CompTIA A+ Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 8th Edition - PDF Free Download (2023)

Copyright © 2012 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. Inc. All rights reserved. Except as permitted by the United States Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior permission. in writing from the publisher, except that program listings may be entered, stored, and executed on a computer system, but may not be reproduced for publication. ISBN: 978-0-07-179511-1 MHID: 0-07-179511-1 Material in this eBook also appears in the print version of this title: ISBN: 978-0-07-179512-8, MHID: 0-07-179512-X. All trademarks are trademarks of their respective owners. Rather than place a trademark symbol after each occurrence of a trademark name, we use names only editorially and for the benefit of the trademark owner, with no intent to infringe the trademark. Where such designations appear in this book, they have been printed with initial capitals. McGraw-Hill eBooks are available at special quantity discounts for use as prizes and sales promotions, or for use in corporate training programs. To contact a representative, email us at[email protected]Trademarks: McGraw-Hill, the McGraw-Hill Publishing logo and related trade dress are trademarks or registered trademarks of The McGraw-Hill Companies and/or its affiliates in the United States and other countries and may not be used without written permission. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. The McGraw-Hill Companies is not associated with any product or supplier mentioned in this book. McGraw-Hill has obtained information from sources believed to be reliable. However, due to the possibility of human or mechanical error by our sources, McGraw-Hill or others, McGraw-Hill does not warrant the accuracy, suitability or completeness of the information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or any results. obtained from the use of such information. McGraw-Hill is an independent entity of CompTIA. This publication and digital content can be used to help students prepare for CompTIA A+ exams. Neither CompTIA nor McGraw-Hill warrants that use of this publication and digital content will guarantee passing of any exam. CompTIA is a registered trademark of CompTIA in the United States and/or other countries. TERMS OF USE This is a copyrighted work and The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. ("McGraw-Hill") and its licensors reserve all rights in the work. Use of this work is subject to these terms. Except as permitted by the Copyright Act 1976 and the right to store and retrieve a copy of the work, you may not decompile, disassemble, reverse engineer, reproduce, modify, create derivative works based on, transmit, distribute, disseminate, sell, publish or sublicense the work or any part thereof without the prior consent of McGrawHill. You may use the Work for your own personal, non-commercial use; any other use of the work is strictly prohibited. Your right to use the work may be terminated if you fail to comply with these terms.

THE WORK IS PROVIDED “AS IS”. McGRAW-HILL AND ITS LICENSORS MAKE NO WARRANTIES AS TO THE ACCURACY, ADEQUACY OR COMPLETENESS OR THE RESULTS TO BE OBTAINED FROM THE USE OF THE WORK, INCLUDING ANY INFORMATION ACCESSIBLE THROUGH THE WORK VIA HYPERLINK OR OTHERWISE, AND EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ANY AND ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. McGraw-Hill and its licensors do not warrant that the functions contained in the work will meet your requirements or that their operation will be uninterrupted or error free. Neither McGraw-Hill nor its licensors shall be liable to you or anyone else for any inaccuracies, errors or omissions, however caused, in the work or for any damages resulting therefrom. McGraw-Hill has no responsibility for the content of any information accessed through the work. Under no circumstances will McGraw-Hill and/or its licensors be liable for indirect, incidental, special, punitive, consequential or similar damages resulting from the use or inability to use the work, even if either of them has been advised of the possibility of such damages. This limitation of liability shall apply to any claim or cause, whether such claim or cause arises in contract, tort, or otherwise.


It Pays to Get Certified In a digital world, digital literacy is an essential survival skill. Certification demonstrates that you have the knowledge and skill to solve business problems in virtually any business environment. Certifications are highly valued credentials that qualify you for jobs, higher compensation, and promotion.

CompTIA A+ certification advances your career

• The CompTIA A+ credential: Provides basic knowledge and skills necessary for a career in PC repair and support. • Starting Salary: CompTIA A+ certified individuals can earn up to $65,000 per year. • Career Pathway: CompTIA A+ is a building block for other CompTIA certifications such as Network+, Security+, and vendor-specific technologies.

• More than 850,000 people around the world are CompTIA A+ certified. • Required/Recommended by organizations around the world including Cisco, HP and Ricoh, the US Department of State, and US government contractors such as EDS, General Dynamics, and Northrop Grumman. • Some of the top benefits people report from earning CompTIA A+ certification are: • More efficient troubleshooting • Enhanced career advancement • More insightful problem solving

CompTIA Career Pathway CompTIA offers a series of credentials that form the foundation of your technology career and allow you to pursue specific areas of concentration. Depending on the path you choose to take, CompTIA certifications help you develop your skills and knowledge, supporting learning throughout your career.

Steps to Earning and Maintaining Certification 1. Review the exam objectives. Review the certification objectives to make sure you know what is covered

on the exam: 2. Practice for the exam. After you've studied for certification, take a free assessment and sample test to get an idea of ​​what types of questions might be on the test: 3. Buy a voucher of exam. Purchase your exam voucher from the CompTIA Marketplace, located at: 4. Take the exam! Select a certification exam provider and schedule a time to take your exam. You can find test providers at the following link: 5. Stay certified! Continuing education is required. As of January 1, 2011, CompTIA A+ certifications are valid for three years from the date of certification. There are several ways to renew certification. For more information, visit:

Join the professional community The free online IT professional community provides valuable content for students and professionals. Join the community of IT professionals: Professional IT job resources include: • Where to start in IT • Career reviews • Salary trends • US Job Board Join the community of IT professionals and access: • Forums on networking, security, computing and cutting-edge technologies • Access to blogs written by industry experts • Current information on cutting-edge technologies • Access to various links to industry resources and articles IT related and IT careers

Content Quality Seal This courseware carries the CompTIA-approved Content Quality Seal. This seal means that this content covers 100 percent of the exam objectives and implements important instructional design principles. CompTIA recommends multiple learning tools to help increase coverage of learning objectives.

Why CompTIA? • Global Recognition: CompTIA is recognized globally as the leading non-profit IT trade association and has tremendous credibility. Additionally, CompTIA certifications are vendor agnostic and offer proof of foundational knowledge that is translated into technologies. • Valued by Hiring Managers: Hiring managers value CompTIA certification because it is a vendor and technology independent validation of their technical skills. • Recommended or Required by Government and Businesses – Many government organizations and corporations (for example, Dell, Sharp, Ricoh, the US Department of Defense, and many more) recommend or require that technical personnel be certified by CompTIA. • Three CompTIA Certifications Ranked in the Top 10: In a DICE study of 17,000 technology professionals, certifications helped earn higher salaries at all experience levels.

Getting More Information • Visit CompTIA Online Go to for more information on becoming CompTIA certified. • Contact CompTIA. Call 866-835-8020, ext. 5 or email[email protected] • Join the community of IT professionals Visit to join the IT community and get relevant professional information. • Connect with CompTIA Find us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.

CAQC Disclaimer The CompTIA Approved Quality Curriculum (CAQC) program logo and the status of this or any other training material as "Approved" under the CompTIA Approved Quality Curriculum program means that, in In CompTIA's opinion, such training material covers the content of CompTIA-related programs. certification exam

The content of this training material was created for CompTIA A+ exams covering CompTIA certification objectives that were current on the date of publication. CompTIA has not reviewed or endorsed the accuracy of the content of this training material and specifically disclaims any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. CompTIA does not guarantee the success of individuals using such "approved" or other training material to prepare for any CompTIA certification exam.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Mike Meyers, affectionately called "AlphaGeek" by those who know him, is the industry's leading authority on CompTIA A+ certification. He is president and co-founder of Total Seminars, LLC, a provider of PC and network repair seminars, books, videos, and courses to thousands of organizations worldwide. Mike has been involved in the computer and network repair industry since 1977 as a technician, instructor, author, consultant, and speaker. Author of numerous popular books and videos on PCs, including the best-selling CompTIA A+ Certification All-in-One Exam Guide, Mike is also the editor of Mike Meyers' bestselling Certification Passport series, Mike Meyers' Computer Skills series , and Mike Meyers Series Guide, all published by McGraw-Hill. In addition to writing, Mike has personally taught (and continues to teach) thousands of students, including US Senators, US Supreme Court Justices, the United Nations, all branches of the US Military US, most branches of the Department of Justice, hundreds of corporate clients, academic students of all levels, inmates, and pensioners. Email:[email protected]Facebook: Mike Meyers (Houston, TX) Twitter/Skype/Most IM Clients: desweds Web Forums:

About the Editor-in-Chief Scott Jernigan wields a mighty red pen as editor-in-chief of Total Seminars. With an MA in Medieval History, Scott is as at home in the musty archives of London as he is in the warm CRT glow of Total Seminars' Houston headquarters. After fleeing a purely academic life, he dove headlong into IT, working as an instructor, editor, and writer. Scott has written, edited, and contributed to dozens of books on computer literacy, hardware, operating systems, networking, and certification, including Computer Literacy: Your Ticket to IC3 Certification, and is co-author with Mike Meyers of All-in-One CompTIA. Strata® IT Fundamentals Exam Guide. Scott has taught computer classes throughout the United States, including stints at the United Nations in New York and the FBI Academy in Quantico. Walking what he preaches, Scott is a Certified CompTIA A+ and CompTIA Network+ Technician, a Microsoft Certified Professional, a Microsoft Office User Specialist, and a Certiport Internet and Computing Core Certified.

About the Technical Editor Chris Crayton (CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, MCSE) is an author, editor, technical consultant, and trainer. Mr. Crayton has worked as a computer and network instructor at Keizer University, as a network administrator for Protocol, an eCRM company, and as a computer and network specialist at Eastman Kodak. Mr. Crayton is the author of several print and online books on PC repair, CompTIA A+, CompTIA Security+, and Microsoft Windows. Mr. Crayton has served as a technical editor on numerous professional technical titles for leading publishers, including CompTIA A+ All-in-One Exam Guide, CompTIA A+ Certification Study Guide, and Mike Meyers CompTIA A+ Certification Passport.


The way of PC technology

Episode 2

operational procedures

Chapter 3

the visible computer

Chapter 4

visible windows

Chapter 5

visible networks

Chapter 6


Chapter 7


Chapter 8


Chapter 9

base plates

Chapter 10 Power Supplies Chapter 11 Hard Drive Technologies Chapter 12 Implementing Hard Drives Chapter 13 Removable Media Chapter 14 Installing and Updating Windows Chapter 15 Windows Under the Hood Chapter 16 NTFS, Users, and Groups Chapter 17 Maintaining and Optimizing Windows Chapter 18 Working with the -Line Interface Command Chapter 19 Troubleshooting Windows Chapter 20 Input Devices Chapter 21 Video Chapter 22 Local Area Networks Chapter 23 Wireless Networks Chapter 24 Internet

Chapter 25 Multimedia Chapter 26 Mobile Computing Chapter 27 Mobile Devices Chapter 28 Printers Chapter 29 Computer Protection Chapter 30 Virtualization Chapter 31 The Right PC for You Chapter 32 The Complete PC Technology Appendix A Assignment to CompTIA A+ Objectives Appendix B About Download Glossary Index

TABLE OF CONTENTS Preface Acknowledgments Chapter 1 The PC Technology Journey The Importance of PC Troubleshooting and Administration Skills The Importance of CompTIA A+ Certification What is CompTIA A+ Certification? Who is CompTIA? The path to other certifications How do I get CompTIA A+ certification? What's the deal with "No More Lifetime Certification"? The basic structure of the exam How do I take the exams? How much does the exam cost? How to Pass CompTIA A+ Exams Historical/Conceptual Chapter Review Questions Answers Chapter 2 Operating Procedures 801 The Professional Technical Appearance The Traits of a Communication Technology

Assertive Communication Respectful Communication Getting Responses Expectations and Follow-Up Safety and Tools Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) Antistatic Tools Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) Physical Security Tools of the Trade Chapter Review Questions Answers Chapter 3 The Visible PC History / Conceptual How the PC works Input Processing Output Storage The Art of the PC Technician 801 The Complete PC External Connections

Devices and their Connectors Inside the System Drive Cage CPU RAM Motherboard Power Supply Floppy Drive Hard Drive Optical Drives Know Your Parts Chapter Review Questions Answers Chapter 4 Visible Windows Historical/Conceptual A Brief History of Microsoft Windows Windows early modern Windows 802 Windows XP Windows Vista Windows 7 Enter 64-bit Windows The Windows interface

User Interface Hotkeys Operating System Folders System Folder Program and Personal Documents Folders Technology Utilities Right-Click Control Panel Device Manager System Tools Command Line Microsoft Management Console Administrative Tools Action Center (Windows 7 exclusive) ) Beyond A+ Windows 8 Windows Embedded Chapter Review Questions Answers Chapter 5 Visible Networks Historical/Conceptual Network Technologies Topology 801

Frameworks and NICs Introduction to Ethernet, LAN, and WAN Network Protocols A Brief History of the Network Protocol Wars and Why TCP/IP Won LAN, Routing, and WAN 802 Organizing Networks Workgroups Domains Homegroups Questions Chapter Review Answers Chapter 6 Microprocessors Historical/Conceptual CPU Core Components The Man in the Box Clock Back to External Data Bus Memory Memory and RAM 801 Address Bus Modern CPU Manufacturers

Technology CPU Selection, Installation, and Troubleshooting Selecting a CPU Installation Issues 802 CPU Troubleshooting Beyond A+ Intel Atom Chapter Review Questions Answers Chapter 7 RAM Historical/Conceptual Understanding DRAM Organization of DRAM Practical DRAM DRAM Sticks RAM Consumer 801 Types of RAM SDRAM RDRAM DDR SDRAM DDR2 DDR3

RAM Variations Working with RAM Need more RAM? Getting the Right RAM Installing DIMMs and RIMMs Installing SO-DIMMs in Laptops 802 RAM Troubleshooting Testing RAM Chapter Review Questions Answers Chapter 8 BIOS Historical/Conceptual We Need to Talk Talking to the Keyboard 801 BIOS CMOS Modify CMOS - The Setup Program A Quick Tour of a Typical CMOS Setup Program Option ROM and Device Drivers Option ROM Device Drivers BIOS, BIOS, Everywhere!

802 Power On Self Test (POST) Before and during video test: Beep codes Text errors POST cards The boot process BIOS and CMOS care and power Loss of CMOS settings ROM flashing Beyond A+ UEFI Revision Chapter Questions Answers Chapter 9 Motherboards History/ Conceptual How Motherboards Work Form Factors 801 Chipset Motherboard Components Expansion Bus Structure and PCI AGP Expansion Bus Function

PCI-X Mini-PCI PCI Express Installing Expansion Cards Troubleshooting Expansion Cards Upgrading and Installing Motherboards Choosing the Motherboard and Case Installing the 802 Motherboard Troubleshooting Motherboards Symptoms Technical Options Chapter Review Questions Answers Chapter 10 Power Supplies Historical/Conceptual Understanding Electricity 801 PC Power Supply AC Supply DC Installation and Maintenance Installation of Power Supplies

Cooling 802 Troubleshooting Power Supplies No Motherboard Switches When Power Supplies Die Slowly Fuses and Fire Beyond A+ Shine! Modular Power Supplies Temperature and Efficiency Chapter Review Questions Answers Chapter 11 Hard Drive Technologies Historical/Conceptual How Hard Drives Work 801-Based Hard Drives Solid State Drives Parallel and Serial ATA ATA-1 ATA-2 ATA -3 ATA-4

INT13 Extensions ATA-5 ATA-6 ATA-7 SCSI: Still Around SCSI Strings SCSI ID Termination Protecting Data with RAID RAID Implementing RAID Hardware vs. Software Personal RAID The Future Is RAID Installing Drives Choosing Your Drive Bridging and cabling on PATA drives Cabling SATA drives Connecting solid-state drives Connecting SCSI drives BIOS support: CMOS setup and driver installation Configuring controllers Automatic boot order detection Enabling AHCI

802 Hard Drive Installation Troubleshooting Beyond A+ Hybrid Hard Drives Chapter Review Questions Answers Chapter 12 Hard Drive Implementation Historical/Conceptual Hard Drive Partitions 802 Master Boot Record Dynamic Disks GUID Partition Table Other types of partitions When to partition Partition naming issues Hard drive formatting Windows file systems FAT FAT32 NTFS FAT64 The partitioning and formatting process Bootable media

Partitioning and Formatting with the Installation Disk Disk Management Formatting a Partition Maintaining and Troubleshooting Hard Drives Maintenance Troubleshooting Hard Drive Deployment Beyond A+ Third-Party Partition Tools Chapter Review Questions Answers Chapter 13 Media Historical/Conceptual Floppy Drives Floppy Drive Basics 801 Installing Floppy Drives Flash Memory USB Flash Drives Flash Cards Optical Drives CD-Media DVD-Media Blu-ray Disc-Media Installing Optical Drives

Troubleshooting Removable Media Floppy Drive Maintaining and Troubleshooting Optical Drives and Disks Troubleshooting Beyond A+ Color Books BDXL Chapter Review Questions Answers Chapter 14 Installing and Upgrading Windows 802 Preparing to Install or Upgrade Identifying Requirements Check hardware and software compatibility Decide what type of installation to perform Determine How to back up and restore existing data, if necessary Select an installation method Determine how to partition the hard drive and what file system to use Determine the network function of your computer Decide the language and regional settings of your computer Plan post-installation tasks The Installation and Upgrade Process Installing or upgrading to Windows XP Professional Installing or upgrading to Windows Vista Installing or upgrading to Windows 7

Upgrade issues The Windows XP clean install process The Windows Vista/7 clean install process Automating installation Installing Windows over a network Troubleshooting installation Text mode errors Graphical mode errors Crashes during startup Installation Post-Installation Tasks Patches, Service Packs, and Updates Updating Drivers Restoring User Data Files (if applicable) Migration and Retirement No Installation Is Perfect Chapter Review Questions Answers Chapter 15 Windows Under the Hood Registry 802 Registry Access Components Talkin' Registry Manual Registry Edits

Command Line Registry Editing Tools The Boot Process The Windows XP Boot Process The Windows Vista/7 Boot Process Processes and services and threads, oh my! Task Manager Performance Console Performance Tools in Windows Vista and Windows 7 Developer Tools Component Services Data Sources Chapter Review Questions Answers Chapter 16 NTFS, Users, and Groups 802 Authentication with Users and Groups Passwords Groups Simple Tools for Managing Users Administration Advanced User Authorization via NTFS NTFS Permissions Permissions and Permission Propagation Technologies

Share a Windows PC securely Share on Windows XP Share on Windows Vista Share on Windows 7 Locate shared folders Administrative shares Protect data with encryption User Account Control UAC on Windows Vista UAC on Windows 7 Chapter Review Questions Answers Chapter 17 Windows Maintenance and Optimization 802 Windows Maintenance Windows Patch Management Temporary File Management with Disk Cleanup Registry Maintenance Error Checking and Disk Defragmentation Maintenance Schedule System Configuration System Information Windows Optimization Software Installation and Removal

Installing/Optimizing a Device Performance Options Hardware Profiles Preparing Windows for Problems Backing Up Personal Data System Restore Chapter Review Questions Answers Chapter 18 Working with the Command Line Interface Historical/Conceptual 802 Interface Decryption Command Line Access Command Prompt File Names and File Formats Drives and Folders Mastery of Fundamental Commands Structure: Syntax and Switches Viewing Directory Contents: The dir Command Changing Directory Focus: The cd command Moving between drives Creating directories: the md command Deleting directories: the rd command Working with directories

Running a Program Working with Files Attributes Wildcards Renaming Files Deleting Files Copying and Moving Files And Even More Tools, Utilities, and Commands Beyond A+ Using Special Keys Compact and Encrypted Commands PowerShell Chapter Review Questions Answers Chapter 19 Troubleshooting Windows 802 Failed to Boot Failed to Boot: Hardware or Configuration Failed to Boot: Windows XP Failed to Boot: Windows Vista and Windows 7 Failed to load GUI device driver registry Advanced Startup Options

Troubleshooting tools in the GUI Troubleshooting tools in Windows Vista and Windows 7 Application problems Application installation problems Uninstall problems Compatibility Missing file or wrong file version Program crashes Volume Shadow Copy Service and Windows Protection System Chapter Review Questions Answers Chapter 20 Input Devices 801 Support for Common Serial Ports Ports USB Ports FireWire Ports General Port Problems Standard Input Devices Keyboards Mice Scanners Biometric Devices Barcode Readers

Touch Screens KVM Switches Gamepads and Joysticks Digitizers Multimedia Devices Digital Cameras and Camcorders Webcams Chapter Review Questions Answers Chapter 21 Video Historical/Conceptual Video Walls CRT Monitors 801 LCD Monitors Projectors Plasma Displays Common Features Power Saving Display Adapters Connection Modes Motherboard Graphics Processor Video Memory

Integrated CPU Types of Connectors and Associated Cables Installing and Configuring 802 Video Software Working with Drivers 3D Graphics Troubleshooting Video Troubleshooting Video Cards/Drivers Troubleshooting Monitors Troubleshooting Playback Beyond A+ DLP Chapter Review Questions Answers Chapter 22 801/802 Local Area Networks Beyond Basic Ethernet Cabling Alternative Connections Network Devices TCP/IP Structured Cabling IPv6 Network Addressing

Installing and Configuring a Wired Network Installing a NIC Configuring a Client Network Sharing and Security Troubleshooting Networks Repairing Physical Cabling Troubleshooting Common Problems Chapter Review Questions Answers Chapter 23 Wireless Networks Historical/Conceptual Components of Wireless Networks Wireless Network Software 801 Wireless Network Modes Wireless Network Security Speed ​​and Range Issues Wireless Network Standards IEEE 802.11-Based Wireless Networks Other Wireless Standards 802 Wireless Network Installation and Configuration Wi-Fi Configuration Bluetooth Configuration

Cellular Configuration Troubleshooting Wi-Fi Hardware Troubleshooting Software Troubleshooting Connectivity Troubleshooting Configuration Troubleshooting Chapter Review Questions Answers Chapter 24 Internet Historical/Conceptual How the Internet Works TCP/IP Internet Levels : The Common Language of the Internet Internet Service Providers Connection Concepts 801 Internet Connection Dial-up DSL Cable LAN 802.11 Wireless Fiber Cellular

Satellite Internet Windows Internet Connection Sharing Internet Application Protocols The World Wide Web Email File Transfer Protocol (FTP) Telnet and SSH SFTP Voice over IP Remote Desktop Virtual Private Networks Support Applications (Internet Utilities) Solution Internet Problem 802 No Connectivity Limited Connectivity Local Connectivity Slow Transfer Speeds Beyond A+ Online Gaming Chat File Sharing Chapter Review Questions

Answers Chapter 25 Multimedia Sound Historical/Conceptual How Sound Works on a PC 801 Getting Sound Right Hardware Speakers Microphones MIDI-enabled Devices Installing Sound on a Windows System Sound Troubleshooting Video Capture Hardware Software Troubleshooting video capture and playback TV tuners Hardware tuner Software tuner Beyond A+ Publishing Multimedia Troubleshooting Chapter Review Questions Answers

Chapter 26 Mobile Computing 801/802 Portable Computing Devices Input Devices Display Types Desktop Replacements Netbooks Ultrabooks Tablet PCs Expanding Laptops Single Function Ports Specific Expansion Slots for Network Laptops Storage Card Slots General Purpose Ports Management and laptop battery maintenance Power management Cleaning Heat Machine protection Laptop upgrade and repair Disassembly process Standard upgrades Hardware replacement

Troubleshooting Laptops Laptop won't turn on Screen doesn't turn on correctly Wireless doesn't work or works intermittently Input problems Chapter review questions Answers Chapter 27 Mobile devices 802 Features and capabilities Mobile experience Adding apps Improvement Hardware Configuration Network Connectivity Bluetooth Data E-Mail Sync Security Damage Prevention Loss Management Theft Recovery Chapter Review

Questions Answers Chapter 28 Printers 801 Printing Technologies Impact Printers Inkjet Printers Dye Sublimation Printers Thermal Printers Laser Printers Solid Ink Printers Printer Languages ​​Printer Connectivity The Laser Printing Process Processing Charging Exposure Developing Transfer Fusing Cleaning Printing color laser Installing a printer in Windows Configuring printers Optimizing Print performance

802 Printer Troubleshooting General Troubleshooting Problems Impact Printer Troubleshooting Thermal Printer Troubleshooting Inkjet Printer Troubleshooting Laser Printer Troubleshooting Beyond A+ Multifunction Peripherals Chapter Review Questions Answers Chapter 29 Computer Protection 801/802 Threat Analysis Unauthorized Access Social Engineering Data Destruction Administrative Access System Failure/Hardware Failure Physical Theft Malware Environmental Threats Security Concepts and Technologies Access Control

Data Classification and Compliance Reports 802 Network Security Malware Signs and Symptoms of Malware Malware Prevention and Recovery Firewalls Authentication and Encryption Wireless Issues Chapter Review Questions Answers Chapter 30 Virtualization Historical/Conceptual What is Virtualization? 802 Learn about Hypervisor Emulation vs. Virtualization Virtualization Sampler Why Virtualize? Power saving Hardware consolidation System recovery System mirroring

Research Virtualization in Modern Networks Virtual Machine Administrators Hypervisors Chapter Review Questions Answers Chapter 31 The Right PC for You 801 Building Your First PC Parts Evaluation Thick Client Workstation PCs Thin Client Virtualization Workstations Workstations media work Specialty consumer PCs Building a home server PC Setting up a home theater PC Gaming PC Chapter Review Questions Answers Chapter 32 The Complete PC Tech 802

How Computers Work Troubleshooting Theory Identify the problem Establish a theory of probable cause (question the obvious) Test theory to determine cause Check and prevent Technology Toolkit findings, actions, and results Utilities Field Replaceable Units ( FRU) Chapter 32 Review Questions Answers Appendix A Mapping to CompTIA A+ Objectives Appendix B About Download Media Center Downloads Playing Mike Meyers' Introductory Video Viewing CompTIA A+ Exam Objectives Downloading Total Tester Installing and Running by Total Tester About Total Tester Mike Meyers' Video Training Download Mike's Cool Tools Download Technical Support Glossary


To the lovely Mrs. D. Our brief time together has been amazing and instructive. Given the choice, I much prefer red hair. —Mike Meyers

PREFACE I started writing computer books for the simple reason that nobody wrote the kind of books I wanted to read. The books were either too simple (Chapter 1, "Using the Mouse") or too complex (Chapter 1, "TTL Logic and Transistors"), and none of them motivated me to learn the information. I thought there were geeky readers like myself who wanted to know why they needed to know the information in a computer book. Good books motivate readers to learn what they are reading. If a book talks about binary arithmetic but doesn't explain why I need to learn it, for example, that's not a good book. Tell me that understanding the binary makes it easier to understand how a CPU works or why a megabyte is different from a million bytes, then I get excited, no matter how geeky the subject is. If I don't have a good motivation to do something, I just won't do it (which explains why I haven't jumped out of a plane!). In this book, I show you why you need to understand the technology that drives almost every modern business. You'll learn to build and repair computers, exploring every nook and cranny, and master the art of PC technology. In the process, you'll gain the knowledge you need to pass the CompTIA A+ certification exams. Enjoy, my fellow geek. —Mike Meyers

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Scott Jernigan, my editor-in-chief at Total Seminars and an excellent partner on many nights, once again worked his usual magic in putting together this latest edition. Thanks my friend! My acquisitions editor, Tim Green, and his trusted assistant, Stephanie Evans, had this book schedule in place from day one and never stopped. I mean, never give up. Better yet, they intimidated me into working with his incessantly cheerful voices. I miss the evil Tim from back in the day who just yelled at me. Chris Crayton, my technical editor, did a great job once again. Thank you for helping make this book a reality. Aaron Verber stepped up a notch for this issue, with stellar editing, writing, and research. You did a great job with each chapter that came your way (and managed to put together the lab manual at the same time). Let's do this again! Michael Smyer dedicated his excellent skills in photography and technology to make this book the best edition of all time. He kept me on my toes about technology and helped me a lot with the research. Excellent work, Michael. Ford Pierson, my in-house editor and illustrator, worked very hard to improve the line art in this book, including turning the man in the box into Mini Me, a touch that shows off his wit, intelligence, and complete lack of fear. Great job Ford. Scott Strubberg, Doug Jones, and Dave Rush, Total Seminars instructors, were my sounding board and research partners for this book, helping me make the complicated understandable on many topics. Thank you very much to all! On McGraw-Hill's side, the team once again demonstrated why McGraw-Hill is the best publisher in the world. With excellent work and an even better attitude, this book came together without a hitch. Molly Sharp, my project manager, went from putting together the latest editions of my CompTIA Network+ books to working with me on the CompTIA A+ books, which proved at least one thing: she's a glutton for punishment, keeping everything in order through two big projects. in a row, with me and my staff doing their best to add chaos. The simple joy of working with you Molly means I'm already looking forward to the next project with you! My editorial supervisor, Jody McKenzie, once again helped me stay focused on all the pieces, with a gentle nudge or quiet prod when I missed an essential piece. It was wonderful working with you again. To the copy editor, proofreader, indexer, and layout people: Bill McManus, Paul Tyler, Jack Lewis, and Tom Sharp: excellent work on all counts. Thanks for being the best.

1 The path of computer technology


In this chapter, you will learn to: • Explain the importance of PC troubleshooting and administration skills • Explain the importance of CompTIA A+ certification • Describe how to earn CompTIA A+ certification Computers have taken over the world, or at least the world. many professions. Everywhere you look, a quick dig beneath the surface of construction sawdust, auto mechanic grease, and med-tech buzz reveals one or more personal computers (PCs) at work, doing essential jobs. As the PC evolved from a novelty item to an essential scientific tool to an everyday object in a short period of time, there is a great demand for a workforce that can build, maintain, troubleshoot and repair PCs.

The importance of PC management and troubleshooting skill People who work with computers, often lumped together in a single group known as the information technology (IT) workforce, perform a surprisingly diverse number of jobs. . These include various activities such as designing hardware, writing computer programs, and creating networks (groups of computers connected together to share data or programs). IT staff created the Internet and maintain the millions of computers that keep it running. But for all this IT diversity, it's the computer technicians (or PC technicians, as we call ourselves in the field) who make up the core of the IT workforce. Without us techies none of the other stuff would work, so none of the other jobs could exist. Recruiting workers with skills in PC building, maintenance, troubleshooting, and repair is essential to the success of all modern businesses. We need more PC technicians. We need you! In the early days of the personal computer, anyone who used a PC had to have skills as a PC technician. The PC was new, buggy, and problem-prone. If he had a PC back then, he didn't want to depend on others to fix his PC when the inevitable problems arose. Today's PCs are much more robust and have fewer problems, so using one no longer requires technical PC skills, but they are also much more complex machines. Therefore, today's IT industry needs skilled workers who know how to make machines work well and fix them when they break for the millions of users who lack PC technical knowledge. Each profession requires specialized skills. For the most part, if you want to get or keep a job that requires those specialized skills, you need some type of certification or license. If you want an auto repair job in the United States, for example, you get the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification. If you want to carry out financial audits of companies in the UK, you obtain your Chartered Accountant certification. Almost every profession has some criteria that you must meet to demonstrate your competence and ability to perform at a certain level. Although the way this works varies greatly from profession to profession, all professions will at some point require you to take an exam or a series of exams. Passing these exams shows that you have the necessary skills to work at a certain level in your profession, whether you are an aspiring plumber, teacher, hairdresser, or lawyer.

If you successfully pass these exams, the organization that administers them awards you a certification. You receive a slip, pin, or membership card that you can show to potential clients or employers. This certification gives those potential clients or employers a level of confidence that you can do what you say you can do. Without this certification, you will either not find a suitable job in that profession or no one will trust you to do the job. Until relatively recently, PC technicians have been the exception to this rule.

The Importance of CompTIA A+ Certification Microcomputers were introduced in the late 1970s, and for many years, PC technicians had no universally recognized way of showing customers or employers that they knew what to do under the hood of a computer. personal computer. Sure, there were vendor-specific certifications, but the only way to get them was to get a job at an authorized repair or warranty center first, and then get certified. There's nothing wrong with vendor-specific training, but no manufacturer has gained enough market share to make IBM training, for example, something that works for any job. (Then there's always the small matter of getting the job done first before you can get certified...) The software and networking aspects of our business have not suffered from the same lack of certifications. Due to the dominance of certain companies at one time or another (for example, Microsoft and Cisco), vendor-specific certifications have provided a great way to get and keep a job. For example, the Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) and Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certifications from Cisco have opened the doors of employment for many. But what about the person who runs around all day repairing printers, partitioning hard drives, updating device drivers, and assembling systems? What about PC hobbyists who want to get paid for their skills? What about people who, because they had the audacity to show they knew the difference between a homegroup and a workgroup, find themselves with a new title like PC Support Technician or Electronic Services Specialist? On the other hand, how about the worst headline of all: “The person who doesn't get an extra nickel but who fixes computers”? CompTIA A+ certification provides these individuals with a universally recognized way to demonstrate their technical PC proficiency to employers or clients (and to seek appropriate compensation for their skills). What is CompTIA A+ certification? CompTIA A+ Certification is an industry-wide, vendor-independent certification program developed and sponsored by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). CompTIA A+ certification demonstrates that you have basic competency in microcomputer support. You achieve this certification by taking two computer-based, multiple-choice exams. The tests cover what technicians should know after 12 months of hands-on PC work, either on a job or as a student in the lab. CompTIA A+ certification is widely recognized throughout the computing industry. To date, more than 800,000 technicians have earned CompTIA A+ certification, making it the most popular of all IT certifications. Who is CompTIA? CompTIA is a not-for-profit industry trade association headquartered in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois. It consists of more than 20,000 members in 102 countries. You'll find CompTIA offices in places as diverse as Amsterdam, Dubai, Johannesburg, Tokyo, and São Paulo. CompTIA provides a forum for people in these industries to network (for example, to meet people), represents the interests of its members before the government, and provides certifications for many aspects of the

computer industry. CompTIA sponsors CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, CompTIA Security+, and other certifications. CompTIA works hard to observe the IT industry and is constantly looking to provide new certifications to meet the constant demand of its members. Visit the CompTIA website at for details on the other certifications you can earn from CompTIA. Virtually every major company in the IT industry is a member of CompTIA. Here are some of the big ones:

CompTIA began offering CompTIA A+ certification in 1993. When it debuted, CompTIA A+ certification was largely ignored by the IT industry. However, since that initial hesitation, CompTIA A+ certification has grown to become the de facto requirement to enter the PC industry. Many companies require CompTIA A+ certification for all of their PC support technicians, and CompTIA A+ certification is widely recognized both in the United States and internationally. Additionally, many other certifications recognize the CompTIA A+ certification and use it as credit toward their certifications. The path to other certifications Most IT companies, large and small, view the CompTIA A+ certification as the entry point into IT. Starting with CompTIA A+, you have a number of certification options, depending on whether you want to focus more on hardware and operating systems or move into network administration (although these are not mutually exclusive goals). The following three certifications are worth serious consideration: • CompTIA Network+ Certification • Microsoft Technical Certifications • Cisco Certifications

NOTE CompTIA A+ is the entry point into IT, although it is definitely not the only route to learning about computers and having certifications to demonstrate that knowledge. Several certifications cover computer literacy or digital literacy, the phrase meaning "what every person needs to know about computers to survive in the 21st century." The most popular computer literacy certification is Certiport's IC3 certification which tests general computer knowledge; office productivity applications such as Word and PowerPoint; and Internet applications such as web browsers and email clients. CompTIA has a pre-CompTIA A+ exam (not a certification), called the CompTIA Strata IT Fundamentals exam, which is a bit more geared towards a user preparing to become a technician. It is designed to verify

basic knowledge levels for people entering IT. CompTIA Network+ Certification If you haven't yet earned CompTIA Network+ certification, make it your next certification goal after CompTIA A+ certification. Just as the CompTIA A+ certification demonstrates that you have strong competency as a PC technician, the CompTIA Network+ certification demonstrates your skills as a network technician, including your understanding of network hardware, installation, and troubleshooting. CompTIA Network+ certification is a natural step toward your Microsoft or Cisco certifications. Take CompTIA Network+—it's your next obvious certification. Microsoft Technical Certifications Microsoft operating systems drive a large portion of all installed networks, and those networks require qualified support personnel to function. Following the Microsoft Certification Series for Network Professionals is a natural next step after completing CompTIA certifications. They offer a plethora of tracks and exams, ranging from simple Windows 7 specializations to numerous Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) certifications and more. More details can be found on the Microsoft Learning website at Cisco Certification Let's face it: Cisco routers pretty much run the Internet and most of the world's intranets. A router is a network device that controls and directs the flow of information across networks, such as email messages, web browsing, etc. Cisco offers five levels of IT certification for people who want to demonstrate their skills in using Cisco products, such as a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), in addition to numerous specialized certifications. See the Cisco IT certification website here for more details:

How do I get CompTIA A+ certification? You earn CompTIA A+ certification, in the simplest sense, by taking and passing two computer-based multiple-choice exams. There are no prerequisites required to take the CompTIA A+ certification exams (although it is assumed that you have computer literacy, whether or not you have one of the computer literacy certifications). There is no required training course or training materials to purchase. You (have to pay a test fee for each of the two exams. You pay your test fees, go to a local testing center, and take the tests. You immediately know if you have passed or failed. By passing both exams, you Get CompTIA A+ Certification What's the deal with "No More Certification for Life"? In early 2010, CompTIA announced that, effective January 1, 2011, CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, and CompTIA Security+ certifications no longer they would not be considered "lifetime certified." "If you passed any of these exams before the deadline, you are still lifetime certified for those exams. For any exam you pass on or after January 1, 2011, to maintain your certification, every three years you will need to either: retake the exam or complete sufficient continuing education as specified by CompTIA Retaking the exams is not that difficult to understand, but the continuing education requirement is a bit more complex. Instead of trying to explain it all here, review the CompTIA documentation at http ://

Most importantly, if you follow the continuing education path, you'll need to earn 20 continuing education units (CEUs) every three-year period to renew your CompTIA A+ certification. How are these CEUs earned? You can participate in industry events and seminars, complete a presentation, participate in IT training, teach a course, or obtain another higher-level certification. The number of CEUs you earn for completing each of these requirements varies, and each requires you to submit documentation to CompTIA for review. I personally think this is a long awaited feature. Someone who took the CompTIA A+ exam in 2010 had no way of distinguishing themselves from someone who took the exam in 1997, and that wasn't fair. No longer granting "certified for life" status, CompTIA certifications are now in line with certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and other industries. The Basic Structure of the Exam The two exams introduced by CompTIA in 2012 are CompTIA A+ 220-801 (Hardware) and CompTIA A+ 220-802 (Operating Systems). The terms "Hardware" and "Operating Systems" are not officially part of the exam names, but I have included them here because they are commonly used to refer to exams. It is also common to refer to these two exams as the "2012" exams to differentiate them from previous CompTIA exams. Although you can take either exam first, I recommend taking the 220-801 followed by the 220-802. The 220-801 exam focuses on understanding terminology and technology, how to perform critical tasks like upgrading RAM, and basic network and laptop compatibility. Exam 220802 builds on the first exam and focuses on Windows support, advanced configuration, and troubleshooting scenarios. Both exams are extremely practical, with little or no interest in history. All questions are multiple choice, simulation or "click on the right side of the image" questions. The following is an example of the type of questions you will see on tests: Your laser printer is printing blank pages. Which item should you check first? A. Printer drivers B. Toner cartridge C. Printer settings D. Paper feed The correct answer is B, the toner cartridge. You can make an argument for any of the others, but common sense (and skill as a PC technician) tells you to check the simpler possibility first. The 2012 exams use a regular test format in which you answer a set number of questions and are scored based on the number of correct answers you give. These exams have no more than 100 questions each. (Both exams have 100 questions each as of this writing.) Please note that CompTIA may add new questions to exams at any time to keep content up to date. The topic covered by the exams will not change, but new questions may be added periodically at random intervals. This policy places a strong emphasis on understanding concepts and having a solid understanding of computer technology rather than trying to memorize specific questions and answers that may have been on tests in the past. No book or web resource will have all the "right answers" because those answers are constantly changing. Luckily for you, however, this book not only teaches you what steps to follow in a

particular case, but it also explains how to be a technical expert who understands why you are doing those steps. That way, when you come across a new problem (or quiz question), you can find the answer. This will help you not only pass exams but also become a better PC technician! To keep up to date, we monitor the CompTIA A+ exams for new content and update the special Tech Files section of the Total Seminars website ( with new articles covering topics we think may appear. in future versions of the exams. Windows-focused CompTIA A+ exams focus on Microsoft Windows operating systems that you would expect to find on a PC at a workstation or home. There are no questions about Linux. There are no questions about Mac OS X. The 802 exam will ask you about the common operating systems for mobile devices, iOS and Android, but the vast majority of operating system questions on both exams are about Windows. The exam objectives cover the following operating systems: • Windows XP Home, Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Media Center, Windows XP 64-bit Professional • Windows Vista Home Basic, Windows Vista Home Premium, Windows Vista Business, Windows Vista Ultimate, Windows Vista Enterprise • Windows 7 Starter, Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 7 Enterprise Windows 8 CompTIA has the best luck when it comes to the timing of new CompTIA A+ exams compared to new releases. Windows versions. In 2006, CompTIA released an update to the CompTIA A+ exams about four months before Microsoft released Windows Vista. In 2009, CompTIA missed Windows 7 by about a month (although CompTIA released an update to Windows 7 for exams in late 2009). It looks like CompTIA will once again encounter what I'll call the "CompTIA Windows curse". Since the new exams 220-801 and 220-802 come out in early 2012, it's very likely that Windows 8 will come out a few months later. Assuming CompTIA stays true to form, there's a good chance you'll see a Windows 8 update in the exams within a year or two of Windows 8's release. Be sure to check CompTIA's website or contact me. directly in[email protected]to see if Windows 8 updates have been made. Exam 220-801 The questions on the CompTIA A+ exam 220-801 fit into one of five domains. The number of questions for each domain is based on the percentages shown in Table 1-1.

