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refers to the physical components that make up a computer system.

There are many different kinds of hardware that can be installed inside, and connected to the outside, of a computer.
Computer hardware may sometimes be seen abbreviated as computer hw.
Take a tour inside a desktop computer to learn how all the hardware in a traditional desktop PC connects together to create the
complete computer system like the one you may be using right now.

Note: A computer system isn't complete unless there's also software, which is different than hardware. The software is data that's
stored electronically, like an operating system or a video editing tool, which runs on the hardware.

List of Computer Hardware


Here are some common individual computer hardware components that you'll often find inside a modern computer. These parts are
almost always found inside the computer's housing:
Motherboard
The motherboard serves to connect all of the parts of a computer together. The CPU, memory, hard drives, and other ports
and expansion cards all connect to the motherboard directly or via cables.
The motherboard is the piece of computer hardware that can be thought of as the "backbone" of the PC, or more
appropriately as the "mother" that holds all the pieces together.
Phones, tablets and other small devices have motherboards too but they're often called logic boards instead.

Central Processing Unit (CPU)


The Central Processing Unit (CPU) is the computer component that's responsible for interpreting and executing most of the
commands from the computer's other hardware and software.

Intel and AMD are the two most popular CPU manufacturers for desktops, laptops, and servers, while Apple, NVIDIA,
and Qualcomm are big smartphone and tablet CPU makers.
You may see many different names used to describe the CPU, including processor, computer processor, microprocessor, central
processor, and "the brains of the computer".

Random Access Memory (RAM)


Random Access Memory, or RAM (pronounced as ramm), is the physical hardwareinside a computer that temporarily stores data,
serving as the computer's "working" memory.
Additional RAM allows a computer to work with more information at the same time, which usually has a dramatic effect on total
system performance.

Some popular manufacturers of RAM include Kingston, PNY, Crucial Technology, and Corsair.
Note: RAM is also known as main memory, internal memory, primary storage, primary memory, memory "stick", and RAM "stick".

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Power Supply
The power supply unit is the piece of hardware that's used to convert the power provided from the outlet into usable power for the
many parts inside the computer case.

It converts the alternating current (AC) into a continuous form of power that the computer components need in order to run normally,
called direct current (DC). It also regulates overheating by controlling voltage, which may change automatically or manually depending
on the power supply.

The power supply unit is mounted just inside the back of the case. If you follow the computer's power cable, you'll find that it attaches
to the back of the power supply.
It's the backside that's usually the only portion of the power supply that most people will ever see.
There's also a fan opening at the back of the power supply that sends air out the back of the computer case.

Video Card
The video card is an expansion card that allows the computer to send graphical information to a video display device such as
a monitor, TV, or projector.
Some other names for a video card include graphics card, graphics adapter, display adapter, video adapter, video controller,
and add-in boards (AIBs).
A staggering number of companies manufacture video cards, but almost every one includes a graphics processing unit (GPU) from
either NVIDIA Corporation or AMD.

Video Card Description


A video card is a piece of computer hardware that's rectangular in shape with numerous contacts on the bottom of the card and
one or more ports on the side for connection to video displays and other devices.
The video card installs in an expansion slot on the motherboard. While most video cards are of the PCIe format, video cards come
in other formats as well, including PCI and AGP. These additional formats are older standards and don't communicate with the
CPU and other components as quickly as PCIe.

Hard Drive (HDD)


The hard disk drive is the main, and usually largest, data storage hardware device in a computer.
The operating system, software titles, and most other files are stored in the hard disk drive.
The Hard Disk Drive is Also Known As
HDD (abbreviation), hard drive, hard disk, fixed drive, fixed disk, fixed disk drive

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Important Hard Disk Drive Facts
Hard Disk Drive Description
A hard drive is usually the size of a paperback book but much heavier.
The sides of the hard drive have pre-drilled, threaded holes for easy mounting in the 3.5-inch drive bay in the computer case. Mounting
is also possible in a larger 5.25-inch drive bay with an adapter. The hard drive is mounted so the end with the connections faces inside
the computer.
The back end of the hard drive contains a port for a cable that connects to the motherboard. The type of cable used will depend on
the type of drive but is almost always included with a hard drive purchase. Also here is a connection for power from the power supply.

