Articles in Category: Hardware

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

Is it Safe to Just Turn Off an External USB Drive Without “Safely Removing” First?

“Device cannot be stopped” can be a frustrating error if there’s no obvious cause. Turning off device power or unplugging anyway isn’t really safe.

Do I Need All These Partitions?

Newer machines often come with multiple partitions. While it’s tempting to remove them, there’s little to be gained.

My Mouse and Keyboard Stopped Working, but Work Elsewhere. How Do I Fix Them?

If your mouse and keyboard stop working, you may be able to repair the situation — if you can overcome one huge obstacle.

How Do I Remove a Document Stuck in My Printer’s Queue?

Every so often, the Windows Print Queue gets “stuck”. Everything looks like it should print, but it won’t. We’ll clear that up.

Hard Disk Failure Is Imminent! What Do I Do?

“Hard Disk Failure Is Imminent” is a message you want to take very seriously — so seriously that hopefully, you’ll have planned for it beforehand.

How Do I Shut Down a Machine with No Display?

It’s not difficult to shut down a machine if you can’t see its screen — as long as you plan ahead.

Are USB Ports Going Away?

All technology changes, and yes, USB ports will someday disappear. “How quickly?” is the real question. I’m not terribly concerned.

Making Things Look Bigger in Windows 10

Windows 10 makes it easy to make things bigger on the screen.

What Should I Look for in a Replacement Hard Drive?

It’s always a good idea to look for the “best”. The problem is that when it comes to hard disks, “best” is a moving target.

My Machine Won’t Boot, How Do I Get at Its Files?

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

How Do I Fix “Invalid System Disk” Error?

An “invalid system disk” error has several possible causes. Two of them will make you hope you backed up recently.

How Should I Store My Backup Laptop?

Four basic approaches to storing a laptop that isn’t being used.

How Does Secure Delete Work?

There’s deleted, and there’s deleted. Secure delete is one approach to making sure your files can’t be recovered.

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?

My Printer Prints Too Small. What Can I Do?

It’s not the printer. Software on your computer controls print size, so you need to investigate the settings on your computer or in the application that you use to print.

Should I Defragment My SSD or USB Flash Drives?

We’ve all been told that defragmenting a hard disk is a good thing for performance – but the same is most definitely not true for solid state drives.

Adjust the Size of What’s on Your Screen in Windows 10

Windows 10 made adjusting the size of items on your display much easier.

Should I Run CHKDSK on My SSD?

CHKDSK and Defrag are different tools for different purposes, and have different side effects. One is OK on any drive; the other should be avoided on SSDs.

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.

Why, or How, do Files Become Corrupt?

File corruption happens most commonly when there’s a hardware issue or bad sector on your hard drive. I’ll look at implications and preventative steps.

Can a Defrag Cause Data Loss?

Normally, a defrag operation will not cause data loss. Unfortunately, if there’s a pre-existing problem, a defrag could bring data loss to the surface.

Is MAC Address Filtering a Viable Wireless Security Option?

MAC address filtering is a technique that theoretically prevents unauthorized computers from accessing your network. I’ll explain why the theory fails.

How Do I Burn ISO Files?

ISO files are often used to distribute images of CD and DVD data discs. I’ll walk through how to burn ISO files to optical media using ImgBurn.

What’s the difference between SATA and PATA and IDE?

SATA and PATA are two different and incompatible disk drive interfaces. PATA’s the old guard, but SATA’s taking over. I’ll look at the differences.

How Do I Adjust the Brightness of My Screen in Windows?

Adjusting the brightness of a monitor or display can often be done right on the display itself. Sometimes it’s also possible to adjust the brightness in software.

How do I create a new partition on my hard drive?

Multiple partitions can be useful at times. I’ll show you how to create a new partition by “splitting” an existing C: partition.

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.

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.

Why Does My Phone Charge More Quickly 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.

NAS Drive Failure: How I Dodged a Bullet

I had an impending NAS drive failure. I’ll share how I got there, the mistakes I made, the things I did right, and the lessons I learned.

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.

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.

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.

How to Monitor Network Activity and Speed up Your Machine’s Connection

Process Monitor is a powerful tool and it can be used to track down exactly what program on your machine is responsible for internet activity.

Why won’t some files defrag?

When you defrag files the pieces of the file are physically arranged for quicker access. But you can’t defrag some files. At least, not easily.

Do I Need a Computer Memory Upgrade?

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