Tips & Advice
What is a network card?
A network card is a hardware component that allows you to interface with a closed network of computers that only approved members can access. It can be an add-in card on your computer’s motherboard (added in an open slot) or can be added externally. Now, many networks are increasingly becoming wireless systems and use a VPN (virtual private network) to access internal files.
A hard drive on a computer is a piece of internal hardware that allows the user to save data in the form of documents, pictures and videos. The larger the hard drive, the more data you can store. Hard drive capacities are rated on megabytes and can be added anytime to increase storage space. You can also add external hard drives, such as a “thumb drive,” which plugs right into an open computer port, and then can be unplugged and plugged into other compatible computers.
A power supply is what powers your computer -- either electricity or a battery. Laptops generally have rechargeable batteries (for mobility) and a standard AC cord so you can run it off of either power source. Desktops, since they do not have batteries, need to be plugged directly into a power source. Usually you plug your unit into a power strip, which is plugged into a wall outlet. Power strips have surge protectors (a fuse that blows when a power surge occurs) to protect the computer, which helps to avoid power surges that can seriously damage or destroy your system.
How much does computer repair cost?
Computer repair costs vary based on what you need. What is the problem? How much are the parts needed to fix it? How many hours of labor are involved? How much does the repairman charge? Some charge on an hourly rate, some charge a flat fee. Luckily the computer repair business is huge, which means competitive rates are out there. You can realistically expect a floor of $35-$50 an hour for computer repair services, on up to $100 and even higher in some cases. Call around, get estimates, look for deals, and ask friends for recommendations.
What are the reasons for a computer not turning on?
If your computer is not starting up, the first thing to check is the power supply. Is it plugged in? If it’s plugged in, check your power supply. Are you running it through a power strip? You might have accidentally flipped the power strip’s on/off switch to off. Make sure it’s turned on and plugged in. Does the socket have power? If you have power and it’s not turning on, you probably have a component failure inside the computer.
What causes a computer to turn off by itself?
The main cause of a computer randomly turning itself off is due to overheating. PCs have internal fans to cool them and you can sometimes hear them running. If your fan fails and the computer gets too hot, it will shut itself off. If it shuts off randomly, feel around on the bottom of your laptop to see if it feels hot. On a desktop you’ll have to feel around on the tower unit, but that isn’t as easy as a laptop. If the desktop fan is dirty, you can use canned air to clean it, which should help a great deal. If that doesn’t cool it down, you will want to bring your computer in to get repaired.
Can a notebook computer screen be replaced?
Most laptop/notebook screens can definitely be replaced. If you are a DIY-type, you can probably replace the screen yourself with some basic tools, like tiny screwdrivers. Usually the problem is the LCD panel behind the screen, but different systems have variations on their display screens, so know which kind you have before you operate and buy replacement hardware. There are many videos available online that can walk you through the process. If operating on a computer is above your confidence level, there are plenty of shops that can do it for you, some for around $100 and up based on the type of computer. Get quotes and even look for Groupons to find the best deals in your area.
What causes a computer to slow down?
There are a lot of things that can cause your computer to slow down, starting with nasty viruses that can wreak havoc on your computer -- and some can even destroy it. Most viruses can be prevented with the right antivirus software, but sophisticated viruses can slip past security walls, and they will likely need to be professionally removed. Having too little RAM (random access memory) can cause slowdowns. Computers and software can get old and outdated, another cause for slowdowns. Running too many operations (having too many programs open) can also slow down your computer--you only have so much RAM to work with. To see what is running you can check you task manager, which will show all programs running, and you can close anything down you don’t need.
A motherboard is the backbone of most modern computers. It is literally a board, with all of the computer's main tools (hardware) on it, or connected to it, driving the “engine” of your computer. It is where most of your hardware is located. Hardware, like RAM and the CPU, are on the motherboard, or connected to it. All expansion ports are also wired into your motherboard. It is like the engine block--everything driving your computer (or engine) is connected to it to make your car/computer run. Because of the size differences between laptops and desktops, motherboards sizes can vary too, but their basic functionality is the same.
RAM, also known as random access memory, is hardware in your computer that stores data temporarily (information is stored as long as it is needed or until the computer is turned off). You know when you hit the back button and you return to the previous page on a web site? That page pops up quickly because it’s been temporarily stored in your RAM. Or when you copy a piece of text, that too gets stored in RAM. The more RAM hardware you have, the more information your computer can work with, thus increasing your computer’s speed and performance. If you want to increase your computer’s performance, you can always add more RAM hardware.