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What's inside a computer?

From: Computer Literacy for the Mac

Video: What's inside a computer?

When it comes to figuring out how capable your computer is, whether you're shopping around for a new computer, or if you've received a hand-me-down computer for work or at home, you want to know three things first: how large is the hard drive, how much RAM is installed, and how fast the processor is. Now, a lot of people who aren't familiar with computers have trouble understating these three terms and what they mean in terms of the computer's capabilities. Allow me to offer this analogy. This is a hard drive. Your computer's hard drive is also referred to as a hard disk, and it's the computer's storage device. You most likely rarely see it on the open like this, since it is an internal device, but this is what one looks like.

What's inside a computer?

When it comes to figuring out how capable your computer is, whether you're shopping around for a new computer, or if you've received a hand-me-down computer for work or at home, you want to know three things first: how large is the hard drive, how much RAM is installed, and how fast the processor is. Now, a lot of people who aren't familiar with computers have trouble understating these three terms and what they mean in terms of the computer's capabilities. Allow me to offer this analogy. This is a hard drive. Your computer's hard drive is also referred to as a hard disk, and it's the computer's storage device. You most likely rarely see it on the open like this, since it is an internal device, but this is what one looks like.

You can think of the hard drive as the filing cabinet where everything on your computer is stored: from programs, to documents, to videos. Basically, anything that's stored on your computer is stored on the hard drive. Now this is a RAM or Random Access Memory module. Most people just call it RAM or memory. Think of your computer's RAM as this desk I'm sitting at. In order to work with the files from my filing cabinet, I need to have space on my desk to pile and organize my files. The smaller the desk, the fewer files and other items I can work with at once.

Similarly, the less RAM you have, the fewer documents and applications you can have running at one time on your computer. That's why RAM is one of the most common upgrades people have done to their computers. More RAM means more memory to work with more files, more quickly. Adding more RAM is kind of like adding these wire boxes to my desk. It gives me more room to shuffle around the items on my desk and work with more items at once. Now, the third item I mentioned is the CPU, or Central Processing Unit. Most people just call it the processor. The CPU is the computer's brain.

It's the item that carries out all the functions of the computer, from processing the instructions from the programs you are running, to keeping the operating system working. In our desk and filing cabinet analogy, the CPU is you. You can have a filing cabinet full of files and a huge desk to work on those files, but without you, nothing can happen to those files. Generally, you can upgrade your hard drive space, which would be like getting a larger filing cabinet, or even an additional filing cabinet, so you can store more files. You can upgrade your RAM, which would be like getting a larger desk or work area, so you can work with more files at once.

But the CPU is rarely upgraded because it's usually soldered into your computer and requires a lot more skill to replace. So, just as you can't really upgrade yourself in this analogy, you can't usually upgrade your CPU either. Now, of course, there's a lot more inside a computer than just a hard drive, RAM, and the CPU. You've got video cards, audio input and output ports, USB ports, CD and DVD-ROM drives, expansion cards, the list goes on, but storage space, memory and processor speed are probably the most important things to consider when evaluating a computer.

We'll take a look at some of those other components of computers in upcoming movies.

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This video is part of

Image for Computer Literacy for the Mac
Computer Literacy for the Mac

55 video lessons · 23243 viewers

Garrick Chow
Author

 
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  1. 2m 49s
    1. Welcome
      1m 9s
    2. Using the assessment files
      1m 7s
    3. Using the exercise files
      33s
  2. 9m 51s
    1. What's a computer?
      1m 49s
    2. What's inside a computer?
      2m 46s
    3. Laptop vs. desktop computers
      1m 59s
    4. Special considerations when using a laptop
      3m 17s
  3. 20m 58s
    1. Understanding the operating system
      3m 3s
    2. Understanding files, folders, and directories
      4m 49s
    3. Understanding your home folder (your user folder)
      5m 21s
    4. Using your desktop
      3m 11s
    5. Taking out the trash (recycle bin)
      2m 21s
    6. The right click
      2m 13s
  4. 24m 8s
    1. Understanding applications
      4m 24s
    2. Opening and saving files
      4m 10s
    3. Choosing the right tool
      4m 44s
    4. How to learn any application
      3m 53s
    5. Five things that work in all applications
      6m 57s
  5. 36m 22s
    1. Understanding computer ports
      2m 59s
    2. Setting up a printer
      3m 7s
    3. Printing your documents
      4m 30s
    4. Setting up a scanner
      2m 27s
    5. Scanning a document
      6m 15s
    6. Setting up a projector or second monitor
      5m 56s
    7. Using a projector
      3m 43s
    8. Portable storage devices
      3m 53s
    9. Pairing with Bluetooth devices
      3m 32s
  6. 17m 27s
    1. Understanding networks and internet access
      2m 58s
    2. Connecting to wired network
      2m 36s
    3. Connecting to wireless networks
      4m 4s
    4. Working in a networked environment
      6m 15s
    5. Staying protected from viruses
      1m 34s
  7. 19m 31s
    1. Understanding email servers and clients
      2m 11s
    2. Setting up your email application
      4m 15s
    3. Receiving and reading email
      2m 21s
    4. Composing new email messages
      5m 52s
    5. Reply vs. Reply All
      2m 11s
    6. Dealing with spam
      2m 41s
  8. 8m 24s
    1. Understanding search engines
      1m 24s
    2. Conducting basic searches
      3m 51s
    3. Conducting advanced searches
      3m 9s
  9. 24m 21s
    1. Using word processors
      4m 22s
    2. Formatting text
      7m 7s
    3. Using spreadsheets
      3m 36s
    4. Creating a simple data table
      7m 37s
    5. Formatting a data table
      1m 39s
  10. 18m 53s
    1. Importing images from a digital camera
      4m 46s
    2. Storing and organizing digital images
      5m 11s
    3. Basic image manipulation
      4m 10s
    4. Tagging images
      2m 32s
    5. Sharing images
      2m 14s
  11. 10m 52s
    1. Common obstacles in sharing files
      1m 37s
    2. Creating PDFs for document sharing
      5m 35s
    3. Compressing files
      3m 40s
  12. 1m 3s
    1. What's next?
      1m 3s

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