a learning 'experience: building y~1UI' own system is 11 worthwhile learn i ng ex peri cnce, he lp ing you to be mo re com lortablc w he n handl ing PC component, and allowing you to see exactly how ull the parts fit together. lr also gives you valuableexperience in wiring and knowing which connecrorsgo where, not W mention a great sense of pride and ach ieveme n t !

NOTE Funmty enough, U ~~. 'he wiring that scares most people. BIll wiring rea/~y isn't dW1cutf. and n's pre(~~j IWIl.i to gel j, wrong. }'ou 'N learn much mora about the Wil"ing in_\'id~' (,j PC tater

There are CO" n rlcss oth or bon cflts 10 bu iI din g a system for you rscl f that wi Ii be personal to you, Needless to say, once someone has built a system for themselves, the quality that t_h~y expect frum purchased systems increases dramatically,

Convinced Yet?

I am sure by now It,al you can sec the immense benefits to be gained in both looking nlter n PC and building OLl~ for yourself. However, don It feel that you have 10 lake On too much in One gQ_ Caring for your IJC is about tilking small preventive steps regularly, While you are doing this, you are, learning how everything WOrk$.1 and when something bigger (and scarier) comes along, trust me, you will be ready to handle it! You will have learned to look beyond 111e symptoms to the ""11101 root. C4U..l:SC-~ of the: problem, and the: more hands-en experience you get before major problems strike, [he beuer.

So, without further delay, let's move on and introduce you to the various parts. that come toget I" er to m nke a perso n 11.1 com purer,

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes Iv! ateri"

Thispage imemionalb' I~fl b"mk

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes Iv! ateri a


Copy-right @ 2004 by Th>B McGri!t.w-HIlI cempenles. C!lck heltl for (erma or U$Ib.

Thispage imemionalb' I~fl b"mk

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes Iv! ateri a

What's What-the Anatomy ofaPC

Copyright @ 2004 by The MoGraw·HUI cempenlee. Cllck htlHl for (erma or U~.

4 The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide

R.ighl, => taken 3 quick" 10U~ nfl_he: mnin reasons 'why it's important .to take care ofyour PC S,}'SICIH! whether It's brand new out of the box or you vc had it for ycnrs; You know what the benefits are LI1lCITl15 of system stability, perfonuonce, an d lts overa 11 Ii te span.

Ifyou're still reading tbis in tho bookstore. now is the lime in take j( 10 the counter, pay for lt, and take it home because you're probably going to want to be near your PC while ,)'OU read along. [The other option is thal you put it back On the bookshell, I,"( J hope you (Inn'( do thatl) Don'( \l'M'Y, the '",1 of us will wail 1'0. you till you gel horne.

OK. you're home. Great. Welcome back!

The reason 1 suggest that yo 1.1 need to be near your com puter [or ih is f rst chapter is that \\'C arc going to be taking a quick tour Ori1S. anaromy=tha: is.~.nll ihe parts that come together to make up a PC.

Take a look ~H your PC. What do you see? Probablya hf.lf dczen or so bi[S all joined together to the main beige-colored box that sns on or next 1.0 or under your desk. I say beige because tho majority of pes are that {~()IQr~ although your case might be a different color. The point is that iI'S rhe main part of your computer, besides the monitor, nnd the pan that you see! Other things. are connected by wires (such as [he monhor, keyboard, and mouse), although nowadays it's not uncommon 10 see peri p 11 era 1 s (keyboards and m i ce i n pan i cu I ar) COt, necied via wire less rad to transmitters, mcani_ng fewer tangles and more freedom to It,OVC about,

N ow take a 100 k at the fro "1 0 f YO<I r PC. W hat do you se c? We 11, you're probably going to see buttons and lights. Something else that may attract your

at ten rion as you ta ke a closer] ook is that, II sua 11 y, none 0 r these button s 01" I igh ts will be labeled. They may have a symbol Or pictogram next io litem, b,,( ojten thc;rc\ flU \ v Ti'ting LI.~~(H,::[aICd with I:! light or button.

N ex t lake a look bchi n d your Pc. Now )rOU ire go i ng to sec a ] or or wi ri n g back there-e-power cables, video cables, mouse, keyboard, sound. printers, network, peripherals=end chances are they are pretty lflngl~d too.

NOTE Hthe wires behind ymw PC ""'" 'I Imlg/r;d. ",dl don", That 's a good start.

Let's "OW move 00 and lake a deeper look at the parts that make up a PC.

ID the Parts

Follow me on a tour ofthe parts that make up a PC. Some ofthese part' YOLl will b. fhmili or wi I b, others perhaps less so.

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h {jutes Iv! ateri"

CHAPTER 1: What's Wruu-the )\l1alOmy of a PC 5

NOTE This chapter ofthe book is concerned with desktops am} not laptop», wMch ara ..... ~~l'y d{lle1'cllf in construction, some l'eqlliring special fOols ji'll" disossembly:

\Ve. will divide the pans into two categories: essential Wild nonessential.

Essent la I parts are I hecore pans, 111 lngs t ha I you abso lutely need", par! 0 f a PC. Nonessential parts are all the bits thaI you can add on but that are nor necessary [0 (he PC i tsel I",

NOTE f()U mighl not hove 0/1 of the nonessentiot parts on your pm"licn!t;w PC • but don 't w.()"ny NO( lm.lljY p~ojJll.!. will have all of these 011 oue .~y~fem .

• Outside (he box

• Inside the box

This distinction is pretty straightforward. Outside rhe box is what you can see while suring by your PC, while inside rhe box is wh;lr you sec when you open the case of 1.1'0 PC.

Lot.', begin our lour outside the bOK.

Outside the Box

Sil dU\\IH in front of your computer. Take .. look at the parts you can; -5CC_ \Ve-U discuss Iii on, on 0 by one.

The Monitor/VDU

The monitor is, the part of (he PC system where everything seems to happen, making it an essential port (If the system. Without the monitor, you would not get any feedback from the system 500 that you know what it is doing, Sometimes the monitor i~ called <1 VDU (video disptey unit) or even JUS;t a "screen."

WARNING A monitor JiolJ.~ a vast cmwum ofelectrical c/J(.uge. eWm whes: switched o.ffotld unplugged. Never; .ever open Ow case OJt.n monitor:

This job. In pontcutos; shontd he Iq'f to the pn:if,"ssirmo/_i:_ To pr(;'vem dsk {if electric shock, keep 'iqlJids awayImm ymw mOlJjlm; fU' well (l~' h·em.lO :welr a.~; pins (1m/ paper eJlj}.,· ttia! couklfind their W{~JI" In l/wrmglr tue vcntttation holes . .4 simple paper clip finding its wa:y intoa monilor contd destroy it or cause afire.

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes M ateri"

6 The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide

The monitor can have very few COIH1'ols. or quite aim. Some monliors only have an on/off switch and a lew basic controls to adjust the image brightness and CQII tras •. 0 rhers ha \'C a great many con trols to allow you to carry 1.) ut all ki nds 0 f picture manipulanon, for example; rotate the image, adjust the colors, control the, shape and the sharpness ofthe image, as w~11 as many other functions.

NOTE Precise details olwhat your monifor (."CW (IUd emlllo( do are 1lsuat~~ supplied with it at she lim(l olp!lJt."msc- lake a took OJ this manual.

Monitors are usually measured in inches, and that measurement is. taken diagonally aCrOSS 111(': SCroL·'J:TlI from comer to COmet. SO:l monitor that's described as a "17,iooh monitor" is actually 17 inches between the opposite corners"

NOTE Acfu(1/(Y the true comer-to-comer measurement ofa monitor will atway« be slightly smaller than that staled because the meaj'lmmwm give» refers W the CRT [cathode ~'Q)' lUbe) inside the monil'w: Some nf 'his is {J/IL'tlys hhldel.t behind 111I;'plwillc.!rmm) aronud the PC. ,~·o the she yOlf wW .~ee ts s[iglrl/y'ess .

. 1\ mon i rQr has t \~IQ co n n ecr ion.';:

• On e connects to I.b e 'V id eo pun: on the PC~ th is con n ecro r' j s kn own as a 15,pill 1-ID·DB,15.

Today you arc "I", likely 10 Jind LCD (liquid crystal display] monitors making the i r way onto des kto p PCs, Til esc have the ad vantage over C itT in being srna llcr (flatter) and lighter, thus saving desk space. These LCD monitors can either connect to the standard IS-pin part or" graphic, cord or 0 DVI,D 14,pin port on on LCD men ito I" comro 1 ca rd.


A noihcr ess cru ia I pa" 0 r t he PC is the key board. In fact, wit hou t. 3 keyboard plugged ill, many system» won't even start properly,

I.1'l s.pite of what seems like n standard layout, PC keyboards CUll v ary a great deal. Most I,."" the standard QWERTY layout, but the layout of tbe numbers and the other keys can vary dramatically. Mauy keyboard. today also hove buttons for eomrolling volume, playiug media software, performing functions such as CUf!

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes M ateri"

CHAPTER 1: What's Wruu-the )\l1alOmy of a PC 7

copy, and paste; and much more. Smue even have scroll wheels so that you can scroll up and down document windows while you work.

Mo" keyboards OIe the standard rectangular typo. but ifyou want to break with tradition, you can choose one from (he many different kinds. of ergonomic keyboards available,

NOTE Belote buying lm ergonomic keyboard. ilat aU possibte, tty it out! Man)' h(I1'C a dJ'omalicQlly d~If(!ltmt fcot 10 them compared to ordteory k(Th{';ard~, and 117m migh/I101 be when you were (·xpru_'Jing. Make sw-l' tha! wha: looks ergonomtc {icl.r/al~y worksfor ),011.

Keyboard connectors can be one of'three types:

• A small round connector called a PSi2 (also known as" Mini-mN-6): if you look ;H this connector, )-10U will see the six little pins. 'inside. This is normally color-coded purple.Here is the symbol used to mark the port.

~ t.=:::=J

• A larger connector called a OJN~5 (also known as an rBM~PC connector): this has six pins inside, Note that this type is not often seen on PCs now.

• USB COIU1C(tQr: this. is a small, flat, rectangular connector that usually has OJl it the symbo l s hewn here:


The 11l01JS~ is. the device that ad{js ft second dimension to inpur. J! allows: Y(HI to move t b c cu rsor 0 r po i ntc r across the screen. There was, a ti me w h en a mouse was considered to be an expensiveluxury, but nowadays it is considered as. much of an essen ti ill as the keyboard,

Mice vaty in complexity; from simple mechanical, two-buttoned, corded types to versions. that have optical sensors in them ro detect movement and are linked to the co mp u rer by a IN i rei ess rad io co n n ect ion.

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes Iv! ateri"

8 The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide

i\:f[c,e can connect 10 ii PC by several different connectors,

• M icc were originally connected via a COM port using a connector called u DB-9~ a 9-pin connector that W:1S once common.

• The DIl-9 connector gave way to the PS/2 """".<:1", (tl,e M:i"i-Dl.N-6).

Using this connector freed up n COM port on the system for Giller devices. This port may be color-cooed green. The symbol looks like this:

• Nowadays, the most popular connection type for mice is (he USB pori.

NOTE tv/OI1)i modern mice come willi the adopter Ibm ollfyw.~ them to be connected to either a PS/2 or USB purl, im;rea.'i;ngfle.~'jbiIiIY.


Speakers, while in no way essentials (although most modern operating systems and other software assume you have them), add a whole new dimension to the PC experience. MOSL pes have a sound card capable of hrwing a set or stereo ~pef.lkers CoO ~l n ected to j L

NOTE Some systems have stereo speakars buill into the monitor; wluct: sa ~~es on des« space.

The quality of the output from PC speakers varies from pretty pOO1"lO fhnrastic, depending on the quallty of the speakers used (the sound cord make, little difference). II is also possible 10 equip a PC with 11 set of high-qualiry surround-sound speakers 1]1:]( can rival, equal. or even: beat a horne entertainment system,

N onna I stereo speakers arc us ual t y connected W II sound card I.ts,i ng a connecto I" called a 3.5 mm (1/8 inch) stereo jack, On most modem sound cords this connector and the corresponding connector on ibe speakers are color-coded=-tbe usual color being lime green (for audio out) or orange {for speaker fH!IpLlO_ You will see a symbol like rhe following n)r stereo speaker output:

U rheberrcc htlich gesc h (jutes M ateri 0

CHAPTER 1: What's Wruu-the )\l1alOmy of a PC 9

Speakers can be powered in different ways:

• ~·14H.'IY speakers are powered from the sound card and need 110 other power supply, The volume and quality ofoutput from these can he quite poor.

• Larger spe akers m j glu rcq L.:I j re h~ tteries to run, I don ~ t, reco III 11 ren d these, as the cost 0 f ru 11[1 i ng thcm i s h igh,

• S peakers powered by I he run in 0" rler are ve ry conun on nowadays, Th i 5 allows the speakers 10 IHl'iC a good output range find power. These ure [he best type to use.


Like speakers, a microphone is" 't on essential part of {he PC but is quito useful, Along. with speakers, microphones are becoming. Inure and more common as people usc their PC~ 10 communicate with ramily find! friends over [be lnterncr. Like speakers, they vary tremendously in quality and price,

Microphones ure connected lO res using a 3.5 'Inn] jack monaural connecter (not stereo, it has fI2:Wl::I connection segments OIl the actual connector). nnd the connection, arc 113"011), color-coded pink. Look for this symbol:


Auhough nonessential, a printer i.1:; connected [I,) the- majnri\y ofPCs. EVC:!l with the C'.l,(P lesion ill 1 n i ern (':1 u SC~ paper ou tput is sl ill com mOil an d a w idel y used way to output material from your Pc. Recently, printers capable of high-quality color output hnve become available, making printing pictures and images

co m mon pi ace.

While there is a staggering array of choice available when i,( comes to printers, ihe eonnecuon chotces are limited 10' two common types:

• The L'I1Q:;'[ conJU10U way to 1;.::{1I111cct a printer to a PC used to be \!ja a wide 25-pin DB-25 connector. This port was 0150 known as a parull 01 port.

U rheberrcc htlich gesc h (jutes M ateri a

10 The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide

• The parallel POt1 has ""II' been overtaken in popularity by the faster, easier-to-usc, and more versatile USB port. This port is. 1I311ally color-coded burgundy, The printer pori symbol looks like this:

Matty printers on Ihe market can he connected 10 either a parallel or USB port, depending on 'your PC's capability, whru cables you have available, and which yo" prefer.

