Articles in Category: Hardware

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

Do I need a new motherboard for a new version of DirectX?

Direct X is a software package that interfaces with the graphics hardware in your machine. You probably won’t need a new motherboard, but…

Why can’t I see the files on a CD I created?

When you can’t see the files on a data disc you’ve created the causes can vary from exactly how you created that disc in the first place, to media quality, drive problems and even Windows Explorer settings.

Why Might an Update Take a Large Amount of Space?

An update can leave a large amount of temporary files, and even the old copy of the software still on the computer. After understanding what might be left, a cleanup tool might be called for.

How risky it is to run Ubuntu from a flash drive?

Having a bootable version of an operating system like Ubuntu on a USB flash drive can be very handy for a variety of reasons. Since flash memory can wear out, however, it’s important that you back up.

What’s this obscure message on my monitor and why can’t I make it go away?

Computer monitors are smart devices these days but they too can fail. It’s not always your PC showing an error, and that message on your monitor might be from the monitor itself.

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.

If I copy a file to another drive will it be fragmented the same way?

Fragmentation is about how a file is stored on a disk and is not preserved across a copy. In fact, in some cases you can defragment a hard drive using copy.

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.

Does Windows Support Drives Larger than Two Terabytes?

Windows certainly does support large drives, at the worst you may have to overcome some formatting issues.

Should I Defrag the D Drive on My Windows XP?

If you have a heavily used drive, make sure that it’s getting defragged on a regular basis. If it’s not getting used that heavily, there’s no harm in defragging it, but I wouldn’t go out of my way.

Securable from GRC

64-bit and 32-bit: Which Do You Want? Which Do You Have?

With Window Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8, the operating system is available in two different “flavors:” 32-bit and 64-bit. I’ll look at why you’ll want one over the other and how to tell which one you already have.

Replacing An Old Hard Disk With a Solid State Drive (SSD)

I recently replaced the primary hard drive on my primary machine with an SSD. I’ll walk you through the steps I took that made the process relatively pain-free.

Why is Bluetooth Often so Flakey?

Bluetooth connections, when they work, are pretty darned cool. It would be great it if were a little bit more solid!

How Do I Format a Drive Showing as Unformatted?

Formatting a drive that is showing as unformatted can be done directly in a
USB enclosure.

Why Do I Lose Part of the Right Side of Printed Documents?

It is very possible that the default driver is set wrong or that your paper and margin settings are incorrect for your printer.

My Machine Crashes Randomly and it’s not Overheating, What Else Should I Look at?

Overheating is the most common cause of random crashes in an old machine. If that’s not the case, there are a few more things to look at.

Can I Replace My LCD Screen From One Laptop to Another?

Many components in laptops are device specific, which makes it difficult to exchange one laptop screen with another. Replacing that screen is going to be a problem.

Troubleshooting Computer Monitor Problems: the Sideways Stretch

Stretched or horizontally elongated screen are a common computer monitor problem. We’ll look at the most likely cause, and resolution.

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.

How Do I Connect a Monitor to My Laptop and Have it Work?

Most laptops include a VGA or DVI connection for an external monitor. Setting it up is relatively easy, if you know the tricks and have patience.

How Do I Fix Errors on My Hard Disk?

Hard disk errors come from several different sources, and as a result there are several different approaches to resolving them.

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.

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.

Audio CDs — What Format Should I Use to Burn My Audio CDs?

Audio CDs are different from data CDs. Typically, your burning software needs to know how to create audio CDs, and you need to explicitly tell it to do so.

Why Do I Have to Hold Down the “Fn” Key to Get Normal Letters?

Computer manufacturers use the Fn key to cram more virtual keys onto smaller laptop keyboards. Sometimes it can get confused.

Why Won’t My External Drives Shut Down Automatically?

External drives normally shut down or go to sleep after some period of inactivity, or when the computer is turned off. If not you may have to manually turn them off as well.

Why Does My Screen Go Black After the Windows Screen When I Boot?

It usually means your desktop settings don’t match your video card’s or your monitor’s capabilities.

Why Won’t My System Recognize My USB Device?

We go over some quick fixes to make sure your system recognizes USB devices.

How Can I Tell If I Have USB 2.0?

USB (Universal Serial Bus) 2.0 is a significantly faster version of USB 1.1. Determining which you have is not at all obvious. But it is fairly easy.

How Do I Configure My Static IP Address?

Once you’ve been assigned a static IP address you’ll need to configure the network-connected device manually to use it. We’ll look at how.

Why Does the Mouse Pointer Jump around the Screen?

Fortunately for most cases, there is a simple solution to why your mouse pointer would jump around the screen.

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.