The Best Websites for Buying Computer Parts Online

August 28, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

Got an old laptop or desktop and want to upgrade the hard drive and memory without having to buy a new computer? or maybe you’re getting rid of an old machine and want to build you own dream machine? Either way, you’ll want to find compatible computer parts for the cheapest price.

There are lots of online retailers that sell computer and tech-related items, but there are a few that have consistently provided great deals on lots of computer hardware components. in this article, I’ll mention a couple of websites I use to find good deals on parts. If you have other sites or methods you use, please feel free to post them in the comments!

NewEgg.com

Newegg.com has always been a great choice for buying all kinds of computer parts ranging from web cams to hard drives to video cards to power supplies to fans, etc, etc. they just have a ton of stuff and geeks love to buy their gear from there. they also have a great return policy, so if anything is not working, you can always return it for free and get another one.

What I like about Newegg is that they have Shell Shocker deals, featured daily deals and eggextra! deals going on all the time. you can find some really cool stuff for cheap with some of these deals.

TigerDirect.com

If you are looking for some hardware, it’s always a good idea to check on Newegg and TigerDirect and buy it from the retailer that is cheaper. they have a really good shipping policy and you can usually get free shipping on orders greater than $100. TigerDirect has been around since the 80′s and they really have some awesome deals.

Another way to find great deals is to sign up for their deal alerts at their retail stores. I happen to live in Dallas and TigerDirect has a local retail store, which means I find even better deals at the retail store sometimes than on the website. If you happen to live near a TigerDirect retail store, then sign up for those email alerts!

Crucial.com

Crucial.com is one of my favorite sites because it really helps you if you are not a techie and need help in finding the right parts for your specific system. before they used to just give recommendations for memory, but now they also will help you find compatible internal hard drives and solid state hard drives. they are not really a hardware retailer, but since most consumers are really ever only upgrading their memory or buying a new hard drive, it’s perfect for finding the right hardware for your system.

I always use Crucial to find the right item and then search on Newegg and TigerDirect to see if I can find that part cheaper there.

Frys.com

If you have a Frys Electronics store near you, you can find some crazy deals on lots of computer parts. they have a huge array of items and they are always having big sales on small and big ticket items, especially in the store. you can check out their ads or follow some deal sites like TechBargains that have a Frys Deals section.

I was recently able to grab a new iPad 2 16GB Wifi for $300 and pick it up at the store when they had a two-day sale on iPads. That’s the cheapest price by far I was able to find!

Amazon.com and eBay

Last, but not least, you can find some good deals on Amazon and eBay if you really hunt for bargains. If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can get free shipping and get it faster than you might be able to get it on other hardware sites. If you don’t mind buying something used, you can always find great deals on eBay.

What are your favorites sites and places to find the best deals on computer parts? let us know in the comments. enjoy!

OK, wise computer people, before I drag my butt to Best Buy for tech support…

August 24, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

maybe one of you knows what is happening. bought a Toshiba 755 about three months ago. Got a little freaked out the first time the screen went blank but it was because if you move the laptop, there’s something built in to protect the hard drive. a little message appeared when this happened. as soon as you are still again, the screen comes back. A couple of times, maybe twice or so, the computer shut itself off completely. I also noticed I would shut the computer down, leave it, return and the computer would turn on as soon as I opened it without pressing anything to turn it on. I wondered if maybe I had not shut down properly? Tuesday, after leaving the computer off all night, I got to work and the computer would not stay on. Pressed the power button, it would attempt to start and then pop off. tried a few times and it kept shutting off. it was plugged in the entire time. I started it in safe mode and the computer checked some files and found nothing wrong. After another couple of tries, it stayed on and everything worked fine. around 6:30 pm it shut itself off and would not come back. I use a cooling fan all the time so i don’t think it was overheated. I gave up with work and came home. Repeat yesterday morning. I used my phone to record what happened and saw it shut off and turn itself back on and then shut off. What I noticed yesterday was the battery light in the front was red. however, it was plugged into the power source. I was able to get it to stay on and do a backup and virus scan. Called best Buy and I can take it in but I know that will be a boatload of time. last night I left it plugged in all night and this morning the battery light is white. Bum battery? Bum charger? How will they check this if the computer is working fine now? I called Toshiba and they want to do a system restore. Do I have a lemon? any thoughts?

