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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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