Table 1-1 220-801 exam domains and percentages The 220-801 exam tests your knowledge of computer components and expects you to be able to identify nearly all common devices in PCs, including variations within device types. Here is a list:

The 220-801 exam tests your ability to install, configure, and maintain all of the hardware technology involved in a personal computer. You must be able to install and configure a hard drive, for example, and configure devices in Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. You must understand device drivers. In addition, this exam places a lot of emphasis on operating procedures, such as environmental and safety issues, communication, and professionalism. You must understand how to avoid dangerous situations. The exam tests your ability to communicate effectively with clients and co-workers. You must understand professional behavior and demonstrate tact, discretion and respect for others and their property. Exam 220-802 The CompTIA A+ exam 220-802 covers four domains. Table 1-2 lists the domains and the percentage of questions dedicated to each domain.

Table 1-2 Domains and percentages for the 220-802 exam The 220-802 exam covers configuring, repairing, and troubleshooting the Windows operating system. You must be familiar with Windows and understand the tasks involved in updating, upgrading, and installing Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. You must be familiar with the standard diagnostic tools available in Windows in order to troubleshoot and work with higher-level technicians. Make sure you know Windows; 33% of the 220-802 questions will challenge you on this. Most of the 220-802 exam is devoted to problem solving. Think in terms of a hands-on approach to determining the right technology for a situation (running diagnostics and troubleshooting) rather than identifying hardware or operating system utilities. You need to understand how all technology should work, know the proper steps to figure out why something isn't working, and then know how to fix it. The 220-802 exam adds mobile devices to the objectives, a new theme for 2012. While the smartphone and tablet market covers an incredibly wide range of hardware and software, the 220-802 exam focuses on Apple iOS and Google devices. android. You will need to know how to interact with hardware and software, as well as how to configure personal settings such as email clients and security. Security is a big topic on the 220-802 exam. You need to know a fair bit about computer security, from physical security (door locks to retina scanners), knowledge of security threats (malware and viruses), to ways to protect an individual computer. This also includes information on how to properly recycle and dispose of computer equipment. You will also be evaluated on methods to protect networks. You will need to know how to access a small office/home office (SOHO) router or wireless access point and configure that device to protect your network. How do I take the exams? (Pearson VUE administers CompTIA A+ tests at more than 5,000 test centers in 165 countries. You can take the exams at any test center. You can select the nearest training center and schedule your exams directly from the comfort of your favorite web browser by going to the Pearson VUE website: Alternatively, in the United States and Canada, call Pearson VUE at 877-551-PLUS (7587) to schedule exams and locate the test center. test nearest you Clients can find a list of Pearson VUE international contact numbers for various regions of the world on the CompTIA website at You must pay for the exam when you call to schedule. Be prepared to sit on hold for a moment.

Social Security number (or international equivalent) and a credit card ready when you call. Pearson VUE will be happy to invoice you, but you will not be able to take the exam until they receive full payment. Pearson VUE will accommodate any special needs, although this may limit your selection of testing locations. How much does the exam cost? The cost of the exam depends on whether you work for a CompTIA member or not. As of this writing, the cost for non-CompTIA members is $178 (US) for each exam. International prices vary, but you can check the CompTIA website for international prices. Of course, prices are subject to change without notice, so always check the CompTIA website for current prices. Very few people pay full price for the exam. Virtually all organizations that provide CompTIA A+ testing and training also offer discount coupons. You buy a discount coupon and then use the coupon number instead of a credit card when scheduling the exam. Vouchers are sold per exam, so you will need two vouchers to take both CompTIA A+ exams. Total Seminars is a place to get discount coupons. You can call Total Seminars at 800-446-6004 or 281-922-4166, or get coupons through the website: No one should have to pay full price for CompTIA A+ exams. How to Pass the CompTIA A+ Exams The most important thing to remember about the CompTIA A+ certification exams is that CompTIA designed the exams to test the knowledge of a technician with only 12 months of experience, so keep it simple! The exams are not interested in your ability to overclock DDR3 CAS times in CMOS or if you can explain the exact difference between Intel ICH10 and AMD 790 southbridges. Think in terms of know-how and standards. Read this book, do whatever helps you memorize the key concepts and procedures, take the practice media tests that accompany this book, review any topics you miss, and you should pass with no problem.

NOTE Those of you who just want to learn more about PC management and troubleshooting can follow the same strategy as certification applicants. Think practical and work with the PC as you progress through each chapter. Some of you may be in school or just out of school, so studying for exams is nothing new. But if you haven't had to study and take a test in a while, or if you think maybe you could use some tips, you might find the next section helpful. Presents a proven strategy for preparing to take and pass the CompTIA A+ exams. Try it. Works. Force Yourself The first step you should take is to schedule yourself for the exams. Have you ever heard the old adage: "Heat and pressure make diamonds"? Well, if you don't "warm up" yourself, you'll end up procrastinating and delaying exams, possibly forever. Do yourself a favor. Using the information below, determine how much time you'll need to study for the exams, then call Pearson VUE and schedule your exams accordingly. Knowing that exams are coming up makes it so much easier to turn off the television and open the book. You can schedule an exam a few weeks in advance, but

If you schedule an exam and cannot take it at the scheduled time, you must reschedule at least one day in advance or you will lose your money. Reserve the Right Amount of Study Time After helping thousands of technicians earn their CompTIA A+ certification, we at Total Seminars have developed a pretty good idea of ​​the amount of study time needed to pass the CompTIA A+ certification exams. The following table provides an estimate to help you plan how much study time you should spend on the CompTIA A+ certification exams. Please note that these are averages. If you're not a great student or a little nervous, add 10 percent; if you are a quick learner or have a bit of computer experience, you may want to lower the numbers. To use Table 1-3, simply circle the values ​​that are most accurate for you and add them to get your estimated total hours of study time.

Table 1-3 Analyzing Skill Levels To that value, add hours based on the number of months of direct professional experience you've had in PC support, as shown in Table 1-4.

Table 1-4 Adding up your study time A total neophyte often needs approximately 240 hours of study time. An experienced technician should not need more than 60 hours. Total hours for you to study: __________________. A study strategy Now that you know how long it will take you to prepare for tests, you're ready to develop a study strategy. I'd like to suggest a strategy that has worked for others who have come before you, whether they are seasoned technicians or newbies. This book is designed to accommodate the different study schedules of these two groups of students. The first group is made up of seasoned technicians who already have solid PC experience, but need to ensure that they are ready to be tested on the specific topics covered by the CompTIA A+ exams. The second group are those with little or no experience in the field of computing. These technicians may benefit from a more detailed understanding

of the history and concepts underlying modern computer technology, to help them remember subject-specific information they need to know for exams. I will use the shorthand terms Old Techs and New Techs for these two groups. If you are not sure which group you are in, choose a few chapters and answer a few questions at the end of the chapter. If you score less than 70%, please opt for the new technology. I have divided most of the chapters into four distinct parts: • Historical/conceptual topics that are not on the CompTIA A+ exams but will help you understand more clearly what is on the CompTIA A+ exams • 801 Topics that clearly fit into CompTIA A+ 220 -801 exam domains • 802 Topics that clearly fit into CompTIA A+ exam domains 220-802 • Beyond A+ More advanced questions that probably won't be on CompTIA A+ exams, yet

NOTE Not all chapters have all four parts. The beginning of each of these parts is clearly marked with a large banner that looks like this:

Historical/Conceptual Those of you who fall into the Old Tech crowd may want to skip everything except parts 801 and 802 in each chapter. After reading the sections for those parts, jump immediately to the questions at the end of the chapter. The questions at the end of the chapter focus on the information in sections 801 and 802. If you have problems, review the historical/conceptual sections of that chapter. Note that you may need to go back to earlier chapters to get the historical/conceptual information you need for later chapters. After going through each chapter as described, Old Techs can go straight to testing their knowledge using the free media practice tests that accompany the book. Once you start scoring above 90%, you're ready to take the exams. If you are a New Tech, or if you are an Old Tech who wants the full learning experience this book can offer, start by reading the book, the whole book, as if you were reading a novel, from page one to the last. finish without jumping Because so many computer terms and concepts complement each other, skipping greatly increases the chances that you'll get confused and end up closing the book and activating your favorite PC game. Not that I have anything against PC gaming, but unfortunately that skill isn't useful for CompTIA A+ exams! Your goal in this first reading is to understand the concepts, the whys behind the hows. Having a PC nearby while you read is helpful so that you can stop and inspect the PC to see a piece of hardware or how a particular concept manifests itself in the real world. As you read about hard drives, for example, inspect the cables. Do they look like the ones in the book? Is there a variation? Because? It is imperative that you understand why you are doing something, not just how to do it on a particular system under a specific set of conditions. Neither exams nor real life as a PC technician works that way. If you're reading this book as part of a PC troubleshooting and management class rather than a certification prep course, I recommend going the new technology route, even if you have a decent amount of experience. The book contains many details that can trip you up if you focus only on the proof.

specific sections of the chapters. In addition, his program could emphasize historical and conceptual knowledge, as well as practical skills. CompTIA A+ certification exams assume you have basic user skills. Exams really try to trick you with questions about processes that you might do every day and don't give much thought to. Here's a classic: "To move a file from the C:\DATA folder to the D:\ drive using Windows Explorer, what key should you hold down while dragging the file?" If you can answer that without going to your keyboard and trying some likely keys, you're better than most techies! In the real world, you can try a few wrong answers before coming up with the right one, but for exams, you have to know. Whether it's old technology or new technology, be sure to master Windows user-level skills, including the following: • Recognize all standard Windows desktop components (Start menu, notification area, etc.) • Manipulate windows: switch size, move, etc. • Create, delete, rename, move, and copy files and folders within Windows • Understand file extensions and their relationship to program associations • Use common keyboard shortcuts/hotkeys • Install, Run and closing a Windows application Any PC tech who's been at it a while will tell you that one of the great secrets in the computer business is that there's almost never anything completely new in the world of computer technology. Faster, smarter, smaller, wider—absolutely—but the underlying technology—the core of what makes your PC and its various peripherals work—has changed very little since PCs went mainstream a few decades ago. When you do your initial reading, you may be tempted to skip the historical/conceptual sections, don't! Understanding the history and technological developments behind today's PCs helps you understand why they work—or don't work—the way they do. Basically, I'm passing on to you the kind of knowledge you might gain from learning from an older, more experienced PC technician. Once you've completed the first full read, read the book again, this time in textbook mode. If you are an Old Tech, start studying here. Try to cover one chapter at a time. Focus on sections 801 and 802. Get a highlighter and mark the phrases and sentences that make the main points. Make sure you understand how the images and illustrations relate to the concepts being discussed. Once you feel you have a good understanding of the material in the book, you can check your knowledge using the practice tests included in the media that accompany this book. You can perform them in practice mode or final mode. In practice mode, you can use the help window to get a helpful hint for current questions, use the reference function to find the chapter that covers the question, check your answer to the question, and see an explanation of the correct answer. . In Final mode, answer all the questions and receive an exam score at the end, just like the real thing. You can also adjust the number of questions in a Practice or Final mode exam with the Custom option. Both modes show you an overall score, expressed as a percentage, as well as a breakdown of how well you did on each test domain. The Review Questions feature allows you to see which questions you missed and which are the correct answers. Use these results to guide further study. Continue revising the missing topics and taking additional tests until you have a consistent score in the 90% range. When you get there, you'll be ready to pass the CompTIA A+ certification exams.

Study Tactics Perhaps it's been a while since you've had to study for a test. Or maybe you haven't, but you've done everything you can ever since to block the entire experience from your mind. Either way, smart test takers know that certain techniques make studying for tests more efficient and effective. Here's a trick used by students in law and medical schools who have to memorize lots of information: Write it down. The act of writing something (not writing, writing) itself helps you remember it, even if you never look back at what you wrote. Try taking separate notes on the material and recreating diagrams by hand to help solidify the information in your mind. Another oldie but goodie: make yourself flashcards with questions and answers on topics you find difficult. A third trick: Take your notes to bed and read them just before you go to sleep. Many people find that they actually learn while they sleep! Contact If you have any problems, questions, or just want to discuss something, feel free to email the author—[email protected]—or to the editor—[email protected]For any other information you may need, please contact CompTIA directly at their website:

Chapter Review Questions 1. What is the main CompTIA website? A. B. C. D. 2. What certification is considered necessary to enter the IT industry? A. Certified Cisco Network Associate B. CompTIA A+ Certification C. CompTIA Network+ Certification D. Microsoft Certified IT Professional 3. How many exams do you need to pass to get CompTIA A+ Certification? A

B. Two C. Three D. Four 4. Which domain receives the most coverage on the 220-802 exam? A. Operating systems B. Security C. Mobile devices D. Troubleshooting 5. Which version of Windows is not tested on the 2012 versions of the CompTIA A+ exams? A. Windows XP Professional B. Windows 2000 C. Windows 7 Ultimate D. Windows Vista Business 6. Which company administers the CompTIA A+ certification exams? A. CompTIA B. Microsoft C. Pearson VUE D. Total Seminars 7. What pass rate should you look for on the practice questions? A. 75% B. 80% C. 90% D. 95% 8. How many hours of study to pass the CompTIA A+ exams does Mike recommend to a person who is just beginning to learn how to repair computers? A. Approximately 140

B. About 240 C. About 340 D. About 440 9. What is the first step you must take to pass the CompTIA A+ exams? A. Buy more practice tests. B. Buy two coupons. C. Read this book like a novel. D. Schedule exams. 10. After earning CompTIA A+ certification, what is the next certification you should earn? A. CompTIA Network+ B. CompTIA Security+ C. Microsoft Certified IT Professional D. Certified Cisco Network Associate Answers 1. D. CompTIA's main website is (although the .COM and . NET will redirect you to the main site). 2. B. CompTIA A+ certification is considered necessary to enter the PC industry. 3. B. You must pass two exams to earn CompTIA A+ certification. 4. D. The 220-802 exam devotes 36% of the questions to problem solving. 5. B. There are no versions of Windows 2000 on the CompTIA A+ exams. 6. C. Pearson VUE administers the CompTIA A+ certification exams. 7. C. You must not take either exam until you consistently score at least a 90% on the practice exams. 8. B. Mike recommends about 240 hours of study for a person new to PC repair. 9. D. Schedule exams for some time in the future. 10. A. The typical certification path is from CompTIA A+ to CompTIA Network+, so you have all the basics before choosing to specialize in Microsoft or Cisco products.

2 Operating procedures


In this chapter, you will learn how to: • Present yourself appropriately and professionally • Talk to customers professionally and productively • Work with PCs safely using the right tools Teaching new technology helps me keep up with the skills that acquire a technician a job and the problems that cause them to lose the jobs they get. To me, the number one reason techies don't get or keep a job isn't a lack of technical skill; it's a lack of what CompTIA calls "operating procedures". Personally, I think a better name might be "basic safety and life skills" but it boils down to the same thing: non-technical skills that techies are notorious for lacking. I like to describe myself as a "nerd" and I take it as a compliment if you call me that. Nerds are smart and like to work with technology: these are the good aspects of nerd-dom. On the other hand, most people would think of the term nerd as an insult. Nerds are rarely portrayed in a positive light in the media, and I think I know why. Nerds generally suffer from some pretty serious social foibles. These weaknesses are classic: bad clothes, shyness and poor communication skills. If you've ever watched an episode of The Big Bang Theory TV show, you know what I'm talking about. This chapter covers some basic life skills that will allow you to enjoy being a nerd and yet function in the real world. You will learn how to dress, how to act, and how to communicate. Once you're well on your way to the beginnings of social graces, we'll discuss some of the hazards (such as static electricity) you may encounter on the job and the tools you can use to avoid problems. After all, nerds who can't stay organized, or who break teams or themselves, need to learn a few tricks to keep everything organized and safe.

801 The Professional Technician A professional technician displays professionalism, which might seem a bit trite if it weren't absolutely true. The technology presents a professional appearance and follows an appropriate ethical code. I call the latter the Features of a Technology. Let's take a look at these two areas in more detail. Appearance Americans live in a casual society, and I think that's great, because I prefer to dress casually. The problem with the informal is that perhaps our society is becoming too informal. New technologies sometimes don't realize that customers equate casual clothing with a casual attitude. You may think you're just fixing someone's computer, but you're doing so much more than that. You are saving precious family photos. You are keeping a small business running. This is serious business, and no one wants a dirty, unkempt person doing these important jobs. Take a look at Figure 2-1. This is our resident illustrator (among other job descriptions), Ford Pierson, dressed down to hang out with his friends.

Figure 2-1 Casual Ford I have a question for you. If you were running a small business and your main file server went down, leaving 15 employees with nothing to do, how would you feel if Ford as a technician walked into your office looking like this? I hope your answer is "not too sure". Every company has some kind of dress code for technicians. Figure 2-2 shows Ford dressed in a fairly typical example, with a company polo shirt, khaki pants, and dark shoes (believe me on that point). Also note that both his shirt and his pants are wrinkle-free. All technicians must know how to iron or know the location of the nearest cleaners.

Figure 2-2 Professional Ford As we look at this male model, do you notice that his hair is combed and his face is clean-shaven? It's too bad she can't use scratch-and-sniffs, but if she could, you'd also notice that Professional Ford showered, used some deodorant, and brushed her teeth.

I hope most people reading this will smile quietly and say, "Well, of course." The sad truth tells me otherwise. The next time you look at a technician, ask yourself how many of these simple appearance and hygiene issues were overlooked. Then make sure you are not one of the sloppy technicians. Traits of a Technician When I was a Boy Scout in the United States, we learned something called the Boy Scout Law, a list of traits that define the ethics of a Boy Scout. Although I haven't been in the Boy Scouts for a long time, I still have the Scout Law memorized: “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. ” My goal here is not to make a sales pitch for exploration in any form, but rather to give you an idea of ​​what we're trying to accomplish: a checklist of ethics that will help you become a better technician. The list you are about to see is my own creation, but it covers the CompTIA A+ objectives very well. Let's delve into the traits of a technology: Honesty/Integrity, Reliability/Responsibility, Adaptability/Versatility, and Sensitivity. Honesty/Integrity Honesty and integrity are not the same thing, but for a technician, they are so closely related that it is best to think of them as one big ethic. Honesty means telling the truth, and integrity means doing the right thing. It's simple to say that you have to be honest, but keep in mind that our industry often makes it difficult. IT techs have a lot of leeway compared to most start-up jobs, making dishonesty tempting. One of the biggest temptations is to lie to your boss. A new technician who drives around in a van all day may find it convenient to stretch the truth about how long he took for lunch or how far along he is on the next job. Being upfront and honest with your boss is pretty obvious and easy to understand. Being honest with your customers is much more difficult. Don't sell people goods and services they don't need, even if you get a share of what you sell. Don't lie to your customers about a problem. If you can't explain the problem to them in plain language, don't create techno-chat (see note) and don't be afraid to say, "I don't know." Too many technicians seem to think that not knowing exactly what the problem might be is a reflection of their skill. In the opinion of its humble author, there is no greater test of a quality technician than the ability to say "I don't know, but I know how to solve it and I will give you the correct answer".

NOTE Techno-babble is the use of jargon and technical terms (often nonsense) to intimidate and silence a challenge to a technical problem. A computer technician must bring integrity to the job, just like any other service professional. He should treat everything he is told and everything he sees as personal confidence, not to be repeated to clients, co-workers or bosses. Here's Mike's confidentiality rule: "Unless it's a felony or imminent physical danger, he didn't see anything." He will learn more about how to deal with prohibited content in Chapter 29. There is an exception to this rule. Sometimes it is necessary to separate paying customers from internal users. A paying customer is someone who does not work for your company and is paying for your services. An internal user is someone who works for the same company you work for and does not directly pay for their services. It is often (but not always) their job to control internal IT policies. Here is a great example. If you're at a customer site and see a Post-it note with a password on a user's monitor, it says

nothing. If you're in the enterprise and seeing the same thing, you probably need to talk to the user about the dangers of exposing passwords. You have a lot of power when you sit in front of someone's computer. You can easily read private email, discover browsed websites and more. With a click of the Start button, you can see the last five programs the user has run, including Word and Solitaire, and the last documents they have worked on. Do not do this; you really don't want to know. Also, if you are caught violating a client's privacy, not only will you lose credibility and respect, but you could also lose your job. Passwords are a big problem for technicians. We have to restart computers and access shared resources and other work that requires passwords. The rule of thumb here is to avoid learning other people's passwords at all costs (see Figure 2-3). If you know a password to access a mission-critical machine and that machine ends up compromised or has missing data, who's to blame? You, that's who, so avoid learning passwords! If you only need a password once, let the user enter it for you. If you anticipate accessing something multiple times (the most common situation), ask the user to temporarily change the password.

Figure 2-3 Don't do this! It's fun, but people take ownership of the things they use at work. John in accounting does not call the computer he uses anything other than "my computer." The phone on Susie's desk is not the company phone, it's "Susie's phone." Regardless of the logic or illogicality involved with this sense of ownership, a technician must respect that sentiment. You will never go wrong if you follow the Ethics of Reciprocity, also known as the Golden Rule: "Do to others what you would like them to do to you." In a technician's life, this can be translated as "treat other people's things as you would want other people to treat yours." Do not use or touch anything (keyboard, printer, laptop, monitor, mouse, phone, pen, paper, or toy cube) without first asking permission. Follow this rule at all times, even when the customer is not looking. Trustworthiness/Responsibility Trustworthiness and responsibility are another pair of traits that, while they don't mean the same thing, often go together. A responsible person is responsible for his actions. You can count on a reliable person to perform these acts. Again, the freedom of the typical IT person's job makes reliability and accountability absolutely critical. The biggest reliability problem for an IT technician is showing up to work appointments and being on time. It seems to me that we now live in a society where not showing up and not letting anyone know is normal. I call it the "Age of Explosion." We have all had an experience where we counted on

someone to show up to do the job, and we can all share experiences when it just didn't show up. Not showing up for an appointment is not only inconvenient, but can also cost your client a lot of money in lost time and productivity. If you or your company make an appointment for you, introduce yourself. To be there. Don't let simple problems (like bad traffic) keep you from being on time. Take some time to prepare. Calculate traffic times. Find out if the above appointments will cause a problem and check the traffic. There is an old saying popular in the United States that goes: "Five minutes early is on time and on time is late." Sometimes events occur that prevent you from being on time. When that happens, call the customer right away and give them your best estimate of when he can be there. A simple apology wouldn't hurt either. Liability is a tricky topic for IT people. Certainly, you should be responsible for your actions, but the stakes are high when critical data and expensive equipment is at risk. Before working on a computer, always ask the customer if there are up-to-date backup copies of the data. If there aren't, offer to make backup copies for the customer, even if it incurs an additional charge for the customer. If the customer chooses not to back up, make sure they have a very clear understanding of the risk to the data on the system you are about to repair. Adaptability/Versatility Adaptability defines how someone adjusts to change. Versatility, at least within the scope of an IT technician, brings a broad skill set to the PC repair process. Every PC repair is, to some degree, a guessing game. No one knows all the possible problems that can go wrong with a computer. There is no universal PC repair manual that you can refer to for how to repair computers. Good technicians must be able to adapt to any situation, both technically and in the environment. For example, good technicians should be able to repair most peripherals, even if they are not an expert on that particular device. As you progress through the book, you'll discover that most devices fit into one family or another and that there are certain diagnostic/repair steps you can at least try to get a repair done.

NOTE Most PC repair companies require a Work Authorization or a signed Work Authorization form to document the company name, billing information, date, scope of work, and so on. Even if you do your own repairs, these forms can save you heartache and litigation. You can create your own or search the Internet for examples. Adaptability is not necessary just for technical reasons. PCs are found broken in the strangest places and ways. An adaptive technology has no problem if a computer sits on top of a suspension bridge or behind a desk. An adaptive technology can work with bad dogs, broken water pipes, and rowdy little kids. (But there are some very important rules for dealing with children. See later in this chapter.) A technician must be versatile. The best example of this is what I call the User Ombudsman. User advocates are technicians who not only take the time to learn the processes of whatever organization they work for, but also seek to create technology solutions to problems and inefficiencies. This also means that a technician must be at least competent, if not expert, in working with all the computer applications used by the organization. When you combine his IT skills with an understanding of how the business works, he becomes incredibly versatile and quickly finds himself with more responsibility and (hopefully) more money.

A big part of versatility is offering different repair options in certain situations. When there is more than one way to fix things, make sure the customer is aware of all the options, but also give them your recommendation. Tell them why you think their recommendation is the best course of action, but give them the knowledge they need to make their own decision. The versatility of a technology is not limited to IT skills. Woe to technology that doesn't understand basic electrical wiring and building codes. I had hundreds of repair scenarios where the solution was as simple as knowing how to turn on an electrical switch or moving a PC away from an electric motor. No, these aren't IT skills, but versatile tech knows these issues exist. Sensitivity Sensitivity is the ability to appreciate the feelings and emotions of another person. Sensitivity requires observing others closely, taking the time to appreciate their feelings, and acting in a way that makes them feel comfortable. I have rarely felt that the technicians I have met were good at sensitivity. The vast majority of nerds I know, including myself, tend to be self-centered and unaware of what's going on around them. Let me give you some tips that I've learned along the way. Understand that the client is paying for your time and skills. Also understand that their presence invariably means something is wrong or broken, and few things annoy users more than broken computers. When you're “on time,” you need to show potentially very upset customers that you're giving their problem your full attention. For this, it is necessary to avoid distractions. If you receive a personal call, let it go to voicemail. If you receive a work-related call, politely apologize, step back for privacy, and keep the call short. Never talk to your coworkers in a place where your customer can hear. Never talk bad about a customer; you never know where you'll meet them next. Lastly, be culturally sensitive. We live in a diverse world of races, religions, labels, and traditions. If a client's religious holiday conflicts with his work schedule, the client wins. If the customer wants you to take off your shoes, take them off. If the customer wants you to wear a hat, wear it. When in doubt, always ask for customer guidance.

Communication When dealing with users, administrators, and owners who are frustrated and upset that a computer or network is down and unable to function, your job requires you to assume the roles of detective and psychologist. Talking to exhausted and confused people and getting answers to questions about how the PC got to the state it's in takes skill. Clear and effective communication is important. In addition, you must follow the rules of technical decorum, acting with personal integrity and respect for the client. Finally, use assertive communication to empathize and educate the user. Great technicians spend the time necessary to develop these essential skills. Assertive Communication In many cases, a PC problem results from user error or negligence. As a technician, you need to show users the error of their ways without creating anger or conflict. This is achieved through the use of assertive communication. Assertive communication is not aggressive or bossy, but it is not the language of a faint-hearted either. Assertive communication first requires that you show the other person that you understand and appreciate the importance of their feelings. Use statements like "I know how frustrating it is to lose data" or "I understand how annoying it is when the network goes down and you can't do your job." Statements like these cool things down and let customers know you're on their side. Avoid using the word "you" as it can sound accusatory.

The second part of assertive communication is to make sure you state the problem clearly without directly accusing the user: "Not continuing to defrag your hard drive slows it down" or "Help me understand how the network cable is unplugged during lunch break ". .” Finally, tell the user what they need to do to avoid this error in the future. "Call me any time you hear that buzz" or "Check the company's approved software list before installing anything." Always use "I" and "me", and never make judgments. "I can't promise that the keyboard will work well if it's always dirty" is much better than "Stop eating cookies on the keyboard you jerk!" Respectful communication The last key in communication with users revolves around respect. You do not do the work of the user, but you must respect that work and that person as an essential cog in the organization. Communicate with users the way you would like them to communicate with you, if the roles were reversed. Again, this follows the Ethics of Reciprocity. In general, IT people are there to support the people who do the core business of a company. You are there to serve their needs and, all things being equal, to do it at their convenience, not yours. Don't assume that the world stops the moment you walk through the door and that you can immediately interrupt your work to do yours. Although most customers are excited and motivated to help you the moment you arrive, that may not always be the case. Ask the magic question: "Can I start working on the problem now?" Give customers the opportunity to terminate, close, or do whatever else is necessary to end their business and allow you to safely conduct yours. Engage the user with the standard rules of civil conversation. Take the time to listen. Do not interrupt customers while they are describing a problem; just listen and take notes. You may hear something that prompts you to resolve the issue. Rephrase and repeat the problems back to the customer to verify that they understand the problem ("So the computer crashes three times a day?"). Use an even, non-accusatory tone, and while it's okay to try to explain a problem if the user asks, never patronize or argue. Stay positive in the face of adversity. Don't get defensive if you can't figure something out quickly and the user starts to annoy you. Remember that an angry customer isn't really mad at you, they're just frustrated, so don't take their anger personally. Take it easy; smile and reassure him that solving computer problems sometimes takes time. Prevent external interruptions from taking your attention away from the user and their computing problem. Things that break your concentration greatly slow down the problem solving process. Plus, customers will be insulted if you start chatting on your cell phone with your partner about a movie date later that night when you're supposed to fix their computers. You don't get paid to socialize, so turn those cell phones and pagers to vibrate. That's why the techno-gods created voicemail. Never take any calls except one that is potentially urgent. If a call is potentially urgent, explain the urgency to the customer, walk away, and take the call as quickly as possible. If you find out that the user caused the problem, either ignorantly or by accident, don't minimize the importance of the problem, but don't judge or insult the cause. We all mess up sometimes, and mistakes like these are your job security. You get paid because people make mistakes and machines break. Chances are, you'll be back at that workstation six months or a year later, fixing something else. By becoming the user's advocate and go-to person, you create a better work environment. If a wrong action caused the problem, explain in a positive and understanding way how to do the task correctly, then have the user go through the process while you're around to reinforce what you said.

Getting Answers Your job as a technician is to repair the computer, and the best way to start that process is to determine what the computer is and isn't doing. You need to start by talking to the customer. Allow the customer to fully explain the problem as you record the information. Once the person has described the situation, they should ask questions. This process is called getting responses. Although everyone is different, most users with a malfunctioning computer or peripheral will feel anxious and perhaps defensive about the problem. To overcome this initial attitude, you must ask the right questions and listen to the customer's responses. Then ask the appropriate follow-up questions. Always avoid accusatory questions, because they won't help you in the slightest (see Figure 2-4). "What did you do?" he usually gets a confused or defensive "Nothing" in response, which gets him no closer to solving the problem. First, ask questions that help clarify the situation. Repeat what you think is the problem after you've heard the entire user story.

Figure 2-4 Never Acknowledge! Follow up with fact finding questions. "When did it last work?" "Has it ever worked this way?" "Have you changed any software recently?" "Has any new hardware been added?" Ask open-ended questions to narrow the scope ("What applications run when the computer crashes?"). By keeping your questions friendly and factual, you show users that you won't accuse them or judge their actions (see Figure 2-5). You also show them that you are there to help them. Once the initial tension wears off, you'll often get more information: for example, a recitation of something the user might have tried or changed. These clues can help quickly resolve the issue.

Figure 2-5 Keeping it friendly Remember that you may know everything about computer technology, but the user probably doesn't. This means that a user will often use vague and/or incorrect terms to describe a particular computer component or function. That's how it works, so don't bother correcting them. Whenever possible, avoid using computer-specific jargon, acronyms, or abbreviations. They just confuse the user who is already upset and can make it sound like you are talking down to them. Just ask direct, factual questions in a friendly tone, using simple, jargon-free language to focus on what the user was trying to achieve and what happened when things went wrong. Use visual aids when possible. Point to the machine or go to a working PC for the user to show what went wrong or what he did or tried to do. Usually, people want to control what they are doing, in a simplified way. You don't want to overwhelm them, but don't be afraid to use analogies or simple concepts to give them an idea of ​​what's going on. If you have the time (and the skills), use drawings, equipment, and other visual aids to clarify technical concepts. If a customer is a closet technician and is really looking for answers, to the point that it is affecting their ability to do their job, praise them on their initiative and then direct them to outside training opportunities. Better yet, tell him where he can get a copy of this book! Beyond basic manners, never assume that just because you are comfortable with friendly or informal behavior that the customer will be too. Even a seemingly casual user will expect you to conduct yourself with professional decorum. On the other hand, don't let a user put you in an awkward or potentially dangerous or illegal situation. Never perform work outside the scope of your assigned duties without prior approval from your supervisor (where possible in such cases try to direct users to someone who can help them). You are not a babysitter; Never volunteer to "babysit" while a client leaves the workplace or tolerate a potentially unsafe situation if a client is not properly supervising a child. Focus on doing your job safely and efficiently, and maintaining professional integrity. Expectations and follow-up Users are terrified when their PCs and networks fail so badly that they need to call a professional. It is very likely that they have left critical, or at least important, data on the computer. Odds are just as good that they need this computer to work to do their job. When they are ready to invest money in a professional, they expect you to make their system exactly the way it was before it broke. Hopefully you can do just that for them, but you also have to deal with their expectations and let them know what to expect. Similarly, you should give your clients a follow-up after the job is done. We've already covered data backups and Work Authorization forms (and those are very important), but you need to keep the customer's needs in mind. You also want them to keep thinking about you,

if they need more help in the future. Here are some items to consider. Time Frame If you can give the customer a better estimate of how long the repair will take, you'll be a hero. Don't be afraid to postpone your time frame prediction until you have diagnosed the machine. If you really don't have an idea of ​​the time involved, tell the client that, and then tell them what they'll need to know before they can make the prediction. Stick to the timeline. If you finish faster, great! People love a job that goes faster than anticipated. If you are moving beyond the anticipated time frame, contact the client and tell them as soon as possible. Let him know what happened, explain why you need more time, and give him a new time frame. The biggest secret here is to stay in communication with the client about any changes in status. People understand delays, they happen in our lives every day. People resent not knowing why the lag is occurring, especially when a valuable computer is at stake. Documentation Upon completion of work, document the problem, including the time and day work began, the solution (again, include the time and day work was completed), the number of hours worked, and a list of all the parts you replaced. If the customer owns the replaced parts, offer them to the customer (this is especially true if you are replacing any storage media). This documentation may or may not include your charges. Follow-up I call the Lost Art follow-up: a simple follow-up, usually just a phone call, to confirm that the client is happy with your work. This gives the customer a chance to detail any special issues that may have arisen, and also adds that final extra touch that ensures they'll call you back when they run into a technical issue.

Security and tools Effective communication with your customer allows you to start the troubleshooting process, getting details about the problem and clues about things that happened at the same time. However, to continue troubleshooting, you must be proficient in operating the computer. That starts with knowing how to handle computer components safely and how to use a technician's tools. Let's start by identifying and discussing some of the issues you may encounter and how to address them. Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) If you decide to open a PC while reading this chapter, as I recommend you do, you should take the appropriate steps to prevent the biggest killer of PCs: electrostatic discharge (ESD). ESD simply means the passage of a static electrical charge from one item to another. Have you ever rubbed a balloon against your shirt, causing the balloon to stick to you? That is a classic example of static electricity. When that static charge is discharged, you may not notice it happening, although on a cool, dry day, I was shocked to touch a doorknob so hard that I could see a big blue spark! I've never heard of a human receiving anything worse than a rather nasty ESD shock, but I can't say the same for computers. ESD will destroy sensitive parts of your PC, so it is essential that you take steps to prevent ESD when working on your PC.

NOTE All PCs are well protected against ESD outdoors. Unless you grab a screwdriver and actually open up your PC, you don't need to worry about ESD. ESD tools only take place when two objects that store different amounts (the trendy electrical term to use is potential) of static electricity come into contact. The secret to avoiding ESD is to keep you and the parts of the PC you touch at the same electrical potential, also known as the PC ground. You can achieve this by connecting to the PC through a handy little device called an antistatic wrist strap. This simple device consists of a wire that connects at one end to an alligator clip and at the other end to a small metal plate that is attached to the wrist with an elastic strap. You attach the alligator clip to any practical metal part of the PC and attach the wrist strap to either wrist. Figure 2-6 shows a typical antistatic wrist strap in use.

Figure 2-6 Antistatic wrist strap in use

TIP FOR THE EXAM Static electricity, and therefore the risk of ESD, is much more prevalent in dry and cool environments. Antistatic wrist straps are standard equipment for anyone who works on a PC, but other tools can also be useful. One of the big problems when working with a PC occurs if you find yourself taking parts out of the PC and setting them aside. By the time you remove a part from the PC, it is no longer in contact with systems and may pick up static from other sources. Technicians use antistatic mats to eliminate this risk. An antistatic mat acts as a common potential point; it is typical to purchase a combination of antistatic wrist strap and mat that connect together to keep you, the PC, and any loose components at the same electrical potential (see Figure 2-7).

Figure 2-7 Wrist Strap and Antistatic Mat Combination Wrist straps and antistatic mats use tiny resistors (devices that stop or resist the flow of electricity) to prevent a static charge from passing through the device. These resistors can fail over time, so it's always a good idea to read the documentation that came with your antistatic tools to see how to test those little resistors correctly.

EXAM TIP Always place components in an antistatic bag, not on top of the bag. Any electrical component that is not in a PC should be stored in an antistatic bag, a specially designed bag that sheds any static electricity on it when touched, thus preventing any damage to the components stored inside (see Figure 2-8). . Almost all PC components come in an antistatic bag when purchased. Seasoned technicians never throw these bags away, as you never know when you'll want to take a part out and put it on a shelf for a while.

Figure 2-8 Antistatic Bag Although having an antistatic wrist strap with you at all times would be ideal, the reality is that from time to time you will find yourself in a situation where you do not have the proper antistatic tools. . This shouldn't stop you from working on the PC, if you're careful! Before working on a PC in such a situation, take a moment to touch the power supply from time to time as you work (I'll show you where it is in Chapter 3) to maintain the same electrical potential as the PC. . Although this is not as good as a wrist brace, it is better than nothing.

The ultimate issue when it comes to ESD prevention is the never-ending question: should you work with your PC plugged in or unplugged? The answer is simple: do you really want to be physically connected to a PC that is plugged into a power outlet? Of course, the chances of electrocution are slim, but why take the risk?

