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Comptia A+

(Exams 220-901 &

Easy Guide for

By Erwin Haas

Copyright2017 by Erwin
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2017 by Erwin Haas

All rights reserved. No part of this

publication may be reproduced,

distributed, or transmitted in any form or

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mechanical methods, without the prior

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in the case of brief quotations embodied
in critical reviews and certain other
noncommercial uses permitted by
copyright law.
Table of Contents

Chapter 1- Hardware

Chapter 2- Networking

Chapter 3- Mobile Devices

Chapter 4- Windows
Operating Systems

While all attempts have been made to

verify the information provided in this

book, the author does assume any

responsibility for errors, omissions, or

contrary interpretations of the subject

matter contained within. The information

provided in this book is for educational

and entertainment purposes only. The
reader is responsible for his or her own
actions and the author does not accept
any responsibilities for any liabilities or

damages, real or perceived, resulting

from the use of this information.

The trademarks that are used are

without any consent, and the

publication of the trademark is

without permission or backing by the
trademark owner. All trademarks and
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owned by the owners themselves, not

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The Comptia A+ Certification (Exams

220-901 & 220-902) exam tackles a

number of topics. For you to pass this

certification exam, you have to read

these topics. This book is an exploration

of the topics which are tested in this

exam. Enjoy reading!

Chapter 1- Hardware

The Motherboard

The PC motherboard is made up of a

mixture of hardware. The design of the

motherboard may seem to be very

standardized, but the fact is that its

original design has evolved too much

since the inception. In this exam, these

are broken down based on their design,
the form factor, as well as based on the
standard governing them. The following

are form factors which are important for

the exam:


This forms the standard motherboard

size. This forms the platform for the
workstations and the gaming PCs. The
form factor specification for this calls
for a size which measures 12.0 by 9.6.

Note that the processor which is to be

used is based on what fits in the socket

for the motherboard which you have


For the overall size of the PCs to be

reduced, the introduction of smaller form

factors was done. The Micro-ATX was

one of them, and it shaves a few inches

off the length (9.6 by 9.6). This one

shares a similar power supply

connections together with an Input/output

back panel. It is capable of replacing the

full size ATX motherboard. However, it

may have an on-board audio. This type

has at least a single expansion slot

which a riser card can use.

Mini- ITX (ITX)

This is the best for those who are more

interested in silence more than

performance. However, note that we are
not saying that the performance will

generate noise, but what it does is that it

generates heat which needs cooling, and

this comes with noise. Also, due to its

size, it will accommodate only fewer

The Expansion Slots

Let us discuss some of the expansion

slots which are covered in the A+ 220-

901 exam:


The 32 bit PCI (the Peripheral

Component Interconnect) bus forms the
oldest model of expansion slot which is

covered in this exam. It is available in

both 32 and 64 bit versions, and it is

used for connecting the legacy hardware

to a PC.

This PCI was then replaced by the PCI

Express (PCI-e) that is the only one

which you will practically use and see


PCI-X (in which X is for eXpress) has

both the 32 and 64 bit slots which are

designed so as to be backward

compatible with the 32 bit PCI cards.

The cards have been designed so that

they can be used at 3.3 V. The voltage

portion slot of this slot goes beyond

what a 32 bit 3.3 V card is capable of



This is another variation of the PCI

(where E is for Express). Note that the

PCIe and the PCI-X are currently not

compatible with one another. When you

are using the PCI-Express, you will have

16 lanes of communication available.
The number of slots which it may utilize

will be determined by the physixal size

of the card. A good example of this is the

x 16 slot which is capable of

accommodating an x 1 card. When slots

are used together, one will enjoy the

increased bandwidth.

True computer portability was

introduced in laptops after the

introduction of a mini-PCI card. This

can either be a modem or a wireless

interface card. Some improvements have

been implemented, but the real

untethered portability was introduced by

this standard.
RAM and CPU Sockets

The RAM slot is an integral component

of the motherboard. In the case of the A+

exam, you should know the different

types of RAM and its characteristics,

and the best ones for high-performance

servers and workstations.


DDR (Double Data Rate) forms the

standard RAM which is used in the

majority of the PCs today. The DDR

RAM comes in a number of versions

which include the following:

DDR, which was first released at

around 2000.
DDR2, which uses less power and
doubled the DDR performance.
DDR3, which uses even less power
and doubled the performance of the

The DDR4 RAM is also available, and

it is beginning to reach the consumer

machines. It is expected that the next

generation of the PCs which run the

upcoming Skylake processors for Intel
should offer a better support for the


The type of RAM which is to be

installed is determined by the type of the

motherboard which is being used. Each

DDR version has own unique and

notched module shape, meaning the

wrong version of the DDR RAM cannot

be installed on the motherboard which

does not support it.


The DDR RAM has two primary

physical sizes, that is, the DIMMs and

the SODIMMs. DIMM is for Dual In-

line Memory Module, while SODIMM

is for Small Outline Dual In-line

Memory Module. The DIMMS are

widely used in the desktop computers as

well as in servers, while the SODIMMS
are commonly used in the laptop

RAM Characteristics

The following are the characteristics of

RAM which you should know for the

purpose of the exam:

1. Parity vs. Non-parity

The older versions of the RAM were
available in either parity or non-

parity types. A parity RAM is

capable of detecting the memory-

based data errors (without correcting

them), while the non-parity RAM

doesnt have this kind of function.

The parity RAM was largely made

obsolete by the ECC RAM.


Error-Correcting Code (ECC) RAM

is capable of doing both detection

and correction of memory-based data

errors. ECC RAM is commonly used

in critical servers where data

corruption cannot be tolerated. The
ECC RAM is a bit expensive, and it
needs ECC-supporting processors
and motherboards that are more

expensive too.

3. Buffered vs. Unbuffered

Buffered RAM puts less power load

on the memory controller of the

system. This becomes good when one
has a lot of RAM already installed in
the machine, as is the case with the
high-performance servers. The

regular workstations always have an

unbuffered RAM installed.