NOTE lfpossibte, connect .vow· prim~---:r to ,'1 spare USB port. NOI" Oj/~}~ l,lilf lt prim filf;Jt';'I: but the !j(::IUp i's 11smjlly eoster


The ability to lake text or artwork thru exists. on paper end tum t1" into a file- stored on your PC can be very useful. Scanners can do just Ih.L They work in much the same wny as photocopiers, but instead of producing another paper copy: they can create an image of ihe item being scanned,

Scanners used to be found solely in offices, but nowadays, although not an essential, they are becoming commonplace in the home. Many people want to store their phetcgraphs 'OIl, a .PC for e41$~ of printing and sharing,.as. well as saving on space, and some scanners enable you rn scan photographic negatives and slides, This can be II useful way to protect your treasured memorie ... s on a CD 01" DVO.

M (lost scanne rs a llow you 10 sea I~ a paper page an d t hen ~ by rccogn i zi ug the 1 etters, will convert the text into text on your computer. Modern scanners can do this very quickly indeed and with a high degree of nccuracy,

Scanne rs need to tra us fer a lot of data to rhe PC quickly, which used to be a problem. Because ()f Ibis, scanners have gone through quite an evolution in terms of d\.~ign and how they CU!111CCl1Q the PC_

• Many early consumer scanners connected to the T1C via a SCSI (pronounced ",C" zzy") port, The probl em wi I h this connectio n was that very {C\V home or office PCs had a SCSI port, which meant that expansion curds hod io be supplied with the scanners. This added to [be cost as, w\.'"11 3~ the complexity of the installation, because lite PC had to be opened "It" a new card flued

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h utztes Mate,;"

CHAPTER 1: Whal's Wruu-the )\l1alOmy of a PC 11

before the scanner was connected. Your scsr pon will be marked with a symbol that looks like this:

• J Il all auem 1'1 10 got" round both the cost and the hassles 0 r havin g 1.0 su 1'1'1 y and support SCSI cards with scanners, manufacturers turned [0 the parallel port as a solution. The idea was (hilt (~On_"'lLIt1CrS could (it scanners On the parnllel port and then daisy-chain, or link, the scanner to the primer so both could 11111 off the same port. Tbis method was a lot easier and cheaper for the consumer, but it still wasu"t perfect, and marry users found this setup unreliable.

• A gai n, the US B port has becorn e I he port of ch oice for most of tcda y 's $C.;)!'Il~T£ b~C~lUS.t" t)f [h~ high d.;)l-rl [rf.jrlsf~T speeds Orlh~ port and the ease of setup.

• Another port that is available on many PCs is the lEE to 1394 I'M (also known as Firewire or i.Link), This is a high-speed port commonly "sed for linking video cameras to pes, but it is also gai[ling ground for other Jr.":V.iC;C.'i. that transfer lots of dam tu and Ir01l\ [he PC. One advantage of'thc IEEE 1394 port is that ; I ;s capab Ie 0 f 11\" ell faster d ata trans fer rates than U S9 I. I.

but similar 10 tom of USB 2.0. IEEE 1394 ports have their own symbol:

Web Calli

Nflt nn essential by far. but something thilI is Seen more and more on the standard PC is the web earn. The explosion in Internet use and the deslre to communicate naturally with others, without resorting to text, h;j}S fueled an explosion in web cam sales, \Veb cams are basically low-quality (in terms (If picture quality) video cameras designed specifically fur sending real-time video (lhfLt is, video as it is happening) over the I nternct,

Video, even low-quality video, involves transferrmg a Jot of data about, which means [hi1t most web cams ate connected to PC!; using rhc USB port.

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h utztes M ateri"

12 The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide

JoystkklGame Input Device

A total nonessential! If you are big into gaming, you'll already be familia r with a joystick or other [orin of game input device. Basically;u joystick acts as a second cursor, allowing you lo steer around the game environment easily and naturally.

Joysticks. come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and can vary enormously in terms of complexity and function, They connect !O a PC by two means:

• A 15-pin game, pori (usually on the back of the sound card), This is usually c;:olor·cQd~d gold; here is rhe port symbot:

• Any USB port.


Modems are not an O"OIHi"l, but since the lnreraer plays a key role [or most PCs today, ;I,~S a very common item.

NOTE A modem need 110t be external to the PC hUI may be inside lire casa. f!owevef; with the s1uge in popularity ~rhigh~~pe(:.;d cable connections to the lnternel. mote and iiUll-e PC'!I hove an externot nux/run nrrLE

The modem used 10 mean just one thIng-a device thllt 'is plugged into the phone line, allowing you to dial. out and make a connection to another device, TIMl device might have been a fax machine, someone else's modem, or the modem of an ISP (Internet service provider), but it was simple and straightforward. There were many different modem speeds, from very low speed 9.6 kbps to the much taste,

56 kbps moderns.

NOTE Tile 56 kbps translates into appmxlm"w{v 1()I)O character» of lex I per second.

Nowadays, with 'he widespread usc of high- speed cable connections and DSL. moderns are more complicated than they used to be, They can connect to your PC in severa [ ways:

• Extemal modem.' were traditionally connected to a COM purr. This allowed modem connecti on speed sup (0 56 k bps,

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes Iv! ateri a

Cl~\PTER I; Wlml's Wh:ll~llle Anatomy of:l PC 13

• Modem. co n also be c on nee led vi" USB PO[1'. (There's .1101 III uch you can't connect to the USB peril)

• en b le or I)S L mod" ms can a 1 so be "I," ched 10 a PC by an 131 bern 01 (network) connection.


Inside the Box

NOTE Most extenml modems need 0 separatepowerconnection. ltSfiaUy to an adaplf!l:

Th."!'S 'he tour of the outside completed, While most of the devices and peripherals that we covered were probably already Ibm~liar [I') you, some- of the information and background on them is going 10 be useful 1;'\«. It also helps thar as we move forward, we are nil speaking the same language,

NOTE Unless _l1()ll \'.t? (l/nmdy done if before, don 't start inkiug your sy.<lem apIJrl )/1.11 yet! Reier tothe dill/lie!" on .<tIlely first (Cllllple,. 4) and also 011 I/o,,' 10 rake the case oll {Chopter 7). Also, before J"" rake apart youI' PC, check that Ihis doesn't nwoltdotc your L-l.'al·mu~y_ N'r)I'IIJalty 11OlL'Odays U doosn 't, bur if in a'lY doubt, ask'

Now it's time to move our attention from the outside of the box. 10 what's on the inside ( see Figure I-I for" sneak preview). If you've never had 'he case off

U rbcborrec htl Ie h gesc h lillte,; M erla

14 The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide

before, you might be surprised by what's actually inside. T usually find that people have one Of1wO reactions:

• You'Il be amazed that there are ~Q many di ffercni components inside the case, all working together W make your PC do what it docs ... usually without mailing themselves known,

• YOLI were expecting the PC case to be jam-packed with all kinds of weird, exotic electronic "stuff," spinning fans, and all sorts of whirring gizmos" 50 YOIL'II be really surprised thai there is so much empty 'pace in there:

Lei,', begin the tour with the case itsel f.

The PC Case

The case on 3 PC seems pretty cosmetic, but in fact it carries our some vital tasks t]}f.ll mlght not be immediately obvious.

• First, il acts as il box 10 keep everything else in+well, lhl.ll part is pretty obvious!

• It protects delicate components from the environment (lilt! (rom damage.

• It is an important part of the PC cooling system. A well-designed case allows air to Flow around all the viral componenl.S! so that excess heal is carried away safely, prolonging the life of the components,

NOTE Mora on OlC dangers ofheot Iotas; in the section "Processor/ Mk:ropnx::t;.';.Wt/CPU .,

The PC case is also key to the actual Structure of the PC itself In fact, cases or" mode spccificnlly for different motherboards '0 that the board actually ills into the case properly and all the pons, card ,lOIS, and wiring match lip. (Tile motherboard, which wc'Il come to 11Cr.;l, is the main circuit board.) The case 41bj,Q acts 4lS the structure upon which the hurd drives, nopp), drive .. and optical (CD or IND]

drives attach, Figure 1-2 shows the rear ofa PC cos. complete with connectors,

The case isn 't.just n case either, Normally, if yon buy" PC case, you get the case, rbe power supply {more on [his a little lster ill the chapter): the swucbes (such as onlolTand reset), a cooling ron Or two, "rll) a 101 of'rhe wiring tll~1 is needed, AI::.:....,. you get other fixtures and: tiniugs, such as case screws, rubber reel for the case, and so on,

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h utztes M aleri"

Cl~\PTER I; Wlml's Wh:ll~llle Anatomy of:l PC 15

'§lail"! d H.~ar of case showi u g connectors

One important consideration beyond function when choosing 8 case, is finish.

While this might seem [0 be cosmetic, some cases thtu arc finished badly contain many nasty sharpedges 'lID r cn n an d will draw oj ood when worki n g insi d. th e system, which I'm S\lr12 yOi.[~lI W~lI'H \0 avoid. While you are IO(J~ing .'!II '[he finish ofthe case, check the I>1YOUlIQ(). I've seen cases designed so badly that tile cradle lor the hard drive completely obscures the sims thot hold \110 memory, making upgrading incredibly, and needlessly, di Hicult.

1 f you want to' get fancy, you can gel cases in shiny metal finishes. bright, fluorescent colors, contaiuing eerie glowing fluorescent lights, windows, and much more. No longer do )'0" have 10 make do with 11>.1 boring beige box!


When you gel around to opening your PC case for tile first lime and lake" peek i nsid e, I he moiherboa rd is probab I Y one of I he Ii rst th ings y ou' II sec . .I t is the l'<Jrgest circuit beard, either 'tying at rhc bortcm Or I!.lp ill(!ng 'the side or the case.

N,OTE Ttie motherboard is, sometimes called {I matnboard.

U rbcborrec htl Ie h gesc h Ctlltco!vl erla

16 The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide

The mot herboard is the ma in c i rcui I board inside the PC. Everything j,r.; con n ected 10 th C III oth Cl'hOJId in 0 ne way o r another. Th ink 0 r t he JUO therboard a s th e nerve U S system of the PC, regulating basic functions and interconnecting more complex components together,

The '''0,1, common motherboard design in desktop compute" today is called the AT (now obsolete but still present in older systems) or the ATX (ami MicfOATX), which improves signifi; .. antly OU the AT design, In both the AT and ATX designs. the co mpu tcr co m pon cuts inc I ud ed in the. mothe rhea rd are

• M icroproccssor; or CPU

• COl) rocessor, (Opl iona I)

• Memory (RAM)

• Basic input/output system (BIOS)

• Expansion slots

• Motherboard chipset and interconnecting circuitry that bring all the, component" together

NOTE Some motherboards also come fitted 'wilh tnsitt-in modems, grophi'cs cards. network adaptors. and sound cards too. which ~'imp/~fi(ts s)~~·tem .wfllp.

-" key port of {he motherboard is the BIOS, which "OrO, {he initial "ot{."UP parameters of the system, This informntlon is used, to bring the system hl life when i ( is n rst gw i tched on. Add iti rona I compo n erus can b. added by", in g the ex pansion slots thm are present on most motherboards, (The exception here is usually laptop moth" rboard s.)

You might have heard the term bus or bUS.'W.8 when reading techie material. A bus is the electronic interface between the motherboard and the smaller boards or cants contained in the expansion slots,

Processor/M icr.oprocessor/CP

lf the motherboard is the nervous system, then the processor is like the bruin. When faced with buying ~ new PC~ one of th~ main features ~l~hef'\lsed by retailers is the type of processor that it contains, Two dominant questions that the buyer has. to answer nrc

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h utztes M aleri"

Cl~\PTER I; Wlml's Wh:ll~llle Anatomy of:l PC 17

• Which manufacturer?

• What spe cd?

The answers to these quesrions nre usually determined by;

• Budget: faster, higher-end processor, cost more.

• How muc h power is nee d ed: to ink" OOUI your current needs as we II' as your likely needs over the next 12 1.024 months. The power of the processor is usually measured in MHz {millions of cycles per seccndj Or GHz (uiousancs 01" ",;nions--o. billions-or cycles per second). The fasrer tile processor, the greater the number of instructions per second ;[ c-an perform.

NOTE The term processor has g(?l1ernlly reptoced the term central processing unit (CPU).

There are many different ki!lds of CPU" 01'1('; type is shown in Figure I·J:

U rbcborrec hthc h gesc h lillte,;!vI erla

18 The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide

A processor (or more accurately, microprocessor) is the logic circuitry

that responds 10 arid processes the basic instructions lbat drive a computer. A microprocessor is sometimes also called a logic chip and is the engine that goes into action when you turn 'you, com purer on, It is designed and built 10 perform only basic arithmetic and logic operations on data held in small number-holding aJ~3S called registers. But what makes a microprocessor special is. that it can do the m ve ry tll~!.

Typical microprocessor operations include

• Adding

• Subtracting

• Comparing tWO numbers

• Fetching uumbcrs from one place to another

These operations arc made possible by a set ofinstrucrions built into the microprocessor structure. In order to help the processor carry out these functions, it is now common for manufacturers to add small 1'I.n1.Oun1":; of memory for the processor itself to use. either on a separate chip (known as L2-Level 2-<;a"h.) or, as is more often the case. onto the chip itself.

The microprocessor also plays a key part in PC start-up, When the computer is switched on, the microprocessor is designed to gel the first instruction from the basic input/ourput system (BIOS), which come, with the computer on tit. motherboard. After that, either the mos, Or lhe operaTing system lhal rhe BIOS loaded into computer memory, is controlling the rnicroproccs~or nnd giving it instruerions nn what to do.

T her" is 0 n 0 other th ing thai" m ic ro processor is responsi bl 0 for that isn't good lor the Pc-.he~nl This heal: if allowed to build up, could destroy a microprocessor in miuutes, so hear sinks and fans rue llsed to keep the heal under control. A hem sink is a block of metal (usually copper or aluminum) designed 10 conduct the hem away from tbe sensitive microprocessor, while the fan circulates COGI air around the beat si nk to coo lit down.


R!\M (mndom access memory) is the PC's short-term memory and is whore the operating system, application programs, and data in current usc arc kept so that they can be quickly accessed by the computer', microprocessor, RAM is much raster both to read lrom and write to than tll~ other kinds of slomge in a computer,

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes Iv! ate,i a

Cl~\PTER I; Wlml's Wh:ll~llle Anatomy of:l PC 19

such as rhe hard disk, floppy disk, or CD.ROM. Data stored ill RAM isn't permanent tho ugh, and it is c leared as soon as the PC is shut dow n. Whe n you turn yo II r computer on again. your ope-raring system and other programs arc again loaded il110 RAM, usually from the nard disk. A RAM module is shown in Figure 1-4.