EXAM TIP Always unplug a PC when working inside it. Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) A magnetic field that interferes with electronics is electromagnetic interference (EMI). EMI is not as dangerous as ESD, but it can cause permanent damage to some components and erase data on some storage devices. You can prevent EMI by keeping magnets away from computer equipment. Certain components are particularly susceptible to EMI. Never bring a magnet near • Floppy disks • Hard drives • Flash drives • CRT (tube) monitors The biggest problem with EMI is that we often use magnets without even knowing we are doing it. Any device with an electric motor has a magnet. Many phones have magnets. Power blocks for laptops and speakers also have magnets. Keep them away! Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) Do you ever hear strange noises coming from your speakers even though you're not playing any sound? Do you ever hear strange noises on your cell phone? If so, you've probably encountered Radio Frequency Interference (RFI). Many devices emit radio waves: • Cell phones • Wireless network cards • Cordless phones • Baby monitors • Microwave ovens

NOTE Computer equipment manufacturers package their products in a variety of ways to protect against accidental damage, be it physical damage, ESD, EMI, or RFI. The typical translucent pink computer bag is covered with a film that prevents the bag from producing static electricity and

slightly protects the contents against physical contact (and therefore damage). Both types of metal bags offer protection against EMI and RFI, as well as ESD. These are the silver bags (as in Figure 2-8) that you'll see hard drives packaged in, for example, and the black and silver woven bags that you'll sometimes see. A word of caution is in order here. Metal bags provide adequate protection only when sealed, so fold the open end over and tape a piece of tape when storing a component. In general, the radio waves emitted by these devices are very weak, and almost all electronic devices are shielded to prevent RFI. Some devices, particularly speakers, are susceptible to RFI. RFI will never cause any harm, but it can be incredibly irritating. The best way to prevent RFI is to keep radio emitting devices as far away from other electronic devices as possible. RFI becomes a big problem when two devices share the same frequencies. Cordless phones, baby monitors, and wireless networks share the same frequency range. Sometimes they interfere with each other, causing poor signals or even blocking signals altogether. These devices must be tuned to avoid trampling each other's frequencies. In Chapter 23, you will see how to adjust a wireless network to avoid RFI. Physical security IT technicians live in a dangerous world. We are in constant danger of tripping, hurting our backs, and burning ourselves on hot components. You also need to be mindful of what you wear (in a security sense). Let's take a moment to discuss these physical security issues and what to do about them.

CAUTION When considering safety, consider local government regulations. You may need to wear certain protective equipment or take additional precautions in the workplace. Be sure to also follow environmental rules for disposing of old parts, especially with things like CRT monitors, which may contain hazardous materials. Check with your employer or your local government website for more information. If you don't stay organized, hardware technology will take over your life. Figure 2-9 shows a corner of my office, a painful example of a cable kludge.

Figure 2-9 Mike's Cable Tangle Cable tangles like these are dangerous trip hazards. While I can allow a disaster like this in my

home office, all cables in a business environment are neatly tucked behind computer cases, routed to walls, or run under cable ducts. If you see a cable that is an obvious trip hazard, contact the person in charge of the building (CompTIA calls these people "building services") to have it taken care of immediately. The results of ignoring such hazards can be catastrophic (see Figure 2-10).

Figure 2-10 What a strange and bad trip it has been. Another physical security problem is heavy boxes. Computers, printers, monitors, everything we use, it all seems to come to us in heavy boxes. Remember to never lift with your back; lift with your legs and always use a hand truck if available. You are never paid enough to risk your own health. Also, make sure that certain mounted components do not exceed the weight limitations of your mounting hardware. You may have assembled everything correctly, lifted correctly with your legs, and managed cables correctly. But if the monitor fell on a user, that would be a really bad thing. You should also be careful around hot components. It's hard to get burned unless you actually open a computer, printer, or monitor. First, keep an eye out for anything that has a cooling fin like the one shown in Figure 211. If you see a cooling fin, there is a good chance that something is hot enough to burn you. Also look for labels or stickers that warn of hot components. Lastly, when in doubt, move your hand over the components as if you were checking the heat of a stove.

Figure 2-11 Checking for hot cooling fins

Finally, remove any jewelry or loose clothing before working on a computer. If you have long hair, you might consider tying it up in a ponytail. You don't want anything getting caught up in a fan or stuck on a component. This can save you and your components a lot of pain. Tools of the Trade The basic tech toolkit consists of a Phillips head screwdriver and not much else, seriously, but half a dozen tools make up a fully functional toolkit. Most kits have a star-head Torx key, one or two spanners, a pair of plastic pliers, a small gripping tool (the technical term is part retriever), a hemostat, a circuit puller chips for removing various chips and both Phillips-head and flat-head screwdrivers (see Figure 212).

Figure 2-12 Typical Technician's Toolkit Many technicians throw an extension magnet to catch hard-to-reach bits that fall into boxes (an exception to the "no magnets" rule). Many also add a magnifying glass and flashlight for those hard to read numbers and text on the printed circuit boards (PCBs) that make up a large percentage of devices within the system unit. Contrary to what you might think, technicians rarely need a hammer.

Chapter Review Questions 1. Which of the following would be most appropriate for the workplace? (Select two). A. Clean, ironed khakis B. Clean, wrinkle-free T-shirt C. Clean, wrinkle-free polo shirt D. Clean, ironed jeans

2. While operating the help desk, you receive a call from a distressed user who says they have a blank screen. What would be a helpful follow-up question? (Select two). A. Is the computer on? B. Is the monitor turned on? C. Did you reboot? D. What did you do? 3. While running the help desk, you get a call from Sharon in accounting. She has lost a file that she knows she saved on her hard drive. Which of the following statements would direct Sharon in the most efficient and professional way to open her My Documents folder? A. Sharon, check My Documents. B. Sharon, many programs save files in a default folder, often in a folder called My Documents. Let's look there first. Click the Start button and move your mouse until the cursor hovers over My Documents. Then press the left mouse button and tell me what you see when My Documents opens. C. It probably just defaulted to My Documents. Why don't you open Excel or whatever program you used to create the file and then open a document and point it to My Documents? D. Look Sharon, I know you're clueless when it comes to computers, but how could someone lose a file? Just open My Documents and find the file there. 4. At a minimum, what tool should be in every technician's toolkit? A. Pliers B. Hammer C. Straight slot screwdriver D. Phillips head screwdriver 5. When is it appropriate to yell at a user? A. When he screws up for the second time. B. When it interrupts your problem solving. C. When he messes up for the fifth time. D. Never. 6. While troubleshooting a software problem on Phoebe's computer and listening to her describe the problem, the buzzer sounds. is your boss Which of the following is the most appropriate action for you?

A. Excuse yourself, get out of the cube, and use a cell phone to call your boss. B. Take Phoebe's phone and dial her boss's number. C. Wait until Phoebe finishes describing her and then ask to use her phone to call her boss. D. Wait until Phoebe finishes describing her, make simple fixes, and then explain that she needs to call her boss on her cell phone. 7. You are at a client workstation to install various software and hardware updates, a process that will take time and require several computer restarts. What should you do with the user account password? A. Ask the customer to sit with you throughout the process so they can type their password each time. B. Ask the user to type their password for you to use. C. Ask the user to temporarily change their password for you to use. D. Call your supervisor. 8. Which of the following is a good practice after completing a troubleshooting call at someone's office? A. Follow up with a call in a couple of days to make sure all goes well with the repaired computer. B. Make copies of the passwords you used on the site for future reference. C. Document any particularly important people you have met for future reference. D. Do nothing. Your work is finished there. 9. Which tool helps you avoid accidental static discharge by keeping yourself at the same electrical potential as the computer you are working on? A. Antistatic spray B. Antistatic bag C. Antistatic wrist strap D. Phillips head screwdriver 10. Which of the following helps prevent electromagnetic interference? A. Use an antistatic bag. B. Use an antistatic wrist strap. C. Keep magnets away from computer components.

D. Keep computers away from monitors. Answers 1. A, C. Khaki pants and a polo shirt always trump jeans and a T-shirt. 2. A, B. Find the simple answer first. When you encounter a blank screen, check if the computer and monitor are turned on. 3. B. Guiding customers on the path to a solution using simple, non-technical words is the best way to get things done over the phone. 4. D. Each technician's tool kit should contain a minimum of a Phillips head screwdriver. 5. D. Don't get angry or yell at customers. 6. D. Focus on the customer and don't use their stuff. 7. C. In this circumstance, requesting a temporary password is the correct response. Make sure the user changes their password again before leaving the site. 8. A. A simple follow-up builds goodwill and trust. This is a very important step to follow after completing a job. 9. C. An antistatic wrist strap keeps you at the same electrical potential as the computer. 10. C. Avoid placing magnets near computer equipment to help prevent EMI.

3 La PC visible


In this chapter, you will learn how to: • Describe how the PC works • Identify all the connectors and devices on a typical PC system unit • Discuss the major internal components of a PC Mastering the craft of a PC technician requires you to learn a great deal about the details about the many pieces of hardware in the typical PC. Even the most basic PC contains hundreds of discrete hardware components, each with its own set of characteristics, shapes, sizes, colors, connections, etc. By the end of this book, you will be able to discuss all of these components in detail. This chapter takes you on a tour of a typical PC, beginning with an overview of how computers work and then examining the external connectors and internal components. Do you remember the nursery rhyme that goes, "Oh, the leg bone connects to the thigh bone..."? Well, think of the rest of the chapter that way, showing you what the parts look like and giving you a rough idea of ​​how they work and connect. In later chapters, he'll dissect all of these PC "leg bones" and "thigh bones" and get down to the level of detail you need to set up, configure, maintain, and repair computers. Even if you are an expert, don't skip this chapter! It introduces a large number of terms used in the rest of the book. You may already know some of these terms, but reading about them again won't hurt. It's helpful, though certainly not required, to have a PC that you can pop the lid off and inspect as you go. Almost any old PC will help, it doesn't even need to work. So get yourself a screwdriver, grab your PC, and see if you can recognize the various components as you read about them.

Historical/Conceptual How the PC Works You've undoubtedly seen a PC in action: a nice, shiny monitor that displays an image that changes based on the actions of the person sitting in front of it, typing on a keyboard and clicking a mouse. . Sound pours out of tiny speakers flanking the screen, and a box hums merrily under the table. The PC is a computer: a machine that allows you to work, produce documents, play games, balance your checkbook, and search for the latest sports scores on the Internet. Although the computer is certainly a machine, it is also programming: the commands that tell the computer what to do to get work done. These commands are just 1s and 0s that the computer hardware understands, allowing it to do amazing things like performing powerful math functions, moving data (also 1s and 0s), noticing that the mouse has moved, and setting icons. pretty on screen. So, a computer is a complex interaction between the computer's hardware and programming, created by its fellow humans. Have you heard of Morse code? Morse code is nothing more than dots and dashes to those who don't understand it, but if you send dots and dashes (in the correct order) to someone who understands Morse code, you can tell the recipient a joke. Think of programming like Morse code for the computer (see Figure

3-1). You may not understand those ones and zeros, but your computer certainly does!

Figure 3-1 Computer thinking that a string of 1's and 0's makes perfect sense 1's and 0's are about more than just programming. All data on the computer—web pages, your documents, your email—is also stored as ones and zeros. Programs know how to translate these ones and zeros into a form that humans understand. Programming comes in two forms. First there are the applications: the programs that do the work. Word processing programs, web browsers, and email programs are considered applications. But applications need a main program to support them. They need a program that allows them to start and stop applications, copy, move, and delete data, communicate with hardware, and do many other jobs. This program is called the operating system (OS). Microsoft Windows is the most popular operating system today, but there are other computer operating systems, such as Apple Mac OS X and the popular (and free) Linux (see Figure 3-2). Computer scientists group operating systems and applications under the term software to differentiate them from computer hardware.

Figure 3-2 Typical interfaces of Mac OS X (left), Linux (center), and Windows (right) Understanding the computer at this broad conceptual level, in terms of hardware, operating system, and programs, can help you explain things to others. customers, but good technicians have a much more fundamental appreciation and understanding of the complex interplay of all software and individual pieces of hardware. In short, technicians need to know the processes that happen behind the scenes.

NOTE CompTIA A+ certification exams only cover the Windows operating system with respect to PCs, so you won't see much discussion of Mac OS X or Linux in this book. However, a good tech should have a basic understanding of these two great operating systems. From the perspective of CompTIA A+ technology, the computer works through four stages: input, processing, output, and storage. Knowing which parties are involved in a particular stage of the IT process allows you to troubleshoot at a fundamental and decisive level. To illustrate this four-step process, let's review the steps involved in a fairly common computer task: preparing your taxes. [Insert collective groan here.] February has arrived and, at least in the United States, millions of people are installing their favorite tax software, Intuit's TurboTax, on their computers to help them prepare their taxes. Input After you start TurboTax, your first job is to provide data to the computer: essential information, such as your name, where you live, how much you earned, and how many dollars you gave to the federal and state governments.

Various pieces of hardware allow you to input data, the most common being the keyboard and mouse. Most PCs won't react when you say "Hello!", at least not anywhere outside of an episode of Star Trek. Although that day will come, you still have to use something decidedly more mechanical: a keyboard to type your data. The operating system also provides a critical service in this process. You can bang on a keyboard all day and get nowhere unless the operating system translates your keystrokes into code that the rest of your computer's hardware understands.

NOTE Some might argue that PC speech recognition, the ability of a computer to understand your voice, has been around for a long time. In my opinion it still doesn't work well enough to replace my keyboard. The same isn't entirely true on the smartphone front, where Apple's Siri handles a fair number of common English commands very well. Siri can find destinations for you, phone numbers, and more. You can also send dictated text messages to Siri, and much more. We'll look at smartphones in more detail in Chapter 27. Processing Next, the computer processes your data. After you put the information into several appropriate "boxes" in TurboTax, the computer does the math for you. Processing takes place inside the system unit, the box under your desk (see Figure 3-3), and it happens almost entirely at the hardware level, even though that hardware works according to rules set in the operating system. So you have another complex interaction between hardware and software.

Figure 3-3 Processing takes place somewhere in here! The processing part is the magic part: you can't see it happen. The first half of this book demystifies this stage, because good technicians understand all the pieces of the process. I will not refer here to the specific hardware involved in the processing stage, because the parts change depending on the type of process. Output Simply adding up your total tax for the year is useless unless the computer shows you the result. That is

where the third step, the exit, comes into play (see Figure 3-4). After the computer is finished processing the data, it must put the information somewhere for you to inspect. Often, it puts data on the monitor so you can see what you just typed. You can send the data to the printer if you tell it to, so you can print copies of your tax return and mail them to the Internal Revenue Service (or whatever the tax collector where you live is called). A hardware device does the actual printing, but the operating system controls the printing process. Again, it's a fundamental interaction of hardware and software.

Figure 3-4 Output Devices Storage Once you've submitted your tax return, chances are you don't want all that work to just disappear. What if the IRS comes back a couple of months later with a question about your return? Oh! You must keep permanent records and a copy of the tax schedule. The fourth stage in the computing process is storage. Many devices are used in the storage process, the most visible being external storage parts, such as a USB stick or recordable CDs (see Figure 3-5).

Figure 3-5 Typical storage (CD-R discs)

The Art of the PC Technician Using the four stages of the computing process (input, processing, output, and storage) to master how the PC works while becoming a great technician requires you to understand all the pieces of hardware and software involved and the interactions between them that make up the different stages. You have to know what the parts do, in other words, and how they work together. The best place to start is with a real computer. Let's walk through the complete, typical PC inspection process, including opening a few important parts to view the internal components. Hopefully, you have a real computer in front of you right now that you can dismantle a bit. No two computers are exactly the same, so you'll see

differences between your PC and the one in this chapter, and that's fine. You will come to appreciate that all computers have the same major parts that do the same job, even though they differ in size, shape, and color. By the time you reach the end of this book, you will have a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the interaction of hardware and software in the four-stage computing process. Just as great artists have mastered the fundamental skills of their craft before creating a masterpiece, you'll have the fundamentals of the art of the computer technician and be on the path to mastery.

801 The Complete PC Sometimes I hate the term “personal computer”. That term implies a single device, such as a toaster. A typical PC is more than a device, and you need all (or at least most) of the parts to make the PC work. The most important part of the PC is the box that usually sits under your desk: the one that all the other parts connect to, called the system unit. All processing and storage takes place on the system drive. All other parts of the PC (the printer, the keyboard, the monitor) connect to the system unit and are collectively known as peripherals. Figure 3-6 shows a typical desktop PC, with the system unit and peripherals as separate parts.

Figure 3-6 Typical desktop computer with peripherals Most computers have a standard set of peripherals to provide input and output. You'll see some variations in color, bells and whistles, but here's the standard set: • Monitor The large television that provides a visual output for the computer. • Keyboard Numeric keypad to provide keyboard input. Based on a typewriter. • Mouse pointing device used to control a graphic pointer on the monitor for input. • Speakers Provide sound output. • Printer Provides printed paper output.

A typical PC has all of these peripherals, but no law requires a PC to have them. Many PCs do not have a printer. Some PCs don't have speakers, just headphones. Some computers don't even have a keyboard, mouse, or monitor, but they tend to hide in unlikely places, like the inside of a fighter plane or next to a car engine. Other PCs may have many more peripherals. Installing four or five printers on a single PC is easy, if you want. You'll also find hundreds of other types of peripherals, like webcams and microphones, on many PCs. Add or remove peripherals based on what you need from the system. The only limit is the number of connections available. External Connections Each peripheral connects to the system unit through one of many types of ports. The back of a typical system unit (see Figure 3-7) has many cables running from the system unit to the various peripherals. You may even have some connectors on the front. All of these connectors and ports have their own naming conventions, and a good technician knows them all. It's not acceptable to go around saying things like "That's a printer port" or "That's a small keyboard connector." You need to be comfortable with the most commonly used naming conventions to be able to say "That's a female DB-25" or "That's a USB connector."

Figure 3-7 Connections on the back of a PC Plugs, ports, jacks, and connectors

Although PCs use about 50 different types of connections, almost all of them fit into one of six main types:

DIN, USB, FireWire, DB, RJ and audio. Read the next few paragraphs to clarify your terminology, and then you can jump into the details of the various connectors with enthusiasm. No one seems to use the terms plug, port, jack, or connector correctly, so let's make these terms clear up front. To connect one device to another, you need a cable that contains the wires that make the connection. At each device, as well as at each end of the patch cord, you need standardized parts to make that connection. Since these are generally electrical connections, one part must fit inside another to make a tight and secure connection. A plug is a piece with some kind of projection that goes into a port. A port is a part that has some kind of matching hole or slot that accepts the plug. You never put a port on a plug; it's always the other way around. The term connector is used as an alternative to port, so you can also connect a plug to a connector. The term connector describes a port (jack) or plug. As you progress through this chapter and look at the various jacks and ports, this will become clearer (see Figure 3-8).

Figure 3-8 Mini-DIN male, port, and jack connectors

Most PCs have European-design mini-DIN connectors. The original Deutsche Industrie Norm (DIN) connector was superseded by mini-DIN a long time ago, so you'll only see mini-DIN connectors on your PC (see Figure 3-9 below). Old-style keyboards and mice connected to DIN ports (Figure 3-9 above). You'll hear many old techies refer to a mini-DIN keyboard connector as a PS/2 connector. That's what IBM called the port when it released the Personal System 2 (PS/2) computer in 1987, and the name stuck.

Figure 3-9 DIN (top) and mini-DIN (bottom) connectors The standard mini-DIN connector has six pins and has been used for many devices besides mice and keyboards. Some older video cards used the mini-DIN connector for output to a TV, for example, and many speaker sets use it to connect satellites to a subwoofer or control box. In uses other than keyboard or mouse, mini-DIN is called by another name, DIN-6.

EXAM TIP Remember the three names for the mini-DIN connector: mini-DIN, PS/2, and DIN-6. No one knows why CompTIA thinks it needs to know the old names. usb connectors

Universal Serial Bus (USB) provides the most common general purpose connection for PCs. You'll find USB versions of many devices, including mice, keyboards, scanners, cameras, and printers. USB connections come in three sizes: A, B, and mini-B. The distinctive rectangular shape of the USB A connector makes it easily recognizable (see Figure 3-10).

Figure 3-10 USB A connector and port You never see a USB B connector on your computer. The USB B connectors are for the other end of the USB

cable, where it connects to the USB device (see Figure 3-11).

Figure 3-11 USB B Connector The relatively large size of the USB B connector makes it less than optimal for small devices like cameras, so the USB folks also make the smaller mini-B style connector shown in Figure 3. -12.

Figure 3-12 USB mini-B connector USB has a number of features that make it particularly popular on PCs. First, USB devices are hot-swappable, which means you can insert or remove them without restarting your PC. Almost any other type of connector requires that you turn off the system, insert or remove the connector, and then turn the system back on. Hot swapping completely eliminates this process. Second, many USB devices draw their electrical power through the USB connection, so they don't need batteries or a power plug. You can even recharge some devices, like cell phones, by connecting them to a USB port (see Figure 3-13).

Figure 3-13 Cell phone charging via USB connection

NOTE In addition to USB mini-B connectors, you'll also see mini-A, micro-A, and microB connectors, although these are much less common. FireWire connectors

FireWire, also known as IEEE 1394, moves data at incredibly high speeds, making it the perfect connection for highly specialized applications, such as streaming video from a digital camcorder to a hard drive. FireWire consists of a 6-wire connector, as shown in Figure 3-14, or a 9-wire connector for devices that need more speed and power. A smaller 4-pin version is usually seen in peripherals. Like USB, FireWire devices are hot-swappable.

Figure 3-14 FireWire Connector and DB Port Connectors

Over the years, DB connectors have been used for just about any type of peripheral you can think of, with the exception of keyboards. They are slightly D-shaped, allowing for only one correct way to insert a plug into the socket and making it easier to remember what they are called. Technically, they are known as D-sub or miniature D-sub connectors, but most technicians call them DBs. CompTIA calls them D-shell connectors, so don't be surprised by that term either. Each male DB plug has a group of small pins that connect to the DB ports. The female DB plugs connect to the male DB ports on the system unit. DB connectors in the PC world can be anywhere from 9 to 37 pins or sockets, although you rarely see a DB connector with more than 25 pins or sockets. Figure 3-15 shows an example. DB type connectors are some of the oldest and most common connectors used on the back of PCs.

Figure 3-15 DB-25 Port and Connector Not long ago a typical PC used at least three or more different DB connectors. In recent years, the PC world has moved away from DB sockets. A typical modern system has only one or two, usually for video.

TIP Each D-sub connector size, called a shell size, has a specific name in the world of D-sub manufacturing. A two-row 9-pin connector, for example, is officially a DE-9 connector rather than a DB-9. The E refers to the size of the 9-pin shell. Why all DA, DB, DC, DD, and DE connectors became DB-x in the personal computer world is a mystery, but most technicians just call them DB connectors. RJ connectors

Chances are you've seen an RJ jack, whether or not you know it by that name. The small plastic plug used to connect the phone cord to the jack (technicians don't use the word "port" to describe RJ jacks) is a classic example of an RJ plug. Modern PCs use only two types of RJ connectors: RJ-11 and RJ-45. The phone jack is an RJ-11. It is used almost exclusively for modems. The slightly wider RJ-45 connector is used for your network connection. Figure 3-16 shows an RJ-11 plug (top) and an RJ-45 plug (bottom).

Figure 3-16 RJ-11 (top) and RJ-45 (bottom) audio connectors

The speakers and microphones connect to the audio jacks on the system unit. The most common type of audio jack in popular use is the 1/8-inch jack, also called a mini-audio jack. These little connectors have been around for years; they're like the jack you use to insert headphones into a radio, music player, or similar device (see Figure 3-17). Traditionally, you would find the audio jacks on the

back of the PC, but many newer models also have front audio connections.

Figure 3-17 Audio Mini-Jacks and Plug

NOTE Keep in mind that the variety of connectors is practically endless. The above types of connectors cover the vast majority, but you'll find many others on PCs as technology. No law or standard requires device manufacturers to use a particular connector, especially if they have no interest in making that device interchangeable with similar devices from other manufacturers. Devices and their connectors Now that you have an idea of ​​connectors, let's move on to the devices common to almost all PCs to find out which connectors go with which device.

NOTE Almost all connectors are now color-coordinated to help users plug the correct device into the correct port. These color codes are not required and are not used by all computers and devices. Cards versus on board

All the connectors on the back of the PC are just that: connectors. Behind those connectors are the actual devices that support whatever peripherals plug into those connectors. These devices may be built into the computer, such as a keyboard port. Others may be additional expansion cards that a technician installed in the PC. Most PCs have special expansion slots inside the system unit that allow you to add more devices on expansion cards. Figure 3-18 shows a typical card. If you want some new device that your system drive doesn't have built into the PC, just go to the store, buy a card version of that device, and install it. Later chapters of the book explain in great detail how to do this, but for now just keep in mind that a device may be built-in or may come on a card.

Figure 3-18 Typical Expansion Card Take care when handling cards. Touch the metal plate with the 90 degree bend and try to avoid touching any of the electronic components. As mentioned in Chapter 2, you can protect your cards by storing them in an antistatic bag when you move them. Keyboard

Today's keyboards come in many shapes and sizes, but they always connect to your computer via a mini-DIN or USB port. Many keyboards ship with an adapter so you can use any port. Most keyboard jacks and mini-DIN keyboard ports are purple (see Figure 3-19).

Figure 3-19 Keyboard Connector and Monitor Port

A monitor connects to the video connector on the system unit. You'll typically see one of two types of video connectors: the older 15-pin female DB Video Graphics Array (VGA) connector or the unique Digital Visual Interface (DVI) connector. VGA connectors are colored blue, while DVI connectors are white. Many video cards have both types of connectors (see Figure 3-20) or two VGA or two DVI connectors. Other video cards also add S-Video, component, or composite ports. Video cards with two connectors support two monitors, a great setup to have!

Figure 3-20 Video card with (from left to right) S-Video, DVI, and VGA ports

NOTE The DVI connector comes in three versions, DVD-D (all digital), DVD-A (analog), and DVI-I (both digital and analog). The newer video connector is called High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI), shown in Figure 321. HDMI offers a number of improvements, such as the ability to carry video and sound on the same cable. Primarily designed for home theater, computers with HDMI connectors become more common each year.

Figure 3-21 HDMI connector

NOTE There are two smaller versions of HDMI called Mini-HDMI and Micro-HDMI. You'll find them mostly on high-end cell phones. Sound

The sound device in a computer performs two functions. First, it takes digital information and converts it into sound, outputting the sound through speakers. Second, it takes sound that is being input through a microphone or some other audio source and converts it into digital data. To play and record sounds, your sound device must be connected to a set of speakers and one or more microphones. All PCs have at least two miniature audio jacks: one for a microphone and one for stereo speakers. The best cards provide additional miniature audio jacks for surround sound. Figure 3-22 shows a typical integrated sound card with six different 1/8-inch connectors. Four of these are for speakers and two are for input (such as microphones). The color scheme for sound connections is complex, but for now remember one color: green. That's the one you need to connect a standard pair of stereo speakers.

Figure 3-22 Typical bank of 1/8-inch audio connectors An older sound card may have a 15-pin female DB port that allows you to connect a Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) device or add a joystick to your PC (see Figure 3-23). These multi-function joystick/MIDI ports are rare today.

Figure 3-23 Legacy joystick/MIDI port Adding more and more audio connectors to sound cards made the back of a typical sound card a busy place. In an effort to consolidate the various sound signals, the industry invented the Sony/Philips Digital Interface Format (S/PDIF) connection. S/PDIF comes in coaxial and optical versions. Figure 3-24 shows a motherboard with both (the coaxial connection is on the left). An S/PDIF connection replaces all mini-audio connections, assuming your surround sound speaker system also comes with an S/PDIF connection.

Figure 3-24 S/PDIF Network Connection

Networks are groups of connected PCs that share information. PCs are most commonly connected via some type of wiring that usually looks like extra thick phone cord. A modern PC uses an RJ-45 connection to connect to the network. Figure 3-25 shows a typical RJ-45 network connector. Network connectors do not have a standard color.

Figure 3-25 Typical network connection

NOTE Modern PCs have built-in network connections, but this is a fairly recent development. For many years, network devices only came on an expansion card, called a network interface card (NIC). The term is so common that even integrated network connections, which are certainly not cards, are still called NICs. Mouse

Most people are quite comfortable with the function of a mouse: it allows you to select graphical elements on a graphical screen. A PC mouse has at least two buttons (as opposed to the famous one-button mouse that came with Apple computers until recently), while a better mouse provides a scroll wheel and additional buttons. A mouse uses a dedicated light green USB port or mini-DIN connector (see Figure 326).

Figure 3-26 Mouse with mini-DIN connection A variation of the mouse is a trackball. A trackball does the same job as a mouse, but instead of pushing it like a mouse, the trackball stays in one place while you roll a ball with your fingers or thumb (see Figure 3-27).

Figure 3-27 Trackball Modem

A modem allows you to connect a PC to a network through a standard phone line. Modems are another easily identifiable device on PCs, as they have one or two RJ-11 connectors. One jack is for connecting the modem to the telephone wall jack. If the modem has a second RJ-11 jack, it is for an optional phone so you can use the phone line when the modem is not in use (see Figure 3-28).

Figure 3-28 Internal modem

NOTE External modems traditionally connect to a male 9-pin or 25-pin D-sub port on the system unit called a serial port. Although almost all external modems today connect to USB, some computers still come with a serial port for legacy devices. Printer

For many years, printers only used a special connector called a parallel port. Parallel ports use a female 25-pin DB (DB-25) connector, which is usually fuchsia in color (see Figure 3-29).

Figure 3-29 Parallel Port After nearly 30 years of parallel port dominance, most printers now come with USB, Ethernet, and 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi connectivity options. Parallel ports are quickly fading from the back of most computers. Joystick

Joysticks were not meant to be used just for gaming (see Figure 3-30). When the folks at IBM added the two-row, 15-pin female DB joystick connector to PCs, they envisioned joysticks as hard-working input devices, just like the mouse is today. However, except in the rarest of circumstances, all a joystick does today is allow you to turn your PC into a rather expensive gaming machine. But is there a more rewarding feeling than flicking the joystick, pressing the Fire button, and watching an enemy fighter plane get shot down by a well-placed Sidewinder missile? I do not think so. Traditional joystick connectors are orange, but most joysticks today plug into USB ports.

Figure 3-30 eSATA Joystick

More and more PCs with eSATA ports like the one shown in Figure 3-31 appear. Some external hard drives and optical drives can be connected via eSATA.

Figure 3-31 eSATA port Much more!

Please note that there are many more devices and connectors. This section includes only the most common ones and the ones you are most likely to see. As you progress through this book, you'll see some less common connectors and where they're used.

Inside the System Unit Now that you've seen the devices that connect to the PC, it's time to open up the system unit to inspect the major internal components of a typical PC. A single PC is made up of thousands of discrete components. Although no one can name all of the electronic components in a PC, a good technician should be able to name the major internal components that make up a typical PC. Let's open up and inspect a system unit to look at these components and see what they do. In later chapters, you'll look at all of these components in much more detail. Case The case of the system unit is both the internal frame of the PC and the external cover that protects the internal components from the environment. Cases come in an incredible variety of styles, sizes, and colors. Figure 3-32 shows the front and back of a typical PC case. The front of the case contains the buttons to turn the system on and off, lights to tell you system status, and doors to access removable media drives, such as digital versatile disk (DVD) drives. This system also provides USB,

FireWire and audio connections on the front for easy access if you want to use a device that needs these connections.

Figure 3-32 Box: front and back

NOTE You'll hear the PC case called a cabinet, especially on the more expensive end of the spectrum. Box, cabinet, and system unit are interchangeable terms. The back of the case contains the vast majority of the system unit connections. You'll also notice the power supply, almost always on top of the case, distinguished by its cooling fan and power plug. Note that one area on the back, the input/output (I/O) area, contains all the onboard connections (see Figure 3-33), while another area on the back contains card slots. Similarly, the case uses slots to allow access to the external connectors of cards installed in the system unit.

Figure 3-33 Integrated Connections Opening a case is always... interesting. There is no standard way to open a case, and I am convinced that the people who make system units enjoy the sick humor of inventing new and complex ways to open them. In general, the sides of a case are separated by removing a few screws on the back of the system unit, as shown in Figure 3-34. Use common sense and you won't have too many problems. Just don't lose sight of your

screws or where each one was inserted!

Figure 3-34 Opening a system unit

TIP Take a look at the front of your PC and you'll see all sorts of connectors, from power and reset buttons to USB and audio ports. Front connections are most commonly used for temporary devices, such as headphones. If you have a device that you don't intend to remove very often, you should install it on one of the rear connections. Once you've opened the case, take a look inside. You will see a metal structure, all kinds of cables and a number of devices. While inspecting the devices, you can gently push the cables to the side for a better view. Be sure to wear an antistatic wrist strap (attaching it to any handy metal part of the case) or touch the metal case from time to time to avoid electrostatic discharge. CPU The central processing unit (CPU), also called a microprocessor, performs all the calculations that take place inside a PC. CPUs come in a variety of shapes and sizes, as shown in Figure 3-35.

Figure 3-35 Typical CPUs Still in Protective Packaging Modern CPUs generate a lot of heat and therefore require a cooling fan and heat sink to prevent overheating (see Figure 3-36). A heat sink is a large slab of copper or aluminum that helps direct heat away from the processor. The fan then exhausts the heat into the case. You can usually remove this cooling device if you need to replace it, although some CPU manufacturers have sold CPUs with a permanently attached fan.

Figure 3-36 CPU with fan CPUs have a make and model, just like automobiles. When talking about a particular car, for example, most people talk in terms of a Ford Taurus or a Toyota Camry. When they talk about CPU, people say Intel Core i7 or AMD Phenom. Over the years, there have only been a few major CPU manufacturers,

just as there are only a few major car manufacturers. The two most common brands of CPUs used in PCs are AMD and Intel. Although there have only been a few CPU manufacturers, those manufacturers have made hundreds of CPU models. Some of the more common models made in recent years have names like Core 2 Duo, Core i5, Core i7, Phenom II, and AMD-FX. Finally, CPUs come in a variety of packages. The package defines what the CPU looks like physically and how it connects to the computer. Intel CPUs currently use a type of package called a Ground Grid Array (LGA), and AMD likes the Pin Grid Array (PGA). Each CPU packet type has several versions, and each packet type is designed to fit a particular connection called a socket. Sockets have names such as socket AM3 or socket B. Figure 3-37 shows a CPU with its corresponding socket.

Figure 3-37 CPU and Matching Socket Chapter 6 goes into great detail about CPUs, but for now remember that every CPU has a make, model, and package type.

CAUTION Some parts of your PC are much more sensitive to ESD than others. Your CPU and RAM are very sensitive to ESD. If you touch the metal parts of your CPU or RAM and have even the slightest amount of charge, you can destroy them. RAM Random Access Memory (RAM) stores programs and data that are currently used by the CPU. The maximum amount of programs and data that a piece of RAM can store is measured in units called bytes. Modern PCs have many millions, even billions, of bytes of RAM, so RAM is measured in units called megabytes (MB) or gigabytes (GB). An average PC will have 1-4 GB of RAM, although PCs can have more or less. Each piece of ram is called a stick. A common type of device found in today's PCs is called a dual in-line memory module (DIMM). Figure 3-38 shows two examples of DIMMs used in PCs.

Figure 3-38 Two DIMMs Your PC supports only one type of DIMM, and you must know the type so that you can add or replace RAM when necessary. Chapter 7 covers everything you need to know to work comfortably with RAM. Motherboard You can compare a motherboard to the chassis of a car. In a car, everything connects to the chassis, either directly or indirectly. On a PC, everything connects to the motherboard, either directly or indirectly. A motherboard is a thin, flat circuit board, usually green or gold in color, and often a bit larger than a typical piece of notebook paper (see Figure 3-39).

Figure 3-39 Typical Motherboard A motherboard contains several special sockets that accept various PC components. The CPU and RAM, for example, connect directly to the motherboard. Other devices, such as floppy drives, hard drives, and CD and DVD drives, connect to motherboard sockets via short cables. Motherboards also provide integrated connectors for external devices such as mice, printers, joysticks, and keyboards. All motherboards use multi-purpose expansion slots into which you can add adapter cards. There are different types of expansion slots for different types of cards (see Figure 3-40).

Figure 3-40 Inserting a Card into an Expansion Slot Power Supply The power supply, as its name suggests, provides the electrical power needed to run the PC. The power supply takes standard electrical power and converts it into power that your PC can use. Most power supplies are about the size of a shoebox cut in half and are usually gray or metallic in color (see Figure 3-41).

Figure 3-41 Power Supply Several connectors protrude from the power supply. Each power supply provides special connectors to power the motherboard and a number of other general purpose connectors that provide power to any device that needs electricity. See Chapter 10 for more information. Floppy Drive The floppy drive allows you to access removable floppy disks. The floppy drives used in today's PCs (and I use the term loosely; you'll have trouble finding a floppy drive in most modern computers) are 3.5-inch floppy drives. Floppy drives only store a small amount of data and have all but disappeared from PCs. Floppy drives connect to the computer via a ribbon cable, which in turn connects to the motherboard. The connection to the motherboard is known as the floppy drive controller (see Figure 3-42).

Figure 3-42 Floppy disk drive connected to the motherboard Hard disk A hard disk stores programs and data that are not currently used by the CPU. Although RAM storage is measured in megabytes and gigabytes, a PC hard drive stores much more data than typical PC RAM—hundreds of gigabytes to terabytes. A terabyte is 1000 gigabytes. The average PC has one hard drive, although most PCs will accept more. Specialty PCs that need to store large amounts of data, such as the main file storage computer of a large corporation, may contain many hard drives, from 8 to 16 drives in some cases. The two most common types of hard drives seen in PCs today are the older Parallel Advanced Technology Attachment (PATA) and the newer Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA). PATA drives use a ribbon cable very similar to what floppy drives use, while SATA drives use a very narrow cable. Figure 3-43 shows a SATA drive (left) next to a PATA drive (right). Most motherboards only come with SATA connections, but if you search, you may find one that supports PATA as well.

Figure 3-43 SATA and PATA drives showing data connectors Optical drives, shown below, use the same PATA or SATA connections that are used with hard drives. Figure 3-44 shows a DVD drive sharing a single ribbon cable with a PATA hard drive, a common sight inside a PC.

Figure 3-44 Hard disk and DVD drive

TIP Very few PCs use Small Computer System Interface (SCSI) drives. SCSI drives are generally faster and more expensive, which is why they generally appear only in high-end PCs, such as network servers or graphics workstations. Optical Drives Optical drives allow a computer to read one or more types of optical discs, such as CDs, DVDs, or Blu-ray Discs (see Figure 3-45). CDs hold about 700 MB and come in three varieties: CD-ROM (read-only memory: you can't change the data on them), CD-R (recordable: you can change the data once), and CDRW (rewritable: you you can change the data in them over and over again). DVDs store much more data: smaller capacity DVDs store about 4 GB, enough for a Hollywood movie, and come in even more varieties: DVD-ROM, DVD+R, DVD-R, DVD+RW, and DVD- RW, just to name the most famous. Blu-ray discs are popular for high-definition movies, but Blu-ray discs are also available for data storage with capacities starting at 25GB.

Figure 3-45 Miscellaneous Optical Discs All of these optical discs require an optical drive that knows how to read them. If you want to do something with a CD-RW disc, for example, you need a CD-RW drive. If you want to use a DVD+R disc, you need a DVD+R drive. Fortunately, most optical drives support many different types of discs, and some support all of the common types of optical discs available. Figure 3-46 shows typical optical drives. Note that some of them advertise what types of discs they use. Others give no clue at all.

Figure 3-46 Optical Drives

NOTE Chapter 13 goes into great detail on the variety of disks and drive types. Know Your Parts The goal of this chapter was to help you appreciate the names and functions of the various parts of the PC: peripherals, connectors, and components. Starting with the Big Picture view, you can now begin to break down the individual components chapter by chapter and really understand in great depth how each component works and how it interconnects with the PC system as a whole.

