How To Create a Bootable Backup (Clone) Of Entire Hard Drive

How To Create a Bootable Backup (Clone) Of Entire Hard Drive

“There are two kinds of hard drives: those that have crashed and those that are going to crash.”

What do you do after you’ve experienced the trauma and misfortune of a hard drive crash or a malicious virus’s destroying it? Without a suitable backup, a lot of time may be lost. This type of problem is definitely the source of a great deal of lost productivity. By far this is the best managed backup solutions for your laptop’s hard drive is an exact, bootable copy (clone). Then, if the hard drive crashes, you don’t have to wait for a replacement for the hard drive, and you don’t have to reinstall the operating system, the drivers or the applications!

I keep all of my data that changes every day on an 8GB flash drive with a backup on the laptop’s hard drive, so, in the case of a hard drive crash, I wouldn’t lose anything! Norton Ghost, which I had been using previously to clone my laptop’s hard drive, doesn’t work for cloning Windows 7 hard drives, so I had to find something else. On various Internet forums I remembered often hearing Acronis recommended. Then I found the following: http://disk-imaging-software-review.toptenreviews.com/ That cinched it! Acronis® True Image Home 2010 is definitely the way to go! It’s almost completely automatic and almost totally fool proof!

The Tutorial

In order to always have at least one bootable backup of my laptop’s hard drive, I obtained the

following items:

1. A local computer repair shop gave me 2 brand new SATA cables for free!

2. From newegg.com, I purchased two extra hard drives which are identical to the hard drive in my laptop (an Asus U20A). This required me to remove the hard drive from my laptop in order to find out the exact make and model.

3. I installed a program called Acronis True Image Home 2010.

4. I purchased an eMachines ET1331G-03W desktop PC from my local Walmart.

The laptop hard drive that I am cloning is 320GB, and it contains only one partition: The

partition containing Windows XP. The desktop computer that I am using to do the actual cloning

came with Windows 7.

I also used the Acronis software to clone the desktop’s hard drive. The method for doing so is

basically the same as the procedure outlined below, but it’s slightly more complicated. Since I

was cloning the hard drive that Windows was running on, the program had to shut Windows

down while it was doing the cloning. Therefore, the program reboots itself into something like

DOS mode, but it’s still very easy since everything is automatic. It’s much easier than having to

boot up from a CD in order to get the job done!

The entire procedure described below took less than an hour for a hard drive containing about

158GB!

Here’s how I did it:

1. I removed the hard drive from my laptop.

2. I plugged the 2 (red) SATA cables into the desktop computer’s motherboard

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3. I plugged a power connector and a SATA cable into only one of the hard drives, the one which

I took out of the laptop. (This may be done after the desktop computer is booted up.) This hard

drive appeared as drive E, which I duly noted.

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4. I plugged a power connector and a SATA cable into the target hard drive. This hard drive had

already been a backup of my laptop’s hard drive, so Windows 7 placed it Offline because of a

“signature conflict.” Therefore, I had to use Disk Management to put it online. I did this by

clicking Start, right-clicking Computer and then selecting Manage. Then I clicked image

5. Using a 3.5″ to 5 ¼” adapter, I had previously relocated the desktop computer’s hard drive to

the location designed for a 2nd optical drive. This freed up a SATA drive power cable that is

long enough to reach the 2 laptop hard drives when they are placed on top of the outside of the

desktop. (Very convenient.) Note: The handy soft rubber laptop hard drive enclosures that you

see in the picture came with 2 USB to SATA adapters that I had purchased previously.

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6. I ran the Acronis True Image Home 2010 program, and clicked Clone Disk after first clicking

Tools & Utilities.

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7. I allowed the selection to default to Automatic and the clicked Next.

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8. I selected Disk 8 temporarily in order to positively identify it as the target (empty) hard drive.image

9. I selected Disk 2 and then clicked Next.image

10. I selected Disk 8 as the target hard disk and then clicked Next. (Not shown)

11. I clicked Proceed.                                                                                   image

12. If you want, you can now click Hide to turn the process into an icon on the right side of your

Task Bar. You can even close down the main Acronis window. image

13. Done!                                                                                              image

14. I took the target hard drive and installed it in my laptop. It booted up just fine, and everything

worked exactly as before! Now my former laptop hard drive became a backup hard drive.

15. I wrote today’s date on a sticky note and stuck it to the new backup hard drive for future

reference.

The next time that I backup my hard drive, I will use, as the new target drive, the hard drive

which has the oldest date.

Previously, I’ve used DriveImage XML and Norton Ghost with limited success. Sometimes the

cloning worked. Sometimes it didn’t. I’ve used Acronis® True Image Home 2010 dozens of

times, and each time was a complete success! Using Automatic mode, it completely takes the

guesswork out of making clone copies of hard drives.

How to Remove Junk Files

Accumulating Junk

How to Remove Junk Files In the process of using your computer you accumulate files. Now, many of them are files thatyou actually want. Things like data files, text files, documents, databases, spreadsheet files,photos, graphics and music files. Others are files installed by programs, and you have no controlover these files. Unfortunately, however, you also accumulate files that you don’t want or need.I’ve found that many programs don’t really uninstall files and folders when you uninstall theprogram. Instead, often the files and folders are left on your machine, taking up space andslowing things down.

Another source of file clutter is the Internet. When you surf the Internet, regardless of whichWeb browser you use, the browser establishes a cache. These are your “Temporary InternetFiles” only they aren’t all that temporary. The premise is a good one, it just gets carried away.Your browser creates a cache so that the Web pages you visit frequently will load faster. It doesthis by putting pages, graphics and other files in the cache. So, for example, if you visit a newssite in the morning and go back to it later in the day, it will load faster. Why? Because many of the files needed to make up that page are on your computer! If they’re on your computer they can be loaded into the Web page much faster. They can also take up a lot of room on your hard disk.

Removing Junk There are a number of ways to remove and/or eliminate these junk files. If you just want to remove junk files from your Internet cache, every browser gives you the tools to do it. With Mozilla Firefox, for example, you can simply click Tools — Options — Privacy — Cache. You can then clear the cache. The same is true in Internet Explorer, Opera, and other browsers. Yet another option is to use software that specifically goes in and removes junk files.

How to completely remove deleted files from computer hard drive

A lot of people don’t known, but when we delete a file from a computer in fact it isn’t really

deleted. The operating system simply remove it from the file list and makes the space the file

was using available for new data to be written. In other words, the operating system doesn’t

“zero” (i.e., doesn’t clean) the space the file was using.

The operating system acts like that in order to save time. Imagine a large file that occupies lots of sectors on the hard drive . To really delete this file from the disk the operating system would have to fill with zeros (or any other value) all sectors occupied by this file. This could take a lot of time. Instead, it simply removes the file name from the directory where the file is located and mark the sectors the file used as available space.

This means that it is possible to recover a deleted file, since its data wasn’t really removed from the disk. Recovery data software works by looking for sectors with data in them that are not currently used by any file listed.

This leads us to a very important security question: if you have really confidential files, that

cannot be read by anyone else, deleting them from the disk simply by hitting the Del key and

then removing the recycle bin contents isn’t enough: they can be recovered by an advanced data recovery tool.

There is software called SuperShredder that solves this problem. Deleting your files using this program it really “zeroes” all sectors that the file was using. This program can be freely

downloaded at  With disk formatting it isn’t different. When we format a hard drive, the data that was there aren’t

deleted, making it possible to recover data with an advanced data recovery tool even after

formatting your hard drive. A lot of people that have a hard disk full of confidential data think that by formatting the hard drive they are killing any chance of data recovery. This is far from being true.

When you format a disk, the operating system only “zeros” the root directory and the tables

containing the list of sectors on disk that are occupied by files (this table is called FAT). Pay

attention when you format a hard drive, a message “Verifying x%” is shown. The hard drive isn’t being formated; the format command is only testing the hard disk magnetical surface in order to see if there is any error and, in case if a error is found, mark the defective area as bad (the famous “bad blocks” or “bad sectors”). So, in the same way it happens when we delete files, the hard drive isn’t really “zeroed” when we

format it. In order to really “zero” your hard drive, use utilities like Zero Fill from Quantum. This utility fills all sectors from your hard drive with zeros, making it impossible to recover any data after this utility is run, what doesn’t happen when you use the normal format procedure. You can also use the so-called “low-level format utilities”. These programs fill all sectors with zeros as

well. You must download the software according to your hard drive manufacturer

How to clear web browser cache

In order to speed up web browsing, web browsers are designed to download web pages and store them locally on your computer’s hard drive in an area called “cache”. The cache contains a kind of travel record of the items you have seen, heard, or downloaded from the Web, including images, sounds, Web pages, even cookies. Typically these items are stored in the Temporary Internet Files folder.

When you visit the same page for a second time, the browser speeds up display time by loading the page locally from cache instead of downloading everything again. This sometimes results in less than current versions of web pages being displayed. When the cache fills up, performance can slow down and your hard drive may run out of space.

You should periodically clear the cache to allow your browser to function more efficiently. If

you believe that you have a less than current version of a page, please see the following steps

listed below to clear the cache in your browser.

Clearing Browser Cache on Windows

Microsoft Internet Explorer 9.0

1. Open Internet Explorer.

2. Click Tools in the left menu bar (if opened) or click on the Gear icon in the right toolbar.

3. Click Internet Options and choose the General tab.

4. Click the Delete… button under the “Browsing History” section.

5. Make sure you uncheck “Preserve Favorites Website Data” at the top of this window.

6. Make sure you check all options below “Preserve Favorites Website Data”.

7. Click the Delete button.

– Deleting files could take awhile if you have a lot of files and history.

8. Click OK to close window.

Microsoft Internet Explorer 8.0

1. Open Internet Explorer.

2. Click Tools in the left menu bar (if opened) or click on Tools in the lower right menu bar.

3. Click Internet Options and choose the General tab.

4. Click the Delete… button under the “Browsing History” section.

5. Make sure you uncheck “Preserve Favorites Website Data” at the top of this window.

6. Make sure you check all options below “Preserve Favorites Website Data”.

7. Click the Delete button.

– Deleting files could take awhile if you have a lot of files and history.

8. Click OK to close window.

Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0

1. Open Internet Explorer.

2. Click Tools in the upper toolbar or click on the Tools icon.

3. Click Internet Options to open Internet Properties.

4. Click the General tab

5. Click Delete under “Browsing History”.

6. Click Delete Files under “Temporary Internet Files”.

7. Click Yes on the Delete Files dialog box.

8. Click Close and then OK.

Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0-6.0

1. Open Internet Explorer.

2. Click Tools in the upper toolbar.

3. Click Internet Options to open Internet Properties.

4. Click the General tab

5. Click Delete Files under “Temporary Internet Files”.

6. Check Delete all offline content.

7. Click OK on the Delete Files dialog box.

8. Click Apply and then OK.

Mozilla Firefox 3.5-3.6

1. Click Tools in the upper toolbar and select Clear Recent History.

2. Select the Time Range to clear (drop-down menu).

– Select Everything to clear all cache.

3. Click Details to choose what history elements to clear.

– e.g. cache and cookies

4. Click the Clear Now button.

5. Exit and re-launch the browser.

Mozilla Firefox 2.0-3.0

1. Click Tools in the upper toolbar and select Clear Private Data.

2. Check Cache and cookies.

– Note, you can select other data you would like to clear as well

3. Click the Clear Private Date Now button.

4. Exit and re-launch the browser.

Safari 4.0 & Up

1. Open Safari.

2. Click Tools in the left menu bar (if opened) or click on the Gear icon in the right toolbar.

3. Select Reset Safari from the drop-down.

4. Choose what history and other elements to clear.

5. Click the Reset button.

6. Exit and re-launch the browser.

Opera

1. Open Opera

2. Click Tools and select Delete Private Data.

3. Expand Delete Options and choose what history elements to clear.

– e.g. Delete temporary cookies, Delete all cookies, Delete entire cache.

4. Click the Clear Now (Opera 9) or Delete (Opera 10) button.

5. Close window.

6. Exit and re-launch the browser.

Google Chrome

1. Open Chrome

2. Click the Wrench Icon (Tools menu)

3. Select Options

4.. Select Under the Hood on the left, click Clear browsing data… in the “Privacy” section.

5. Select the items you want to clear (e.g., Clear browsing history, Clear download history,Empty the cache, Delete cookies and other site data).

You can choose the period of time for which you want to clear cached information from the

Clear data from this period drop-down menu. To clear your entire cache, select Everything.

6. Click Clear browsing data.

7. Close tab.

8. Exit and re-launch the browser.

Netscape Communicator / Navigator 8.0

1. Click Tools in the upper toolbar and select Options.

2. Select Privacy under Options on the left side of the screen.

3. Click Cache.

4. Click Clear Cache.

5. Click Clear.

6. Click OK.

Netscape Communicator / Navigator 7.0

1. Click Edit in the upper toolbar and select Preferences.

2. Click the Triangle next to Advanced to expand it.

3. Click Cache.

4. Click Clear Cache.

5. Click OK.

Netscape Communicator / Navigator 4.0 – 6.0

1. Click Edit in the upper toolbar and select Preferences.

2. Click Advanced.

3. Click Cache.

4. Click Clear Memory Cache.

5. Click Clear Disk Cache.

6. Click OK.

Clearing Browser Cache on Macintosh

Safari 4.0 & Up for Macintosh OS X

1. Open Safari.

2. Click Tools in the left menu bar (if opened) or click on the Gear icon in the right toolbar.

3. Select Reset Safari from the drop-down.

4. Choose what history and other elements to clear.

5. Click the Reset button.

6. Exit and re-launch the browser.

Safari 1.0 for Macintosh OS X

1. Open Safari.

2. Click on Safari in the upper toolbar and Select Empty Cache.

3. Click Empty on the Are you sure message box.

4. Exit and re-launch the browser.

Firefox 3.5 – 3.6 for Macintosh OS X

1. Click Tools in the upper toolbar and select Clear Recent History.

2. Select the Time Range to clear (drop-down menu).

– Select Everything to clear all cache.