How to Check Your Hard Drive for Errors

July 28, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

Do you think your hard drive is about to fail? Can you hear strange clicking sounds coming from your hard drive? has your computer been randomly freezing and you’re pretty sure you don’t have a virus or other hardware problem? It’s definitely not fun to suspect your hard drive might be failing soon, but it happens all the time.

Of course, the best thing to do is to first make a backup of all your essential and important data. if a hard drive has errors on it, data loss may not be immediate, but can happen slowly over time. In this article, I’ll show you a couple of different ways you can check your hard drive’s health and see if there are any errors.

Method 1 – run Chkdsk.exe

The first thing you can do is to run the built-in error checking tool in Windows called chkdsk.exe. you can either run it from the command line or you can do it via Windows Explorer. Open Computer and right-click on the drive you want to check and choose Properties.

Now click on the Tools tab and click on the Check now button.

You can choose to automatically fix file system errors and scan for and recover bad sectors on the hard disk.

Method 2 – SeaTools

This free program from Seagate is one of the most popular diagnostic tools for testing hard drives. Even though it’s from Seagate, it works for all hard drives brands.

It will give you a status message for each drive and tell you if there are any tests that failed. you can download SeaTools from here:

http://www.seagate.com/support/downloads/seatools/

Note that different manufactures like Dell, Hitachi, Samsung, etc also provide their own set of diagnostic tools for hard drives. you can do a Google search and download the tool for your specific hard drive brand. I have listed two below:

Western Digital DataLifeguard Diagnostic

Fujitsu (Toshiba) Diagnostic Utility

Method 3 – DiskCheckup

If you’re not completely sure what’s going on with your drive, you can use a free program called DiskCheckup to monitor your hard drive and let you know if it exceeds any of the maximum thresholds as designated by the manufacturer of the hard drive.

Of course, all of these tools require a drive that supports SMART (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology). A SMART drive has a bunch of different monitors that it reports out like spin-up time, hard disk temperature, operating time, etc. DiskCheckup can run in the background and monitor all of those indicators and then notify you via email if any of those thresholds are exceeded. you can download it here:

http://www.passmark.com/products/diskcheckup.htm

Other Free Software

If you’re interested, there are a couple of other free hard drive testing and diagnostic tools worth checking out:

1. Speccy – http://www.piriform.com/speccy

2. HDD Health – http://www.panterasoft.com/

3. TestDisk – http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk

What is the Definition of Computer Software?

July 27, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

The term software is not a recently conceived of word. In his 1935 essay, ‘Computable Numbers with an Application to the Entscheidungs Problem,’ Alan Turing first proposed and provided the foundation for most modern software. In 1958, the first use of the term software was used by John W. Tukey in an article in American Mathematical Monthly.

Today, the the term ‘computer software’ means written programs, rules, or codes, along with related documentation regarding the operation of a computer system that is stored in read/write memory. The soft part of software refers to the many products and technologies developed using different methods such as programming languages and scripting languages. The term ‘software’ is broader and can include different types of devices such as the operation systems of modern consumer devices such as automobiles, televisions, toasters, etc.

Computer software is the job descriptions of what a computer can perform. it cannot be physically touched. for instance, most computers come with software already installed. Software is also available on CD where the user inserts the disk into the hard drive and follows the installation instructions. as well, downloadable software is available on internet sites such as Microsoft. Computer software is basically a series of instructions that tells a computer how to do a particular job. for example, Microsoft Word is an example of computer software. as well, web page technologies such as HTML, PHP, ASP.NET, and XML are examples of computer software.

Computer software can be divided into two main categories: operating system software and application software.

Operating System (0/S): This system consists of the basic functions that computers perform. an example would be showing movement on a screen such as a mouse cursor was the user moves the mouse. Examples of operating systems include: windows vista, windows xp, Mac, Linux and Unix.

Application Software: these are applications that allow the computer to perform the job. Application software is used to accomplish precise tasks other than just running the computer system. This can include voice, play or record music, view videos, play video games–etc. other examples of application software include permitting access to the internet and printing documents. Application software is the software that indirectly interacts with the computer.

System Software is the software that can directly interact with computer hardware. Examples include motherboard, CPU, keyboard, Mouse, printer–etc. System software is responsible for controlling, integrating, and managing the individual hardware components of a computer system.

