Articles in Category: Hardware

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

Wired Network with WAP Added

How to Diagnose Wi-Fi Signal Strength Issues

Diagnosing an unexpected drop in Wi-Fi signal strength can be challenging. I’ll review some things to consider, as well as some steps to take to perhaps sidestep the problem.

Why Doesn't My New, Empty Hard Drive Show All the Advertised Space?

Why Doesn’t My New, Empty Hard Drive Show All the Advertised Space?

Terms used to measure disk space can be ambiguous. As a result, a megabyte to you might not be the same as a megabyte to your computer.

Initial progress in a Recuva scan

Can I Recover Old Files from an External Hard Drive?

It is possible to recover deleted data from an old external hard drive, but success depends on how that drive has been used since the data was deleted.

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.

Should I partition my hard disk?

Should I Partition My Hard Disk?

Partitioning, or splitting a single physical hard drive into multiple drives, has pros and cons. I’ll look at those and make a recommendation.

Partitions on a hard disk

Can I Delete a Partition Without Losing Its Data?

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

Questionable USB Drive

Is It Safe to Leave a Flash Drive Plugged In 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.

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

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.

How do I boot from CD/DVD/USB in Windows 8?

How Do I Boot from CD/DVD/USB in Windows 8 & 10?

UEFI has made booting from CDs, DVDs, and USB drives more complex. I’ll review why, and what steps to take.

Are PCs Doomed?

While the ratio of PCs to mobile devices may change over time, I believe PCs will not be going away any time soon. They’re just too darned useful.

Hard disk under a stethoscope

Is My Hard Disk About to Die?

There are signs we can use to determine if a hard drive is about to fail, but it’s also common for a drive to fail without any indication at all.

How Do I Best Extend My Wireless Network for Laptop Access?

How Do I Best Extend My Wireless Network for Laptop Access?

It can be difficult to get wireless network coverage throughout your home. I’ll look at a couple of ways to extend your wireless network.

Computer Frustration

My Computers Keep Dying — Is It Me?

It’s easy to feel cursed if computer after computer you deal with has problems. It’s often not you at all.

Will My Old Computer Run Windows 10?

Will My Old Computer Run Windows 10?

There are several options to extend the life of an older machine, depending on its capabilities.

External Drive

How To Keep an External Hard Drive Useful and Healthy Longer

My best practices for external hard drives concern software, hardware, and — you guessed it — backing up.

Printing, Save as PDF

How Do I Print An Email or Webpage and Have It Work?

Many websites don’t expect you to print their contents. As a result, many don’t print well. I’ll review why that is, and the things to try.

How Do I Password-protect a Flash Drive?

How Do I Password-protect a Flash Drive?

There are several approaches to password-protecting a flash drive, one of which might be designed for exactly the task at hand.

Disk management dialog highlighting the Removal policy

What is “Quick Removal” and How is it Changing in Windows 10?

Windows is changing the default setting for “Quick Removal” for external drives. I’ll look at why, and what it means.

The backside of my NAS machine

Can I Use External Hard Drives as NAS Storage?

External drives can indeed be used as part of your own home-brew NAS. It’s probably easier than you think.

Privacy? Who's Watching?

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.

How do I get data off of the hard drive in a dead computer?

How Do I Get Data Off of the Hard Drive in a Dead Computer?

Extracting data from a hard drive in a dead computer isn’t typically difficult, unless it’s the drive itself that caused the problem.

HDMI port on a laptop

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.

Muted Speakers in Windows 10

Why Don’t I Get Sound from My Computer? (A Checklist)

A lack of sound can happen for a variety of reasons. Here’s what to look for if your computer isn’t making sound.

Windows System Properties showing 32GB of RAM

The Journey to My New Computer: RAM Upgrade

I decided my new laptop needed more RAM. I’ll walk you through the replacement process.

Optimizing a drive in Windows

Should I Defrag My External Drive, and If So, How?

