Using a computer makes thing easy for all and are universally utilized, be it for business, creativity, or even personal use. We’ve become accustomed to streamlined designs, bright bubbly application icons, colorful sidebars, rows of files, and even the vastness of the Internet. However, as simplistic and easy a computer may be, there are many inner workings and components that allow computers to function, making these devices what we know them to be today.  Computer’s 1s and 0s combine to create a hivemind of activity, allowing you to perform tasks, work, or even search Google.

Computers Have Organs

They do, but not in the way you think. The definition of an organ is “a self-contained component that performs a specific, vital function.” We have our brain, heart, nervous system, as opposed to a computer’s motherboard, hard drive, or circuit board, which, like us, keep the computer functioning.

Computers are composed of CPU, RAM, hard drives, motherboards, USB slots, and peripherals. Each one of these control a specific function that no other part does. A CPU, otherwise known as a ‘central processing unit’ interprets and executes commands from the computer’s software and hardware. RAM is device that temporarily stores information while a computer works, the more RAM a computer has the more it can perform at once with no issues. In order to multi-task and run many programs (e.g- a PC game, iTunes, and your internet browser) you will need enough RAM for this to all work at the same time, without unfortunate side effects (your game starts to lag or crash, music stops, and even your browser loading its pages slowly).

Hard drives, on the other hand, are non-temporary stores of data that can contain specific amounts of information depending upon it’s size. Everything you have installed or saved or used is stored within these data-filled devices.

USB slots and other peripherals allow the flow of anything from data to electricity, to audio and video. Peripherals are categorized by input, output, or even both. Input sends data or instructions to a computer, and it send information in, meanwhile output sends its information out from the computer to the output device. USB and other peripherals generally allow usage of your computer to something else, such as your TV (similar to HDMI output), or your phone (you can charge or upload files to your phone via USB). Peripherals that you’ve probably used today are output devices like your headphones or the mouse to your computer. It’s as simple as that!

Finally, we have motherboards which are the main circuit board, that regulates information between different parts of the computer (think the computer version of our nervous system). It regulates communication between each part, allowing the computer to fully function, allowing us to use it!

Take Care of Your Expensive Metal Baby (And Yourself Too)

Computers, like every other thing you can own (or like yourself) will over time break down or run slowly without the proper care. To ensure your computer doesn’t start to dilapidate from neglect, it’s best to take care of it, and even spend a bit of money towards anti-virus software or upgrading certain parts of your computer when it starts to go down-hill. It’ll save much money and grief to take care of your computer so you don’t end up needing to buy a whole new one.

Just like humans, computers can become ill with viruses. Not unlike the biological version, computers will start to slow down due to the virus replicating itself within the computer. Computer viruses also referred to as ‘malware’, and upon execution will take part in some dubious activity. This could be anything from hogging space on the hard drive to spamming your emails and learning your passwords, to even making your computer unusable. Fortunately you can provide ‘medicine’ to your computer in the form of anti-virus software and firewalls. You may be familiar with some of these software such as Norton, McAfee, and or Anti Malwarebytes, and they all do similar jobs of keeping your computer safe. They are tasked with finding the malware within your computer and eradicating it. Also, if it cannot be removed, it will get (hopefully) quarantined. Unfortunately, not all these programs can stop a virus that it cannot detect, such as new viruses. At this point, what you can do is be careful to not click fishy links, never visit ad-filled pop-up ridden websites, and hopefully with this activism, your computer will be okay. After all, the one best way to prevent disease is by washing your hands, or in this case, you should try to keep your browsing on your computer as safe and clean as possible.

Along with protecting your computer from harmful things via the Internet and other connections, it may also be wise to prepare your computer for either your own mistakes along with the possibility that something may physically happen to it. To do this, one would upload their files and folders to either an external hard drive or into cloud storage. Cloud storage is only available via Internet or networks and may cost money for extra storage space, meanwhile with external hard drives you may lose or physically damage those. Be sure to back up your important files! You never know when your computer might be unlucky and fall or go kaput.

