Monday, 5 December 2011

What is a Computer Hardware

Your PC (Personal Computer) is a system, consisting of many components. Some of those components, like Windows XP, and all your other programs, are software. The stuff you can actually see and touch, and would likely break if you threw it out a fifth-story window, is hardware.

Not everybody has exactly the same hardware. But those of you who have a desktop system, like the example shown in Figure 1, probably have most of the components shown in that same figure. Those of you with notebook computers probably have most of the same components. Only in your case the components are all integrated into a single book-sized portable unit.

The system unit is the actual computer; everything else is called a peripheral device. Your computer's system unit probably has at least one floppy disk drive, and one CD or DVD drive, into which you can insert floppy disks and CDs. There's another disk drive, called the hard disk inside the system unit, as shown in Figure 2. You can't remove that disk, or even see it. But it's there. And everything that's currently "in your computer" is actually stored on that hard disk. (We know this because there is no place else inside the computer where you can store information!).

The floppy drive and CD drive are often referred to as drives with removable media or removable drives for short, because you can remove whatever disk is currently in the drive, and replace it with another. Your computer's hard disk can store as much information as tens of thousands of floppy disks, so don't worry about running out of space on your hard disk any time soon. As a rule, you want to store everything you create or download on your hard disk. Use the floppy disks and CDs to send copies of files through the mail, or to make backup copies of important items.
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