Chapter Review Questions 1. What are the commands that tell the computer what to do called? A. Data B. Morse code C. Programming D. Output 2. Which of the following is a proper name for a RAM memory? A. CRIMM B. DIMM

C. BGA D. LGA 3. Where does an antistatic wrist strap connect? (Select the best answer). A. To an antistatic plate on the computer B. To an electrical outlet C. To a handy metal part of the case D. To an antistatic wrist strap 4. What type of connector does a typical network interface card have? A. DB-9 B. Mini-DIN C. RJ-11 D. RJ-45 5. Modern keyboards connect to which of the following ports? (Select all that apply.) A. DIN B. FireWire C. Mini-DIN D. USB 6. Which end of the USB cable connects to the PC? A. A B. B C. Mini-A D. Mini-B 7. A modern printer is usually connected to which of the following ports? A. DB-9 B. DB-25

C. Mini-DIN D. USB 8. What connects to a 3-row 15-pin port? A. Joystick B. Keyboard C. Monitor D. Mouse 9. Which connector was designed to connect your PC to a high-end TV? A. DB-HD B. HDMI C. USB D. VGA 10. Which connector was designed to connect your PC to a high-end audio system? A. DB-HA B. DVI C. Mini-audio D. S/PDIF Answers 1. C. Commands that tell the computer what to do are collectively called programming. 2. B. Modern computers use DIMMs for RAM. 3. C. Attach an antistatic wrist strap to any handy metal part of the computer. The metal plate, by the way, is the section of the strap where the PC cable connects. 4. D. A typical network interface card has an RJ-45 port. 5. C, D. Modern keyboards connect to mini-DIN or USB ports. 6. A. Plug connector A into the PC. 7. D. A modern printer usually connects to a USB.

8. C. Connect a monitor to a 15-pin, three-row port. 9. B. HDMI was designed to connect your PC to a high-end TV. 10. D. S/PDIF was designed to connect your PC to a high-end audio system.

4 visible windows


In this chapter, you will learn to: • Relate the history of Microsoft Windows • Explain the Windows interface • Identify the operating system folders of Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 • Describe Windows utilities that are essential for technicians How Technology PC, you need to understand Windows at a higher level than regular users. Technicians must not only run the standard Windows features that everyone uses every day (Start button, Recycle Bin, etc.), but they must also be comfortable drilling beneath that user-friendly surface to get their hands a little dirty. This chapter begins by introducing and organizing the many variations of Windows on the market today and by helping you appreciate the difference between, for example, Windows XP Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate. The chapter then takes you through the Windows interface in detail. The third section takes a closer look at the technological aspects of Windows, including the structure of the operating system. The fourth section provides an overview of the many technical utilities available in Windows. The chapter closes in the "Beyond A+" section with a discussion of versions of Windows that are not on the current CompTIA A+ exams, such as Windows 8 and non-desktop versions of Windows. Let us begin!

Historical/Conceptual A Brief History of Microsoft Windows Windows is thought of by many as monolithic, like the operating system (OS) for the PC (as opposed to the Mac), but as a technology, you should understand that Microsoft produces many varieties. of the operating system, each with specific tools, utilities, file structures, and interfaces. And you should be able to navigate through any modern version of Windows fluently. Microsoft currently supports many versions of Windows, three of which refer to CompTIA A+ Certified Technician: Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. Within each of these versions, Windows comes in various editions. Table 4-1 lists the three versions you need to know for the exams.

Table 4-1 Windows Versions on CompTIA A+ Exams The variety problem is exacerbated the moment you start working with older computers or talk to users or technicians who have been working with computers for several years. You'll hear about old versions of Windows like Windows 98 or Windows 2000. Huh? What are these versions (see Figure 4-1)? How do they fit into the picture?

Figure 4-1 Lots of windows! This section describes the history of Microsoft Windows, and then takes an in-depth look at the differences between the many versions of Microsoft's flagship operating system. That way, you can sort through the essentials for today's technologies of the many varieties you'll hear about.

Microsoft got into the operating system game in the early 1980s with a command-line operating system called Microsoft Disk Operating System, or MS-DOS. With a command line operating system, you interacted with the computer to run programs, save files, and perform all other computing functions by typing and then pressing the ENTER key on your keyboard. All this writing stuff worked for people who could memorize commands and such, but alternative operating systems, like Apple's Mac OS, offered a visual interface, where you could interact with the computer by clicking on pictures. It was time for Microsoft to step up their game and produce a graphical user interface (GUI) where users could use a mouse to point and click. Early Windows The first version of Windows, Microsoft Windows 1.0, arrived in 1985 and was little more than a graphical overlay for the DOS command-line operating system. This layered version of Windows went through a series of updates, ending with the first really popular version of Windows, Windows for Workgroups version 3.1 (see Figure 4-2).

Figure 4-2 Windows for Workgroups

NOTE Microsoft released several editions of Windows 3.1, with minor differences in name. Technicians collectively call the editions Windows 3.x.

In 1989, Microsoft offered a completely separate version of Windows called Windows NT. Windows NT was a true graphical operating system and was much more powerful than the superimposed versions of Windows. Windows NT went through several editions, culminating in Windows NT 4.0 in 1996 (see Figure 4-3).

Figure 4-3 Windows NT 4.0 Windows NT had so many features that displaying them all could take days, but one is important. NT came with a new way of organizing hard drives and files, called the NT File System (NTFS). Before NTFS, all versions of Windows used an old file system called the File Allocation Table (FAT). NTFS dealt with a number of problems, the biggest of which was security. FAT had no file security, meaning it had no user accounts, passwords, or permissions to allow people to control access to files. NTFS was built from the ground up with security in mind. We'll cover both FAT and NTFS later in the book; for now, just appreciate that NTFS started with Windows NT. It wasn't until 1995 that Microsoft abandoned the overlay concept and introduced Windows 95, the first standard-user version of Windows that was also a full operating system (see Figure 4-4). Windows 95 offered many improvements over Windows 3.x and eventually Microsoft also released several improved versions such as Windows 98, Windows 98 SE and Windows Me.

Figure 4-4 Windows 95: the Windows of your ancestors

NOTE When we describe Windows 95, 98, 98 SE and Me from a historical point of view, we group them all together using the term “Windows 9x”. The arrival of Windows 2000 in 2001 changed things. For most of the 1990s, Windows was a bit of a mess. Microsoft had two completely different operating systems, each called Windows, which it sold for two different markets. Microsoft sold the Windows 9x series for the home user and small office, and sold the much more powerful Windows NT series for corporate environments. Windows 2000 was the first step in changing this mess. It was based on Windows NT (including support for NTFS), but it had an excellent interface, supported almost any program, and was substantially easier to use than Windows NT. Microsoft originally introduced Windows 2000 as a replacement for Windows NT, but its stability and ease of use motivated many experienced Windows 9x users to upgrade to Windows 2000 as well. Windows 2000 began to appear as "the only Windows to replace all other versions" .

NOTE Windows 2000 was the last version of Windows to be introduced on both Server and

professional editions. After the release of Windows XP, Microsoft introduced the next version of Windows Server as Server 2003. Windows Server 2008 R2 is the latest edition of Windows Server. As of this writing, Microsoft's newest server product, codenamed Windows Server 8 (WS8), is just around the corner, so keep your eyes peeled! Modern Windows The vast majority of computers in the field today run one of three modern versions of Windows, so CompTIA A+ certification focuses on those: Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. But as you know from the Table 4-1 at the beginning of this chapter, just saying the name of a version of Windows doesn't do justice to the editions within that version. The trick is to organize these edits in a way that allows you to discover their similarities and differences. In this section, we'll look at Windows XP, Vista, and 7 editions, as well as some other versions of Windows, and look at the differences in detail.

802 Windows XP Windows XP followed hot on the heels of Windows 2000. Under the hood, XP was basically the same as Windows 2000, but it added a significantly improved interface and a number of new features, such as a built-in CD burner. Microsoft also broke with the beauty of the 2000 idea of ​​"one operating system for all." Microsoft envisioned three types of users: professionals, home users, and media addicts, so Windows XP came in three editions: Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Home, and Windows XP Media Center. Windows XP Professional

Microsoft Windows XP Professional is, in the opinion of many people, the most versatile and, therefore, the most conventional edition of Windows XP. Microsoft tuned Windows XP Professional for office environments with many users sharing a lot of data and multiple users sharing individual computers. Windows XP Professional provides complete data security and is the only edition of Windows XP with the ability to log on to a special network controlled by Windows Server called a domain. A Windows domain is a group of networked computers, all under the control of a single computer running some edition of Windows Server. Domain users can use single sign-on with their computer that defines everything they can do on any other computer in the domain. (See Chapter 22 for all the details of Windows' amazing mastery.) Figure 4-5 shows a typical Windows XP Professional desktop.

Figura 4-5 Windows XP Professional Windows XP Home

As the name implies, Windows XP Home is designed for home and small office users. Windows XP Home is a simplified edition of Windows XP Professional. The best way to describe Windows XP Home is to list the features in Windows XP Professional that Windows XP Home lacks. Windows XP Home does not have • The ability to log in to a Windows domain A Windows Home PC can log in to any Windows server, but it must have a username and password on each server. With a domain, you can have one username and password that works on all the computers that are members of the domain. • File encryption system With Windows XP Professional, you can encrypt a file or folder so that only you can read it. Windows XP Home lacks this feature. • Multiple Processor Support Windows XP Home does not support more than one physical CPU. Windows XP Professional supports two separate CPUs.

NOTE CPU support is based on physical CPUs, not the number of cores on a single CPU. See Chapter 6 for details on multicore CPUs.

• Remote Desktop Support A Windows XP Business PC can be accessed remotely from another computer using Remote Desktop (see Figure 4-6). You cannot access a Windows XP Home system this way. • NTFS Access Control Support The NTFS file system is capable of powerful controls over what users can do with a file or folder. Windows XP Home does not allow you to control these NTFS permissions individually. When you look at the properties of a file or folder in Windows XP Home, you'll notice that there is no Security tab. By contrast, the Sharing tab in Windows XP Home (see Figure 4-7) shows that only one folder, the Shared Documents folder, is open for sharing, quite unlike XP Professional.

Figure 4-6 Remote Desktop

Figure 4-7 Windows XP Home Sharing tab • Group Policy Support Need to prevent users from using a certain program? Do you want to prevent them from changing the screensaver? What do you want to do if they try to login three times without success? That's the job of group policy. Well, if you want this level of control over your system, get Windows XP Professional, because XP Home doesn't support them. Group policies are discussed in Chapter 29. There are a few more differences between Windows XP Professional and XP Home, but the above are the ones you're most likely to come across. Basically, if you want serious control of folders, files, users, and the network, you need XP Professional. Windows XP Media Center

Windows XP Media Center is a specialized edition of XP that includes the very useful Windows Media Center program (see Figure 4-8). Media Center is a personal video recorder (PVR) program that lets you watch and record TV (you'll need a TV tuner card) and organize all your media, from photos to music.

Figure 4-8 Windows XP Media Center Other than the Media Center program, the capabilities of Windows XP Media Center are identical to those of Windows XP Home. Windows Vista In January 2007, Microsoft announced Windows Vista. Vista introduced a new interface, as well as some very different fundamentals, which we'll discuss both in this chapter and in later chapters. These changes created some serious teething problems that Microsoft fixed over time, though not fast enough to protect Vista from a nasty "bad operating system" opinion that lingers to this day. Love it or hate it, CompTIA A+ exams expect you to get to know Vista. Microsoft continued the concept of different editions of Windows for different markets. Let's look at the most common editions of Vista. Windows Vista Basic Boot

Windows Vista Home Basic is roughly equivalent to Windows XP Home. Microsoft tailors it for home users who don't need more advanced multimedia support. Windows Vista Home Premium

Windows Vista Home Premium is the same as Windows Vista Home Basic, but adds an updated Windows Media Center PVR application, similar to the one found in Windows XP Media Center (see

Figure 4-9).

Figure 4-9 Vista Home Premium Media Center Windows Vista Business

Windows Vista Business is the basic business edition and has all the security, file sharing, and access controls seen in Windows XP Professional. windows vista latest

Windows Vista Ultimate combines all the features of all other Vista editions and includes a few other features, such as a game performance modifier and DVD ripping capability (see Figure 4-10).

Figure 4-10 Vista Ultimate Windows Vista Enterprise

Windows Vista Enterprise is an enhanced edition of Windows Vista Business and includes additional features such as BitLocker Drive Encryption and support for two physical CPUs. This edition cannot be purchased through normal stores. You will have to go through Microsoft directly to purchase it.

TEST HINT You can determine your version of Windows by right-clicking My Computer in Windows XP or My Computer in Vista and Windows 7 and selecting Properties. Windows 7 Comparing the appearance of Windows Vista with that of Windows 7 may make you think that the two operating systems are much more alike than different, and you would be correct. So if Windows Vista and Windows 7 look and work so much alike, why didn't Microsoft just call Windows 7 "Windows Vista: The Fixed Version"? When Microsoft "fixed" Windows Vista, no one wanted anything to do with it: people were reinstalling Windows XP! Microsoft had no choice; I had to call this "fixed" View something new. Enter Windows 7 (see Figure 4-11).

Figure 4-11 The Windows 7 Desktop Microsoft created several editions of Windows 7, closely following the release model of Windows Vista. Let's look at each edition of Windows 7 and see how they stack up. Home Windows 7

At the time of the release of Windows 7, netbooks (super-light laptops, used primarily for browsing the Internet) were incredibly popular. Windows 7 Starter is a stripped down edition of the operating system designed to complement the limited functionality of the netbook. Windows 7 Starter lacks many of the advanced networking, media, and graphics capabilities of other versions of Windows, focusing instead on easy Internet access. Windows 7 Home Premium

Windows 7 Home Premium is the most basic and widely released edition of Windows 7. Roughly comparable to Windows Vista Home Premium, this edition of Windows 7 includes a lot of multimedia features and some advanced networking features. Windows 7 Professional

Continuing from Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional adds support for joining domains, as well as support for powerful features like Windows XP Mode (which lets you run Windows XP programs inside Windows 7) and Remote Desktop Connection (which lets you connect to another

computer over a network and view that computer's desktop as if it were your own).

EXAM TIP You should know what tools are available in different editions of Windows for the CompTIA exam. For example, Windows XP mode only works with Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise. It comes as a separate download and requires virtualization software like Windows Virtual PC. Windows 7 Ultimate

Windows 7 Ultimate includes, as the name suggests, everything Windows 7 has to offer. You'll find advanced network, backup, and security tools to complete your best operating system experience. windows 7 company

Windows 7 Enterprise is very similar to Windows Vista Enterprise and can only be purchased directly from Microsoft. Based on Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise includes additional features designed for large enterprises, such as improved network searches, increased application security, and data protection through BitLocker. Enter 64-bit Windows From about 1986 to around 2001, all CPUs were 32-bit. While we'll leave the big discussion of what 32-bit means for Chapter 6, for now let's keep it simple: A 32-bit CPU can only use a maximum of 4 gigabytes (232 bytes = 4,294,967,296 bytes) of RAM. Starting in 2001, we started to see 64-bit CPUs that could handle more than 4 gigabytes. 64-bit capable CPUs are now the norm, while 32-bit-only CPUs are mostly relegated to netbooks and smartphones.

NOTE 32-bit and 64-bit processing and CPUs are covered in much more detail in Chapter 6. There are a number of advantages to moving from 32-bit to 64-bit processing. The really big reason to go from 32 to 64-bit is that 64-bit CPUs support more than 4GB of RAM. The more RAM you have, the more (and bigger) programs your system can run. Until relatively recently, many of us didn't mind going over 4GB of RAM. We didn't need additional RAM and we didn't have a CPU that could run at 64-bit. Wow, how things have changed in recent years!

EXAM TIP Remember for exams that 32-bit CPUs can support up to 4 GB of RAM. In concept, 64-bit CPUs can support up to 16 exabytes of memory. However, no one has built a CPU that supports the full amount of 64-bit, and you certainly won't find that much memory in the typical PC. 64-bit CPUs first appeared with Intel Itanium in 2001. At the time, the only people interested in 64-bit processing were large data centers and some organizations that needed to process large numbers. To run a computer with an Itanium, you needed an operating system that ran on a 64-bit processor. Until that time, all versions of Windows ran only in 32-bit. Microsoft answered the call for

creating special 64-bit editions of Windows 2000 and XP, but these 64-bit editions were very rare and only ran on Itanium. In 2003, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) began shipping the popular Athlon 64 CPU. This CPU could run in either 32-bit or 64-bit mode, making 64-bit a realistic option for most of us. Intel followed AMD around 2004 with Pentium 4 CPUs also capable of 32-bit or 64-bit processing. Since then, almost all CPUs sold by Intel or AMD have the ability to run in 32-bit or 64-bit mode. Going from 32-bit to 64-bit is easy, but only if you have a 64-bit compatible edition of Windows. Microsoft has several editions of Windows designed to support 64-bit CPUs.

TIP All 32-bit editions of Windows support a maximum of 4 GB of RAM. If your PC is larger than 4 GB and you're not running 64-bit Windows, you can also remove any RAM above 4 GB, you're wasting it! Windows XP 64-bit edition

The 64-bit-only edition of Windows XP was called Windows XP 64-bit Edition (apparently, Microsoft decided not to be cute by naming that one). Since it only ran on Intel Itanium processors, the chances that you'll see this operating system are pretty slim, unless you decide to work somewhere with powerful server needs. Windows XP Professional x64 Edition is a bit more common, running on any AMD or Intel processor that supports 32-bit and 64-bit (see Figure 4-12).

Figure 4-12 Windows XP Professional x64 Edition

The 64-bit editions of Windows XP have had some impact, as they were the first stable editions of Windows to really support 64-bit processing, but it was the introduction of Microsoft Vista that really started the move to 64-bit computing. . Windows Vista and Windows 7 64-bit editions

Each of the Vista and Windows 7 editions listed above come in 32-bit and 64-bit editions (except Windows 7 Starter). As we move toward PCs with more than 4 GB of RAM, it's important to make sure your edition of Windows is a 64-bit edition (see Figure 4-13).

Figure 4-13 64-bit view

NOTE Each Windows 7 installation DVD comes with both 32-bit and 64-bit editions on the same disc. Transition to Windows 64-bit

Technicians use "x86" or "x64" to describe a particular computer architecture, which implies that there are some

compatibility within that architecture. This is important because people need to know that the software they buy will work correctly with the computer they have. The transition from 32-bit editions of Windows to 64-bit editions of Windows requires some updating in terminology. x86 vs. x64

Intel originally used numbers to name its CPUs, such as 8086, 80286, 80386, etc. To talk about them collectively, the industry replaced the main numbers with an x ​​and kept the numbers constant for all processors, so x86 describes the Intel CPU architecture for PCs. All 32-bit editions of Windows were designed to run on x86 architecture. The move to 64-bit CPUs and, just as importantly, to 64-bit editions of Windows required some kind of change in terminology. Microsoft and others picked up the x86 terminology and changed it to market 64-bit-only editions of their software, marking 64-bit software as x64. Thus, a consumer might look at a product like Windows XP Professional x64 Edition and quickly know that the software was designed for 64-bit CPUs rather than 32-bit CPUs. Program compatibility

Transitions to an up-to-date architecture, such as moving from x86 to x64, cause concern among users that their old programs may not work, malfunction, or have compatibility issues in the future. Technicians must allay those fears by educating users properly. Here's the scoop. Most 64-bit processors run 32-bit or 64-bit editions of Windows without missing a beat. 64-bit editions of Windows require a 64-bit CPU; they laugh at 32-bit processors and refuse to play. Many companies have produced 64-bit editions of applications that only work with 64-bit Windows running on a 64-bit CPU. Great right? But what about all those 32-bit apps that work for a living? It gets interesting. 64-bit editions of Windows Vista and Windows 7 are compatible with most 32-bit applications, sometimes without user intervention, and sometimes through explicit use of Windows compatibility mode options. (Just for the record, sometimes you need to use Windows compatibility mode options to run older programs on 32-bit editions of Windows, so it's not just a 64-bit support feature for 32-bit apps.) . Windows can try to emulate older versions of Windows if an application refuses to load. To run a program on an emulated version of Windows, you need to access the main executable file which, when double-clicked, causes the program to run. We'll see where to find program files in different versions of Windows later in this chapter, but a quick example should suffice here. A user has a custom program, called "Widgets for XP", designed to take advantage of particular features of Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2 installed and does not work on Windows Vista or 7. Open Computer and go to C:\Program Files\Widgets for XP and look for a file with the type listed as Application, such as WidgetsXP.exe (see Figure 4-14). Right click and select Properties.

Figure 4-14 Search for an executable file

NOTE Microsoft regularly patches Windows to fix problems. That's what "with Service Pack 2" means in the example here. Chapter 17 covers Windows Update in detail. On the Compatibility tab, you can select the check box next to Run this program in compatibility mode for: and select the operating system of your choice (see Figure 4-15). In this case, I would select Windows XP (Service Pack 2) to provide optimal compatibility for the application. Windows saves the setting change and attempts to open the program in compatibility mode each time the program is loaded.

Figure 4-15 Compatibility Mode Options

The Windows Interface All versions of Windows share certain features, configuration files, and general appearance. Here's some good news: You'll find the same or almost the same utilities in almost every version of Windows, and once you've mastered one version, both the GUI and the command line interface, you'll pretty much have them all covered. This section covers the essentials: where to find things, how to maneuver, and what common utilities are available. When Windows versions differ in concept or detail, I'll point that out along the way. You will get to the underlying structure of Windows in the next two sections of this chapter. For now, let's look at the common user interface. User interface

Windows offers a set of utilities or interfaces that every user should know, both how and why to access them. And since all users should know about them, certainly all CompTIA A+ certified technicians should too! Let's take a quick tour of the typical Windows GUI.

EXAM TIP Odds are pretty good, you already know the Windows interface, but do you know what CompTIA A+ calls all these parts? Don't skip this section! Log in

Logging into a Windows computer is something we all do, but few of us take the time to appreciate the process. Your username and password define what you can do on your computer. Every version of Windows supports multiple users on a single machine, so the starting point for any tour of the Windows user interface begins with the login screen. Figure 4-16 shows the Windows XP login screen.

Figure 4-16 Windows XP Logon Screen Windows XP introduced a new type of logon called the Welcome Screen (see Figure 4-17). If you are using Windows XP Home or Media Center, this is the only login screen you will see. Windows XP Professional also has the Welcome screen, but if you connect to a domain, you'll see a more classic login screen that dates back to the days of Windows 2000 (see Figure 4-18).

Figure 4-17 Windows XP Welcome Screen

Figure 4-18 Windows XP Domain Logon Screen All editions of Windows Vista and Windows 7 use an enhanced version of the Windows XP Welcome screen (see Figure 4-19).

Figure 4-19 Windows 7 Welcome Screen Desktop

The Windows desktop is your main interface to the computer. The desktop is always there, under whatever app you have open. The desk analogy appeals to most people: We're used to sitting at a desk to work. Figure 4-20 shows a nice, clean Windows XP desktop; note the icons on the left and the various graphic elements at the bottom. You can add folders and files to the desktop and customize the background to change its color or add an image. Most people like to do it, I certainly do! As an example, Figure 4-21 shows the desktop of my home system: a PC running Windows 7 Ultimate.

Figure 4-20 Windows XP Desktop

Figure 4-21 Mike's messy desk

NOTE Your desktop is actually a folder on your computer. Whatever is in that folder will appear on your desktop. It's critical that you know how to get to that folder on each version of Windows covered in the CompTIA A+ exam. Clearly, the Windows Vista and Windows 7 desktops differ a lot compared to the Windows XP desktop. What you're looking at is something called the Aero desktop. The Aero desktop adds a number of impressive aesthetic features to your desktop that Microsoft says makes the user experience more enjoyable and productive. I'm not going to get into a discussion about the value of the Aero desktop, but it's an important part of the modern Windows interface. Most of Aero's features are more about looks than adding functionality, but the end result is a smoother desktop with a few notable features. Transparency, as the name implies, provides an adjustable amount of transparency to the edges of your windowed programs, as you can see in Figure 4-22.

Figure 4-22 Transparency


EXAM TIP Windows Vista Home Basic and Windows 7 Starter do not support Aero

Flip 3D allows you to view and select all of your open windows in 3D format, as shown in Figure 423.

Figure 4-23 Flip 3D Flip 3D is fun to use. Press the WINDOWS KEY followed by the TAB key to start it. Hold down TAB to

Cycle through the windows. When the window you want is in front, release both keys and that window will become the active window. Try WINDOWS KEY-TAB-SHIFT to scroll windows in the opposite direction. To use the Aero desktop, you must have a video card that supports it. We'll save the in-depth discussion for Chapter 21, but for now here's what Microsoft says you need: • DirectX 9 capability or higher • At least 128 megabytes of video RAM • Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM) driver • Pixel version Shader 2.0 When you install Windows Vista or Windows 7, the installer checks your video to determine if it is Aero compatible. If your video card supports it, Aero turns on automatically. To verify, press the WINDOWS KEY-TAB combination. If Flip 3D appears, you have Aero. If not, Aero is not active. To enable Aero in Windows Vista, right-click on your desktop and select the Personalize menu option. Then select Window Color and Appearance. If you see a screen that looks like Figure 4-24, you already have Aero running. If you see a screen similar to Figure 4-25, select the Windows Aero color scheme to enable the Aero desktop.

Figure 4-24 You've Got Aero!

Figure 4-25 The lack of transparency and the flat window with no shadow show that Aero is not activated.

TIP If your computer cannot run Aero desktop, you must upgrade your system to meet the minimum requirements. This usually means a new video card or updated video card drivers. See Chapter 21 for more details. If you're running Aero, note that the Window Color and Appearance screen shown in Figure 4-24 has a slider to adjust transparency settings and a check box to turn transparency off completely. Windows 7 makes it even easier to activate Aero. Right-click on your Desktop and select Personalize. If you see any Aero themes, as shown in Figure 4-26, you can select one to activate the Aero desktop.

Figure 4-26 Select one of the Aero themes to activate Aero Desktop in Windows 7. There are other features that, although not on the CompTIA A+ certification exams, you should try. The WINDOWS KEY-T combination provides a preview of all minimized windows. ALT-TAB offers a preview of all running windows. Also, in Windows 7, pressing WINDOWS KEY-LEFT ARROW or WINDOWS KEY-RIGHT ARROW will fill the respective half of the screen with the active window. Test Aero. It may not be the productivity tool Microsoft promises, but it sure is fun. Taskbar and start menu

The taskbar is located at the bottom of all Windows desktops and includes up to four sections (depending on the version of Windows and your configuration). Starting on the left side, these are the Start button, the Quick Launch toolbar (in Windows XP and Windows Vista), the running programs area, and the notification area. Although the taskbar is at the bottom of the desktop by default, you can move it to either side or to the top of the screen. The taskbar contains the Start button, probably the most clicked button on all Windows systems. You can find the Start button on the far left of the taskbar. Figure 4-27 shows the Start buttons for Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 (in order). Click the Start button to open the Start menu, where you can view the applications installed on your system and launch them.

Figure 4-27 Three different Windows start buttons Try moving the cursor to the All Programs menu item. When the All Programs menu appears, move the cursor to Accessories. Locate the Notepad program and click on it. By default, Windows XP hides

Less used menu options, so if you don't see Notepad, click the double down arrows at the bottom of the Accessories menu to bring up Notepad.

NOTE You have a lot to click in this chapter, so take a moment to reflect on what I call the Rules of thumb for clicking. With a few exceptions, these rules always apply and really help you manipulate the Windows interface to do what you need to do: • Click menu items once to use them. • Click the icons once to select them. • Click the icons twice to use them. • Right-click on anything and select Properties to view its properties. Excellent! If you opened Notepad correctly, you should see something like Figure 4-28, with Notepad displaying an untitled page of text. Notice how Notepad appears in the taskbar at the bottom of the screen. Most running programs appear on the taskbar in this way. Close the Notepad program by clicking the X button in the upper right corner of the Notepad window. Look at the taskbar again to see that Notepad no longer appears there.

Figure 4-28 Notepad application (note the buttons in the upper right corner) Now look towards the far right of the taskbar. This part of the taskbar is officially known as the notification area, although many technicians and CompTIA A+ certification exams refer to it as the system tray. At the very least, you'll see the current time in the system tray, and on most Windows systems, you'll see a series of small icons there as well. Figure 4-29 shows the system tray on a Windows Vista PC.

Figure 4-29 System tray showing various icons and time

EXAM TIP Microsoft calls the area on the far right of the taskbar the notification area, but you may see it referred to in CompTIA A+ certification exams as the system tray. These icons show programs running in the background. Most programs run in a window. Background programs work like any other program except that they do not use a window, simply because the nature of their particular jobs makes a window unnecessary. Thousands of programs like to run in the system tray: network status, volume controls, battery status (on laptops), and removable device status are just a few examples. What appears on yours depends on your version of Windows, what hardware you're using, and what background programs you have installed. Some of the icons in Figure 4-29, for example, include virtual machine software, a monitor calibration program, and my email program. On Windows XP and Vista systems, you will find the Quick Launch toolbar near the far left of the taskbar (see Figure 4-30). Here you can place frequently used programs and open them with one click. On Windows XP systems, the Quick Launch toolbar is not displayed on the taskbar by default, so before you can use this convenient feature, you must right-click the taskbar, select Properties and check Show quick launch. To change the content of the Quick Launch Toolbar, simply drag the icons on or off the Quick Launch Toolbar.

Figure 4-30 Quick Launch Toolbar Windows 7 takes the Quick Launch toolbar and combines it with the thumbnails of the running program area, creating pinned applications (see Figure 4-31). You can pin app icons directly to the running app area. When you open one of these pinned apps, its icon changes to show that it's now open. If you open an app that isn't pinned to the taskbar, its icon will still appear, but it will disappear when you close it. If you've ever used the base of Apple OS X (kill the idea!), then you've used this type of feature.

Figure 4-31 Pinned Applications Microsoft introduced the Jump List with Windows 7 to show you context-sensitive information about what's on your taskbar (see Figure 4-32). If you look at the Jump List for Microsoft Word, for example, you'll see your recently opened documents. Jump List for iTunes allows you to jump forward and backward through the songs in your playlist. To open a Jump List, click and drag up on the icon on the taskbar or right-click on the icon.

Figure 4-32 A jump list The many faces of Windows Explorer

Windows Explorer allows you to manipulate files and folders stored on or connected to all drives on your computer. Microsoft presents the tool in a variety of forms to help you quickly focus on what you want to accomplish. If you want to view the contents of an optical disc, for example, you can open My Computer (Windows XP) or Computer (Windows Vista/7) by double-clicking the desktop icon or by selecting the Start menu icon to open Windows Explorer with units displayed (see Figure 4-33). To display the contents of a drive or folder, double-click it.

Figure 4-33 Windows Explorer in Windows XP shows installed drives as well as common tasks on the left Windows Explorer in Windows XP offers a number of common tasks in a bar along the left side of the screen, as you can see in Figure 4-34. Windows Vista and Windows 7 also offer tasks, but the options are displayed in a bar below the location bar near the top of the window (see Figure 4-34).

Figure 4-34 Windows Explorer in Windows 7 shows installed drives and shows tasks When you access My Documents (Windows XP) or Documents (Windows Vista/7) by double-clicking the desktop icon or selecting it from the Start menu , Windows opens Windows Explorer and displays your user folders. Because your My Documents/Documents folder is (by default) stored on the C: hard drive, Windows Explorer displays the contents of that drive, broken down specifically into its folders. The fact that one way to open Windows Explorer is to double-click My Computer or Computer, and another way to open Windows Explorer is to double-click My Documents or Documents (and the two methods initially display different content) it makes many users assume that they have two different tools. That is simply not the case. Windows Explorer changes what is displayed to suit specific tasks preset by Microsoft, but it's a unique tool that can point to different locations on your computer. Even better, you can change the appearance of Windows Explorer with the click of a button. The Folders button in Windows XP turns the Folders list on the left on or off (see Figure 4-35). The folder list is a tree menu that allows you to move the focus of Windows Explorer to different folders or drives. The Folder List replaces the common taskbar in Windows XP. Note that the folder list is enabled by default in Windows Vista and Windows 7, regardless of whether you open the tool through Computer or Documents.

Figure 4-35 Windows Explorer in Windows XP with Folder Listing On In Windows Vista and Windows 7, you can change the view of Windows Explorer in several ways. On the taskbar, you can click the down arrow next to the Change your view button to change the size of the icons, the details displayed, and more. You can turn off the Folder List (known in Vista and 7 as the Navigation Pane) if you want, by clicking the down arrow next to Organize, choosing Layout from the menu options, and then deselecting the Navigation Pane. The Folder list view makes it easy to copy and move files and folders from one location to another. The steps are slightly different when you copy to a folder on the same drive than when you copy to a folder on a different drive, but the first step is the same: select a folder in the Folders list and the contents of that folder will appear in the main pane on the right. To move or copy a file from one folder to another folder on the same drive, click and hold a file or folder in the main panel, and then drag the cursor to any folder on the other drive in the Folders list. A → symbol will appear (in Windows Vista and 7, but not in Windows XP). Release the mouse button and move that file or folder to the new folder. If you want to copy a file or folder instead of moving it, press the CTRL key on your keyboard, and then click and drag to the desired folder. The → symbol (if any) changes to a +; release the mouse button to copy the file or folder. To copy or move a file from one folder to another folder on a different drive, click and hold a file or folder in the main panel, and then drag the cursor over any folder in the Folders list, and a + symbol will appear. Release the mouse button and it will make a copy of that file or folder in the new folder. If you

If you want to move a file or folder instead of just copying it, press the SHIFT key on your keyboard, and then click and drag to the desired folder. The + symbol changes to → in Windows Vista/7 or just disappears in Windows XP; release the mouse button to move the file or folder. Notice the differences in the icons displayed in Windows Explorer? Windows assigns different icons to different types of files, based on their extensions, the set of characters at the end of a file name, such as .EXE, .TXT, or .JPG. Older extensions, dating back to the DOS era, are often three characters, but today's programs can use two-character extensions, such as .JS (JavaScript) or .AU (audio), or even four-character extensions, like the ubiquitous .HTML for web pages. In rare cases, a filename might not have an extension. Looking at these icons on your own screen, some of you might say, "But I don't see any extensions!" That's because Windows hides them by default. To view extensions in Windows XP, select Tools | Folder Options to open the Folder Options dialog. Click the View tab and uncheck Hide extensions for known file types. In Windows Vista/7, select Organize | Folder and Search Options, and then click the View tab to see the same dialog box, which has the same clear check box (see Figure 4-36).

Figure 4-36 Folder Options Dialog There are two other useful settings on the View tab, but to see the results properly, you must be on the C: drive of your computer, as shown in Figure 4-37.

Figure 4-37 Default computer view where a lot is hidden Go back to the View tab of the Folder Options dialog box, click the Show hidden files and folders radio button (labeled Show hidden files, folders, and drives in Windows Vista /7) and then uncheck Hide protected operating system files. Click the Apply to Folders button in Windows Vista/7 or the Apply to All Folders button in Windows XP. Your C: drive should look like Figure 4-38 when you're done. As before, when you re-examine the folder's contents, you will see the file extensions and possibly some previously hidden files. You can tell which ones are hidden because they look somewhat faded or ghostly compared to non-hidden folders and files.

Figure 4-38 Computer showing hidden files and folders Now that those files are visible, you have a big responsibility to keep them safe. In general, the less you tamper with vital system files, the better. You'll learn some ways to do useful things with previously hidden files, but unless you really know what you're doing, it's best to leave them alone. Before you hand a PC over to someone who isn't a trained PC technician, you'll probably want to hide those system files again.

EXAM TIP There are many scenarios where you would like to see hidden file extensions and also hidden files. What if you need to run a program from its executable file, for example, and there are four files in the same folder, all called "settings"? Which one do you double click on? Make the file extensions visible, see which one is setup.exe and double click on that one. View hidden and system files, on the other hand, allows them to show up in a search. That is very useful for technicians. CompTIA A+ exams quiz you on these topics. Microsoft has tried to help users organize their files and folders through various user folders and subfolders that you access through Windows Explorer. Different operating systems offer different options, so let's look at My Documents (Windows XP), User Files (Windows Vista/7), and Windows 7 Libraries. My Documents, My [whatever]

All versions of Windows provide a special folder structure for each user account so that users have their own places to store personal data. This grouping of folders is called My Documents in Windows XP. Many Windows programs take advantage of My Documents and, by default, store their files in the folder or in a

subfolder. Windows XP installations do not display My Documents on the desktop by default. In Windows XP, you can access it through the Start menu, or you can add it to your desktop. Right-click on the desktop and select Properties to open the Display Properties dialog. Select the Desktop tab, and then click the Personalize Desktop button to open the Desktop Items dialog box (see Figure 4-39). On the General tab, select the check box next to My Documents, My Computer, or both, and then click OK to close the dialog box and make the selected icons appear on the desktop.

Figure 4-39 Windows XP Desktop Items dialog box

NOTE As with most Windows tools, Microsoft gives you more than one way to get things done. On Windows XP and Vista, try right-clicking on the Start menu icon, select Properties, and choose the Classic Start Menu radio button. The My Documents folder in Windows XP includes several subfolders: My Pictures (which provides filmstrips and thumbnails of the pictures you store there), My Music (which will launch Media Player to play any file), My Videos (which, again , launches Media Player ), and more. Figure 4-40 shows My Images, using the thumbnail view. Since then, many apps have jumped on the bandwagon and added their own My [whatever] folders to My Documents. Before I retired my Windows XP machine, for example, I had My eBooks, My Websites, My Received Files, My Virtual Machines... Oh my gosh!

Figure 4-40 My Pictures subfolder in User Files of My Documents

Windows Vista and Windows 7 take the equivalent of My Documents to a whole new level with user files. (Although a Documents folder is available, it's literally designed for documents, such as text files.) Click on the Start menu and you will see a folder option with the username of the account that is currently connected to the computer. With that option, not only do you get all the folders you get in Windows XP, but Windows Vista/7 also adds a number of other folders, as well as interesting but important data like your Internet Explorer favorites and copies of recent searches. As with Windows XP, the user's folder does not appear on the desktop by default. To view this folder, right-click the desktop, point to Personalize, and then click Change desktop icons on the left of the Personalization window. You will see a Desktop Icon Settings dialog where you can select the User Files option to display the personal files of the logged on user account. Figure 4-41 shows the User Files folder for my editor, with the Desktop Icon Settings dialog box in the background.

Figure 4-41 Typical user accounts folder in Windows Vista Windows 7 Libraries

Windows 7 introduced just one new, but very useful feature to Windows Explorer: Libraries. The idea behind libraries is based on two fairly simple assumptions: • People tend to need the same data over and over again. • The data you need for a job/project/function/whatever is rarely stored in a single folder. Libraries aggregate folders from multiple locations and put them in a single, easy-to-find place in Windows Explorer. The files and folders are not actually moved. The library simply creates links to them (see Figure 4-42).

Figure 4-42 Libraries in Windows Explorer By default, each user has at least four libraries: Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos. These libraries consist of two folders: the user's My Whatever folder for that type of data plus the Public Anything folder at C:\Users\Public. (You'll learn more about this a bit later in the chapter.) Let's clarify this subtle but critical concept. Libraries are not folders but collections of existing folders. Let's say you keep some digital photos in your My Photos folder, but you also have a separate stock of photos on an external hard drive in a folder called "Vacation Pictures." Instead of going from one folder to another to see all your photos, you can use a library to link them together. When you open a library, you see the contents of each folder in the library together, as if they were all in the same folder (but they're not). Your photos in My Photos and Vacation Photos will appear side by side. You can create a library from any instance of Windows Explorer. Right-click Libraries in the navigation pane, select New | Library and give the library a name. Ta-da! You have just created your first library. Now you need to add folders to your library. You can add folders from your system or from shares on other systems. To add a folder to a library, right-click the folder in Windows Explorer, select Include in Library, and then click the library you want to use from the drop-down menu. You can also right-click a library, select Properties, and use the Include a folder button to add folders. Remember two important things: • Only folders can fill a library: individual files, printers, etc. are not allowed. • Do not try to remove a folder from a library by deleting it. Doing so will delete the actual folder. Instead, right-click the folder name under the library name in the navigation pane and select Remove

library location.

QUIZ TIP Make sure you can name the four default libraries in Windows 7. Recycle Bin

In Windows, a file is not deleted when you delete it. Windows adds a layer of protection in the form of a special folder called the Recycle Bin. When you delete a file in Windows, the file is moved to the Recycle Bin. It stays there until you empty the Recycle Bin or restore the file, or until the Recycle Bin reaches a predetermined size and begins deleting its oldest content. To access the Recycle Bin properties, right-click the icon on the desktop and select Properties. (You'll usually find the icon in the upper left corner of your desktop.) The Recycle Bin properties look different on different versions of Windows, but they all basically work the same way. Figure 4-43 shows the properties of a typical Windows 7 Recycle Bin. Windows will reserve a certain percentage by default (it changes depending on the size of the drive), but you can also specify the amount of space on the drive to use. to the Recycle Bin. If a hard drive starts to run out of space, this is one of the first places to check.