NOTE RAA4' is ,'allf._~n~lidorn access lu!r.:tmse any storage locarlon cnn be accessed directly. it does nOi need W be written 10 Or mad sequ(!'n(itilly.

Generally 'he more RAM you have installed ill a PC, [he better and faster it witt run and the' more applications you can have open at once. Reliability and stability also increase. You do, however, 11U'IC to stay within the maximums as laid down by I he 0 perati n g system and the motherboard you have.

There are many different types of RAM in use today, The two most common types are

• Single data rate (SDR) SDRAM is 'he older type of m",MT)', commonly "sed in computers before 2002.

• Double data rate (DDR) SDRAM hit the mainstream computer market around 2002 and can be found in most new computers.

As the name suggests, the biggest difference between DDR SDRAM and SDI< SDRAM is that DDR can transfer dam rwice as fast as SDI< SDRAM.

Generally speaking, motherboards are designed to support one type of memory.

Th IU means yo I,l ca n 11 01 Il'l i x ;-1 n d rna Leh mem ory type S Or! lllC Sa me m Olhe rboa rd in any system. They will not function and willnot even Fit ill the: same sockets. The on I)' correct type 0 f me 010 l)' for your computer is the on c thnt it was bu i IL [0 to ke!

'HM!!;t'I' RAM module

U rbcborrec hthc h gesc h lillte,;!vI erla

NOTE {lin ony t./()lIhf a.~ 10 the type a/memory your sys(em lakes, consult thc system manuol.or visit Ihe website 0/ a mt?mOJ')i vendor (lis,cd in AppCl1tii.Y B). TIll!.)' normatty JW1fe online toolx 10 hdp you ;del1li/y the COrrect memory for a puruc .. -ulor system.

Adding more RA M 10 a system is probably the single quickest and best upgrade 1;,.1 OJ" be carried out 0]1 "system. RAM is cheap •. and adding more (especially i ["you currently have less than 512MB) makes things ruJ1 a lot faster,

liard Disk Drive

The hard disk drive, more commonly known as a hard drive, is the long-term memory of the computer .. This holds ellthe files and applications, ntong with your operating system. Everything that your computer "knows" (apart from" tiny bit used 10 start it up, which is stored in the system BIOS) is stored on ihe hard drive. All [DE hard drive is shown ill Figure 1-5 ..

'IM'M'" An [DE hurd drive

U rbcborrec htl Ie h gesc h lillte,;!vI erla

CHAPTER 1: What's Wruu-the )\l1alOmy of a PC 21

NOTE }bu sometimes c(mu~ ac,m's's the terms hard drive wid hard disk used interchangeably: WhUe tfljJ." isn't usually a' problem, it is v(I/u(j/JJe to know 111m the hard disk is actually (hi? physicat pan ((I mew/ disk Or di,~·h) on which the data is: stored.

The hard driveis a very "mechanical" part of a PC in that it contains a lot of moving parts. Motors turn the disk planers and move the heads 1hal write the magnetic information onto the disks, Hard drives also contain circuit hoards and cornponents to drive the: logic of the drive.

There are huge differences berwcen the hard drive and RAM with regard to speed of data access. !lAM work, out as being millions oftimes faster than hard drives for data 3CceS.~, but the majnr advantage nflhe hard drive is not speed (although 111(:y are. getting faster) [nu the fact that the hard drive allows yO\1 to store (_!::Wi and retrieve it after the PC has been s .... vitched off and back on again.

Despi re 1 h e vc ry mec h au ical natu re 0 f h ard d ri ves, they oren' t con s idcrcd to be US.~r serviceable. This means that ifyou have a problem with one, there is nothing you can Ii x inside. and yo ureal istica II y have on Iy one Opt ion: rep] ace the de tccuve drive, Il'you try io open a hard drive case, you will introduce din and other

COJl1mn i IHLll ts into it that wi 1.1 ten d er i l usc less. H owever, dcsp ite being mechani cal ~ hard drives are very reliable. theoretically capable ofrunning for many hundreds ofthousands of hours without problems. Although problems do occur, when you look m, the numbers of hard drives in use today and how much use they get, and the f:l.t:\ thtu lbey are mechanically maintenance free, they are quite reliable indeed.

One thing tbal hard drives call be susceptible to is shock and impact. Because you have spinning platters with the read/write, heads skimming very close to the surfhc e, hard drives aIC particularly sensitive 10 impacts while in use, Never open a drive-just 10 see what's inside: tryon do, don't e){pect it to work again Or 10 get it rcpa i red under wa rram y!

NOTE To give you tm idea (~l how dose tlw heads skim to the surface ptaner«; if is equtvalen; to a supersontc tlirplanej7yin,g,fiwf qD~ the gn)uud, A tread collidtng wilh "VIm (J Utll" SIJ(.?(.'k of dus: call cause Sigll~fh;wu disk damoge.

T11~n;:: a re 1 wo com mon lypes. (1 f hard d rives (I h e (ypt;s bei a g ba sed on I h e standard used to transfer data to and from the drive 'via the mcthcrboard):

• !DE (Integrated Drive El"ci'mnie,) i" the most common type of drive found ;1'1 desktop PCs.

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes Mater; a

22 The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide

NOTE AClually, 111i._').~f hwIi dnves sold loday are all enhanced version 0(1D£" called, rattier ""S/Jrpris/Jrgl:r; Enhanced JD£ 01' EiDE.

• SCSI (Srnnll Compute, System lmcrface) is both fast and flexible in thai it :111 ows fot more than ju st hard dri ves to b c connected (scan n ers, CD driver, printers, and so on), It's not commonly used on desktop PC, but is more common on servers and high-end systems,

Hard drives are connected to the PC ill two ways: data cable or power cable,

• Data cablcs=-thc ribbon kjnd-COHl]CCI the hard drive to the motherboard (via a cbunnel). Now we also have the mere modern serial ATA cables, which ore faster and also thinner than the standard dam cable, which means better case air flow.

• Power cable connector') supply PO","' directly 10 the hard drive.

Today, hard drive storage capacity is measured in gigabytes (GB)-Ihou,ancis of millions of bytes, where n byte represents one character of rexr, Not long ago il was measured ill megabytes (MB)---niillion:; of bytes, It's hard to quantify what this. means in realistic terms. but bigger is beuer, albeit also more expensive!

NOTE Contrary 10 popular ')f!iiej, hord drtves aren't hugely suw_:('ptiblc~ to damtlge by .",,,,1/ mag""lic,lie/rk AII/Ia"gh po .... ell'" ""'gll"liejields will damage or destrov the dora contained on a hard drive, bd/jg Ileal' a speaker or monitor (both aj'which contain img,e m{}gn(_'J:~) wQn1t cause damage, which is why fOU can have ,(,j monitor and speakers nett to your PC.'

Graphics Adapter

'Without" graphics adopter of some sort, you're not going to be seeing anything on the computer monitor. There are a huge number of differ em type' of graphics "d"pt .• rs on rhe l'!lafk~t, designed for a wid~ variety of di flhent !lprlt(:~lli()lls. including gaming, CAD (computer-aided design), desk lOP publishing, and so forth,

Today's high-end video adapters have amazing power and performance. and they oro capable of drawing (and VC!)' rapidly updating) highly complex screen images. This is made possible by the processing power built onto the graphics cards. They come w lth u large a mou n t 0 f DOl board RAM, allow i ng th em to d isplay complex images using millions of'culors A few years ago the standard desktop PC

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes ",., ate" a

CHAPTER 1: Whal's Wruu-the )\l1alOmy of a PC 23

might have come with 641rYJB of main system RA'M; nowadays ~t graphics c-ard can contain as much. or even more, simply for itself

Choosing the right 'cam for your needs can be dauuring, but as !l general rule you CO" US" the following guidelines:

• If you use your PC jU'1 for word processing, spreadsheets, and 50 on, a low-end card will . .;:.uiT] ce.

• Gaming takes a lot of power, and depending on which games and how much you play, you may want to consider a midrange to high-end card. Here is where 3D cards. come into play. In order to render game 'environments in rhe most re~'li::Hic WilY possibte, 3D graphics ndaprers have been developed. You don't gc: a truly 3D image (because it's displayed 011 =:-. nat screen fnr one reaso n). but you do get an ; mnge that has lake depth an d shadows tho I give the impression of 3D_ This demands extra processing power, and modern graphics adapters aimed at garners will incorporate these features.

NOTE A101;f games 1I{)waday.!; list recommended gl-apllic;.s canis. and this is a/ways a good place to 510,./ It-lum thinking obous getting. a 1Jell) gr(Jphh:.s c(U'(I.

• Speci fie applications such as. CAD will mean that you might have specific needs, and Y0i.L will have 10 choose a card accordingly,

In addition 10 make, manufacturer, and type of card, there is" fourth factor 10 consider-e-bow the graphics card connects 10 a PC. There are three main ways:

• D-Ie graphics card can be built directly oruo rhe ruothcrboarrl. This is known as rwhrmrd gr{Jphic,~·.

• A graphics adapter can be connected to on expansion slot" called an AOP (Accelerated Graphics Port) '101. a' tilo back of a Pc.

• A graphics card "on be connected to another 'lor called a PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) slot However, PCI SI01S are slower 01 transferring data than AGP slots, so tl,e performance is reduced. PCI slots are physically dim'rent from AGP 'lots (AOP slots arc s","ll<:r).

, :3

WARNING Cards d""';g"od/al' all AGP .'·/01 ,,'ill nOlfil' in" PC! stot, Or vice C.-C',I:~O.

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes Iv! ateri"

24 The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide

NOTE Some olde« systems might (11.'m have a gmphic,iij' card connected '0 lire older ISA (llldll";iJ' Standard Architecture) ,.1",.

Several grnpbics cards on the market also nllow you to hook up Iwo monitors (or even three, but u~ing One orthese, you will need two graphics cards-s-one PCI card and one AGP card-s-and one card must have dual-monitor capability), This problem has been solved now, by graphlcs canis that support three monitors, all on one card.

Floppy Drive

The 1l"I'PY drive used 10 be the easiest method for sharing files with another computer user. Before the days of lntcrncts and intrancts, there were snellkeI'IJ(~/SUSC" would save files on" floppy disk and simply walk them over to another PC' But the old floppy drives and dish had many Iimirnrions:

• Floppy drives sre pain [illly "low.

• Disk storage capacity is tiny by today's standards. and even simple word processing files have become 100 big 11) be stored on n single disk (which has :.1 capacity of just 1.44MB).

• The disks aren't 'fery r-obust and are easily damaged by exposure to heat or weak magnetic fields.

[0 au attempt to overcome these limitations, [loppylike drives were developed, but these didn't really fill the gap because the media (disks) wen, expensive, "",I too "'""Y different Iype, appeared. Eventually, CD. and DVD, killed offmostof the interest in floppy drives and Floppylikc drives since tho capacity is much greater and the media is cheap,

There was a u me \\1 h en e'l,lery PC had a floppy dri ve, bu l now lh i S i sn' t the ca se.

Wirh the advent ol'bMWblc CD drives, you "an get" PC started up and rhc operating system loaded without the need for a boorable IlQPPY disk.

Like" hard drive, a floppy drive has two connections: 0 data connection and a powe I' connec ti on.

Optical Drives

Optical drive, are the collective name for CD (Compact Disc) drives and DVD (Digital Versatile Dis") drives. These discs offer amazing capacity (up to 700MB for" CD and 4.7GB fora DVD), and they at'. fast and robust, Add to this the

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes M ateri"

Cl~\PTER I; Wlml's Wh:ll~llle Anatomy of:l PC 25

ability to create your own discs. with writable drives, and even write and rewrite dLOCS many limes over using rewritable discs, and it's easy 10 see bow optical drives became so dominant,

Optical drives. like the 0"" shown in Figure 1-6. ore similar EO hard drives in that they con be either IDE or SCSI, and they connect to tile system using similar da ta :r; b bon ca bles and power cab I es,

ExpansioIl Slots

YOl] use ex pans i 011 slots to odd more c ircu i t board. to your PC. These ci rcu i l boards en" carry out a wide variety or functions that the PC itse: r might no' be able to do whhout them. Popular expansion cards include

• Graphics adapters

• SOU" d card,

• Modem' (shown in Pigure 1-1)

• Network cards

'i@'Jil' CD-ROM drive

U rbcborrec hthc h gesc h lillte,;!vI erla

A typi cal expans ion card in dl is CIlS!;]", a modem

Ex. pansio n co rd s C~l1 be used to ca fry OU t 0 ther task S roo, su C h as ad ding mo re J'O~S 10 ~ PC (for example, USB 0,' FireWire ports).

Power Supply Unit (PSU)

The power supply till il (PSU) converts power imc the correct voltages for running the internal COl1'pOl1C,HS [mothcrboartl. drives, and so 011). TI,e 120 VOltS (or 25'0 volts in some countries) delivered by the main power supply is 100 high for the

del icate components rhat t h e system conm ins. A typi cal hnrdd rive runs on 5 vol IS, crus On 3..3, to j volts, while n motherbourd might run on 12 volts.

The actual power output or a PSU can range from about 230 warts 10" wbopping 500 watts and more. Power is an important element or your computer system because [l,e more components YOLI have (such as hard drives or optical drives), the more power you need.

Doctor's Notes

That munds off our lour of 'he modem desktop PC. By now, we all should b. using 1.11e same terminotogy, You should KJlOW your hard drive from your floppy drive and your graphics card from your sound curd. This is a solid foundation from w h ich we can progress.

U rbcborrec hthc h gesc h lillle,;!vI erla

CHAPTER 1: What's Wruu-the )\l1alOmy of a PC 27

PC Anatomy Checklist

~ Familiarize yourself with the internal layout of YllUT PC. o Locate "II the important component'< inside your PC.

~ Trace the wired eonneeuons so yO~J know where they start and 'end.

@ Familiarize yourself with the connectors used, both outside the case and inside,

[tI Make a note of how many free drive bays you have. How marry aru available

for CDIDVD drives and how many for hard drives'!

o Make a note of how many free RAM module sockets you have. ~ Similarly, hew many free expansion 'SlOtS do you have?

o What type of graphics adapter docs your system usc:

o How rn any free po rts (such a, USB pons) do you have'!