4. Single-sided vs. Double-sided

If all the RAM chips are located on

one side of your RAM module, then
this is referred to as a single-sided
RAM. If it has chips on both sides of
the module, then it is referred to as a

double-sided RAM. The single-sided

RAM is a bit newer, and the older

motherboards may encounter trouble

when trying to recognize it.

5. RAM Channels
RAM channel is the communication

level between the RAM modules and

systems memory controller. If there

are a high number of channels, there

will be more RAM modules which

the memory controller will be able to


The majority of standard PCs are

compatible with dual-channel, which

means that the motherboard usually
has not less than two RAM sockets,
which are in need of two identical

RAM modules already installed for

the dual-channel to work.

Triple-channel motherboards usually

have not less than three RAM sockets

(or in multiples of three), and they

usually need certain models of the

CPUs, such as an Intel Core i7 or a
Xeon processor. Quad-channel
motherboards also exist with four

RAM sockets, or in multiples of four.

The triple and the quad-channel RAM

systems are usually a bit expensive to

build, and they mostly reserved to be

used in high-performance servers as

well as workstations.
CPU Sockets

For the Socket Types, there exist eleven

individual sockets. However, these have

been classified into two main categories.

PGA (Pin Grid Array) consists of a

socket on a motherboard which is made

up of a pattern of small receptors which

have been designed to accept some

particular pin pattern for a chip only.
There is also the LGA (Land Grid

Array) type that reverses the design by

putting small fragile pins in a socket

where there is a greater protection from

bending and breakage. This design is

also good for providing a solid


Cooling and Processor

The control of the processor speed is

done by the use of the core speed of a

processor multiplied by the speed of the

Front Side Bus. It is possible for this

speed to be manipulated. You can speed

up or Overclock the speed by

increasing the multiplier of the Front

Side Bus. However, you should be

aware that there is a danger as far as this

is concerned. If the processor runs

faster, then it will become hot. The

normal use processors come with a 12

volt fan as well as a heatsink which has

been attached to the processor by the use

of clamps and thermal paste. This will

provide adequate protection for general

use, but it will prove inadequate when it

comes to extreme situations such as

overclocking. If you need to overclock

your machine, you should consider

upgrading the cooling system to some

liquid based system, then add fans to

your case, otherwise, the life of the

processor will be shortened.

Passive Heat Sink

The passive (or the fanless) heatsink is

made up of a small aluminum block

having fins which stick up vertically for
catching airflow and dissipating heat

from the chip. It is a simple design

which creates some enormous surface

area which the device can use for the

purpose of heat exchange.

Thermal Paste

The exchange occurs where the chip

conducts the temperature through a layer
of a thermally conductive paste so as to

avoid an uneven thermal transfer.

Once you modify this design by attaching

a fan to it, you will create a more

familiar Active heatsink.

Active Heat Sink

The most modern approach to moving

heat is by use of a liquid based cooler.

This design usually takes the elements

which have been described up to this

point and then adds a cooling liquid. A

pile which is sealed and leak-proof is

used for piping the liquid over chip,

absorbing heat, and transferring it out to

the radiators which are located in the

cooler areas of machine, and this

decreases the temperature. The cooled
liquid is returned, and the process then
repeats continuously.

When choosing a processor and a

motherboard, the key features you should

consider are the processor speed, the

core number, and the amount of cache

memory which is available. When

calculating the processor speed, if you

have four 2GHz cores, you should know
that the resultant speed will not be
additive. What you have are four cores

which are capable of operating at 2.0

GHz simultaneously.

This is not equal to an 8GHz processor.

Having a look at the BIOS/UEFI will

give you the rest of the information

which is needed for you to satisfy the

objective. On your Intel motherboards,
is the hyper threading enabled? The
hyper threading should be working since

it enables the processor to work on your

multiple tasks. It smoothes out

operations and it allows multiple things

to take place simultaneously.

You should also check the L1, L2, and

the L3 cache. They are locations which

are used as the temporary holding areas
for the data which is in the process but
not already complete. L1 forms the

fastest and the expensive real estate on

your machine. It is in multiples of 64 k

of the fast memory on the processor


The L2 is expected to follow that. In

some cases, it is located on the chip, but

in most cases, it is located on the
motherboard. The L3 if it is available
will be on the motherboard. These small

storage areas are good in saving the PC

from saving and retrieving the data to

and then from the hard disk during the

routine operations.


This topic is highly tested in this exam.

Virtualization will enable you to run
multiple instances of the complete
machines on a single hardware platform.

It is good for saving the resources, and

to quite boost the productivity. Always

remember to check the BIOS/UEFI first.

When virtualization has been enabled, in

the BIOS you will be able to install

many virtual machines the way you like.

Also, each of these has to be properly
licensed. Once the installation has been
done, it will be impossible for you to

tell the virtual machine and the original.


The computers chipsets have been

designed so as to enable the data to flow

from PC components and memory and
then to the processor. There exist small

but very significant differences in the

chip design, and you will notice that the

chipsets make specific. This means that

you have to find yourself CPU

architecture support on the motherboard

from one manufacturer rather than the

other. They are classified as follows:

North Bridge
This is a bit faster of the two types of
chipsets. It is used for connecting the

main system memory, the AGP/PCIx, and

the processor.

South Bridge

The PCI-E et al. forms the major

connection here. It is made up of your
hard disks USB connections, and these
can be of any type.

The bus speed determines the overall

speed of the machine. The speed of the

chipset doesnt matter, but the bus

speeds forms the bottleneck. A machine

which is capable of delivering data

which is time sensitive becomes faster.
CMOS Battery

The CMOS/UEFI setting, which is the

System Configuration Information, is

being held safe in firmware. Such

essential settings are usually maintained

by a small watch battery. Signs of failure

in this case are loss of PC date and the

time, or loss of the hard disks. We

should ensure that the configuration

doesnt get lost or maybe forgotten by
simply keeping it electronically
refreshed. The firmware is resistant to
the data loss. For one to stay safe, it has

to be electronically refreshed on a
periodical basis by use of a tried as well

as a true 2032 battery. This model has

remained unchanged since 1985.

