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May 2016

How to Install a Primary Hard Drive

How to Install a Primary Hard DriveIn this tutorial we learn how to install a primary hard drive. The primary drive is your main drive, not a secondary drive. Installing a secondary drive is similar but you will have to configure your drive differently. Be sure to have your documentation handy at all times.

Learning how to install computer components like a hard drive is not hard, but proper preparation is the key to making it a smooth experience.

Before beginning you should completely shut down your computer. Also be sure to switch the power supply switch into the off position and pull the AC cord from the wall outlet.

1. Remove the Case and Set Your Drive Jumper

The first order of business is to open your computer case so that you can install the hard drive. The method of doing this varies, but most modern cases use a mini-tower design and have side panels that are screwed onto the chassis.

You will need to find the panel that sits above the motherboard and remove the screws in the back to slide the panel out. If you have an older computer design, you may have to remove all of the screws in the back and then slide the chassis out.

Next you must configure your hard drive. To install hard drive components properly you will need to set your drive jumpers. On the back of your drive you will notice pairs of metal pins pointing to various positions. There will be a jumper over the pins in one of these settings.

Consult your documentation. Basically, if you are installing the first and only drive you will set the jumper to “Cable Select.” (If you were installing more than one drive, you would choose “Master” for the main drive.)

2. Insert the Drive into Case

Once the drive is configured you are ready to insert it into the case. Examine the design of your case to see what your options are here.

Inside your case there is what is known as a drive bay. Some of the new-fangled case designs offer a removable version of this drive bay or cage. If you have that, consider yourself lucky. It’s much easier to know how to install computer components when you don’t have to poke around in the case the whole time.

If you have a removable bay, then remove it now. Align the mounting holes on the drive bay with the mounting holes on your hard drive, and then screw them together. When you are done, insert the drive bay back into the case and screw it back on.

If, however, you don’t have a removable bay, then all is not lost. Just insert the hard drive into the drive bay, align the mounting holes together, and screw it on. It’s not that difficult; it’s just a bit of hand and eye coordination.

3. Attach All Cables

Of course to install hard drive components, or any other components for that matter, you will need to attach cables somewhere. In the case of the hard drive you will need to attach an IDE cable from the motherboard to the motherboard, and then attach the power cable.

First, install the IDE cable to the motherboard. For your added convenience the IDE cable is color-coded for you. It is usually blue at the bottom and also has a red stripe on the side. This cable is to be inserted into the motherboard at the IDE0 (Primary) or IDE1 (Secondary) connector.

As an added check, make sure that the side of the cable with the red stripe lines up with the back of the motherboard labeled “Pin 1.” Once you’re done, connect the other end of this IDE cable to the hard drive. Connect the black controller and be sure that the red stripe is aligned with “Pin 1” on your hard drive.

Finally, plug the four-pin connector from your power supply into the back of your hard drive, and you’re done!

4. Close Up and Power Up

Now it’s time to close up and power up. Restore the case panel you removed earlier or slide the computer chassis back into the computer case.

Screw it back on, flip the power switch to the on position and attach the AC cord. Turn the computer back on.
At this point your system BIOS is going to detect that a new hard drive has been attached.

You may have to configure the BIOS to properly detect the hard drive or at least supply some specific settings. As we always say, consult your documentation and follow their instructions. Much of our tutorials on how to install computer components apply across the board, but you still need to tweak some settings depending on your manufacturer.

Conclusion

Learning to install hard drive units is not hard from a mechanical standpoint. It can be done very easily.

However, it’s more than an installation. The drive unit needs to be properly configured. Jumper settings need to be set properly, and then afterwards the BIOS must detect your new drive. Afterwards, you will then need to format your drive and install your operating system.

How Does the CPU Cache Work?

The cache on your CPU has become a very important part of today’s computing. The cache is a very high speed and very expensive piece of memory, which is used to speed up the memory retrieval process. Due to its expensive CPU’s come with a relatively small amount of cache compared with the main system memory. Budget CPU’s have even less cache, this is the main way that the top processor manufacturers take the cost out of their budget CPU’s.

How does the CPU Cache work?

Without the cache memory every time the CPU requested data it would send a request to the main memory which would then be sent back across the memory bus to the CPU. This is a slow process in computing terms. The idea of the cache is that this extremely fast memory would store and data that is frequently accessed and also if possible the data that is around it. This is to achieve the quickest possible response time to the CPU. Its based on playing the percentages. If a certain piece of data has been requested 5 times before, its likely that this specific piece of data will be required again and so is stored in the cache memory.

Lets take a library as an example o how caching works. Imagine a large library but with only one librarian (the standard one CPU setup). The first person comes into the library and asks for Lord of the Rings. The librarian goes off follows the path to the bookshelves (Memory Bus) retrieves the book and gives it to the person. The book is returned to the library once its finished with. Now without cache the book would be returned to the shelf. When the next person arrives and asks for Lord of the Rings, the same process happens and takes the same amount of time.

If this library had a cache system then once the book was returned it would have been put on a shelf at the librarians desk. This way once the second person comes in and asks for Lord of the Rings, the librarian only has to reach down to the shelf and retrieve the book. This significantly reduces the time it takes to retrieve the book. Back to computing this is the same idea, the data in the cache is retrieved much quicker. The computer uses its logic to determine which data is the most frequently accessed and keeps them books on the shelf so to speak.

