BIOS stands for basic input/output system. BIOS is the first piece of software which is used when you turn the computer on. It is hosted on the motherboard and its most important role is to load the operating system. When you turn the computer on, the processor executes its first instruction, the BIOS provides the processor these first set of instructions. These instructions include a power-on self-test for all the components in the system to ensure everything is working correctly. Also it provides a set of low-level routines that the operating system uses. These routines manage the keyboard, the monitor and the serial and parallel ports. Lastly, it manages the setting for the computer like the date and time. After all this is done the BIOS then tells the CPU to find the boot sector and then it's job is done.
The bootstrap loader is part of the BIOS, it is a computer program that belongs in the computers ROM (Read only memory) the bootstrap loader starts up as soon as the computer is turned on. It can load an operating system or other software that may be needed. Before it can load the operating systems it much complete self-tests. It starts of by reading the hard drives boot sector and then loads the computer system
A heat sink is a device that gets rid of unwanted heat. It does this by scattering heat into the surrounding medium. By doing this, it gets the heat away from the CPU and cools downs the computer’s processor after it runs many programs at once, this ensures it doesn’t get over heated, if it did overhead the system would get damaged and would effect the computers performance. After the heat has been conducted from the processor through the heat sink it’s the fans job to move that heat out of the computer.
The fan inside the computer moves air across the heat sink and out of the computer. Most computers have a fan directly above the heat sink to help cool the processor. Some fans called case fans, draws cool air from outside of the computer and blows it through the computer, getting rid of the hot air out of the back.
If the computer reaches a pre-set temperature the computer will shut down preventing any damage to the computer. Therefore a fan is important to insure this doesn’t need to be done.
IDE stands for integrated drive electronics. IDE is used between a computer motherboards data paths or bus and the computer's disk storage devices. Hard drives are IDE devices and are controlled by IDE controllers. IDE has two types of controllers; primary and secondary controllers. The hard drive is usually attached to the primary controller and a CD drive (or DVD drive) can be connected to the secondary controller. Each IDE ribbon, attached to either controllers can support two drives. To know which data relates to which drive it is identified as the master or slave drive. The master drive deals with all the traffic on the IDE cable. Its controllers recollects its own data and passes on data to the slave drive. The slave drive only sees the data that is passed on from the master drive.
SATA stands for serial advanced technology attachment. This is a computer bus interface for connecting host bus adapters to mass storage devices such as hard disk drives and optical drives. It transfers data between the motherboard and other devices.
Parallel and serial ports are types of data buses. A serial port is used to connect a serial device to the computer (for example, a modem and some computer mouse’s) and capable of transmitting one bit at a time. A parallel port is used to connect a parallel device to a computer (for instance, a printer) they can carry more data because they don’t need to be split using a single bus file. Parallel sends and receives and serial just sends data, and it doesn’t receive.
ROM stands for read-only memory. It is a type of storage used in computers and other electronic devices. Data stored in the ROM can only be modified slowly and with great difficulty. When a computer is turned off nothing happens to the ROM and the data should be safe and stored on the ROM chip; this is called non-volatile.
RAM stands for random access memory. It is a computer storage location that allows information to be stored and accessed quickly from random locations and can access the data much faster. Unlike ROM, RAM is a volatile and needs power in order to keep the data accessible, if power is lost all data in memory lost. RAM allows you to use every computer programs and file that the computer has open, and is the most common type of memory found in computers and other devices, such as printers.
Cache is a small amount of memory used by the computers processor to store information that can be retrieved very quickly, which reduces the need for the processor to wait for responses from the main memory. It’s used to speed up the computer and is between the main memory and the CPU.
A hard drive is the main storage media device that permanently stores all data onto the computer. When a request for data is made by the computer, the computer sends the message to the controller, the controller then searches its registry for the location of the data. Once the data is located, the controller tells the hard drive what to do and how to move the components within the drive.
A graphics card is a printed circuit board that controls the output to a display screen. A graphics card can display images by using the motherboard as a connection for data and power, then the processor decides what to do with each pixel on the screen. After the memory holds information about each pixel it temperately stores the completed pictures. Lastly, a monitor lets you see the final display.
The power supply allows electronics to function and charge. Without it the computer wouldn’t work. The power supply converts the alternating current (AC) line from your home to the direct current (DC) needed by the personal computer. Direct current is the unidirectional flow of an electric charge and alternating current is the flow of electric charge sometimes in reverse direction.
Backing up Storage
Backing up is the act of copying computer data to a second medium, these include flash memory cards, USB flash drives and floppy disks. Backing up is a precaution in case the first medium fails. If this does happen you will have a copy to go back to and the files won’t be gone forever.
Different types of memory
Primary memory is the memory of the computer which is directly accessed by the CPU. It is located in the computer and is small and the data is lost when the computer is turned off. This means that primary memory is volatile. (For example RAM)
The secondary memory is a backing storage that is in the computer, it provides more storage than the processor can. Because the primary memory loses its data when the computer is turned off the secondary data provides a more permanent store. Secondary memory is non- volatile. (For example USB Drives)
The tertiary memory is a storage that is able to transfer to another computer or archiving and needs to be on a portable medium. (For example CD and DVD drives)
Flash Memory Card
A flash memory card is a small storage medium which is used to store data like text, images, audio etc. Flash memory cards are non-volatile which means the information that is stored on the card is not lost when there is no power. The information that is stored on the flash memory card can be saved quickly and also deleted quickly. Flash memory cards use a flash memory controller which manages the data stored on the card and communicates with a computer. The flash memory controllers communicate with personal computers through the USB port at a low duty-cycle. However, laptops have flash memory controllers designed for high duty-cycle which can read SSD cards.
Dirty contacts on the card could affect the card performance and the computer may be unable to recognise the card, this would lead to not being able to collect the data that is stored on it.
USB Flash Drive
A USB stores digital data like, videos, images, word documents etc. USB drives can usually be removable and rewriteable. They are commonly used for storage, back-up and transfer of computer files. They are durable because they do not have any moving parts therefore it cannot be damaged easily. In addition, unlike floppy disks they are immune to magnetic interference. USB flash drives use the USB mass storage standard which is supported by operating systems like OS X, windows and other systems alike. A flash drive has a small printed circuit board which holds the circuit’s elements and a USB connector which is protected with a metal, plastic or rubber case.
If the USB gets too hot or too cold it could affect many things. For example, corruption of data, if the USB gets overly hot, data which is stored on the USB will be corrupted. Additionally, when the microscopic connections inside a flash drive get too hot or too cold it may have trouble passing the information to or from the drive, therefore there could be a slow response time. Furthermore, the computer may not be able to access the drive or it can be listed and disappears shortly after.
Floppy and Disk Drives
A floppy disk is a small removable storage sealed in a rectangle plastic carrier which is lined with fabric which removes dust particles. They were used to distribute software, transfer data, and create backups however, they are not used much today due to better quality storage devices like USB’s.
Because a floppy disk is made of thin plastic they can be broken very easily. In addition, putting the floppy disk on a magnetic field may corrupt the data which is already stored on the disk