A+ Guide to Managing & Maintaining Your PC / Edition 7 available in Hardcover
Written by best-selling PC repair author and educator Jean Andrews, the seventh edition of A+ Guide to Managing and Maintaining Your PC maps fully to CompTIA's 2009 A+ Exam objectives. This full-color guide is the most complete, step-by-step book available for learning the fundamentals of supporting and troubleshooting computer hardware and software. At the same time, it prepares readers to successfully pass the A+ 220-701 and 220-702 exams. The new edition is formatted to support any learning style and course format, featuring an essentials-to-practical organization within each chapter. Tabs distinguishing exam content provide easy reference. Further content and live demonstrations with Jean Andrews are available on the accompanying CD, making this new edition a total solution for PC repair.
About the Author
Jean Andrews has more than 30 years of experience in the computer industry as well as more than 13 years of teaching in the college classroom. She has worked in a variety of businesses where she's designed, written, and supported application software. She has also managed a computer repair help desk and handled troubleshooting for wide area networks. Ms. Andrews has written numerous books on software, hardware and the Internet. In addition to this bestselling A+ GUIDE TO IT TECHNICAL SUPPORT, she's written the A+ GUIDE TO HARDWARE: MANAGING, MAINTAINING AND TROUBLESHOOTING. She lives in north Georgia.
Read an Excerpt
Chapter 14: Purchasing a PC or Building Your OwnSELECTING A PERSONAL COMPUTER TO MEET YOUR NEEDS So far, this book has been chock-full of information to help you make decisions concerning which computers, peripheral devices, operating systems, and software to buy and how to manage and maintain them once they are yours. However, hardware and software are changing daily, and it's important to stay informed if you make buying decisions or give advice about these decisions. There are three alternatives from which to choose when selecting a PC: buy a brand-name PC, buy a clone, or buy parts and assemble a PC yourself, which, in effect, results in your own personally designed clone.
A brand-name PC, sometimes called an IBM-compatible PC, is a PC with a recognizable name such as Compaq, Packard Bell, Dell, Gateway, or IBM. A clone is generally understood to mean a PC that has been assembled by local companies without readily recognizable brand names and parts. (Brand-name PCs and clones once had entirely different meanings. Originally, the one and only brand-name PC was the IBM, and all other personal computers were called clones.) Brand-name and clone PCs each have advantages and disadvantages when considering warranties, service contracts, and ease of obtaining replacement and added parts. For instance, while it may seem advantageous that brand-name PCs and most clones come with some software already installed, the software is not necessarily standard, brand-name software. The pre-installed software may be any variety of shareware, unknown software, or the like, and the documentation and original installation disks for the software may not be included in the total package.
When selecting a computer system that will include both hardware and software, begin by taking a high-level view of the decisions you must make. Start by answering these questions:
In order to make the best possible decision, consider the first question to be the most important, and each succeeding question less important than the one before it. For example, if you intend to use the computer for playing games and accessing the Internet, the functionality required is considerably different than for a computer used for software development. Listed below are some examples of possible answers to the first question. A computer may be intended for these purposes:
- To access the Internet
- To play games
- To use software stored on a file server while connected to a LAN
- For Windows software development
- For business applications on a standalone PC or on a LAN
- For computing-intensive engineering or mathematical applications such as CAD/CAM
- To provide help-desk support with online remote control of other computers
- For multimedia presentations before large and small groups
- For use in a retail store, including cash register support
- For network administration
After you have identified the intended purpose of the computer, list the finictionality required to meet the needs of the intended purpose. If the computer is to be used for playing games, some required functionality might be:
- Ability of the hardware to support games software
- Excellent video and sound
- Sophisticated input methods
If the computer is to be used for Windows software development, required functionality might include:
- Standard hardware and software environment that most customers using the developed software might have
- Software development tools and hardware to support the software
- Comfortable keyboard and mouse for long work hours
- Removable, high-capacity storage device for easy transfer and storage of developed software
- Reliable warranty and service to guarantee minimal "downtime"
Once the required functionality is defined, the next step--defining what hardware and software are needed-is much easier. Research what hardware and software meet the desired functions. For example, if a comfortable keyboard designed for long work hours is a required functionality, begin by researching the different types of keyboards available, and try out a few in the stores if necessary. It would be a mistake to purchase the cheapest keyboard in the store for this intended purpose. However, for game playing, an expensive, comfortable keyboard is not needed. For game playing, spend the least amount of money on a keyboard and put your resources into a sophisticated joystick.
In the last example above, the least possible amount of downtime is a required functionality. This is a required functionality for many business-use computers, and the one most important reason a business chooses a brand-name computer over a clone.
BRAND-NAME PC VS. CLONE
As you have most likely noticed, brand-name PCs generally cost more than clone PCs with similar features. One reason that brand-name PCs cost more is that you are paying extra money for after-sales service. For example, an IBM personal computer comes with a three-year warranty, a 24-hour service help line with a toll-free number, and parts delivered to your place of business. A clone manufacturer may also give good service, but this may be due to the personalities of a few employees, rather than to company policies. Most likely, clone company policies will not be as liberal and all-encompassing as those of a brand-name manufacturer.
On the other hand, many brand-name manufacturers use nonstandard parts with their hardware and nonstandard approaches to setting up their systems, making their computers more proprietary than clones. Proprietary systems are ones that are unique to a particular vendor (or proprietor), often forcing customers to use only parts and service from that vendor. One of the most common things a brand-name manufacturer does to make its computer more proprietary is put components on the systemboard rather than use more generic expansion cards. Remember from earlier chapters that an easy way to tell if ports are coming directly off a systemboard is to look at the back of the PC. If ports are aligned horizontally on the bottom of a desktop PC or vertically down the side of the tower-case PC, these ports most likely come directly off the systemboard, making it more likely to be a proprietary-type board.
For example, a brand-name system may include video, sound, or network logic on the systemboard rather than on an expansion card. Or rather than CMOS setup being updated by a setup program in BIOS, the setup program may be stored on the hard drive.The shape and size of the computer case may be such that a standard systemboard does not fit; only the brand-name board will do. These kinds of things make upgrading and repair of brand-name PCs more difficult.You are forced to use the brand-name parts and brand-name service to maintain and/or upgrade the PC.
When selecting software, go back to the required functionality that you have identified, which drives your decisions about software selection. Choose the operating system first, according to guidelines presented in Chapter 2.When choosing applications software consider these things: a What do you want the software to do? (This will be defined by your answer to the functionality question above.)
- Is compatibility with other software or data required?
- Is training available, if you do not already have the skills needed to use the software?
- How good is the documentation?
- What are upgrade policies?
Table of Contents
1. Introducing Hardware. 2. Introducing Operating Systems. 3. Working with People in a Technical World. 4. Form Factors and Power Supplies. 5. All about Motherboards. 6. Supporting Processors. 7. Upgrading Memory. 8. Supporting Hard Drives. 9. Installing and Supporting I/O devices. 10. Multimedia Devices and Mass Storage. 11.PC Maintenance and Troubleshooting Strategies. 12. Installing Windows. 13. Maintaining Windows. 14. Optimizing Windows. 15. Tools for Solving Windows Problems. 16. Fixing Windows Problems. 17. Networking Essentials. 18. Networking Practices. 19. Security Essentials. 20. Security Practices. 21. Supporting Notebooks. 22. Supporting Printers. Appendices: A.CompTIA A+ Acronyms. B. Keystroke Shortcuts in Windows.