Aug 012012

Computer Networks

These days computers are almost always connected to a computer network. Whether the network is a local network eg. office or a home network or a global network eg. internet, the usefulness of a computer connected to a network is much higher than when it is not. This is mainly because access to other computers allows us to communicate, work and entertain ourselves in ways a standalone computer couldn’t.

At home and office there are two main types of computer network connections in common use these days. There are connections made with the help of cables and connections made without cables.

Wired Networks

Wired Networks as the name suggests, involve the use of cables to connect computers together. The most popular wired network is known as Ethernet. The connections are usually made with network cables, which are also referred to as Ethernet, CAT5e or CAT6 cables. The socket into which these cables plug into is usually referred to as a LAN port or a RJ45 socket. These can be found on the back of computers , desktops and laptops alike. They are also found on networking devices such as switches and routers which are used as connecting devices for all the computers that wish to communicate over the network.

Wireless Networks

If one wishes to avoid unnecessary cables, then wireless networking is the solution. The most popular Wireless Network at home or office is known as Wi-Fi. There are plenty of routers that can provide a Wi-Fi network. Almost all laptops come with an internal wireless adapter that can connect to this network, provided that the correct password or PIN is entered at the time of connection. Desktops can also be connected in this way, but they usually require installation of a Wireless Adapter. Modern mobile phones known as Smartphones and portable computer devices known as tablets can also connect to Wi-Fi networks.

Jul 012012

Computer Upgrades

When you want to get more performance out of your Computer, switching towards a new laptop or desktop is not the only possible option. As an alternative, you can choose to upgrade components inside your Computer. This is generally a cheaper option as well.
Below, you will find information on some of the possible Computer upgrades one can carry out.

Memory Upgrade (RAM)

This is probably the most common type of Computer upgrade that takes place. This is generally the easiest way of increasing your Computer’s performance without spending a lot of money. It is relatively easy to upgrade your RAM, however the procedure to do so varies slightly between different types of Computers. One must also be aware of the different types of memory that are used and ensure that the memory they purchase is compatible with the Computer they wish to upgrade.

Storage Upgrade (Internal Hard Disks)

Storage upgrade is another common type of Computer upgrade that people carry out. There are two main methods to do this.

The first method is the simplest. Here you simply add an additional high capacity Hard Disk (HDD) to your Computer. Once added, you can immediately begin to use the additional space to store extra data that you could not fit on your existing HDD. However, this option is not always possible, particularly with laptops where you are often physically limited to a single internal hard disk.
The second method to increase space is to clone the existing disk to a larger disk and then use the larger disk instead of the existing disk. There are several software tools that allow you to clone disks and then adjust the disk layout so that you can use the full capacity of the new disk. The original disk does not need to be thrown out as it could be placed into an enclosure and used as an external disk.

Processor Upgrade

This is less a common type of upgrade that people carry out and it requires some degree of skill to avoid damaging the processor, motherboard and the cooling fan assembly during the upgrade. One must make sure that the processor purchased is compatible with the motherboard that it will be connected to.

Jun 012012

PC & Laptop Hardware repairs

Sometimes various components inside the Computer break down. Below you will find a selection of some of the components that have been known to break down in a computer.

Hard disk

Your data including the operating system is usually stored on your Hard Disk (HDD). When the Computer is turned on, the HDD works continuously until the Computer is shut down. The HDD is made up of mechanical and electronic components including spinning platters with magnetic coating. If your HDD breaks down and you do not have a backup, you may wish to have the important data recovered using Data Recovery Services. The recovered data can be placed onto a replacement Hard Disk or other storage media.

Power supply

Power Supply Units (PSU) contain components that convert Electricity from Mains Alternating Current (AC) to regulated Direct Current (DC) at the correct voltage levels to suit Computer requirements. PSUs may have short circuit protection, overpower (overload) protection, overvoltage protection, undervoltage protection, overcurrent protection, and over temperature protection. PSUs can break down during use. Some brands are considered to be of higher quality than others and last longer on average and come with longer manufacturer warranties. Power Supplies are typically replaced when they break down.


