How does a computer work

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Learning computers is very essential from a very early age at schools. It is one of the most useful skills anyone can learn. It will always be useful to you whatever you become in life. Whether you are an artist, writer or a social worker. Artists are using computers for digital art, writers are using computer softwares for writing their stories and social workers are using computers to track their customers’ data. At the end of the day, It makes our lives a lot easier and more fun.

Computers are indeed like magical devices that can perform any task without mistakes.You may ask, why should I learn how the computer works or the parts of it, when I should be focusing more on the softwares or the tasks using those softwares.

While it is more important or prominent these days to learn the usage of softwares, there is a whole new domain of jobs under ‘hardware’. The parts of the computer or learning of that is called ‘hardware programming.’ If everyone is interested only in learning the software programs, who will create, assemble the computers for you to start using them?

So, let’s look at the very main and basic parts of a computer.

What is a Computer?

Computer-work_2A computer is an electronic device that accepts data in the form of input from the user, processes it and returns the required output data. Input can be in any form. It can be numbers, words, pictures, videos or sounds.

A computer is programmed to process data at a very high speed without making any errors and has a huge storage capacity. Isn’t that cool? Wish we could be like computers too. Remembering everything for the exams would be so easy then.

There are five basic functions of a computer:

  • Accepting input data from the user
  • Processing the given data at a very high speed
  • Producing an output data
  • Storing those results
  • Controlling all the above operations

Different parts of a computer

Just like we have different parts of our body like the head, the arms and legs and other parts, a computer has different parts too. Mainly a computer has:

1.CPU

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CPU

CPU stands for Central Processing Unit. It is the main component of a computer. It is the part that processes all the input data and converts them to outputs which may be stored somewhere or displayed on the screen.

A CPU is just like our brains. When we want to raise our hands, our brain has to give us the command just like that when we do anything on our computer, it’s the CPU that makes it possible.

A CPU two components in it –

  • ALU (Arithmetical and logical unit): This part performs simple arithmetic and logical tasks.
  • CU (Control Unit): This part handles all the components of a computer. It reads and interprets instructions from the memory and changes them into a series of signals to activate the other parts of the computer.
  • Cache: This is a high-speed memory where information can be stored and restored for a limited time.

2. Monitor

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Monitor

A monitor is the main output device. It is also called the VDU i.e. Visual Display Unit. It is used to display data from the computer. A monitor is used to show the images, videos, words processed by the CPU.

It is like the mobile screen where we see all the images, videos, words etc. A monitor looks like a television but it does not have a television tuner to change channels. There are two types of computer displays:

  • CRT Monitor: These are also called Cathode ray tube monitors. They are very heavy and use a lot of desk space. It is the oldest technology used by monitors. They are made with Cathode ray technology. These types of computers are no longer popular now.
  • LCD Monitor: It is the most common type of monitor nowadays. They are flat, lightweight and use less space and electricity. They use Liquid Crystal Display technology which is a much better technology than CRT. Having an LCD monitor in the age of CRT was unique and now it is the other way round.

3. Keyboard

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Keyboard

We type in our phones using a keyboard right? Well, a keyboard for the computer looks like a giant chocolate bar with keys on top of it just like in our phones that are used to type on the computer. It is one of the main input devices for a computer.

You have letters and numbers arranged in a certain layout on a keyboard. The most famous arrangement is the QWERTY arrangement. There are also keys like backspace, delete, home, end, etc.

4. Hard Disk Drive

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Hard Disk Drive

The hard disk drive is a storage device that can store a large amount of data for a long time. This is like the memory card of a cell phone. There are two types of hard disk drive:

  • Internal Hard disk – This is the main storage device of any computer. It is attached inside the CPU box and is fixed.
  • External Hard disk – This is a portable device used to store data. It can be carried anywhere and used on any computer to transfer data.

5. RAM

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RAM

RAM stands for Random Access Memory. It is a type of memory that is located on the motherboard. It is used to store data but temporarily stores data. This data gets erased as soon as the computer is turned off. RAM is of two types: Static and Dynamic RAM.

Static: In layman’s terms, static RAM is like an SD Card of your phone. This helps in speeding up the working of the computer.

Dynamic: This is like the main memory of your computer. More like the internal storage of your phone.

6. Motherboard

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Motherboard

A motherboard is the main circuit board inside a computer that connects all the parts of a computer. It has sockets for CPU, RAM and other cards.