Computer software is composed of machine language which is essentially groups of binary code giving processor instructions that are specific to an individual processor. it is normally written in high-level programming languages and then interpreted into machine language code. Software can also be written in assembly language which is a mnemonic representation of a machine language using a natural language alphabet.

The term computer software evolved from computational theories and formulas from pioneers in mathematics. it is easy to see how quickly technology evolved to the amazing and complex computations we see today.

Computer Repair Tips – Most Common Problems Associated With No Power Issues

July 11, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

Although not the worst problem that can happen to a computer (A completely corrupt or inaccessible hard drive can be, from indirect costs), it can still be the most costly. in most cases, if the problem lies with the motherboard, the cost of the motherboard can exceed the cost of the laptop or desktop PC. The good news is, in most cases, power related issues are not caused by the failure of the motherboard. here are the most common causes of a no power problem:

Bad AC Adapter or Power Cord
70% of all computer related issues are caused by a loose or bad cable. when troubleshooting a no power issue, always try a different AC adapter or power cord first. this the most common cause for no power. Thankfully, this is also the cheapest fix. Power cords can range from $5 to $15, depending on where you get it from. AC adapters for laptops tend to run a little more in price, anywhere from $15 to $80.

Loose DC Jack on Laptops
A DC Jack is the port where you plug the AC adapter into on a laptop. The pin in the middle is what transfers the power from the AC adapter to the laptop. The pin is held in place on the motherboard by what is known as solder. Solder is a metal that heats up at much lower temperatures than normal metals. this allows a DC jack to be replaced at a much lower cost. all you need is a soldering iron and some flux solder. although a laptop DC jack only runs between $3 and $5, the labor cost to replace is high. try taking a pen tip or small screw driver and see if the middle pin wiggles when you apply a small amount of pressure. It is highly suggested you take it to a professional computer repair specialist if the DC jack is loose, unless you are experienced in soldering.

Bad Power Supply on Desktops
This is another very common problem on desktops. Power supplies a very susceptible to power surges. if your computer is not plugged into a surge protection strip and directly in a wall outlet, then this is the most likely cause. A bad power supply can also be caused by overloading its capabilities. Check the WATT capacity of the power supply and make sure your computer doesn’t require more than 90% of the power supply capacity. The extra 10% will help the power supply last much longer. if you press the power button and the computer immediately turns off, an overloaded power supply is the most likely cause. most computers these days will work well on a 700W power supply. They typically range from $50 to $100.

Motherboard not Recognizing The Power Source
Every once in a while, the motherboard may not recognize the power coming from the AC adapter on the laptop or the outlet from a desktop. on a desktop unplug the power cord from the outlet (After shutting down the computer) and wait about 30 seconds. Plug the computer back and try powering it back on. in many cases this will work. Laptops need the battery and AC adapter unplugged, but the result is the same. this happens much more often on laptops than desktops. It is still worth trying before anything else.

Short in the Motherboard
This the most costly cause for a no power issue. if all of the above does not work, then the cause is most likely the motherboard. Motherboard prices range from $100 to $700, depend on motherboard manufacturer and model. Labor prices are also high, as replacing a motherboard involves completely disassembling the computer. everything than the computer needs to run is plugged into the motherboard.

Hopefully this article will give you something to think about when diagnosing a computer. although, these aren’t the end all of no power issues, it is a very good start. These symptoms account for over 90% of power failures. The other 10% are normally caused by manufacturer/model specific problems. Resolving those issues can only come with some research. in the end, it all comes down to experience.

Hard Drives – How They Work

July 8, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

An internal sealed storage device for each PC is called a disk drive or hard drive this device is used to save data by the use of rotating plates that can be magnetized and later scanned to retrieve data.

The term drive is talking about a motorized aspect that is unique to its medium, as in tape drives. Early on storage drives were removable devices though today it’s considered a sealed unit.

The ACS I and IDE drives were earlier interface types. they were fairly difficult to install more than one drive at the time. they relied on a master slave ribbon cable, if he had more than one unit installed would have to have one as a master one is a slave and sometimes that involved placing jumper the ends on the back of the drives accordingly.