3. Click Details to choose what history elements to clear.

– e.g. cache and cookies

4. Click the Clear Now button.

5. Exit and re-launch the browser.

Firefox 2.0 – 3.0 for Macintosh OS X

1. Open Firefox

2. Click on Firefox in the upper toolbar and Select Preferences.

3. Click the Privacy Icon.

4. Click Clear Now under the Private Data section.

5. Close window.

6. Exit and re-launch the browser.

Opera for Macintosh OS X

1. Open Opera

2. Click Tools and select Delete Private Data.

3. Click the Delete options and choose what history elements to clear.

– e.g. Delete temporary cookies, Delete all cookies, Delete entire cache.

4. Click the Clear Now (Opera 9) or Delete (Opera 10) button.

5. Close window.

6. Exit and re-launch the browser.

Google Chrome

1. Open Chrome

2. Click the Wrench Icon (Tools menu)

3. Select Options

4. Select Under the Hood on the left, click Clear browsing data… in the “Privacy” section.

5. Select the items you want to clear (e.g., Clear browsing history, Clear download history, Empty

the cache, Delete cookies and other site data).

You can choose the period of time for which you want to clear cached information from the

Clear data from this period drop-down menu. To clear your entire cache, select Everything.

6. Click Clear browsing data.

7. Close tab.

8. Exit and re-launch the browser.

Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 – 5.0 for Macintosh

1. Open Internet Explorer.

2. Click Edit in the upper toolbar and select Preferences.

3. Click the arrow beside Web Browser.

4. Click Advanced.

5. Click Empty Now.

6. Click Ok.

7. Exit and re-launch the browser.

5 steps to clean up your computer files

To understand how to go about cleaning up your computer you first need to understand how your computer deals with information. When you use software applications, everything you do on your computer ends up creating or using files. Some files contain text, some contain images, and some contain music. But no matter what they contain, the Windows file system treats them all as files.

Note: If you are a novice user, there are files on your system you might not normally see. A good rule of thumb is not to delete anything if you’re not sure what it is. For example, Windows and its components and your software applications are also made up of files. Lastly, when you work with your computer, it sometimes creates temporary files that it uses to keep track of what it’s doing. These are often automatically deleted when they’re no longer needed, but in some cases the operating system or your software keeps them around for possible future use.

Step 1: Find your files In Windows XP, My Documents is your personal folder. It contains two specialized personal folders, My Pictures and My Music. You can make your personal folders available to everyone, or you can make them private so that only you can access the files within them.

Windows creates personal folders for every user on the computer. When there is more than one person using the computer, each personal folder is identified by the user’s name. For example, if John and Jane use the same computer, there will be two sets of personal folders: John’s Documents, Music, and Pictures, and Jane’s Documents, Music, and Pictures. When John is logged on to the computer, his personal folders appear as My Documents, My Pictures, and My Music, and Jane’s appear as Jane’s Documents, Jane’s Pictures, and Jane’s Music. Windows also provides a Shared Documents folder for files you want to share with other users.

Like My Documents, the Shared Documents folder contains a Shared Pictures and Shared Music folder. These folders are for pictures and music you want to share with other people who use your computer. You can use Windows Explorer to access your personal folders or the Shared Documents, Music, and Pictures folders. To open Windows Explorer, click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, and then click Windows Explorer.

When you do, you’ll find all the files you’ve created on your computer provided you store your files within your “My Documents” folder. (If you store your files in other locations, you can use Windows Explorer to go through the different file locations on your system until you find your files.) If you’re new to using Windows Explorer, I encourage you to take time now to get comfortable using this essential tool. Learning how to manage the files on your computer may not sound exciting, but being able to quickly find the file you need (and making sure you don’t accidentally lose an important file) is a skill that will make all of the other things you do with your computer that much more productive and enjoyable. Before you start working with your own files, why not do some practice exercises? Create some files and folders you don’t care about then move them around. (You can easily create new files by copying old ones and renaming them. Use the Help provided with Windows Explorer if you’re not familiar with how to copy and rename files and folders.)

Step 2: Organize your files Depending on how long you’ve been using your computer, you may have quite a few files stored in My Documents. And, depending on how you handle saving files from your applications, they may all be dropped into the My Documents folder, or in different folders you’ve set up along the way.

Let’s assume that you’ve stored your files in a virtual heap under the My Documents folder. Once you’ve got them sorted into categories, either by date, type, or some other system that makes sense to you; it should be a lot easier to tell which files you need and which you don’t. I wrote an earlier TipTalk item called Super simple sorting: Organize your files that describes how to sort your files using some of the features built into Windows Explorer.

How you organize your files is a personal choice based a lot on what you use your computer to do. There are several common methods for sorting your files. One method is to have different file folders for time periods: everything you create during a month, for example, would go into a single folder. For each new month, you’d create a new folder. This approach might work well if you create a number of documents of just one or two types. If, on the other hand, you create lots of different types of documents, perhaps addressing many topics, then a more complex system of filing them by type and or topic might work. For example, I’ve got a file folder of all the PowerPoint presentations I’ve ever done for executives. On the other hand, I’ve got my site reports stored in separate folders by year. These articles can help you get other ideas for ways to set up your filing system: Filing frenzy: Organize your documents on your PC and 7 tips to manage your files better.

Whatever method of setting up your folders makes the most sense to you is the one you’ll likely be able to stick with and use consistently. And it’s getting in the habit of always storing your files in their designated spot that makes finding them again so much easier. (I know, I know, it’s just like our mom’s always told us: Put things back where you found them.)

Step 3: Back up your files Simply put, backing up your files means copying them onto a disk or other device that you can remove from your computer. For permanent backups, say of your financial records, you’ll probably want to burn a CD and store it someplace safe. In my case, I’m generally just working on documents and spreadsheets that don’t take much room, so I’ll often just use a USB drive and use it to transfer files from one computer to another. Be sure to test your backup to make sure it works before you go on to the next step. In other words, try to use one of the files you’ve saved to the CD, ideally on a different computer. You don’t want to start deleting your original files until you’re sure you have a good backup copy.

Step 4: Delete what you don’t need Once you have all your files safely copied to a disk, you can start deleting those you don’t think lose an important file) is a skill that will make all of the other things you do with your com

Step 5: Back up your files (again) After you’ve got your file system organized and have removed all the files you don’t need, it is the ideal time to create another backup. That way, if you should need to restore files or move them to another computer you’ll have a nice orderly set of only the files you need. puter

Personalize your Windows XP-based PC

Microsoft Windows XP lets you change the look of your operating system. You can change everything at once by choosing a theme, or customize the appearance of Windows XP by tuning individual settings.

How to change the theme

Themes can change every aspect of your computer’s appearance, including colors, sounds, pointers, and the desktop background. To change your theme, first find one that appeals to you.

The Microsoft Download Center has many themes, or you can search the web. After you download a theme, install it as you would any other program. After you’ve installed a theme, you can change it manually.

To change a theme

1. Right-click your desktop, and then click Properties.

2. In the Display Properties dialog box, click the Themes tab, click the Theme list, and then select the theme you want to use.

3. Windows XP shows a preview of the theme. If you like how the preview looks, click OK. Otherwise, click Cancel. The new theme takes effect immediately.

How to change your screen’s appearance

Themes can change every aspect of your computer screen’s appearance. You can also choose to change only one or two things, such as the color of your windows or the font size.

To change the appearance of Windows XP

1. Right-click the desktop, and then click Properties.

2. In the Display Properties dialog box, click the Appearance tab.

3. To change the colors used in your screen’s appearance, click the Color scheme list, and

then click a new color.

4. To change text size, click the Font size drop-down box, and then click a new size.

5. Click the Advanced button.

6. In the Advanced Appearance dialog box, click the Item list to select what aspect of the

appearance you want to change. The most important items are:

o 3D Objects. The color of buttons and windows.

o Desktop. The color of your desktop if you don’t have a picture.

o Active Title Bar. The color, size, and font on the title bar of the window you’re

currently using. You can fade between two different colors.

o Icon. The size and font of the icons on your desktop.

o Inactive Title Bar. The color, size, and font on the title bar of the windows you

aren’t currently using. You can fade between two different colors.

o Menu. The size of the text in menus.

o Scrollbar. The width of scrollbars.

o ToolTip. The size of text that appears when you hover your pointer over an

object.

7. After you’ve made changes to your settings, click OK.

8. In the Display Properties dialog box, click Apply to test your settings. Click Cancel, and

return to step 5 to change any settings you don’t like.

9. Click OK to close the Display Properties dialog box.

If you get tired of your computer’s new look, you can always change the theme again, or you can select the Windows –XP theme to return to the familiar blue.

Change mouse settings

You can customize your mouse in a variety of ways, such as swapping the functions of your mouse buttons, making the mouse pointer more visible, and altering the scroll wheel speed.

To change how the mouse buttons work

1. Open Mouse by clicking the Start button , clicking Control Panel, clicking Hardware, and then clicking Mouse.

2. Click the Buttons tab, and then do any of the following:

o To swap the functions of the right and left mouse buttons, select the Switch primary and secondary buttons check box.

o To change how quickly you must click the buttons to perform a double-click, move the Double-click speed slider towards Slow or Fast.

o To turn on ClickLock, which enables you to highlight or drag without holding down the mouse button, select the Turn on ClickLock check box.

To change how the mouse pointer looks

1. Open Mouse by clicking the Start button , clicking Control Panel, clicking Hardware, and then clicking Mouse.

2. Click the Pointers tab, and then do one of the following:

o To give all of your pointers a new look, click the Scheme list, and then click a new mouse pointer scheme.

o To change an individual pointer, click the pointer you want to change in the Customize list, click Browse, click the pointer you want to use, and then click Open.

To change how the mouse pointer work

1. Open Mouse by clicking the Start button , clicking Control Panel, clicking Hardware, and then clicking Mouse.

2. Click the Pointer Options tab, and then do any of the following:

o To change the speed at which the mouse pointer moves, move the Select a pointer speed slider towards Slow or Fast.

o To make the pointer work more accurately when you’re moving the mouse slowly, select the Enhance pointer precision check box.

o To speed the process of selecting a choice when a dialog box appears, select the Automatically move pointer to the default button in a dialog box check box .

Note

Not all programs support this setting. In some programs, you’ll need to move the mouse pointer to the button you want to click.

o To make the pointer easier to find when you move it, select the Display pointer trails check box, and then move the slider towards Short or Long to decrease or increase the length of the pointer trail.

o To ensure that the pointer doesn’t block your view of the text you’re typing, select the Hide pointer while typing check box.

o To find a misplaced pointer by pressing the CTRL key, select the Show location of pointer when I press the CTRL key check box.

To change how the mouse wheel work

1. Open Mouse by clicking the Start button , clicking Control Panel, clicking Hardware, and then clicking Mouse.

2. Click the Wheel tab, and then do one of the following:

o To set the number of lines the screen will scroll for each notch of mouse wheel movement, click The following number of lines at a time, and then enter the number of lines you want to scroll in the box.

o To scroll an entire screen of text for each click of the mouse wheel, click One screen at a time.

o If your mouse has a wheel that supports horizontal scrolling, in the Tilt the wheel to scroll the following number of characters at a time box, enter the number of characters you want to scroll horizontally when you tilt the wheel to the left or right.

Work with shortcuts

Shortcuts are links to programs, documents, files, or websites that you can add to your desktop or Start menu. Rather than searching through folders or the Internet every time you want to open a particular file or website, simply create a shortcut.

To add a shortcut to your desktop

If you use your desktop frequently, you should consider adding shortcuts to your favorite files to your desktop.

1. Browse your My Documents folder and subfolders to find the file you want to create a shortcut for.

2. Right-click the file you want to link to from your desktop, click Send To, and then click Desktop. Your file stays in the same place, but you now have a shortcut to that file on your desktop. Notice that the icon on your desktop has an arrow in the lower-left corner. This arrow indicates that you are clicking a shortcut and not the actual file.

To add a shortcut to your Start menu

In addition to being able to add shortcuts to your desktop, you can also add shortcuts on your Start menu. Shortcuts to your favorite files can appear alongside your programs.

1. Browse your My Documents folder and subfolders to find the file you want to create a shortcut for.

2. Drag the file to the Start button and hold it for about one second.

3. When the Start menu opens, drag the file to the location where you want to add it.

4. Drop the file where you want the shortcut, and a shortcut icon appears.

To add a shortcut to a website

In addition to linking to files on your own computer, you can create shortcuts to your favorite websites. Double-click the shortcut, and the website will open in your browser.

1. Open the website in Microsoft Internet Explorer.

2. Drag the Internet Explorer icon in the Address bar (next to the URL) to your desktop or to the Start menu.

Change the icons in your shortcuts

Shortcuts include a picture called an icon, which can help you find a program or file faster. When you change your Windows theme, the new theme might include a set of custom icons that complement the look of the new desktop. For example, a jungle theme might change your My Computer icon to a giraffe. If you want, you can change one or more icons to something more interesting to you.

The method for changing an icon depends on the icon type. You can:

 Change a system icon.

 Change any other icon on your computer.

To change system icons

1. Right-click your desktop, and then click Properties.

2. In the Display Properties dialog box, click the Desktop tab, and then click Customize Desktop.

3. On the General tab, click the icon you want to change, and then click Change Icon.

4. Click the Browse button, and select

5. Click the View Menu button, and then click Thumbnails.

6. Click the icon you want to use, and then click Open.

7. Click OK.

8. When you are finished changing your icons, click OK twice. the folder to which you saved your icons.

To change icons other than system icons

1. Find icons that suit your sense of style.

2. Download the icons and save them to your computer.

3. Right-click the shortcut for which you want to change the icon, and then click Properties.

4. On the Shortcut tab in the Internet Explorer Properties dialog box, click Change Icon.

5. Click the Browse button, and select the folder to which you saved your icons.

6. Click the View Menu button, and then click Thumbnails.

7. Click the icon you want to use, and then click Open.

8. Click OK.

9. In the Internet Explorer Properties dialog box, click OK again.

Set up your screen saver

Screen savers can help protect your monitor from wear by showing a constantly changing display when your computer is not being used.

To change your screen saver

1. Right-click your desktop, and then click Properties.

2. In the Display Properties dialog box, click the Screen Saver tab.

3. Click the Screen saver drop-down box, and then click a screen saver.

4. Click the Preview button to see how the screen saver will appear on your monitor.

5. Move your mouse or press a key to return to the Display Properties dialog box. To try a different screen saver, return to step 3.