Figure 4-43 Windows 7 Recycle Bin Properties My Network Places/Network

Systems connected to a network, either through a network cable or modem, have a folder called My Network Places in Windows XP or simply Network in Windows Vista/7 (see Figure 4-44). This folder shows everything

the current network connections available to you. You will learn about My Network/Network Places in Chapter 22.

Figure 4-44 Network in the Windows Sidebar of Windows Vista

Windows Vista comes with a GUI feature called Windows Sidebar, a tool that sits on the side of the desktop and allows small helper applications, called Microsoft Gadgets, to run. It can display a clock, for example, or a dynamic weather update. Vista comes with a handful of Gadgets, but the developers have gone crazy with them, allowing you to add all sorts of useful tools, like the Twitter feed and World of Warcraft search and Kingdom Status Gadgets in Figure 4-45.

Figure 4-45 Windows Sidebar in action Windows 7 also includes Gadgets, but removes the concept of a sidebar. You can place Windows 7 Gadgets anywhere on your desktop.

NOTE The background application that runs Gadgets in Windows 7 is called Sidebar.exe, just like it is in Windows Vista, so it could be argued that Windows 7 includes the Windows Sidebar. hotkeys

In Windows, you can use key combinations to go directly to various programs and places. Here is a reasonably long list of general purpose commands for Windows. Please note that some applications may change the use of these commands. Function keys

• F1 Help • F2 Rename • F3 Search menu • F5 Refresh current window • F6 Move between selections in current windows Popular hotkeys

• CTRL-ESC Open Start menu • ALT-TAB Switch between open programs • ALT-F4 Exit program • CTRL-Z Undo last command • CTRL-A Select all items in current window • SHIFT-DELETE Delete item permanently • SHIFT -F10 Opens a context menu for the selected item (this is the same as right-clicking on an object) • SHIFT Bypasses the autorun function for optical media (pressing and holding the SHIFT key while inserting optical media) • ALT-SPACE Brings up the main window System menu (from this menu you can restore, move, resize, minimize, maximize or close the window) • ALT-ENTER Opens the properties of the selected object Working with text

• CTRL-C Copy • CTRL-X Cut • CTRL-V Paste • CTRL-Z Undo

Windows key shortcuts

These shortcuts use the special Windows key: • WINDOWS KEY Start Menu • WINDOWS KEY-D Show Desktop • WINDOWS KEY-E Windows Explorer • WINDOWS KEY-L Lock the computer • WINDOWS KEY-TAB Cycle through the buttons from the taskbar (or Flip 3D with Windows Aero on Vista/7) • WINDOWS-PAUSE/BREAK KEY Opens the System Properties dialog

NOTE I have covered only the most basic parts of the Windows desktop in this chapter. The typical Windows desktop includes many other parts, but for technicians and CompTIA A+ certification exams, what you've learned about the desktop here is more than enough.

Operating System Folders Modern versions of Windows organize essential files and folders in a relatively similar way. They all have a main system folder to store most of the internal Windows files and tools. They all have a set of folders for programs and user files. However, once you start to get into the details, you will find some very big differences. It is very important that you know in some detail the location and function of many common folders and their contents.

EXAM TIP CompTIA A+ exams love to ask detailed questions about the locations of certain folders. Be sure to check out this section! System Folder SystemRoot is the technological name given to the folder in which Windows was installed. Windows XP, Vista and 7 use C:\Windows as the default SystemRoot. Be careful: this is the default folder, but you can change the Windows installation location during the installation process. It is useful to know about SystemRoot. You'll find it popping up in many other tech posts, and you can specify it when tweaking certain Windows settings to make sure they work in all circumstances. When used as part of a Windows setup, add percent signs (%) to the beginning and end like this: %SystemRoot%, which means you'll almost never see it simply as SystemRoot. If you don't know where Windows is installed on a particular system, here is a useful trick. Go to a command prompt, type cd %systemroot%, and press ENTER. The prompt changes to the directory in

Windows operating system files are stored. slippery! See Chapter 18 for details on how to use the command prompt in Windows. The system folder contains many subfolders, too many to mention here, but CompTIA wants you to know the names of several of these subfolders, as well as what they contain. Let's review the subfolders you should recognize and define (these folders are in all versions of Windows): • %SystemRoot%\Fonts This is where all the fonts installed in Windows are located. • %SystemRoot%\Offline Files (Offline Web Pages in Windows 7) When you tell your web browser to save web pages for offline viewing, they are stored in this folder. This is another folder that Windows automatically deletes if it needs space. • %SystemRoot%\System32 This is the real Windows! All the most critical programs that make Windows run are stored here. 64-bit editions of Windows also store critical files in %SystemRoot%\SysWOW64. • %SystemRoot%\Temp Whenever Windows or an application running on Windows needs to create temporary files, they are placed here. Windows deletes these files automatically as needed, so never put an important file in this folder. Personal Documents and Programs Folders Windows has several important folders that help organize your programs and documents. They are located in the root directory at the same level as the system folder and, of course, have name variations depending on the version of Windows. We'll assume your computer is using a C: drive, a pretty safe assumption, although there is actually a way to install all of Windows on a second hard drive partition. C:\Program Files (all versions)

By default, most programs install some or all of their essential files in a subfolder of the Program Files folder. If you installed a program, it should have its own folder here. Individual companies decide how to label their subfolders. Installing Photoshop by Adobe, for example, creates the Adobe subfolder and then an Adobe Photoshop subfolder within it. Microsoft's Silverlight installation, on the other hand, just creates a Microsoft Silverlight folder with the program files inside it. (Some programmers choose to create a folder at the root of the C: drive, omitting Program Files entirely, but that's becoming increasingly rare.) C:\Program Files (x86)

The 64-bit editions of Windows Vista and Windows 7 create two directory structures for program files. 64-bit applications go to the C:\Program Files folder, while 32-bit applications go to the C:\Program Files (x86) folder. The separation makes it easy to find the right version of whatever app you're looking for. Personal documents

As you would expect, given the differences between the desktop names for the personal document locations described earlier in this chapter, the personal folders for Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 differ in location and name. Windows XP places personal folders in the Documents and Settings folder,

while Windows Vista and Windows 7 use the Users folder. From there, they differ even more. C:\Documents and Settings (Windows XP)

All personal settings for each user are stored here. All users have their own subfolders in Documents and Settings. In each user folder, you'll find another level of folders with familiar names like Desktop, My Documents, and Start Menu. These folders contain the actual content of these items. Let's break through these to see what you need to know for the CompTIA A+ exams. • \Documents and Settings\Default User (hidden) All default settings for a user. This folder is a template that Windows copies and customizes when a new user logs in for the first time. • \Documents and Settings\All Users You can make settings for anyone who uses the computer. This is especially useful for apps: some apps are installed so all users can use them, and some apps may be restricted to certain users. This folder stores information for any settings or applications defined for all users on the PC. • \Documents and Settings\Shared Documents If you are using Windows XP Simple File Sharing, this is the only folder on the computer that is shared. • \Documents and Settings\<User Name> This folder stores all the settings defined for a particular user (see Figure 4-46).

Figure 4-46 Contents of a typical \Documents and Settings folder in Windows XP Opening any user's folder reveals several even lower folders. Each of these stores very specific information about the user. • \Documents and Settings\<User Name>\Desktop This folder stores files on the user's desktop. Yeah

If you delete this folder, you delete all files placed on the desktop. • \Documents and Settings\<User Name>\<User Name> Documents This is the My Documents folder for that user. • \Documents and Settings\<User Name>\Application Data (hidden) This folder stores information and settings used by various programs that the user has installed. • \Documents and Settings\<User Name>\Start Menu This folder stores any customizations the user has made to the Start menu.

NOTE When you are looking at your own account folders, you will see My Documents instead of <username>'s Documents in the \Documents and Settings\<Username> folder. C:\Users (Windows Vista/7)

Windows Vista and Windows 7 dump the old Documents and Settings folder to the Users folder. Functionally similar to Documents and Settings, here are a number of subfolders you need to know about in order to pass CompTIA A+ exams. Let's repeat the process, placing the same features in their new locations. • \Users\Default (hidden), \Users\All Users, and \Users\<User Name> All of these folders retain the same functionality as in Windows XP. • \Users\<Username> The big change takes place in each of the \Users\<Username> folders. This folder still stores all the settings defined for a particular user; however, this folder contains more subfolders on Vista/7 than on XP (see Figure 4-47). Fortunately, you only need to know a few folders for the exams. • \Users\<Username>\Desktop Same as Windows XP. • \Users\<Username>\Documents This is the Documents folder for that user. Note that on Vista, it's simply known as "Documents," while on Windows 7, it's once again "My Documents." • \Users\<User Name>\Downloads Microsoft's preferred download folder for application usage. Most applications use this folder, but some don't. • \Users\<User Name>\Start Menu Same as Windows XP.

Figure 4-47 Contents of a typical Users\<Username>\ folder in Vista

NOTE Vista and 7 create a special hidden folder called "Default User" that points to the User folder to support older applications. Any good technician knows the name and function of all the folders that we have just listed. As a technician, you will find yourself manually punching these folders for a number of reasons. Users rarely directly access any of these folders with Windows Explorer. As a manager, you know that's a good thing, as you appreciate how dangerous it is for them to do it. Imagine a user going into a \Users\<User Name>\Desktop folder and deleting someone's desktop folders. Fortunately, Windows protects these folders by using NTFS permissions, making it difficult for users to destroy anything but their own work.

EXAM TIP Be very careful here. Some of the folder name differences between XP and Vista/7 are subtle. Make sure you know the difference.

technological utilities

Windows offers a host of utilities that allow technicians to configure the operating system, optimize and adjust settings, install hardware, and more. The trick is knowing where to go to find them. This section shows the most common locations in Windows where you can access utilities: right-click, Control Panel, Device Manager, System Tools, command line, Microsoft Management Console, Administrative Tools, and Action Center. Note that these are locations for tools, not tools themselves, and you can access many tools from more than one of these locations. You'll see some of the same utilities in many of these locations. Stay alert in this section as you will need to access the utilities to understand the inner workings of Windows. Right-click Windows, being a GUI operating system, covers your monitor with windows, menus, icons, file lists, all sorts of nice things that you click to work on. Anything you see on your desktop is called an object. If you want to open any object in Windows, double-click on it. If you want to change something about an object, right click on it. Right-clicking on an object brings up a little menu called a context menu, and it works on everything in Windows. In fact, try putting your mouse somewhere in Windows where right-clicking doesn't bring up a menu (there are a few places, but they're not easy to find). What you see in the little menu when you right-click varies drastically depending on which item you decide to right-click. If you right-click a running program in the running programs area on the taskbar, you will see items related to a window. Windows XP and Vista will present options like Move, Size, etc. (see Figure 4-48). Windows 7 gives you the Jump List, as we discussed earlier. If you right-click on your desktop, you get options to change the desktop's appearance and more (see Figure 4-49). Even different types of files show different results when you right-click on them. Right-clicking is something technicians often do.

Figure 4-48 Right-clicking a running program in Windows XP

Figure 4-49 Right-clicking on the desktop in Windows 7 offers many settings. One menu item you'll see almost anywhere you right-click is Properties. Every object in Windows has properties. When you right-click on something and can't find what you're looking for, select Properties. Figure 4-50 shows the results of right-clicking Computer on the Start menu, which isn't very exciting. But if you select Properties, you will get a dialog box like Figure 4-51.

Figure 4-50 Right-click Computer

Figure 4-51 Computer Properties Control Panel The Control Panel handles most aspects of maintaining, updating, and configuring Windows. As such, the Control Panel is the first set of tools for every technician to explore. You can find Control Panel by clicking the Start button and choosing Control Panel from the Start menu. Windows XP, Vista, and 7 open in the Control Panel Category view by default, which displays icons in groups such as "Printers and Other Hardware." The categories change between each edition of Windows. This view requires an extra click (and sometimes guessing which category includes the icon you need), so many technicians use a more classic view. CompTIA A+ exams assume you're using the classic view with large icons, so do what all techies do: switch from category view to classic view. In Windows XP, select Switch to classic view. In Windows Vista, choose Classic View. In Windows 7, select Large Icons or Small Icons from the View By drop-down list for a similar effect. Figure 4-52 shows the Windows XP Control Panel in Category and Classic views.

Figure 4-52 Windows XP Control Panel in two views: Category (left) and Classic (right) A large number of programs, called applets, populate the Control Panel. The names and selection of applets vary depending on the version of Windows and whether any installed programs have applets added. But all versions of Windows have applets that let you control specific aspects of Windows, such as appearance, installed applications, and system settings. Windows XP has a display and Windows Vista/7 has customization that allows you to make changes to the appearance of your Windows desktop and adjust your video settings. Add or Remove Programs (Windows XP) and Programs and Features (Windows Vista/7) allow you to add or remove programs. The System applet (all versions) gives you access to essential system information and tools, such as Device Manager, although Microsoft wisely added Device Manager directly into Control Panel starting with Vista. Every icon you see in Control Panel is actually a file with a .CPL extension. Anytime you get an error opening Control Panel, you can bet that you have a corrupted CPL file. These are a pain to fix. You have to rename all your CPL files to another extension (I use .CPB) and then rename them to .CPL one at a time, each time you reopen Control Panel, until you find the CPL file you want. is causing the crash.

QUIZ TIP Even these common applets vary slightly between versions of Windows. CompTIA A+ certification exams don't test you on every little variation between the same applets in different versions, just know what each applet does. You can use Control Panel applets to do an incredible variety of things on a Windows system, and each applet displays text that helps explain its functionality. The Add Hardware applet in Windows XP, for example, clearly says, "Install and troubleshoot hardware" (see Figure 4-53). They are all like that. Figure 4-54 shows the User Accounts applet. Can you determine its use? (If not, don't worry. I'll cover users in Chapter 16.) Don't bother trying to memorize all these applets. Each Control Panel applet relevant to CompTIA A+ exams is discussed in detail in its corresponding chapter throughout the remainder of the book. For now, just make sure you can access Control Panel and appreciate why it exists.

Figure 4-53 Add Hardware Wizard in the Add Hardware applet

Figure 4-54 User Accounts window of the User Accounts applet Device Manager With Device Manager, you can browse and configure all the hardware and drivers on a Windows PC. As you might suspect from that description, every techie spends a lot of time with this tool! You will work with Device Manager many more times during the course of this book and his career as a PC technician. There are many ways to access Device Manager. Make sure you know them all! The first way is to open the Control Panel and double-click the System applet icon. This opens the System Properties dialog in Windows XP and the System dialog in Windows Vista/7. In Windows XP, access Device Manager by selecting the Hardware tab and then clicking the Device Manager button. Figure 4-55 shows the Hardware tab of the System Properties dialog box in Windows XP. In Windows Vista/7, the System dialog box has a direct connection to Device Manager (see Figure 4-56).

Figure 4-55 Windows XP System applet with the Hardware tab selected

Figure 4-56 Windows Vista System Applet with Circled Device Manager Menu Option You can also access the System/System Properties dialog box in all versions of Windows by right-clicking My Computer/Computer and selecting Properties. From there, the path to Device Manager is the same as when you access this dialog from Control Panel.

NOTE Holding down the WINDOWS KEY and pressing PAUSE/BREAK is another way to get to the System Properties/System dialog box. Keyboard shortcuts are great! The second (and more simplified) method is to right-click on My Computer/Computer and select Manage. This opens a window called Computer Management, where you'll see Device Manager on the left side of the screen, under System Tools. Just click Device Manager and it opens. You can also access Computer Management by opening the Administrative Tools applet in Control Panel and then selecting Computer Management (see Figure 4-57).

Figure 4-57 Device Manager in Computer Management Why are there so many ways to open Device Manager? Well, remember that we are only looking for locations in Windows from which to open the utilities, not the utilities themselves. Microsoft wants you to get the tools you need when you need them, and it's better to have multiple paths to a utility rather than just one.


EXAM TIP CompTIA A+ exams want you to know several ways to open Device

Device Manager shows all the devices that Windows recognizes, organized into special groups called types. All devices of the same type are grouped under the same type heading. To see the devices of a particular type, you must open the group of that type. Figure 4-57 shows a Windows Vista Device Manager screen with all the installed devices healthy, which makes us techies happy. If Windows detects a problem, the device has a down arrow, a red X, or a black exclamation point in a yellow field, as in the case of the digital still camera device in Figure 4-58.

Figure 4-58 Device with problems

NOTE There is another "problem" icon you may see on a device in Device Manager: a blue i in a white field. According to Microsoft, this means that you have turned off automatic configuration for a device. A down arrow on Windows Vista/7 or a red X on Windows XP means that Windows (or you) disabled the device; right-click the device to enable it (see Figure 4.59). With a black exclamation point, right-click on the device and select Properties. Read the error code and explanation in the Device Status panel (see Figure 4-60). If necessary, search for a Microsoft Knowledge Base article that matches the number to see what to do. There are about 40 different bugs, no one bothers to memorize them!

Figure 4-59 Enabling a disabled device

Figure 4-60 Problem Device Properties Device Manager isn't just for troubleshooting. It also allows you to update drivers with a simple mouse click (assuming you have a replacement driver on your computer). Right-click on a device and select Update Driver Software from the menu to start the process. Figure 4-61 shows the options in Windows Vista.

Figure 4-61 Update Driver Software selection in Windows Vista Device Manager Make sure you can access Device Manager! You'll come back to it again and again in later chapters, because it's the first tool you should turn to when you have a hardware problem. System Tools The Start menu offers a variety of technological utilities gathered in one place: System Tools. In the System Tools menu, you will find commonly accessed tools such as System Information and Disk Defragmenter (see Figure 4-62).

Figure 4-62 System Tools menu options Many technicians overlook memorizing how to find the right Windows tool to diagnose problems, but nothing hurts your credibility with a customer like fumbling around, clicking through a variety of menus and applets, while muttering, "I know it's around here somewhere. So CompTIA A+ certification exams test you on a variety of paths to the right tools. To access System Tools in all three versions of Windows, go to Start | All Programs | Accessories | System Tools Each version of Windows shares many of the same tools, but each includes its own utilities as well. I'll note which version of Windows uses which particular system tool. Activate Windows (All)

Windows XP released a copy protection scheme called activation. Activation is a process in which your computer sends Microsoft a unique code generated on your machine based on the product key from the installation CD/DVD and a number of hardware characteristics, such as the amount of RAM, processor model of the CPU and others and zeros in your computer. Activation is normally done at installation time, but if you choose not to activate during installation or if you make "substantial" changes to your hardware, you will need to use the Activate Windows utility (see Figure 4-63). With the Activate Windows utility, you can activate over the Internet or by phone.

Figure 4-63 Activate Windows

NOTE Once you have activated Windows, the Activate Windows applet will disappear. Backup (Windows XP)

The backup utility allows you to back up selected files and folders to removable media, such as tape drives. Backup is an important feature that is covered in detail in Chapters 16 and 29.

NOTE Neither Windows XP Home nor Windows XP Media Center include a backup during installation. You must install the backup program from the Windows installation CD by running the \Valueadd\MSFT\Ntbackup\NTbackup.msi program. Backup Status and Settings (Windows Vista)

Vista does not allow you to selectively back up files on your computer. You can only back up personal data using the Backup Status and Configuration Tool or, if you have Vista Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise, take a full PC backup using Windows Complete PC Backup. If you want to pick and choose the file to backup, you need to purchase a third-party tool. This tool allows you to back up to optical media, a hard drive, or a network drive.

NOTE Windows 7 has a more powerful backup utility than Windows Vista, but you won't find it in the System Tools folder. See Chapter 29 for more information on Windows 7 backup tools. Character Map(All)

Have you ever been using a program only to find that you need to enter a strange character like the euro character (€) but your word processor doesn't support it? That's when you need the Character Map. Allows you to copy any Unicode character to the Clipboard (see Figure 4-64).

Figure 4-64 Character Map

NOTE Windows 7 includes the Private Character Editor tool, which allows you to create your own characters and symbols to use with the Character Map. Disk Cleanup(All)

Disk Cleanup scans your computer for unnecessary files, which is useful when your hard drive starts to fill up and you need space. All versions of Windows since XP start this program whenever your hard drive has less than 200 MB of free disk space. Disk Defragmenter (XP and Vista)

Use Disk Defragmenter to make your hard drive run faster; you will see more details about this useful tool in Chapter 12. You can access this utility in the same way that you access Device Manager; you will also find Disk Defragmenter in the computer's Management Console. A simpler method is to select Start | All programs | Accessories | System Tools: You will find Disk Defragmenter in the list. You can also right-click any drive in My Computer or Computer, select Properties, and click the Tools tab, where you'll find a convenient Defrag Now button. Files and Settings Transfer Wizard (Windows XP)

Suppose you have an old computer full of files and settings, and you just bought a new computer. You want to copy everything from your old computer to your new computer, what to do? Microsoft promotes the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard as the tool you need (see Figure 4-65). This utility copies your desktop files and folders and, more conveniently, your Internet Explorer and Outlook Express settings; however, it will not copy your programs, not even Microsoft ones, and it will not copy the settings of any program other than Internet Explorer and Outlook Express. If you need to copy everything from an old computer to a new one, you'll probably want to use a disk imaging tool like Norton Ghost.

Figure 4-65 Windows Easy Transfer Files and Settings Wizard (Windows Vista/7) Windows Easy Transfer is an aggressively updated version of the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard. It does everything the previous version does and adds the ability to copy user accounts and other settings (see Figure 4-66).

Figure 4-66 Windows Easy Transfer scheduled tasks (all)

With the Scheduled Tasks utility, you can schedule any program to start and stop at any time you want. The only trick to this utility is that you have to enter the program you want to run as a command on the command line, with all the appropriate switches. Figure 4-67 shows the configuration line for running the Disk Defragmenter program.

Figure 4-67 Task Scheduler

TEST HINT Microsoft provides a data transfer tool called the User State Migration Tool (USMT) for advanced users. It is functionally similar to Windows Easy Transfer, but uses a scripting language for more power and flexibility. CompTIA also lists the "User Data Migration Tool (UDMT)" in the objectives, but that tool does not exist since Windows NT and therefore will not be included in the exams. Security Center (Windows XP)

Security Center is a single location to configure many security features on your computer. This tool is also found in the Control Panel. Windows Vista and Windows 7 remove Security Center from System Tools. Windows Vista retains the Control Panel applet, but Windows 7 has a hardened applet called Action Center (discussed later in this chapter). All of these security features, and many more, are discussed in detail in the corresponding chapters. System Information (All)

System Information is one of those tools that everyone (including CompTIA A+ exams) likes to talk about, but it's rare to meet techies who say they actually use this tool. System Information displays tons of information about your PC's hardware and software (see Figure 4-68).

Figure 4-68 System Restore System Information (All)

System Restore is possibly the single most important utility you'll ever use in Windows when it comes to repairing a damaged system. This handy tool allows you to take a “snapshot,” a copy of various important files and settings, and return to that state later (see Figure 4-69). System Restore contains multiple snapshots, any of which you can restore in the future.

Figure 4-69 System Restore

TIP If your system won't boot and you can't run System Restore from Windows, you can access System Restore by booting from the Windows installation CD or DVD and accessing System Restore from the System Recovery Options menu. Imagine that you are installing a new device on your PC, or perhaps a piece of software. Before installing, it takes a snapshot and calls it "Before Install". You install the device, and now something starts acting weird. Go back to System Restore and reload the previous snapshot Before installation, and the problem will be gone. System Restore isn't perfect, but it's usually the first thing you should try when something goes wrong, assuming, of course, that you've taken a snapshot. Resource Monitor (Windows 7)

Resource Monitor tracks CPU, memory, disk, and network usage on your computer and displays that information in a dizzying number of tables and graphs. Resource Monitor can help you track down any annoying programs or services that you think are hogging all your system resources and slowing down your PC. If you've seen Windows Task Manager before, think of this as the supercharged version.

with additional bells and more whistles.

NOTE Windows Vista has a tool that offers features similar to Resource Monitor called Reliability and Performance Monitor. You can find it in the Control Panel applet called Administrative Tools. (More on the latter a bit later in the chapter.) Command Line The Windows command line interface is a throwback to how Microsoft operating systems worked long, long ago when you entered text commands at a prompt. of the system. Figure 4-70 shows the command prompt for DOS, the first operating system commonly used on PCs.

Figure 4-70 DOS Command Prompt DOS is dead, but the command line interface is alive and well in all versions of Windows, including Windows 7. Every good technician knows how to access and use the command line interface. commands. It's a lifesaver when the graphical part of Windows doesn't work, and it's often faster than using a mouse if you're experienced with using it. An entire chapter (Chapter 18) is devoted to the command line, but let's look at an example of what the command line can do. First, you need to get there. In Windows XP, select Start | Run and type cmd in the dialog box. Click OK and you will be taken to a command prompt. On Windows Vista/7, do the same under Start | Search dialog. Figure 4-71 shows a command prompt in Windows Vista.

Figure 4-71 Windows Vista Command Prompt Once at the command prompt, type dir and press ENTER on your keyboard. This command lists all the files and folders in a specific directory, probably your home folder for this exercise, and gives sizes and other information. DIR is just one of the many useful command line tools you'll learn about in this book. Microsoft Management Console One of the biggest complaints about previous versions of Windows was the wide spread of the many utilities needed for administration and troubleshooting. Despite years of research, Microsoft was never able to find a place for all utilities that would please even a small minority of support people. In a moment of sheer genius, Microsoft determined that the greatest utility was the one that support people created for themselves. This led to the creation of the amazing Microsoft Management Console. Microsoft Management Console (MMC) is simply a shell program in Windows that contains individual utilities called snap-ins. To start an MMC, select Start | Run in Windows XP, or select Start | Search bar in Windows Vista/7. Type mmc and press ENTER to get a blank MMC. Blank MMCs don't have much to do with it (see Figure 4-72).

Figure 4-72 Blank MMC

NOTE Windows Vista labels the search bar as Start Search. Windows 7 labels it as search programs and files. Techies just call it the search bar because it works the same way in both versions of Windows. You can make a blank MMC console useful by adding snap-ins, which include most of the utilities you use in Windows. Even the good old Device Manager is a plugin. You can add as many plugins as you want and you have plenty to choose from. Many companies sell third-party utilities as MMC plugins. For example, to add the Device Manager snap-in, in the blank MMC, select File | Add or remove plugins. In the Add/Remove Plugins dialog, you will see a list of plugins available in Windows Vista/7 (see Figure 4-73); click the Add button in Windows XP to open a similar screen. Select Device Manager from the list and click the Add button to open a Device Manager dialog asking you to choose the local or remote PC for the plugin to work on. Choose Local team for this exercise and click the Finish button. Click the Close button to close the Add Standalone Plugin dialog, and then click OK to close the Add/Remove Plugin dialog.

Figure 4-73 Available plugins You should see Device Manager in the console. Click it. Hey, that looks a bit familiar, doesn't it (see Figure 4-74)?

Figure 4-74 Device Manager as a plugin Once you've added the plugins you want, simply save the console with whatever name, anywhere you like. I'll save this console as Device Manager MMC, for example, and place it on my desktop (see Figure 4-75). I am now just a double click away from Device Manager.

Figure 4-75 The Device Manager desktop shortcut Administrative Tools Windows combines the most popular plug-ins into an applet in the Control Panel called Administrative

Tools. Open Control Panel and open Administrative Tools (see Figure 4-76).

Figure 4-76 Administrative Tools Administrative Tools is really just a folder that stores various pre-built consoles. As you peruse them, notice that many of the consoles share some of the same plugins, nothing wrong with that. Of the consoles for a standard collection of administrative tools, the ones you'll spend the most time are Computer Management, Event Viewer, Performance Monitor (Reliability and Performance Monitor in Windows Vista), and Services.

EXAM TIP CompTIA A+ certification exams have little interest in some of these add-ons, so this book will not cover them all. If I don't mention it, it's almost certainly not on the test! Computer management

The Computer Management applet is technology's best friend, or at least a place where you will spend a lot of time building or maintaining a system (see Figure 4-77). You've already spent considerable time with one of its components: System Tools. Depending on the version of Windows, System Tools also offers Event Viewer, Performance, Device Manager, and more. Storage is where you will find Disk Management.

Figure 4-77 Computer Management Applet Event Viewer

Event Viewer shows you at a glance what happened in the last day, week, or more, including when people logged in and when the PC had problems (see Figure 4-78). You'll see more of the Event Viewer in Chapter 29.

Figure 4-78 Event Viewer Report System Errors Performance (Windows XP)

The Performance Console consists of two plugins: System Monitor and Performance Logs and Alerts. You can use them to read logs, files that record information over time. System Monitor can also monitor data in real time (see Figure 4-79).

Figure 4-79 System Monitor in Action Suppose you are adding a new cable modem and want to know how fast it can download data. Click the plus sign (+) in the toolbar to add a counter. Click the Use Local Computer Counters radio button, and then select Network Interface from the Performance Object drop-down menu. In the Add Counters dialog, make sure the Select Counters from List radio button is selected. Finally, select Bytes Received/sec. The dialog box should look like Figure 4-80.

Figure 4-80 Configuring a performance test Click Add and then Close; probably not much going on. Go to a website, preferably one where you can download a huge file. Start downloading and watch the graph jump; that is the actual performance (see Figure 4-81).

Figure 4-81 Downloading at high speed

NOTE You will learn more about the performance console in Chapter 15. Reliability and Performance Monitor/Performance Monitor (Windows Vista/7)

The Reliability and Performance Monitor in Windows Vista offers almost everything you can find in the Performance applet in earlier versions of Windows, although everything is monitored by default, so you don't need to add anything. In addition, it includes a Reliability Monitor. Reliability Monitor allows you to see at a glance what has been done on the computer over a period of time, including software installations and uninstalls, hardware or application failures, and overall uptime (see Figure 482). . It's a good startup tool for checking out a Vista machine that's new to you.

Figure 4-82 Reliability and Performance Monitor open on the Reliability Monitor screen in Vista Windows 7 removes Reliability Monitor from this tool and calls it Performance Monitor, but everything else is the same. You can still find Reliability Monitor in Windows 7 by searching for it in the search bar.

NOTE You will learn more about Reliability and Performance Monitor/Performance Monitor in Chapter 15. Services

Windows runs a large number of separate programs called services. The best way to visualize a service is to think of it as something that runs, but is invisible. Windows comes with around 100 services by default, and they handle a whole host of tasks, from application support to networking. You can use the Services applet to view the status of all services on the system, including services that are not running (see Figure 4-83).

Figure 4-83 Services Applet Right-click a service and select Properties to modify its settings. Figure 4-84 shows the properties of the Bluetooth Support Service. See the Startup Type dropdown? It displays four options: Automatic (Delayed Start), Automatic, Manual, and Disabled. Automatic means it starts when the system boots (Delayed Start services start two minutes after boot), Manual means you have to go to this tab to start it, and Disabled prevents it from starting. Also make sure you understand how to start, stop, pause, and resume the services (note the four buttons under Startup Type).

Figure 4-84 Bluetooth Support Service Properties

EXAM TIP The CompTIA A+ certification exams aren't interested in you memorizing all of these services, just making sure you can manipulate them. Action Center (Windows 7 Exclusive) Sometimes you just want to take a look at your system and know that nothing has gone terribly wrong. Previous versions of Windows lacked a single "peephole" to see the status of your computer. Action Center fills that gap, providing a one-page aggregation of event messages, warnings, and maintenance messages that, for many technicians, could quickly replace Event Viewer as the first place to look for problems. Unlike Event Viewer, Action Center separates issues into two sections, Security and Maintenance, making it easy to quickly scan a system (see Figure 4-85).

Figure 4-85 Action Center Action Center just compiles information, taking data from well-known utilities like Event Viewer, Windows Update, Windows Firewall, and User Account Control (UAC) and putting it in an easy-to-read format. If you want, you can tell Action Center where to look for information by selecting Change Action Center Settings (see Figure 4-86).

Figure 4-86 Changing Action Center settings If you see a problem, Action Center includes many links to take you to the utility you need. From the Action Center applet, you get direct links to • UAC Settings • Performance Information and Tools • Backup and Restore • Windows Update • Troubleshooting Wizard • System Restore Although Action Center does little else Reproducing information from other utilities makes troubleshooting quicker and easier. Combined with quick links to most of the utilities you'll need, Action Center should become your home base when something goes wrong on a Windows 7 PC.

Beyond A+ Windows 8 Windows 8 will be released sometime in 2012 (according to Microsoft), but it's not covered in the 220-801

and 220-802 exams. While the differences between Windows Vista and Windows 7 were small enough that you would know a lot about 7 if you knew about Vista, Windows 8 seeks to reinvent the way we interact with our PCs. The main idea behind Windows 8 is to unify Microsoft's multiple platforms: PCs, tablets, phones; even the Xbox 360 now has an interface very similar to the Windows 8 "Metro" user interface (see Figure 4-87). You'll be able to use touch monitors to swipe, drag, pinch, and zoom in apps designed specifically for the new look. Don't worry though – your old desktop is safely hidden behind the Metro home screen.

Figure 4-87 The Windows 8 Metro user interface Beyond the interface, Microsoft has said that it wants to make it easier for developers to quickly program applications for multiple platforms. They've also previewed new tools and improved utilities from previous versions of Windows. The new Task Manager alone, as shown in Figure 4-88, should be enough to whet your appetite until the final launch.

Figure 4-88 Updated Windows 8 Windows Embedded Task Manager The world is full of PCs in the most unlikely places. Everything from cash registers to the F-22 Raptor fighter jet contains a number of tiny PCs. However, these aren't the PCs you're used to seeing. They hardly ever have mice, monitors, keyboards, and the usual I/O you'd expect to see, but they're really PCs, complete with CPU, RAM, BIOS, and storage. These little PCs need operating systems just like any other PC, and several companies make specialized operating systems for embedded PCs. Microsoft makes Windows Embedded only for these specialized embedded PCs.

Chapter Review Questions 1. Which of the following is an advantage of running Windows on NTFS instead of FAT?

A. Security B. Multiple folders C. Long file names D. Speed ​​2. What version of Windows does the Backup Status and Configuration Tool use? A. Windows 2000 B. Windows XP Media Center C. Windows XP Professional D. Windows Vista Ultimate 3. What is the correct way to refer to the system root folder? A. %System% B. &System& C. %SystemRoot% D. &SystemRoot& 4. Which folder is a central storage location for user files in XP? A. Program Files B. My Documents C. My Files D. %SystemRoot%\Users 5. Which utility is useful for troubleshooting hardware? A. System Properties B. Device Manager C. Disk Management D. Security Center 6. Which Windows utility backs up critical files and settings and allows you to revert to a previous state?

A. Registry B. System Restore C. System Information D. Microsoft Management Console 7. Where are many technology tools grouped together? A. Home | All programs | Tools B. Home | The whole program | Tools | System Tools C. Home | All programs | System Tools | Accessories D. Home | All programs | Accessories | System Tools 8. What utility is missing from the default installation of Windows XP Home? A. Backup B. Character map C. Computer management D. User accounts 9. What is shown in the Computer window? A. All drives on your system B. All Control Panel applets C. Installed programs D. Performance Monitor 10. Which Windows 7 feature allows you to link folders and view their contents together? A. Favorites B. Shortcuts C. Libraries D. Windows Explorer responses

1. A. NTFS offers security. FAT does not provide security. 2. D. The backup status and configuration tool did not exist before Vista. 3. C. The system root folder is named %SystemRoot%. 4. B. Most XP users put their personal files in My Documents. 5. B. For general hardware, go to Device Manager. 6. B. System Restore does the trick here, allowing you to backup and restore your system. 7. D. You will find many useful tools in Home | All programs | Accessories | System Tools. 8. A. Backup is not installed by default in Windows XP Home. 9. A. The computer displays its units. 10. C. With Libraries, you can link folders and view their contents together as if they were a single folder.

5 visible networks


In this chapter, you will learn to: • Describe the basic functions of a network, including identifying common devices and connectors • Discuss the differences between a LAN and a WAN and the importance of TCP/IP • Share basic resources It's hard to find a computer that is not connected to a network. Whether your system is part of a large corporate network or a single PC with an Internet connection, every computer has some type of network connection. CompTIA has wisely added some networking coverage to the CompTIA A+ exams, and several chapters toward the back of this book cover networks in great detail. However, by covering basic or "user-level" networking topics early in the book, you'll see how networking affects every facet of modern computing. I didn't call this chapter "Visible Networks" simply as a clever continuation of the previous chapter titles. The main goal of this chapter is to cover the most visible parts of the network: the connections and configurations that allow you and me to set up simple networks. Let's start by answering a big question: Why do we network?

Historical/Conceptual Take a moment to think about what you do on a network. Most of us, when asked, would say "browsing the internet" or "watching YouTube videos" or maybe "printing on the printer below." These are all good reasons to use a network, but what unites them? In each of these situations, you are using your computer (the local computer) to access "stuff" stored on a remote computer (not your local computer). So what do the remote computers have that you might want (see Figure 5-1)?

Figure 5-1 Remote computer access A remote computer called a web server stores the files that make up a website. The web server uses

server programs to store and share the data. The two most popular web server programs are Apache HTTP Server and Internet Information Server (IIS). When you access a website, your web browser (probably Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome) asks the web server to share the web page files and then displays them (see Figure 5-2). Because your computer requests the web page, we call it the client. The remote computer serving the website is a server.

Figure 5-2 Access to a web page

NOTE Any computer running a sharing program is, by definition, a server. But what about YouTube? YouTube also uses web servers, but these web servers connect to massive video databases. Just like a normal web server, these remote computers share the video with your client PC, but use special software capable of sending video fast enough that you can view it without waiting (see Figure 5-3).

Figure 5-3 Access to a YouTube page But we don't need the Internet to share things. Figure 5-4 shows a small home network with each computer running Windows 7. One of the computers on the network has a printer connected through a USB port. This computer has enabled a printer sharing program built into Windows so that other computers on the network can use the printer.

Figure 5-4 Sharing a printer in Windows 7 No matter how big the network is, we use networks to share things. These things can be web pages, videos, printers, folders, email messages, music – what you can share is limited only by your ability to find a server program that can share it and a client program that can access it. Network people call anything a resource that one computer can share with another. Therefore, the goal of networks is to connect computers so that they can share resources or access other shared resources.

To share and access resources, a network must have the following: 1. Something that defines and standardizes the design and operation of cabling, network cards, and the interconnection of multiple computers 2. An addressing method that allows clients find servers and enable the servers to send data to the clients, regardless of the size of the network 3. Some method of sharing resources and accessing those shared resources

Network Technologies When early network designers sat down in a cafe to figure out how to make two or more PCs share data and peripherals, they had to write lots of notes on little white napkins to answer even the most basic questions. The first question was: how? It's easy to say, "Well, just run a wire between them!" But that doesn't tell us how the cable works or how computers connect to the cable. Here are some more general questions: • How will each computer be identified? • If two or more computers want to talk at the same time, how do you ensure that all conversations are understood? • What type of cable? What caliber? How many wires in the cable? Which wires do what? How long can the cable be? What kind of connectors? Clearly, building a modern PC network involves much more than just laying a cable! As you saw a bit earlier, most networks have one or more client machines, PCs that request information or services, and a server, the machine that hosts and shares the data. Both clients and servers need Network Interface Controllers (NICs) that define or label the machine on the network. A NIC also divides files into smaller units of data, called frames, to send over the network, and reassembles the frames it receives into complete files. You also need some means to deliver the frames between two or more PCs; in most cases, this is a wire that can carry electrical pulses; sometimes it is radio waves or other wireless methods. Finally, your PC's operating system must be able to communicate with your own network hardware and with other machines on the network. Figure 5-5 shows a typical network layout.