The hard drive is sometimes referred to as the "C drive" due to the fact that Microsoft Windows designates the "C" drive letter to the
primary partition on the primary hard drive in a computer by default.
Common Hard Disk Drive Tasks
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Here are some common things you might do that involve a hard disk drive:
Test a Hard Drive
Replace a Hard Drive
Format a Hard Drive
Partition a Hard Drive
Change a Hard Drive's Letter

Solid-State Drive (SSD)

A solid-state drive (SSD) is a nonvolatile storage device that stores persistent data on solid-
state flash memory. Solid-state drives actually aren't hard drivesin the traditional sense of the term, as there are
no moving parts involved. A traditional hard disk drive (HDD) consists of a spinning disk with a read/write head on
a mechanical arm called an actuator. An SSD, on the other hand, has an array of semiconductormemory organized
as a disk drive, using integrated circuits (ICs) rather than magnetic or optical storage media. An SSD may also be
referred to as a solid-state disk.

Optical Drive (e.g. BD/DVD/CD drive)

Optical drives retrieve and/or store data on optical discs like CDs, DVDs, and BDs (Blu-ray discs), any of which hold much more
information than previously available portable media options like the floppy disk.
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The optical drive normally goes by other names like a disc drive, ODD (abbreviation), CD drive, DVD drive, or BD drive.
Some popular optical disc drive makers include LG, Memorex, and NEC. In fact, one of these companies probably manufactured your
computer or other device's optical drive even though you never see their name anywhere on the drive itself.
Optical Disc Drive Description
An optical drive is a piece of computer hardware about the size of a thick soft cover book. The front of the drive has a small Open/Close
button that ejects and retracts the drive bay door. This is how media like CDs, DVDs, and BDs are inserted into and removed from the
drive.
The sides of the optical drive have pre-drilled, threaded holes for easy mounting in the 5.25-inch drive bay in the computer case. The
optical drive is mounted so the end with the connections faces inside the computer and the end with the drive bay faces outside.

Optical Disc Drive Media Formats


Most optical drives can play and/or record a large number of different disc formats.
Popular optical drive formats include CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD, DVD-RAM, DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, DVD-R DL, DVD+R
DL, BD-R, BD-R DL & TL, BD-RE, BD-RE DL & TL, and BDXL.
The "R" in these formats means "recordable" and the "RW" means "rewritable." For example, DVD-R discs can be written to just once,
after which the data on them cannot be changed, only read. DVD-RW is similar but since it's a rewritable format, you can erase the
contents and write new information to it at a later time, as often as you'd like.

Card Reader (SD/SDHC, CF, etc.)

A memory card reader is a device for accessing the data on a memory card such as a CompactFlash (CF), Secure
Digital (SD) or MultiMediaCard (MMC). Most card readers also offer write capability, and together with the card, this can
function as a pen drive.

Generic CompactFlashcard reader with high-speed storage via USB2.0

Here is some common hardware that you might find connected to the outside of a computer, although many tablets, laptops, and
netbooks integrate some of these items into their housings:

Monitor
The monitor is the piece of computer hardware that displays the video and graphics information generated by the computer
through the video card.
Monitors are very similar to televisions but usually display information at a much higher resolution. Also unlike televisions,
monitors are not usually mounted on a wall but instead sit atop a desk.

Other Names of a Monitor


A monitor is sometimes referred to as a screen, display, video display, video display terminal, video display unit, or video screen.
A monitor is sometimes incorrectly referred to as the computer, as in the hardware within the computer case, like the hard
drive, video card, etc. For example, shutting down the computer isn't the same thing as turning off the monitor. It's important for
that distinction to be made.

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Important Monitor Facts
A monitor, no matter the type, usually connects to either an HDMI, DVI, or VGA port. Other connectors include USB, DisplayPort,
and Thunderbolt. Before investing in a new monitor, make sure that both devices support the same type of connection.

Keyboard

The keyboard is the piece of computer hardware used to input text, characters, and other commands into a computer or similar device.
Even though the keyboard is an external peripheral device in a desktop system (it sits outside the main computer housing), or is
"virtual" in a tablet PC, it is an essential part of the complete computer system.
Microsoft and Logitech are the probably the most popular physical keyboard manufacturers, but many other hardware makers also
produce them.