6. Click the Settings button to change the standard behavior of the screen saver you selected. (Each screen saver has its own settings dialog box.) Then, click OK.

7. In the Wait box, type the number of minutes the computer should wait to start the screen saver after you last touched the keyboard or mouse.

8. If you are the only person who uses your computer and you are not concerned about security, clear the On resume, display Welcome screen check box. Otherwise, leave this check box selected.

9. Click OK.

Windows XP will start the screen saver you selected after your computer has been idle for the specified number of minutes. You can also instantly activate your screen saver. To stop the screen saver, just move your mouse or press a key.

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All Rights Reserved

All material in this book is copyrighted and may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Introduction

Befor You Start

As a Computer technician, you must understand a basic rule of business, time is money. Whether you are boss or work for someone else, the ability to identify and isolate a Laptop fault quickly and decisively is very important to the success of your business. It requires some common sense,and a little bit of focus. It also requires an understanding of the troubleshooting process, and

reliable plan of action. Even though the number of Computer configuration and setups arevirtually unlimited, the methodology used to approach each repair is always about the same. Thisintroduction is intended to isolate the concepts of basic troubleshooting and show you how to apply basic Computer repair steps that will help you narrow the problem down before you even take a screwdriver to the Computer. By applying a constant technique. You can safe precious time from every Computer repair.

The General Troubleshooting Steps

Regardless of how your particular Computer might be, a dependable troubleshooting steps can be broken down into four basic steps.

#1:Define your symptoms,

#2: identify and isolate the location of your problem

#3: replace the suspected component, and

#4:re-test the component thoroughly to be sure that you have solve the problem.

If you have not solved the problem, start again from step #1: This is a “universal” procedure that you can apply to any sort of troubleshooting __not just for Computers.

DEFINE YOUR SYMPTOMS

When a Computer breaks down, the cause might be a simple as a loose wire or a connector, or as complicated as an IC or component failure. Before you start, you must have a good understanding of all the symptoms. Think about the symptoms carefully. By recognizing and understanding your symptoms, it can be much easier to trace a problem to the appropriate component. Take the time to write down as many symptoms as you can. As a Computer technician, you must often write problems and solutions for reference purposes.

IDENTIFY AND ISOLATE

Before you try to isolate a problem within a piece of Computer hardware, you must first be sure that the equipment itself is causing the problem. In many cases, this will be fairly obvious, but some situation might not be. A faulty or improperly configured piece of software can cause confusing system errors. When you are sure that it is a system’s hardware failure, you can begin to identify which component fails.

REPLACE

Because Computers are designed as a sub-unit, it is almost always easier to replace a sub-unit outright, rather than attempt to repair the sub-unit to its component level. Even if you had the

time, to isolate defective component, so it is better to replace the defective part than try to repair it

RE-TEST

When a repair is finally complete, the system must be reassembly carefully before testing it. All guards, housings, cables and shields must replaced before final testing. If symptoms persist, you will have to reevaluate the symptoms and narrow the problem to other parts of the equipment. If normal operation is restored (or greatly improved), test the computer’s various function. When you can verify that the symptoms have stop during actual operation, the equipment can be returned to service. As a general rule, it is wise to let the system run for at least 24 hours to ensure that the replacement sub-assembly will not fail prematurely.

Do not be discouraged if the equipment still malfunctions. Maybe software settings and device drivers may need to be updated to. If you are tired simply walk away, clear your hand, and start again by defining the current symptoms. Never continue with a repair if you are tired or frustrated tomorrow is another day. Even the most experienced troubleshooters get overwhelmed from time to time.

Personal computers (PCs) have become extremely popular in the industrialized world. In all types of businesses and for people at all levels of education, the PC provides access to vast amounts of information and computing power. In fact, today’s commonplace desktop PC now boasts more computing power than the massive, room-filling mainframes of the1960s, once affordable only to the largest universities and corporations.

Today, schools and businesses aren’t the only places where you’ll find powerful computers. The PC has also become a permanent fixture in many homes. Some homes even have more than one. In such cases, everyone in the family probably knows how to use the computer. Especially when connected to the Internet, the PC can offer every member of the family a variety of services, such as tracking finances, storing recipes and other records, corresponding with friends and relatives, or just exploring a topic of interest. From aardvarks to the zodiac, it can all be accessed through a PC.

This program will teach you about the components, operation, Maintenance, and repair of PCs. Whether you’re looking to maintain just your own computer or are seeking employment in the field, this program will provide you with a thorough knowledge of personal computers and related components.

Also, if you’re so inclined, the program will give you the knowledge you’ll need to help you obtain your A+ Certification, which requires successful completion of an A+ examination. In this excerpt, we’ll discuss setting up a PC repair workshop.

SETTING UP SHOP

The Workplace

Your PC repair workplace may be any one of a number of locations.

If you’re a hobbyist or intend to start a small business, your workplace will likely be a room or specific area set aside in your home. If you’re employed as a PC repair technician, you’ll probably be provided with a workbench or other area depending on your assigned responsibilities. In the following workplace description, we’ll focus primarily on creating a home workshop for PC repair. However, a large part of the information presented here also applies to PC workplaces in general, including a technician’s work area.

Location

There are several considerations in selecting a location for your shop. First, the area should be clean, dry, and well lit. It should be located so that PCs and components can be easily transported in and out of the area. It shouldn’t be located where equipment entering or leaving the shop must be carried up and down stairs or through narrow doorways and aisles. At a minimum, the work area should contain enough space for your workbench; shelving for your books, catalogs, and reference materials; a cabinet for spare parts; and space for tools and test equipment. Figure 1 shows a simple layout. Your basic need for space will increase depending upon the number of PCs you expect to be repairing at any one time and on the quantity of spare parts you need to keep in stock. In any case, remember to include enough elbowroom to work and move equipment in and out easily.

When determining your shop location, you must also consider electrical power. Enough power outlets should be available and conveniently located in relation to your workbench. The power at the power outlets should be clean; in other words, appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, or Furnace motors shouldn’t be on the same circuit you’re using for repair work. Make sure to install a power conditioner to smooth out any power spikes from nearby appliances. Power conditioners will be discussed in greater detail later in your study material on power supplies.

Organization

How you lay out your work area will play a large part in determining your working efficiency and susceptibility to accidents. First, arrange your tools within reach on a pegboard, tool holder, or tool caddy. You should always return tools to their proper storage location when not in use so that you can find them when needed.

Always keep your workbench neat. It’s annoying to bring in a piece of equipment only to discover you have no place on the workbench to set it. It’s equally annoying to try to reassemble something when extra Parts, such as loose screws an washers, are mixed in with the parts you need. The best way to prevent a cluttered workbench is to avoid the temptation to set things on the bench, even for a minute, if you don’t intend to leave them there. One last note about organization involves gravity. Store your smaller and lighter objects either up high or down low. Always store the heavier objects on shelves or surfaces that are about waist high—your back will thank you when it comes time to move them. Be especially careful never to set heavy objects high up on a set of free-standing shelves, such as a bookcase. Even though things may seem stable at the time, if you later move items out of the lower part of the shelving unit, the weight of the objects stored up high may then cause the whole structure to tip over.

Security

Security is important for any PC repair facility, whether it’s in the home or in a room set aside within a large company. PCs are prevalent enough today that they and their components are useful and easily peddled commodities. If located in the home, your PC workshop should be secured whenever it’s not in use. Not only do you have to secure your tools, parts, supplies, and test equipment, but you may also have other people’s property on hand. The same may also go for a company workspace that may contain PCs and components such as networking cards. Many well-meaning people think nothing of “borrowing” cards or components to repair or upgrade their PCs at work. Then, when you need a part, it’s gone. To maintain control and security of your equipment and supplies, as well as the property of your customers, you should always keep accurate records. A good log should identify each item and include its serial number, if applicable. If the item is a PC, the identification should include a complete description containing the manufacturer and features such as the number and types of drives and the amount of memory. Be sure that you also identify which computer belongs to which customer.

Safety

Safety begins with a clean and uncluttered work area. Floors should be clear of objects that can cause you to fall while transporting equipment into and out of the shop. Some PC components, such as monitors, can be quite heavy and awkward to move. Be sure to lift heavy equipment properly, using your legs and not your back.

Eye protection should always be available for use when performing any activity where chemicals, parts, or debris can fly into your eyes. Always wear eye protection when cleaning components with any type of compressed air or chemical spray.

Electrical Hazards

In your shop, ensure that the power outlets are properly grounded, especially if you’re using existing outlets in an older building. Check that all equipment power cords are in good condition and provide proper grounding for the equipment. Avoid wearing loose jewelry or other conductive apparel, such as rings and watches with metal bands, whenever you work around electrical equipment. The energy in a PC’s display monitor and power supply can be dangerous. Even if the power cord is disconnected, capacitors in the monitor and power supply can hold an electrical charge.

WARNING: Never open a display monitor or the

power supply case unless you’re experienced in

working with high-voltage equipment.

Fire Safety

Because you’re working primarily with electrical equipment and occasionally with some cleaning materials, you need to be aware of fire safety. The proper type of fire extinguisher should be conveniently located in your PC repair work area. Be sure to keep the extinguisher away from any spots where a fire may develop so that you can always get to the extinguisher. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) classifies fires into three categories:

• Class A, which are fires burning simple combustible materials, such as wood or paper

• Class B, which are fires ignited from flammable liquids, such as oil, gasoline, and kerosene

• Class C, which are fires due to electrical causes

Fire extinguishers are labeled with symbols indicating the type or types of fires they can extinguish. Extinguishers for Class A fires have the letter A usually inside a triangle. Extinguishers used to fight Class B fires have the letter B inside a square. Class C fire extinguishers are identified by the letter

C inside a circle. A good choice for your home shop is an extinguisher that carries all three designations

Setting Up Your Workshop

Throughout your PC repair program, you’ll be given hands-on activities associated with maintaining, upgrading, and repairing a PC. To accomplish these activities, you’ll need an area in which to work. Your particular situation will determine the type of work area that you’ll need. For example, if you’re a hobbyist, you may want to set up a permanent area with minimal equipment. If you’re working for a business or planning to work for a business outside of your home, you may want to set aside only a temporary work area with minimal equipment, just for the purpose of completing this program. If you intend to start your own business, you’ll be more interested in setting up a permanent work area with a complete set of tools and equipment. It’s a good time to begin setting up a work area that’s right for you. Beginning with your next study guide, you’ll need a place to work on the PC you’ve obtained for this program. Use what you’ve learned about workshops to set up an efficient and safe work area.

Lesson 1: PC Repair Safety

How To Stay Safe While Working On Your Computer

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Electrical Hazards.

UNPLUG THE COMPUTER and wait a few minutes before opening the computer and keep it unplugged at any time you are working on the hardware! This will ensure that the capacitors are empty or only partially charged avoiding electrical shocks that can damage your computer

Ensure that the power outlets are properly grounded and that all equipment electrical wires are in good condition and provide proper grounding to avoid charge build up.

Avoid wearing loose jewelry or other conductive objects, such as rings and watches with metal bands, whenever you work around electrical equipment. The energy stored in a monitor or computer power supply is high enough to be dangerous. Even when the electricity is disconnected, capacitors in the monitor and power supply can hold a harmful amount of electrical charge.

Important Computer Repair Safety Tips

Working Safe

Safety should be the number one priority when servicing your own PC. All of the parts of a computer use electricity to function and therefore present a certain level of risk when worked with.

In addition, PC repair can save you loads of time and money. No amount of fun, money or time is enough, though, to compromise your safety.

Keep these important tips in mind as you work inside your computer:

Remember to Flip the Switch

Always, always, always remember to turn the power off before servicing anything. This should always be your first step. Do not even open the computer case unless the power is turned off. Many computers have a number of lights inside that serve certain functions so check to see that no lights are on. If any are still on then the power is probably not completely off.

Many power supply units have a switch on the back, killing power to the device and ultimately the rest of your PC. If your PSU has one, be sure to turn it to the off position.

Unplug for Extra Safety

As a second precaution, it is wise to unplug the computer from the wall or power strip. If there was any doubt as to whether the computer was off before, it’s settled now.

Avoid Smoke and Smell

See smoke coming from the power supply or inside the case or smell a burning or solder scent? If so:

1. Stop what you’re doing immediately.

2. Unplug the computer from the wall.

3. Allow the PC to cool or discharge unplugged for at least 5 minutes.

Finally, if you know which device was generating the smoke or smell, remove and replace it as soon as you can. Don’t try to repair a device that’s been damaged to this extent, especially if it’s a power supply.

Remove Hand Jewelry

An easy way to get electrocuted is to work around a high voltage device like a power supply with metal rings, watches, or bracelets on. Remove anything conductive from your hands before working inside your computer, especially if you’re doing something like testing your power supply.

Avoid Capacitors

Capacitors are miniature electronic components contained in many of the parts inside a PC. Capacitors can store electric charge for a short while after the power is turned off so it’s a wise decision to wait a few minutes after pulling the plug before working on your PC.

Never Service the Non-Serviceable

When you come across labels that say “No serviceable components inside” don’t take it as a challenge or even a suggestion. This is a serious statement.

Some parts of a computer are just not meant to be repaired, even by most professional computer repair persons. You will usually see this warning on power supply units but you may also see them on monitors, hard drives, opthem on monitors, hard drives, optical drives and other dangerous or highly sensitive components.

Note: No discussion of technology related safety is not complete without a mention of ergonomics. Proper posture is extremely important at all times to prevent damage to your body. This wonderfully illustrated guide will set you straight.

Guide to Setting Up an Ergonomic Computer Station          image

Poor posture, lack of proper equipment and incorrect ergonomic information are all contributing factors to an improper computer setup. You can see, as illustrated here, that working at a computer can cause a lot of distress in a number of different parts of the body. With that in mind here are some key things not to do:

 Avoid existing ergonomic guidelines unless they make scientific sense. Ergonomics should be based on fact, research, experimentation and theory using body mechanics as a base line.

 Remember that ergonomics is personal. What works for someone else may not work for you.