Figure 5-5 A typical network

TESTING HINT Not too many years ago, each NIC came on an expansion card that was added to a motherboard. Most technicians called that card a network interface card, or NIC. Now that almost all motherboards have built-in networking, the acronym has shifted to Network Interface Controller. You'll probably only see the term NIC in reviews, although I also call them network cards. This section of the chapter discusses the inventive solutions that network engineers found to manage frames and cabling. After a brief look at the core technology, the chapter dives into four specific types of networks. You will delve into what the software looks like later in this chapter. Topology If a group of computers are connected to form a network, some logic or order must influence how they are connected. Perhaps each computer connects to a single main line that snakes around the office. Each computer can have its own cable, and all the cables come together at a central point. Or maybe all the cables from all the computers connect to one main loop that moves data along a track, picking up and leaving data like a circular subway line. The topology of a network describes the way computers are connected to each other on that network. The most common network topologies are called bus, ring, star, and mesh. Figure 5-6 shows the four types: a bus topology, where all computers connect to the network through a main line called a bus cable; a ring topology, where all the computers on the network connect to a central ring of cable; a star topology, where the computers on the network connect to a central wiring point (usually called a switch); and a mesh topology, where each computer has a dedicated line to every other computer. There are also hybrid topologies, such as star bus or star ring, which combine aspects of other topologies to capitalize on their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. You'll look at the most important hybrid topology, the star bus, in a moment, but for now, make sure you know about the four main topologies! Look at Figure 5-6. A mesh topology looks incredibly tough and robust, doesn't it? And it is, at least on paper. Each computer is physically connected to every other computer on the network, so even if half the PCs fail, the network works as well as ever (for the survivors). However, in a practical sense, implementing a mesh topology network would be an expensive hassle. For example, a small network with

just 10 PCs would need 45 different pieces of cable to connect each PC to every other PC. What a mess of tights! Because of this, mesh topologies have never been practical in a wired network.

Figure 5-6 Clockwise from top left: bus, ring, mesh, and star topologies Although a topology describes the method by which systems are connected in a network, the topology itself does not describes all the features necessary for a cabling system to work. The term bus topology, for example, describes a network consisting of a number of machines connected to the network via the same cable. Please note that this definition leaves many questions unanswered. What is the wire made of? How long can the cable be? How do machines decide which machine should send data at a specific time? A network based on a bus topology can answer these questions in several different ways. Most technicians make a clear distinction between the logical topology of a network (how the network looks on paper, with nice straight lines and boxes, similar to an electronic schematic) and the physical topology. Physical topology describes the typically cluttered computer network, with cables running diagonally across ceiling space or snaking through walls. If someone is describing the topology of a particular network, make sure you understand whether they are talking about the logical topology or the physical topology. Over the years, manufacturers and standards bodies have created several specific network technologies based on different topologies. A network technology is a practical application of a topology and other critical standards to provide a method for getting data from one computer to another on a network. It defines many aspects of a network, from the topology to the type of structure, cabling, and connectors used. A network technology defines everything needed to get data from one computer to another.

Marcos 801 y NIC

Data moves from one PC to another in discrete chunks called frames. You will sometimes hear the word package used instead of frames; this is incorrect. Packages are a part of the framework. You'll find more about packets in Chapter 22. Every NIC in the world has a built-in identifier, a unique address for that single network card, called a media access control (MAC) address. You read that right: every network card in the world has its own unique MAC address! A MAC address is a binary number, which means it is a string of 1s and 0s. Each 1 or 0 is called a bit. (You'll learn more about binary in Chapter 6.) The MAC address is 48 bits long and provides more than 281 trillion MAC addresses, so there are plenty of MAC addresses to go around. Because people have trouble keeping track of so many 1's and 0's, we need another way to display addresses. Hexadecimal is shorthand for representing strings of 1's and 0's. One hexadecimal character is used to represent four binary characters. Here is the key:

So MAC addresses can be binary, but we represent them using 12 hexadecimal characters. These MAC addresses are recorded on each NIC, and some NIC manufacturers print the MAC address on the card. Figure 5-7 shows the system information utility description for a NIC, with the MAC address highlighted.

Figure 5-7 MAC address

NOTE Although MAC addresses are built into the NIC, some NICs allow you to change the MAC address on the NIC. This is rarely done.

Hey! I thought we were talking about frames! Well we are, but you need to understand MAC addresses to understand frames. The many varieties of frameworks share common features (see Figure 5-8). First, the frames contain the MAC address of the network card to which the data is being sent. Second, they have the MAC address of the network card that sent the data. Third, there's the data itself (at this point, we have no idea what the data is; some software handles that question), which can vary in size depending on the frame type. Finally, the frame must contain some sort of data check to verify that the data was received in good order. Most frameworks use a clever mathematical algorithm called a cyclic redundancy check (CRC).

Figure 5-8 Generic frame This discussion of frames raises the question: how big is a frame? Or more specifically, how much data do you put in each box? How do you ensure that the receiving PC understands the way the sending machine broke down the data and can therefore put the pieces back together? The problem with answering these questions is that they cover so many elements. When the first networks were created, everything from frames to connectors to cable type had to be invented from scratch. To create a successful network, you need the sending and receiving PCs to use the same network technology. Over the years, many hardware protocols have been implemented, with names like Token Ring, FDDI, and ARCnet, but today only one hardware protocol dominates the modern PC computing landscape: Ethernet. Introducing Ethernet A consortium of companies centered on Digital Equipment Corporation, Intel, and Xerox invented the first network in the mid-1970s. More than just creating a network, they wrote a series of standards that defined everything needed to carry data from one computer to another. This series of standards was called Ethernet. Over the years, Ethernet has gotten faster and used different types of cabling. As a result, the Ethernet people have a number of versions of Ethernet, often called Ethernet versions. Although

There are various speeds and types of cable, all types of Ethernet use the same framework. This is very important: you can have any combination of hardware and cabling devices using different flavors of Ethernet on a single Ethernet network, and in most cases, the PCs will be able to communicate without issue. Most modern Ethernet networks use one of three speeds (and sometimes all three), 10BaseT, 100BaseT, or 1000BaseT. As the numbers in the names suggest, 10BaseT networks run at 10 Mbps, 100BaseT networks run at 100 Mbps, and 1000BaseT networks, called Gigabit Ethernet, run at 1000 Mbps or 1 Gbps. The three technologies, sometimes collectively referred to as 10/100/1000BaseT or simply Ethernet, use a star bus topology and connect over a type of cable called unshielded twisted pair (UTP).

NOTE Ethernet developers continue to refine the technology. 1000BaseT might be the most common standard now, but 10-Gigabit Ethernet is starting to make its way today. star bus

Imagine taking a bus network (where each computer connects to a common wire) and shrinking the bus to fit inside a box. Then, instead of connecting each PC directly to the cable, you connect them via cables to special ports on the case (see Figure 5-9). The box with the bus takes care of all the tedious details that a bus network requires. The bus topology would look a lot like a star topology, wouldn't it? All modern Ethernet networks use a star bus topology.

Figure 5-9 Star bus

The central box with the bus, a switch, provides a common connection point for network devices. Switches can have a wide variety of ports. Most consumer grade switches have 4 or 8 ports, but enterprise grade switches can have 32 or more ports. Early Ethernet networks used a hub. A switch is a much higher and much more common version of a hub. Figure 5-10 shows a typical consumer level switch.

Figure 5-10 A switch A simple example demonstrates the difference between hubs and switches. Let's say you have a network of 32 PCs, all with 100 Mbps NICs connected to a 100 Mbps hub or switch. We would say your network bandwidth is 100 Mbps. If you put all 32 PCs on a 100 Mbps hub With 32 ports, you have 32 PCs sharing the 100 Mbps of bandwidth. A switch solves this problem by making each port its own separate network. Each PC gets to use the full bandwidth. The bottom line? Once switches became affordable, hubs disappeared. The connection between a computer and a switch is called a segment. With most cable types, Ethernet segments are limited to 100 meters or less. Cheap and centralized, a star bus network doesn't go down if a single cable breaks. It's true that the network would go down if the switch failed, but that's rare. Even if a switch fails, replacing a switch in a closet is much easier than tracking a bus through walls and ceilings and trying to find a break! Unshielded Twisted Pair

Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) cabling is the cabling specified for 10/100/1000BaseT and is the predominant cabling system in use today. There are many types of twisted pair cabling available, and the type used depends on the needs of the network. Twisted pair cabling consists of 22-26 AWG wire twisted in color-coded pairs. Each cable is individually insulated and wrapped as a group in a common jacket. CAT levels

UTP cables come in categories that define the maximum speed at which data can be transferred (also called bandwidth). The main categories (CAT) are described in Table 5-1.

Table 5-1 CAT Levels The CAT level should be clearly marked on the cable, as shown in Figure 5-11.

Figure 5-11 Cable markings for CAT level

EXAM TIP Although these days you'll only find CAT 3 installed for phones and in very old network installations, CompTIA traditionally enjoys tripping up technicians who don't know it can handle 100 Mbps networks. The Telecommunications Industry Association/ The Electronic Industries Alliance (TIA/EIA) establishes the UTP categories, which are found under the TIA/EIA 568 specification. Currently, most installers use CAT 5e or CAT 6 cable. Shielded twisted pair

Shielded Twisted Pair (STP), as the name implies, consists of twisted pairs of wires surrounded by shielding to protect them from EMI or electromagnetic interference. STP is quite rare, mainly because there is very little need for STP protection; It only matters in places with excessive electronic noise, such as a shop area with lots of lights, electric motors, or other machinery that could cause problems for other cables. Implementing 10/100/1000BaseT

The 10BaseT and 100BaseT standards require two pairs of wires: one pair to send and one pair to receive. 10BaseT ran on an older CAT version called CAT 3, but generally used at least one CAT 5 cable. 100BaseT requires at least CAT 5 to work. 1000BaseT requires all four pairs of wires in a CAT 5e or CAT 6 cable. These cables use a connector called an RJ-45 connector. The designation RJ (registered jack) was invented by Ma Bell (the telephone company, for you young people) years ago and is still used today.

NOTE There are CAT levels for connectors and cables. Don't even try to use a CAT 5e RJ-45 connector with a CAT 6 cable. Currently, only two types of RJ connectors are used for networks: RJ-11 and RJ-45 (see Figure 5-12). RJ-11 connects your telephone to the telephone wall jack in your home. Supports up to two pairs of wires, although most phone lines use only one pair. The other pair is used to support a second phone line. RJ-11 connectors are used primarily for dial-up connections to the Internet (see Chapter 24) and are not used in any common LAN setup, although some weird (and out of business) "network in a box" companies did use them. RJ-45 is the standard for UTP connectors. RJ-45 has connections for up to four pairs and is visibly much wider than RJ-11. Figure 5-13 shows the position of pins #1 and #8 on an RJ-45 connector.

Figure 5-12 RJ-11 and RJ-45

Figure 5-13 RJ-45 Pin Numbers TIA/EIA has two standards for connecting the RJ-45 connector to UTP cable: TIA/EIA 568A (T568A) and TIA/EIA 568B (T568B). Both are acceptable. You don't have to follow any standards as long as you use the same pairings on each end of the cable; however, it will simplify your life if you choose a standard. Make sure all your cabling uses the same standard and you'll save yourself a lot of work in the end. The most important thing is to keep records! Like all cables, the cables in UTP are numbered. A number does not appear on each cable, but on each

the wire has a standardized color. Table 5-2 shows the official TIA/EIA standard color chart for UTP.

Table 5-2 UTP Plenum Cabling Color Chart vs. PVC Cabling

Most workplace network cable installations are raised above the ceiling and then lowered through the walls to present a good port in the wall. The space in the ceiling, under floors, and in walls through which the cable passes is called the plenum space. The potential problem with this cabling running through the chamber space is that the protective covering on the network cables, called a jacket, is made of plastic and, if it gets hot enough, will generate noxious smoke and fumes. Standard network cables generally use PVC (polyvinyl chloride) for the jacket, but PVC produces noxious fumes when burned. Fumes from cables burning in the plenum space can quickly spread throughout the building, so you want to use a more flame retardant cable in the plenum space. Plenum-grade cable is simply network cabling with a flame-retardant jacket and is required for cables going into the plenum space. Plenum-grade cable costs three to five times more than PVC, but you should use it every time you install cable in a plenum space. Understanding Ethernet is critical to understanding how networks work. But when we talk about networks, there are two interconnected but very different worlds: the small local area networks where nearby users connect their computers through switches and the Internet. Let's make sure we understand the differences by exploring the world of LANs and WANs in the next section.

Network Protocols, LANs, and WANs The general idea of ​​networks is often confusing to new techies simply because there are two very different ways of looking at networks: small networks that share resources like documents, music, and printers, and large networks like the Internet. where you share web pages, email and just about anything you want. Let's take a moment to clarify how these two seemingly different networks are very similar because today they both use the same language or protocol. A brief history of the network protocol wars and why TCP/IP won Ethernet does a good job of transferring data from one machine to another, but Ethernet alone is not enough to create a complete network; many other functions need to be handled. For example, an Ethernet frame has a maximum of 1500 bytes. What if the data being moved is larger than 1500 bytes? Something has to split the data into chunks at one end and something else has to reassemble those chunks at the other end so the file can be reassembled correctly. Another problem arises if the network card of one of the machines on the network is replaced. Until now, the only way to tell one machine from another was by the MAC address on the network card. To solve this, each machine must have a name, an identifier for the network, which is "on top" of the MAC address. Something needs to keep track of the MAC addresses on the network and the names of the

machines so that frames and names can be correlated. If you replace a PC's network card, the network, after some special queries, will update the list to associate the PC's name with the MAC address of the new network card. The network protocol software takes the incoming data received by the network card, keeps it organized, sends it to the application that needs it, and then takes the outgoing data from the application and delivers it to the NIC to send over. of the network. All networks use some protocol. Over the years there have been many network protocols, most combining multiple simple protocols into groups, called protocol stacks. This led to some crazy named network protocols, like NetBIOS/NetBEUI and TCP/IP. NetBIOS/NetBEUI

During the 1980s, IBM developed the NetBIOS Extended User Interface (NetBEUI), the default protocol for early versions of Windows. NetBEUI offered small footprint, easy configuration, and relatively high speed. The underlying protocol stack was named NetBIOS/NetBEUI. The NetBIOS protocol handled the naming conventions, while NetBEUI partitioned the data to deliver it via frames.

NOTE A node is any device that has a network connection; usually this means a PC, but other devices can be nodes. For example, many printers connect directly to a network and can therefore be considered nodes. NetBIOS names were very simple. You can call your computer TIMMY or MIKESPC. NetBIOS did not allow names to include anything other than letters (uppercase only), numbers, and very few special characters. NetBIOS/NetBEUI was great for small networks, but it relied on individual computers to send frames addressed to the MAC address FF-FF-FF-FF-FF-FF, which meant everyone. The official term for this is a transmission. Broadcasts consume bandwidth, but are excellent for a node trying to obtain a MAC address for another node, as shown in Figure 5-14.

Figure 5-14 A transmission in action

NOTE NetBIOS stands for Basic Network Input/Output System, which is why everyone always called it NetBIOS. Streams are useful, but the larger the network, the more bandwidth the streams consume. In general, NetBIOS could handle about 300 computers on a single network before streaming became too much. By the mid-1980s, it was clear that NetBIOS wasn't going to work for really large networks, so a new network protocol was in the works. Furthermore, scaling also required new hardware. LAN, Routing, and WAN A local area network (LAN) is a group of computers that are located physically close to each other, no more than a few hundred meters apart at most. A LAN can be in a single room, on a single floor, or in a single building. But I will add that a LAN is almost always a group of computers that can "hear" each other when one of them sends a transmission. A group of computers connected by one or more switches is a broadcast domain (see Figure 5-15).

Figure 5-15 From broadcast domains: from separate LANs

EXAM TIP For CompTIA A+ exams, remember that a LAN is a group of networked computers that are close to each other. Also, remember that a LAN is almost always a broadcast domain. A wide area network (WAN) is a large group of computers connected by long-distance technologies. LANs connect to a WAN with a magic box called a router (see Figure 5-16). The best example of a WAN is the Internet.

Figure 5-16 Two broadcast domains connected by a router: One WAN You can connect several smaller networks into one larger network, turning a group of LANs into one large WAN, but this raises a couple of problems with network traffic. . A computer needs some form of powerful and flexible addressing to route a frame so that it goes to a computer within its own LAN or to a computer on another LAN on the same WAN. Transmission is also not acceptable, at least between LANs. If every computer saw every frame, network traffic would quickly spiral out of control! Also, the addressing scheme must work so that routers can classify frames and send them to the proper LAN. This process, called routing, requires routers and a routing-capable protocol to function properly. Routers destroy any incoming broadcast frames, by design. No broadcast frame can go through a router. This makes streaming still fairly common within a single streaming domain, but never anywhere else. NetBIOS/NetBEUI was great for a single LAN, but it lacked the additional addressing capabilities needed for a WAN. A new protocol was needed, one that could handle routing. TCP/IP

Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) was originally developed for the progenitor of the Internet, the US Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET). In 1983, TCP /IP became the built-in protocol for the popular UNIX BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution), and other versions of UNIX quickly adopted it as well. The largest network of all, the Internet, uses TCP/IP as its protocol. All versions of Windows (in fact, all current operating systems) use TCP/IP as the default protocol. The reason TCP/IP has a slash in the middle is to reflect that TCP/IP is not a single network protocol. It is a series of protocols that work together. TCP handles the transfer of data between computers, while IP handles the addressing scheme that gives us something more powerful and flexible than MAC addresses. We'll cover IP addresses in this chapter and save some of the other protocols for Chapter 22.

NOTE Chapter 22 covers TCP/IP in much more detail. IP addresses and subnet masks

In a TCP/IP network, the systems do not have names but IP addresses. The IP address is the

unique identification number for your system on the network. Part of the address identifies the network and part identifies the address of the local (host) computer on the network. IP addresses consist of four sets of eight binary numbers (octets), with each set separated by a period. Numbers range from 0 to 255. This is called dotted decimal notation. Every computer on a network running TCP/IP gets an IP address like this:

Every computer in the same broadcast domain as this computer will have some numbers in common. If the network is small, all computers will share the first three octets. In this case, a computer with the IP address is in the same broadcast domain as The part of the IP address that is common to all computers in the same broadcast domain is called the network ID. The network ID for this example is 202.34.16. Are these example computers part of the same broadcast domain as a device with an IP address of No. In this example, only the computers that are part of 202.34.16 are part of the same broadcast domain as But how does each computer know which part of its IP address identifies the network ID? The subnet mask tells the computer which part of your IP address is the network ID. A typical subnet mask looks like this:

The network ID is determined by the 255-octet number in the subnet mask. If there is a 255, that part of its address is the network ID. If your IP address were and your subnet mask was, your network ID would be 190.24. If the subnet mask were, the same IP address would have a network ID of 190.24.16.

EXAM TIP So far, I've only discussed Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) addresses. A newer version, known as Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), does not follow the same conventions. You will learn much more about IPv6 in Chapter 22. Default Gateway

Sometimes you will want to talk to computers that are outside of your network. In that case, you will need to connect to a router. Now I can give another description of a router. A router is a device that has at least two IP addresses: one that connects to your LAN switch, and one that connects to the "next network." That next network could be your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or another router at your company, who knows (and more importantly, who cares, as long as you get there)? The port on your router that connects to your LAN receives an IP address that is part of its Network ID. In most cases, this is the first address shown in Figure 5-17.

Figure 5-17 Default Gateway The IP address of the "LAN" side of your router (the port connected to your LAN) is the address your computer uses to send data to anything outside of your network ID. This is called the default gateway. Domain Name Service (DNS)

Knowing that users couldn't remember many IP addresses, early Internet pioneers devised a way to correlate those numbers with more human-friendly designations. Special computers, called domain name service (DNS) servers, maintain databases of IP addresses and their corresponding names. For example, suppose a machine with the IP address hosts a website and we want it to be known as When we set up the website, we pay money for a DNS server to register the DNS name at the IP address So instead of typing "" to access the web page, you can type "". Your system will then query the DNS server for the IP address of and use it to find the correct machine. Unless you want to type IP addresses all the time, you should use DNS servers (see Figure 5-18).

Figure 5-18 Domain Name Service The Internet has regulated domain names. If you want a domain name that others can access on the Internet, you must register your domain name and pay a small annual fee. Originally, all DNS names ended with one of the following seven domain name qualifiers, called top-level domains (TLDs):

As more and more countries joined the Internet, a new level of domains was added to the original seven to indicate a particular country's DNS name, such as .uk for the United Kingdom. It is common to see DNS names like or The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has added several new domains, including .name, .biz, .info, .tv, and others. Given the explosive growth of the Internet, these are unlikely to be the last. For the latest developments, please refer to the ICANN website at Entering IP Information

When you configure a computer to connect to a network, you must enter the IP address, subnet mask, default gateway, and at least one DNS server. (The last of these is called client-side DNS configuration.) Let's review: • IP Address The unique address of a computer on the network • Subnet Mask Identifies your Network ID • IP address of the default gateway or LAN side of your router • DNS Server Tracks down easy-to-remember DNS names for addresses IP

IP address settings differ between each version of Windows. Figure 5-19 shows the IP settings on a Windows 7 system.

Figure 5-19 Configuring IP on a Windows 7 System Looking at Figure 5-19, notice the radio button for Obtain an IP address automatically. This is a common configuration for which you do not need to enter any information. You can use this setting if your network uses Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). If you have DHCP (most networks do) and your computer is set to obtain an IP address automatically, your computer will boot up and broadcast a DHCP request. The DHCP server provides your computer with all the IP information it needs to connect to the network (see Figure 5-20).

Figure 5-20 A DHCP server handing out an IP address See Chapter 22 for more details on IP addresses, subnet masks, default gateways, and DNS servers. For now, just appreciate that these settings for your computer exist as we continue to roam the visible web.

802 Network Organization Once a network is created using the appropriate network technology such as Ethernet, users must be able to share resources in some organized way. Resources such as folders and printers need a way to determine who can and cannot use them and how they can be used. Microsoft designed Windows networks to work in one of three categories: workgroups, domains, or homegroups. (These are Microsoft terms, but the concepts have been adopted throughout the computer industry and apply to Mac OS X and other operating systems.) These three organizations differ in control, number of machines needed, compatibility, and security. Let's start with the oldest network organization: workgroups. Workgroups Workgroups are the most basic and simple of the three network organizations. They are also the default for almost all new installations of Windows. Workgroups have been around since the old Windows for Workgroups came out in the early 1990s. By default, all computers on the network are assigned to a workgroup called WORKGROUP. You can view your workgroup name by opening the System applet (press the WINDOWS KEY-PAUSE or go to Start | Control Panel | System applet), as shown in Figure 5-21.

Figure 5-21 Default Workgroup There is nothing special about the name WORKGROUP, except that every computer on the network needs the same workgroup name in order to share resources. If you want to change the name of your workgroup, you must use the System applet. Click the Change Settings button to open the System Properties dialog. Then click the Change button to change the name of your workgroup (see Figure 5-22).

Figure 5-22 Change workgroup in advanced settings

NOTE Most workgroup-based Windows networks keep the default name of WORKGROUP. Workgroups lack centralized control over the network; all systems connected to the network are equal. This works well for smaller networks because there are fewer users, connections, and security issues to think about. But what do you do when your network spans dozens or hundreds of users and systems? How can you control all of that? Usernames and passwords

As you will recall from Chapter 4, when you log in to a Windows computer, you must enter a username and password. Windows 7 makes it easy by giving you a nice login interface, as shown in Figure 523.

Figure 5-23 Windows 7 login screen User names and passwords are stored in an encrypted format on your computer. Usernames have several jobs on your computer, but at this point the most interesting job for us is giving a user access to the computer. Usernames work fine when you're accessing your own computer, but these same usernames and passwords are used to access shares on other computers on the network, and that's where we run into problems. To appreciate this problem, let's look at how a typical folder is shared on a network on Windows 7 systems. Sharing a folder

All Windows computers can share folders and printers out of the box. Sharing a folder in Windows 7 is easy: just right-click the folder and select Share with | Specific people to access the File Sharing dialog box (see Figure 5-24). On most Windows 7 systems, you'll see options called Homegroup in the context menu; ignore them for now, as everything will be explained in the next section.

Figure 5-24 Share Folder Dialog Box By default, you will see all user accounts that are currently on this system. You can give an account Read or Read/Write permission, while the person who created the folder is assigned as Owner. The following list describes these permissions: • Read Can see what is in the folder. You can open files in the folder, but you can't save anything to the folder. • Read/Write Same as Read but can save files to the folder. • Owner Same as Read/Write, plus you can set permissions for other users on the folder.

NOTE All versions of Windows come with a much more powerful and complex form of permissions based on the NTFS file system. We'll leave the big discussion of this more advanced form of permissions for Chapter 16. So this whole exchange seems to work pretty well, except for one big problem: When you log in to your computer, you're accessing a username and password. database. on that computer. The accounts you're giving access to are stored on your computer, so how do you give someone on another computer access to that shared folder? You have to give that other person a valid username and password. We use the naming \<username> to track our logins. If you log in to computer A as Mike,

we say that you are logged in to ComputerA\Mike. This nomenclature is very useful when networked computers become part of the process. Figure 5-25 shows an account named Mike on Computer A. Suppose there is a shared folder named Timmy on Computer A and Mike has read/write permission.

Figure 5-25 Computers A and B A person turns on Computer B and logs in as Fred. He opens his Network menu option and sees Computer A, but when he clicks on it, he sees a request for a network password (see Figure 5-26).

Figure 5-26 User name and password input request The reason is that the person logged in as ComputerB\Fred and needs to log in as ComputerA\Mike to access this folder successfully. So, the user needs to know the password for ComputerA\Mike. This is not a very pretty way to protect usernames and passwords. So what can you do? You have three options: 1. You can have people sign in to the shares as shown.

2. You can create the same accounts (same username and password) on all computers and grant sharing permissions to all users for all shares. 3. You can use one account on all computers. Everyone logs in with the same account and then all shares are assigned by default to the same account. Domains Larger networks that need more control use domains. Given the decentralized nature of workgroups, domains require a specific server to control access to network resources. This means tracking each user, each resource, and what each user can do with each resource. To use a domain on a network of Windows machines, you must have a computer running a version of Windows Server (see Figure 5-27). Windows Server is a completely different version of Windows, much more powerful and much more expensive. Current editions of this specialized operating system include Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

Figure 5-27 Windows Server An administrator creates a domain on the Windows Server system, making that system the domain controller (DC). The administrator also creates new user accounts on the domain controller. These accounts are called domain accounts. Once a network is configured as a domain, every PC on the network must join the domain (which removes it from the workgroup). When you log in to a computer that is a member of a domain, Windows will prompt you for a username instead of displaying icons for all users on the network (see Figure 5-28).

Figure 5-28 Domain login screen When you use a domain, you do not log in to your computer. Instead, sign in directly to the domain. All user accounts are stored on the domain controller, as shown in Figure 5-29. Many domains have names that look like web addresses, such as, totalhome.local, or even totalhome. Using the above naming, you can log in to a domain using <domain>\<domain username>. If the totalhome.local domain has a user account named Mike, for example, you would use totalhome. local\Mike to login.

Figure 5-29 Domain Network One of the best features of domains is that you can log in to any computer in the domain with the same domain account. You don't have to set up local accounts on each computer. We call this feature single sign-on, and for most users, this is the biggest benefit of using a Windows domain.

NOTE There is much more to a Windows domain than single sign-on. However, for CompTIA A+ certification, that's the big selling point. If you want to dig deeper into Windows domains, consider getting CompTIA Network+ certified or one of Microsoft's certifications. Homegroups The problem with workgroups is that they provide almost no security and require many logins to access resources. Domains provide single sign-on and a lot of security, but they require special servers and a lot of administration. To fix this, Microsoft introduced a feature in Windows 7 called HomeGroup.

NOTE Homegroups are not available on Windows XP or Windows Vista. HomeGroup uses the idea that people want to connect data, not folders. Most people want to share their

music, not your My Music folder. Therefore, homegroups skip folders entirely and share Windows 7 libraries.

NOTE You may want to review what you learned about libraries in the previous chapter. A homegroup connects a group of computers using a common password, no special usernames are required. Each computer can be a member of only one homegroup at a time. Let's make a homegroup and see how it works.

EXAM TIP Microsoft refers to the technology as HomeGroup, but reduces capitalization to homegroup when talking about the groups themselves. Look for it to show up anyway on CompTIA A+ exams. To create a homegroup, open the Homegroup Control Panel applet. Assuming you're currently connected to a workgroup and haven't yet created a homegroup, you'll see a dialog like the one shown in Figure 5-30.

Figure 5-30 Default Homegroup Dialog Box Click the Create a Homegroup button to create a homegroup. You will then see the Create a Homegroup dialog box shown in Figure 5-31.

Figure 5-31 Create a Homegroup dialog box Notice the five options: Pictures, Music, Videos, Documents, and Printers. Remember those first four are the libraries you learned about in Chapter 4? The Documents checkbox probably isn't checked, but go ahead and check it to share all five things. Click Next to view the homegroup password (see Figure 532).

Figure 5-32 The homegroup password

NOTE Interestingly, all homegroup data is encrypted between systems. Perhaps you have heard that you should not write down passwords? Well, this password is so long that you may need to type it. The dialog even gives you a way to print it! Click Next once more to display the dialog box shown in Figure 5-33. This is the dialog you will now see each time you click the HomeGroup applet in Control Panel.

Figure 5-33 Configured Homegroup Let's take a closer look at this. Notice where it says Sharing Libraries and Printers, and a little further down, How do I share additional libraries? By default, homegroups share libraries, not individual folders. The Music, Pictures, Videos, and Documents libraries are shared by default. Although the printers have their own check box, this setting is still the same as a regular shared printer. It's just a handy place to add printer sharing, since even the most basic users like to share printers.

QUIZ TIP Remember that homegroups share libraries, not folders, by default. Once you've created a homegroup, go to another computer on the network and open the Homegroup Control Panel applet. Assuming all the factors mentioned above, you will see a dialog box like Figure 5-34.

Figure 5-34 Homegroup showing an existing homegroup Click the Join Now button, enter the password, choose which libraries you want to share with everyone else, and the new computer is in the homegroup. Access files shared through a homegroup by opening Windows Explorer, as shown in Figure 5-35. To see what others are sharing, select the corresponding computer name. You can then open those libraries to see the shared folders.

Figure 5-35 Using Homegroups

NOTE Once you create a homegroup, you can access it from Windows Explorer. Sharing more libraries is easy, and if you want, you can even share individual folders. Just right-click on the library or folder and select Share with, as shown in Figure 5-36.

Figure 5-36 The Share With menu Notice that you have four options: Nobody, Homegroup (read), Homegroup (read/write), and Specific people. The Nobody option means that the item is not shared.

TEST TIP Windows Explorer also adds a Share button to the toolbar that works exactly like the menu shown in Figure 5-36. By sharing libraries with homegroups, Microsoft hides folders from most users, helping them share their stuff—documents, pictures, music, and videos—instead of folders. Homegroups fit into a very specific world: smaller home networks, no domain, but within that scope, they work beautifully.

Chapter Review Questions 1. How many bits are in a MAC address? A.24 B.36

C. 48 D. 64 2. Which protocol allows the use of names like instead of IP addresses? A. DNS B. MAC C. IP D. TCP 3. What is the minimum CAT level cable required for a 100BaseT network? A. CAT 1 B. CAT 5 C. CAT 5e D. CAT 6 4. What operating system allows you to deploy HomeGroup? A. Mac OS X B. Windows XP C. Windows 7 D. Windows Server 5. Which of the following is an example of a hybrid topology? A. Bus B. Ring C. Star D. Star bus 6. Which of the following is an advantage of a domain-based network over a workgroup-based network? A. Ease of administration B. Cheaper

C. Single sign-on D. Faster to deploy 7. Which connector does a typical CAT 6 cable use? A. RJ-11 B. RJ-45 C. Plenum D. PVC 8. Why would you use STP over UTP cabling? A. Cheaper B. Easier to install C. Better for avoiding interference D. They are interchangeable terms 9. What type of frame do all NICs on a LAN receive? A. Ethernet B. Broadcast C. WAN D. DNS 10. Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome are examples of what? A. Web servers B. DNS C. Web browsers D. IP addresses Answers 1. C. MAC addresses are 48 bits. 2. A. The Domain Name Service (DNS) protocol allows names to be used instead of IP addresses.

3. B. 100BaseT networks require CAT 5 or better UTP. 4. C. Microsoft released HomeGroup with Windows 7. 5. D. A star bus topology, such as that used with Ethernet networks, is a hybrid topology. 6. C. Domain-based networks allow single sign-on. 7. B. CAT 6 cables use an RJ-45 connector. 8. C. Shielded twisted pair cabling handles interference from other electronic devices much better than unshielded twisted pair. 9. B. All NICs on a LAN will receive broadcast frames. 10. C. All of these programs are web browsers.

6 microprocessors


In this chapter, you will learn to: • Identify the core components of a CPU • Describe the relationship of CPUs and memory • Explain the varieties of modern CPUs • Select and install a CPU • Troubleshoot CPUs For practical purposes, the terms microprocessor and central processing unit (CPU) means the same thing: it's that big chip inside your computer that many people often describe as the brain of the system. You know from Chapter 3 that CPU manufacturers name their microprocessors similar to the auto industry: CPUs get a make and model, like Intel Core i7 or AMD Phenom II X4. But what's going on inside the CPU so that it can do the amazing things that are asked of it every time you get close to the keyboard? This chapter delves into microprocessors in detail. We'll first discuss how processors work and the components that allow them to interact with the rest of the computer. The second section describes how CPUs work with memory. The third section takes you on a tour of modern CPUs. The final section is devoted to hands-on work: CPU selection, installation, and troubleshooting.

Historical/Conceptual Components of the CPU Core Although the computer may appear to act quite intelligently, comparing the CPU to a human brain greatly exaggerates its capabilities. A CPU works more like a very powerful calculator than a brain, but oh, what a calculator! Today's CPUs add, subtract, multiply, divide, and move billions of numbers every second. Processing so much information so fast makes any CPU seem smart. It's simply CPU speed, rather than actual intelligence, that enables computers to perform feats like accessing the Internet, playing visually stunning games, or editing photos. A good PC technician needs to understand some basic CPU functions to support PCs, so let's start with an analysis of how the CPU works. If you wanted to teach someone how a car engine works, you'd use a relatively simple example engine, right? The same principle applies here. Let's begin our study of the CPU with the granddaddy of all PC CPUs: the famous Intel 8088, invented in the late 1970s. Although this CPU first appeared more than 30 years ago, it defined the idea of ​​the modern microprocessor and it contains the same basic parts that are used in even today's most advanced CPUs. Get ready to get into that little magic called CPU. The Man in the Box Let's start by visualizing the CPU as a man in a box (see Figure 6-1). This is a smart guy. He can

perform virtually any mathematical function, manipulate data, and give answers very quickly.

Figure 6-1 Imagine the CPU as a man in a box. This guy is potentially very useful to us, but there's a problem: he lives locked up in a little box. Before he can work with us, we must devise a way to exchange information with him (see Figure 6-2).

Figure 6-2 How do we talk to the Man in the Box? Imagine we installed a set of 16 light bulbs, 8 inside his box and 8 outside his box. Each of the 8 bulbs inside the box connects to one of the 8 bulbs outside the box to form a pair. Each pair of bulbs is always on or off. You can control all 8 pairs of bulbs using a set of 8 switches outside the box, and the Man in the Box can also control them using an identical set of 8 switches inside the box.

This bulb communication device is called an external data bus (EDB). Figure 6-3 shows a cutaway view of the external data bus. When you or the man at the checkout flip a switch, both bulbs come on and the switch on the other side is also flipped to the on position. If either you or the Man in the Box flip one switch, the bulbs on both sides go out, along with the other switch for that pair.

Figure 6-3 External Data Bus Shutdown – Note that there are a couple of light bulbs on. Can you see how this works? By creating on/off patterns with the bulbs that represent different data or commands, you can send that information to the man at the checkout, and he can return the information in the same way, assuming you agree beforehand what the signals mean. different light patterns. To accomplish this, you need some sort of codebook that assigns meanings to the many light patterns that the EDB might display. Keep this thought in mind as we push the analogy a bit further. Before you proceed, make sure you are clear on the fact that this is an analogy, not reality. There really is an EDB, but you won't see any light bulbs or switches on the CPU. However, you can see small wires sticking out of the CPU (see Figure 6-4). If you apply voltage to one of these wires, you essentially activate the switch. Get the idea? So if that wire had voltage, and if a small light bulb was attached to the wire, that light bulb would glow, wouldn't it? In the same way, if the wire did not have power, the bulb would not glow. That's why the switch and light bulb analogy can help you imagine these little wires constantly turning on and off.

Figure 6-4 Close-up of the bottom of a CPU

Now that the EDB allows you to communicate with the Man in the Box, you need to see how it works by placing voltages on the wires. This brings up a naming problem. It's a pain to say something like "on-off-on-off-on-on-off-off" when talking about which wires have voltage. Instead of saying one of the EDB wires is on or off, use the number 1 to represent on and the number 0 to represent off (see Figure 6-5). That way, instead of describing the state of the lights as "on-off-on-off-on-off", I can describe them by writing "10101100".

Figure 6-5 Here “I” means on, “0” means off. In the world of computers, we constantly turn cables on and off. As a result, we can use this "1 and 0" or binary system to describe the state of these wires at any given time. (Look, and you thought computer geeks talked in binary to confuse normal people. Ha!) There's a lot more to binary numbering in the computer world, but this is a good place to start. records

The Man in the Box provides a good perspective of the workspace inside a CPU. The EDB gives you a way to communicate with the man at the checkout so he can give you work to do. But to do this job, you need a workbench; in fact, you need at least four artboards. Each of these four work tables has 16 light bulbs. These bulbs are not in pairs; it's just 16 light bulbs lined up in a straight line on the table. Each bulb is controlled by a single switch, operated only by the man at the checkout. By creating on/off patterns like those in the EDB, the Man in the Box can use these four sets of light bulbs to solve math problems. On a real computer, these worktables are called registers (see Figure 6-6).

Figure 6-6 The four general purpose registers The registers provide the Man in the Box with a place to work for the problems he poses. All CPUs contain a large number of registers, but for now let's focus on the four most common: the general purpose registers. Intel named them AX, BX, CX, and DX.

NOTE The 8088 was the first CPU to use the four now famous AX-DX general purpose registers, and they still exist even in newer CPUs. (But they have a lot more bulbs!) Great! We're almost ready to put the Man in the Box to work, but before you close the lid of the box, you need to give the Man one more tool. Do you remember the codebook I mentioned earlier? Let's make one that allows us to communicate with it. Figure 6-7 shows the codebook we will use. We'll give one copy to him and make a second for ourselves.

Figure 6-7 CPU Codebook In this codebook, for example, 10000111 means Move the number 7 to the AX register. These commands are called the machine language of the microprocessor. The commands listed in the figure are not actual commands; as you probably guessed, I have simplified dramatically. The Intel 8088 CPU actually used commands very similar to these, plus a few hundred more. Here are some examples of actual machine language for the Intel 8088:

By placing machine language commands, called lines of code, into the EDB one at a time, you can tell the Man in the Box to perform specific tasks. All the machine language commands that the CPU understands make up the CPU's instruction set. So here's the CPU so far: the man in the box can communicate with the outside world via the EDB; he has four registers that he can use to work on the problems you give him; and he has a code book, the instruction set, so that he can understand the different patterns (machine language commands) in the EDB (see Figure 6-8).

Figure 6-8 The CPU so far Clock OK, you're ready to put Man in the Box to work. You can send the first command by turning on wires on the EDB. How do you know when you're done configuring your cables and it's time to act? Have you ever seen one of those old hand calculators with the big crank on the side? To add two numbers, you pressed a number key, the + key, and another number key, but then, for the calculator to do the calculation and give you the answer, you had to pull the crank. That was the signal that he had finished entering data and instructions and was ready for the calculator to give him an answer. A CPU also has a type of crank. To return to the Man in the Box, imagine that there is a bell inside the box activated by a button on the outside of the box. Each time you press the button to ring the bell, the man at the checkout reads the next set of lights on the EDB. Of course, a real computer doesn't use a bell. The bell on a real CPU is a special wire called a clock wire (most diagrams label the clock wire CLK). A charge on the CLK wire tells the CPU that other information is waiting to be processed (see Figure 69).

Figure 6-9 The CPU does nothing until the clock wakes it up. In order for the CPU to process a command placed on the EDB, a certain minimum voltage must be applied to the CLK wire. A single charge to the CLK wire is called a clock cycle. In reality, the CPU requires at least two clock cycles to act on a command, and usually more. Using the hand calculator analogy, you have to pull the crank at least twice before anything happens. In fact, a CPU can require hundreds of clock cycles to process some commands (see Figure 6-10).