Motherboard is a critical component inside the computer. Every other component is connected to the motherboard. There are a few hardware repair shops that can repair a mother board fault, such as replacing a faulty motherboard component. Generally, motherboards belonging to desktop computers are replaced if a fault is discovered, while in laptops (where motherboards are far more expensive relative to the total cost of the laptop), certain motherboard repairs are possible (depending on the nature of the fault).

May 012012

PC and Laptop diagnostics

In order to effectively diagnose Computer Problems you can run PC and Laptop diagnostics software.

Laptop diagnostics

One of the differences between PC and Laptop Diagnostics is that often laptop manufacturers provide pre-installed diagnostic tools.

PC Diagnostics

There is a variety of third party software available to perform diagnostics for your computer. Many of these tools are provided for free.

What does a PC and Laptop Diagnostic program do?

A good PC & Laptop diagnostic program performs several tests on various hardware components of your computer.

Diagnostic tools test components such as CPU, Memory, Hard Drive, Optical Drive and Graphics Cards amongst others. After these tests are completed, the diagnostic tool will generate a report with the results of the tests. This report will show you whether the components tested are ok or if they have an issue that needs to be looked at.

Benefits of a PC and Laptop Diagnostic program

If something goes wrong with your Computer, you may be inclined to immediately send the computer to the retailer where it was purchased or even to the manufacturer. Diagnostic tools can help identify the problem, and if the resolution is simple and affordable, it may be beneficial to use a Computer Professional to resolve the problem within a day or two, instead of having to wait several weeks for Warranty Repairs to be carried out by the retailer or manufacturer (assuming your Computer is covered by Warranty).

Apr 012012

Office Network Support

All organisations, from small to large, will inevitably face technical and network issues. In order to resolve such issues, these organisations will require the services of computer professionals knowledgeable in office network support. These technicians can effectively resolve technical and network related issues allowing the company’s information technology assets to once again operate correctly.

Below you will find a list of some of the ways in which Office Network Support professionals can assist a company.

Providing technical assistance

Office network support technicians offer complete technical assistance to the company. They will assist with hardware and software maintenance requirements.

Resolving internet related issues

Internet issues can arise at any time due to a variety of causes such as server errors, cabling faults, or issues with the networking equipment. Office network support professionals can diagnose and resolve issues such as these within a short time frame.

Resolving server related issues

From time to time server operating systems suffer from a variety of technical issues. Computer Support professionals can assist by connecting to the Server to troubleshoot and resolve the problem and if necessary they can install any required updates.

New installations

If there is a need to implement new technology such as new hardware or software within the company’s office network, then support technicians are very handy to have, since this type of task is a routine part of their support work.

Backing up and data recovery

Office network support staff can be asked to back up business data and to also carry out data recoveries in situations where there is data loss.

Expanding the network

As the company grows, it may need to expand its computer network to accommodate new staff and offices. This kind of expansion can be carried out by office network support professionals. Often, this kind of work can be done overnight or on the weekend to avoid business disruption during working hours.

Mar 012012

New Computer Setup

After you complete the installation of your Operating System, there remain a number of other tasks that you may need to carry out in order to enjoy the full functionality of your Computer in a safe and secure manner. These tasks are listed below.

Install device drivers

You will likely need to install device drivers on your Computer (device driver is software that allows the Computer to use the full functionality of its hardware components).

These drivers normally include: Sound Card driver, Graphics driver, Network Card driver, Chipset Driver etc.

Setting up your screen

You may need to setup your screen resolution (this is best done after Graphics driver installation has been completed). The default setting may be too small for your liking or in some cases too big. Your chosen operating system will offer you a means to change the screen resolution to your liking.