That is a one level cache system which is used in most hard drives and other components. CPU’s however use a 2 level cache system. The principles are the same. The level 1 cache is the fastest and smallest memory, level 2 cache is larger and slightly slower but still smaller and faster than the main memory. Going back to the library, when Lord of the Rings is returned this time it will be stored on the shelf. This time the library gets busy and lots of other books are returned and the shelf soon fills up. Lord of the Rings hasn’t been taken out for a while and so gets taken off the shelf and put into a bookcase behind the desk. The bookcase is still closer than the rest of the library and still quick to get to. Now when the next person come in asking for Lord of the Rings, the librarian will firstly look on the shelf and see that the book isn’t there. They will then proceed to the bookcase to see if the book is in there. This is the same for CPU’s. They check the L1 cache first and then check the L2 cache for the data they require.

Is more Cache always better?

The answer is mostly yes but certainly not always. The main problem with having too much cache memory is that the CPU will always check the cache memory before the main system memory. Looking at our library again as an example. If 20 different people come into the library all after different books that haven’t been taken out in quite a while but the library has been busy before and so the shelf and the bookcase are both full we have a problem. Each time a person asks for a book the librarian will check the shelf and then check the bookcase before realising that the book has to be in the main library. The librarian each time then trots off to get the book from the library. If this library had a non cache system it would actually be quicker in this instance because the librarian would go straight to the book in the main library instead of checking the shelf and the bookcase.

As the fact that non cache systems only work in certain circumstances and so in certain applications CPU’s are definitely better with a decent amount of cache. Applications such as MPEG encoders are not good cache users because they have a constant stream of completely different data.

Does cache only store frequently accessed data?

If the cache memory has space it will store data that is close to that of the frequently accessed data. Looking back again to our library. If the first person of the day comes into the library and takes out Lord of the Rings, the intelligent librarian may well place Lord of the Rings part II on the shelf. In this case when the person brings back the book, there is a good chance that they will ask for Lord of the Rings part II. As this will happen more times than not. It was well worth the Librarian going to fetch the second part of the book in case it was required.

Cache Hit and Cache Miss

Cache hit and cache miss are just simple terms for the accuracy of what goes into the CPU’s cache. If the CPU accesses its cache looking for data it will either find it or it wont. If the CPU finds what’s its after that’s called a cache hit. If it has to go to main memory to find it then that is called a cache miss. The percentage of hits from the overall cache requests is called the hit rate. You will be wanting to get this as high as possible for best performance.

Important Facts To Know About Computer Maintenance

Read on and find out more about computer maintenance and support. We list down 5 facts to know so that you won’t be at a loss the next time you call for support.

Computer breakdowns are pretty much unavoidable

1. The Original Manufacturer

One of the first things to do when you get a computer breakdown is to call the original manufacturer of your hardware. They will offer service and support through a phone line. Some of them are notoriously difficult to deal with – so be prepared to weather some bad service sometimes.

2. Repair It Yourself

If you’re feeling adventurous and you have the know-how, you can try repairing the PC yourself. In fact, many vendors now give you a choice to repair yourself according to their instructions.

If you really want to learn how to upgrade, maintain or troubleshoot computers, then click here to learn about a great resource.

3. Outsourcing

This point is more relevant to companies. If you own a business, you can consider outsourcing your computer repairs to a vendor or third-party company. Just be careful in dealing with them – make sure that you write up proper contracts and scrutinize their terms and conditions.

4. Look for Your Friends

If you have a friend with good computer background and experience, then you can ask them to upgrade or repair your PC for you. I personally help out with many of the PC problems my friends and relatives have.

5. Remember to Get Names

Oh, one last point. Always remember write down the name of customer support officer speaking to you in a support phone call. You need to reach that same person again if you check some technical fault and need to get back to the company.

Conclusion

Computer breakdowns are irritating and frustrating. What’s important in such situations is to know how to call for support and maintenance. Remember the above points the next time you’re reaching out for computer assistance and hopefully your ordeal will be less painful.

Basics Of A Router

A router is a computer device that receives or forwards data packets to and from the Internet towards a destination in the process called routing. A router is the essential component of the computer networking that enables any sent data to arrive at the right destination.

As an illustration, imagine that the Internet is the world and one computer is one household. Other computers connected through the Internet are households around the world. Say one household will send a letter to another household in any part of the world. The letter has an address right? And that address would determine the destination of the letter. But without one reading the address, the letter would not arrive to the right receiver. The letter also would not be able to reach the intended receiver if there is not medium. This medium would be the courier. And the courier of the computer data is the router.

A router (broadband router) is also a device that enables two or more computer to receive data packets from the Internet under one IP address at the same time.

Remember that to be able to connect to the Internet, a computer must have an IP address unique from the rest of the computers. Therefore, every computer connected to the Internet has it own IP address. It is like having a fingerprint or ID as an access pass to be able to enter the web. With the presence of the router, this “fingerprint” or “ID” could be shared by two or more computer at the same time.

In simplest form, a router makes two or more computer use the Internet at the same with one access pass.

One more thing: a computer with cable modem could also be considered as a router. In this, the computer would do the process of routing like normal routers do. Other computers are then connected to the computer with Internet connection that would give it with the Internet connection. The computer with cable modem has the direct contact with the Internet and the ones connected to it are sharing the connection.

Why would anyone need a router?

For households with two or more computers who would want to have Internet connection to every computers they have, taking subscription for each would be too much. The solution is to buy a router that would enable every computer in the house to have an Internet connection. In the definition above, the broadband router would act as a hub to the existing Internet connection.

If the router is comparable to a hub, would it affect the Internet speed?

It should be taken into consideration that once a single Internet connection is divided, the connection speed is affected. But there are some broadband routers that would bring minimal slowdown to the Internet speed and the effect might not even be big.

Internet speed would also depend on the type of application used in a router. While some would inflict little effect on the speed like online games, others would terribly slowdown your connection and even hinder you to use the Internet at all.

Usually, offices use a more sophisticated router to redirect Internet connections to the large number of computers. These routers would give better data packeting compared to a typical router used at home that results to faster Internet speed.