Power connections

The AT P8-P9 has been long used to

power most legacy machines. P8 and P9
have been widely used for powering the
IBM XT, after the original PC was

released in the 80s.

The ATX20+4 was introduced later, but

it has been around for a long time now.

After the need for power increased,

manufacturers responded by releasing

the ATX. It is a platform which supplied

advanced features such as power saving
fan controls and energy saving sleep
modes. Today, it is the ATX 20 or the 24

pin design of 20 and 24 pin ATX

connection which areused for providing

power connections to modern


Fan connectors

Most fans have a voltage which ranges

between 5 to 19 volts. It is always good
for you to ensure that you get the one
with the right voltage. Front panel

connections have also been introduced

for a number of configurable connectors.

With combination of the USB devices to

nearly anything, there is an incredible

ease of connectivity. The options for this

are given below:

Power light


Power button

Drive activity lights


Chapter 2- Networking

For you to be able to understand network

security, it is good for you to first

understand the basics of computer

networks. Network security is a term

used to describe all activities which are

designed for protection of the network.

Such activities include the usability,

integrity, reliability, and safety of the
data and network.

A good network security mechanism is

one which targets a number of threats,

and it targets securing your network from

such threats. Let us discuss some of the

basics of computer networks.

Cables and Connectors.
Fiber Optic

The fiber optic transmissions involve the

use of light pulses for signals which are

sent over glass or plastic strands. The

glass medium (the fiber) can break or

lose a signal once it is bent over some

particular radius,and this is based on its

thickness. This calculation of the radius
is done based on the thickness of fiber
and cable that should not be coiled

The protection of the fiber core is done

by cladding, and a plastic sheath is

wrapped in the synthetic strength fibers

so as to give this cable some resistance

to breakage. The outer part is made of a

plastic outer sheath. In case you are

concerned about the moisture seeping
into cable, a synthetic gel has to be used
for filling any gaps and for protecting the


The benefits associated with the use of

fiber optic cable to the copper are many.

It is possible for each of the connectors

to be configured so as to make use of a

single-mode or multimode. The

following are some of the benefits of
using fiber optic compared to copper

The fiber has broader bandwidth,

which makes it possible for it to
handle more discrete channels at a
higher speed. It is also immune to
electromagnetic interference which
makes it less from less signal
Fiber has less signal loss (or
attenuation) over a distance.

It is impossible to tap fiber, which

provides an increased security over
a copper cable.

The Straight Tip (ST) connector is one

of longstanding connector types. It will

be easy for you to recognize it once you

find it on the field. This is shown below:

The Subscriber Connector (SC) has been

in use for a long time, and is a very

reliable and stable snap-in connector

which offers a low signal loss together

with ease of use. Sometimes, this
connector is referred to as a standard
connector or square connector due to its

The LC connector is somehow a newer

design when compared to the others.

Sometimes, it is known as a Lucent
connector, Local Connector, or a Little
Connector. Its main advantage is the

size. It is about half the size of a SC

connector and completely comparable.
Twisted Pair Connectors

The 802.3 cables are still widely used in

networking, despite the rise in the use of

fiber optic cables. The implementation

of the twisted pair connectors is done in

two, which include the RJ-11 and RJ-45.


This connector used to support early

10BASE-T networks and the Voice

Grade telephone connections which had

a 6-pin capability. It is still used in the

telephone implementations, and it has

been overrun in the networking by RJ-45

which will be described later. The RJ-

11 is in support of speeds of 10 Mbps,

and it is sufficient for voice but

inefficient for networking, which can

attain speeds of about 1000Mbps.

This connector is the successor to the

RJ-11 connector for network use. It

makes use of four twisted pairs of wire

which have been configured so as to

reduce cross-talk and the other problems

which are associated with cables. At the

initial configuration, this connector was

in a position to match the RJ-11 speeds

of 10Mbps, which formed the standard

during that time. You should know how

the wiring is done in the RJ-45

connectors. The two dominant wiring

pinouts for this include T-568A and the

Changes made in the other network
hardware have made it possible for the

connector to reach a speed of 100Mbps.

With the advancement in technology,

greater speeds were attained by

enhancing the internal configuration of

the connector and the cable, while the

original size and shape of the connector

were left unchanged.

The Thinnet or the RG-58 is also another

variant of a cable.

The 10BASE2 connector and the cable

were a bit hard to manage, compared

with the closely related 10BASET. It

made use of BNC connectors and a

shielded copper core cable which is less

manageable. It had a speed of 10Mbps,

and a longer range implementation of the

required bus topology was a bit hard,

and a T connection was needed at each

host and at the termination at cable ends

for the purpose of preventing signal


F- Connector

The Home Media Center PC usually

needs this connector for connecting the

cable or the antenna system to your PC.
By use of a RG-6 cable, such a

connection becomes an F-type

connector. This one is the same as BNC,

with the difference being the F connector

usually screws on to a component by use
of multiple rotations of a connector to
unit as a connection which is more likely

to fail in cable than at the connection

point. This connection is strong and not

easy to pull out.

Characteristics of Cabling
and Connectors
It is good for you to learn the

characteristics of the cables and

connectors, as well as compare and then

contrast between the various types of

these. The following are the

characteristics and the types of various



The types are single-mode and multi-


There are limitations in speed and

Twisted pair:

The types are STP, CAT3, CAT5,

UTP, CAT5e, CAT6e, CAT7, CAT6,

plenum, and PVC.

There are limitations in speed and


Effects and splitters on signal


The types are RG-6, and RG-59.

Fiber Optic

We need to debug the misconception of

the single mode fiber versus the

multimode. Whenever you come across a

fiber connector which has two cables on

the same connector that will be a Duplex

connector, with one cable for

transmitting and the other one for

receiving, which is not the case with a

single connector (simplex).