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes M ateri a

Thispage imemionalb' I~fl b"mk

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes Iv! ateri a

Files and Folders

Copyright @ 2004 by The MoGraw·HUI cempenlee. Cllck htlHl for (erma or U~.

30 The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide

'1 JiLhoLi~ any software on your machine, your PC would be no more than a VV beige (well, probably beige) box containing interrelated pans. II would switch on. and various 1 i gins wcu ld li ght I.IPl but noth ing ruuc h else would happen, It wouldn't actually do anything! To drive this hardware, YOlL need [0 hove software, and you can pick, choose, change, and tweak SOfiW4W: a whole tot more than hardware, But what is software?

Files, folders, directories, applications, drivers, executubles, BM Ps, DOCs., lPGs ,. _ you're going to be reading about IhC'S{~ and ruorc a lot over the course of this. book, and i["'s vital dial right f!i'rlill the start you know what everything means. I f' yo u don' l know your . ~:\:e n 1 e from a P ictu re 0 r you r pet, then read 011. (Even j f ),ou do kn OIV the d i fferen ce, read 00 'I J

NOTE Thj5 book fSJI 'f 1;1 guide 10 y'(.wr Qpr;:mting ,,,__,,',~t(~m or pll'Jgl'(lm~' installed on ycmr computer; there WI! p/enf;y (ijb{wk,\' on those topics tllal giveyou the lowdoW11 on the software side oflhing.~_ The purpose of ttus book is '0 gJve you ("111 ovm"1.4elll ofhow things work on ymw Pc.


A file is a single entiry of data thnt lives on your (,:ornputer_ I 've said "entity" and not "packet" Or "bit" Or anything like Blat because IDOSe terms mean different things .i:HH.1 {ion 't convey the true meaning ofwhat a file is. 'Vh.fll is. meant by emily is that no matter whitt data is in the file, it can he manipulated 4.IS a whole, For example, you can change, copy. move. rename. Or delete the entity as a whole no matterw hnt it co n rains.

Maybe this sounds a little confusing, so an example might help. Lei', say I launch my favorite word processor progwm (M icrosoft ¥lord) and type in ~I .1isL of words. Wbal r type doesn't matter, but I'Il li:;l ruy favorite foods . as shown in Figure 2-1.

I now take what I have written and save it as ~ "file on my machine. In order to save ill I need H} give the new file a unique filename [I"Il come to this 111 a minute). In this case l'm going to c,,11 this fileji"loo<i,.d<Jc (see Figure 2-2). Once you've saved rhe Hie, you can go looking rnr ft. You can also easily CU1~ copy, move, rename, find delete that me at your leisure .. regardless of the content ofthe file.

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes M ateri"

CII .. \PTIlR 2: File s ami Po Ide rs 31


i~- ~I .. ..c-~- ......... OO!iloAJorjj]]!;;!I ':O" • .J;,,~~=CI~.!iii. ~~ Jcc: 1fI~ 1),'1' ~ !).;AI!..v.!C' W

~~.'7~:., ... ::::I~.",".



1 ~ ,[,.; ~ ... 1"1<"11 "I;IM: l,I:iII ~ ~_1 .... ~"" T· ..... i","r","'''-\' • 'M

11::: ~ l.1af.i;I..J.·;'-I:l.~ "iQ.IBGI~-.· .... ·Ii. fI!l9i:i'!!I[,£d,&:I ~ I.:(r:!.; 'ilIl~ ~ lA-';!1I" - I"_r;,,~r«,.~ - l~ - ~I If 1.:iII'~~-I!::::i::: 1~ ~Ii? .,:::..- '0'"1;:....,.... =

Ha .. '[~: •. " .••.• J

Dl:ld !iandW"khn Chicken C':JC' ~bd Ibr1lO1l:la~ Grcc.k),o:l!:huf1


'iMdi'I My ItSl favorite foods!

I:;: ;f .. --·, '''Oil <It, 111101 ~ . ..I.""'''_ E. iii.

='I\[= ....... ~,:U,[ ~


',@ii;''I' Saving the fi I c

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes Iv! ateri"

Because I'm using the Windows operating system (Windows XP), I'm using an application called Windows Exp lorer 10 III on ipu In rc the en ti des, but

on a different computer or device, ~ would use a different appl icauon. For example, in Fi lc Exp [0 rer o 11 a M i eros" n Pocket

PC 20!12 handheld device, the saved file looks like this:

Prom with in th e Windows operating system, you can manipulate the file through the use ora conrext-sensirlve pop-up menu that appear when you select the f le a n del ick U1C right rna u sc buuon (see Figure 2-3). Context sensitive means tim t the III enu coma i ns ] tern s I hat rn ighl be speejflc to Ihe filein question.

'!.Ie M ~ '~~~S lot.!! ,~

OEL!d ~ 0 J P~Ui ~f.~1- 9-


FiIIJto .... dlFdI~rJ;jI~";; ~ "'~~;=1
.~,;:"::.~ t:j ...
rltlil!ll"f.Mn ® ii41I'p.1'I
...... 1I!r.t.~{Q~ Ooo::l"r..i;:nrf.iol!i= ..........
5"'1(~f "'"
a ... "_' ~~. ~I .. ID,:I
~ 1'1'1,;(1),.,,..,. '-'"'''''' CiJ1~~
"t] • .."..rj~~I0!.~ .."
~ ..
~1~1ti ~ ~,

~L~;t",F.pi~((;w,. oJ



U rbcborrec htl Ie h gesc h lillte,;!vI erla

CII .. \PTIlR 2: File S and Po Ide rs 33

FIX·ll'YOURSELF HOME REMEDV l/yo" lmve o newer-style keyboard, aqnick and easy way (0 launch Window:!> Expiorer is to prC'.~·s thu windows key alB). ond while. Iwldi/lg that down. prc_f(.~' E,


Wbcn I saved the word processor tile containing my list of favorite foods, I had to give it a filename. You cannot save any flies on your system unless they have a valid filename, Valid filenames vary depending on the operating system YOL1 are running on your PCt but here is a rundown of whai is and isn't allowed for f len ame~~ u n del" \Vi ndows X P:

• YO\l C~.Ll have rea~ly long filenames-c-up to 255 characters long+-so there j,~ rIC) need for me ro be ~_:S concise as, I was with the fileIUHl'IefiIvJDod.~.doc_ I could have quite happily named it myfavorttefoods.doc.

• Numbers arc allowed (m_yj(lLJorilfr./omi'ii/.doc)_

• You can have a mixture of upper- and lowercase Jeners (NfyFali01ilI!Fh(){l~.&N:)) although rwo files with identical names that differ only in capltaltzauon are not allowed in the same folder,

• spaces arc allowed, which make (he whole filename a lot more readable (,\.-(" /a-,"ril€ /00(/<. doc).

• The characters, I\,; : .. ? ... 0:;;: >- I aren't allowed in filenames.

• Filenames must be unique in each directory or folder, (Read on for information on directories and lolders.)

The File Extension

Take a look at Figure 2·4. It sI10W,$ Windows Explorer ill 'Windows XP ami displays a few files. Eoch of the files is different and has a different icon and fi le type. l f you d oubJ e-c lick On rh e Ii les, the opera tj ng system wil 1 f re up the

a r prop ria tc appl i ca t i on I o usc wi th that Ii 1£. I f you have I h e appli ca t in [] install ed, cr another suitable one, you just have 10 double-click on the FHe.

Question: bow does the operating system know what the files arc? The answer lies with the me extensions, However, these arc hidden from view ;(1 the screen in Figure 2·4 because of a default setting in Windows to prevent users fron, making drastic changes 10 the file extensions by accident, However, lr's not difficult to

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h utztes Iv! ateri"

SC" 'hem. Open Window, Explorer, click on 'he Tools ,11""" and [hell on Felder o ptions, You wi II see 1.11 is dia I o£ box:

~~, .. ~ ..... ~-

.m :::.-.::;- -;:::;-=_1""4'"

, ,.. , Ci2:!!5J

~;,i~::~ -.~..,-

..... _ .. -I~ ..... .;[~F~ .. , ~"--~--' DnoOoot-¥ ........ r ....... ~,.W!.".,....""1ii


c[<". ... __ ~ ........ ,

LtL~:-,_ .. "';'.==-- -

U rbcborrec hthc h gesc h lIllte,;!vI erla

CII .. \PTIlR 2: File S and Po Ide rs 35

Click on rhe Vlew tab if it is. not showing. Nnw uncheck the Hide Extensions for Known file Types, and after making that change, click on the Apply button. A message will appear QJ] the screen-vclick Yes and then click OK.

Take" look at the end of the filename. See the part after the dol, or period,

in lbe name, That's called the file extension and serves on important purpose-to identify the file type (IIml is, the application 11,"1 was used In create it or the format of the file). This tells the operating system what program to use HJ'OPI;:'11 il when the file is run. If I double-click em the word processor Iile r created earlier. tbc operaring system knows that {he .doc tile extension is associnred with Microsoft Word because that application registered that file extension (::along with many others) with the operaring system during installation of the program, Now, whenever 1 dick. on ;!I filename with the .doc flle extension, the \Vtll'd application runs. ami opens the Die,

FIX-IT-YOURSELF HOME REMEDV Tile appiication tbot is loaded when you nm a jilc depends On whal y·Oll have instalt.ed On your computer systeo« lfY01! don L'I have Microsof: Word tnstalled. donble-cliektng 011 a jife: whh (I .doclile extension WON'I load shot oPf'ih;flthm.

File extensions are normally two ro four chamctcrs long, with three being the most common, Along with. controlling whnt apphcotion is run when you doubleclick on the file, the extension call also ccmrel thc icon used It) depict tbe file and the contents of the- context-sensitive menu that appears.

Renaming Files

F rom time to Ii m C yo u may fi n d that you want to rcn arne fi res. Thi sis casil y don c through 011 file exploring utilities. The way you do i{ using Windows Explorer is to select the file right-click: on it, and select Rename, You can then type in a new uamc for [be old Iile. Figure 2&5 shows 3 lile ready to be renamed. Take care when doing this '101 (O alter the file extension. By default this won't be an issue because the file extension'S are hidden from view. However, ifyou have set the program 10 S bow extensions. take ex tm care, because if you make ilny changes to the ex ten sion, the lite will. no longer work properly.

PC DOCTOR'S ORDER! /fYOII acctdemaitv make change.\' to the file extension. the (J!lic;kr;sr and bl} . .':;1 11.lay '0 undo 'he dWllgc~· y011 've mode is to pres.l: tIle ESC key.

U rheberrcc htl lch gcsc h (jutes M a\cri"

1iJ~~"!IMfM ~~o7rI:lj~

i.l ('.;;p~di.~ di~It"'t_())V.e

- !)~~~

.a1l'rr.t~1'Je }C~t!illfa:

_ ..... DIt"oIo~

O"'_, "'.__


""1 Pk~·ovkP,,-,"

D ~~.E" ~~[Brmm:E:l

t3.E::"A (J~

'~=tl;i"_ ~J.J:t



'iM"ijBI Renurning a me using Windows Explorer

This isn't the only way ro rename a file, There ore several ways to do it, but becnuse you nave 10 click On the file that you actual ~y wnnr 10 change. it "s less

I lkely that you'Il make" mistake this way,

PC DOCTOR'S ORDERI Take grea! em" no! 1'0 rename ouy ,mpormnl ,'I;ystemfile;s OP"files rdaNng 10 applrcaNOIu, as this COIl/deDI/,W: YOW· operating system Or installed (Ipplicafions 1"0 stop working. By defim/f these an! ott hidden . so it s not a r;ONWlOIl problem, 8m ijyolJ make changes IG f"~ opertltrlig s}tt'fem Iiltll otiow yml It) :f.'ee them. fake Care_

Files, Files, and More Files

So far, we've only looked "1 a word processor fllc as created by M ieroso fl Wo rd. (If )'0" creaie a r,le using a different word processor, it is likely to have a me exrension other than .doC',) YOll'VE: seen lhal different types of files have different

U rbcborrec hthc h gesc h lillte,;!vI erla

CII .. \PTIlR 2: File S and Po Ide rs 37

rile extensions, bUI it if) important to remember Ihtn changing j U-S;l the flle type won't change the actual Iilc, just what the operating system thinks it is For example, say that someone sends you a file created with Microsoft Word. but you don't have Wo rd insta lied on your In nch ine _ YO" h. ve another word processor insra ned, say Cord Wordf'erfeci, which uses the file extension .wpd. Changing the extension of the fi I~ fro rn .doc 10 • wpd won' I, he I p ;H ,.11 beea u se the s tructu re 0 r the file re rna i [1.":: thi11 of'a Word document, The icon and context-sensitive menus, UIl 11lL;. other hand, \1,:1]1 change because thoy nrc controlled by the operating system and not the structure of the tile.

PC DOCTOR'S ORDER! Whelljaced willi o fit« 1/1(1/ )'01/ dou'l iwve(1/I opplicationfor; probaNv one q/flw worst thingsyull can do is chrmgc ttie file extension. This does not Qccomp/i$h anything useful, Nowadays many applicmiom; such as word pft)('(1S'SOI":"!" hmw tmpon facttttios that ailow them 10 read fifes. .(:I"'(WI(,?d by H rtvat opplic(l/ion and COJJVI,?J"/' fh{~m tmo their own format. COI"H/.11t llrc Ir~) /p .flh~ VI' d(Jcwm~nfo f Ion lu)' yo Iff' lIppJ tcotion to jim.! out mare.

There ;; lOl more l1Ies on your PC lliar! just word processor m,~s . and the way th::n you can distinguish between them all is by the file extension. Lees take "quick tour ofthe common types or Illes you will come across Oil" PC running a Windows operating system.


These files are the workhorse files of any system running the Windows. operating system. Whenever you hear mention of applications, or programs! or cxccutablcs, these files will haw th e , exe file extension.