Keyboard Physical Description


Modern computer keyboards were modeled after, and are still very similar to, classic typewriter keyboards. Many different keyboard
layouts are available around the world (like Dvorak and JCUKEN) but most keyboards are of the QWERTY type.
Most keyboards have numbers, letters, symbols, arrow keys, etc., but some also have a numeric keypad, additional functions like
volume control, buttons to power down or sleep the device, or even a built-in trackball mouse that's intended to provide an easy way
to use both the keyboard and the mouse without having to lift your hand off the keyboard.

Keyboard Connection Types


Many keyboards are wireless, communicating with the computer via Bluetooth or an RF receiver.
Wired keyboards connect to the motherboard via a USB cable, using the USB Type A connector. Older keyboards connect via
a PS/2 connection. Keyboards on laptops are of course integrated, but technically would be considered "wired" since that's how they
are connected to the computer.

Note: Both wireless and wired keyboards require a specific device driver in order to be used with the computer. Drivers for standard,
non-advanced keyboards usually don't need to be downloaded because they're already included in the operating system. See How Do
I Update Drivers in Windows? if you think you may need to install a keyboard driver but aren't sure how to do it.

Mouse

The mouse, sometimes called a pointer, is a hand-operated input device used to manipulate objects on a computer screen.
Whether the mouse uses a laser or ball, or is wired or wireless, a movement detected from the mouse sends instructions to the
computer to move the cursor on the screen in order to interact with files, windows, and other software elements.
Even though the mouse is a peripheral device that sits outside the main computer housing, it's an essential piece of computer
hardware in most systems...

Battery Backup (UPS)

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A battery backup, or uninterruptible power supply (UPS), is primarily used to provide a backup power source to important
desktop computer hardware components.
In most cases, those pieces of hardware include the main computer housing and the monitor, but other devices can be plugged into a
UPS for backup power as well, depending on the size of the UPS.
In addition to acting as a backup when the power goes out, most battery backup devices also act as power "conditioners" by ensuring
that the electricity flowing to your computer and accessories is free from drops or surges.

Flash Drive
A flash drive is a small, ultra-portable storage device which, unlike an optical drive or a traditional hard drive, has no moving parts.
Flash drives connect to computers and other devices via a built-in USB Type-A plug, making a flash drive a kind of
combination USB device and cable.
Flash drives are often referred to as pen drives, thumb drives, or jump drives. The terms USB drive and solid state drive (SSD) are also
sometimes used but most of the time those refer to larger and not-so-mobile USB-based storage devices.
Flash drives can be written and rewritten to an almost unlimited number of times, similar to hard drives.
Flash drives have completely replaced floppy drives for portable storage and, considering how large and inexpensive flash drives have
become, they've even nearly replaced CD, DVD, and BD disc for data storage purposes.

Printer
A printer is a device that accepts text and graphic output from a computer and transfers the information to paper, usually to
standard size sheets of paper. Printers vary in size, speed, sophistication, and cost. In general, more expensive printers are
used for higher-resolution color printing.

Speakers

A computer speaker is a hardware device that connects to a computer to generate sound. The signal used
to produce the sound that comes from a computer speaker is created by the computer's sound card. The
picture shows the Altec Lansing VS2221 speakers with subwoofer, an example of external computer
speakers.

External Hard Drive

What Is an External Drive?


An external drive is just a hard drive or SSD that is connected to a computer on the outside rather than on the inside.
Some external drives draw power over their data cable, while others may require an AC wall connection.
One way to think of an external hard drive is as if it were a regular, internal hard drive that has been removed, covered in its own
protective casing, and plugged into the outside of your computer.
Internal hard drives can even be converted into external hard drives via what's called a hard drive enclosure.
External hard drives come in varying storage capacities, but they all connect to a computer either by USB, FireWire, eSATA, or
wirelessly.
External hard drives are sometimes called portable hard drives. A flash drive is one common, and very portable, type of external hard
drive.
Using an external hard drive is as easy as plugging one end of the data cable into the drive as well as to the matching end on the
computer, like the USB port in the case of USB-based external drives. If a power cable is required, it will need to be plugged into a wall
outlet.
Normally, on most computers, it takes just a few moments before the contents of the external drive will appear on-screen, at which
point you can begin moving files to and from the drive.