Installing Firewall and Anti-Virus

You may need to install a Firewall and Anti-Virus package from a reputable vendor. This ensures that your Computer is protected from malware and intruders. An unprotected Computer that connects to the Internet is at a very high risk of getting infected by malicious software as well as being compromised by hackers.

Setup the broadband connection

You may need to connect your New Computer to your Internet connection. These days the majority of new Computers are purchased with the intent of connecting them to the Internet.

Installing Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office is a suite of applications that allow people to create documents, spreadsheets, presentations and more. It is the most popular application suite of its type. Majority of New Computers have MS Office installation take place during the initial setup.

Feb 012012

Internet Broadband Installation

Before you can enjoy access to the Internet on your computer, an Internet connection will need to be installed and configured. In order to connect Internet to your computer, please review the steps discussed below (to be used a guide only).

Note: In this document, we will assume that we will be working with an Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) Internet connection. At the time of writing this is the most common type of an Internet Broadband connection available in Australia.

Get connection from an Internet Service Provider (ISP)

One of the first things that needs to be done is choose an ISP as there are many ISPs to choose from each offering a variety of Internet plans. Once you find an ISP you like, you can order from them an Internet connection. Once the connection has been ordered, there is usually a waiting period of several weeks for your connection to be activated.

When you order an Internet connection from your ISP you will usually be provided with the following items:
• Phone Cable
• Network Cable
• ADSL Modem/Router
• ADSL Splitter
• Document with Internet Connection Settings

Connecting the phone line and ADSL Splitter

You will need to connect your ADSL Modem/Router to the Phone Line carrying the Internet signal. You can do this by using the supplied phone cable and an ADSL Splitter. The phone cable from your wall socket should connect to the Line port of your ADSL Splitter and your ADSL Modem/Router should connect to the DSL port of your ADSL Splitter.

Connecting the Network cable

To connect your Computer to the ADSL Modem/Router, you can use the supplied Network Cable. Connect one end of the Network cable into a LAN port of your ADSL Modem/Router and the other end into the network card of your Computer. Alternatively, you can also use a Wireless connection (not discussed here).

Setting up your Internet broadband connection

The supplied ADSL Modem/Router may come preconfigured. If that is the case, then Internet will be ready for use, once all the required connections mentioned above are made and the equipment is powered on.

On the other hand, you may need to configure your ADSL Modem/Router. This is usually done by opening up a web browser and then opening up the web management page of your device (the address of this page is usually written on the bottom of your ADSL Modem/Router or in the accompanying manual). Often a CD is supplied with the ADSL Modem/Router that can be used to configure it instead of using a web browser. The required Internet connection settings should have been communicated to you by your ISP. Check to see if you have a printed out document with these settings.

The above are some of the simple steps required to setup an Internet connection at home or in the office, once your ISP has done their part of the setup outside of your house or office. Provided all the steps are followed carefully and in the right order, this process only takes a few minutes.

Jan 012012

Internet and Email Setup

The Internet has greatly enhanced the way we communicate and do business. One of the most useful Internet based means of communication is Email. These days it is taken for granted that almost every person and every business has access to the Internet. Before you can begin to take advantage of the Internet and Email facilities, you will need to setup your access to the Internet and then create an Email address.

Connecting to the Internet

There are a several methods of connecting to the Internet, 2 popular methods are detailed below.

Cable/DSL Broadband

Your chosen Internet Service Provider will be providing you with an ADSL or a Cable connection. The provider will typically provide you with a modem/router (although you can often use your own) and will also supply a document with settings that are to be entered into the modem/router in order to connect it to the Internet. Sometimes these modem/routers come preconfigured with the right settings.

Wireless Broadband

These Adapters typically resemble USB Flash Drives in their appearance. They generally contain a SIM card (like a mobile phone) and require installation of some software on your computer, followed by entry of some settings. These are particularly useful when connected to laptops, as they allow access to the Internet outside of your home, office or any nearby (free) Wi-Fi facility.