The multimode/ single-mode distinction

is cable color with a yellow cable
which signifies single mode cable. If this
was in a perfect world, then there would

have been a yellow cable for the single

mode, and then black, gray, or orange for

the multimode. Below is a picture for the

orange multimode:
If you dont observe what the cable
color standard is, the marking will be

done clearly on the cable jacket. The

advantage in this case is that a single

mode cable has the capability of

transmitting over longer distances with

no attenuation or signal loss. The

multimode cable is capable of carrying

multiple signal modes in the fiber. It has
multiple benefits, but this is paid for in

the pricing which in our case becomes

loss of quality and distance.

Multimode is good for moderate

distances, which is an indication that

after some point, these modes will lose

their distinction by a process known as

modal dispersion. You can view it as

distortion. It becomes advantageous to

the implementations which make use of a
number of modes on the LAN, most
probably the backbone. Some more

discrete signals are also supported.

Contrary to expectations, any cable

company which is transmitting hundreds

of channels has to use a single mode

fiber due to the distance limitations. The

fiber cable size measurements are

written as XX/YYY, which refers to the
relationship of thecore to the cladding. It
is measured in microns, and you will

observe sizes such as 50/125 which

means a 50 micron core and a 125

micron cladding, and such sizes will

handle the multimode transmissions.

Cores of 9 microns may also be

available for the single mode

implementations which would support

the practically infinite bandwidth. In a

Fiber Distributed Data Interface (FDDI)

case, you may see even four cores, while

in general use; you may only have a

single core.

Twisted Pair

All of the cables given below use a form

of the twisted pair cable. This cable can

be grouped into two classes despite an

unshielded twisted pair (UTP) or the
deployment Shielded twisted pair


The difference comes in internal

construction of your cable, probably the

insulation amount or the shielding which

surrounds each of the internal cable pair.
Every internal pair has been twisted at

different twists per inch to reduce the

possibility of pairs being parallel to one

another and allow for crosstalk.



This is used in early implementations of

the twisted pair, and it makes use of up

to 6 conductors or wires. The type is

commonly used in a telephone that has

two pairs for every phone. This is an

indication that the cable will be

supporting two phone lines.


The cable rating has four pairs, and it is

capable of supporting transmission
speeds of up to 100Mbps, with the

maximum cable length being 100 meters

(or 328 feet). The real world

applications can provide you with higher

speeds, but this is the specification in the



This is simply the CAT5 which has been

enhanced. The enhancement of this has
been reduced crosstalk. This may not be
a big deal to you until when you have a
look at numbers. CAT5e is in support for

gigabit Ethernet 1000Mbps. This can be

attributed to the stricter attention to the

number of twists in the pairs. The

hardware must be able to support this

speed. It provides 1Gbps, with the

maximum cable length being 90 meters

(or 295 feet).


This one supports 10Gbps with the

frequency being of 250 Mhz. This is a

way of reducing the crosstalk. With the

maintenance of a form for the external

RJ-45, the connector and the cable were

developed so as to further isolate cables

from one another, which explain the

source of the higher throughput.


This has an enhancement which doubles

transmission frequency up to 500 MHz,

and then restores traditional segment

length up to 100 meters (or 328 feet). It

is not a standard, but it is recognized and

widely observed.

This performance standard has increased

the performance up to 600 MHz, and it

has provided a more durable and

reliable cable compared to its

predecessors. It has some additional

shielding layer by wrapping of entire

insulated pair with an additional layer

wrapping of a whole cable bundle.


Radio Grade-6 (RG-6) cables usually

have a number of uses in communication.

The construction may vary by the

manufacturer, but all will have a solid

copper core which has been encased in a

plastic insulating sleeve which has been
covered by a wire mesh (or a foil)

which insulates this cable from noise

and it provides grounding. All of this

will be contained inside a plastic jacket.

It is terminated with an F-type connector

which is used on a RG-6 and the RG-59

cables. The RG-6 is now becoming the

preferred type of cable for the

installation of cable television.

Radio Grade-59 (RG-59) Coaxial

cables were sometimes used in the

heavily CATV installations. The

process of construction is similar to RG-

6 with the difference being that the RG-

59 makes use of a thinner core. The RG

numbering system utilizes increasing

numbers so as to represent the thicker

cores, and the RG-6 is made thicker than

the RG-59. Both of these cable types

make use of the F-type terminators.


In most cases, you will be called on to

add workstations in a wired building

which has no open outlets in a

reasonable distance. A host can be

added to the Ethernet network outlet by

use of a splitter. The splitter is a simple

device which plugs into the wall jack or

the other suitable jack, and it provides
two connections when there was once

Cable Jackets

These are used for ensuring safety when

you are using the network. The outer

sheath of these cables is made up of

either PVC (PolyVinylChloride) or

Plenum grade. The PVC is cheaper and

good for the patch cables.


TCP/IP is a robust protocol which is

used for management of networks from

the smallest of LANs to the World Wide


IP Addresses
This is the IP protocol, and it is used for
identifying hosts. The twomain types of

IP addresses which are actively used are

the IPv4 and IPv6.

The TCP/IP protocol stack forms the

base for the World Wide Web and a

number of local networks. Each host or

client which connects to a network such
as the Web needs a unique address. If

addresses are duplicated, then a failure

will occur in either one or two hosts. IP

protocol is utilized for identification of

hosts. IPV4 was the first original

addressing organization, and it is still

used today. In 1999, the Internet

Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA)

began to deploy the IPv6 protocol due to

the depletion of IP addresses.


An IP address is made up of 32-bits

which are separated in dotted decimal

notation to give four octets which are

separated by dots. The numbers are

usually assigned in the binary form. The

maximum value per octet is 255.

This was introduced in 1999 so as to

solve the problem of depleting IP

addresses. It uses 128 bits per address

which are written in decimal format. An

IPv6 address is made up of eight groups

of hexadecimal values. The hexadecimal

numbering will allow up to 16 values

which are case sensitive (0-9 and A-F)

to be expressed rather than the decimal

system with 10 numbers.

Unicast addresses are used for the

purpose of sending information to a

single node on the network. The unicast

address types are usually unique local,

link-local, and global.


Muticast addresses are used for sending

to multiple groups or targets. It is good
in supporting broadcast streams.


Anycast addresses are used to deliver

content to the closest destination only as

determined by the router.