Why Would You Use an External Drive?


External hard drives are portable, easy to use, and can provide a large amount of storage whenever you need it.
You can store the actual device any place you like, and carry a large number of files with you wherever you go.
Another advantage of owning an external drive is that you can move them from computer to computer, making them great for sharing
large files.
Because of their usually large storage capacities, external hard drives are often used to store backed up files.

Pen Tablet

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A digitizer tablet that is specialized for handwriting and hand marking. LCD-based tablets emulate the flow of ink as the tip
touches the surface and pressure is applied. Non-display tablets display the handwriting on a separate computer screen.
See digitizer tablet and tablet computer.

Here are some less common individual computer hardware devices, either because these pieces are now usually integrated into
other devices or because they've been replaced with newer technology:

Sound Card
The sound card is an expansion card that allows the computer to send audio information to an audio device, like speakers, a pair of
headphones, etc.
Unlike the CPU and RAM, the sound card is not a necessary piece of hardware required to make a computer work.
Creative (Sound Blaster), Turtle Beach, and Diamond Multimedia are popular sound card makers, but there are many others.
The terms audio card, audio adapter, and sound adapter are sometimes used in place of sound card.

Sound Card Description


A sound card is rectangular piece of hardware with numerous contacts on the bottom of the card and multiple ports on the side for
connection to audio devices such as speakers.
The sound card installs in a PCI or PCIe slot on the motherboard.
Since the motherboard, case and peripheral cards are designed with compatibility in mind, the side of the sound card fits just outside
the back of the case when installed, making its ports available for use.
There are also USB sound cards that let you plug headphones, microphones, and maybe other audio devices into your computer
through a small adapter that can plug directly into a USB port.

Network Interface Card (NIC)


A computer uses a network interface card (NIC) to become part of a network. The NIC contains the electronic circuitry
required to communicate using a wired connection (e.g., Ethernet) or a wireless connection (e.g., WiFi). A network
interface card is also known as a network interface controller, network adapter, or Local Area Network (LAN) adapter.
Early NICs typically consisted of an expansion card connected to a computer's motherboard. This separate card
contained the electronic circuitry and the physical connectors. Here's an example of a typical NIC:

Typical network interface card


Expansion Card (Firewire, USB, etc.)
IEEE 1394, commonly known as FireWire, is a standard type of connection for many different kinds of devices like digital video
cameras, some printers and scanners, external hard drives and more.
The terms IEEE 1394 and FireWire usually refer to the types of cables, ports, and connectors that are used to connect these types
of external devices to computers.

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USB is a similar standard type of connection that is used for devices like flash drives (as well as printers, cameras, etc.).
The latest USB standard transmits data faster than IEEE 1394 and is more widely available. More on the differences between USB and
FireWire below.
FireWire is designed to support plug-and-play, meaning that an operating systemwill automatically find the device when it's plugged
in and will ask to install a driverto make it work.
IEEE 1394 is also hot-swappable, meaning that neither the computers that the FireWire devices are connected to, nor the devices
themselves, need to be shut down before they're connected or disconnected.

What Are the Differences in FireWire and USB?


FireWire and USB are similar in purpose (they both transfer data) but differ significantly in areas like availability and speed.
You definitely won't see FireWire supported on nearly every computer and device like you do with USB. Most modern computers don't
have FireWire ports built in, meaning they'd have to be upgraded to do so... something that costs extra and that there may not even
be room for the computer to do.
The most recent USB standard is USB 3.1, supporting transfer speeds as high as 10,240 Mbps. This is much faster than the 800 Mbps
that FireWire supports.

USB
What Is USB?
USB, short for Universal Serial Bus, is a standard type of connection for many different kinds of devices.
Generally, USB refers to the types of cables and connectors used to connect these many types of external devices to computers.
The Universal Serial Bus standard has been extremely successful. USB ports and cables are used to connect hardware such as printers,
scanners, keyboards, mice, flash drives, external hard drives, joysticks, cameras, and more to computers of all kinds, including
desktops, tablets, laptops, netbooks, etc.