Figure 6-10 The CPU often needs more than one clock cycle to get a result. The maximum number of clock cycles that a CPU can handle in a given period of time is known as its clock speed. Clock speed is the fastest speed a CPU can run at, determined by the CPU manufacturer. The Intel 8088 processor had a clock speed of 4.77 MHz (4.77 million cycles per second),

extremely slow by modern standards, but still quite a large number compared to using pen and paper. Today's CPUs run at speeds greater than 3 GHz (3 billion cycles per second). You'll see these "hertz" terms a lot in this chapter, so here's what they mean: 1 hertz (1 Hz) = 1 cycle per second 1 megahertz (1 MHz) = 1 million cycles per second 1 gigahertz (1 GHz) = billion cycles per second The clock speed of a CPU is its maximum speed, not the speed at which it must operate. A CPU can run at any speed, as long as that speed doesn't exceed its clock speed. Manufacturers used to print the CPU clock speed directly on the CPU, but in recent years they have used cryptic codes (see Figure 6-11). As the chapter progresses, you will see why they do this.

Figure 6-11 Where is the clock speed? The system crystal determines the speed at which a CPU and the rest of the PC operates. The system crystal is usually a quartz oscillator, much like a wristwatch, soldered to the motherboard (see Figure 6-12).

Figure 6-12 One of the many types of crystals in the system

NOTE CPU manufacturers sell the exact make and model of CPU at several different speeds. All of these CPUs come from the same assembly lines, so why do they have different speeds? Each CPU comes with subtle differences, flaws, actually, in the silicon that cause one CPU to run faster than another. The speed difference comes from testing each CPU to see what speed it can handle. The quartz oscillator sends out an electrical pulse at a certain speed, many millions of times per second. This signal first goes to a clock chip that adjusts the pulse, usually increasing the pulse sent by the crystal by a large multiple. (People who make motherboards could connect the crystal directly to the CPU clock wire, but if you wanted to replace your CPU with a CPU with a different clock speed, you'd have to replace the crystal as well.) The PC is on, the quartz oscillator, via the clock chip, fires a charge on the CLK wire, essentially driving the system. Visualize the system glass as a metronome for the CPU. The quartz oscillator repeatedly fires a charge on the CLK wire, setting the pace, so to speak, for the activities of the CPU. If the system crystal sets a rate slower than the CPU clock speed, the CPU will run fine, albeit at the slower system crystal speed. If the system crystal forces the CPU to run faster than its clock speed, it can overheat and stop working. Before installing a CPU in a system, you must ensure that the clock crystal and chip send the correct clock pulse for that particular CPU. In the old days, this required very careful adjustments. With today's systems, the motherboard communicates with the CPU. The CPU tells the motherboard what clock speed it needs, and the chip clocks itself automatically by the CPU, making this process now invisible.

NOTE Aggressive users sometimes intentionally overclock CPUs by telling the chip clock to multiply the pulse rate faster than the CPU's designed speed. They do this to make slower (cheaper) CPUs run faster and to get more performance in demanding programs. See the "Overclocking" section later in this chapter. Back to the External Data Bus One more reality check. We've been talking about tables with shelves of light bulbs, but of course the actual CPU registers don't use light bulbs to represent on/1 and off/0. Registers are small storage areas in the CPU made up of microscopic semiconductor circuits that contain charges. It's just easier to imagine a lit light bulb to represent a circuit containing a charge; when the bulb is off, there is no charge. Figure 6-13 is a diagram of an actual 8088 CPU, showing the wires that make up the external data bus and the single clock wire. Because the registers are inside the CPU, you cannot see them in this figure.

Figure 6-13 Diagram of an Intel 8088 showing the external data bus and clock wires Now that you've learned what components are involved in the process, try the following simple exercise to see how the process works. In this example, you tell the CPU to add 2 + 3. To do this, you must send a series of commands to the CPU; the CPU will act on each command and eventually give you a response. Consult the codebook in Figure 6-7 to translate the instructions you are giving the Man in the Box into binary commands. Did you try? This is how it works: 1. Put 10000000 on the external data bus (EDB). 2. Put 00000010 in the EDB. 3. Put 10010000 in the EDB. 4. Put 00000011 in the EDB. 5. Put 10110000 in the EDB. 6. Put 11000000 in the EDB. When you finish step 6, the value in the EDB will be 00000101, the decimal number 5 written in binary. Congratulations! You just added 2+3 using individual codebook commands. This set of commands is known as a program, which is a series of commands sent to a CPU in a specific order for the CPU to do work. Each discrete configuration of the EDB is one line of code. This program therefore has six lines of code.

Memory Now that you've seen how the CPU executes program code, let's backtrack for a moment and think about how program code gets on the external data bus. The program itself is stored

on the hard drive. In theory, you could build a computer that sends data from the hard drive directly to the CPU, but there's a problem: the hard drive is too slow. Even the old 8088, with its 4.77 MHz clock speed, could possibly process several million lines of code every second. Modern CPUs generate billions of lines every second. Hard drives simply can't send data to the CPU fast enough. Computers need some other device that will take copies of programs from the hard drive and then send them, one line at a time, to the CPU fast enough to meet its demands. Since each line of code is nothing more than a pattern of eight 1's and 0's, any device that can store 1's and 0's in eights will do. Devices that somehow contain ones and zeros that are accessed by the CPU are known generically as memory. Many types of devices store ones and zeroes perfectly fine (technically, even a piece of paper counts as memory), but computers need memory that does more than just store groups of eight ones and zeroes. Consider this simulated program: 1. Put 2 in the AX register. 2. Put 5 in the BX register. 3. If AX is greater than BX, execute line 4; otherwise, go to line 6. 4. Add 1 to the value in AX. 5. Go back to line 1. 6. Put the value of AX in the EDB. This program has an IF statement, also called a branch by CPU manufacturers. The CPU needs a way to address each line of this memory, a way for the CPU to tell the memory, "Give me the next line of code" or "Give me line 6." Memory addressing solves another problem: memory must not only store programs but also store the results of programs. If the CPU adds 2 + 3 and gets 5, memory needs to store that 5 in such a way that other programs can read that 5 later, or possibly even store that 5 on a hard drive. By addressing each line of memory, other programs will know where to find the data. Memory and RAM should store not only programs, but also data. The CPU must be able to read and write to this storage medium. Furthermore, this system should allow the CPU to jump to any line of stored code as easily as any other line of code. All of this must be done at or at least close to the CPU clock speed. Fortunately, this magical device has been around for many years: Random Access Memory (RAM). Chapter 7 develops the concept of RAM in detail, so for now let's look at RAM as an electronic spreadsheet, such as one that can be generated in Microsoft Excel (see Figure 6-14). Each cell in this spreadsheet can store only one one or one zero. Each cell is called a bit. Each row of the spreadsheet is eight bits wide to match the EDB of the 8088. Each row of eight bits is called a byte. In the PC world, RAM transfers and stores data to and from the CPU in byte-sized chunks. Therefore, RAM is organized in byte-sized rows. These are the terms used to talk about numbers of bits:

Figure 6-14 RAM as a spreadsheet • Any single 1 or 0 = one bit • 4 bits = one nibble • 8 bits = one byte • 16 bits = one word • 32 bits = one double word • 64 bits = one paragraph or quad word The number of bytes of RAM varies from PC to PC. On earlier PCs, from around 1980 to 1990, the typical system would have only a few hundred thousand bytes of RAM. Today's systems typically have billions of bytes of RAM. Let's stop here for a quick reality check. Electronically, RAM looks like a spreadsheet, but real RAM is made of groups of semiconductor chips soldered onto small cards that fit into your computer (see Figure 6-15). In Chapter 7, you'll see how these groups of tiles look like a spreadsheet. For now, don't worry about actual RAM and stick with the spreadsheet idea.

Figure 6-15 Typical RAM The CPU accesses any row of RAM as easily and quickly as any other row, which explains the "random access" part of RAM. Not only is RAM randomly accessible, but it's also fast. Storing programs

in RAM, they can be accessed and executed by the CPU very quickly. RAM also stores any data that is actively used by the CPU. Computers use dynamic RAM (DRAM) for the main system memory. DRAM needs both a constant electrical charge and a periodic update of the circuitry; otherwise you lose data, that's what makes your content dynamic instead of static. Updating can cause some delays, because the CPU has to wait for the update to occur, but modern CPU manufacturers have clever ways around this, as you'll see when you read about modern processor technology later in this chapter. Don't confuse RAM with mass storage devices like hard drives and flash drives. It uses hard drives and flash drives to permanently store programs and data. Chapters 11-13 discuss permanent storage in intimate detail. Address Bus Until now, the entire PC consists of only a CPU and RAM. But CPU and RAM need some connection so that they can communicate with each other. To do this, extend the external data bus from the CPU so that it can communicate with RAM (see Figure 6-16).

Figure 6-16 Extending the EDB Wait a minute. This is not just a matter of connecting the RAM to the EDB cables! RAM is a spreadsheet with thousands and thousands of discrete rows, and you need to see the contents of only one row of the spreadsheet at a time, right? So how do you connect the RAM to the EDB in such a way that the CPU can see any given row but still give the CPU the ability to see any row in RAM? We need some kind of chip between the RAM and the CPU to make the connection. The CPU must be able to tell which row of RAM it wants, and the chip must handle the mechanics of retrieving that row of data from RAM and putting it into the EDB. Wouldn't you know that I happen to have such a chip? This chip goes by many names, but for now just call it a memory controller chip (MCC). The MCC contains special circuitry so that it can take the contents of any line of RAM and place that data or command in the EDB. This, in turn, allows the CPU to act on that code (see Figure 6-17).

Figure 6-17 The MCC takes one byte of RAM. Once the MCC is in place to grab any discrete byte of RAM, the CPU must be able to tell the MCC which line of code it needs. Therefore, the CPU gets a second set of wires, called the address bus, with which it can communicate with the MCC. Different CPUs have different numbers of wires (which, you'll soon see, is very significant). The 8088 had 20 wires on its address bus (see Figure 6-18).

Figure 6-18 Address Bus By turning the address bus wires on and off in different patterns, the CPU tells the MCC which line of

RAM you want at any given time. Each different pattern of ones and zeros on these 20 wires points to one byte of RAM. There are two big questions here. First, how many different patterns of on and off wires can there be with 20 wires? And second, which pattern goes to which row of RAM? How many patterns?

Mathematics can answer the first question. Each wire on the address bus exists in only one of two states: on or off. If the address bus consisted of a single wire, that wire would be either on or off at any given time. Mathematically, that gives you (get out your old pre-algebra books) 21 = 2 different combinations. If you have two address bus wires, the address bus wires create 22 = 4 different combinations. If you have 20 wires, you would have 220 (or 1,048,576) combinations. Because each pattern points to one line of code and each line of RAM is one byte, if you know the number of wires on the CPU's address bus, you'll know the maximum amount of RAM a particular CPU can handle. Because the 8088 had a 20-wire address bus, the most RAM it could handle was 220, or 1,048,576 bytes. The 8088 therefore had an address space of 1,048,576 bytes. This is not to say that every computer with an 8088 CPU had 1,048,576 bytes of RAM. Far from there! The original IBM PC only had a paltry 64 kilobytes, but that was considered plenty in the Dark Ages of Computing in the early 1980s. Okay, so you know the 8088 had 20 address wires and a total address space of 1,048,576 bytes. Although this is accurate, no one uses such an exact term to discuss the 8088's address space. Instead, you say that the 8088 had one megabyte (1 MB) of address space. What is a "mega"? Ok, let's drop the terminology a bit. Dealing with computers means constantly dealing with the number of patterns a set of cables can handle. Certain powers of 2 have names that are used a lot in the computing world. The following list explains. 1 kilo = 210 = 1024 (abbreviated as “K”) 1 kilobyte = 1024 bytes (abbreviated as “KB”) 1 mega = 220 = 1,048,576 (abbreviated as “M”) 1 megabyte = 1,048,576 bytes (abbreviated as “MB”) 1 gig = 230 = 1,073,741,824 (abbreviated as “G”) 1 gigabyte = 1,073,741,824 bytes (abbreviated as “GB”) 1 tera = 240 = 1,099,511,627,776 (abbreviated as “T ”) 1 terabyte = 1 099 511 627 776 bytes (abbreviated as “TB”) 1 kilo does not equal 1000 (one thousand) 1 mega does not equal 1,000,000 (one million) 1 gig does not equal 1,000,000,000 (one trillion)

1 tera is not equal to 1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion) (But they are pretty close!)

NOTE Of course, 1 kilo is equal to 1000 when speaking in terms of the metric system. It also means 1000 when you're talking about the clock speed of a chip, so 1 KHz equals 1000 Hz. However, when you're talking about storage capacity, the binary numbers kick in, making 1 KB = 1024 bytes. . I understand? This same weird dual meaning applies throughout the food chain, so 1 MHz is 1,000,000 Hz, but 1 MB is 1,048,576 bytes; 1 GHz is one billion Hz, but 1 GB is 1,073,741,824 bytes; etc. Which pattern goes to which row?

The second question is a bit more difficult: "Which pattern goes to which row of RAM?" To understand this, let's take a moment to discuss binary counting. In binary, there are only two numbers, 0 and 1, which makes binary a convenient way to work with wires that turn on and off. Let's try counting in binary: 0, 1... What's next? It's not 2, you can only use zeros and ones. The next number after 1 is 10! Now let's count in binary to 1000: 0, 1, 10, 11, 100, 101, 110, 111, 1000. Try counting to 10000. Don't worry; it hardly takes time at all. Super; now you count in binary as well as any math teacher. Let's add to the concept. Stop thinking in binary for a moment and think about good old base 10 (regular numbers). If you have the number 365, can you put zeros in front of the 365, like this: 000365? Sure you can, it doesn't change the value at all. The same is true in binary. Putting zeros in front of a value doesn't change anything! Let's go back to counting to 1000 in binary. In this case, add enough zeros to make 20 places:

Hey, wouldn't this be a great way to represent each line of RAM on the address bus? The CPU identifies the first byte of RAM on the address bus as 000000000000000000000. The CPU identifies the last row of RAM as 11111111111111111111. When the CPU shuts down all the address bus wires, it wants the first line of RAM; when you turn all the wires on, you want line 1,048,576 of RAM. Obviously, the address bus also addresses all the intermediate RAM rows. So by lighting different patterns of ones and zeros on the address bus, the CPU can access any row of RAM it needs.

NOTE Bits and bytes are abbreviated differently. Bits have a lowercase b, while bytes have an uppercase B. So, for example, 4 Kb is four kilobits, but 4 KB is four kilobytes.

Modern 801 CPUs CPU makers have made amazing progress with microprocessors since the days of the Intel 8088, and the rate of change shows no signs of slowing down. In essence, however, today's CPUs work similarly to the processors of their ancestors. The Arithmetic Logic Unit (ALU), that's the man in the box, still processes numbers many millions of times per second. CPUs rely on memory to feed them lines of programming as quickly as possible. This section brings the CPU to the present. First we'll look at the models you can buy today, and then we'll move on to the essential improvements in technology that you need to understand. Manufacturers When IBM awarded Intel the contract to provide the CPUs for its new IBM PC in 1980, it established a virtual monopoly for Intel on all PC CPUs. The other home computer CPU makers of the time disappeared: MOS Technology, Zilog, Motorola; no one could compete directly with Intel. Over time, other competitors have risen up to challenge Intel's market share dominance. In particular, a company called Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) started making clones of Intel CPUs, creating an interesting and quite fierce competition with Intel that continues to this day. Intel

Intel Corporation completely dominated the personal computer market with its CPUs and motherboard support chips. At almost every step in the evolution of the PC, Intel has led the way with technological advances and amazing flexibility for such a large corporation. Intel CPUs, and more specifically, their instruction sets, define the personal computer. Intel currently produces about a dozen models of CPUs for desktop and laptop computers. Most of Intel's desktop and laptop processors are sold under the Celeron, Pentium, and Core brands. Its ultra-low power smartphone/laptop chips are branded Atom; its high-end server/workstation chips are called Xeon and Itanium. AMD

You can't really talk about CPUs without mentioning advanced microdevices. AMD makes great CPUs for the PC market and provides competition that keeps Intel on its toes. Like Intel, AMD doesn't just make CPUs, but their CPU business is certainly the part that the public notices. AMD has created CPUs that clone the function of Intel CPUs. If Intel invented the CPU used in the original IBM PC, how could AMD make cloned CPUs without getting sued? Well, chipmakers have a habit of exchanging technologies through cross-licensing agreements. Back in 1976, AMD and Intel signed such an agreement, giving AMD the right to copy certain types of CPUs. The problem started with the Intel 8088. Intel needed AMD's help to supply enough CPUs to meet IBM's demands. But after a few years, Intel had grown enormously and no longer wanted AMD to

do cpu. AMD said: “Too bad. See this agreement you signed? Throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, AMD manufactured pin-for-pin identical CPUs that matched Intel's CPU lines (see Figure 6-19). You could take an Intel CPU out of a system and install an AMD CPU, no problem!

Figure 6-19 Identical Intel and AMD 486 CPUs from the early 1990s In January 1995, after many years of legal disputes, Intel and AMD settled and decided to terminate the license agreements. As a result of this agreement, AMD chips are no longer compatible with sockets or motherboards made for Intel CPUs, although in some cases the chips look similar. Today, if you want to use an AMD CPU, you have to buy a motherboard designed for AMD CPUs. If you want to use an Intel CPU, you need to buy a motherboard designed for Intel CPUs. So now you have a choice: Intel or AMD. Model names

Intel and AMD differentiate product lines by using different product names, and these names have changed over the years. For a long time, Intel used the Pentium for its flagship model, simply adding model numbers to show successive generations: Pentium, Pentium II, Pentium III, etc. AMD used the Athlon brand in a similar fashion. Most PC CPU discussions center around four end product lines: desktop PCs, budget PCs, notebook PCs, and servers. Table 6-1 shows many of the current product lines and names.

Table 6-1 Current Intel and AMD Product Lines and Names You will notice that both Intel and AMD reuse model names for products targeting different markets. The Pentium brand of yesterday used to be for the higher end, for example, but now Intel uses the brand for its budget market. The same thing happened with the Athlon brand. To add a bit more confusion, budget CPUs are not the older CPUs still being sold, but lower-end versions of current model lines. code names

Both Intel and AMD continue to refine the CPU manufacturing process after a new model is released, but try to minimize the number of model names in use. This means that they release CPUs labeled as the same model, but the internal CPUs can be very different from previous versions of that model. Both companies use code names to keep track of the different variations within models (see Figure 6-20). As a technician, you need to know both the models and the code names in order to make appropriate recommendations for your customers. An example illustrates the need: the Intel Core i7.

Figure 6-20 Same brand, but different capabilities Intel released the first Core i7 in the summer of 2008. By spring 2012, the original microarchitecture, codenamed Nehalem, had gone through five variations, none of which worked. on motherboards designed for one. of the other variations. Also, in 2011, Intel introduced the Sandy Bridge version of the Core i7 which eventually had two desktop versions and a mobile version, all of which used yet other sockets. (And I'm simplifying the variations here.) At this point, many new technicians throw their hands up in the air. How do you keep up? How do you know which CPU will give your customer the best value for their money and provide the right computing power for their needs? Simply put, you need to research efficiently. Your first stop should be the manufacturers' websites. Both companies publish a lot of information about their products. • • You can also find many high-quality technology websites dedicated to reporting on the latest CPUs. When a customer needs an upgrade, browse the web for recent items and compare. Because you'll understand the technology behind your CompTIA A+ studies, you'll be able to follow conversations with confidence. Here is a list of some of the sites I use: • • • • http://

Finally, you can find excellent and comprehensive articles on all things technology on Wikipedia: •

NOTE Wikipedia is a self-regulating, user-generated resource. I found it to be accurate on technical issues the vast majority of the time, but you should always check other references as well. Alright, most article authors on the site will tell you their sources via footnotes. You can often use Wikipedia articles as starting points for more in-depth searches. desktop vs mobile

Mobile devices, such as laptops, have different needs than desktop computers, particularly the need to consume as little electricity as possible. This helps in two ways: extending the battery charge and generating less heat. Both Intel and AMD have engineers dedicated to creating great mobile versions of their CPUs with advanced power-saving features (see Figure 6-21). Intel's SpeedStep technology, for example, allows the CPU to run in very low power mode and automatically scale up if the user demands more CPU power. If you are browsing the Internet in an airport terminal, the CPU does not consume much power. When you switch to an action game, the CPU kicks in. Saving power by making the CPU run slower when demand is low is generically called throttling.

Figure 6-21 Desktop vs. mobile, fight! Many of the technologies developed for mobile processors have also migrated to their more power-hungry desktop brethren. That's an added bonus for the planet. Technology Although today's microprocessors still do the same job as the venerable 8088 (crunching numbers), they do it much more efficiently. Engineers have altered, improved, and enhanced CPUs in a number of ways. This section discusses seven features: • Clock Multipliers

• 64-bit processing • Virtualization support • Parallel execution • Multicore processing • Integrated Memory Controller (IMC) • Integrated Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) Clock multipliers

All modern CPUs run at a multiple of the system clock speed. The system bus on my Core i7 machine, for example, runs at 100 MHz. The clock multiplier goes up to ×35 at full load to support the full speed of 3.4 GHz. Originally, the CPUs ran at bus speed , but engineers soon realized that the CPU was the only thing running most of the time. If engineers could speed up just the internal operations of the CPU and nothing else, they could speed up the entire computing process. Figure 6-22 shows a nifty program called CPU-Z that displays the details of my CPU. Note that all I'm doing is typing right now, so SpeedStep has lowered the clock multiplier to ×16 and the CPU core speed is only 1600 MHz.

Figure 6-22 CPU-Z showing the clock speed, multiplier, and bus speed of a Core i7 processor without breaking a sweat. The clock speed and multiplier in early clock multiplier systems had to be manually set via jumpers or dual-inline package (DIP) switches on the motherboard (see Figure 6-23). Today's CPUs report to the motherboard through a function called the CPUID (CPU Identifier), and the speed and multiplier are set automatically. (You can manually override this automatic setting on many motherboards. See "Overclocking" later in this chapter for more information.)

Figure 6-23 DIP switches on a motherboard 64-bit processing

During successive generations of microprocessors, engineers have upgraded many physical features of CPUs. The EDB gradually increased in size, from 8 to 16 to 32 to 64 bits wide. The address bus jumped in a similar fashion, going from 20 to 24 to 32 bits wide (where it stayed for a decade). Technological features also changed. Engineers added new and improved registers, for example, using fancy names like Media Extensions (MMX) and Streaming SIMD Extensions (SSE). A big change started a couple of years ago and continues to evolve: the move to 64-bit computing. Most new CPUs support 64-bit processing, which means they can run a compatible 64-bit operating system, such as Windows 7, and 64-bit applications. They also support 32-bit processing for 32-bit operating systems such as Windows XP and 32-bit applications. General purpose registers are also moved up to 64 bits. The main benefit of moving to 64-bit computing is that modern systems can support much more than the 4 GB of memory supported by 32-bit processing. With a 64-bit address bus, CPUs can address 264 bytes of memory, or more precisely, 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 bytes of memory—that's a lot of RAM! This number is so large that gigabytes and terabytes no longer agree, so now we go to an exabyte (260), abbreviated EB. A 64-bit address bus can address 16 EBs of RAM. In practical terms, 64-bit computing greatly improves the performance of programs that work with large files, such as video-editing applications. You will see a huge improvement going from 4GB to 8GB or 12GB of RAM with such programs. x86 vs. x64

CPU terminology can trip up new technologies, so here's the scoop. CPUs from the early days can be grouped as x86 CPUs, because they used an instruction set that was based on the older Intel CPU architecture. The Intel Core 2 Duo, for example, could run a program written for an older 80386 processor that was all the rage in the early 1990s. When 64-bit CPUs became more widespread, marketing people needed some way to flag the Applications,

operating systems, etc., so that consumers could quickly tell the difference between something compatible with their system and something not compatible. Since you usually can't return the software after opening it, this is a big problem. The marketing people went with x64, and that created a mess. Older 32-bit stuff had been marketed as x86, not x32, so now we have x86 (old 32-bit stuff) vs. x64 (new 64-bit stuff). It's not pretty, but do you understand the difference? However, to make matters worse, x64 processors handle x86 code very well, and by definition they are also x86 processors! virtualization support

Intel and AMD have added support for running more than one operating system at the same time, a process called virtualization. Virtualization is great and has its own chapter later in the book (Chapter 30), so I'll skip the details here. The key problem from a CPU point of view is that virtualization used to work entirely through software. Programmers had to write a ton of code to enable a CPU, which was designed to run one operating system at a time, to run more than one operating system at the same time. Think about the problems involved. How is memory allocated, for example, or how does the CPU know which OS to update when you type something or click an icon? With hardware-based virtualization support, CPUs took much of the burden off programmers and made virtualization much easier. Parallel execution

Modern CPUs can process multiple commands and parts of commands in parallel, known as parallel execution. The first processors had to do everything in a strict and linear way. CPUs achieve this parallelism through multiple pipelines, dedicated cache, and the ability to work with multiple threads or programs at once. To understand the huge leap in efficiency gained by running in parallel, you need to understand the processing stages. Canalization

To get a command from the data bus, do the calculation, and then get the response back on the data bus, a CPU takes at least four steps (each of these steps is called a stage): 1. Get Get the data from the EDB . 2. Decode Find out what type of command should be executed. 3. Execute Performs the calculation. 4. Type Send data back to EDB. Discrete, intelligent circuitry within the CPU handles each of these stages. In early CPUs, when a command was placed on the data bus, each stage would do its job, and the response would be returned by the CPU before starting the next command, requiring at least four clock cycles to process a command. At each clock cycle, three of the four circuits were idle. Today, circuits are organized in the form of a conveyor belt called a pipeline. With pipeline, each stage does its job with each clock tick, creating a much more efficient process. The CPU has multiple circuits doing multiple jobs, so let's add pipeline to the man-in-the-box analogy. Now, it's Men in the Box (see Figure 6-24)!

Figure 6-24 Simple Pipeline Pipelines keep all processor stages busy with every click of the clock, making the CPU run more efficiently without increasing clock speed. Note that at this point, the CPU has four stages: seek, decode, execute, and write, a four-stage pipeline. No CPU ever made has fewer than four stages, but advances in caching (see "Cache," below) have increased the number of stages over the years. Today's CPU pipelines contain many more stages, up to 20 in some cases. The pipeline is not perfect. Sometimes a stage hits a complex command that requires more than one clock cycle, forcing the pipeline to stop. Your CPU tries to avoid these stalls or pipeline stalls. The decoding stage tends to cause most pipeline stops; certain commands are complex and therefore more difficult to decode than other commands. Current processors use multiple decoding stages to reduce the possibility of pipeline stalls due to complex decoding. The interior of the CPU is made up of various fragments of circuitry to handle the many types of calculations your PC needs to do. For example, one part, the Arithmetic Logic Unit (ALU) (or Integer Unit), handles integer math: basic math for numbers without a decimal point. A perfect example of integer math is 2 + 3 = 5. The typical CPU spends most of its work doing integer math. CPUs also have special circuitry for handling complex numbers, called a floating point unit (FPU). With a single pipeline, only the ALU or FPU was working at any stage of execution. Worse yet, the floating-point computation often took many, many clock cycles to execute, forcing the CPU to halt the pipeline until the FPU finished executing the complex command (see Figure 6-25). Today's CPUs offer multiple pipelines to keep processing running (see Figure 6-26).

Figure 6-25 Integer unit bored

Figure 6-26 Multi-pipe cache

When you send a program to the CPU, you are actually running many small programs at the same time. Okay, let's be fair here: you didn't run all these little programs, you just started your web browser or some other program. The moment you double-clicked on that icon, Windows started sending a lot of programs to the CPU. Each of these programs is divided into a number of small pieces, called threads and data. Each thread is a series of instructions designed to do a particular job with the data. Modern CPUs do not execute instructions sequentially (first step 1, then step 2, and so on), but instead process all kinds of instructions. Most applications have certain instructions and data that is reused, sometimes many times. Pipeline CPUs work fantastically well as long as the pipelines remain full of instructions. Because the CPU runs faster than the RAM can give you code, you'll always get blocks in the pipeline, called wait states, because the RAM can't keep up with the CPU. To reduce wait states, CPUs come with very high-speed built-in RAM called Static RAM (SRAM). This SRAM preloads as many instructions as possible and saves copies of already executed instructions and data in case the CPU needs to work with them again (see Figure 6-27). SRAM used in this way is called a cache.

Figure 6-27 RAM Cache The SRAM cache inside early CPUs was small, only about 16KB, but it greatly improved performance. In fact, it helped so much that many motherboard manufacturers started adding cache directly to motherboards. These caches were much larger, typically around 128 to 512 KB. When the CPU looked up a line of code, it first went to the built-in cache; if the code wasn't there, the CPU went to the motherboard cache. The cache on the CPU was called the L1 cache because it was the first cache the CPU tried to use. The cache on the motherboard was called the L2 cache, not because it was on the motherboard, but because it was the second cache that the CPU checked. Eventually, engineers took this cache concept even further and added the L2 cache to the CPU package (see Figure 6-28). Some CPUs even include three caches: an L1, L2, and L3 cache.

Figure 6-28 CPU-Z showing cache information for a Core i7 processor The L2 cache of early CPUs that had the L2 cache included in the CPU package ran at a slower clock speed than the L1 cache. The L1 cache was on the CPU and therefore ran at the speed of the CPU. The L2 cache connected to the CPU via a small set of cables in the CPU package. Early L2 caches ran at half the speed of the CPU. The inclusion of the L2 cache on the chip gave rise to some new terms to describe the connections between the CPU, the MCC, the RAM, and the L2 cache. The address bus and the external data bus (connecting the CPU, MCC, and RAM) were lumped together as the front side bus, and the connection between the CPU and the L2 cache was known as the back bus (see Figure 6-29). ).

Figure 6-29 Front and rear buses

NOTE To keep up with faster processors, motherboard manufacturers began doubling and even quadrupling the size of the front side bus. Technicians sometimes refer to these as dual-pump and quad-pump front buses. The end of the road for the terms front bus and back bus seems to be in the Intel Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad processors, as far as CompTIA A+ certification exams are concerned. Many technicians also use the terms to refer simply to "the connection between the CPU and system RAM".

EXAM TIP Typically, CompTIA A+ exams expect you to know that the LI cache will be the smallest and fastest cache; L2 will be larger and slower than LI; and L3 will be the largest and slowest cache. multi-threaded

At the height of the single-CPU 32-bit computing days, Intel released a CPU called the Pentium 4 that took the parallelism to the next step with Hyper-Threading. Hyper-Threading allowed the Pentium 4 to run multiple threads at the same time, generically called concurrent multithreading, effectively turning the CPU into two CPUs on one chip, with a catch. Figure 6-30 shows the Task Manager in Windows XP on a system running a Pentium 4 Hyper-Threaded. Notice how the CPU box is divided into two groups: Windows thinks that this one CPU is two CPUs.

Figure 6-30 Windows Task Manager with the Performance tab displayed for a system running a HyperThreaded Pentium 4 Multithreading improves the efficiency of a CPU but with a couple of limitations. First, the operating system and application must be designed to take advantage of the feature. Second, although the CPU simulates the actions of a second processor, it does not double the processing power because the main execution resources are not duplicated.

NOTE Although its use faded after the Pentium 4, Intel brought Hyper-Threading to mainstream processors with the Core i7 in 2011 (and a couple of years earlier with the low-power Atom processors), and Microsoft optimized Windows 7 to support the technology. . This time, it seems, Hyper-Threading is here to stay. multicore processing

CPU clock speeds reached a practical limit of about 4 GHz around 2002-2003, which motivated CPU manufacturers to find new ways to get more processing power for CPUs. Although Intel and AMD had different views on 64-bit CPUs, they both decided at almost the same time to combine two CPUs (or cores) on a single chip, creating a dual-core architecture. A dual-core CPU has two execution units, two sets of pipes, but the two sets of pipes share caches and RAM.

Today, dual-core CPUs like the Intel Core 2 Duo are common, and multi-core CPUs, with four, six, or eight cores, grace the desktop PCs of many enthusiasts. With each generation of multicore CPUs, both Intel and AMD have played with the combination of how to allocate cache between cores. Figure 6-31 shows another screenshot of CPU-Z, this time showing the cache breakdown of a Core i7.

Figure 6-31 CPU-Z showing the cache details of a Sandy Bridge Core i7 Figure 6-31 reveals specific details about how this Intel CPU works with cache. The Core i7 has L1, L2, and L3 caches of 64KB, 256KB, and 8MB, respectively. (The L1 cache is divided into 32 KB for handling data, the D-Cache, and another 32 KB for instructions, the I-Cache.) Each core has dedicated L1 and L2 caches. (You can tell by the ×4 to the right of the capacity list.) All four cores share the giant L3 cache. That pool of memory allows the cores to communicate and work together without having to access the radically slower main system RAM as much. CPU manufacturers designed the cores of multicore CPUs to divide the work independently of the operating system, known as multicore processing. This differs from Hyper-Threading, where the operating system and applications must be specifically written to handle multiple threads. Note that even with multicore processors, applications must be modified or optimized for this parallelism to have a large performance impact. integrated memory controller

Almost all of today's microprocessors have an Integrated Memory Controller (IMC), moved from the motherboard chip to the CPU to optimize the flow of information to and from the CPU. An IMC allows faster control over things like the large L3 cache shared between multiple cores. As in so many other areas of computing, manufacturers implement a variety of IMCs in their CPUs. In practice, this means that different CPUs handle different types and capacities of RAM. I'm going to save the

details on those RAM variations for Chapter 7. For now, add "different RAM support" to your list of things to consider when making a CPU recommendation for a client. Integrated graphics processing unit

As you will read in much more detail in Chapter 21, the video processing part of the computer, made up of the parts that put a changing image on the monitor, traditionally has a discrete microprocessor that differs both in function and in microprocessor architecture. CPUs designed for general purpose computing. The generic term for the video processor is a graphics processing unit (GPU). I'll spare you the details until we get to the video in Chapter 21, but it turns out that graphics processors can handle certain tasks much more efficiently than the standard CPU. Integrating a GPU into the CPU improves overall computer performance while reducing power usage, size, and cost. With today's proliferation of mobile devices and laptops, all of these benefits have obvious merit. Both major CPU manufacturers have released CPUs with integrated GPUs. The architecture differs in a few ways, such as how they use the on-chip cache. The Intel HD graphics integrated into many Core i3/i5/i7 processors, for example, have the CPU cores and GPU core sharing the "last level cache", which is either L2 or L3 depending on the processor ( see Figure 6-32). With AMD's Accelerated Processing Unit (APU), such as AMD Fusion, the GPU has access to all cache levels on the CPU.

Figure 6-32 Dedicated cache (within each core) and shared cache

NOTE One of the two largest players in the performance GPU market, NVIDIA, also makes microprocessors that combine CPUs and GPUs. The current offering, called Tegra, is almost a complete computer on a single chip. You'll find it on many mobile devices (see Chapter 27 for information on these delicious devices). NVIDIA hasn't really stepped into the desktop market yet, though that could change with the release of its embedded microprocessor code called "Project Denver" in 2013.

CPU Selection, Installation, and Troubleshooting Now that you've digested the details about how CPUs work, it's time to get hands-on. This last section discusses selecting the right CPU, installing various types of processors, and troubleshooting the few.

problems technicians face with CPUs. Selecting a CPU When selecting a CPU, you need to make sure you get one that your motherboard can accommodate. Or, if you're buying a motherboard along with the CPU, get the CPU that's right for its intended purpose. Chapter 31 discusses the functions of the computer and helps you select the right components for each function. You need to have a lot more knowledge of all the pieces around the CPU to get the full picture, so we'll wait until then to discuss the "why" of a particular processor. Instead, this section assumes that you are putting a new CPU on an already purchased motherboard. You need to address two key points when selecting a working CPU. First, does the motherboard support Intel or AMD CPU? Second, what socket does the motherboard have? To find answers to both questions, you have two sources: the motherboard book or manual, and the manufacturer's website. Figure 6-33 shows a manual for an Asus motherboard opened to reveal the supported processors and socket type.

Figure 6-33 Supported Processors and Socket Type Just as Intel and AMD make many types of CPUs, motherboards are made with different socket types. CompTIA A+ exams expect you to know which sockets go with which family of CPUs. Table 6-2 shows the important ones from Intel; Table 6-3 lists the AMD-based sockets. I'd show you all the pictures, but frankly, the CPU sockets aren't the most attractive part of the computer.

Table 6-2 Intel-based Sockets

Table 6-3 AMD-based Sockets

EXAM TIP I've included the socket pin count for AMD-based sockets because the related questions have been on CompTIA A+ certifications in pre-801 exam objectives. You don't need to memorize the Intel numbers, because Intel names sockets by the number of pins.

EXAM TIP This list of Intel CPUs covers only those listed in the CompTIA A+ 801 exam objectives. The CompTIA A+ 701/702 exams mentioned a couple of other processors, such as the Pentium Pro (very old, 32-bit) and the Itanium (also old, used exclusively for servers). You may see them as wrong answers on the 801 exam.

EXAM TIP This list of AMD CPUs covers only those listed in the CompTIA A+ 801 exam objectives. As with the Intel processors, the CompTIA A+ 700 series exams mentioned a couple of other processors, such as the Athlon XP (old, 32-bit) and the Duron (also old; label used for low-end CPUs). You may see these as wrong answers on the 801 exam. Installation Problems When installing a CPU, you must be careful with the small pins. Also, you need to make sure that the power supply can supply enough electricity for the processor to work together with all the other components of the computer. You have to provide adequate cooling. Finally, you can decide whether to leave the CPU at stock settings or overclock it. plug types

When installing a CPU, you must be careful not to bend any of the small pins. The pin placement differs between Intel and AMD. With Intel-based motherboards, the sockets have hundreds of tiny pins that line up with the contacts on the bottom of the CPU (see Figure 6-34). Intel CPUs use an LGA (Land Grid Array) package, where the bottom of the CPU has hundreds of contact points that line up with pins on the socket.

Figure 6-34 Intel-based socket with pins AMD CPUs have pins (see Figure 6-35); plugs have holes. The pins on AMD Pin Grid Array (PGA) CPUs align with the holes in the sockets.

Figure 6-35 AMD-based socket without pins All CPUs and sockets are keyed so that you cannot (easily) insert them incorrectly. Look at the bottom of the CPU in Figure 6-36 (left). Please note that the pins do not form a perfect square, because some are missing. Now look at the top of the CPU (right). See the little mark in the corner? The socket also has small markings so that you can properly align the CPU with the socket.

Figure 6-36 Bottom and Top of a CPU On both socket styles, release the latch mechanism by pushing the small lever slightly down and then away from the socket (see Figure 6-37). Next, raise the arm fully, and then move the retaining bracket (see Figure 6-38).

Figure 6-37 Move the release arm

Figure 6-38 Socket Fully Open Align the processor with the socket and gently snap it into place. If it doesn't go in easily, check the orientation and try again. These sockets are generically called Zero Insertion Force (ZIF) sockets, which means you never have to use any force. Cooling

CPUs work very hard and therefore require power to function. In electrical terms, CPUs consume power or watts, one unit of electrical energy, just like a 100-watt light bulb consumes energy when it is on. (See

See Chapter 10 for more details on electricity.) Have you ever touched a light bulb after it has been on for a while? Oh! CPUs also get hot. To increase the ability of CPUs to handle complex code, CPU manufacturers have added many microscopic transistors over the years. The more transistors the CPU has, the more power they need and therefore the hotter they get. CPUs do not tolerate heat well, and modern processors need active cooling solutions just to function. Almost all CPUs use a heat sink and fan combination to remove heat from the CPU. Figure 6-39 shows the standard Intel heat sink and fan.

Figure 6-39 Intel OEM Heat Sink and Fan Assembly There was a time, long ago, when CPUs didn't need any sort of cooling device. You just slotted in the CPU and it worked. Well those days are gone. Long ago. If you're installing a modern CPU, you'll need to cool it. Fortunately, you have options. • OEM CPU Coolers OEM heat sink and fan assemblies are included with a CPU in the retail box. OEM CPUs, on the other hand, don't typically come with CPU coolers. not crazy? OEM CPU coolers have one big advantage: You absolutely know that they will work with your CPU. • Specialized CPU Coolers Many companies sell third party heat sink and fan assemblies for a variety of CPUs. These generally outperform OEM heat sinks in the amount of heat they dissipate. These CPU coolers invariably come with eye-catching designs that look great inside your system; some are even illuminated (see Figure 6-40).

