Basic Computer FAQ

By Adam Parker

Many people use computers in their daily lives. At the same time, people often have trouble remembering the different components of a computer or keeping track of all the terminology. The computer is really a multi-purpose tool that stores information, sends and receives information and runs programs that perform various tasks. Once you have a grasp on the general way a computer works, you’ll have an easier time remembering the specific terminology.

  1. What is a CPU?

    • CPU is short for central processing unit. The CPU is the part of the computer that is most responsible for the computer’s speed. The CPU’s processing speed is measured in gigahertz (GHz). The CPU can be thought of as the computer’s “engine” with the GHz corresponding to an engine’s horsepower. Each GHz equals 1,000 MHz, so a speed of 2.4 GHz is equal to 2,400 MHz.

    What is RAM?

    • Random access memory (RAM) is the computer’s temporary memory. It is measured in gigabytes (GB) and is used as needed to complete tasks. The amount of RAM a computer has is a significant factor in the computer’s overall speed because the more RAM it has, the faster it can process tasks. Adding more RAM to a computer is the easiest way to instantly increase the computer’s speed.

    What is a hard drive?

    • The hard drive is the storage area. Every file on a computer is stored on the hard drive. The storage capacity of a hard drive is measured in gigabytes (GB). In contrast to RAM, the hard drive is the permanent storage area. While every computer contains an internal hard drive, there are external hard drives as well. External hard drives are often used to back up the information on an internal hard drive.

    What is USB?

    • USB stands for Universal Serial Bus. This is a communication and connection technology that is used on virtually all computers to connect peripheral devices. Peripheral devices are connected to the computer’s USB port via a USB cable. Some common peripherals are the mouse, keyboard, printer and external hard drive.

    What is an operating system?

    • The operating system or OS, is the software program that a computer uses to perform functions. Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and Linux are examples of operating systems. The operating system is the software that runs all the programs on the computer. While all operating systems are designed to accomplish similar tasks, specific programs are often compatible with only one kind of operating system.



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