Hard Drive Controller Card

HDC may refer to any of the following:

Abbreviated as HDC, the hard disk controller is a circuit that enables a computer to read and write

information to a hard drive. The HDC also acts as a bus, connecting the hard disk to the rest of the

computer's components. Today, hard drives have the controller built on to them, usually a circuit board that

covers the bottom or on the back portion of the drive.

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Analog Modem
A modem used for asynchronous transmission of data over Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) lines.
Analog modems are still a popular component for remote communication between users and remote
networks.

How It Works
The word modem stands for modulator/demodulator, which refers to the fact that modems
convert digital transmission signals to analog signals and vice versa. For example, in transmission,
an analog modem converts the digital signals it receives from the local computer into audible analog
signals that can be carried as electrical impulses over POTS to a destination computer or network.
To transmit data over a telephone channel, the modem modulates the incoming digital signal to a
frequency within the carrying range of analog phone lines (between 300 Hz and 3.3 kHz). To
accomplish this, multiplexing of the digital signal from the computer with a carrier signal is
performed. The resulting modulated signal is transmitted into the local loop and transmitted to the
remote station where a similar modem demodulates it into a digital signal suitable for the remote
computer.

Scanner
A scanner is a device that captures images from photographic prints, posters, magazine pages, and similar sources for
computer editing and display. Scanners come in hand-held, feed-in, and flatbed types and for scanning black-and-white
only, or color. Very high resolution scanners are used for scanning for high-resolution printing, but lower resolution
scanners are adequate for capturing images for computer display. Scanners usually come with software, such as
Adobe's Photoshop product, that lets you resize and otherwise modify a captured image.

Projector
A projector is an output device that can take images generated by a computer or Blu-ray player
and reproduce them onto a screen, wall, or other surface. Typically, the surface projected onto is
large, flat, and lightly colored. For example, you could use a projector to show a presentation on a
large screen so that everyone in the room can see it. Projectors can produce either still (slides) or
moving images (videos). A projector is often about the size of a toaster and weighs only a few
pounds.

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Floppy Disk Drive

The floppy drive is a piece of computer hardware that reads data from, and writes data to, a small disk.
The most common type of floppy drive is the 3.5" drive, followed by the 5.25" drive, among other sizes.
For the most part, the floppy drive is completely obsolete.

The Floppy Drive is Also Known As


floppy disk drive, disk drive, diskette drive, 3.5" drive, 5.25" drive

Important Floppy Drive Facts


While still a component of some existing computers, floppy drives are essentially obsolete, replaced by inexpensive flash drives and
other portable media drives.
A floppy drive is no longer standard equipment in new computer systems.
Traditional floppy drives that install inside of a computer case are becoming less and less available. Typically, the best option when
adding a floppy drive will be to purchase an external one, probably USB-based like the one pictured here.

Joystick
In computers, a joystick is a cursor control device used in computer games and assistive technology . The joystick, which
got its name from the control stick used by a pilot to control the ailerons and elevators of an airplane, is a hand-held lever
that pivots on one end and transmits its coordinates to a computer. It often has one or more push-buttons, called switches,
whose position can also be read by the computer.

Webcam
A webcam is a hardware camera and input device that connects to a computer and the Internet and
captures either still pictures or motion video of a user or other object. The picture of
the LogitechWebcam C270 is an example of what a webcam may look. Today, most webcams are either
embedded into the display with laptop computers or connected to the USB or FireWire port on the
computer.

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Microphone
A microphone is a device that translates sound vibrations in the air into electronic signalsor scribes them to a recording
medium. Microphones enable many types of audiorecording devices for purposes including communications of many
kinds, as well as music and speech recording.

Tape Drive
A device, like a tape recorder, that reads data from and writes it onto a tape. Tape drives have data capacities of
anywhere from a few hundred kilobytes to several gigabytes. Their transfer speeds also vary considerably. Fast tape
drives can transfer as much as 20MB (megabytes) per second.
The disadvantage of tape drives is that they are sequential-accessdevices, which means that to read any
particular block of data, you need to read all the preceding blocks. This makes them much too slow for general-
purpose storage operations. However, they are the least expensive media for making backups.