It is connected to the hard disks, disk drives by wires and cables. Sounds like our mother? Yes, that is where the name comes from. It’s the main unit of a computer.

7. ROM and BIOS

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ROM and BIOS

Read-only memory(ROM) is a type of computer memory that stores data permanently, that is it can hold the data even after the computer is shut down. In ROM, data can be read but is difficult to modify.

BIOS is a chip inside the ROM. Its full form is a Basic Input/Output System. It is used to check and get the hardware ready while booting.

8. Sound And Video Cards

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Sound And Video Cards

The sound card is what gives the sound to the speaker and the video card is what gives the video to the monitor. Together, they help in making the video, image or sound quality better for the computer.

How does a computer work?

The data from the user is entered into the CPU using the input devices like the mouse, keyboard etc.

Then the CPU processes the information it was given with the help of the different components present inside it. Once the output is ready, it is sent through the output devices like the monitor, speaker etc. back to the user.

How does a computer process?

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Computer Process

The computer processes data following few steps:

  1. Input – Before the computer can process anything, the input must be entered into the computer using the input devices. All the input is understood by the computer in the binary language (0s and 1s)
  2. Process – After a computer has received the input, a program is used to process that information. A program calculates and organizes the data into a presentable form.
  3. Output – After the data is processed into information, it is displayed as output to the user.
  4. Storage – At the end, the computer can store the output information for later use.

Importance of computers

Computers are an essential part of the modern world. From educational purposes to research to entertainment, computers are beneficial in various fields. Computers help us with tasks that can be difficult in general like making large calculations or preparing for speeches.

As a coin has two sides to it, the computer also has both advantages and disadvantages but the advantages of the computer overpower the disadvantages.

The use of computers has grown rapidly because it helps complete various tasks efficiently and accurately. Computers are also used for entertainment purposes like playing games, watching movies or listening to music. Thus, we can say that we are surrounded by the use of computers one way or the other.

The computer has already become a member of our daily lives. Technology has found its path into all aspects of our lives. There are a lot of things that would be impossible without the use of computers. It will stay useful till the very end.

Tips to follow for long life of your computer

Power saver mode: One of the best ways to ensure a long life of your computer is using power saver mode. Power saver mode helps your laptop or computer get an extended battery life. By using power saving mode, you not only save on battery but also help in lowering the brightness of the computer – which is great for your eyes. It turns off unnecessary animations and vibrations which may slow the speed of your machine. Most importantly, it limits the background data which decreases the pressure on the CPU.

How to switch to power saver mode?

Follow the steps given below to switch to power saver mode in your computer/laptop

  • Go to settings

  • Click on system
  • Now, click on power and sleep

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  • Here you can choose and make your settings on the power mode according to your preferences.

Sleep mode: If you need a 30 minutes break from your online assignments and wish to take a walk – sleep mode is a blessing in disguise. It’s more like your laptop takes a nap while you are away and you pick up exactly where you left. Isn’t that great?

Sleep mode is best recommended for laptops as it allows them to last through brief sleep hours of inactivity without hampering the battery life of the computer. However, if your computer or laptop is left off for too long, it will automatically shut down. Hence, keep in mind that sleep mode is best only if you plan to take a short break of 4-5 hours.

How to switch to sleep mode on?

Follow the steps given below to switch to sleep mode in your computer/laptop

  • Click on windows start menu
  • Go to settings

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  • Click on system
  • Now, click on power and sleep

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  • Here you can choose and make your settings on the power mode according to your preferences.
  • Alternatively, you can click “sleep” on the search bar of your program menu and just click on sleep.

Avoid overnight charging: The worst enemy of battery life is overcharging. Once your battery is charged to 100%, it should be unplugged immediately. Leaving your device to charge overnight means you are forcing it to charge even after it’s capacity has reached 100%. Do you understand how bad is that for your battery life?

When this starts happening regularly, you will notice that your computer or laptop discharges faster and has a weak battery life. After a point, you might need to replace the battery. What’s the point of damaging your battery life this way when clearly you can take other measures? Charge only for 1-2 hours and let your system discharge. Please understand, working with your charger on at all times is not good. Similarly, overcharging is not good as well. You need to let your machine work normally – that is charge and discharge. This will ensure a healthy and long lasting battery life and performance of your machine.

