Articles in Category: Computers and Computer Systems

Computers themselves, from the motherboard to the CPU to the RAM and other components that comprise “the system”.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

"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.

Power Button

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.

Laptop

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.

Chromebook

My Chromebook-only Trip

I tested a Google Chromebook. On a business trip, can I do every task I need to do, where I need to do it, without major inconvenience?

Questionable Desktop

How Do I Get the Password for a Computer I Purchased at a Garage Sale?

It’s not difficult to gain access to a used computer without knowing the password. You just don’t want to.

Quad-core CPU

Should I Get a Dual-Core or a Quad-core Processor?

Processors are generally available with what are called “multiple cores”. We’ll look at what that means, and how you might select which is right for you.

CPU

What’s the difference between i3, i5, and i7 processors?

Intel’s Core i3, i5, and i7 processors present a headache-inducing combination of characteristics. I’ll look at what matters and then dig a little deeper.

CPU

Why Won’t My Program use More than 25% of the CPU?

Multi-core processors add an additional layer of complexity to software design. Occasionally that can manifest as only 25% of the CPU being used.

What Should I Get with a New Computer?

A new computer is a major purchase, and knowing what to get isn’t easy. I continue my review of some of the important qualities to think about when purchasing.

Arm Wrestling

What Brand of Computer Should I Get?

After deciding on what kind of computer they want, many people ask for recommendations for specific computer brands. That, too, is a tough question to answer.

Computer Types

What Kind of Computer Should I Get?

A new computer is a major purchase and knowing what kind to get isn’t easy. I’ll review some of the important things to think about when deciding, starting with the type of device you’ll want.

Discs

What do I do if my system asks for a installation disk and I don’t have one?

Computers are being sold without recovery media fairly often. That can create difficulties if you run into major problems.

Ask Leo! on a tablet

Do I even need a computer?

You may not need a computer… but don’t think that moving to a tablet is going to be the end to all hassles.

RAM

What’s the Difference Between Memory and Hard Disk Space?

The difference between the various types of things we might call “memory” is a fundamental concept that’s often confused. I’ll review the basics.

Blue Screen of Death

What Do I Do About a Blue Screen on Shutdown?

Blue screen on shutdown could be indicative of an issue with either hardware or software. We’ll walk through some steps you can take to deduce the problem.

RAM

Would it be worthwhile to upgrade my RAM?

When it comes to things like memory and RAM, more is always better. But you may not need additional RAM just yet.

Why is my new computer flooded with pop-ups and ads?

Advertisements popping up on a new computer bring several things to mind, including what many call “crapware.”

Laptop Computer

Is a $1000 Enough for a New Laptop to Last Me for Many Years?

Setting a budget for a new computer is a fine idea, but it’s best to dive in a little deeper and determine your processing and memory needs before you go shopping.

CPU

Can I replace my processor with a faster one?

Replacing your computer’s CPU will depend on your motherboard. But there is actually another option to get more speed.

What’s the Easiest Way to Upgrade 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.

Process Explorer sorted by CPU

Why Is My Fan Running at High Speed?

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

Blue Screen of Death

Why does my computer continually reboot?

There are many reasons a computer might get stuck continually rebooting. Fortunately there’s no need to lose data. You have several ways to get your data off there and with a little bit of luck you may get you a working system again as well.

External Monitor

Why Doesn’t My External Monitor Work?

You plug a new monitor into a laptop with a broken screen and still can’t see anything! You may need to tap a few magic keystrokes to turn it on.

Microsoft Surface Pro: the Good, the Bad and the Awkward

The Microsoft Surface Pro – a complete PC in tablet form – intrigued me. I’ve been using it now for two months. These are my thoughts.

Open Desktop PC

My computer lights up and turns on but nothing happens, why?

Diagnosing a computer that won’t boot can be very difficult. In particular, spinning disks and blinking lights don’t mean as much as you might think.

I spilled water into my laptop, how do I get it working again?

Spilling liquid into your laptop or keyboard can cause serious damage. The first step is to dry it thoroughly, and we’ll look at one possible solution.

Clock

How often should I replace my CMOS battery, and what does it do, anyway?

Replacing a computer’s CMOS battery isn’t difficult, but since CMOS batteries last so long it’s often not even necessary.

Coffee and a Laptop

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.

My computer doesn’t work, what do I do?

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

How Do I Set Up a “Headless” Machine?

When setting up a ‘headless’ machine, you may need to change the BIOS setting to allow it to boot without a keyboard.

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.

Server rack

So just what is a “Server” anyway?

The term “server” is used a lot in many contexts, but it’s really just a computer; quite often, it’s one that isn’t all that special.