Public and Private

In both the IPV4 and the IPv6 systems,

there are some addresses which have

been reserved for private use. These

include the following:



This is the address block address block

of fc00::/7.
APIPA/link local

This is well known as the Zero

configuration network. The APIPA and

the link local addresses are usually

assigned to the hosts when there isnt a

DHCP server which is reachable and

there isnt manual address assignment.

IPv4 makes use the address range to, while
IPv6 is assigned the block of fe80:/64,
which means that address fe80 and
zeroes will make 64 bits.

Static Addressing vs. Client-

side DHCP

The Dynamic Host Configuration

Protocol (DHCP) is the most common

addressing method for both IPV4 and

IPV6. This work is assigned to the
DHCP server. DHCP works by assigning
a unique IP address to each host in the
network. The server has a pool of

addresses which it will use to assign any

host which attempts to establish a

connection to the network.

Gateways and DNS

Network clients are able to access

computers located on local network or
the Internet by use of its IP address if it
is known. The Internet access would
have been based on configuration of the

Gateway on a network. This is simply a

device which handles off the network

requests and then forwards them to the

Internet. The address for the device

becomes part of the client configuration

as it is the address of the DNS server.

The Domain Name Server or the DNS

resolves the IP addresses into the host

names. The DNS server keeps a list of

IP addresses of machines known to this

and domain name. If the server does not

know the name, then it will have to

request it from the DNS servers which

have it. Once a device has successfully

connected, such information has to be

cached locally. Always be aware that

the Default Gateway and the DNS

Server have to be configured for the

settings to work properly.
Subnet mask vs. CIDR

Subnet Masks

Subnet masks were introduced so as to

allow more 32-bit addresses for use in

identifying networks. It is an addressing

scheme which allows a second set for

numbers to identify the number of bits of

address which should be used for

identifying the network in the eight bit

blocks which were commonly known as

classes. The subnet mask is 32-bits long,

and it is formatted in a similar manner as

an IP address. With this, we are allowed

to use either 16 bits or more for a

network address.

Classless Inter-Domain Routing (CIDR)

was introduced as a granular way to

assign the network addresses. It is a

method which allowed for any number

of the bits to be used as a subnet.

WiFi Networking

The various WiFi networking standards,

as well as the encryption types, are
tested in the exam. Let us discuss these:


The WiFi networking standards belong

to the 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac family. Let us

discuss these standards individually:


This is a standard which is capable of

supporting a transmission speed of
54Mbps for about 50 meters in a 5GHz
band. The standard is essentially


This forms the first Wi-Fi standard to be

widely adopted. It provides a speed of

11Mbps with the distance being 100

meters and direct line of sight in the 2.4

GHz band which is more crowded. It

suffers interference from the household

devices such as cordless phones and the

microwave ovens.

This is a standard which is capable of

transmitting at a speed of 54 MHz with a

distance of about 100 meters outdoors in

a 2.4GHz band.


This is a standard which is capable of

transmitting at a speed of 600Mbps

while making use of up to 4 emulated

full-duplex MIMO (Multi In Multi Out)

antennae which can send and then

receive virtually simultaneously by use

of Time Division Multiplexing (TDM) to

slice the transmissions into chunks

which are imperceptible so as to create

an impression of full-duplex. The 802.11

family standards are all half-duplex.


To date the latest standard, 802.11ac, is

capable of reaching speeds of 7 Gbps

theoretically using even eight

antennae. The additional antennae will

allow the 802.11ac standard to use some

theoretical channel bandwidth of

between 80 to 160 MHz.

Encryption Types

The very nature of wireless signals

makes them insecure. It is possible for

any third party to intercept and read

them. This calls for us to encrypt them.

The following are some of the

encryption types which can be used for

Networking Protocols


The WEP (Wired Equivalent Protocol)

was known to be go to encryption in

the early wireless environment, since it

provided an equivalent security of hard

wired connection. Currently, it is known

to be less than secure due to the

sophistication of the wireless
eavesdropping and the key is static,
never changing, which makes it

shareable for evildoers.


The WPA (Wired Equivalent Protocol)

provides keys which are constantly

changing together with a stronger
encryption method. It marked the best
encryption practical during the time, and
it is seen as a replacement for the WEP.
It is also known as TKIP (Temporal Key

Integrity Protocol), and it generates

changing keys. This protocol is used

together with the other encryption

protocols so as to improve their


The WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 2)

is the best protection at the moment, and

it was developed based on AES

(Advanced Encryption Standard), which

is the government standard for the

encryption of the classified

communication and documentation.

The TKIP (Temporal Key Integrity

Protocol) is a replacement for WEP, and

it generates authentication keys which

change frequently by adding a additional

security layer.


All wireless networking devices which

were manufactured from 2006 must have
support for AES (Advanced Encryption
Standard) so that they can be allowed to

make use of the Wi-Fi logo. AES will

improve the method which is used by the

TKIP for generation of the encryption


When you are setting up a wireless n

router, you should know the devices

which will be in a position to access it.
The AES is the fastest and strongest
method of encryption. Once a packet has

been received, it must be acknowledged.

Any packets which fail will be



The Transmission Control Protocol

(TCP) is simply a protocol which is

used to address the reliability issues

which are related to the IP. TCP is

tasked with establishing a connection

and ensuring continuity, which is

necessary for reliable communication on

a network and the Internet.

The User Datagram Protocol (UDP) is

an unreliable connectionless delivery
system which facilitates communication.
In this protocol, there is no inter-packet
relationship. Due to the lack of

acknowledgement, this protocol is faster.

Below are the protocols, together with

their respective ports:

FPT- port 21

The protocol is used for transferring

files in a client /server configuration. Its
operation can either be in active or
passive mode, and makes use of TCP for

controlling the connection. In the active

mode, the client has to initiate the

connection simply by informing a server

on the port it intends to be using so as to

receive data. In the active mode, port 21

is used to command and control data

which is to be sent out on port 20,

which will serve as the FTP servers

data port. The passive mode is

commonly used in situations in which the

inbound client TCP connections cannot

be possible.