Shutting down and Restarting: As humans, don’t you feel the need to take a break from studies and just have some “chill” time? More like enjoy, play games or binge watch some series on Netflix? Or we just sleep it out and wake up fresh and ready to take over the day.

Why does this happen? Because sometimes, we need to shut down (sleep) and restart ( recreational activities) to work and function better. Interesting isn’t it? No one can work 24*7 and computers are no exception. Of Course, they are machines and can work longer than humans. However, if we are going to speak of ‘longevity’, then we also understand that no machines can work forever. They too have their expiration date.

Shutting down and restarting your machines. Not only helps improve your computer’s battery life but also affects the speed of your machine in a positive manner.

Cleaning & decluttering of unwanted files: Don’t you clean your cupboard once in a while, discard old clothes and make space for newer ones? Well, your computer needs the same love and affection as your cupboard. Once in a while, you need to clean the clutter on your computer. Unnecessary photos, old notes and documents and everything that belongs in the “recycling bin” needs to be cleared out on a regular basis.

Now, cleaning is not just internal but external as well. Have you ever had the time to clean the layer of fine dust on your keyboard? What about those butter marks on your screen because you decided to attend classes while stuffing some delicious aloo parathas for lunch? We are sure you have a mouthful of deliciousness in your stomach but your computer or laptop doesn’t really need the butter on the screen. So, clean it too. Once in a while is fine but make sure to clean your machine with a dry cloth to remove all the fine dust or any such food ingredient that doesn’t belong to your machine.

How to organise folders?

Follow the steps given below to organise your folder;

  • If your desktop is scattered, the first step will be to organise it. Create a folder by using the shortcut key Ctrl+shift+N.
  • Now, name your folder.
  • After this drag and drop all the files you want your folder to contain

How to delete unwanted files?

Follow the steps given below to delete unwanted files;

  • Scan through your desktop, downloads and other directories which might have unwanted files.
  • Once you have identified them, select the file you wish to delete
  • Now, hold the shift key and then press the delete key on your keyboard.

Cooling down:

When you use your laptops for a prolonged period of time they land up getting overheated. How do you know your machine is overheated? Simple, you can feel the heat vaping out of the surface of your machine. When you touch your device, you will feel the heat running right through your skin.

It’s no rocket science really but the best thing you can do to cool down your laptop is give it a break. Shut it down or put it on sleep mode. Let it cool down for sometime and once it is back to normal temperature, you can start reusing it. Also you can put the laptop upside down, which means the fan behind your machine goes on the top, which gives more airflow which inturn cools down the machine.

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Checking the memory usage: There are times when your computer slows down because of excessive memory usage. When this happens, your computer starts hanging, lagging and sometimes even blacks out. In such times, you should consider making space in your memory or invest in additional memory space. The choice is yours. However, not doing so will only affect your computer life in a negative manner making it ineffective in the interim.

How to check memory usage?

Follow the steps given below to check the memory usage on your laptops;

  • Click on the Windows Start menu and type in System Information.
  • A list of search results pops up, among which is the System Information utility. Click on it.

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  • Scroll down to Installed Physical Memory (RAM) and see how much memory is installed on your computer.

So, if you are looking to keep your computer or laptops life longer, these are a few layman’s tips which we ignore yet are goldmines in keeping our machines alive for the long run.

Citations :

Skillioma Home (March 1, 2024) How does a computer work. Retrieved from https://repo.skillioma.com/how-does-a-computer-work/.
"How does a computer work." Skillioma Home - March 1, 2024, https://repo.skillioma.com/how-does-a-computer-work/
"How does a computer work." Skillioma Home - Accessed March 1, 2024. https://repo.skillioma.com/how-does-a-computer-work/
Skillioma Home November 14, 2023 How does a computer work., viewed March 1, 2024,<https://repo.skillioma.com/how-does-a-computer-work/>
Skillioma Home - How does a computer work. [Internet]. [Accessed March 1, 2024]. Available from: https://repo.skillioma.com/how-does-a-computer-work/
"How does a computer work." Skillioma Home [Online]. Available: https://repo.skillioma.com/how-does-a-computer-work/. [Accessed: March 1, 2024]

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Critical thinking challenge question :

Computers are becoming more and more developed every day. Do you think one day, computers can replace human beings? If so, how do you think they would be better than us and in which parts will they never be able to reach our level?

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How does a computer work

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