 Do not settle for a desk without a keyboard tray or some other way to set the keyboard height and angle correctly. If your employer complains about the cost ask them to compare it to the cost of workman’s compensation.

 Do not place the keyboard on top of the desk.

 Do not place the monitor above your head.

 Do not sit in a rigid and upright position.

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The proper ergonomic setup of a computer monitor.

There are four areas that a computer user interfaces with: the monitor, the keyboard and mouse, the chair, and the lighting of the environment. Setting up the interfaces with these ergonomic guidelines as well as maintaining a good posture will enhance your comfort and efficiency as well as prevent repetitive stress injuries.

The Monitor

 Position the monitor to minimize glare by placing it at a right angle to light sources or windows

 Place the monitor as far away from you as possible while maintaining the ability to read without consciously focusing. Keep a minimum distance of 20 inches.

 Place the center of the screen at a 15 degree down angle from your eyes with your neck only slightly bent holding your head perpendicular to the floor.

 Align the monitor and the keyboard / mouse

 Set the refresh rate at a minimum of 70 Hz to limit flicker image

Lighting

 The office should be moderately bright (20-50 foot candles or equal to a nice day where sunglasses aren’t needed).

 Do not use task lighting for computer work.

 A mix of incandescent and fluorescent lights reduces flicker and provides good light color.

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The Keyboard

 Position the keyboard slightly below the elbow and at a negative angle to allow the wrists to remain straight when you sit in a slightly reclined posture

 Do NOT use a wrist rest while actively typing. It’s meant to rest on not to lean on when working. Hold your hands and arms off of any supports while typing.

 Do NOT use the keyboard supports to raise the back up. Do NOT tilt the keyboard tray so that the back of the keyboard is higher than the front. Though design and a lot of prevailing information say you should tilt the keyboard to a positive angle like this, it is wrong. Anegative angle that allows the wrists to stay in their natural wrist position is better. A positive angle is an repetitive stress injury waiting to happen.                                                                                                                       image

The Mouse

 Place the mouse on the same level as and immediately next to the keyboard tray.

 Keep the mouse in the arc line of the keyboard so that you can reach it when rotating

your arm from the elbow.

 Do NOT use a wrist rest while using the mouse. Your forearm needs to be free to move

so you do not strain the wrist.                                                                           image

The Chair

 Use arm rests.

 Place the lumbar support slightly below the waist line.

 Adjust the height of the chair so your feet can rest completely on the floor.

 Allow 1-3 inches between the edge of the seat and the back of your knees.

 Use a high back chair that supports your shoulder blades if at all possible

Posture

 Position your hips so that they are slightly higher than your knees while your feet are flat on the floor.

 Don’t keep your feet flat on the floor. Move them around often. Use a foot rest if you have one, but only part of the time. Do NOT cross your ankles.

 Lean back slightly. Leaning the trunk back to somewhere between 100-130 degrees from parallel to the floor will open up the hips and ease pressure on the pelvis. I like 104 degrees myself. Make sure your chair back will support your shoulders at this angle while still providing good lumbar support.

 Hold your head slightly up so that it is roughly perpendicular to the floor.

 Let your upper arms hang naturally from your shoulders.

 Let your lower arms rest on the arm rests of your chair either parallel or slightly below, to the floor.

 Keep your wrists straight.

 Take frequent breaks. 10 minutes for every hour of work and 30 second micro-breaks every 10 minutes is a good schedule.

 Stretch during those breaks.

 Change your position frequently. Move your feet, lift your arms, adjust your hips, and just make sure to subtly alter your posture continuously throughout the work day.

Computer safety procedures—please keep in mind these safety precautions for computer repair and cleaning:

 Never spray cleaning liquids directly unto any part of your computer. Why? Because contact with liquids may cause sensitive electronic equipment to malfunction, or corrode. Instead, spray liquids unto your cloth or other implement and then wipe away dust and grime from non-sensitive surfaces.

Do not spray canned compressed air with the can upside down. Why? Because liquid air may come out and damage computer electronics. Instead, Always keep the canned air in a vertical position with the spray nozzle on top and use short bursts of air.

 Do not touch any internal cpu component without wearing an anti-static wrist band or using an anti-static mat. Why? Static is a great enemy of sensitive electronics. A mild static charge can ruin your computer, and the static that commonly build up in the human body will kill it dead instantly. Instead, wear a properly grounded anti-static wrist strap or work on an antistatic mat. At The same time, keep the computer on a stable platform above the floor.

 Do not use a standard vacuum to clean inside your computer. Why? A normal vacuum builds up a tremendous amount of static electricity, which will kill your computer on accidental contact. Instead, use a vacuum specifically designed for cleaning computers being very careful not to touch any internal components, or do not use a vacuum at all.

Do not attempt to clean the inside of a computer monitor. Why? It may retain a high voltage even when unplugged. Instead, leave monitor repairs and cleaning of the interior to a professional.

 Unplug the computer monitor and allow it to cool before cleaning. Why? It is usually not advisable to apply liquids to an electrified item. The monitor carries a high voltage.

 Do not leave a computer plugged in while cleaning unless you are certain there is not a “wake” feature that could activate. Why? The computer may turn on while you are cleaning or repairing it and cause damage to itself or you. Instead, unplug all electrical items before working on them.

 Do not touch an lcd screen with your fingers. Why? You may short out the pixels and ruin it. Instead, use a soft anti-static, lint-free cloth as recommended by the manufacturer to clean dust and debris from the screen.

 Do not use an unapproved liquid to clean your lcd screen. Why? The wrong solution may remove or damage special anti-glare coatings on the screen. Instead, use the liquid cleaner recommended by the manufacturer.

 Clean up the general area surrounding your computer before beginning. Why? It wouldn’t make sense to leave dust and dirt in the area to get sucked back into your computer after it is cleaned as well as re-contaminate the external parts. Moving the equipment around will stir up surrounding dust, allowing it to settle in and around your computer.

Touch a large piece of metal to Ground yourself! Your computer is very sensitive to static electricity, and you could burn it if you do not follow this step!

Touch a large piece of metal to Ground yourself! Your computer is very sensitive to static electricity, and

you could burn it if you do not follow this step!

You need to remember that Electricity will destroy delicate components.

This is called Electromagnetic Static Discharge (ESD), static electricity. You can

build up enough static electricity to damage a unprotected part by walking across the

room.

How do you discharge the static electricity? By grounding yourself, you can buy a static wrist strap at your local electronics store or online. You connect the alligator clip to the case of computer, the power is unplugged so it is not grounded but the case will absorb any static electricity you have built up by walking around.

Use a anti-static mat (this is a special material that absorbs static electricity and with a ground strap dissipates the electricity if there is any present).

House power on? check

Power at the receptacle? check (the lamp next to the computer is on right?)

Unplugged and plugged in the power cable to both the wall receptacle and the

computer power supply? Check

Tools:

Tools you may need to open your case and remove components:

Some of the newer computers do not need tools to get components out, they are secured by spring loaded devices (latches).

You will need either a # 2 Philips screw driver or a # 15 torque to remove the screws.

Lesson 2: Hardware Components Identification

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1. Computer Case

2. Motherboard

3. Video or Graphic Card

4. Sound Card

5. CPU Fan

6. Monitor

7. Keyboard

8. Mouse

9. Scanner

10. Printer

11. Floppy Drive

12. Dvd- RW

13. Motherboard

14. Ram/Memory

15. Power Supply

16. Hard Drive

17. Internal Modem

18. Network Card

19. CPU/Processor

20. PCI/Peripheral Component Interconnect

Peripherals of A Computer

“Computer” is a collection of devices that function as a unit. The most basic collection includes a Computer CPU, a Monitor, a Keyboard, and a Mouse. Computer CPU is normally a rectangular box that sits on your desktop (called a “Desktop Case”) or next to your knee under the desk (called a “Tower Case”). The computer’s CPU is actually a small electronic device inside the case but the term is often used to refer to the whole collection of electronics inside the box.

Computer Cases

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CPU Fan                                        image

Computer Monitor

The Computer Monitor is the computer user’s window into the workings of the computer. It consists of a television picture tube that had been modified to accept the type of video signal created by the computer’s electronics. Conventional televisions can be used as computer monitors if a translation device is used to connect them. The picture quality leaves something to be desired.      image

Keyboard

The Keyboard is the primary input device used to communicate with the computer. A computer keyboard closely resembles a conventional typewriter keyboard with the addition of numerous keys that are used specifically for computing functions.                                              image

Mouse

Named for the resemblance of the wire coming out of it and a mouse’s tail, the mouse was introduced to computing in the early 1980’s when Macintosh created it’s graphical user interface (GUI). The mouse is another input device used to point at objects on the computer monitor and select them. Using the mouse and keyboard in combination allows the computer user substantial latitude in how to accomplish a wide variety of tasks.

Mouse’s are categorized in to three different types:

1: Three button mouse

2: Scroll mouse

3: Optical mouse                                                                  image

SCANNER

The scanner is a device that can transfer typed or hand written text, graphs, diagrams and photograph to the computer instead of making a duplicate paper copy of required data can photograph. Scanner stores them in memory of the computer.                          image

PRINTER

It is devices which prints images on paper and copy of a document are printed which is known as printout. Speed of printed is rated either by pages per minute or by characters per sec.

There are different types of printers:

 Dot matrix printer

 Ink jet printer

 Laser                                                                                                     image

floppy Disk Drive

Once the most advanced of storage devices, floppy diskettes are normally used a temporary storage containers or transportation media for data. A standard floppy diskette can hold 1.44 MB of computer data. This amounts to a rather large number of pages if translated to the paper standard for textual information. Computer diskettes are not as reliable or fast as the internal storage drives on the computer. They are also the primary vector of virus infection in the computer world                          image

Compact Disk-Read Only Memory

This modern miracle gained prominence in the late 1980’s and has become the primary distribution medium for software to consumers. The Compact Disk-Read Only Memory (CD-ROM) disk itself is a collection of concentric circles containing millions of pits and plateaus which correspond to on/off bits of data. The disk is read with an optical laser similar to the one used to scan your groceries at the supermarket. Most disks of this kind are “Read only” meaning that the computer can retrieve information from the disk, but

Cannot place information on it. New developments have improved this technology to allow writing and rewriting data to the disk. A different kind of hardware mechanism is needed to employ this innovation.image

What is a Motherboard?

The motherboard is the main circuit board inside your PC. Every component at some point communicates through the motherboard, either by directly plugging into it or by communicating through one of the motherboards ports. The motherboard is one big communication highway. Its purpose inside your PC is to provide a platform for all the other components and peripherals to talk to each other.

TYPES OF MOTHERBOARD

The type of motherboards depends on the CPU it was designed for. You can therefore categories motherboards by which socket type they have. E.g. Socket A, Socket 478 etc. The Type of motherboard

you buy is very important, as it will need to house your CPU, and they are not interchangeable. When buying a motherboard, it will always tell you what socket type it has.                  image

 

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When Buying a Motherboard

As everything you have on the PC at some point needs the motherboard, you need to consider these components when buying a motherboard. Foe example, if you have a lot of devices with a PCI interface that you wish to use, there is little point buying a motherboard that only offers you 3 PCI slots. Like wise with memory, you have to make sure that there are enough slots for the amount of memory you have or wish to have. The motherboard also needs the correct type of interface for your Memory, Graphics card, Hard disks and other items as well. You will find that most motherboards offer everything you need however it needs checking on when buying. It’s especially important to pay detail to your motherboard if you want to use older components, which a new motherboard may or may not support. The major difference between motherboards that support the same CPU is the model of the chipset (more on the chipset later). Different chipsets offer different performance and different features in terms of memory support, AGP port speed, Multiplier numbers, Bus speeds and much more.                  image

Speed of a Motherboard

Motherboards have got to be one of the hardest components to measure the speed of. Performance can really only be measured by benchmarking using the same components in several motherboards of the same type. You often find that motherboards with the same chipset have roughly the same performance in real world tests. The minor differences that do occur are down to the quality of the materials used and the quality of the manufacturing. The Motherboards speeds that are quoted on the box are maximum supported speeds for other components. For example motherboards will quote the maximum FSB (Front Side Bus) speed. However without a CPU that also supports this speed, it will never be reached. Likewise when it quotes the maximum memory speed. The memory of this speed has to be present.

What is a Motherboard Chipset?

A motherboard chipset controls all the data that flows through the data channels (buses) of the motherboard. The primary function of the motherboard chipset is to direct this data to the correct area’s of the motherboard, and therefore the correct components.

Components of a Motherboard

The motherboard contains many connections for all type of components. Motherboards contain expansion slots such as the ISA, PCI, AGP and DIMM sockets. It also contains external connections for your onboard sound card, USB ports, Serial and 1,000 the inside of the hard disk drive may look like. The four main components of a hard disk drive are the platters, head arm, chassis, and the head actuator.

The majority of computer hard disk drives is permanently stored in an internal drive bay at the front of the computer and is connected with one ATA / SCSI/SATA cable and power cable.

RAM

SD-RAM (Synchronous Dynamic Ram)

Hint: Two intervals at the bottom of the ram. DDR –RAM (Double Data Rate Ram) Hint: One interval at the bottom of the SD ram.                          image

Power Supply

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Hard disk

The hard disk is the device which stores all programs and data in the computer. Hence, the hard disk is referred to as the memory bank if the computer. The hard disk memory is permanent so that the programs and data are not lost when the computer is turned off. Nowadays the capacity of hard disk is measured in

Giga Bytes.                                    image

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Internal Modem:

Unlike other connectors that we have discussed so far, the modem connectors are quite different. The male modem connectors do not have any pins. Instead male modem connectors have thick transparent plastic head in rectangular shape.                                                      image

Network Card

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CPU/Processor:

The introduction of micro processor in the 1970s significantly affected the design and implementation of CPUs. Since the introduction of first micro processor in 1970 and the first used micro processor in 1974. This class of CPUs almost has overtaken all other central processing method implementation techniques. Main frame and mini frame manufacturers of the time launched proprietary IC development programs to upgrade their older computer architectures, and eventually produced instruction set compatible microprocessors that were backward-compatible with older hardware.     image

Peripheral component Interconnect:

The peripheral component interconnects, or PCI standard, specifies a computer bus for attaching the peripheral devices to a computer motherboard. These devices can take any one of the following forms.

