Articles in Category: Hardware

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

Use HDMI When Possible

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

What’s the Difference Between a Hub, a Switch, and a Router?

Hubs, switches, and routers are all computer networking devices with varying capabilities. Unfortunately, the terms are often misused.

What Is a Server?

The term “server” is used a lot in many contexts, but it’s really just a computer.

How to Reassign Drive Letters in Windows

Drive letters like C:, D: and so on are assigned by Windows to reference your hard disks. They are not all cast in stone; most drive letters can be changed.

“Default Boot Device Missing or Boot Failed” – What Now?

My laptop died. Here’s the process I went through to resurrect it.

What’s the Difference Between a Router, a Wireless Router, and a Wireless Access Point?

Terminology around routers and access points can be quite confusing. I’ll describe each, how they relate, and why the differences matter.

Can a USB Flash Drive Wear Out?

While the technology continues to improve, flash memory has a limited number of times it can be written to and can, in fact, wear out.

Can I Use a Higher Wattage Power Supply With My Laptop?

The voltage and polarity of the power supply must match. Amps and watts have some flexibility.

No Signal: What it Means and What to Check

“No Signal” is a message coming from your display device (not from your computer), indicating it has nothing to display. I’ll review possible causes.

Can I Leave a Laptop Running All the Time?

Leaving a laptop running all the time boils down to two things: your convenience and a decision.

Can I Delete a Partition Without Losing Data?

Deleting a partition is a destructive operation, but that doesn’t mean you have to lose the data it contains.

How Do I Turn Off BitLocker on a Drive?

BitLocker is a fine approach to encrypting hard drives, especially the system drive. It’s easy to turn off BitLocker if you decide you no longer need it.

How Do I Get Files From an Old Hard Drive?

If you’ve got an old hard drive and you want to get data off of it, there are several approaches.

Can I Move My Hard Drive to a New Computer and Have Windows Work?

Windows configures itself to the hardware it finds — but changing everything at once by moving the system disk to a different machine might be too much.

What’s the Difference Between CHKDSK /F and CHKDSK /R?

CHKDSK is a powerful Windows utility used to diagnose and repair disks. /F and /R represent two types of repairs.

How Do I Secure a Hard Drive Before Sending It in for Repair?

When sending your computer out for repair, you’re handing over everything on it, including your data. Options to secure a hard drive are limited.

Should I Repair or Replace My Computer?

Repair or replace can be a difficult decision. I’ll review a few factors to consider when deciding.

What Does “CHKDSK Is Not Available for RAW Drives” Mean?

CHKDSK can’t check an empty drive, and Windows considers RAW to mean empty.

What External Drive Should I Get?

I’ll review the characteristics of external drives and include a couple of specific recommendations.

How Long Does a Hard Drive Last?

Hard disks can last a long time, but it’s important to realize that they could still fail at any moment.

Why Do I Get a Black Screen on My Computer After a While?

A black screen is most commonly caused by a screen saver, but there are other possibilities.

How to Use Old HDDs as External Drives

When replacing a hard drive or an entire machine, it can be very convenient to have the old hard drive available in an external drive enclosure.

Can I Just Unplug My Computer to Shut It Down?

Using your computer’s power button improperly or pulling the plug can lead to serious data loss. I’ll look at the right way to turn your computer off.

My Keyboard Won’t Work after Windows Update. How Do I Fix It?

If your keyboard won’t work after a Windows Update, there’s a lengthy list of things to try to get it back.

Is It Safe to Use a Higher Wattage Power Supply in My Computer?

Replacing a power supply is a common solution to some problems. Make sure you have the right wattage power supply. Bigger doesn’t hurt.

My Mouse Cursor is Moving on its Own. Have I Been Hacked?

Occasionally, your mouse cursor may seem to move on its own. There are benign and easily resolved causes of this as well as occasionally malicious reasons.

How to Reformat a Disk

Formatting is the process of erasing a disk for use or reuse. There are a couple of different ways and options.

“Chkdsk Cannot Run Because the Volume Is in Use by Another Process”

Chkdsk checks your disk for errors at a low level, requiring exclusive access to the disk to do so. “Chkdsk cannot run…” means it doesn’t have the exclusive access it needs.

What’s the Best Upgrade for an Older Machine?

Upgrading a computer can be a lot of work, is going to cost some money, and depends on your needs. I’ll show you where to start.

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.

How Long Will My SSD Last?

We keep hearing that SSDs and other flash-based drives wear out. Particularly when it comes to SSDs, there are ways you can see how close to wearing out your drive might be.

How Do I Update Drivers on My Computer?

Drivers are critically important components of your computer, but knowing how and when to update drivers isn’t as easy or as obvious as we might like.

My External HDD Shows Not Formatted — But It Has All My Data!

Occasionally, when moving a drive to another machine it’ll show up as unformatted. I’ll look at some possible causes and actions to take.

What Comes After Terabytes?

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

How Pixels, DPI, Resolution, Picture Size, and File Size All Relate

Photographic images have a number of characteristics that we often don’t consider or understand. I’ll review how digital pictures are constructed and stored, and what you need to keep in mind when sharing or publishing.

Why Is My Fan Running at High Speed?

A fan running at high speed means one thing: heat! The question is how you determine the cause and cool down your machine. It might be easier than you think.

Could a Built-in Tracking Device in My Laptop Detect My Tor Browsing History?

Malware can do anything, but malicious hardware can do even more.

What’s a Disk Partition?

Partitions allow a single physical disk drive to be treated as if it were multiple disks.

Why I Bought My Wife a Mac, then a Chromebook, then a Mac

I recently updated my wife’s computer again. This was unexpected, but the process reinforced a couple of important lessons.

How Often Should I Reboot My Computer?

Rebooting your computer “every so often” is less necessary these days than it once was, but the point is often moot.

Why Is My Computer Crashing Randomly?

Random crashes are annoying and difficult to diagnose. I’ll review common causes and steps you can take to determine what’s happening on your computer.

Deal with Computer Clutter to Speed Things Up

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

How Do I Force Windows to Reinstall a Driver?

Sometimes fixing a pesky problem with a hardware device is as simple as forcing Windows to reinstall a driver. I’ll show you how.