Zip Drive
A Zip drive is a small, portable disk drive used primarily for backing up and archiving personal computer files. The
trademarked Zip drive was developed and is sold by Iomega Corporation. Zip drives and disks come in two sizes. The
100 megabyte size actually holds 100,431,872 bytes of data or the equivalent of 70 floppy diskettes. There is also a 250
megabyte drive and disk. The Iomega Zip drive comes with a software utility that lets you copy the entire contents of your
hard drive to one or more Zip disks.

The following hardware is referred to as network hardware, and various pieces are often part of a home or business network:
Digital Modem (e.g. Cable Modem, DSL Modem, etc.)
Router
What is a Router?
The router, at least the common home network device that we usually call a router, is the piece of network hardware that allows
communication between your local home network - i.e. your personal computers and other connected devices - and the Internet.
The Router is Also Known As
The "router" used in home and small networks is more accurately called a "residential gateway."
Important Router Facts
A router is the first line of security from intrusion into a network.
Enabling the highest level of security on the router is the best way to keep your computer system and information safe from attack.
Routers contain software called firmware that should be updated as released by the router manufacturer.
Most routers connect to other network devices only via network cables and do not require drivers to operate in Windows or
other operating systems. However, routers that connect to a computer via a USB or FireWire typically require drivers to operate
properly.
Routers often act as the DHCP servers in small networks, issuing unique IP addresses.

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Network Switch
A switch is a network hardware device that allows communication between devices within a network, like your local home
network.
Most home and small business routers contain built-in switches.

The Switch is Also Known As


A switch is more correctly called a network switch though you'll rarely see one referred to as such. A switch is also uncommonly
called a switching hub.

Important Switch Facts


Switches are found in both unmanaged and managed forms.
Unmanaged switches have no options and simply work out of box.
Managed switches have advanced options that can be configured. Managed switches also contain software called firmware that
should be updated as released by the switch manufacturer.

Access Point
An access point is a device, such as a wireless router, that allows wireless devices to connect to a network.
Most access points have built-in routers, while others must be connected to a router in order to provide
network access. In either case, access points are typically hardwired to other devices, such as
network switches or broadband modems.

Access points can be found in many places, including houses, businesses, and public locations. In most
houses, the access point is a wireless router, which is connected to a DSL or cable modem. However, some
modems may include wireless capabilities, making the modem itself the access point. Large businesses often
provide several access points, which allows employees to wirelessly connect to a central network from a wide
range of locations. Public access points can be found in stores, coffee shops, restaurants, libraries, and other
locations. Some cities provide public access points in the form of wireless transmitters that are connected
to streetlights, signs, and other public objects.

Repeater
Network repeaters regenerate incoming electrical, wireless or optical signals. With physical media like Ethernet or Wi-
Fi, data transmissions can only span a limited distance before the quality of the signal degrades. Repeaters attempt to
preserve signal integrity and extend the distance over which data can safely travel.
Actual network devices that serve as repeaters usually have some other name.
Active hubs, for example, are repeaters. Active hubs are sometimes also called "multiport repeaters," but more
commonly they are just "hubs." Other types of "passive hubs" are not repeaters. In Wi-Fi, access points function as
repeaters only when operating in so-called "repeater mode."

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Bridge
In telecommunication networks, a bridge is a product that connects a local area network (LAN) to another local area network
that uses the same protocol (for example, Ethernetor token ring). You can envision a bridge as being a device that decides
whether a message from you to someone else is going to the local area network in your building or to someone on the local
area network in the building across the street. A bridge examines each message on a LAN, "passing" those known to be
within the same LAN, and forwarding those known to be on the other interconnected LAN (or LANs).

Print Server
A print server, or printer server, is a device that connects printers to client computers over a network. It accepts print jobs
from the computers and sends the jobs to the appropriate printers, queuing the jobs locally to accommodate the fact that
work may arrive more quickly than the printer can actually handle.

Firewall
A firewall is a network security system, either hardware- or software-based, that uses rules to control incoming and
outgoing network traffic.
A firewall acts as a barrier between a trusted network and and an untrusted network. A firewall controls access to the
resources of a network through a positive control model. This means that the only traffic allowed onto the network is
defined in the firewall policy; all other traffic is denied.

Network hardware isn't as clearly defined as some other types of computer hardware. For example, many home routers will often act
as a combination router, switch, and firewall.