 An integrated circuit fitted on to the mother board itself, called a planar device in the PCI specification.

 An expansion card that fits into a socket                 image

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CMOS Battery:

CMOS also sometimes referred to as Complementary-symmetry metal-oxide-semiconductor. Two important characteristics of CMOS devices are high noise immunity and low static power consumption. Significant power is only drawn when the transistors in the CMOS device are switching between on and off states. Consequently, CMOS devices do not produce as much waste heat as other forms do. CMOS also allows a high density of logic functions in a chip.                                     image

Lesson 3: Hardware Replacement

 Removing and Installing Memory/Ram

 Removing and Installing DVD- ROM Drive

 Removing and Installing Hard Drive

 Removing and Installing Floppy Drive

 Removing and Installing Video Card

 Installing Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lights (CCFLs)

 Removing and Installing Desktop PC Motherboard

 Removing and Installing Power Supply

 Installing a CPU and Heatsink

 Install Pci Expansion Adapter Cards

 Fans

 Installing a CPU Cooler

 Removing the CMOS Battery

Adding/Removing and Installing Memory/Ram

WARNING

· The computer must be turned off and disconnected from its power source. Failure to disconnect the power from

the computer may result in personal injury.

· Remove all loose articles and jewelry before touching components inside the computer.

· The case contains sharp edges. Use caution.

· Ground yourself by touching the metal frame every time you remove the cover. If you are not properly

grounded, you could generate static electricity that may cause a component to fail.

· Make sure your hands are dry before performing this task.

If it suddenly seems that your computer can’t keep up and the drive light is flickering like crazy,

it’s probably time to install RAM. But before you unplug the cables, lug the machine to the car,

drive to the computer store, wait to have RAM installed, and pay for the service, read how to

install RAM yourself.

Note: Problems with speed can also be caused

Determine how much RAM you have and how much you

need

Before you buy anything, you need to know how much memory you have and what type of

memory to buy.

Find out how much RAM your computer has

You can find out how much RAM is installed in your computer in two ways. You can open the

System Information dialog box to see the installed physical memory, or you can go to Control

Panel.

To open System Information, click Start, click All Programs, click Accessories, click System

Tools, and then click System Information. In the left pane, select System Summary. The

Installed Physical Memory (RAM) entry in the list tells you how much RAM your computer has.

The Installed Physical Memory (RAM) entry in the System Information list tells you how much RAM your computer has. Go to Control Panel in your version of the Windows operating system to find out how much RAM your computer has:

Find out how much RAM you need

Most games specify the minimum amount of RAM you need to install and play. For example,

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban requires 256 megabytes (MB). This amount includes

RAM that the computer needs to do its own background work in addition to running the game.

The amount of RAM you need depends on the operating system you are using. For systems

running Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP, you should have the minimum

recommended amount, but more can be better, depending on your needs. If you just use your PC

for surfing the Internet and writing letters, you may need only the minimum amount of RAM

required to run the version of Windows you have installed on your computer. But for the best

performance—especially if you keep several programs open at the same time while you’re

working—consider increasing the RAM on your computer to at least 2 gigabytes (GB).

See the minimum amount of RAM required for your version of Windows:

For more RAM-intensive programs, such as games or photo editing, or if you like to use a lot of

applications at the same time, such as desktop publishing and video rendering, you may need

additional RAM. Individual programs come with system requirements that show both the      image

Find out how much RAM you need

Most games specify the minimum amount of RAM you need to install and play. For example,

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban requires 256 megabytes (MB). This amount includes RAM that the computer needs to do its own background work in addition to running the game.

The amount of RAM you need depends on the operating system you are using. For systems

running Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP, you should have the minimum recommended amount, but more can be better, depending on your needs. If you just use your PC for surfing the Internet and writing letters, you may need only the minimum amount of RAM required to run the version of Windows you have installed on your computer. But for the best performance—especially if you keep several programs open at the same time while you’re working—consider increasing the RAM on your computer to at least 2 gigabytes (GB).

See the minimum amount of RAM required for your version of Windows: For more RAM intensive programs, such as games or photo editing, or if you like to use a lot of applications at the same time, such as desktop publishing and video rendering, you may need additional RAM. Individual programs come with system requirements that show both the

minimum RAM needed to run the program, and the amount of RAM needed for its best

performance.

You can buy RAM modules in a variety of sizes, typically 1-GB, 2-GB, and 4-GB modules.

Figure out what type of RAM you need

To determine the maximum amount of RAM your computer can handle along with the speed,

consult your PC owner’s manual, which should show you the number of slots (the place where you insert the RAM), how much RAM each can take, and the maximum RAM your system can use.

Contact the manufacturer or use an online memory advisor, such as those from Crucial Technology or Kingston Technology. These memory advisors use information that you enter

about your computer model and do a memory check for your specific PC that tells you which

products work with your system

To find out what kind of module you need, you can also open up your computer.

1. First, turn off the computer, but leave it plugged in so that it’s automatically grounded. (Computers that should not remain plugged in will be clearly marked.)

2. Place the computer on a clean workspace and remove the cover carefully (you may need

to use a screwdriver).

3. Touch the case to ground yourself. When you touch the case, it discharges static electricity that could otherwise damage your computer. (Note that some manuals recommend anti-static wrist straps, but this is not necessary for home users.)

4. Locate the RAM modules, which are green with black tubes, on the motherboard.

5. Now determine the type of module you have. You can identify the type by its appearance.

o RDRAM is paired up (you have to put in two at a time) and has metal casing on one side.

o DDR SDRAM is the most popular and looks like regular RAM but has one notch.

o SDRAM (which is being phased out) has two notches.

6. Also note your RAM speed, which is usually written on the side of the existing chip

(either 266 or 333).

7. If you don’t have a free slot, remove one of the memory cards to check the number of

notches on it. You will replace the smaller of the two RAM modules.

Tools Required: Phillips Screwdriver

HINT: Note the location of all wires, cables, or connectors before disconnecting. These wires,

cables, or connectors will need to be

reconnected to either the same or new devices.

Installing Desktop Memory Modules

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Remove the Computer Cover

Now it is time to open up the computer case. The method for opening the computer will vary

depending upon the case. Most modern cases will either have a door or panel while older cases may need to remove the entire cover. Remove any screws used to fasten the panel or cover to the case and set them aside in a safe place.

Locating the Memory Module Slots

Locate the Memory Slots

 

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Examine the motherboard to locate the memory module slots. If the module slots are located under a power supply or drive, it may be necessary to remove additional parts to access the slots to install the memory modules.

Insert the Memory Module

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To insert the memory module into the slot, align the memory module above the slot and make sure that the notch in the memory module is in the correct position. When the module is properly align, gently press down on both sides of the memory module downward into the slot. It should click into place and may push the clamps into place.

Note: If this is a memory upgrade and a memory module needs to be replaced, simply reverse steps 4 and 5 to properly remove a module prior to installing the new module.

secure the Memory Modules

 

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fasten the Module Clamps

In order to properly fasten the memory modules the motherboard, two clamps exist on either side of the memory slot. Typically when a memory module is inserted, these clamps will partially close on the memory module. Close the clamps full to securely fasten the module to the motherboard.

Close up the Computer Case

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Fasten the Computer Cover

at this point the memory modules are now properly installed into the computer system. It is now time to close up the case prior to powering the system up. Replace the panel or cover to the computer case. Be sure to fasten the cover or panel to the case with the screws that were previously removed.

Powering up the Computer

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Plug the AC Cord into the Computer

All the is really left to down now is power up the computer system. Plug the AC power cord back into the power supply of the computer and be sure to flip the switch back to the on position. When the computer is powered back up, it may be necessary to go into the computer BIOS to let the system properly detect the new RAM that has been installed in the computer. Please refer to the user manual for the computer system for any additional information.

Quick facts about RAM

RAM = random access memory. RAM is the primary working memory in a computer used for

the temporary storage of programs and data and in which the data can be accessed directly and

modified.

RAM is measured in bytes: 1 gigabyte (GB) = 1,024 megabytes (MB) = 1,048,576 kilobytes

(KB)

Removing and Installing DVD- ROM Drive

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Turn Off Power to the Computer

Difficulty: Simple

Time Required: 5-10 Minutes

Tools Needed: Philips Screwdriver

This guide was developed to instruct users on the proper method to install an ATA based optical drive into a desktop computer system. These instructions are valid for any form of optical based drive such as CD-ROM, CD-RW, DVD-Rom or DVD burners. It is a step-by-step instruction guide with photographs detailing the individual steps. The very first thing to do whenever working on a computer system is to make sure there is no power. Shut down the computer if it is running. Once the computer has safely shut down, turn the internal power off by slipping the switch on the back of the power supply and removing the AC power cord.

Opening up the Computer

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At this point, the computer needs to be opened up to properly install the CD or DVD drive into the computer. The method for opening the case will vary depending upone the case. Most new systems will use a panel or door on the side of the system while older systems may require the whole cover be removed. Remove and set aside and screws fastening the cover or panel to the computer case and then remove the cover.

Remove the Drive Slot Cover

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Computer cases can generally hold a number of external drives but only a few are generally used. Any unused drive slot has a cover that prevents dust from entering the computer and makes the case look better. To install the drive, it will be necessary to remove a 5.25″ drive slot cover from the case. Removal of these generally is done by pushing some tabs either on the inside or outside of the case. Some may be screwed into the case.

Setting the IDE Drive Mode

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Set the Drive Mode with the Jumpers

The majority of all CD and DVD drives for computer systems use the IDE interface. This interface can have two devices on a single cable. Each device on the cable must be placed into the appropriate mode for the cable. One drive is listed as the master and the other secondary drive is listed as a slave. This setting is generally handled by one or more jumpers on the back of the drive. Consult the documentation or diagrams on the drive for the location and settings for the drive. If the CD/DVD drive is going to be installed on an existing cable, the drive needs to be set into the Slave mode. If the drive is going to reside on its own IDE cable alone, the drive should be set to the Master mode.

Placing the CD/DVD Drive into the Case

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Slide and Screw in the Drive

At this point, the CD/DVD drive needs to be placed into the computer. The method for installing the drive will vary depending on the case. The two most common methods for installing a drive into a case is either through drive rails or directly into the drive cage. Rails: Place the drive rails onto the side of the drive and fasten it with screws. Once the drive rails have been placed on both sides of the drive, slide the drive and rails into the appropriate slot in the case. Make sure to affix the drive rails so that the drive is flush with the case when it is fully inserted into the case. Drive Cage: Slide the drive into the slot in the case so that the drive bezel is flush with the computer case. When this is done, fasten the drive to the computer case by placing screws into the appropriate slots or holes in the case.

Attaching the Internal Audio Cable

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Attach the Internal Audio Cable

Many people use the CD/DVD drive inside of their computer to listen to audio CDs. In order for this to work, the audio signal from the CD needs to be routed from the drive to the computer audio solution. This is typically handled by a small two wire cable with a standard connector. Plug this cable into the back of the CD/DVD drive. The other end of the cable will plug either into a PC audio card or motherboard depending upon which the computer uses for audio. Plug the cable into the connector labeled as CD Audio.

Attaching the Drive Cable to the CD/DVD

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Plug the IDE Cable to the CD/DVD

At this point, the CD/DVD drive needs to be attached to the computer through an IDE cable. For most users, the drive will reside as a secondary drive to the hard drive. If this is the case, locate the free connector on the IDE ribbon cable between the computer and the hard drive and plug it into the drive. If the drive is going to be on its own cable, plug the IDE cable into the motherboard and one of the other connectors of the cable into the CD/DVD drive.

Plug the Power to the CD/DVD

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Plug Power to the CD/DVD

The only internal item left to do for installing the drive is to plug it into the power supply. This is done by locating one of the 4-pin Molex connectors from the power supply and inserting it into the power connector on the CD/DVD drive.

Closing up the Computer Case

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Fasten the Cover to the Case

At this point the drive is fully installed into the computer case so it can be closed up. Replace the panel or cover to the computer case. Be sure to fasten the cover or panel back to the case using the screws that were set aside when the cover was removed.

Powering up the Computer

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Plug the Power Back to the PC

All of the installation steps for the CD or DVD drive are now completed. The only thing left to do is return power to the computer. Plug the AC cord back into the power supply and be sure to flip the switch to the on position.The computer system should automatically detect and begin using the new drive. Since CD and DVD drives are very standardized, it should not be necessary to install any specific drivers. Be sure to consult the instruction manual that came with the drive for any specific instructions for your operating system.

Removing and Installing Hard Drive

Unplug the Power to the PC

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Before beginning any work on the interior of any computer system, it is important to power down the computer system. Shutdown the computer from the operating system. Once the OS has safely shutdown, turn off to the internal components by flipping the switch on the back of the power supply and remove the AC power cord.

Open up the Computer Case

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Remove the Computer Cover

Opening up the computer case will vary depending upon how the case was manufactured. Most new cases will use with a side panel or door while older system will require the whole case cover be removed. Be sure to remove any screws that fasten the cover to the case and set them aside in a safe place.

Unplugging Current Drive Cables

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Remove IDE and Power Cables from Hard Drive

This step is optional but it generally makes it easier to install a second hard drive into the computer system. Simply unplug the IDE and power cables from the current primary hard drive.

Set the Drive Mode Jumper

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Based on the documentation that came with the hard drive or any diagrams on the hard drive, set the jumpers on the drive to enable it to be a Master drive.

Inserting the Drive to the Cage

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Fasten the Drive to the Drive Cage

The drive is now ready to be placed into the drive cage. Some cases will use a removable cage that makes it easier to install. Simply slide the drive into the cage so that the mounting holes on the drive match up to the holes on the cage. Fasten down the drive to the cage with screws.

Attach the IDE Drive Cable

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Attach the IDE Drive Cable

Attach the IDE cable connectors from the ribbon cables both into the old hard drive and the

secondary hard drive. The connector furthest from the motherboard (often black) should be plugged into the primary hard drive. The middle connector (often gray) will be plugged into the secondary drive. Most cables are keyed to fit only in a specific direction on the drive connector but if it is not keyed, place the red striped portion of the IDE cable towards pin 1 of the drive.