SSH- port 22

The SSH (Secure Shell) usually opens

up a secure network channel which
provides integrity and confidentiality for
network services over an unsecured
network by use of a public key

cryptography which makes it a

cryptographic network protocol. This

protocol is used for securing remote

network logins as well as other

confidential data. The passwords cant

be intercepted, since encryption is

established before login is required.

Telnet- port 23

Telnet was developed to support remote

logins, as well as communication

between the computers in networks.

Telnet doesnt encrypt data, which

explains why SSH has replaced Telnet

for secure connections.

SMTP- Port 25

Simple Mail Transfer Protocol is used

for the transmission of emails over the

Internet via port 25.

Pop 3- port 110

The Post Office Protocol, with its latest

version being pop3, is used for the

management of messages on the server.
IMAP- port 143

Today, the users of mail are capable of

using mail services from many devices

of different types. With IMAP (Internet

Message Access Protocol), the message

is left on the server independent of its

delivery status. Any device which tries

to check will find the message.
However, due to filling up of the
available space, you have to configure
the mechanism for trashing the messages.

DNS- port 53

The DNS (Domain Name System) is

responsible for the work of translating

domain names such as

www.facebook.com to their
corresponding IP address, which are
less readable to humans so as to
facilitate communication.
HTTP- port 80

HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol) is

the foundation for the Internet, and it is

used by web browsers for

communication purposes. A client/server

method is used in this case, whereby a

URL (uniform resource locator) locates

and requests information from the target
server of the resource.
Internet Connection Types

With the POTS dial-up connection, the

Internet connectivity has become a

routine in our daily existence. Here is

how it is broken down.


This is a broadband Internet connection

of high speed which is always on. It uses
a cable modem for communicating over
a line which carries the cable television

signal. Based on a service agreement, it

can support high speeds.

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) makes

use of the common copper telephone

lines. When operating under the basic

configuration, it provides 3 signals to

and from the DSL modem.

In SDSL (Symmetric Digital Subscriber

Line), both the upload and download
speed are the same, but in ADSL
(Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line),

these are not the same.


This makes use of the POTS lines, but

there is no persistent communication. A

modem is required so as to modulate a
digital signal from a PC to an analog
waveform which is being used by the
phone lines, and once it has reached the

receiving end, the signal will have to be

demodulated or converted back to


Currently, the fiber optic is providing the

highest bandwidth of about 43 terabytes

per second, and this is determined by the

provider. The capacity of the media, as

well as being on a dedicated line, makes

this possible.

This uses a satellite which is orbiting

round the earth in an orbit, which means

that at any point, the satellite will be at a

relative location from your point. Over

400 satellites keep on orbiting in this

manner. The majority of these are

communication satellites which deliver

data, voice, Internet, and video. You

have to use a satellite mounted at the


This was introduced as a way of

replacing career sense multiple accesses

(CSMA). 2G cellular networks are

slower, and you should expect a speed

of over 50kbps. The 2G Edge or 2G E
followed this with a speed of 384Kbps.
The 3G then came with a higher speed of
200K to 4Mbps. Now, with the 4G

cellular network, you can get a speed of


Network Types

There are a number of factors which can

be considered for the classification of
networks. The following are some of the
types of networks:


A LAN (Local Area Network) is when

one or more wireless devices or PCs are

connected so as to share services and

resources with each other. Examples of

such a network type include a business
which can interconnect either one or
more buildings to users (hosts) within.
Each floor might have a printer which

each user will be in a position to access.


A WAN (Wide Area Network) is the

opposite of a LAN. The WAN can have

several users and networks which are

small. These will be spread over a large

geographical area. The Internet is an

example of a WAN network.

A PAN (Personal Area Network) is a

short range network which consists of

personal devices. This is simply a

Bluetooth configuration made up of

activity monitors and personal heart

which are connected to a cell phone.

This cell phone can then connect to a

laptops Bluetooth to create another


A MAN (Metropolitan Area Network)

covers a large geographical area, such

as a city or a metropolis. The MANs

are made by cities and municipalities so

as to provide the essential connectivity

during power outages or any other

catastrophic events which would

interrupt the traditional WAN.

Network Tools

Let us discuss the tools which are used

in networking:


The same crimping can be used for both

CAT 5 and CAT 6. You only have to

ensure that the cable ends are matched

against each other, and adhere to the

wiring standards. The crimper can then

be used for terminating the RJ cables.

Cable Stripper

For most cables to be terminated, the

cable coatings have to be removed. A

good example of this is the coaxial

cable. The outer sheath should be cut

away so as to expose the mesh shielding

and the core protection will be removed.


These can be either analog or digital.

The analog meters are used for testing

continuity positive AC, resistance and

negative voltages. The display is a

needle placed over a gradient

background with a needle resting on a

value which is being measured. The

analog Multimeters are damaged when
they are extremely under voltage or the
overvoltage which can damage delicate
internal windings.

Digital Multimeters solve this problem

by just auto-ranging themselves into

volt/amp range, which would provide

the relevant output or by displaying

some error message.
Cable tester

This is used for diagnosing any

problems with your cables such as

breakages, crossed pairs to lose wires.

It operates well, and it can help you

greatly when it comes to


Patch Panel
This is where the cables which go to the
wall jack terminate. In some cases, you

are only expected to connect a RJ-45

port to the numbered port. In some other

cases, you have to run some 8 wires into

the patch channel.

Network Architecture
It is good for you to be aware of the
various network devices, and the

differences between them.


The smallest kind of network one can

have is a peer-to-peer network. The

purpose of a hub is to distribute signals

to many hosts, and the Career Sense
Multiple Access (CSMA) is responsible
for managing the communication

whereby the cable has to be checked

before transmission.
Router/ Access Point

This can be seen as the traffic cop in the

network. It is responsible for

determining the traffic which gets into

the network and the one which does not.

It is responsible for finding the shortest

path to the destination of your traffic.

Obtains a digital signal from a wireless
environment, and then this is converted

for use in a wired environment.