Switch Description
Switches connect various network devices together, like computers, to allow communication between those devices.
Switches feature several network ports, sometimes dozens, to connect numerous devices together.
Typically, a switch connects physically, via a network cable, to a router and then physically, again via a network cable, to
the network interface cards in whatever network devices you may have.

In addition to all the items listed above, there's more computer hardware that I like to call auxiliary hardware, of which a computer
might have none, or several, of some kinds:

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Fan (CPU, GPU, Case, etc.)
CPU cooler
A device that draws heat away from a CPU chip and other hot-running chips such as a graphics processor (GPU).

Heat Sink
The simplest cooler is an aluminum heat sink, which absorbs and disperses the heat.

Fans and Heat Sinks Together


This Chip Coolers fan sits on top of a heat sink to cool a hot-running CPU chip. Fans and heat sinks are widely
used in combination.

A Closed Water Loop

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A Zalman water cooler was used to make this PC quiet. By directly cooling the chips, the case fan runs very slow.
Water is pumped from the external radiator to the CPU, to the graphics card GPU, to the flow indicator in front of
the case and back to the radiator.

Built Into a Graphics Card


This PNY graphics card comes with its own cooling system that also cools the CPU. The radiator and fan (left) cool
the water coming from the card, and the center unit is placed over the CPU. (Image courtesy of PNY Technologies,
www.pny.com)

A Lot Colder
Below this tower case is a phase change cooler that uses a refrigeration unit to create subzero temperatures. For more
details, see phase change cooler. (Image courtesy of Cooler Express International Technology Co.)
Data Cable
Data cables are an important part of a computer, as they provide a connection between various hardware components.
This enables a computer to communicate with its own various parts. A data cable also enables a computer to
communicate with additional computers.

Power Cable
Alternatively referred to as a power cable, mains cable or flex, a power cord is the primary cable
that provides power to the computer, printer, monitor, and components within a computer. In the image
to the right, is an example of the power cord that is commonly used with computers, monitors, printers,
and other peripherals.

CMOS Battery
A battery that maintains the time, date, hard disk and other configuration settings in the CMOS memory. CMOS batteries
are small and are attached directly to the motherboard. See BIOS setup and batteries.

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Daughterboard

A daughterboard (or daughter board , daughter card , or daughtercard ) is a circuit board that plugs into and extends
the circuitry of another circuit board. The other circuit board may be the computer's main board (its motherboard ) or it
may be another board or card that is already in the computer, often a sound card. The term is commonly used by
manufacturers of wavetable daughterboards that attach to existing sound cards.

Some of the devices listed above are called peripheral devices. A peripheral device is a piece of hardware (whether internal or external)
that isn't actually involved in the computer's main function. Examples include a monitor, video card, disc drive, and mouse.
Troubleshooting Faulty Computer Hardware
Computer hardware components individually heat up and cool down as they're used and then not used, meaning that eventually,
every single one will fail.
Some may even fail at the same time.
Fortunately, at least with desktop computers and some laptop and tablet computers, you can replace the non-working piece of
hardware without having to replace or rebuild the computer from scratch.

Here are some resources you should check out before you go out and purchase a new hard drive, replacement RAM sticks, or
anything else you think may be going bad:
Memory (RAM)
Free Memory Test Programs
How Do I Replace the Memory (RAM) in my Computer?
Hard Drive
Free Hard Drive Testing Programs
Commercial Hard Drive Testing Tools
How Do I Replace a Hard Drive?
Computer Fan
How To Troubleshoot a Noisy Computer Fan
In Microsoft Windows, hardware resources are managed by Device Manager. It's possible that a "faulty" piece of computer hardware
is really just in need of a device driver installation or update, or for the device to be enabled in Device Manager.
Hardware devices won't work at all if the device is disabled, or may not be running properly if the wrong driver is installed.
How Do I View a Device's Status in Device Manager in Windows?
How Do I Enable a Device in Device Manager in Windows?
How Do I Update Drivers in Windows?
Where Can I Get Free Driver Downloads?
Free Driver Updater Tools
If you decide that some hardware needs replacing or upgrading, find the manufacturer's support website for warranty information (if
it applies to you) or look for identical or upgraded parts that you can buy directly from them.
See these hardware installation videos for walkthroughs on installing different computer hardware, like a hard drive, power supply,
motherboard, PCI card, and CPU.

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