File, with tlte .exe file extension all <10 something, It "an b. something small like a clock or something big on" com pie. like" spreadsheet applicariou. Whether yon know it Or not, you arc using executable fileson your system all the time. From insrnllation, to running your favorite games, to using your word processor, files with (he _~X(:' file extension are involved. Double-clicking On an executable (or a shortcut toone) is all thai is needed to run it

A .~1WN(:W is a liulc file lhilt acts as a convenient link to other files on your hard drive (sec Figure 2·6), This means that you con have one original me but many shortcuts to that file in different places. U·sing Shortcuts saves On disk space and eliminates the problems that you con end up with by having duplicate Illes on your system (applications not working, for example),

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes Iv! ate'; a


: Q&i'J:: r 0 'P~.:i'L.!~ C·r.:d:B ~

1;:p~~~i·~I~ii~~l~iu .. ~~~;;~~:::-----------~~'~~

r r.. .•• 'F"l~

rlllt~i'I~,r4ti'«lk~ ".:.1_ L_J~

:!JI:mlIrotUidll! a.~lNIloIIo !i)C>q:L)'l;ruiIB e~I1i/!.Fto;m'1lR Ol~I~IIj.~F

X D.Ut4:nt

_~L·!l...,.(D'1 8f"'~l b!lllir.l~Q" 9 1'I~GiJ1JJ'..If'" ~flr~~ ...

'iMiiij'" Sbcrtc lit i 0 eo cxcctuublc fL lc


Fi les with rhe .dt! file extension are dynamic fink library Jiles that act as 'UppDC< for other programs (see Figu,. 2.7) .. Tile idea is lilat certain aspects of a program might not be needed too often. So. instead of bulking up the executable with the

in f orrn nti 011 and COilS U III i n g !J 1,1 n ccessary system resou rces, [h c appl i cation ca n load the add i rio n ill [ea tu IT: 5 n eeded as rcq ui red.

Take" word processor as on example of" nil application that uses .dit Illes.

Certain features, such mi. spell checking or printing, won't be needed nll the time and C3r1 be packaged into dynamic I~nk libraries for access when needed .

. com

F.i les with the .cont extension are command files, and while [hLO':Y fire considered 10 be applications, they are" specific kind of applicaricn. Back in the Did days of PC, running Microsoft DOS (Disk Operating SySlem),lhey were very common. ~UI with

U rbcborrec htl IC h gesc h lillte,;!vI erla

CII .. \PTIlR 2: Files and Folders 39

... , "" . I ~~(I'j]m
I~~~~ ~Io:.!oIJN"Jex~ ~~l
~~'K~ ~""d1"ml!:i:.~ .x~,!<'ol
6H~ ~:O:;~_mEd~ 29~,'1:(r]
Lg~B ~i:III:i'rI"IE!<~ Z.l~!;.alL
23~re. ,IlppIj:.Jl:lmE':o:trosIoo :n{(t:I<1JL
1-.:r71;[:1 ",""~i:mm~':.:~ 2lM«{Ill
!'A51;(!. -"OO.~~(('J&'L~ 2':~,:<'ol
re~~ ~_to)(l_(("iE.I~ ~{(I],'Wl
J~m ~~mD~ '<:1j'(L!,'W1L
I'< %~D k9!:j~I':o:."Ill;,:~ Ot((IJ~l"'!
j:;~I"B IW~~~E.~~ O~{(I'Il9j
63~e. .tmt.3l)-(I""Ie:~ ltil:lllOJ
ror [~ ~~m~~ ~1~,!1)JJL
I, .,:q.!kmm~~ ~I'(I!ILUJ
l-r~[e< ~~~o:n~"~ ~MI:-Ol
~7j ee ~~~".:n~~ :~:W~Ml.
l~(!'; ,.:.,.:.r.I1:"$mE.l:~ ZliO'Iml
,BlB ~r'a:n:I' .. b~ lL(mi/<JJl
jSt~ ~i.'"o;IIj";:ne<~ :?l~(>O:l
7,~I:B Jt,;!fli:IItJ"irID:1iKt:iO:I1. 21/(J:!,!~_lL
'''' ~j.:~m~tmsioo. ?;:/(ll(;,JJI
3;t:11;~ ~i:mm~J:~ ;<'I;~I'W)
I~LB .ooo_K"_:f(I""JE.X~ Z9~@1
~.:~ ~_i;.~lr,l.;n~~ ~(W.'Wl
':QJ[E ,ij,:.pI~~mE:o:~ L'JfO.!,'<.Ol '100";'. A whole bunch of .su files

replacement of tbe text-based DOS command screen and tho widespread usc of the graphical user interface of the Windows environment, .com files are now rarely used. (System recovery from problems that cripple the W::1.U411 OpcT4Hing system are ~-~ common use fur the _com file J1(JwiiJdaY::5_)

A lthough co mman d fi lcs aren' t, as common as they we rc a few years ago. they are still in usc. If you search your PC, you will likely find a few on your system. J found one On Windows XP:


Files with the .bar file extension are another Set of liles whose root's go back

to the d"ys of DOS. Tile .bot Slands for balch files, which are scripl mes that can be written to carry out a variety of tasks. A batch tile contains a sequence of commands entered from a 111e rather than interactively by " user. A common

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes Iv! ateri"

40 The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide

.bot me on operating systems that predate Windews XP is the {wlOe,.rec .. ba! (shown here):

Th is is a f I e contain i ng spec i fie DO S corn man ds that are ru n when the compute, is booted up, The commands contnined in this tile rcll the operating system which application programs are to be automntically started and bow memory is to be managed, ~'tlld they set the parameters for othe:r scuings.

While the ontoesec.bat file is pretty much gone, these, days, there are other ,/)altiles that will be on your system, Some of these will be for administrative purposes, while others may belong to setup programs and the like, The .bat file might be disappearing, but it's not gone yet for sure. Hera's a look inside a balch file open «I IV i th Win<l ow s N 01 "pad:


Files with the .. inl extension arc another of a dying breed of file lYPCS_ The .ini files are used to initial lze, or set parameters for, the operating system mhl certain programs,

111 Windows, there are two ccmmon . int files:

• system. in i

• win.ini

You Call get some idea ofwhat these !lies do by opening them using Windows Notepad. Figure 2·8 shows a peck inside one. These files, were used extensively in the P""" Hey contain statements that arc used 10 set parameters for peripherals such as. the mouse and keyboard, i1S 'well as to control screen colors and even

th i ngs 'sue h as scree I~ save r passwords"

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes M ateri"

CII .. \PTIlR 2: File S and Po Ide rs 4 1

PC DOCTOR'S ORDER! Nor""d':J\ I/O changes should be made to thesefiles in rh~~ text editor. "Notepad gi'l'.cSJ"OU lim option to ··,j.'Ql:e chang.('_~·· upon dosing, dh'k On No.

Times change, and with the coming of Windows 95 (and then Windows 9&, NT, 2000, and XP), most (If rhe configuranon is nOw done through values in the Wi!lUOWS, regi~lry, rather than through .ini file::!_ However, many applic .. utions still usc their own .int files to store information about the setup and configuration of the program, The contents of these tiles arc normally modified by changing the chnmcreristics of a program through the user interface for thai prcgrom, not by editing the files by hand .

• sys

Any files wit.h a ,sy~ extension are system files, which are used 10 control the system, These files are many and varied and appear 4111 over the place. One exansple or ~l really big ... ~)'s me [hal you mighl lind on your Windows system is. a file called pag~h:_.,)~,·. As you can see, mine is massive:

~ for- lfo-bit anp support

l[d!'~v,IJ.'I·::;.J _

1 .... .J-.;o:l:1Tfl1.;1;r-v,dl1 t;mcr=ti~c:r., dJ'V

flmC:~ J

;:Jr~v-tl' 3:1'J

3BG€tthl lw{laf~l1t;;;appa)O.FON

IE (jA8(l!,aQ,r.,.. ~Ol\l-El GA20SS 0 ,. F¢~J IF!r;Mol!\Il(lA,F(]I\I-=FtifotlQ~Si1,J:!:C1PoJ IC"G .... Sri)\DO ..... - FOI\I.:.o;,: GA30c:~ (:I ,. FO~J c"L,AAC\a"O.A. r:OI\l::.C('"roA<1 OS')'I} , j:O~J ', ~ Iacmet.Scodec a _,Kl:n l(o(~.rl"'N:.!C.J

1F::'2i~5\n"121I"J V::i11J':-::.'lJ

~~; ~~71l RO 7989

~~~ e C:1:'I:!!:11::.1 )n~'5

Im"m~" =4" 05

."tiiliiH T'lking a peek lnslde a!1 .tni n[e

U rheberrcc htl lch gcsc h (jutes Iv[ ateri"

42 The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide

The purpose of p(ig(!file,s_Ji~~' isn't just ro 'waste space on your system, RO dnn!1 go deleting itt Windows uses the file as a way to expand on the amount or RAM in tho system by taking some ofwhat might beheld in lost RAM on tho PC and putting it instead on the hard drive in this tile. This makes, more memory available to rhe operating system, which menus that more applications cau be run with less physical RAM installed,

.hlp and .chm

With the complexity of software installed ill ;1 PC continually increasing, you might find that you need a bit of help every so ofien. This is. wbcro files. with

.hlp and .chm come in. !loth ofthese ore tile extensions nssociated with help tiles. These are normally installed ,~tlong with applications Or the operating system and are placed along with the application in tile programs section of the Stan: menno


Somcrirncs there is a need for just a simple W"'Y of sroriug alphamuncric [text and numbers) information. This is. where text files, which have: the .lxt me extension, come into play, These files arc easily created or read with a word processor or programs called text editors, ofwhich Windows Notepad is a good (and free') example.

I[E~ I

Text tiles inc groIn tor when you want 10 store text in ,['I, simple Wity free

frorn formatting concerns (like ront and text effects), or you need to exchange inform arion wi II! others and you don 't know w hat word processor they mi ght be using. They are also gr!:!.It if ycujust want UJ make little notes to yourself. ln fact, you could make very brief notes to yourself without bothering to create a me with co n i en tS-j LI st w ri te the note as the fi I ena me ibe 1 f:

U rheberrcc htlich gesc h (jutes M ateri"

CII .. \PTIlR 2: File S and Po Ide rs 43


Sometimes file, take up more space than you'd like them to. You might be trying to cram Some file-s onto a disk or CD to send to a colleague; or you mighl be 5CL1d ing some photos to '. fam i Iy rncrn bcr by ema i 1, bu 1 they" rc 'so bi g thot sen ding them is a slow process. To help alleviate this problem. software utilities were creat cd th ill allow you [10 CQIT! pres s fil es so that they take up less space,

FIX-ll'YOURSELf HOME REMEDV Compressed files are ulso AM"", as archive s,

There are many different utiliries available to compress files, with many different types of compressed files possible. HQ'\ v ever. the most popular comprcs .. sed file is, without a doubt, the Zip file, which has the .zip file extension.

T11e advantages or creating a Zip compressed file goes beyond JUM simply makingn file ~!11!:l11c:r_ You can add many files to !l single Zip file, which not on ly saves On bard drive space. but olso gives )IOU a way to keep related files together in one place. Figure 2·9 shows all {he files in myjiles"til' on my system.


~,,:,,;r.;l;.p;~'"I;I: ..... 1II'l a~l~

D~(~LJ;IIoll~ iliAJol(;!{(If l~;l ~

V'~,~~ M-I.~~ ~

1iII'l!IT>J:;!:'c Ii"lI:r.]s<ft,DI.l:~'oI.'a~to!l

JJ~Lr~OOl: l7IJ~ ~6..Q1I~1XlIo !~:m

'ae:l'" Multiple tiles, in a single Zip file

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes M ate,i"

44 The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide

Zip files have become so commonplace th;:lt Windows XP nnw supports creating and opening Zip files automatically, It provides nothing more tban rudimentary support, while. full-fledged Zip utility COIl offer much more-for example:

• Varying levels of compression depending on system performance

• Password protection of the Zip file

• 111e ability 10 make instalralion S~HLP programs

\Vi[lZip~ shown in action in Pigurc 2~ 1 0, is available Frf)I~l

And more uti I it ies "'0 I isted iu A ppendix B.

Other File Extensions

There arc literally hundreds ofother me extensions thai you will como across, Some. CODHllOil ones arc internet pages that have an .111m Of .hlmt file extension, graphics file formats (.bmp, .gil; .ipg, and .plOt), and audio file, (_ 1mv, ,mp3, and _wma).

, ,


'iMili""! Wiulip applicatlun in actlou

U rheberrcc htl lch gcsc h (jutes Iv! ateri"

CIIAPTER 2: Files and Folders 45

I d01\'1 have 'he space or rime 10 lisl rhern oil here, so ["II poinl you 10 Jmernet sites in the Appendix B Ihol will list the se for you.


\Ve "ve locked at files, but you might have noticed something else when you were prowling through you, ",Ie system whh, say, Windows I:'plorer. See these lillie yellow things that resemble paper folders, like the ones in Figure 2-11? Well, (hot', exactly what they are-folders, But these folders don'! bold papers, 'hey he Id your Ii les.

The Right Term

Before we go any further, lei's get the terms straight, We're going 10 be using Ihe wOIdIa/dele" here, bUI you might also he", them called directories, which was [11C" original word t1SC{l.. However, as the more visual, graphical operating SY51em:s were developed, directories was gradually replaced by folders,


0""" 0 "'Ijl",·~ ."", .... ffil-

: 1:U-,_'ag,: ....... t lalo=o

FiIq .. "IFI~,"rT ... b ® ~~hlI~~fF.!l~ !;)~~~fdritftll~



,,'" ~~flldZ6,1,pi11~'i

U rbcborrec hthc h gesc h lillte,;!vI erla

46 The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide

NOTE AClually. lj,iJ1g:~ we more comptltQh~d tlum this, TIre tel'm/oldet ((mdj()j" that m(llu~f'.fil(!) \\i,as chosen to be conststeiu with the 1Ju.U(lpIJor that the USCI' interface was {I destaap. in some other operating systems (.i!uc.h a,," DOS find many Unix-based ~}perflfing systems), the term dtrectory is sN11 used rather IhanjiJldcl:

What Is a Folder?

A folder can be thought of as a way of storing related files. in the operating . system so that they rue ea s y to i.1 nd. The nam i ug convent ion for fa lders is si m i 141 r to that for files, with upper- and lowercase letter.' allowed, numbers, and many symbols

PC DOCTOR'S ORDERI Tile symbols II ,. ,. • ? ." -c > I ((I"" not allowed in/older nantes.

Folders ere a collection of related files that hove been assigned a specific name (see Figure 2·] 2), This collection can be retrieved, moved, deleted, and otherwise manipulated as one enrlty, They can almost be thought of as tiles containing files.

One important feature of'a folder is that you cannot have two files with identical na Illes i u the sam e 1'01 d er, Viuial ion on I he C3S~ 0 f leuers docsn "l co U!lt as a d j Iferent filename; so lefterlOjll:::J.doG is equivalent to I.euerTaired.doc. and you could only have one of these in a folder, Different file extensions do count as different

EJ -
EJ ~
EJ ElO:t.!ZJ!l '''#!Imptl Foklers contain rues

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes Iv! ateri a

CII .. \PTIlR 2: File S and Po Ide rs 47

rile-names" so /ettermjl"Bddoc is different frem teuenofred.u». You can, however, have a shortcut to a file thm has the same name as another file in a folder. (TIle reason for this is that u shortcut bas a di ffercnt file extension that's hiddcn.)

Navigating Folders

Gone are the' days or having to navigare folders by typing commands. into a DOS screen (see Figure 2·13), which was both hard to remember and awkward. You had 10 know the folder names and type them in by hand. However, it's important 10 know how to do this because if yon hove to recover from "system problem. you miglu have to f.111 back on the old W:iYS!

YQU can think of'tbe folders on your 'System and the way that they interlink 4'S

a tree. A( the bottom ot'that tree is the root. The root of your file system is where you store files 01\ your system if they aren't in" folder. Each me system drive on your system will have J roor, (I won't cover the technical details of this here; if :,rOH n~(::d 10 know more, consult your hctp manual.] S() ifyou have one drive (~ay 1h~ C drive, represented as C;). rhls h3~ one root. NornHi.lly you wouldn't store Illes in the roof (especially the root or your main system drl\!C-[be drive thut contains your operating system). as Ibis wi:1I be used mainly by the operating system, and if you accidentally delete Or modify a file there, you might render the system useless.

PC DOCTOR'S ORDER! II~~' not a good Mea 10 use 111e. 1'001 of a/~}' drive/f.}!' slU'l·ingfi'e.~·_ Create folders instead, to placejiles infor safekeeping,

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h utztes M ateri"

48 The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide

Let', ''"Y that you have a folder ofT the mill folder of the D drive called klySII!/f. andinside [hat you hove three more folders called 2002, 2003, O"G 20()4. J f you wanted to navigate around these folders in a DOS command screen, you would begin M the root (D drive). To 11)' this, click Sian I RU<l, type omd, and click. OK. Your screen should look like this:


J f you a re not in I h e roo t~ type the ch ange d i recto ry COl ll'IH;'1 n J::


Then press ENTER to gel you there . Notice the backs lash at the end, whicb signifies that you want 10 go to the root. [lfyou ore not in the D drive at all, type d: and press ENTER.)

Now thar you ;.1[1: at the mol of the D drive, you waru to go into the first folder, so you type

PtC-~$ ENTER ugaiu. find you'Il notice that you are rIOW in the folder l'liySwlt

[ ..... )~l.!, I"l~~~.o.ff ~""i1.~~ tll~ I),

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes Iv! ateri"

CII .. \PTIlR 2: File S and Po Ide rs 49

Note Ihm if::t folder name contains a space, you 'will need 1() enclose the name ill quotation marks lor things to work properly in the DOS command screen. So, if the folder is coiled My Smfl you'd type the following:

cd! 'I ~y S~1;,l f:f I'

To go imo one of the folders thaI are contained in this one, type

And when yo u press ENTER you wi II be ; n !h e 20(}4 folder:

'.; ..... )colll't_~lufr :o...:t'I~t ... f'k ... HI~4

~ -..:n\'$tI.iH -, ~OO~ >~

You could have done all ofthese steps wlrh just one command:

This is quicke-r but harder to remember.

If you want to gn back up nne folder level, the e.ilfite_~l way [0 do this is like lhis:


This command changes tile directory to one above where you currently Me. Your screen will look like this nOW~

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes M ateri"

50 The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide

If you Jo rgei what fo ld ers 11 pari leu lar fo lder co nta ins" Y() L.J C~ n LH~e I fl 1.0:.: command:

(The command is n throwback because it stands fort'directcry") The lisa offolders will be displayed:'

~'\"~tLl "\:lli!!li!l"l)c~ __ ~ -, ttyttLl..Fr)lIlh·

Volujilo;: hi ., ..... 1, .... '" ~ h lIi'Lrl; - t':;'!;o. u.wP!!e ~!: I'"h l lIIu.nbe I'" i ~ CU'~~-(:.~·njl


6/ .... fl~~ 116 ~ '!i1 .( III R~