Newer drives use an interface called serial ATA. this interface is the same size as the IDE but it moves data more like the SCSI did minus the large size and high heat. Another plus for the serial ATA drives is you no longer have to mess with jumper settings. in the past to install more than one hard drive he had to plan out a master slave jumper setting.

All hard drives use a material that is ferromagnetic to save their data on.

There is an actuator arm for each plate on the spindle that moves the read write head across the platter which lets each read write head access pretty much the entire surface of the platter as it spins. the surface of each platter is divided into small magnetic regions each single region holds one binary number a one or zero.

In newer present-day drives their smaller sizes of magnetic area makes them susceptible to heat damage which may cause them to lose data. but HDs have a security policy for this is called a smart disk check. He counts the number of errors in the hard drive and compares that to the total number of repairs so that it can predict its own failure. if a hard drive failure is predicted you should be told ahead of time to replace your drive before you experience data loss.

PC Motherboards – The Brain of Your Computer is the Motherboard

July 5, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

If a personal computer (PC) were to be compared to a human being, the motherboard would be likened to the brain, the very center of all activity taking place.

Also referred to as the system or logic board, or the main board, a motherboard is actually a complex circuit board that contains a variety of components needed for the computer to perform, including the vital central processing unit or CPU. Without the motherboard, a computer would be completely useless and rendered totally inoperable.

The Great Importance of Motherboards

Today, PC motherboards are equipped with a variety of different high tech features, all of them serving a specific and important purpose. in order to get the most for your money, and because they are one of the most vital components of the entire computer, you will want to know as much as possible about motherboards and what you should be looking for when buying your next PC.

The motherboard and its endless number of circuits are connected to the computer’s hard drive and its disk drives, as well as the sound and video cards, and the random access memory (RAM), which allows the computer to read and write data that it accesses from the processor, also called the central processing unit.

The main components of a PC motherboard and their functions include:

- Expansion Slots: Expansion slots, also called PCI local bus or conventional PCI, will vary from one motherboard to the next as some have more than others. These slots serve the purpose of connecting peripherals to the computer such as network, sound, and video cards.

- The Chipset: a motherboard is comprised of two chips which serve as the controllers, allowing the computer’s processor to interact with all of the attached components that are already installed as well as those added manually via the expansion slots.

- The Processor: different motherboards will support different processors, which are also called microprocessors or central processors, with the most popular types being made by the manufacturers AMD or Intel. The modern processor is easily recognizable by its small, square shape and numerous, rounded metal connectors that are located on the underside.

It should be noted that not all motherboards are created equal, some are far more involved than others and contain more features, and are therefore, more expensive, and some are made to only be compatible with certain operating systems (OS).

Desktop and Laptop Computer Cleaning Tips

July 2, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

Cleaning your computer is one of the easiest and most efficient ways of preventing computer hardware failure and can help you prevent components like your hard drive and processor from overheating due to unclean conditions.

Depending on the environment that your computer is in, the frequency with which you clean will vary. if you very rarely clean your office, there is a high chance that your computer will be exposed to large amounts of dirt, dust and debris that could enter through your computer’s fans and find it’s way to the components of your computer.

General Computer Cleaning Tips

The following list will help you keep your computer and hardware clean and prevent you from damaging any of your computer components in the process.

  • Avoid spraying any type of liquid, water or cleaner onto any part of your computer. Liquid will without question, damage your internal computer components and can even damage your keyboard, mouse or monitor.
  • Use a vacuum or compressed air to clean out dust from your computer. Focus on the air intake and outtake vents where your fans are found and make sure they are free of dust and any obstructions. if air can’t make its way through the fans and vents, it won’t be able to cool down your hardware.
  • Make sure that your computer is turned off before you open the case or make any attempt to clean components.
  • Avoid eating or drinking near your computer.
  • Avoid smoking around your computer (the tar and chemicals in the smoke can severely damage hardware or obstruct airflow in your computer and is VERY difficult to remove completely).

Cleaning Tools

When cleaning your computer, it is best to use products that are safe on any computer hardware. the following items will help you clean your computer without damaging components:

  • Soft Cloth: Using a soft, dry cloth will allow you to wipe down every surface of your computer and will avoid moisture exposure when cleaning. Avoid using a cloth on any internal components aside from fan blades.
  • Water or alcohol: if you absolutely must, when selecting a solvent to clean your computer, avoid using any chemicals that could damage your computer.
  • Compressed air: This is the patron saint of computer cleaning. use this to spray off components and remove dust from your cpu, hard drive, fans and motherboard. Make sure to hold the can upright to avoid misting your components.