Insert Power to Drive

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Plug Power to the Drives

All the is left to do inside of the computer is to attach the power connectors to the drives. Each drive requires a 4-pin Molex power connector. Locate a free one from the power supply and plug it into the connector on the drive. Be sure to do this with the primary drive as well if it was removed.

Replace the Computer Cover

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Fasten the Cover to the Case

At this point the computer case needs to be closed up. Replace the panel or cover to the case and fasten it with the screws that were previously removed to open it up.

Power Up the Computer

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Plug the AC Power In

At this point the installation of the drive is complete. Return power to the computer system by plugging the AC power cord back into the computer and flipping the switch on the back to the ON position.Once these steps are taken, the hard drive should be physically installed into the computer for proper operation. Check with your computer or motherboard manual for the steps to have the BIOS properly detect the new hard drive. It may be necessary to change some of the parameters in the computer BIOS in order for it to detect the hard drive on the controller. The drive must also be formatted for use with the operating system before it can be used. Please consult the documentation that came with your motherboard or computer for additional information.

Removing and Installing Floppy Drive

Open Up the Computer

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Open Up the Computer Case

The method for opening the computer case will vary with the case. Most new cases use a panel or door to access the interior while older cases require the whole cover be removed. Make sure to remove any screws that fasten the cover or panel to the case and set them aside in a safe place.

Sliding the Drive Into the Case

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Slide the Drive into the Cage

The method for putting the case into the computer may vary depending upon the type of case used. The two most common types of installation are either directly into the drive cage or via sliding rails. In either case, make sure to remove the drive slot cover before installing the drive.

Rails: It the case uses drive rails, align the rails on either side of the drive and fasten them to the drive with screws. Once the rails on installed, slide the drive into the drive cage until they latch.

Drive Cage: Slide the drive directly into the cage until the bezel of the drive is flush with the front of the case. Once the drive is in position, fasten it to the drive cage using screws.

Connect the Floppy Cable to the Motherboard

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Plug the Floppy Cable into the PC

Locate the floppy drive connector on the motherboard. This is typically a connector slightly smaller than the IDE connectors. Most cables are keyed to only fit in a specific way. If it is not, find the edge of the ribbon that has the red wire and place this on the side of the motherboard connector with the pin 1 indicator. Plug one end of the floppy drive cable into the board.

Plug the Cable into the Floppy Drive

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Plug the Cable into the Floppy Drive

Attach the other end of the floppy cable to the drive. If the cable has more than one connector, use the further connector. Most drives and cables are keyed, but if it is not, once again make sure that the red edge of the wide goes to pin 1 on the drive connector.

Connect Power to the Floppy Drive

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Plug Power Connector to Floppy Drive

Locate one of the 4-pin floppy drive connectors from the power supply. These are smaller flat style connectors compared to the larger 4-pin Molex style. Attach this to the floppy drive.

Close up the Computer Case

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Fasten the Cover or Panel to Case

At this point, the physical installation of the floppy drive into the computer is finished. Close the computer case up by returning the cover or panel to the case. Be sure to fasten the cover or panel to the case using the screws that were previous removed.

Power Up the Computer

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Plug the Power Back into the PC

The only thing left to do is return the power to the computer. Plug the AC cord back into the power supply and flip the switch on the back into the On position. Once these steps are taken, the hard drive should be physically installed into the computer for proper operation. Since floppy drives are very standardized, there should be no formatting or BIOS settings necessary to enable it. The only problem that could happen is a reversed floppy cable. This is easy to spot by the floppy drive light being on continuously while the computer is operating. If this is the case, double check to make sure the floppy drive cables and installed in the proper direction.

Installing an AGP Graphics Card

Powering Down

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Turn Off All Power to the Computer

This guide was developed to instruct users on the proper method for installing an AGP adapter card into a desktop computer system. It is a step-by-step instruction guide with photographs detailing the individual steps. The setup for a PCI graphics adapter is pretty much identical except the card goes into a PCI slot instead of an AGP slot. Before working on a computer system at all, it is important to power down the system to make it safe. Shut down the operating system if the computer is on. Once the computer has safely closed down, turn off the power to the internals by flipping the switch on the back of the power supply and removing the AC power cord.

Opening up the Computer Case

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Open the Computer Case

Since installing the card requires it be installed inside of the computer, it is now necessary to open up the case. The method for getting to the interior of the case will vary depending upon the case in question. Most new cases use a door or panel that can be removed, but older cases may require that the whole cover be removed. Be sure to unscrew the cover or panel and set aside the screws in a safe place.

Remove the PC Card Slot Cover

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Remove the PC Card Slot Cover

In order to properly install the card into the case, the slot cover that matches up to the AGP card slot needs to be removed. Be sure to check which PC card slot cover lines up with the AGP card slot because it is not always the very far left cover. Removal typically requires unscrewing the cover from the backplane and sliding it out, but some new tool free cases just slide or push out.

Placing the Card in the AGP Slot

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Place the Card in the Slot

It is now time to put the AGP card into the slot. To do this, align the AGP card directly over the slot in the motherboard. Gently press down on both the front and back of the card simultaneously to push the card down into the slot. Once the card is seated in the slot, screw or fasten down the card to the case at the PC card slot. Some AGP cards required additional power from the computer’s power supply. This is provided through a 4-pin Molex power connector. If your card requires this, find a free power connector and plug it into the card.

Closing up the Computer Case

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Be Sure to Fasten Down the Cover

Once the card is installed into the computer, it is time to close up the system. Return the computer cover or panel back to the case. Use the screws that were set aside early to securely fasten the cover or panel to the case.

Plugging the Monitor In

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Plug the Monitor to the Right Connector

Now that the card is installed into the computer, it is time to plug the monitor into the video card. Many new video cards have multiple connectors now to support more than one monitor. They may also have DVI or Analog connectors. Plug the monitor into the appropriate connector on the video card.

Power the Computer Up

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Plug the Power Back into the Computer

At this point, the installation of the AGP graphics card is completed. Power now needs to be restored to the computer by plugging the AC power cord back into the power supply and flipping the power switch on the back of the computer. Once the computer has booted up into the operating system, drivers for the video card will need to be installed into the operating system. Please refer to the documentation that came with the video card on the proper method for installing the drivers into the operating system.

Installing Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lights (CCFLs)

Opening up the Computer

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Remove the Case Panel or Cover

At this point the computer case can be opened up to allow access for installing the lights. Computer cases will vary on how access to the interior is managed. Some will required the whole cover be removed while others will have a side panel or door. In most cases, the panel or cover will be fastened down with a series of screws. Remove these and set them aside someplace safe. Once unscrewed, remove the panel by lifting up or sliding depending up how the cover is fastened on.

Determining Where to Install

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Layout the Light Tubes

Now that the case is open, it is time to figure out where to install the lights into the case. It is important to look at the size of the lights to be installed, the length of the wires includes and where the power inverter will go. Measurements are important to determine if there is enough clearance for all of these parts. Layout the parts in this locations to see if they will work properly.

(Optional) Switch Installation

Some light kits for desktop computers will come with a switch to allow the user to turn the lights on or off at any time. Many newer kits do this through a switch placed inside of a PC card slot cover. Others may have a larger switch that requires the case to be modified. This typically requires that a section of the case be cut out for the switch to then be mounted into.

No matter how the switch is mounted, this step is typically optional. Most lights can be plugged directly into the inverter meaning that the lights will turn on whenever the computer is on.

Mounting the Voltage Inverter

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Cold cathode fluorescent lights run at a much higher voltage than those typically supplied by the computer to the various peripherals. As a result, the lights require a voltage inverter to supply the proper levels to the lights. Often this will be a box that will reside somewhere inside of the case and runs between the power supply and the lights. Mounting the inverter is fairly simple and done through double sided tape or velco. Simply remove the backing on the tape and then place the inverter in the desired location and press firmly to get good adhesion.

Placing the Feet for the Lights

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Mount the Feet to the Case

For many CCFL kits, the light tubes themselves do not have any direct means to mount them to the case. In order to mount the tubes, they are strapped to some feet that are placed into the case. These feet are attached by double sided tape. To properly install them, first make sure that they are in the proper location. Simply remove the backing from the double sided tape and then press the feet firmly into the location in the case.

Strapping the Tubes to the Case

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Attach the Tubes to the Feet

With the feet mounted to the case, it is now time to attach the tubes to the feet. This is typically done by use small plastic zip ties. Feed the tie through the hole in the foot on the case and then place the tube onto the foot. Pull the tie around the tube and tighten the tie to hold the tube onto the case.

Connecting the Internal Power

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Connect the Internal Power

The tubes and inverter are all placed inside of the case, so it is time to wire up the parts. The light tubes will have their power connectors fit into the inverter. The inverter will then need to be hooked into the computer power supply. Most light kits use the 12 volt power lines that use a 4 pin molex connector. Locate a free 4-pin power connector and plug the inverter into it.

Close up the Computer Case

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Be Sure to Screw the Cover Down

The lights should now be properly installed into the computer case. At this point everything just needs to be closed up. Take the computer cover or panel and put it back on the main case. If the installation was done right everything should fit without a problem. If the cover does not fit, double check the components and relocate them in the case. Be sure to use the screws removed earlier to fasten the cover.

Powering Back Up

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Plug the Power Back into the Computer

At this point everything with the installation should be down. It is now just a matter of powering up the computer and making sure that the lights work. Plug the AC cord back into the computer system and remember to flip the switch on the back of the power supply to the on position. Once the computer is turned on, the light tubes that were installed should light up the case.

Removing and Installing a Desktop PC Motherboard

Opening the case

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Open Up the Computer Case

Difficulty: Moderate to complex based on computer case

Time Required: 30 minutes or more

Tools needed: Philips screwdriver and possibly a hex driver

This guide was developed to instruct users on the proper installation of a motherboard into computer case. It includes step-by-step instructions for properly preparing the case, installing and connecting and necessary wires to the motherboard inside of the case. The guide is based upon a standard ATX board layout being installed into a mid-sized tower case. The case happens to have a removable motherboard tray to make it easier to photograph the necessary steps. The amount of time and ease of the motherboard installation will be very dependent upon the design of the case it is being installed into.

All modern ATX motherboard have a variety of connectors and jumpers that must be set for proper operation of the computer system. The location and pin layout of these will vary from case and motherboards. It is recommended that you fully read and have available all motherboard and case instructions which should include pin and jumper layouts.

The first step will be to open the case up. The method for opening the case will vary depending upon how the case was manufactured. Most new cases have either a side panel or door while older ones require the whole cover be removed. Remove any screws hold the cover to the case and set them aside in a safe place.

(Optional) Remove the Motherboard Tray                                                image

 

Remove the Motherboard Tray

Some cases have a removable motherboard tray that slides out of the case to make it easier to install a motherboard. If your case has such a tray, now is the time to remove it from the case.

Replace the ATX Connector Plate                                      image

Remove and Install the ATX Plate

While there is a standard ATX connector design for the back of the motherboard, each manufacturer can layout the connectors however they need to. This means that the basic ATX connector face plate will need to be removed from the case and the custom one that ships with the motherboard be installed.

To remove the basic ATX plate, gently press in on the corner of the installed ATX plate until it pops out. Repeat this on the opposite corner to fully remove the plate.

Install the new ATX place by aligning the connectors properly (PS/2 keyboard and mouse should be on the side towards the power supply) and gently pressing from the inside until it snaps into place.

Determine Motherboard Mounting Location                         image

Determine Mounting Location

There are a variety of sizes that a desktop motherboard can come in. In each case, there is a series of mounting holes that need to be lined up between the motherboard and the case or tray. Compare the motherboard to the tray that it is going to be installed in. Any location that has a mounting hole will require a standoff installed in the tray.

Install the Motherboard Standoffs

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Install the Motherboard Standoffs

Install the standoffs in the appropriate location. The standoffs may come a variety of styles. The most common is the brass hex standoff that requires a hex driver to install. Others include a clip style that snaps into the tray.

Fasten the Motherboard                                                                           image

Fasten the Motherboard to the Case

Lay the motherboard over the tray and align the board so all the standoffs are visible through the mounting holes. Starting with the center most mounting point, insert the screws to fix the motherboard to the tray. After the center, work in a star pattern to affix the corners of the board.

Attach ATX Control Wires                                          image

Attach ATX Control Wires

Locate the power, hard drive LED, reset and speaker connectors from the case. Using the manual from the motherboard, attach these connectors to the appropriate headers on the motherboard.

Connect the ATX Power Connector                                       image

Connect Power to Motherboard

Now the motherboard needs to be connected to the power supply. All motherboards will use the standard 20-pin ATX power connector block. Find this and plug it into the connector on the motherboard. Since most new computers require additional power, there may also be a 4-pin ATX12V power connector. If there is, locate this power cord and connect it into the connector on the motherboard as well.

(Optional) Replace the Motherboard Tray                                         image

Replace the Motherboard Tray

If the case uses a motherboard tray and the previously removed from the case, it is now time to slide the tray back into the case to finish off the rest of the installation.

(Optional) Install Any Port Headers                                            image

Attach Any Port Connectors to the Motherboard

Many motherboards today have a variety of additional connectors for different types of ports that do not fit on the motherboards ATX connector plate. TO handle these, they supply additional headers that connect to the motherboard and reside in a card slot cover. Additionally, some of these connectors may reside on the case and can be connected into the motherboard.

The installation of any header is very similar to that of installing a standard interface card. Please refer to the Installing a PCI Card guide for information on how to do this.

Once the header has been installed into a card slot, this and any case port connectors need to be attached to the motherboard. Please consult the motherboard manual for the appropriate location of the connectors on pin layouts on the motherboard for these cables.

It is still necessary at this point to install the remaining adapter cards and drives to the motherboard in order to complete the system installation. It is important that once the system is up and running to verify that all the connectors, jumpers and switches are properly installed. If any of them are not work, power down the system and refer to the instruction manual to see if the connectors may be improperly installed.

Removing and Installing Power Supply

Opening the Case                                                                                image

Open Up the Computer Case

This guide was developed to instruct readers on the proper procedures for installing a power supply unit (PSU) into a desktop computer case. It includes step-by-step instructions with photographs for the physical installation of the PSU into a computer case.