This is a device used for refreshing a

signal and restoring it back to its

original state in terms of strength. Of

course, the strength of a signal degrades
as one move away from an access point.
A repeater helps to solve this problem.
Chapter 3- Mobile Devices

Laptop Hardware and


The laptop components are tested in the

exam. You should familiarize yourself

with these:

Expansion options
In the early days of laptops, expansion

cards were the most effective way to

expand the capability of a laptop. These

later evolved to CardBus technology and

then ExpressCard. These technologies

have nowbeen replaced by the USB.


These are now known to be volatile

memory, since they have a charge which
can retain the content. They were
designed due to the need to have extra

memory locations which can fit in the

available small space.


This was originally designed so as to

help in holding non-volatile memory in
the PCs. It is now highly used as a way
of storing portable data.

Thumb Drive

Devices should be write-protected to

stay safe against the risk of data loss and

virus infection. As technology advanced,

the packaging and the capacity also

advanced. Slots for solid state memory

packages were then built into the laptops

due to their small size, and they dont
take much space on a laptop and then
offered a safe and efficient portability of

the data.


In the case of laptops and other portable

devices, there is the repair vs. replace

cost as well as the convenience balance
which is always a factor. What is the
cost of the replacement? How much
better, faster is your new device? What

will be the cost of repair? You can do a

backup before you can go to bed.

During the replacement or repair, the

device should not be powered. You

should also have the device manual with

you to act as a guide. This is because the
process of repair or replacement will be
different based on the model and the


This is one of the easiest components for

you to replace, and you may be expected

to remove the components so as to get at

The aim should be to keep the metal
edges from a direct contact with easily

damaged plastic. Slip the tool into a

crevice between faceplate and then pry

upwards gently. Move to a different

position. You should consult the

documentation so as to be sure that there

arent any screws involved. After you

begin to separate, work on pieces at the
edge of the faceplate until it can be lifted

up. Before you can move it too far, just

check whether there are some ribbon

cables or some other connectors which

have been connected to it.

2 to 4 screws should be exposed, so

remove them and then lift your keyboard

up until you are able to see the ribbon

cable which connects it to the


Observe the orientation, and you will

see one side of your ribbon being

striped. The connectors are the Zero

Insertion Force (ZIF) type, and they are

released by lifting tabs at both ends of a

connector. Get a replacement keyboard,

and then insert your ribbon cable in a

connector which you removed the

original from ensuring that there are no
unwanted twists in your ribbon.

This should slip right to the socket.

Insert the cable until it stops, and then

push down on the connector ends so as

to secure it. Reverse the process to the

point in which the face plate comes into

a position but it isnt snapped in. Power

up, and then test your keyboard. In case

it works, just power down your machine
and then replace the face plate.

Hard Drive

It is good for you to check the website of

the manufacturer so as to be sure of the

exact type which you should use.

To access the hard drive, you have to

remove the service panel on the bottom
part of the laptop. The panel can be
identified since in most cases, it covers

the memory and the drive and maybe the

wireless card.

There can also be a panel which covers

only your hard drive. Remove your

panel by loosening screws which secure

it, and then prying it up. These screws

are designed to stay on the panel. Once
the panel has been removed, you will be
able to see the hard drive.

There will be two or four screws

holding the drive in a mounting

assembly. Remove your drive carefully,

and then disconnect its SATA connector.

Mount your new drive into the assembly,

and reconnect its SATA connector, then

replace the drive in your laptop by
screwing. Replace its service panel. If
you need to check whether the drive is
seen, just power up and then access

UEFI/BIOS, and look for your disk. The

operating system will not show it until

the time you have initialized it.


For you to install the memory, you have

to remove the service panel as we did

previously. The SO-DIMMS pairs are

held by some metal clips on the sides of

every module. Move these clips outward

at the same time, and its module will

then pop up slightly, which will be

enough for you so as to grasp then

This should be done for both modules.

Remove the new memory from the

packaging, and install it carefully in by

sliding this into memory slots and then

pushing down so as to engage the clips.

Take note of the silver retaining clips as

well as the notch in the memory module

which has been aligned perfectly in the

socket. Remember the palm rest and the
touchpad were removed so as to access
the memory.

You have to choose the best CPU for

replacement, based on the options for the

manufacturer. Choose the best match

based on cost and performance. Once

you have removed the keyboard and the

bezel assembly, you should be able to

see the heat sink.

Since the height isnt available as it

would have been in a conventional PC,

you will notice that the heat exchange

assembly is occupying about one fourth

of the surface area of your system board,

by use of copper piping so as to get

processor heat to the fan in a single long

flat package.

After removing this, you will see that

your processor is visible. Both the
processor and the heat exchanger will be
visible. Remember that the old thermal

paste is still stuck to the processor, and

the rest of this is on the bottom of the

heat exchanger. Just clean it off.

Remove the old processor, and then

replace it. Ensure that you have the

thermal compound or a thermal pad

between the new processor and the heat
sink for distribution of heat evenly.
Chapter 4- Windows
Operating Systems

The following are the tools which are

used in the Windows operating system.


This tool was introduced for the first

time in Windows Vista, and it introduced
transparency and animation features to
the desktop. Windows 7 added some
enhancements to the Aero tool, such as

the Aero peek which clears all the open

windows. Once the mouse is placed

over so as to show the button for Show

Desktop, the Aero Shake will allow to

just holding the title bar of a window.

Aero Glass was replaced in Windows

8/8.1 with a solid color scheme for

supporting the Metro UI. Windows 10

introduced back Aero features for

particular items such as Action Center

and the Start menu.


Gadgets and Sidebar were developed

with Windows Vista all the way to

Windows 7, and they provided applets

which would be placed on the sidebar

for displaying things such as weather,

clock, currency converter, and system

details. This is usually shown vertically

along the right-hand side of display.
User account control

This feature was introduced in Windows

Vista, and it is part of Windows to-date.
It was developed so that it can help you
prevent any unauthorized changes to your


This was also introduced in Windows

Vista, and it is available today as a way

of encrypting the whole drive. It can be

used for encrypting the removable

devices and all the volumes. A

passphrase or passcode can be created
for unlocking the drive once it has been
moved to another computer.

