• Call us on +44 1986 232040 or
  • Email enquiries@microdata.systems


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Need help with something IT related? We have compiled a list of FAQs to help you gain a better understanding of your IT. The answers below are by no means exhaustive but are intended to give you a headstart when troubleshooting common problems and they are no substitute for the advice of a qualified professional. If in doubt, please do seek assistance.

What are the key components in a computer that I as a user should be aware of?

Here we are referring to what's inside your computer that you may not know about.

Before we start, here are a few IT terms to help. Please note that for simplicity, the explanations are not as detailed as they could be:

A program is a series of instructions given to a computer that allow it to function.

The CPU is the "brain" of the computer and is responsible for following the instructions in a program. People also call this the processor. There are three common processors in use, but many more exist. The most common are made by Intel®, AMD® or ARM®.

The RAM inside a computer is its short-term memory. When you turn off the computer, it usually loses any information that is stored.

Information that is processed by your computer is often referred to as data. Your computer can store, retrieve and process data very quickly and efficiently, sometimes millions of times faster than we could do it ourselves.

The power supply converts the mains power to a level that can be used by your computer. There are very different types of power supply and they vary greatly in quality. The quality will affect reliability and power efficiency. If your computer won't switch on, a faulty power supply may be the cause. Do check that if it has a switch near the power cable inlet that the switch is on before concluding that your power supply is damaged. Also, check the cable and mains socket too.

If a power supply is faulty, it may still power the computer, but the computer may not work reliably. Power supplies are rated in a way that indicates how many (and what type of) components inside your computer can operate reliably. If you attach too many components the computer may become unreliable, or may not start.

The motherboard is a major component inside the computer. It houses the processor (the CPU), the computer's RAM, the computer's basic control software and various devices to control other components such as hard drives and other storage devices, USB ports etc.

Motherboards are usually very reliable, but they rely on programs that control the computer. Sometimes the people who write the programs make a mistake and this is known as a bug. Occasionally, manufacturers release updates to the control programs and these can help make your computer work more reliably. If you are not sure what you are doing it is often best to let a knowledgeable person help you update these programs.

The graphics card is responsible for drawing images on your screen. Not all computers have a separate graphics card. Sometimes the functions are built into the CPU. A PC intended for gaming or computer aided design will often have a dedicated graphics adapter so that it can draw images on your screen more effectively and can manage certain very mathematically intensive tasks more efficiently than a built-in graphics adapter or the CPU alone. A good graphics adapter can add hundreds of pounds, sometimes thousands, but many people feel that it is a worthwhile investment.

If your PC is not displaying an image correctly, it could be a setting on your graphics card, or a connection between the card and monitor that is faulty. Sometimes changing the connection can help, but troubleshooting a failed graphics adapter can be quite hard because you see nothing on your screen.

The RAM (or memory), as mentioned earlier, is your computer's short-term memory. It is used for storing programs and data. The RAM in a computer talks to the CPU at a certain speed. This speed has to be matched accurately, or sometimes it becomes unreliable. Occasionally temperature changes can cause the connections between the motherboard and RAM to break down, so if your computer is crashing sometimes re-seating the RAM modules can help. Be careful if you don't know what you are doing, because the static electricity that you produce can permenantly damage RAM in particular, though other components can also be sensitive to it.

The hard drive is used when your computer needs to retain information when it is switched off, it needs somewhere to store it. There are two common types of hard drive inside a computer - these days you will often see an SSD hard drive and on lower cost PCs, a hard drive with a spinning disk is used. The former is generally regarded as being more reliable and it is certainly much faster than the latter. If a problem develops with your hard drive, you can lose data and your computer may not start. Backups are important and should be taken of any important information that you could not afford to lose.

Micro Data Systems Ltd
60 Blakestone Drive,
Thorpe St Andrew,
NR7 0LF.

Tel: +44 1986 232040
Email: enquiries@microdata.systems