IMPORTANT: Many name brand manufacturer PCs use specially designed power supplies that have been built specifically for their systems. As a result, it is generally not possible to buy a replacement power supply and install it into these systems. If your power supply is having problems, you will likely need to contact the manufacturer for repairs.

CAUTION: All power supplies contain various capacitors inside of them that retain power even after the power supply had all power turned off. Never open up or insert any metal objects into the vents of the power supply as you can risk electrical shock.

To start with installing a power supply, it is necessary to open up the case. The method for opening the case will vary depending upon its design. Most new cases use either a panel or door while older systems require the whole cover be removed. Be sure to remove any screws fastening the cover to the case and set them aside.

Aligning the Power Supply                                                    image

Align the Power Supply in the Case

Align the new PSU into place in the case so that the 4 mounting holes align properly. Make sure that any air intake fan on the power supply that resides in the case is facing towards the center of the case and not towards the case cover.

Fasten the Power Supply                                                                      image

Fasten the Power Supply to the Case

Now comes one of the most difficult portions of the power supply installation. The power supply needs to be held in place while it is fastened to the case with screws. If the case has a shelf ledge that the power supply sits on, it will be easier to balance.

Set the Voltage Switch                                                          image

Set the Voltage Switch

Make sure that the voltage switch on the back of the power supply is set to the proper voltage level for your country. North America and Japan use 110/115v, while Europe and many other countries use 220/230v. In most cases the switch will come preset to the voltage settings for your region.

Plug the Power Supply to the Motherboard                                       image

Plug the Power Supply to the Motherboard

If the computer already has the motherboard installed into it, the power leads from the power supply need to be plugged in. Most modern motherboard use the large ATX power connector that gets plugged into the socket on the motherboard. Some motherboards require an additional amount of power through a 4-pin ATX12V connector. Plug this in if required.

Connect Power to Devices                                                                  image

Connect Power to Devices

A number of items reside within a computer case that require power from the power supply. The most common device is the various hard drives and CD/DVD drives. Typically these use the 4-pin molex style connector. Locate the appropriate sized power leads and plug them into any devices that require power.

Close the Computer Case                                                             image

Fasten the Computer Cover

At this point all of the installation and wiring should be completed with the power supply. Replace the computer cover or panel to the case. Fasten the cover or panel with the screws that were previously removed to open the case.

Plug in the Power and Turn on the System                                      image

Turn on the Computer Power

Now all that is left is to provide the power to the computer. Plug in the AC cord to the power supply and turn the switch on the power supply to the ON position. The computer system should have available power and can be powered on. If you are replacing an older or damaged power supply, the steps to remove the power supply are identical to installing them but in the reverse order.

Installing a CPU and Heatsink

Opening CPU Socket

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Open the CPU Socket

This guide was developed to instruct readers on the proper procedures for installing a CPU onto a motherboard and properly attaching the heat sink fan on top of the processor. It includes stepby-step instructions for the physical installation of the CPU onto the motherboard along with the cooling solution. The guide is based upon the pin-grid array processor design used by most companies. It is meant to instruct on how to install a processor onto a new motherboard rather than replacing an existing processor. The steps for an upgrade are similar to that of installing but require that a processor be removed first by reversing the installation instructions.

Motherboards only support specific brands and types of processors. Please read all documentation for your motherboard and processor before proceeding. In addition, please refer to the documentation for the motherboard, processor and cooling solution for the proper location of the processor slot, heat sink mounting clips and CPU fan header locations.

These instructions assume that you are installing the CPU onto the motherboard before installing the motherboard into the computer case.

Locate the processor socket on the motherboard and open the processor slot by lifting the lever on the side of the slot to the open position.

Align the Processor

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Align the CPU to the Socket

Locate the keyed portion of the processor that is signified by a diagonal corner of the pin layout. Align the processor so that this corner matches up between the processor and the socket.

Insert the Processor                                                         image

Insert the CPU

With the processor aligned based on the key, make sure the pins are all lined up with the socket and gentle lower the CPU into the socket so all the pins are in the proper holes.

Lock the Processor in the Socket                                            image

Lock the Processor Down

Lock the processor in place to the motherboard by lowering the lever on the side of the processor slot until it is in the locked position.

If the processor or cooling solution came with a protection plate, align this over the processor as instructed with the product documentation.

Apply Thermal Compound                                                           image

Apply Thermal Compound

Apply a thermal pad or several rice grain size drops of thermal paste to the exposed portion of the processor that the heat sink will be in contact with. If using paste, be sure it is spread in an even thlayer across the whole portion of the processor that will be in contact with the heat sink. It is best to spread the paste evenly by covering your finger with a new clean plastic bag. This prevents the paste from being contaminated.

Align the Heatsink                                                                    image

Align the Heatsink

Align the heat sink or cooling solution above the processor so that the clamps are in line with the mounting points around the processor.

Attach or Mount the Heatsink in                              image

Attach the Heatsink

Clamp the heat sink in place using the proper mounting technique required by the solution. This may be lifting a tab over a mounting clip or screwing down the heat sink to the board. Please refer to the documentation for the heat sink to ensure proper installation.

It is important to be careful at this stage as a lot of pressure will be placed on the board. A slip of a screwdriver can cause a lot of damage to a motherboard.

Attach the Heatsink Fan Header                                            image

Attach Heatsink Fan Header

Locate the power lead for the cooling solution’s fan and the CPU fan header on the motherboard. Plug the cooling solution fan power connector into the fan header on the board. It should be keyed, but make sure it is properly plugged in.

Once these steps are taken, the CPU should be physically installed into the motherboard for proper operation. When all the remaining parts necessary for operation are installed, it will be necessary for the motherboard BIOS to either detect or be told what type and speed processor is installed on the board. Please refer to the documentation that came with the computer or motherboard on how to configure the BIOS for the proper CPU model.

Installing a PCI Expansion Adapter Card

Power Down

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Turn Off All Power to the PC

Before beginning any work on the inside of a computer system, it is important to make sure there is no power. Shutdown the computer from the operating system. Once the computer has safely shut down, flip the switch on the back of the power supply and remove the AC power cord.

Opening Up the Computer

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The method for opening of the computer case will vary depending upon how it was manufactured. Most new cases will use either a side panel or door while older one require that the whole cover be removed. Remove any screws that fasten the cover to the case and set them aside in a safe place.

Remove PC Card Slot Cover

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Remove the PC Slot Cover

Determine which slot inside of the computer the PCI card will be installed in. Based on this slot, remove the slot cover from the case. Most cases will have an internal slot cover that needs to be unscrewed from the case. Some new cases use covers that simply snap into the slot.

Insert the PCI Card

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Insert the PCI Card

Position the PCI card in the slot directly over the connector and gently push down on both sides of the card until it slides into the PCI connector.

Fasten the PCI Card to the Case

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Fasten Down the PCI Card

Fasten the PCI card to the computer case with a screw in the slot cover. Some new cases may use a tool free connector that snaps into place over the card cover to hold the card in place.

Attach Any Cables

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Attach Any Cables to the PCI Card

Most PCI cards are being installed into the computer to connect some peripheral to the computer system. This means that one or more cables will need to be attached between the PCI card and the peripheral. Attach any internal or external cables at this point.

Close the Computer Case

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Fasten the Computer Cover to the Case

At this point, all the internal installation work is completed and the computer case can be closed up. Return the panel or cover to the case and fasten it with the screws that were previously removed.

Power Up the Computer

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Plug the AC Power In

Plug the AC power cord back into the computer and flip the switch on the back to the ON position. At this point, the card is physically installed into the computer system. It is still necessary for the system to be powered on and the hardware detected. Once the system has detected the hardware, it should request any necessary software drivers for its proper operation. Please refer to the documentation that came with the adapter card for the proper software installation procedure.

How to replace the CMOS battery

If your computer is losing its time or date settings, or you are receiving a message CMOS Read Error, CMOS checksum error, or CMOS Battery Failure, first try leaving the computer on for 24-hours. In some cases this can charge the battery and resolve your issue. This often resolves CMOS battery related issues when a computer has been left off for several months. If this does not resolve your issue follow the below steps.

Locate your CMOS battery                               image

If you are unable to locate your CMOS battery refer to your motherboard or computer

documentation or contact your computer manufacturer for additional assistance in locating it.

Obtain battery information

Unfortunately, most manufacturers will not list the exact type and model of your CMOS battery;

therefore, once you have located the battery, write down all information about the battery

(Voltage, chemistry, wiring, and packaging). If possible, remove the battery and take it to the

location you plan on purchasing a new battery from. The part number for this battery for most

computers is CR2032.

Removing the battery

If you’re computer is using a coin cell battery similar to the above example picture. Removing

the battery is relatively simple. use your fingers to grab on the edge of the battery and pull it up

and out of the container holding it. Some motherboards have a clip holding the battery down. If

your computer has this clip you may need to use one had to move the clip up and the other hand

to pull the battery out.

Unfortunately, not all CMOS batteries are removable; some manufactures will only allow a

replacement battery to be added. If you’re not using a coin cell battery and are not able to

determine how to remove it refer to your motherboard or computer documentation or contact

your computer manufacturer for additional assistance in removing the battery or how to insert a

new replacement battery.

Users with computers that do not have removable batteries only options to install a new battery

will most likely also need to set a jumper when adding the new battery into their computer.

Insert the new battery

Once you have purchased a new battery, remove the old battery (as instructed above) and replace

it with the new battery.

Enter CMOS values

Once the battery is replaced turn on the computer and resetting the CMOS values to the defaults.

After the values have all been entered make sure to save the settings before exiting. Many

CMOS setups allow you to press a key (such as F10) to save values and exit all in one action.

If after following all the above steps you continue to experience the same error when your

computer starts or your computer is still unable to keep the stored values it’s likely that you’re

experiencing a more serious issues. Most likely causes are bad power supply or bad

motherboard.

Keeping Your Computer’s Case Cool

One of my systems has a water block on both the CPU and a heavy duty sandwich-style air

cooler on the graphics card. I never worry about those parts overheating. I’ve got about a 7%

overclock on the processor and the poor graphics card is working harder than a mule tugging

barge on the Erie Canal. I don’t even monitor the temperature in that computer’s case or its

components. Part of the reason I feel comfortable not knowing the Celsius status of the box is

that I’ve outfitted it with terrific air cooling. I can practically chill a beer in that case. The onl

way I could get it cooler would be to buy an air conditioner compressor.

Cooling is a hot topic, even for form-factor designers. Intel’s BTX form factor is based on

efficient cooling of its increasingly toasty processors. Someday, DIYers may start to actually

care about BTX, but for now I’ll concentrate on airing out the most popular types of cases: ATX towers. The philosophy of a good air flow design, which I’ll show you, can be applied to other types of cases, as well.

Better cases come with pre-installed fans and lots of fan mounts, but many don’t include suchhardware-friendly features. That’s not going to stop us. We’re going to delve full tilt into cooling the case, from choosing the right fans for the job to figuring out where exactly to mount fans.

Can’t find enough fan mounts? I’ll show you how to make them. Grab your tool kit: You’ll need the following:

 a screwdriver,

 a pencil,

 a compass,

 a drill with a 3/16-inch drill bit,

 a rotary tool with a cutoff blade (or a hole saw),

 a square,

 a metal punch,

 a hammer,

 a fan grill

 and, of course, a fan.

You should also use safety glasses and gloves when you’re cutting metal. Fan filtration is

optional; dust may get in your system anyway, so instead of that, I vacuum out my system a

couple times a year.

Prepare yourself: It’s time to build a tornado inside your PC. Continued…

CPU cooling is a cottage industry. Too many companies to mention make water, air, and

electronic coolers. Case cooling, however, is just as important. Air coolers for CPUs and GPU sneed cool air to blow into their heat sinks. As they do their job, the hot air from the heat sink gets dissipated right into the confines of the case. Without an air cooling system that both draws cool air from the outside in and exhausts warm air out, your computer’s air-cooled chips, and those without cooling, aren’t being cooled as efficiently as possible.

Cooling isn’t limited to the CPU, GPU, and southbridge. Other components that don’t

necessarily require their own dedicated cooling hardware can benefit from fresh air billowing

through the case. Hard drives tend to run hot enough that you can actually buy specialized air

coolers for them. Various chips, like those of the northbridge, the sound card, the network

device, and so on, generate heat—not enough to fry themselves, but heat nevertheless—and

should be subject to a bit of a cool breeze.

You can’t rely on the fans in the power supply. The ATX standard and its derivatives are

ambiguous as to how power supply fans may be used. Some PSU’s have two, some have one;

they might draw air inward and vent their warm air right toward the CPU, or they might vent

outward. PSU fans conform only to the whims of the engineers who design the devices, and their goal is to cool their own components, not the whole PC. Continued…

I’ve met novices at LAN parties who simply install fans blowing inward in every fan mount, and that might work to some extent. One person I know online claims to have 8 fans in his system.“How many are exhaust fans?” I asked him. “Blowing out? He answered. “I think the power supply fan blows outward.”

In fact, it’s just as important to vent heated air out of the case as it is to draw cool air in. Blowing air directly onto every component keeps the warmed air confined in the case, aside from what can escape through ambient holes. Instead, you should try to create a cross-breeze running through the case—just as you try to create in your house on a warm summer day by opening both the front and back windows.

Most fan mounts are on the front and the rear of the case chassis. Since the computer case,

whether it’s on the floor or on your desk, faces you, you probably don’t want the warmed air

venting through the front right toward you. Instead, envision a breeze blowing in through the

front panel, sweeping through the computer, and escaping through the rear of the box—or you could just look at the diagram.

image

With the power supply being a rogue, it’s hard to create a perfect balance of air coming in and air venting out. Thus, you’ll end up with either a vacuum created in the case (if more air is leaving than coming in) or a buildup of air pressure (if more is coming in than going out). As long as intake and exhaust are both accounted for, don’t worry too much about it. The advantage of creating a vacuum is that more cool air will be drawn in through ambient holes and gaps, and it might cool the air temperature a bit, but dust will also get sucked in. Continued…

Before you add a fan, you have to buy one. Before you buy, you need to know what to get.You’ll have to inspect your case for fan mounts and determine the fan sizes you need, and then settle on the specs of the fan itself.