~~~=: U;U ~.:i:~ 2002

6 84.0'2r;:IIIH u. ~ ~4 c 1'1 F.l> 2'1:.'1l'.J

6 tM...-:~~ J' ~ '!i'" _ .( II) R} ~_~

., Fj1ll<~' _ _t'I b!l'teo

!: ~H-(~) :!jL.3HI~L~:J(i "')'.._~'" ~rcc:

FIX-ll'YOURSELF HOME REMEDY flll!CI~ (II<, (1101 ollo/del'.\' 10 disp/a:y. they wW '~'CI'OII (J:U'llw screen. 1[, preventthis. add/p 10 lire end of tho air command. This instructs fire system 10 show on(v one poge at a time. To look at lhe next screen (page). you press airy A'c.,y.

Fortunately, there is rarely a need fur navigating folders this way (although spare a thought for the days when this was II," only wayt), Nowadays there are fu, simpler methods, and all YOII need to do is point and dick.

!ilDt'lySldt ~'f)~ 03= b~

To navigate through folders, either double-click on the folder or click on the + next '0 folders that have subfoldcrs, To close folders, double-click On the parent folder, or click on (he - icon,

Crearin glDeleting Folders

Tht:rc nrc two ways to create Lind delete folders. First, let 's look at 'file commendline method. I'm going to go bock into the 1\~,.sI'!U·folder on the 0 drive and creme (l folder called 1006 (I future plan" lotl). So, first I nnvigute to 'he A~~'''l(nold.r, and 10 Cr(,:3Ie the nc v l,I folder l use the make directory command:

U rheberrcc htlich gesc h (jutes Iv[ ateri a

CII .. \PTIlR 2: File S and Po Ide rs 51

To remove the folder, use the remove directory command:

rd! :20005

Here is how you r screen wi II look:

:"-ti.'V'J:t:!.!,".>!'WIt :;:89!io :'"yG:t;uF'>rdi 28al>. ~ -, ,,_o,i:t;llr r )

. "

FIX·ll'YOURSELf HOME REMEDV )'011 cannot delete a fotderfronr the command tine if l/r(! folder contains Jiles.

Of course, you can also create ond delete folders ensily from within Windows Explorer. Open a drive or folder where you want the folder created, right-click in it" and choose New and Folder, as shown in FLgurre 2-14. A new folder will be created thai you can rename, Deleting a folder is ius!" mauer of right-clicking on the folder and choosing Delete, as you can sec in Figure 2-15,


~Iod~~ .. ~ !.!d!o~o!L'ij~

~~"i<,;:..:l~'<wd(o:P!u:"H(I·. ~ 1~.o.':L>l~J""= ~I~t>~ ..... :vio_it"", ~"""olil;:;"'l

'IOOild",1 Creating a folder using windows Explorer

U rheberrcc htl lch gcsc h (jutes M ateri"

52 The PGDoclOr's FL~"II-Yo\lrseIJGlIide

'..J"'" ....




p.c.;IrU!Millll'lllr~IIi~rd' .:.lAid!ll~limMW'


Deleting a n>1 der ir. Win dow! E,:-: pkner

Where Stuff Is Saved

Toke 0 look ar the structure of rhe datu .1.0 re '<1 on your disk by tho opernting system and applications, You should notice OJ few rhings irnmedlately:

• The Ul'i'Ir/OI1'S reieer No,rmal,ly.1.his. is where tile Windows opertuing system is inSl.llod, (0" wlndcws NT and 2000, this raid" ls catted IV/tiNT.)

• 1-\ PrflKTlIm ,,.,{(1 .... folder This is nermauy rne dcr.a1J11 in.swilmiorL folder ro, appl icauons,

• ,A, Docmu('m:s amI Se/riug,"i r'lllde-r 111 fa 1 der isu mi ~~, 11.1£ of di IT .. :rt:i1 I folders, It contains folders &JlCcitie to each user ~h:'ll has a user account

on Ihe PC (the folder is named after the user), Inside these folders are

more folders. If yo," look inside one of ihesc fold.", ,-OU"'O' bunch of other folders. These include De.sJaop, the folder tMt represents your system desktop, and p'LJ 1 'OI'lfe"l , wl~~n:!: YOLIF lruerne: Explorel' browser r::.vnrili:§: are stored. You also haw M;.' DOl·lIIrl"'~lIJi, th-a d't!ffmll folder ill. which l'ililUy

aprl icuti UIlS save you r in formut ion.

CII .. \PTIlR 2: File S and Po Ide rs 53

• i\ Temp folder TI,i, folder is used by the operating system 1(" keeping tern porary iii", that centro 1 th c runn ing 0 r "be operat i n g system, (The rc may be more than one folder. depending on the operating sysrem.) Files. rnighr build up in here over lime, and you can delete them (although if they are in use at the lime, you won't be able to delete 'hem).

Doctor's Notes

In this chapter we've looked at the software side of your PC, in particular, the nuts ~HI(J bolts Qfthe SOnwrtre:-m~8 and fold~rs. YOU\i~ learned the detailsof

• What n les are

• File naming and renaming

• File extensions and different types offiles

• FLIc compression and the benefits uf u~11lg it

• Wil't folders arc

• Folder creation and deletion

] f you've been using a PC for a while, most of this material will be familiar (although some ofthe DOS commands might be new 10 you), but it nonetheless makes all the terminology clear and gives. you ~L selid ba:fi.l~ from which 10 delve into the file system lat or on. Also, finding your way around the SySiCOl will be important later when you come to making backups of your data. cleaning up after a virus attack, or installing now software. We've only covered the basics of file and fold." manipulations here, but that will: 1>. enough to get you through the rest of the book.

Files and Folders Checklist

o Understand what makes one file type differ from another. ~ Know how 10 manipulate files and folders.

(;'I Know and be ab le to recognize the most com mon til enames,

(;'I Familiarize yoursel i.' w irh the DOS command prompt and how il. works,

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes M ateri"

Thispage imemionalb' I~fl b"mk

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes Iv! ateri a

Improving on Perfection

Copyright @ 2004 by The MoGraw·HUI cempenlee. Cllck htlHl for (erma or U~.

56 The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide

"Ther,e aren't many things in your home or office that you can t~ke a screwdriver

to and improve 00, lf'you buy a TV, stereo, dishwasher, or microwave O'l,.'CI1, you arc stuck w ith w hal you 1 ell the store w irh. But if you buy a PC~ \~-r i th a J iulc bit of know-how, you can take what you bought and improve it. In the same way that you can take a car nnd tweak the engine or the carbs, a PC holds much scope fu, the horne Do II Yourself", (DrYer) hungry for more power 'peed, and the ability to run new. cutting-edge applications without buying a completely Il~W system,

So, i r you think you need a new PC, read on before yOH d-ig deep 1nto your pocket:

Why Upgrade?

Why upgrade? lr's a com mou question, After all, coruputcrs arc nO'W cheaper thnn ever and plentiful. W(!,'re encouraged co live in a throwaway world nnd continually buy new items instead of improving on what we already have.

Many limes there are perfectly valid reasons 10 buy n new PC and either pass the old Oil'! On to someone etse Or dispose or i't~ but IhC:Fe are 0.'\1$0 limes when, with a bit of knew-how and a 'I iule time: and money, an old system can be given a new lease on life.

PC DOCTOR'S ORDER! D;spo.,e of an old system I'C,.polIsibly. !olJ01Lling .emy loca! ,,:;;,'u/I;uiom ... tluu might be in force. IJr;Il(}.1"y(!I .. see if anyone else is interested in it. )0111" old computer might be jus' the thillg that a local,c./mriJy Or schoo! is looking for:

Reasons for Upgrading

There are runny reasons a PC owner should consider upgrading Over buying ,~l new Pc. Here nrc three of the most common reasons for upgrading:

• Upgrading a PC is generally cheaper than replacing,

• Upgrading on otherwise stnb le system means n bene" system.

• Y{lUjUSl want more!

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes Iv] ateri a

CIL'lPTER .1: Improving an Perfection 57

There fire hundreds of other more minor reasons why you should consider upgrading before replacing. but let's stan with the financinl one. The final cost, of course, depends largely 011 what you choose lo upgrade or improve 0[1. If you choose to replace most of the moj or com ponen IS, tho associ aied costs will "mum lIy b. higher than if you just replace one or two, Weigh up the cost. How much did

l he sysre [''11 cost yo u fH;;~'IN! a n d h ow muc h doe s til e IJ pgrnde cost co m pared to a new system? I f the system cost you thousands ;.HHJ oil Hew computer would cost you, say, SIOOn, then a" upgrade costing $5iJ.-$IOO is worthwhile. lf' you already have a good system. throwing it away and getting another is: a poor choice when the upgrade you want might cost lar tess.

Second, u pgra din g an 0 thcrw: se sta bl e system means L 1'3' tile onl y I hi n g you win notice will be improvements! Things will be faster, or programs wHI work better, or you will have more space to save file, and data, Upgrading is also far less ha sslc t,ila n (~P laci n g a .s. ys rem, espee ially i f you are 11' t LI pgrudi n g hard d ri vos. And oven if you urcupgrading the hard drivcts), there ore program available that allow you 1.0 move .11 the d at", files, an d progra m s from one hard d rive 10 au 01 her.

FIX-IT-YOURSELF HOME REMEDV US;I1g .'pec;a/sq/iww" [0 handle: the mO,.lemCJlJ( 0/),0111' dara'fi'Qm one hard drive 10 another is always recommended. II 's fW,{JI'~1 impossible 10 "do if ),ollFseIJ·· and ins/liNing

a bhlnk drive and toadtug everythtng back on is (j needless hassle.

Finally, you just want more. More hard drive space. More RAM. Beller, faster graphics card. Better sound. You might find that to "HI "specific application or game. you need, say.morc RAM (see Figure 3-1) 01· a different graphics cord. Getting rid of the old system and buying <l! new cue ill this cuse is. simply 110t worth it, and an u pgradc is j II sf what the doctor ° rdercdl

'iM";'H' RAM 1111~mde is One ofthe easiest upgrades possible

U rbcborrec hthc h gesc h lillte,;!vI erla

58 The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide

FIX,ll'YOURSELF HOME REMEDV Think cm'iul!y wtten repkscing "s 10 wh{~/hcJl' the new ~y,M(?m ~ ... 'W infeg-rare wirh ,~.'ow· existing hardware. A newer PC doesn 't owonwricaUy meal] thm II' ',Ifj goi'ng to be jidly backward compotible. Newer PCfJ can JI{lVefifVl;er COMports fwd o'j.!tm IUiw~.rewer (and dtllel'lJm) card slots thon ,,,11(1/ you "''ill need. so check carefuttv!