You can defrag your external drive using Windows File Explorer, from the command prompt, or using a third-party tool. But should you?

Process Explorer Maxed CPU

The Journey to My New Computer: Success and Failure

My new machine is in service. Here’s what I installed, how it’s performing, and how at least one aspect failed.

Dell Support Website

The Journey to My New Computer: Update, Update, Update

My new machine is backed up, so the first thing after Windows setup is to update, update, and update again.

Dell UEFI/BIOS Settings page showing boot order.

The Journey to My New Computer: The First Thing I Do

How I resolved a classic chicken-and-egg dilemma: I have to turn the machine on to back it up, but I want to back it up prior to turning it on.

Dell XPS 15

The Journey to My New Computer: Choices

I’ve reviewed my needs, so now it’s time to translate those into specific decisions about what to purchase.

About Camtasia

The Journey to My New Computer: Just What Do I Do All Day?

The most important information you need when selecting a new computer is understanding exactly what you plan to do with it. I’ll review my needs.

Dell Latitude 7370

The Journey to My New Computer: Taking Stock

It’s time for me to buy a new computer, and I’m taking you along for the ride.

Chkdsk cannot run because the volume is in use by another process

“Chkdsk Cannot Run Because the Volume Is in Use by another Process” — What Does It Mean and How Do I Fix It?

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.

A Drive with All My Data is Showing as Unformatted — What Do I Do?

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.

Assign letter dialog

Can I Reassign My Drive Letters?

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

BIOS

Do I Need to Update My BIOS Regularly?

Your system BIOS is software, but updating it regularly may not be appropriate. Updating it to fix a bug, of course, would be.

Drive with no drive letter

Why Doesn’t My External Drive Appear When Plugged In?

When attempting to back up a new Windows 10 laptop, I inserted one of my external USB drives and … nothing. Here’s what I did.

USB Charger

Can I Use a Charger that Provides the Same Voltage but a Different Amperage?

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.

External Drive

Can I Convert an External USB Hard Drive into an Internal One?

External hard drives are handy and portable, but occasionally, it might be nice to move all that storage into your PC. You probably can.

Western Digital Portable Drive

What External Drive Should I Get?

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

Power Supply

Is it Safe to Install a Higher Wattage Power Supply in My Computer?

Replacing a power supply is common solution to some problems. Making sure you have the right wattage power supply is important… and bigger doesn’t hurt.

Your New Computer

The First Eight Things to Do with Your New Computer

Taking a few steps immediately after you unbox your new computer can save you a lot of time, effort, and data loss later.

Webcam

Should I Cover Up My Webcam When I’m Not Using It?

There’s nothing wrong with covering your camera, but it’s probably not worth the effort.

Rufus

How Do I Create a Bootable USB Thumb Drive from an ISO?

If you don’t have a CD or DVD drive, you may be able to turn that ISO image into a bootable USB thumb drive.

What's a CRC Error?

How Do I Fix a Cyclic Redundancy Check 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.

Power Button

Should I Turn My Computer Off at Night?

Depending on your usage, turning your computer off at night might be appropriate. But is it actually saving energy? In the long run, it’s hard to say.

Router

What Should I Do About the VPNFilter Router Exploit?

The VPNFilter malware that impacts routers is complex and difficult to know what to do about.

Uninterruptible Power Supply

If Shutting Down Windows Cleanly Is So Important, What Happens When the Power Just Goes Out?

We’re all told to shut down Windows before turning power off, but what if the power just goes out? If you’re not protected, bad things can happen.

Wired Network with WAP Added

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.

"Dust Bunny"

My Computer Has Started to Shut Down Randomly. Could it Be the Fan?

Airflow through your computer is an important part of keeping it cool and running well. Dust and dirt often block fans.

Disk Management interface

How Do I View the Contents of My Hidden D: Drive?

Partitions may be hidden for good reasons. Here’s how to peek inside.