Fans come in sizes measured in millimeters. The measurement indicates the length and width ofthe fan (nearly all case fans are square)–not the diagonal measurement like that of a monitor’s viewable area. Commonly used fans are 80mm, 90mm, and 120mm, although they come in many more sizes. This photograph shows a 120mm fan mount in the front of a case.

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You can spot a fan mount in your PC’s chassis by the presence of a grill (or many holes next to each other) surrounded by four symmetrical screw holes, one in each corner. To determine the size of the fan you need, measure from one screw hole to an adjacent one (again, not the diagonal one) with a metric ruler. Round it up to the nearest 10 millimeters. For example, if you find the holes are 115mm apart, you need a 120mm fan. Fans come in various depths, too, usually around 25mm. Some fans include LED lighting.

Fan specifications include, among other things, three values: The RPM (rotations per minute) frequency, the acoustic noise level in dB (decibels), and, most importantly, the air volume they push in CFM (cubic feet per minute). In general, fans that push more air will have higher RPM frequencies and run louder. You also need to pay attention to how the fan is powered: Most come with 4-pin Molex pass-through connectors, while others have three-pin connectors for motherboard fan headers and can be monitored if the board supports it; some have both.

Consider the total CFM of airflow going into the case and the total being exhausted. Try to make the two figures close, but don’t worry about being exact.

You can get PC fans at any computer store, or for a wider selection, check out online stores that cater to overclockers, such as FrozenCPU.com. Look for fans that move as much air as possible with acceptable loudness. To give you an idea of decibel levels, your own normal breathing is about 10db, a whisper is about 20db, and normal conversation in a quiet room is about 50db. I don’t mind fan noise, so my cutoff when I shop for a fan is about 40dbA; if you want a truly quiet computer, go for fans quieter than 25dbA.

Actually adding a fan takes a matter of minutes. Most fans will come with four screws, andsomewhere on the side of the fan you’ll find arrows marking the blades’ turn direction and airflow direction. You simply orient the fan, inside the chassis so that the holes line up with the holes in the fan mounting area, and screw it in. The screws should go through the case and into the fan, not through the fan and into the case.

Sometimes, you’ll encounter a fan mount that you can’t reach from inside the chassis. The fan for that mount will actually go outside the chassis; if it’s in the front and if the fan isn’t too deep, it will fit between the chassis and the front cover. Cases that have such mounts usually include long screws with their hardware bundle. If you were wondering what you’d ever do with those,this is it. The screw holes in the mount correspond to the threads of those screws. You simply thread them right through the fans’ holes, into the mount holes, and tighten them up—see the photograph. Don’t over-tighten, as you will bend the corners of the plastic fan and may even snap them off.

image

Occasionally, you’ll encounter a case with plastic fan holders already installed in mountingareas. That’s a bonus: All you have to do is snap the fan into place and power it.

Before you buy a fan, consult the case documentation or measure the plastic fan holster to see what measurements the fan should have, in length/width and depth.

Always fire up the PC with the case open after you install a fan, to ensure that the fan works and that the air is blowing in the direction you intended. Continued…

Older cases may not have a sufficient number of fan mounts. Even if you have a modern case, it may lack a fan mount on the side panel near where the expansion cards—especially the graphics card—are seated. If you can’t get your PC’s case cool enough with its included mounts or if you need extra cooling for an overclocked graphics card, you can cut your own fan holes into the case.

Make sure there’s room for a fan inside the case where you want to place it. When I was anewbie modder, I happily cut a fan hole into the top of an ancient beige case. I mounted the fan,only to discover that the power supply overlapped the area where the fan would have been. Use a ruler and measure the area you wish to fill with a fan to ensure you won’t have a similar experience. Don’t forget to measure for depth, as well as length and width.

When you’ve scouted an acceptable location, it’s time to cut the hole and mount the fan. Just follow these steps. When you’ve scouted an acceptable location, it’s time to cut the hole and mount the fan. Just follow these steps.

1. Decide on the location of your new fan mount. You can either eyeball it or, if you’re trying to cool something specific like a graphics card, measure from the rear of the caseto where you believe the center of the fan should be, and then measure from the bottom of the case.

2. Remove the panel to which you plan to add a fan mount from the case and do your workfar away from your computer. Metal shavings and circuit boards do not go well together.

3. On the inside of the panel, transfer your measurements and mark the location where thefan should be centered with a pencil. Then hit the center point with a metal punch. Youonly need a tiny divot; don’t dent the panel.

4. Place the sharp end of a compass on the center of the actual fan, and move the pencil tothe outside of the fan blade opening. That will be the radius of the hole.

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5. Use the compass to draw a circle around the divot you just made on the panel. The circle defines the area of the panel that you’ll cut out.

6. Using a rotary tool (and, of course, eye protection and gloves), very carefully cut the hole out of the panel. Sand or file the edges to remove any burrs and sharp areas. (You canalso use a hole saw for the cut; use the closest one you can find to the diameter of your circle.)                 image

7. With the panel on a flat surface, place the fan over the hole. Use the square to make sure it’s parallel with the sides of the panel (unless you want it in a diagonal or otherorientation). With your pencil, mark where each mounting hole location.                                                                             image

8. Use the metal punch to make a small divot at each pencil mark for your drill bit. Withoutan indentation at which to start drilling, the drill bit would slide around all over the panel.

9. Chuck a 3/16″ drill bit into your drill and drill the four mounting holes.

10. With a damp cloth, wipe the panel inside and out to remove any metal dust and shavings.

11. With the fan on the inside, oriented to blow in the direction you desire and a fan grill on the outside of the case panel, mount the fan with four fan screws (included with any selfrespecting fan).                     image

12. Move the panel back to the computer chassis. Connect the power and turn on the PC to be sure the fan powers up. If it does, power down the PC and secure the panel in place. Yourproject is complete! Continued…

Many motherboards feature temperature sensors to measure the CPU’s heat and the temperature inside the case, and some that do include a Windows utility that reports their findings on a regular basis. If you suspect that motherboard has sensors but it didn’t come with such a utility, you can try Motherboard Monitor , but note that the applet hasn’t been updated in over a year.

You can also purchase and install add-in hardware that comes with temperature probes and an LED or LCD readout on a console mounted in a 5 1/4-inch drive bay. Some even offer knobs to give you control over various fans’ RPM rates.

Opinions vary on just how warm is too warm for a case’s ambient temperature. I try to keepmine below 50 degrees Celsius. Most of my computers run between 40 and 45 degrees. I don’t like it when it gets up to 60 degrees, and 70 degrees is simply too hot.

With an efficient cooling strategy, there’s no reason a case should ever grow so warm. Goodairflow is critical to keeping your PC operating and extending the life of the components. Keep the air flowing!

Why you want a Linux Live CD

For the most part, on this blog, I try to convince readers to do something defensive on theircomputers – like a parent nagging a child to eat their vegetables. Only once have I put my foot down, so to speak, saying unequivocally last year that all Windows XP users should employ DropMyRights. Now, another emphatic endorsement – all Windows users should have a Linux Live CD, and, know how to use it.

If you’re not familiar with the term “Live” applied to a CD, that’s because it’s not something that exists in the Windows world. Linux can do something Windows can’t, run (not just install) from a CD. You can run Linux off a Live CD even on a computer that doesn’t have an internal hard disk.

There isn’t a single Linux Live CD any more than there is a single Linux. Live CDs were initially a great way to kick the tires on various Linux distributions. That still holds, but I suggest them for other reasons.

Have you ever panicked when Windows won’t boot and you really need the files on thecomputer? You can boot from a Linux Live CD and easily copy files to an external hard disk, a USB flash drive or another computer on a Local Area Network. With a little work you should also be able to burn a CD or DVD. In the old days Linux struggled with the NTFS file system, but those days are long gone. Depending on the Linux distribution you chose, the hard disk may default to “read-only” mode, but this isn’t a problem if all you want to do is copy files off the machine.

Speaking of the old days, Linux distributions used to have install CDs and Live CDs. Now, many CDs do both. Ubuntu, for example, introduced the ability to install onto the hard disk from the Live CD in version 6.06.

When Windows won’t startup, the first debugging issue is always whether it’s a hardware orsoftware problem. Here too, a Live CD can help. If Linux boots and runs fine, and can see and view all the files on the hard disk, then you most likely have a software problem. If a Linux Live CD won’t boot, there’s a chance that it stumbled on some hardware it can’t deal with. Therefore, it’s best to boot with your chosen Live CD as you as you get it. If a previously tested Live CD no longer boots, you’ve probably got a hardware problem. No rocket science here.

If Windows is corrupted or infected with malware, a Linux Live CD can give it a new lease on life. Although running from a CD is much slower than running from an internal hard disk, the Live CD can restore Internet access. This is all but guaranteed for an Ethernet-based broadband connection and may even work for a WiFi connection.

The previously mentioned read-only mode for the hard disk can prove useful too. To some children, the web browser is the computer. You can set them loose on Firefox running off a Live

CD and be 100% sure they won’t screw up the installed copy of Windows in any way, shape or form.

A Live CD can also be used to fix a broken copy of Windows. Yes, Windows has a RecoveryConsole, but a Live CD has its pluses. For one, the Recovery Console is only an option if youhave a Windows CD. Also, at least with XP, you have to provide an Administrator password touse the Recovery Console, not so with a Live CD. And, if the problem with Windows has to do with the part of the registry that stores passwords, you’ll never be able to get into the Recovery Console. Plus, it’s command line based whereas Live CDs offer a GUI. Finally, a Live CD offers many more options for copying files off the computer than does the Recovery Console.

Windows XP users may also appreciate that Linux Live CDs can be used to re-partition the hard disk, saving the cost of commercial products such as Partition Magic. I have to stress however,that any partitioning operation is dangerous, no matter what software is employed, and you should always backup everything you can think to backup before changing partitions.

As for cost, Linux Live CDs are free. You can download the Live CD for any number of Linux distributions as a single ISO file. Just burn it to a CD and you’re done. Ubuntu goes ever further. If you don’t have a broadband connection or can’t burn your own CDs, Canonical will send you a free CD in the mail. For other ways to get it see here and here (look for the 8.04 LTS Desktop edition).

As with DropMyRights there is no down side to having a Linux Live CD at the ready.

Extras

The Live Ubuntu CD offers a very handy extra, a ram diagnostic program. Below you see theoptions presented when booting from the CD. The first option “Try Ubuntu without any change to your computer” runs Ubuntu from the CD. The fourth option “Test memory” invokes the Memtest86+ ram diagnostic.      image

When Windows is acting up, a ram diagnostic is always a good thing to try. Memtest86+ will run forever if you let it. I’d run it for about 8 hours. Look at the “Pass” and the “Errors” column.Eight hours should be enough time, on most computers, for quite a few passes through the ram. Needless to say, we want zero errors. They’ll be hard to miss, Memtest86+ displays details about any errors in bright red.          image

Bought a new computer? A few hours worth of ram testing is highly recommended.

In researching this, I also tried the Linux Mint Live CD which seems like it provides access to Memtest86+. It didn’t. In my virtual machine, the Live CD ISO booted straight to the Linux desktop. Likewise, the “hybrid” Live CD of Mandriva Linux 2008 Spring One also didn’t offer a boot time menu, but instead booted to the desktop after asking some questions about my preferred language and country.

OpenSUSE version 11 has a boot menu that, like Ubuntu, offers a “Memory Test” (see below). It too invokes Memtest86+, in fact, it runs version 2.01 which is newer than the version included with Ubuntu 8.04.                                                                                             image

Ultimate Boot CD for Windows

The Linux user interface isn’t all that different from Windows. Still, if you’re allergic to Linux, or married to Microsoft, then check out the Ultimate Boot CD for Windows. It’s the closest thing I’ve found to a Linux Live CD, in fact the price is the same: free.

The downside however, is that it requires a Windows XP or Server 2003 CD and support for Vista is far from complete. In a nutshell, its an XP thing. Also, there are a number of steps tocreating the CD, it’s more involved than simply burning an ISO file.

But, if you spend time with UBCD for Windows you can run assorted anti-malware programsfrom the CD you create to (hopefully) disinfect a copy of Windows. Even without anti-malware,it comes with a huge list of useful reporting and diagnostic programs. I was introduced to my favorite disk image backup program, Drive Image XML from Runtime Software by UBCD for Windows. If nothing else, it too, can be used to copy files off a computer when Windows won’t boot. Highly recommended

Use Ubuntu Live CD to Backup Files from Your Dead Windows Computer

If you’ve ever asked for help with your Windows computer that won’t boot anymore, you’ve probably been told to “Backup all your data and then reinstall”… but if you can’t boot, how can you get to your data? That’s the question we’ll be answering today.

One of the easiest methods to access your data is to simply boot off an Ubuntu Live CD… and it’s completely free (except for the cost of a blank cd).

Burn an Ubuntu Live CD

If you have another computer, you can download and burn the Ubuntu Live CD using a very simple application called ImgBurn. Otherwise, you can bug one of your friends to help you burn a copy.

Just open up ImgBurn, and click the icon to “Write image file to disc”

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Then click on the icon next to “Source”, pick the downloaded ISO file, stick a recordable CD into the drive, and click burn.

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Now that you have the boot cd (which you should keep in a safe place, as it’s very useful), just stick it in the drive of the computer and boot from it. You should see an option to “Try Ubuntu without any change to your computer”.

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Once the system has started up, the first thing you want to do is choose Places \ Computer from the menu.                                                                                      image

This should show you all the drives available in the system, including your Windows drive. In my case, that is the 52.4 GB volume.                                                                                                                              image

You can try and double-click on the drive to open it… and if it immediately works then lucky you! Most of the time it’s going to give you an error saying “Unable to mount the volume”,because Windows didn’t shut it down cleanly.                                                                                                                                 image

Click the Details link so that you can see the full message, and leave this window open. You’ll see a “Choice 2″ in the message, which includes the commands to force Ubuntu to use that drive even though there’s something wrong.                                                                                                         image

What you’ll want to do is open a new Terminal from Applications \ Accessories \ Terminal on the top menu. Once you’ve done that, then you’ll want to type in a bunch of commands, which I’ll walk you through.

First, we’ll want to switch to “administrator” mode, which in Linux terms is known as “root”.The simplest way to do it is with this command:

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