Linux Tape Backup Software

June 30, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

If you want to safely store your files, there are few better options than Linux tape backup software. Yes, this software can be used only if you have a Linux based computer, and it can be used on a regular basis, either once a week, or daily.

Another option is using it remotely, to backup files from computers connected to yours. If you use a cron job you can even automate the process, without any work on your part. The cron command allows you to receive an email notification when the backup job is completed.

The Reasons behind Tape Backups

A lot of people have experienced in the past crashes on their computers, losing customer contacts, valuable data and files, caused by a hard drive crash. If you’ve had this misfortune in the past, you already know how important it can be to keep your information safe.

It can be very expensive losing so much information and files during a hard disk crash. more than that, besides losing all that important files, you also lose time trying to recover them and rebuild the database.

The tips below can be used to make sure you don’t lose a lot of money and time when such a crash happens. The measures you have to take are fairly simple, so it shouldn’t be a problem for you. you probably know already that you should back up the information that is important, but you might think that it’s not going to happen to you, so you do nothing about it.

To back up your computer, all you need to do is to replicate the data you want saved on another computer, so that if the main one crashes, you still have the backup.

You can put those backups in a number of places, including floppy disks, CD’s or other types of storage media. It can be done on a number of storage mediums, then recovered when you need to restore the files you lost.

In many cases, companies use magnetic tape to backup their data, as the costs are low considering how much space they have to offer. They’re more convenient to use than a hard drive would be, and it holds much more data than a floppy disk or CD.

You also have the option to keep all that data in an offsite location, but not everyone is comfortable with their information being kept in another place.

Making Use of Linux Tape Backup Software

To use the tape backup you need to use a program that will backup the files, and works on Linux computers. there are plenty of applications and solutions that do that out there, some more functional than others.

Some of them will even offer the option to backup multiple computers at once, from a central location. Depending on what you need, you should select the software best for you.

Apple desktops get (almost) no love at WWDC

June 24, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

(Credit:CNET)

Apple desktop fans were disappointed at today’s World Wide Developer Conference, where, despite persistent rumors, Apple’s iMac andMac Pro lines went unmentioned during the keynote presentation.

When the Apple store came back online after the show, a “New” tag on the Mac Pro hinted at a stealth update. Glancing over the specs for the supposedly new system turned up only a clock speed bump to a few of the available Xeon processors.

Rather than the quad-core, 2.8GHz Intel Xeon W3530 chip, for example, now the $2,499 Mac Pro starts with a 3.2GHz quad Xeon W3565, a chip using the same Bloomfield core architecture that Intel debuted in 2008.

Otherwise, the Mac Pro appears unchanged. the graphics cards, memory, and hard-drive options remain the same as before. Apple has also not added Thunderbolt, or even USB 3.0 (which makes sense, given the older Mac Pro motherboard chipsets).

Why the minor CPU update? Tech Crunch’s John Biggs, who first noticed the CPU update, suggests it’s for Mountain Lion compatibility. Apple says Mountain Lion will work with Mac Pros dating back to 2008, though. Perhaps the CPU update is targeting one particular Mountain Lion feature, but none of them looks particularly processor intensive.

Regardless of the reason, this is indeed a minor update to the Mac Pro, and to the desktop in general. Ivy Bridge and USB 3.0 are still absent among all of the wired Macs. A Retina Display update on the iMac might also have been nice.

An update to the Mac desktop line could happen at any time, of course. between its updatedMacBook Air and MacBook Pros (new and old), and new announcements for Mountain Lion and iOS 6, the company had no trouble filling out 2 hours of presentation time. It didn’t have time to mention the updated AirPort Express wireless router (finally, simultaneous dual-band 802.11n!).

I’m willing to bet we’ll see an updated iMac at least before the end of the year. I’d even go so far as to say I think we’ll see Ivy Bridge comes to Apple’s all-in-one before Apple introduces theiPhone 5. if you’ve been holding off on an iMac purchase in anticipation of an update today, my advice is that you stay patient.

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