Buying a new PC isn't always a sunlgluforward experience. Even JUSt

researc II iug the bc."j.I. PC 10 fLt your needs can ta ke mo re ti III e th an th C II pgrnde,

You would then need to make sure that it will integrate with all your existing hardware and run all ),OlL' software. You could be one of tho unfortunate people who receive their brand-new computer DOA ("dead on "n;""I"-. term used 1.0 describe a PC lhtU ,rjO~~!1"l work when it comes Out of rhe box). An upgrade can be :;1 far more truuble-Iree solution [0 your immediate prI)bl~lH:S and allow you 10 take more time 10 CO inc to the: right decisions abo u t replacing 11 system at a later date.

NOTE Aft/wltgh DOA PC system« am not a,~ comnum as the .. y used 10 bel 0" .~i¥~IIJh:ml( mouber ofnew pes arrive of the. user's door willI (I defect. l.apro}Js are gellel'atiy more prone 10 this them de,~klnl}..~.

Reasons for Replacing

Certain things might dictate to you that replacement is the best so lutio n after all. Here are' SOm~ reasons \vhy you might be better off replacing u system:

• Your system is quire old,

• Rep lace mcnt is morocco" omica I I han an u pgradc,

• You've already upgraded and will need further upgrades in the future.

These reasons urc all related because they stem from having an okl ~ySlCC!lhow old is a matter fur debate, but if your system is OVer six years old. it might he more economic" I to repla ce it. The ri ght pans rni ght b 0 e 'pensive or difficu II. to find, An example of'tbis is a type of memory used in older systems called EDO (Extended Data-Out, although the term L~n~t important here). Adding 64MB [0 a system that uses EDO will cost you nearly as much as adding an extra 128MB of memory to a newer system.

You might also be unsure about what parts your system takes" Again, memory is. a good cxamplc.jfyou no longer have the manual) or your motherboard isn"t listed on a website, you might find il hard to discover wha: kind of RA~1 it takes

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h utztes Iv! ater;"

CHArTER l Im provl liS on Perfecti 011 59

cr how much it can support in total. Finding older processors cr motherbnards might mean trips 10 the 5111allc1' retailers to check out what they still have in stock. Fiually, the older the system you warn to upgrade, the less life span you migh; get out of {he new ports you arc adding, Is it worth spending S 100-S200 on a graphics card for n system Ihat might suffer component failure soon?

When you weigh up the cost ofyour system when i.1 \\1:.::1: new against the cost of the upgrade and the ~ .. ost ofa new system, is the upgrade economical? For example, if your system cost, say, $1000 new. and the upgrade you need to the. memory would cost. S 150, but a new system could do what you want for only S500, you might want to consider replacing. There are many rules of thumb that businesses and accourua n I,'; usc to dete rm inc th is; al though these fall dO\'t'TI fo r the ho me user o r the small office user. However, if rhe total upgrade cost" is greater rhnn 50 percent ofthe total system value, [he upgrade is probably not an ecouomicul one,

1 f you 've al ready done sorn e u pgradi ng, how m u ch h i;WC you spent Oil ~ b e system in the past three to six months? Don't forget what yOU\1C already spent

on I he 'system! Th i Ilk nbou t why you a re up grad i f) g 41 ['J d w b at el se you wi 1.1 wan I

to upgrade in the nexl three I,Q six months, Make sure yow wke lJpgr3des. in the; ncar future into uccount too, Also. be. honest about the full Cost or the upgradesparts find labor if yuu aren't doing it. yourself. Remember Ion that delivery charges can odd significmuly to {he cost of puns if you're buying mail order-foetor these in too.

If youarc going to be building 3 new system as opposed to buying one, then some componen ts from the .01 d system m igh l be 1I S;I bl e in the new nil e t red u ci 11 g cost. Good candidates I'm transplanting art .. ~ IM!"d drives and. expansion cards (video <.,,<1.,. sound cords, and network cards), 1\1'0, you might be able to transfer {be men nor and peri pherals.

FIX-l"J!YOURSELf HOME REMEOY Keepillg 'he manuats foro system is important ([you want. to get (he most out o/il and keep it going lcmgc..'f:'



If you have a computer that's more than a yenr or so old, chances arc there's something you'd like it to be able to do thut it currently canner. Maybe you want to be able 10 play {he latest game but need, different, newer graphic, cord [0 do that, 01" maybe iCs the latest software package, :md you need a faster processor, or more memory, Or maybe it', JBM that you loaded the latest operating system or filled your h nrd dri vc with p hotos from your dig ill I camera. and it has simp Iy [\10 out

of space to store any more do,",

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes M ateri a

60 The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide

Whatever your circumstances, there will inevitably come a lime: in your 1 i fe as a PC owner when somcih il.l g I ike litis happens. Til is is the tim c when yo LIT computing horizons will really start to broaden!

NOTE r-{{m~ we wfll b[~ looking at npgrodos from (/ g~m~ric. ,ww,rdpoim 1'" order ta g~ty()11 ubont all the pewl.}' thot go info your PC ami wlml' you 'd like to change or improve. Speci};c.~ On !qJg/"ading i.1~dividlia/ components appear /11 Chapters 7 to J 5.

PC DOCTOR·S ORDERr Ilyour :yySl(;'m is under wmnmly, check willi tht; mWl1f[W;/U1VJ'- beiOIT/ cw',rying out IIpgl'atie.s ill Cafe llwJ wHI im¥,j/ldate you,. ~varranfy. II is i.mlikely tbat it will. bill remember yow' warranty H-Vn 'f cm!er any damage that );OU caWH! file ,~yslem while pwji~l'ming tlu: npgrodc OJ" -;0 the neh' con~rommfs that you odd.

Upgrading differs from repairing 0 PC in that the overall goal of repair is to get the system back up and running again. Upgrading is. the beuerruent of a PCchanging parts '0 that it can now do tasks it previously couldn '[. So already {he g0411 S are very d i (le re nt. G eui 11 g a 'System up and runn ins rtg;l in alter a nH_11 fuuc I i on or defect. is ::1 clear goal, whereas changing pans :in order for the system to be able 1.0. do something new is qui tc di ffcrcnt,

PC DOCTOR'S ORDER! Ifyou eve,' IIpgl'1U/C" CD, 01' DP7J,Ro.M drive, remember to check IIUJI it doesn ·'f contai» a disc befon: gefJing I'idolir!

Not All Systems Are Upgradable

Before the screwdrivers come out again and you stat! ordering parts, it's vital {hot you rea I i ze it's. not possib I:~ to u pgrade every com pu ter, Some, Sue 1\ as Iap tops ~ contain components specific ro tile system, Some items (such as hard drive and RAM) might be upgradilble, but the rest isn 't. Other PC..s sunply have been upgraded t1B far as they can be. They have the fastest processor and the maximum amount of RAJ"I possible, and only a motherboard upgrade could give them "new lease on

li le. This, however, is usually a big, cosrty upgrade that might mean changing the case as we II as the pow cr :;1:.1 pp I y,

Changing rhe motherboard also usually means a change in the number- of ~xpaI1SL()I~ slots you have, and (bat means. your existing hardware might '~10l work,

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes M aleri"

CHArTER l Im provl liS on Perfecti 011 61

You're then possibly looking at buying different hardware, making the upgrade far frorn cconomi ca I.

Consider COSt5 carefully. They are your best guide. when [t comes to deciding what to do, Sometimes replacing a few components. in a system could cost more than (,I new system with :.1 much higher specificnrion altogether!

Decide on the Right Upgrade for You

If you ere upgrading. because you want YOU! existing PC to do scmerhing that it currently doesn't do, it means )'OU already have an idea of what you want A. mentioned earlier, you may want 10 playa game, and currently you cannot because you don't have the riglu hardware lor the job (usually ~_I graphics card, bUI it could a lso be H A':'\1, or processor, or H ot c 11 ou gh free ha rd drive :;:; pace). Pc rha lJ"S you arc upgrading, tho system, not by replacing parts, but by adding, more, such as" USB expansion card,

Another possible reason for upgr,Jdirlg is tli:;it you simply want more speed OUt of your eurtcru -SYS.tCI\1_ Perhaps you're doi_ng !110fC~ with i[ now unel need extra power, or perhaps you just want to make it faster so that YOLl finish your work quicker, Either way, "speed" upgrades arc a common reason for upgrading.

Speed UpgI"ddes

Contrary to what you might think, the best wny to achieve a speed upgrade is not by replacing the processor. This might seem like it goes against common sense since the speed of new PCs is determined by (he speed of the processor; but when i.f com es U) upgrad i ng a system for m ore speed, t h e most common way to a chieve ihis is by 'idding more RAM., The more speed Y~)LI W~111(~ the more RA~-r you should add. The more RAJ\1 you add, the fa1'P1L;J" the system will go_

FIX·IT'YOURSELF HOME REMEDY Tlic recson tbat ,,"";jlg more RA ~\.f makes a computer seemfaster is because R.A/1'/ is mrldlfoste.r than the alternative. which is using the hard drive us a temporary memmy store. Th« more main mGlIJOIY con be usedfor (()mporary storage (rather than tho hard dri .... -e), thefusser Jour PI'ogl"wn:!.' willwork.

There are only two limits to the amount of RAM you can add:

• Your PC already hns the maximum "mount of RAf\.'lthe motherboard will S"PPOt1, Consult your system manual for informatlon on thnt.

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes M ateri a

62 The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide

• Your PC already has the maxlmum amount of RAM thsl your operating system will '''PPOfi, Table J-I lists the maximum amount or RAM that the various operating systems support.

Usually, you hit the hardware limitation On the ruotherbonrd kmg before you gel 10 the limitation imposed by the operating system.

Consider 128M B to be U good swrting point for memory in a Windows 95, 98, 98 SE.. 'ME. and OX 9,;( machine, with 5] 2MB being a good amount for Windows NT, 2000, XP (both Home and Pro), OS X, and Linux. RAM amounts beyond this a re usefu I if y ou usc very dem and ing so ftwa re (i mage man ipu lation or 3 D). but bene fits to the 0. veruge user decrease afte r thi S"

If your PC currently houses 64-128MB of RAM, it would certainly bencflt from more RAM-, Taking this 10 256Mll 'will give you enormous speed. gains. Applicnrions will appear to open and fur, faster. arid animation and video will p by far lUO re smoothly,

I" fact.n PC that has had a "speed" upgrade will feel and act like" new PC.

Fresh and powerful. Crashes application lockups, and hangs will be fewer, and waiting times will dramaticnlly decrease,

FIX-IT-YOURSELF HOME REMEDY RAM is WIJ' cheap these daysItlkc(u/vcmta!J,e of the grew prices. Don', bother willI "Kl1iW cloubNng·· software. Gel (hema!Ihing.1I :s- llsua/~li cheaper; better. and WOII 'I' make yaw' system nnstob!e.

o p£I mtinq SY'9-t.e m Window.~ 95. 9.R, 9S SE

Willdi.')'I'I,'SMB \Vindl'I\1t~,Nl'

Win.;JIJo' v 'S 200<) Pro rcss lona I Windows xr I~ orne and Professional

OS 9_x 1.:5, (However, no s,rrl,gl(" opplicuricn cnn utifize mere 11m:. 109.)

M ax imum RAM IGBI


os X S (RaLhl!!~ th:an he an c )p~~.aL ing system thnharlcn, thh; tS:-! hardware lim[!mron.)

Linux 6t1

'W1! "" JI,.'i uxi m lim RAM Supported b}1 VMiQu~ OPCrtLI ill g S ysrems

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes Iv! ateri"

CHArTER l Im provl liS on Perfecti 011 63

Other Upgrades

or the many other types of upgrades possible, none is as easy or as straightforward a a memory upgrade. Other possible upgrades, which are covered in detaillater in the. boo k, i ncl u de

• Processor/CPU upgrade (Chapter S)

• H"Td drive upgrade (Chapter 9)

• Motherboard upgrade (Chapter S)

Check the Specifications

When carrying nul an upgrade, be sure' that YOlL know what you need and that whai you walk out ofthe store with or get via mail is going to work for you. Never guess. as to what might or might not work for your system. If you guess and get it wrong, several things could happen when yon try to install it

• At worst, the new component or your system 'could be seriously damaged, even to the point of being beyond economical repair" Get the right type of RAM', processor, and power ~"pply.

PC DOCTOR'S ORDER! Do,,·I}i)l-gello lake all tllO /leCl·SSGI·Y precautions 10 enSure your safety fwd the srr/efy of tire COmp01jWl1.~ from ESD·rc/m~d probiem». Check 0/,// Chal'ler6}i>r frlil detoils.

• The component may not fit, A common example of tit is is getting tho wrong kind ofR!IJ\1 or graphics curd (J'CIJAGP).

• You might not have space for the component,

• Yom system might not work once the component is installed, even though n 0 da m <lge ~)CC~I rs. I f the PC i s un happy with your choi ce Q f corn pon ent, the system usual!"}' wou't start up. The main CTHe.S. that you will have are the mos beep codes and the Jact that the problems occurred only after you

c arricd au t the upgrade,

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes M ateri"

64 The PC DOClOr: Flx-It-Yourself Gulde

FIX·ll'YOURSELF HOME REMEDY !l1I/wllgil we '/I be going into this in gre(lfcl" detail later in the book. 1 waif(. to introduce )/011 eariy 011 to lIre [act fhal ljli1JJ}~ mighl So wrong a/wI' on upgrade. It's not s(.mu.?lhing to fear or ~tIOny about: 11:;;- ajac: ofltfe! lfyow· sy,mun won 'f work after you hav« replaced a component, o'h1ay,s suspectthe 'OSI component .,I{.IH added. l/allihe connections and fiuings seem OK. Ihe most tiketv problen: is either an incompatible component 01' a seutng that needs to be changed, either by (j manua) Jumper on the motherboard=rarer 011 neH·W- sy.f,emS".oj" iJllhc systan BIOS. Try r(.'m~H1ing the 11(-:'VV/Y in-'Fwlh1d componeru and replac;i'ng III~~ old allf:', and w/e ifdu; PC works. Now reb)' 1l1(: IIpg1"ade.,

There are other pHlOlc:ms. 3_,Lj,KO(:-iL'uc:(! with buying lncomparible components.