Although, just like how your computer won’t do well without the proper care, neither will you. Many people will spend hours a day in front of their computers without being sure to give themselves proper care, and pay the price for it. There are multitudes of ways to give yourself the care you need so you can keep working for long hours without all the extra strain.

One of the best things you can do if you’ll be staying in place for long hours is by arranging your computer’s workstation for ease of access. Having your screens at eye level is extremely helpful so you don’t have to crane your neck in uncomfortable positions, meanwhile having the mouse and keyboard at a slight distance away from you may help with strain on your arms and wrists. Along with these preparations, you can also do exercises at the computer that will help keep your wrist pain away. Take many frequent breaks, as well, and be sure to stretch and move when you start to feel stiff.

PC Versus Mac

PC versus Mac is just like Pepsi versus Coca Cola, Mustard versus Ketchup. Not to mention at this point, if you’re a ardent fan of either PC or Mac, you’ve probably gotten into the debate upon which is better. Undoubtedly, both brands have different interfaces that some folks may prefer whereas others are fond of the latter.

PCs tend to be more common than Mac in the workplace, which can be attributed to the fact that PCs are sold more universally than Macs which are sold only by Apple. It has also been revealed by Apple that Microsoft  is four times more popular than Mac. Apple’s sales are hardly struggling, though. There are also more PC users and PC computers than Mac. This also effects the amount of locations that will repair your computer, due to the fact that only Apple will repair their Macs, and PCs can have multiple different repair shops and the like. (Just be sure to choose a reputable repair place, usually these places will be recognized by the brand company.) Another aspect that make these two products differ is the price gap, low-end PCs are more affordable than low-end Macs, and even high-end PCs are still cheaper than the high-end Macs.

On the more nitty gritty technical side, Macs and PCs do have some very different specs on them. For example, most PCs are inherently sold with more RAM; the average PC has 2-8 gigabytes of RAM whereas the average Apple has 1-4 gigabytes of RAM. Apple Macs are also equipped with smaller hard drives and less storage space, but this can easily be justified by the fact that Mac programs are much smaller than their PC-based counterparts.

Although all this seems to lean towards PC, in the end, Macs are much less stable than PCs. PCs are notorious for their ‘blue screen of death’ and crashes, meanwhile Macs are less likely to crash as often as any kind of PC. This has been eventually changing over time, as PCs are becoming more reliable and more stable.

Some other operating systems that aren’t as well known as PC or Mac are OS like Linux. Linux is actually fairly common, and it’s OS is run on anything from computers to smartphones and anything that requires an OS! It can also be used to work on DVRs, Smart TVs, gaming systems, and smart watches. Linux is extremely versatile because it is open source where it’s source code and programming is free and open to edits. This also allows it to be modified and sold – commercially or not, and is governed by the GNU public license. A few other under-recognized OS are Haiku and Berkeley Unix, which are not as friendly towards novice computer users as the other types of OS.

Internal? External? What’s the Difference They’re Both Hard Drives?

The difference between internal and external hard drives is basically that internal hard drives are internal and external hard drives are external. The choice between these two depend up to their users own preference, as there is little difference between running speeds. Connecting an internal hard drive means that one would have to be comfortable with physically taking apart your computer and placing the said hard drive within. Meanwhile, an external hard drive you would need to attach to the computer externally via a peripheral, such as a USB port. Internal hard drives are always inside your machine, so it is very helpful, but if you prefer to be able to transport your drive, then an external hard drive may be for you. You can easily detach an external drive and take it elsewhere, and it is capable of being inserted into other computers.

On the subject of ports, the way you connect other devices or accessories to your computer is via ports. Ports can transport data, information, or electricity and are the conduit for that information flow. They utilize the different kinds of peripherals to allow this, and are extremely important for certain tasks.

In the end, there is much to learn about computers and how they function, not to mention there are constantly more and more technologies being made to work with them! It’s best to stay up-to-date and learn about your choice in technology before you buy and when you work with your computers.

Header photo taken by Domenico Loia.