Windows Defender

This has been in use for defending

systems since the release of Windows

98. To be secure, ensure that it is

updated on a regular basis.

Windows Firewall

This is a very effective way to ensure

that your PC is secure. It is built-in, and

it works by filtering traffic to and from

the PC. It can be configured so as to

allow some programs and deny others

from communicating to your network.

Event Viewer
This can be accessed from the control

panel. It gives you detailed information

about any errors which it encounters in

your system.

Easy transfer

This is a useful tool which can be

accessed from the control panel. It will

allow you to migrate the settings of a
particular file to another file. This can
be accessed through Getting Started and
then the Welcome screen under Transfer

files and settings from another

computer and then clicking on the Easy

transfer link which is displayed. You can

then use the method to be used for doing

the transfer such as a Flash disk,

network, or a specialized cable.

System and Security

The category view gives you the PC

settings which have an effect on the

security of your system. You should use

the best way for classifying or grouping

the available icons.

Boot Methods

Internal hard drive


This involves allowing the computer to

boot to its internal storage, or a partition

on a hard disk or a solid state drive


Most desktops and laptops are made

with internal optical drives The media in

this can be bootable. This method

requires you to check UEFI or the BIOS

firmware and then youre Optical Drive

before other bootable devices, even the


Netboot is Apples version of the PXE,

and it uses most of same startup

initialization routines.


This helps you to get the result you

expect on multiple PCs. If you need to

work at high volumes, then a high

volume server will be needed. The UEFI
and the BIOS should be set so that it can
access the Preboot eXecution

Environment (PXE), and this will help

UEFI/BIOS to make use of the network

so as to look for the installation files.

Type of Installations

All the devices from Microsoft are in

need of an operating system so as to
work. The following are the available
types of installations:

Clean install

All the current versions of the Microsoft

Windows and variants are available for

download, and they can be used for

burning physical copies of installation

media (such as a DVD 4GB). It is good

for you to download and then run

Upgrade Assistant and you will ensure
that everything is compatible. Also,
ensure that you have the right version,

either 32-bit or a 64-bit. If you install a

32-bit version on a 64-bit machine, then

you will experience decreased memory

availability, limitations of the storage

media, and a less than a perfect


Similar methods apply for the clean

install, but it is impossible for you to

Upgrade from a 32-bit Operating system

to 64-bit. The process needs a clean

install only due to the massive number of

changes required for the basic

architecture and the core files which are

affected. The 32-bit programs should
work in a 64 bit environment since the

provisions were made to support this.

The upgrade install should be supported

in the same bit depth as well as in OS

versions which are currently supported.

Just know that it is possible for you to

upgrade OS 7 to 8. However, note that

there are circumstances which might

make you pay for this.


In this method of installation, you need

to create some restore points before any

problems may arise. This means that you

will be in a position to revert your

system back to its original state in case a

problem occurs.
Repair installation
Recovery partition

This involves setting up a backup or a

restore set. With the recovery

installation, it will be possible for you

to get your system back to normal even

after occurrence of a failure. The tools

can be accessed by hitting a specific

key and this is based on the


The systems of today have large enough

storage capacity and memory. This gives

them the ability to support multiple

operating systems. This involves the

technology of virtualization.
Image deployment

This is a good way of reducing

anomalies which may arise between the

installations. A single image can also be

used as the foundation for the multiple



Now that you have learned the types of

installations, you should know the
partitions on which the installation has
been done. You should know the devices

and how the data is stored on them.


After an installation of a new hard drive

on the Windows system, it has to be

configured to be a basic disk. This type
of disk is independent of the other disks,
and it can be formatted to a compatible
portioning system such as MBR or GPT.


After installation of a new drive, it has

to to be initialized and then formatted. In

case there are no other options selected,

then one primary partition will have to

be created, and you will format this to
get the file system which you desire.
This is the point when we begin to refer
to it as a volume.


A disk may only have one extended

partition. The contents of the disk may

be resized so as to contain a smaller

primary partition which has been resized

so as to provide the unallocated space
which can then be dedicated to each
partition. An extended partition can be
further divided.


The extended partition may be sub-

divided so as to get many logical

partitions. The dimensions for the

logical partitions can be found at the

first part of the extended partition, but
not in MBR. The logical partitions are
not expected to fill your entire extended
partition. The empty space may be
retained in an extended partition which

then may be carved up into additional

logical partitions in the future if there is

a need.


This type of disk is not limited to a

single disk or volume. All the volumes
which are used on the dynamic disks are
referred to as the dynamic volumes.


This one is capable of supporting the

large hard disks up to a tune of 18


File System Types

The following are some of the available
file system types:
NFS (Network File System)

This is the oldest file system. It has a

string security system, and is capable of

supporting files with large sizes.


This forms the basis of the Windows

network file sharing protocol.


This file system was initially introduced

in the Linux operating system, and it

allows us to export boot images onto a

CD. With this file system, any data

which has been placed on a CD can be

treated just like a normal file from the

command line.

This was introduced so that it can

address the complexities found in

Windows 95 such as the long filenames.


This stands for the New Technology File

System, and it allows our servers as
well as other systems to support the

current technologies.


This is a good file system for use in the

USB and Flash drives. It has a large

support for files and other enhancements.

ext3, ext4

These two are Linux file systems. The

ext3 was replaced by the ext4 since the

latter can support large files and other


Quick format vs. full format

A quick format will remove all the files

on a volume without scanning your drive
for problems. A full format will remove
all the files, and then scan your disk for

any bad sectors.

Workgroup vs. Domain


When it comes to Workgroups and

Domains, you have to determine whether

it will be a home network or a business?
Also, the size and the scale, do you have
skills or the personnel for handling the
administrative tasks?

We have come to the end of this guide.

For you to pass the Comptia A+

Certification (Exams 220-901 & 220-

902),, there are a number of chapters

which you have to master. You have to

identify the chapters which are tested in

the exam, and then study them. These

topics have been discussed in this book!