Setting up Email

This is generally quite easy to do and often takes less than 5 minutes of time.
In order to setup Email (eg. gmail or hotmail), the following basic steps are involved:
• Go to the web site where you want to make your email account
• Click on “Sign Up” button
• Fill out the Sign Up form (it normally includes information like First Name, Last Name, Date of Birth, Country etc.)
• Enter your desired Email address and Password
• Choose Secret Question and Answer
• Finally type Captcha and Press Done.

Dec 012011

Data Backup

Failures in a computer system can arise at any time, without prior notice. If you use your computer to store your valuable data, it is important to have a properly configured, tested and active data backup system. In the unfortunate event of your computer suffering a serious data loss event, access to a valid backup will be critical.

Backup Methods and Means of Storage

Following are some of the methods and means of storage used in achieving a data backup.

Backing up your Data to an Optical Disk (CD, DVD, BD)

Depending on the size of your data an optical disk may be sufficient for backup purposes.

Optical Disks aren’t as common as some of the other methods mentioned below, but they are still used by many people. These disks may be of two types, ones that only allow you to write to them once and ones that allow you to write to them many times (known as rewriteable disks). CD stands for Compact Disk and can hold about 700 MB of data. DVD stands for Digital Video Disc and can hold about 4.7 GB of Data (Single Side, Single Layer). BD stands for Blu-Ray Disc and can hold about 25 GB of data (Single Side, Single Layer).

Backing up your data to a Hard Drive

You can backup to a hard drive, which can be internal (inside the computer case), external (typically connected by a USB Cable) or attached via the network (Network Attached Storage). Modern hard drives offer capacity as high as 3 TB (1 TB = 1000 GB), which is generally large enough to back up complete contents of a typical computer, multiple times. You can backup a huge number of movies, songs, pictures and documents all at the same time.

Backing up your data to a Flash Drive or a Memory Card

You can backup to a flash drive. This is similar in concept to an external hard drive, except that flash drives and memory cards are generally much smaller physically as well as storage capacity wise (modern flash drive and memory cards generally max out at around 32 – 64 GB). These devices connect via USB port of your computer or internal/external memory card readers.

Backing up your data to the Internet (Online Backup)

Online backups are useful because they provide data protection against computer equipment damage which occurs due to a catastrophic event such as a fire or flood. They also provide protection against theft where the thief takes your computer as well as your backups.

This backup depends on the presence of a reliable internet connection and may take longer to carry out compared to other methods. Providers of online backups typically offer various plans with different storage capacities for which you usually pay a monthly or yearly fee.

Nov 012011

Computer Maintenance and Tune-ups

If you want your computer to function optimally for as long as possible it is important to carry out maintenance and tune-up tasks at least once a year.

When it comes to maintenance and tune-up tasks there are two broad types, which include:
• Software maintenance and tune-up
• Hardware maintenance and tune-up

Software Maintenance and Tune-up

Due to poor maintenance, over time, computers will tend to suffer from a number of software related problems, such as:
• Slow start up time
• Unnecessary programs using up computer resources
• Junk Files using up computer resources
• Various Missing Windows and 3rd Party Software Updates

In order to overcome abovementioned issues it is important carry out periodic software maintenance. In Windows there are certain settings as well as certain 3rd party utilities that can be used to do things such as speed up your computer’s start up time, remove unnecessary programs, remove junk files and install missing updates.

Hardware Maintenance and Tune-up

From time to time your system may also require hardware maintenance so that the computer works efficiently.

Some problems related to lack of hardware maintenance are:
• Slow Speed and Intermittent Shutdowns
• CPU Heat Sink Fan and Case Fan Failures
• Dust Clogged Air Vents

Cleaning your system’s case including CPU Heat Sink by removing accumulated dust, hard drive defragmentation, upgrading your Ram and CPU are some of the hardware maintenance and tune-up tasks that one can carry out, which will help prevent the problems mentioned above.