An Introduction To Basic Computer Learning

Basic computer learning is about understanding how computers work. Whether you have a traditional desktop computer, laptop or mobile device such as Apple iPad, the basics of how they all work is very similar.

Modern society is built on information technology and it influences every aspect of daily life. This trend is set to continue, and increase, as more devices are developed with inbuilt intelligence; commonly termed the Internet of Things (IoT).

More intelligent devices means more scope for things going wrong. I'm sure we have all experienced some sort of technical issues that required troubleshooting. Did you fix the issue yourself or ask a friend? Did you know how you fixed the issue or was it by chance?

To troubleshoot technology properly, whether it be the latest device or something more traditional that has served you well over the years, I strongly recommend you follow the basic computer learning process presented here.

One you understand computing fundamentals, you are able to understand how most technology works, which in turn enables you to efficiently troubleshoot your devices without leaving anything to chance.

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Basic Computer Learning
The First Principles Of Using Computers

The Computer Introduction article (Opens New Window) is the only place to start, if you know nothing or very little about computers.

Even if you are an experienced home computer user or a seasoned professional, it is reading this article as a reminder, or aide memoir, about basic computer information.

As an IT Professional I always find it useful to go back to basics. It clears the mind and can both put things in to perspective and create new ideas/approaches for the task in hand.

Desktop computer in a state of repairInside A Desktop Computer

This article discusses what computers are and how their integration into society is changing they way we live our daily lives.

We look at the different types of computers in existence today and the benefits they bring e.g. PC's, Laptops, Tablets and Embedded Devices such as those found in fire panels.

Embedded Devices drive modern health and transport systemsEmbedded Devices Drive Modern Health and Transport Systems Courtesy of

We also look at what software is and the functions different types of programs perform to make the best use of various hardware platforms. 

You also lean how to troubleshoot computers. The standard 5-step approach detailed in this article applies to all computer problems. It is a tried and tested framework that is used in the IT Industry on a daily basis. The steps are:

  1. Determine the Issue or Problem
  2. Determine Probable Cause(s)
  3. Test Your Potential Fix
  4. Verify the Issue is Resolved
  5. Documentation

If you follow these steps as part of your basic computer learning process, you are ahead of most people when it comes to fixing computer issues, whether they is hardware or software related.

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What Is Inside Of Your Computer?

The next step in your basic computer learning process is to understand the Computer Hardware Components (Opens New Window) inside your machine. What are they? What do they do? How do they all work together?

Hardware Components Inside of a Traditional Computer, but Present in Most Other Modern DevicesHardware Components Inside of a Traditional Computer but Present in Most Other Modern Devices
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The components inside of your PC are explained in a way that makes sense. For example:

  • CPU: Central Processing Unit - The brains of your machine

  • RAM: Random Access Memory - The short term memory of your machine

  • PCI: Peripheral Component Interconnect - Slots on the Motherboard that allow you to extend or upgrade your device e.g. upgrade to a better Sound card

Modern Graphics Card With 2 Cooling FansModern Graphics Card With 2 Cooling Fans

Computer components also covers computer ports and how they are important for connecting the widening variety of peripherals that exist today.

Most modern devices connect using Universal Serial Bus, or USB ports. This type of port is covered in detail, but the article also acknowledges other types of ports that sill exist today.

Peripherals are the items that plug in to your computer. Well known peripherals such as keyboards, mice and monitors are covered. However, it is also acknowledged that lots of other types of peripherals exist.

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Hard Disk Drives

Hard Disks are sealed units containing different types of components that enable you to run your device and save your files.

On a traditional hard drive your data files are actually stored inside thin, concentric circles, or bands, hosted on the hard drives platters. These platters spin when the hard drive powers up, and the drive head reads/writes data as required e.g. loading your operating system, saving your documents etc.

You can't actually see the circles stored on the platters. They are very smooth when you open up a hard disk drive. The image below shows the different components and helps to picture how traditional hard disk drives work .

Hard Disk Drive ComponentsHard Disk Drive Components
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Solid State Hard Drive (Opens New Window) or SDD, is now a viable option for computer users as costs decrease and capacity increases.

A, SSD is made up of RAM memory boards (Random Access Memory) instead of traditional rotating disk platters.

The RAM inside SSD's is non-volatile. This means that information stored in it is not lost when your machine loses power, unlike traditional computer RAM, which is volatile (Have you ever closed a document without saving and lost your data? That's volatile RAM!)

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Final Thoughts

The basic computer learning process is an important first step for everyone who has an interest in computers, and those who wan to troubleshoot hardware and software themselves.

It is not always straightforward, but it is certainly not impossible. I believe if you know even a little bit about the thing you are trying to master and how it works, (computer devices in this case, but could be anything in life), it stands you in good stead to get the most out of it.

I believe this section helps you to achieve that understanding.

To learn more about computers take a look at the following link, both of which are excellent sources of information:-

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