The store or mail order retailer will not accept them back, 0,. they may charge you a restocking fcc for taking them back. These fees. c ... nn vary from T 0 percent to 30 perconl of the purchase price.

WARNING Read the comptmy ~~, terms and C(mdiliorts can!:fid~v 10 dlf::ck. their policy On «ce .. :ephng returns,

If the component is damaged because of an action you rook, then don't .. expect

:.I refund or replacement, Do remember though, that if you buy a component for upgrading from u retailer that gSNC you incorrect Or false information (that the component would work in your system, when in face il doesn't). you arc entitled to your money back, and if damage occurs, yO~1 might also be entitled to compensation .. If you rely on intonnation from {I retailer that you are unsure Of, ask for that information in writing .. If the retailer seems unwilling ~o·do that, don't b~lY From them; there are plenty of other places that want your moneyl

Ttl.'. are the best places to get information about your system:

• The syste m man uals: 011 the in forrnaticn you wont sho u ld be hero. The re may be: more than one manual for your system, so if it's not immediately appa rent ~ keep looking!

• The s ystem man ufacturer: they m j gh t :n eed the system seria I number, but they should have: information available. Give them a call Of drop them an email if you don't have the information you need,

FIX·ll'YOURSELF HOME REMEDY {{yo"',,, /OSI 1/,e"W",,,,lji>ryoll, S]'sfr.m. you may be able to (/0 11 'Jl/oad an electronic copy from the mmmJaCllirer'.l;.lifC ..

U rheberrcc htl lch gcsc h utztes Iv[ ateri a

CHArTER l Im provl liS on Perfecti 011 65

• Reputable compcnem vendors: most processor, hard drive, and memory vendors have extensive databases of information, and sometimes this is available OIl their website.

• Computer rungaziues and Internet sties: these are: also excetlent resources, but remember they might nor alwuys be 100 percent accurate.

• Family, friends, ~In(l other computer users: preny much everyone with a PC has an opinion 011 them.

Tak e yo u r t j, me \ v herr plun 1'1 i 11 g Lin up grade. H. cmcm bet that a u up grade IlU:> different objectives from replacing 0, defective component and differs ill many ways, urgency being the most obvious. Wl1en fixing a problem, you are usually either deal ing with a warrarny !SSUC or buying a replacement for the defective product, lt's not the best time 10 be thinking about upgrading. True. if you ar-e in

no rush 10 gel. the system back up and running, you miglu be able IJ]I spend the lim'! needed to research the right upgrade, You may have been thinking of upgrading, in which case Y()Ll will already hL1VC a good idee of what you should choose instead. although the chance of having researched the exact part that became defective is pretty slim,

Take your lime. and bear in nlind the golden rule: "[Lin dO\Lbt -I)orl?l~" Never be pressured j nto U pgrad es, and lake proper c arc l.h at the com ponent you are buying is suitable for your needs,

Check that You Can Physically Do the Upgrade

You don 't want 10 gc:i your component horne, open up your system, and find Out that it's not g()ing to work. Here are the most common things to check for before buying, as well as before installing, new components:

• Check thai you actually have free slots available lor a RAM upgrade you are planning (or thar 'y011 are going to replace existing memory).

• Visually check that til" component linings are the same bcrore frying to make the connection. Luckily for the Dl Y upgruder, most connectors and ,sT(~I~ are unique looking, and it" is easy 10 spot differences. This is vitally important when upgrading processors, where the wroug socketcould cause damage to the delicate pins 01] a CPU.

• Ifyou are going to mid a new liard drive or CDIDVD drive, make sure you have the space for it in the case [some C-tl5C5 have limite .. -J space for drive upgrades) as well as free data channels and rower cables available,

U rheberrcc htl lch gcsc h (jutes Iv! ateri"

66 The PC DOClOr: Flx-It-Yourself Gulde

• If you are planning on adding new expansion cards, make certain that you have slots available and that they arc of the right type,

• Ifyn~l arc adding new COM pcn/pamllel pori, USB P()rl~ or Firewire port components. make sure you have free space available. With USBiF'ire\Vjre ports, you might ha v e to add expansion ports or hubs,

• Check to see if you have all the screws ,m-HI FLllirtgs you \'IILH need for the job. SOftie components (such as hard drives.) don't come with the fillings.

• Check to see that adequate power connectors are available inside the Pc.

You might also need to consider whether [he actual power supply is suited W powering additional devices insi(je the system (more nil tl,is in Chapter 7).

Trouble-Free Upgrades

B es ides m aking sure you can physi co 11)( perform the upgrade and "'W 0 II y h 0 ve all the fittings you need tor the job, you can take several steps to make sure that your upgrade goes us smoothly as possible,

PC DOCTOR'S ORDERI ifyou 'V" got arry IWUdlip., 011 how 10 cany out the upgrade; prim them out befor« beginning. as you mighf not have the chance. tater:

1~ M4Ike Sun: you have 4.111 the documentation you need to carry Out the upgrade.

2. Check tor newer/updated drivers. The drivers you get with the hardware are unlikely to be: the latest and best. (See the section "Upgrading Drivers" later ill rhe c ha pter.)

3. Before carrying our the upgrade, check and then check again thai tile hardware you've gllt is the right thing. Check the specification again, and make sure that what is in the box matches the specification (not always possible, bUI it's worth looking)" If you ordered a 512MB DDR PC2'100 18"-'pi" DIMM module, check 11m! the sticker on the module marches anrl that you haven't received something different, such a5256M.B.

PC DOCTOR,rs ORDER~ Don 'f ri'mQ'Vl::: die stickersfrom Inl!mory mru},des, Km" will void ymo- wOI·nl1il};

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes Iv! ateri a

CHArTER l Im provl liS on Perfecti 011 67

4. Before you start removing parts, give the: system a quick dean inside with compressed air, (lf you have a regular 1l1J'in1C(][lIlCe routine, it \""011'( be that dusty inside nnywuy.) Doing this reduces the fisk that cin or dust will gel into the electrical contacts, causing problems.

5. Uninstall old hardware first (un lest its "0""" the running of the system) and L1 uinsta II the dri \IC rs roo. Un i nsialla tic n of drivers j s carri ed out ei lb or from the .. vdd/Rernove Control l'nnel sppler or Device Maoager in Window s. On L i nux. if you used a scri pt, there. is fsequ entl y an cpu on to clean pasl installations. If you used rpm, then 10 uninstall, rry rpnr-ev packngename,

6. Handle components with "ore. and take all the nee e ssary ESD protection measures (covered in detail in Chapter 6).

Z Ifyou are in any doubt as to the original placement of wires Or cables, make a note or draw a d ingram.

PC DOCTOIl.'S ORDERI Slicky label s are great for idemW'i"g wires and cobtas. G.el a set o_{diffb,(tnt cO/OI'S, which witt make the job (J/ 1Pa.~:~·(.'mb!'f eas ier:

8~ Work carefully and methodically. Take your time and don "t rush things.

9. Check all connections afterwards, Make SUTe that the connections nrc sound and firmly pushed into the connector,

10. Test carefully afterwards, Make sure everything works.

Finding Parts for Older Systems

If yOU1' system is older on d you co n'1 f nd the parts YOlL n eed f ro m your 10 ca I retailers, you rnighr still be able to get parts for upgrading, but you will need ro be a tinle bit cannier in bow you find them.

local Retailers

Big retailers don't keep huge stocks. The)' buy lillIe and often and send back old and unwanted stock to make room for new stock, This keeps costs low, as well as. overheads.

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes M ate,; a

68 The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide

Smaller 'retailers are different, and they might have old stocks, It's worth phoning around to all the computer MOI'cs in your area, You never know, you might get lucky!

Internet Retailers

Once you've exhausted local retailers, try the Internet for retailers. Again, you arc probably mare likely to strike it lucky with the smaller outlets that have slow", stock rotation.

Use your favorire search engine and search for parts. I fyou are looking for an elder Intel processor, such as 1h~ Pentium II, for example, be sp('(:ific if! your search. 1 Iyou can be specific .. sue! r a s the speed you Ore after (500 MH,. for exam pic), I hen III ake S ure you add that as 0 senrch cri tcrin,

Once you've exhausted the Internet, try the newsgroups. They are not as good as a web search and far less. likely to turn up what you arc after! but you never know, }'Ql'1 might be lucky,

Secondhand Systems

Another possible source of replacement ports is to look for a secondhand system that C41n "donate" pints 'to your system. This might also appeal to you because, while you may not be gelting ,['I, brand-new part, if you kDOW wbat you are looking for. )I()LI wilt be saving a lot of money!

Here nrc some suggestions for possible sources. ofsecondhand systems:

• Garage sal es

• Secondhan d shops

• CI">8 i fied ads

• Auctions (real-world auctions and lnternet auction houses)

• friends or relatives who have an old system gathering dust LI1 a garage, basement, Or uui c

• T f all else fa il 5, try a wan ted ad .. nQ t ncccssari I y i II a newspaper bu t on on c of the many Internet forums dedicated to PC and PC repair/upgrading.

FIX-Il"YOURSELF HOME, REMEDY Keep in mind IIw{ thofarther afieki yon go fo« what you '.·1-"fllll. 'he mOlT!, if will cost ,V1"lU in .~hipping. especially ~lyml ore lallijng obont ,'thippil1g an entire ;~y.~·hfm,

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes Iv! alert"

CHArTER l Im provl liS on Perfecti 011 69

Someone, somewhere, is likely to have the exact thing you're looking f(rr.

There are literally millions of rcs out there either unused or looking for a new home (L;\'C!l if il is only to donate paris to another system). And by making 1l.SC of an old sy stem, you are rec ycl in everyone wins!

M,,, .. ,, Ahnut Donor Sj'stcon& I f you arc buying (or acquiring)" PC tho I: you plan on using us a donor system for parts! check out the following first (especially if you ore pay ing for i 1):

• Docs the system still work? .If nor, then what is on il that is of any value?

• Is the system :l higher specification system than the One y(JL1 have? Is it equal? If it's nOI. what pons eon YOLI salvage from it?

• Once you get the system, make a careful inventory ofthe parts-how much RAM, size of .ho hard drive. and so on. You con tho" either keep the system in one piece or dismantle it and store it HS parts"

PC DOCTOR'S ORDERI Do" '( pay 100 "'Ire" for a donor systen: III,/e", you plan on using it b~f'or(} JO.u toke it apart. It is an unknown quantity. und there is no gnorantce that you'll. get f1IIH.:h. if (mYj !'Se om 0/ it.

Upgrading Drillers

Upgrading isn't 'IWOY5 about changing hardware on" system, It con be about upgrading the software drivers that contrul rhe hardware.

Benefits of Upgrading Drivers

Although you might not give an old system a new lease on life through dnver updates, and it III iglunoi reel like a new computer, making 'SUT~ Illat software dri ve rs a re up-to-date IHIS SOm~ s ign i fi C~} m be nefu S.

• Beiter performance: new drivers IH'C usually beeler at what they do than older vc rs] ons.

• Reduced system resource ccnsurnptien: newer drivers usually take up less system resources (especially memory),

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h utztes M ateri a

70 The PC Doctor's FLx-JI-Yourself Guide

• More features: newer drivers usually have more fea III res. Perhaps something YOLI thought wus missing in tile old driver is available in tbe newer version.

• Increased stability: this is one of the major reasons 10 upgrade drivers.

Ne' v cr drivers usually mean better system stability and fewer crashes, If you have" problem Oil: your system.a driver upgrade is a good place [0 start.

• Better suited 10 new operating systems: ; f you upgrade the operating sy sl em, you In i ght f nd th III some hardwa re won't wo rk unti 1 you get drivers that support it.

PC DOCTO'R,'S ORDER! I/yotw system i.~- nl1miug well and yO!t (lr'C' nm experiencing ,any problems. I' might be a good idea to leave the extsting' drivel: Whilc most of Ifrll time a driver upgrade results in b~m;fiIS. 011 a weil-rnnnlng ~~y~l!(?m, I/UJ.5& mighl be insignificant, ond tne new driver could tntrodnce prublcms, A CaS'e of '''{(U:s- not broke», dan -, try to flx Iff"

Finding New Drivers

Your tlr<l port of call lor finding new drivers should be the Internet. Go IQ the vendor's website and see what they've got (look 'in the "drivers" or' "downloads" section), Ifthat doesn't turn up anything, search for the hardware name; you might find a driver elsewhere. For example, this sort ofthing is common with graphic, cards_l\1Q5t graphics cards are built aroundchipsets f .. om. one ofa handful of companies (Nvldia, ATI, and Hercules being the most common). These companies make gen eric {J rivers th at work wit h thi rd -party graph ics cards bu i 1 t usi ng t h ei r chipscts.

NOTE Get drivers from the acncal mamrjac{lfl'tll; as opposed 10 lising 8eJUJ.l'ic drivers, i./possJble. as lhq; can b{IV{!I(jmure.~.~pee(li(" 10 the hardware.

Another option ls to 'UI1 Windows Update (the updating appl ication bunt into the latest versions of Microsoft Windows operating systems), This gives you access to hundreds of drivers for a wide variety of hardware.

If the Internet is not nn option for you .. or you can't find the driver you are after, try giving the manu facturcr " call and sec if they he vc u pdated drive rs available. Blit be aware thut some companies may charge for this service.

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes M ateri 0

CHArTER l Im provl liS on Perfecti 011 71

Doctor'S Notes

Once you've carried OUl your first upgrade, it probably won't be the last time. When you SI or look in g 01 yo", peas a static fi xed tool and begi n 10 100 kat; I as a collecti On 0 r- parts, n10.St 0 Lw h ic h yo u can rep I~l ce C::-I$ i 1 Y1 yo U 'v ill n nd yo urs e 1 f f reed from lim i ration ~ that you prey to u ~ 1 y thou gh l coul d on I y ~ overcome by replacing yow- existing computer setup.

The main thing to remember is to do the research beforehand nnd work rhrough the' upgrade methodieull y_

Have fun:

Upgrade Checklist

o Decide on [he upgr~de you require. iii Dec; d e on an upgra d e budget,

(;'] Research your intended upgrades.

~ Check that you have room for l11(:'. upgrade (S1'01S, drive bays, ,L;'I,(~,). Iil I' i nd a good source of parts that you co 11 trust,

iii If you buy parts secondhand, try to gel recommendations from others.

8 If your drivers are old, think about updating them (its 41 free upgradel)

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h utztes Iv! ateri"

Thispage imemionalb' I~fl b"mk

U rheberrcc htl lch gesc h (jutes Iv! ateri a

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful