Articles in Category: Hardware

Computers, computer systems and the physical components and accessories that make them what they are.

Disk Management

What’s a Dynamic Disk?

You probably have a basic disk and don’t need the functionality offered by dynamic disk support… even if that functionality is kind of cool.

A cracked hard disk juxtaposed with a pristine one, symbolizing sudden versus gradual hardware failure. The background is split in two: one half features a chaotic, glitched computer screen to represent instability and failure, and the other half displays a stable, smooth interface to symbolize normal operation. The composition emphasizes the contrast between sudden and gradual hardware failures.

The Warning Signs of Disk Failure: An Unexpected Tale of Gradual Decline and Urgent Replacement

The reinstall of my system slowly uncovered a potential hardware issue. Here’s how I diagnosed and repaired it.

A surreal scene showing a standing maintenance person using a floor polisher on a giant hard disk platter. The maintenance worker, dressed in a standard blue jumpsuit and safety shoes, is actively operating the large, mechanical floor polisher.

How Often Should I Wipe Hard Drive Free Space?

Free-space wiping prevents the recovery of deleted files. Whether you need to do it, or how often, depends on how interesting your data is.

Gigabytes and higher.

What Comes After Terabytes?

Zetabytes? Petaflops? Gigahertz? Confusing terms for the ever-increasing capacity and speed of our computers.

An external USB hard drive positioned vertically on its side, with a carrying handle attached to its top. The hard drive has a 'Moving' sticker prominently displayed.

Can I Move My Old Hard Drive to My New Computer to Transfer Data?

You can take the internal hard disk of an old computer and install it as an additional drive in a new one, or consider a more flexible alternative.

A balance scale featuring a 3.5 inch hard disk on one side and a 2.5 inch hard disk on the other. The setting is a simple, neutral background to keep the focus on the balance scale and the hard disks. The 3.5 inch hard disk appears slightly larger and more robust, representing its greater storage capacity and power requirement. In contrast, the 2.5 inch hard disk is smaller, symbolizing its portability and convenience for travel.

Can You Recommend a Good External Hard Drive?

Quality and features in external hard drives change over time. First, look at what you need.

Disk Drives, Flash Drives, and RAM

What’s the Difference Between Memory and Disk Space?

The difference between the various things we could call “memory” is a fundamental computing concept. I’ll review the basics.

A simple and clean thumbnail about understanding charger specifications. The image features a variety of chargers and power supplies with different connector styles in the background, subtly blurred to focus on the main subject: a magnifying glass in the foreground, highlighting the tiny, hard-to-read text on a charger label. The text on the charger is just visible enough to show numbers and symbols representing input and output power specs. The title 'Decoding Charger Specs' is prominently displayed in bold, easy-to-read font at the top of the image.

How to Read Phone Charger Voltage Specs

Power supply labels can be difficult to read and interpret. I’ll review what matters.

An overflowing file cabinet symbolizing a cluttered hard drive. Various file icons labeled 'temp files', 'cache', 'downloads' are spilling out of the cabinet. A frustrated user, a Caucasian adult, is looking at the mess. The scene is set in an office environment, emphasizing the clutter and disorganization caused by digital files. The style is colorful and slightly cartoonish.

Dealing with PC Clutter

Files accumulating on your machine can result in increased PC clutter, decreased performance, and less stability.

Thumbnail featuring a distressed-looking USB flash drive with an error message on a computer screen saying 'RAW'. The background includes faint symbols of a hard drive, a cloud, and a backup symbol, emphasizing the lesson on the necessity of backups and the risks of relying on a single storage device. The image conveys the urgency and importance of data recovery and backup, suitable for a video about recovering data from a failed flash drive and the importance of regular backups.

How Do I Recover Flash Drive Files?

Flash drives are popular, convenient, and extremely useful. But they can fail. Take preventative measures right away.

Power Button

My Computer Doesn’t Work — What Do I Do?

People often ask what might be broken if their computer does nothing. It’s a long list, and I’ll look at some possibilities.

Photo of two modern smartphones side by side on a wooden table. The smartphone on the left displays a vivid lightning bolt icon on its screen, symbolizing fast charging. The smartphone on the right shows a detailed snail icon, representing slow charging. Both phones are connected to their respective chargers, with cables leading off the table.

Why Does My Phone Charge Slowly on Some Chargers?

Why do some chargers work faster or slower than others? We’ll take a look at some basic electrical concepts to understand what to look for in a charger.

Laptop on hotel bed with suitcase in the background.

How Can I Keep My Laptop Running With the Lid Closed?

The default configuration for most Windows laptops is to go into standby when the lid is closed. We’ll look at how to change that.

Battery indicator on a laptop screen.

Boost Your Battery! Top Tips for Maximum Life

How to get the most out of your laptop battery.

Computer screen with the word "Nope".

What Should I Do If My Computer Freezes Completely?

Steps you can take when your computer locks up.

Turning Off the Power

Should I Turn My Computer Off at Night?

Turning your computer off at night might be appropriate. But is it saving energy? It’s hard to say.

Disk Management utility

Why Is My External Hard Drive Not Showing in Windows?

Occasionally, attaching a drive to a computer will appear to work, but the drive’s nowhere to be found. I’ll walk through one common solution.

Flame

Why Is My Computer Hot and Loud?

Several components in your computer use power and generate heat in proportion to how they’re used. I’ll review the two biggies.

No Sound

Why Don’t I Get Sound from My Computer?

No sound can happen for a variety of reasons. Here’s how to troubleshoot if your computer is inexplicably silent.

A Touchpad

How Do I Disable the Touchpad on My Laptop?

If the touchpad is annoying, you can adjust it or turn it off completely.

800 x 600

Why Is 800X600 My Only Resolution Option?

Sometimes 800×600 is your only option. We’ll look at ways to work with this.

Waiting

Why Does Copying Files Slow Down?

Issues with copying files are most often traceable to hard disk issues, but there are other potential causes as well.

USB port under a magnifying glass.

How to Fix Windows Not Recognizing USB Device

A checklist to resolve Windows not recognizing USB devices.

Ancient writing carved into stone.

No, Not Stone Tablets

Some stone tablets may have survived, but that doesn’t mean they’re something to rely on. What it does mean is perhaps you haven’t thought through all the issues.

Thumb Drive Inserted.

How Do I Boot From a USB Thumb Drive?

UEFI has made booting from something other than the hard drive more complex. I’ll review why, and what steps to take.

Power Supplies and Cables

Can I Use a Charger With the Same Voltage but Different Amperage Rating?

Chargers and power supplies come in a wide variety of configurations. Choosing the right one is important. I’ll look at a few of the parameters.

Hard Disk Interior

How Long Should CHKDSK Take?

Several factors affect how long CHKDSK takes to run, but a scan requiring an unusual amount of time may signal additional problems.

Gift Laptop

What Computer Should I Give?

Choosing a computer for a loved one can be very difficult. I’ll review a few areas to consider when purchasing a computer as a gift.

A Computer Mouse

My Mouse is Moving On Its Own. What Can I Do?

Bizarre actions from your mouse may mean its imminent death. However there are a few less extreme causes of sensitivity and other odd actions to check.

Another questionable thumb drive.

Is It OK to Leave a Thumb Drive Inserted All the Time?

Leaving a flash drive or USB thumb drive plugged in all the time runs a small risk of prematurely wearing it out. We’ll look at why, and what to do.

NAS -- Network Attached Storage

What’s a NAS? How Do I Set One Up?

NAS, for Network Attached Storage, is a device that provides shared disk space on your network. You may already have one.

RAM & Disk

What is Virtual Memory?

Virtual memory is conceptually somewhere between RAM and hard disk space. It’s disk space used to maximize the amount of RAM available to programs.

Digital Error

How Do I Fix a CRC Error When I Try to Copy a File?

CRC errors happen when there’s a bad spot on the media of your hard disk. Data recovery and disk repair are often possible with the right tools — but you won’t need them if you have a backup.

External Drive

Can an External Drive Fail?

Hard drives fail, and external drives are no different. What to do?

On-Screen Keyboard

Will Using an On-Screen Keyboard Stop Keyloggers?

Using an on-screen keyboard instead of a real keyboard might stop some keyloggers, but there’s no guarantee that other techniques aren’t also being used.

Computer display on TV.

Can I Use My TV as a Second Display?

Most modern TVs and computers can be connected easily, but there are a few issues to be aware of.

Old Hard Disks

How Do I Tell If My Hard Drive Is Too Old?

Age isn’t the most important factor when evaluating hard disk risk of failure. I’ll discuss what is, and what you should be doing to protect yourself.

RAM

Does My Computer Need a Memory Upgrade?

A memory upgrade can be an easy, inexpensive way to improve system performance, but how do you know if an upgrade is called for?

Your New Computer

The First Things to Do with a New Windows Computer

The steps you should take right after unboxing your new computer will save time, frustration, effort, and data loss later.

Hard disk in motion with conceptual data

How Do I Make My C: Drive Not ‘Dirty’?

A dirty machine is the result of improper shut downs. There are ways to clean it up, but getting control of your shut-down process is important.

Using a Mouse

Make the Mouse Easier to Use

We use the mouse so heavily with Windows. Take a moment to customize it to your needs.

A (very) broken computer.

How Do I Get Files From a Machine That Won’t Boot?

If your machine won’t boot for some reason, there are a couple of approaches to try to get data off its hard drive.

VGA vs. HDMI - Fight!

Use HDMI When Possible

HDMI is better than VGA. I’ll explain why, and what you need to look for.

CPU

Does CPU Speed Matter Any More?

CPU speed doesn’t matter quite as much as it once did. I’ll discuss why, and what you should also be looking at.

Wired Keyboard

How Do I Fix a Broken Keyboard?

I get a steady stream of questions about keyboards acting up. Most commonly, it’s a hardware issue.

Printer Frustration

My Print Queue is Stuck. How Do I Print Anything?

Every so often, the Windows print queue gets stuck. Everything looks like it should print, but it won’t. We’ll fix it.

Hard Disk

Why is My Disk Busy Even Though I’m Doing Nothing?

Unexpected hard disk activity isn’t unusual. I’ll show you how to use a free monitoring tool to determine what program is causing it.

Looking at a Hard Disk.

Can CHKDSK Corrupt Files?

If CHKDSK freezes when you run it, you may have a problem with your files or hard disk, but CHKDSK didn’t cause them.

Screen Size

How Does Screen Resolution Work?

Screen resolution is a simple concept, but when combined with the myriad ways that Windows can be configured, it can become confusing.

An evil USB thumbdrive.

I Found a Thumb Drive. Should I Plug It In?

USB thumb drives or flash drives are a non-obvious but easy way to spread malware. Be careful when dealing with any unknown device.