Figure 6-40 Cool Retail Heat Sink The last option is the most impressive of all: liquid cooling! Liquid cooling works by passing some liquid, usually water, through a metal block on top of the CPU, absorbing the heat. The liquid is heated by the block, leaves the block and goes into something that cools the liquid, and is then pumped through the block again. Any liquid cooling system consists of three main parts: • A hollow metal block that sits on top of the CPU • A pump to move the liquid • A device to cool the liquid And, of course, you need a lot of hoses to connect them all together. Figure 6-41 shows a typical liquid-cooled CPU.

Figure 6-41 Liquid-cooled CPU Several companies sell these liquid-cooled systems. Although they look impressive and

it will certainly cool down your cpu, unless you are overclocking or want a quiet system a good fan will do the trick. Once you have the heat sink and fan assembly sorted out, you need to connect them to the motherboard. To determine the orientation of the heat sink and fan assembly, check the fan power cable. Make sure you can easily reach the three or four wire protrusion on the motherboard (see Figure 6-42). If you can't, rotate the heat sink as far as you can. (Check your motherboard manual if you're having trouble locating the CPU fan power supply.)

Figure 6-42 CPU fan protruding power on motherboard Next, before inserting the heat sink, you need to add a small amount of thermal compound (also called thermal compound or nasty silver goo). Many heat sinks already come with some thermal compound; The thermal compound on these pre-doped heat sinks is covered by a small square of masking tape; remove the tape before placing it on the CPU. If you need to apply heat from a tube, know that you need to use only a small amount of this compound (see Figure 6-43). Spread it out as thinly, completely and evenly as you can. Unlike so many other things in life, you can get too hot!

Figure 6-43 Application of thermal compound

NOTE Chapter 8 goes into gory detail about the system configuration utility and the area in which it stores important data (called CMOS), but students invariably want to experiment at this point, so I'll give you some information now. You can access the system configuration utility by pressing any key while the computer boots. This is during the text phase, long before it says anything about starting Windows. Most systems require you to press the DELETE key, but read the screen for more details. Just be careful once you get into the system configuration utility so you don't change anything you don't understand. And read chapter 8! Heat sinks are secured in a number of ways, depending on the manufacturer. Standard Intel heat sinks have four plungers that you simply push until they click into place in the corresponding holes on the motherboard. Standard AMD heat sinks typically have a bracket that is secured to two points on the outside of the CPU socket, and a latch that is rotated to lock it (see Figure 6-44).

Figure 6-44 AMD OEM Heat Sink and Fan Assembly Finally, you can secure many aftermarket heat sink and fan assemblies by screwing them in from the bottom of the motherboard (see Figure 6-45). You must remove the motherboard from the case or install the heat sink before placing the motherboard in the case.

Figure 6-45 Fan and heat sink assembly mounted to system board with screws For the final step, plug the fan's power connector into the boss on the system board. It won't work if you don't! overclocking

In order for the CPU to work, the motherboard speed, multiplier, and voltage must be set correctly. On most modern systems, the motherboard uses the CPUID functions to set these options automatically. Some motherboards allow you to adjust this setting manually by moving a jumper, changing a CMOS setting, or using software; many enthusiasts deliberately change this setting to improve performance. Starting in the days of the Intel 80486 CPU, people intentionally ran their systems at clock speeds higher than the CPU's rating, a process called overclocking, and it worked. Well, sometimes the systems worked and sometimes they didn't. Intel and AMD have a reason for marking a CPU at a particular clock speed: that's the highest speed they guarantee it will run. Before I say anything else, I should warn you that intentionally overclocking a CPU immediately voids most warranties. Overclocking is known to destroy CPUs. Overclocking can make your system unstable and prone to crashes and reboots. I neither applaud nor despise the practice of overclocking. My goal here is simply to inform you of the practice. You make your own decisions. CPU manufacturers don't like overclocking. Why would you pay more for a faster processor when you can take a cheaper, slower CPU and just make it run faster? To that end, CPU manufacturers, especially Intel, have gone to great lengths to discourage the practice. For example, both AMD and Intel now make all of their CPUs with locked multipliers and special overclocking electronics to deter the practice.

NOTE If you want to know exactly what type of CPU you are running, download a copy of the popular free CPU-Z utility from CPU-Z gives you all the information you'll ever want to know about your CPU. Most people do a couple of tweaks to successfully overclock. First, through jumpers, CMOS settings, or software settings, it would increase the bus speed for the system. Second, you often have to increase the voltage going into the CPU a bit to provide stability. It does this by changing a jumper or CMOS setting (see Figure 6-46).

Figure 6-46 Manually overriding CPU settings in system configuration utility Overriding defaults can completely lock up the system, to the point that even removing and reinstalling the CPU causes the motherboard to crash. work again. (There is also a slight risk of burning out the processor, although all modern processors have circuitry that quickly shuts them down before they overheat.) default configuration. Before attempting to overclock a modern system, find the CMOSclear jumper and make sure you know how to use it. Tip: Check your motherboard manual.

Figure 6-47 Clear CMOS Jumper To clear CMOS, turn off the PC. Then locate one of those tiny pieces of plastic (officially called a shunt) and place it over the two jumper wires for a moment. Then restart the PC and immediately enter CMOS and restore the settings you need.

802 CPU Troubleshooting CPU troubleshooting falls into two categories: overheating and catastrophic failure, with overheating being much more common than the latter. Once a CPU is properly installed and working, it rarely causes problems. The only exception is when you ask a CPU to do too fast. So you will get a slow PC. The Intel Atom processor in my netbook, for example, does a great job surfing the Web, working on email, and writing stellar chapters in his favorite textbook. But if you try to play a game more advanced than Half-Life (the original, circa 1998), the machine stutters, complains, and refuses to play nice. The vast majority of problems with CPUs stem from faulty installation or environmental issues that cause overheating. Very rarely will you get a catastrophic failure, but we'll see the signs of that too. Overheating symptoms

If a CPU is not installed correctly, nothing happens, i.e. you press the power button and nothing happens at all, or the system crashes in a short period of time. Due to the nature of ZIF sockets, it is almost guaranteed that the problem is not the CPU itself, but rather the installation of the heat sink and fan. Here is a checklist of potential issues to address when faced with a CPU installation issue: 1. Too much thermal paste can impede the flow of heat from the CPU to the heat sink and cause the CPU to get hot quickly. All modern CPUs have built-in safety devices that tell them to shut down before they get damaged by heat. 2. Not enough thermal paste or the thermal paste is unevenly distributed can cause the CPU to heat up and consequently shut down. 3. If the fan power is not connected to the motherboard, the CPU may heat up and shut down.

Fan and heat sink installation failures can be tricky the first few times you encounter them (and yes, even Alpha Geek couldn't install these things correctly). You may see the text of the system settings. You could even get into a Windows installation before the crash occurs. The key is that as soon as you put the CPU under load, i.e. make it work for a living, it gets hotter than where the bad heatsink connection can dissipate the heat and then shuts down. With a system that has been working fine for a while, environmental factors can cause problems. An air conditioning failure at my office last summer, in the heart of Texas, for example, caused machines throughout the office to malfunction. Some even close completely. (At that point, it was time to close the doors and send the staff to the beach, but that's another story.) A customer called the other day to complain that his computer kept rebooting and running slowly. When I arrived at the scene, I found a house with seven cats. Opening the case of his computer, the furry truth was revealed: the CPU fan was so clogged with cat hair that it was barely spinning! A quick clean with a computer vacuum and a can of compressed air and it was one happy computer customer. The CPU needs adequate ventilation. The CPU fan is essential, of course, but the inside of the case also needs to draw hot air through one or more exhaust fans and cool air through the front vent. If the intake ventilation is obstructed or the exhaust fans stop working or are blocked in any way, the inside of the case can get hot and overload the CPU cooling devices. This will cause the system to run slowly or reboot spontaneously. catastrophic failure

You'll know when a catastrophic failure occurs. The PC will suddenly get a Blue Screen of Death (BSoD), which is technically called a Windows Stop error (see Figure 6-48). Or the entire PC will just stop and go black, perhaps accompanied by a loud bang. The acrid smell of burning electronics or ozone will grace your nostrils. You might even see smoke trails coming out of the box. You may not know right away that the CPU has fumed, but follow your nose. Oh really. Smell the inside of the box until you find the strongest scent. If it's the CPU, that's bad news. Whatever the electrical short, it probably caused damage to the motherboard as well, and you're in for a long day of replacement and rebuild.

Figure 6-48 Blue Screen of Death

Beyond A+ Intel Atom Intel Atom processors are highly energy-efficient processors designed for applications such as ultra-mobile PCs, mobile Internet devices, netbooks, and low-power desktops. The Atom CPU range consists of 32-bit and 64-bit models; however, only models aimed at the low-power desktop segment support 64-bit so far. Many Atom processors also support Hyper-Threading, and there are now several dual-core models. Figure 6-49 shows an Atom processor.

Figure 6-49 Intel Atom Processor As of this writing, Intel Atom processors have only been released in a package that is soldered directly to the motherboard. Atom processors are manufactured using a 45-nanometer process, and many feature Intel's SpeedStep technology to further reduce their power consumption. The Atom line of processors have become extremely popular for use in netbooks, where heat and power consumption are a primary concern.

Chapter Review Questions 1. What do registers provide to the CPU? A. The registers determine the speed of the clock. B. The CPU uses registers for temporary storage of commands and internal data. C. Registers allow the CPU to address RAM. D. Registers allow the CPU to control the address bus. 2. What is the function of the external data bus in the PC? A. The external data bus determines the clock speed of the CPU. B. The CPU uses the external data bus to address RAM. C. The external data bus provides a channel for the flow of data and commands between the CPU and RAM. D. The CPU uses the external data bus to access the registers.

3. What is the function of the address bus in the PC? A. The address bus allows the CPU to communicate with the memory controller chip. B. The address bus allows the memory controller chip to communicate with the RAM. C. The address bus provides a channel for the flow of data and commands between the CPU and RAM. D. The address bus allows the CPU to access the registers. 4. Which of the following terms are measures of CPU speed? A. Megahertz and gigahertz B. Megabytes and gigabytes C. Megahertz and gigabytes D. Front bus, back bus 5. Which feature of the CPU allows the microprocessor to support running multiple operating systems at the same time? A. Clock multiplication B. Caching C. Pipeline D. Virtualization support 6. In which socket could you fit an Intel Core i5? A. LGA 775 socket B. LGA 1155 socket C. C socket D. AM2+ socket 7. Which function allows a single-core CPU to function as two CPUs? A. Hyper-Threading B. SpeedStep C. Virtualization D. x64

8. What steps do you need to follow to install an Athlon 64 X2 CPU on an LGA 775 motherboard? A. Raise the arm of the ZIF socket; place the CPU according to the orientation marks; snap on the heat sink and fan assembly. B. Raise the ZIF socket arm; place the CPU according to the orientation marks; add a pinch of thermal dope; snap on the heat sink and fan assembly. C. Raise the ZIF socket arm; place the CPU according to the orientation marks; snap on the heat sink and fan assembly; plug in the fan. D. Take whatever steps you want to take because it's not going to work. 9. A customer calls to complain that his computer starts up but crashes when Windows starts to load. After a brief series of questions, he discovers that his niece upgraded his RAM over the weekend and was unable to get the computer to work immediately afterward. What could be the problem? A. Thermal compound degradation B. CPU fan disconnected C. Bad CPU cache D. Nothing wrong. It usually takes a couple of days for the RAM to adapt to the new system. 10. Darren installed a new CPU in a customer's computer, but nothing happens when he presses the power button on the case. The LED on the motherboard is on, so he knows the system has power. What could be the problem? A. He forgot to unplug the CPU fan. B. You forgot to apply thermal compound between the CPU and the heat sink and fan assembly. C. He used an AMD CPU on an Intel motherboard. D. You used an Intel CPU on an AMD motherboard. Answers 1. B. The CPU uses registers for temporary storage of commands and internal data. 2. C. The external data bus provides a channel for the flow of data and commands between the CPU and RAM. 3. A. The address bus allows the CPU to communicate with the memory controller chip. 4. A. The terms megahertz (MHz) and gigahertz (GHz) describe how many million or billion (respectively) of cycles per second a CPU can execute. 5. D. Intel and AMD CPUs come with virtualization support, which allows for more efficient implementation of

Virtual machines. 6. B. You will find Core i5 processors in various socket types, especially LGA 1155 and LGA 1154. 7. A. Intel loves their Hyper-Threading, where a single-core CPU can perform like a dual-core CPU forever that since it has support for operating system. 8. D. Intel and AMD processors are not compatible at all. 9. B. Most likely the nephew unplugged the CPU fan to access the RAM slots and simply forgot to plug it back in. 10. B. The best answer here is that he forgot the thermal compound, although he can also make an Argument for a disconnected fan.



RAM In this chapter, you will learn how to: • Identify the different types of DRAM packages • Explain the varieties of RAM • Select and install RAM • Do basic RAM troubleshooting a few questions to see how much you really know. In case you and I ever meet and you decide you want to "talk tech" with me, I'll ask you my first two questions now so you're ready. Both involve random access memory (RAM), the working memory for the CPU. 1. "How much RAM is in your computer?" 2. “What is RAM and why is it so important that every PC have one?” Can you answer any of these questions? Don't worry if you can't; You will know how to answer both before finishing this chapter. Let's start by reviewing what you know about RAM so far.

TIP CompTIA A+ certification domains use the term memory to describe the short-term storage used by the PC to load the operating system and run applications. The most common industry term is RAM, for Random Access Memory, the kind of short-term memory you'll find in every computer. More specifically, the main system RAM is Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM). For the most part, this book uses the terms RAM and DRAM. When not in use, programs and data are kept on a mass storage device, such as a hard drive, USB flash drive, optical drive, or some other device that can store data while the computer is turned off. When you load a program into Windows, your PC copies the program from the mass storage device to RAM and then runs it (see Figure 7-1).

Figure 7-1 Mass storage contains programs, but the programs must run in RAM. You saw in Chapter 6 that the CPU uses dynamic random access memory (DRAM) as RAM for all PCs. Like CPUs, DRAM has gone through a number of evolutionary changes over the years, resulting in improved DRAM technologies such as SDRAM, RDRAM, and DDR RAM. This chapter begins by explaining how DRAM works and then discusses the types of DRAM used in recent years and how they improve upon the original DRAM. The third section, "Working with RAM," goes into the details of how to find and install RAM. The chapter ends with troubleshooting RAM.

Historical/Conceptual Understanding of DRAM As discussed in Chapter 6, DRAM works like an electronic spreadsheet, with numbered rows containing cells, each cell containing either a one or a zero. Now let's see what is happening physically. Each spreadsheet cell is a special type of semiconductor that can hold a single bit, one or zero, through the use of microscopic capacitors and transistors. DRAM manufacturers put these semiconductors on chips that can hold a certain number of bits. The bits inside the chips are arranged in a rectangular shape, using rows and columns. Each chip has a limit to the number of lines of code it can contain. Think of each line of code as one of the rows in the electronic spreadsheet; one chip could store a million rows of code, while another chip could store more than a billion lines. Each chip also has a limit to the width of the lines of code it can handle. One chip can handle 8-bit wide data while another can handle 16-bit wide data. Technicians describe chips by bits rather than bytes, so they mean x8 and x16, respectively. Just as you might describe a spreadsheet by the number of rows and columns (John's accounting spreadsheet is huge, 48 rows × 12 columns), memory manufacturers describe RAM chips in the same way. A single DRAM chip containing 1,048,576 rows and 8 columns, for example, would be a 1Mx8 chip, with "M" short for "mega," as in megabytes (220 bytes). It's difficult, if not impossible, to determine the size of a DRAM chip just by looking at it—only DRAM manufacturers know what the little numbers on the chips mean (see Figure 7-2), though sometimes you can make a good guess. . .

Figure 7-2 What do these numbers mean? DRAM Organization Because of its low cost, high speed, and ability to hold a large amount of data in a relatively small package, DRAM has been the standard RAM used in all computers, not just PCs, since the mid-1900s. 1970s. DRAM can be found in just about everything, from automobiles to automatic bread makers. The PC has very specific requirements for DRAM. The original 8088 processor had an 8-bit front side bus. Commands given to an 8088 processor were in discrete 8-bit chunks. He needed RAM that could store data in 8-bit (1-byte) chunks, so that each time the CPU requested a line of code, the memory controller chip (MCC) could place an 8-bit chunk on the data bus. . This optimized the flow of data to (and from) the CPU. Although today's DRAM chips can have widths greater than 1 bit, all DRAM chips back then were 1 bit wide, which means that there were only sizes like 64K × 1 or 256K × 1, always 1 bit wide. broad. So how did 1 bit wide DRAM get converted to 8 bit wide memory? The solution was quite simple: just take eight 1-bit-wide chips and use the MCC to electronically arrange them so they are eight wide (see Figure 7-3).

Figure 7-3 The MCC accesses data in RAM soldered to the motherboard Practical DRAM Okay, before I learn more about DRAM, I need to clear up a critical point. When you first saw the machine language of the 8088 in Chapter 6, all the examples in the "codebook" were exactly 1-byte commands. Figure 7-4 shows the codebook again. See how all the commands are 1 byte?

Figure 7-4 Codebook again Well, the reality is slightly different. Most 8088 machine language commands are 1 byte long, but more complex commands need 2 bytes. For example, the following command tells the CPU to move 163 bytes "up the RAM spreadsheet" and execute whatever command is there. Cool huh? 1110100110100011

The problem here is that the command is 2 bytes wide, not 1 byte. So how did the 8088 handle this? Simple - it only took the command 1 byte at a time. It took twice as long to handle the command because the MCC had to go to RAM twice, but it worked. So if some of the commands are more than 1 byte wide, why didn't Intel make the 8088 with a 16-bit front side bus? Wouldn't it have been better? Well, Intel did. Intel invented a CPU called the 8086. The 8086 actually predates the 8088 and was absolutely identical to the 8088 except for one small detail: it had a 16-bit front side bus. IBM could have used the 8086 instead of the 8088 and used 2 byte wide RAM instead of 1 byte wide RAM. Of course, they would have had to invent an MMC that would handle that type of RAM (see Figure 7-5).

Figure 7-5 Enhanced 8086 MCC in Operation Why didn't Intel sell IBM the 8086 instead of the 8088? There were two reasons. First, no one had invented an affordable MCC or RAM that would handle 2 bytes at a time. Sure, chips had been invented, but they were expensive, and IBM didn't think anyone would want to pay $12,000 for a personal computer. So IBM bought the Intel 8088, not the Intel 8086, and all our RAM came in bytes. But as you can imagine, it didn't stay that way for long. DRAM Devices As the size of the CPU data bus increased, so did the need for RAM large enough to fill the bus. The Intel 80386 CPU, for example, had a 32-bit data bus and therefore required 32-bit-wide DRAM. Imagine having to line up 32 bit-wide DRAM chips on a motherboard. Talk about a waste of space! Figure 7-6 shows the motherboard RAM going crazy.

Figure 7-6 That's a lot of space used by the RAM chips! DRAM manufacturers responded by creating wider DRAM chips, such as x4, x8, and x16, and putting multiples of them on a small circuit board called a stick or module. Figure 7-7 shows an early memory, called a single in-line memory module (SIMM), with eight DRAM chips. To add RAM to a modern machine, you need to get the right device or devices for the particular motherboard. Your motherboard manual tells you precisely what type of module you need and how much RAM you can install.

Figure 7-7 A 72-pin SIMM Modern CPUs are much smarter than the old Intel 8088. Their machine languages ​​have some commands that are up to 64 bits (8 bytes) wide. They also have at least a 64 bit front side bus that can handle more than 8 bits. They don't want RAM giving them 8 meaningless bits at a time! To optimize the flow of data to and from the CPU, modern MCC provides at least 64 bits of data each time the CPU requests information from RAM.

NOTE Some MCCs are 128 bits wide. Modern DRAM devices come in 32-bit and 64-bit wide form factors with a variable number of chips. Many technicians describe these memory modules by their width, which is why we call them x32 and x64. Note that this number does not describe the width of the individual DRAM chips on the module. When you read or listen about any memory, you need to know if that person is talking about DRAM width or module width. When the CPU needs certain bytes of data, it requests those bytes over the address bus. The CPU does not know the physical location of the RAM that stores that data, nor the physical composition of the RAM, such as how many DRAM chips work together to provide the 64-bit-wide memory rows. The MCC keeps track of this and only gives the CPU the bytes it requests (see Figure 7-8).

Figure 7-8 The MCC knows the actual location of the DRAM. Consumer RAM If modern DRAM modules come in sizes much wider than a byte, why do people still use the word "byte" to describe how much DRAM they have? Convention. Habit. Instead of using a label that describes the electronic structure of RAM, common usage describes the total capacity of RAM in a device in bytes. John has a single 2 GB RAM stick on his motherboard, for example, and Sally has two 1 GB RAM sticks. Both systems have a total of 2 GB of system RAM. That's what matters to your customers. Having enough RAM makes your systems snappy and stable; not enough RAM means your systems are malfunctioning. As a technician you need to know more, of course, to choose the right RAM for many different types of computers.

801 Types of RAM The development of newer, wider, and faster CPUs and MCCs motivates DRAM manufacturers to invent new DRAM technologies that deliver enough data in one hit to optimize the flow of data to and from the CPU.

SDRAM Most modern systems use some form of synchronous DRAM (SDRAM). SDRAM is still DRAM, but it's synchronous: it's tied to the system clock, just like the CPU and MCC, so the MCC knows when data is ready to be pulled from SDRAM. This results in little wasted time. SDRAM made its debut in 1996 in a device called a dual in-line memory module (DIMM). Early SDRAM DIMMs came in a wide variety of pin sizes. The most common pin sizes found on desktop computers were the 168-pin variety. Laptop DIMMs came in 68-pin, 144-pin (see Figure 7-9), or 172-pin microDIMM packages; and the 72-pin, 144-pin, or 200-pin Small Outline DIMM (SO-DIMM) form factors (see Figure 7-10). With the exception of the 32-bit 72-pin SO-DIMM, all of these varieties of DIMMs delivered 64-bit-wide data to match the 64-bit data bus of every CPU since the Pentium.

Figure 7-9 144-pin micro-DIMM (photo courtesy of Micron Technology, Inc.)

Figure 7-10 A 168-pin DIMM on top of a 144-pin SO-DIMM To take advantage of SDRAM, you needed a PC designed to use SDRAM. If you had a system with 168-pin DIMM slots, for example, your system used SDRAM. A DIMM in any of the DIMM slots could fill the 64-bit bus, so each slot was called a bank. You could install one, two or more sticks and the system would work. Note that on laptops that used the 72-pin SO-DIMM, you needed to install two bars of RAM to make a full bank, because each bar only provided half the width of the bus. SDRAM was tied to the system clock, so its clock speed matched the front side bus. Five clock speeds were commonly used in early SDRAM systems: 66, 75, 83, 100, and 133 MHz. The RAM speed had to match or exceed the system speed or the computer would be unstable or not work at all. These speeds were prefixed with "PC" at the front, based on a standard shipped by Intel, so SDRAM speeds were from PC66 to PC133. For a Pentium III computer with a 100 MHz front side bus, you needed to purchase qualified SDRAM DIMMs to handle it, such as PC100 or PC133.

RDRAM When Intel was developing the Pentium 4, they knew that regular SDRAM was not going to be fast enough to handle the quad-pumped 400 MHz front-side bus. Intel announced plans to replace SDRAM with a new type of very fast RAM developed by Rambus, Inc., called Rambus DRAM, or simply RDRAM (see Figure 7-11). Hailed by Intel as the next big leap in DRAM technology, RDRAM could handle speeds up to 800 MHz, giving Intel plenty of room to improve on the Pentium 4.

Figure 7-11 RDRAM RDRAM was highly anticipated by the industry for years, but industry support for RDRAM proved less than enthusiastic due to significant development delays and a price many times that of SDRAM. Despite this grudging support, almost every major PC manufacturer sold systems that used RDRAM, for a time. From a technology point of view, RDRAM shares almost all the characteristics of SDRAM. A bar of RDRAM is called a RIMM. In this case, however, the letters don't actually stand for anything; They just rhyme: SIMM, DIMM, and now RIMM, got it?

NOTE The 400 MHz front side bus speed was not achieved by making the system clock faster; it was achieved by making CPUs and MCCs capable of sending 64 bits of data two to four times per clock cycle, effectively doubling or quadrupling the system bus. speed. RIMMs came in two sizes: a 184-pin for desktop computers and a 160-pin SO-RIMM for laptops. RIMMs were keyed differently than DIMMs to ensure that even though they are the same basic size, you couldn't accidentally install a RIMM in a DIMM slot or vice versa. RDRAM also had a speed rating: 600 MHz, 700 MHz, 800 MHz, or 1066 MHz. RDRAM employed an interesting dual-channel architecture. Each RIMM was 64 bits wide, but the Rambus MCC alternated between two devices to increase data retrieval speed. You were required to install the RIMMs in pairs to use this dual-channel architecture. RDRAM motherboards also required all RIMM slots to be populated. Unused pairs of slots needed a passive device called a continuity RIMM (CRIMM) installed in each slot to allow the RDRAM system to terminate properly. Figure 7-12 shows a CRIMM.

Figure 7-12 CRIMM

RDRAM offered dramatic possibilities for high-speed PCs, but it ran into three roadblocks that led to Betamax. First, the technology was the sole property of Rambus; if you wanted to do it, you had to pay the license fees they charged. That led directly to the second problem, spending. RDRAM costs substantially more than SDRAM. Third, Rambus and Intel made a completely closed deal for the technology. RDRAM worked only on Pentium 4 systems using MCCs made by Intel. AMD was out of luck. Clearly, the rest of the industry had to find another high-speed RAM solution.

TIP On CompTIA A+ exams, you will see RDRAM called RAMBUS RAM. Don't be intimidated by the strange usage.

NOTE “Betamaxed” is slang for “made it obsolete because no one bought it, even though it was superior technology to the market winner”. It refers to the VHS vs. Betamax wars in the old days of video cassette recorders. DDR SDRAM AMD and many major system and memory manufacturers have supported Double Data Rate SDRAM (DDR SDRAM). DDR SDRAM basically copied Rambus, doubling the performance of SDRAM by doing two processes for every clock cycle. This synced up (pardon the pun) nicely with the double-pumped front-side bus of later Athlon and AMD processors. DDR SDRAM couldn't perform as fast as RDRAM, although the relatively low front-side bus speeds made that a moot point, but it cost only slightly more than regular SDRAM. DDR SDRAM for desktop computers comes in 184-pin DIMMs. These DIMMs match 168-pin DIMMs in physical size but not in pin compatibility (see Figure 7-13). The slots for the two types of RAM also look similar, but they have different guide notches, so you can't insert either type of RAM into the other's slot. DDR SDRAM for laptops comes in 200-pin SO-DIMMs or 172-pin micro-DIMMs (see Figure 7-14).

Figure 7-13 DDR SDRAM

Figure 7-14 172-pin DDR SDRAM Micro-DIMM (photo courtesy of Kingston/Joint Harvest)

NOTE Most technicians discard part or all of the SDRAM portion of DDR SDRAM when engaging in normal technical jargon. You'll hear memory known as DDR, DDR RAM, and the weird hybrid, DDRAM. RAM manufacturers use the term Single Data Rate SDRAM (SDR SDRAM) to differentiate original SDRAM from DDR SDRAM. DDR devices use a rather interesting naming convention, actually pioneered by the Rambus folks, based on the number of bytes per second of data throughput the RAM can handle. To determine bytes per second, take the speed in MHz and multiply it by 8 bytes (the width of all DDR SDRAM). So 400 MHz multiplied by 8 is 3200 megabytes per second (MBps). Put the abbreviation "PC" in front to form the new term: PC3200. Many technicians also use the naming convention used for individual DDR chips; for example, DDR400 refers to a 400 MHz DDR SDRAM chip that runs at a 200 MHz clock. Although the term DDRxxx is really just for individual DDR chips and the term PCxxxx is for DDR devices, this tradition of two names for every RAM speed is a challenge because you will often hear both terms used interchangeably. Table 7-1 shows all the speeds for DDR; not all are commonly used.

Table 7-1 DDR Speeds

Following the lead of AMD, VIA, and other manufacturers, the PC industry adopted DDR SDRAM as the standard system RAM. In the summer of 2003, Intel relented and stopped producing motherboards and memory controllers that required RDRAM. One thing is certain about PC technologies: any good idea that can be copied will be copied. One of the best Rambus concepts was the dual-channel architecture: using two bars of RDRAM together to increase performance. Manufacturers have released MCC motherboards that support dual-channel architecture using DDR SDRAM. Dual Channel DDR motherboards use regular DDR memory, although manufacturers often sell RAM in matched pairs, calling it Dual Channel RAM. Dual channel DDR works like RDRAM in that it must have two identical bars of DDR and they must fit into two paired slots. Unlike RDRAM, dual-channel DDR doesn't have anything like CRIMMs: you don't need to put anything in the unused pairs of slots. Dual channel DDR technology is very flexible but also has some quirks that vary with each system. Some motherboards have three DDR SDRAM slots, but Dual Channel DDR only works if you install DDR SDRAM in two of the slots. Other cards have four slots and require you to install matching pairs in the same-colored slots to function in dual-channel mode (see Figure 7-15). If it occupies a third slot, the system uses the full installed RAM capacity but disables the dual channel feature.

Figure 7-15 Motherboard showing the four RAM slots. By filling the same colored slots with identical RAM, you can run in dual channel mode. DDR2 The fastest versions of DDR RAM run on a blistering PC4800. That's 4.8 gigabytes per second (GBps) of data throughput! You'd think that kind of speed would satisfy most users, and to be honest, DRAM running at about 5 GBps really is pretty fast, for yesterday. However, continuous speed increases ensure that even these speeds will not be good enough in the future. Knowing this, the RAM industry came out with DDR2, the successor to DDR. DDR2 is DDR RAM with some improvements to its electrical characteristics, allowing it to run even faster than DDR with less power. DDR2's huge speed increase is due to the clock doubling of the input/output circuitry on the chips. This doesn't speed up the central RAM, the part that holds the data, but speeding up I/O and adding special buffers (sort of like a cache) makes DDR2 run much faster than regular DDR. DDR2 uses a 240-pin DIMM that is not compatible with DDR (see Figure 7-16). Also, 200-pin DDR2 SO-DIMM is incompatible with DDR SO-DIMM. You'll find motherboards running single-channel and dual-channel DDR2.

Figure 7-16 240-pin DDR2 DIMM

TIP DDR2 RAM will not fit in DDR sockets or be electronically compatible. Table 7-2 shows some of the common DDR2 speeds.

Table 7-2 DDR2 DDR3 Speeds DDR3 features higher speeds, a more efficient architecture, and about 30 percent lower power consumption than DDR2 RAM, making it an attractive option for system builders. Like its predecessor, DDR3 uses a 240-pin DIMM, although it has a different slot to make it more difficult for users to install the wrong RAM into their system without using a hammer (see Figure 7-17). DDR3 SODIMMs for laptops have 204 pins. It also won't fit in a DDR2 socket.

Figure 7-17 DDR2 DIMMs on top of a DDR3 DIMM

NOTE Do not confuse DDR3 with GDDR3; the latter is a type of memory used only in video cards. See Chapter 21 for information on specific video memory types.

DDR3 doubles the buffer of DDR2 from 4-bit to 8-bit, giving you a huge boost in bandwidth compared to older RAM. Not only that, but some DDR3 modules also include a feature called XMP, or Extended Memory Profile, that allows power users to easily overclock their RAM, boosting their already fast memory at speeds that would make Chuck Yeager nervous. DDR3 modules also use higher-density memory chips, which means we'll eventually see 16GB DDR3 modules. Some chipsets that support DDR3 also support a feature called triple channel memory, which works much the same as dual channel above, but with three bars of RAM instead of two. Intel's LGA 1366 platform supports triple channel memory; no AMD processor supports a tri-channel feature. You'll need three memory modules of the same type and a motherboard that supports it, but tri-channel memory can greatly increase performance for those who can afford it.

NOTE Quad-channel memory also exists, but as of 2012, you'll only find it on servers. In keeping with established tradition, Table 7-3 is a table of common DDR3 speeds. Notice how DDR3's I/O speeds are four times the clock speeds, while DDR2's I/O speeds are only twice the clock. This speed increase is due to the increased buffer size, which allows DDR3 to grab twice as much data per clock cycle as DDR2.

Table 7-3 DDR3 Speeds RAM Variations Within each class of RAM, you'll find variations in packaging, speed, quality, and the ability to handle data with more or less errors. High-end systems often need high-end RAM, so knowing these variations is vitally important for technicians. double-sided DIMMs

Each type of RAM device, starting with the old FPM SIMMs and continuing up to 240-pin DDR3 SDRAM, comes in one of two types: single-sided RAM and double-sided RAM. As the name implies, single-sided sticks have chips on only one side of the stick. Double-sided sticks have chips on both sides (see Figure 7-18). The vast majority of RAM is single-sided, but there are plenty of double-sided memories. Double sided sticks are basically two RAM sticks soldered onto one board. There's nothing wrong with double-sided RAM cards, other than the fact that some motherboards can't use them or can only use them in certain ways, for example only if you use a single bar and go into a certain


Figure 7-18 Double Sided DDR SDRAM Latency

If you've shopped for RAM lately, you may have noticed terms like "CL2" or "low latency" while trying to figure out which RAM to buy. You may find two identical RAMs with a 20 percent price difference, and a salesperson pressures you to buy the more expensive one because it's "faster," even though both memories say DDR 3200 (see Figure 7-19). .

Figure 7-19 Why is one more expensive than the other? RAM responds to electrical signals at different rates. When the memory controller starts to fetches a memory line, for example, there is a slight delay; Think of it like RAM getting off the couch. After the RAM sends the requested memory line, there is another slight delay before the memory controller can request another line: the RAM sits back down. The delay in the response time of RAM is called latency. Lower latency RAM like CL2 is faster than higher latency RAM like CL3 because it responds faster. The CL refers to the clock cycle delays. The 2 means that the memory goes back two

clock cycles before delivering the requested data; the 3 means a delay of three cycles.

NOTE CAS stands for column array strobe, one of the wires (along with the row array strobe) in RAM that helps the memory controller find a particular bit of memory. Each of these cables requires electricity to charge before it can do its job. This is one of the aspects of latency. The latency numbers reflect how many clicks of the system clock it takes before the RAM responds. If you speed up the system clock, say from 166 MHz to 200 MHz, the same stick of RAM may require an extra click before it can respond. When you take RAM out of an older system and put it in a newer one, you might end up with a seemingly dead PC, even though the RAM fits in the DIMM slot. Many motherboards allow you to adjust RAM timings manually. If yours does, try increasing the latency to give the slower RAM time to respond. See Chapter 8 to learn how to make these adjustments (and how to recover if you make a mistake). From a technician's point of view, you need to get the right RAM for the system you're working on. If you put a high latency device on a motherboard configured for a low latency device, you will end up with an unstable or completely dead PC. Check your motherboard manual and get the fastest RAM the motherboard can handle, and you should be fine. Parity and ECC

Given the high speeds and phenomenal amount of data that the typical DRAM chip moves, a RAM chip could occasionally provide incorrect data to the memory controller. This does not necessarily mean that the RAM has gone bad. It could be a hiccup caused by some unknown event that causes a good DRAM chip to say a bit is a zero when it's actually a one. In most cases, you won't even notice when such a rare event occurs. However, in some settings, even these rare events are intolerable. A bank server that handles thousands of online transactions per second, for example, cannot risk even the slightest error. These important computers need more robust and fault-resistant RAM. The first type of error detection RAM was known as parity RAM (see Figure 7-20). The parity RAM stored an extra bit of data (called the parity bit) that the MCC used to check if the data was correct. The parity was not perfect. It didn't always catch an error, and if MCC found an error, it couldn't fix it. For years parity was the only available way to tell if RAM made a mistake.

Figure 7-20 Old Parity RAM Today's PCs that need to watch for RAM errors use a special type of RAM called Error Correcting Code RAM (ECC RAM). ECC is a breakthrough in error checking in DRAM. First, ECC detects every time a single bit is wrong. Second, ECC fixes these errors on the fly. However, verification and repair come at a price, as ECC RAM is always slower than non-ECC RAM. ECC DRAM comes in every type of DIMM package and can lead to some strange sounding numbers. Can

find DDR2 or DDR3 RAM, for example, which come in 240-pin and 72-bit versions. Similarly, you will see the 200-pin 72-bit SO-DIMM format. The extra 8 bits beyond the 64-bit data stream are for ECC. You might be tempted to say "Wow, you might want to try this ECC RAM." Well no! To take advantage of ECC RAM, you need a motherboard with an MCC designed to use ECC. Only expensive motherboards for high-end systems use ECC. The special use nature of ECC makes it quite rare. Many technicians with years of experience have not even seen ECC RAM.

NOTE Some memory manufacturers call for error checking and correcting (ECC) technology. Don't be disconcerted if you see the phrase: It's the same thing, just a different marketing slant for bug-fixing code.

Working with RAM Whenever someone comes up to me and asks what hardware upgrade they can do to improve their system's performance, I always tell them the same thing: add more RAM. Adding more RAM can improve overall system performance, processing speed, and stability, if done right. Messing up work can cause dramatic system instability, such as frequent and random crashes and reboots. Every technician needs to know how to install and upgrade system RAM of all kinds. To get the desired results from a RAM upgrade, you must first determine if insufficient RAM is the cause of your system problems. Second, you need to choose the right RAM for the system. Finally, you must use good installation practices. Always store RAM memories in antistatic packaging when not in use and follow strict ESD handling procedures. Like many other PC parts, RAM is very sensitive to ESD and other technical abuse (see Figure 7-21).

Figure 7-21 Don't do this! Grabbing the contacts is a bad idea! Do you need more RAM? Two symptoms point to a need for more RAM on a PC: general system slowness and excess hard drive.

access the unit. If programs take forever to load and running programs seem to stop and move more slowly than you'd like, the problem could be due to insufficient RAM. A friend with a Windows Vista system complained that her PC seemed snappy when she first got it, but now it takes her a long time to do the things she wants to do with it, like retouching photos in Adobe Photoshop and designing magazine documents in line that she produces. Her system had only 1 GB of RAM, enough to run Windows Vista, but sadly not enough for her tasks; she kept maxing out RAM and thus the system slowed down to a crawl. I replaced her drive with a couple of 2 GB drives, and suddenly she had the powerful workstation she wanted. Excessive hard drive activity when moving between programs indicates a need for more RAM. Every Windows PC has the ability to make a portion of your hard drive look like RAM in case you run out of real RAM. page file

Windows uses a portion of the hard drive as an extension of system RAM, through what is called a RAM cache. A RAM cache is a block of cylinders on a hard drive reserved as what is called a page file, swap file, or virtual memory. When the PC starts to run out of real RAM because it has loaded too many programs, the system switches RAM programs to the page file, opening up more space for currently active programs. All versions of Windows use a page file, this is how it works.

EXAM TIP The default and recommended page file size is 1.5 times the amount of RAM installed in your computer. Suppose you have a PC with 4 GB of RAM. Figure 7-22 shows system RAM as a thermometer with gradients from 0 to 4 GB. As programs load, they take up RAM, and as more and more programs (labeled A, B, and C in the figure) load, more RAM is used.

Figure 7-22 A RAM thermometer showing that more programs require more RAM At a certain point, you won't have enough RAM to run more programs (see Figure 7-23). Sure, you could close one or more programs to make room for another, but you can't keep all programs running simultaneously. This is where virtual memory comes into play.

Figure 7-23 Not enough RAM to load program D Windows virtual memory begins by creating a page file that resides somewhere on your hard drive. The page file works like a temporary storage box. Windows temporarily removes running programs from RAM and places them in the page file so other programs can load and run. If you have enough RAM to run all your programs, Windows doesn't need to use the page file: Windows brings the page file into play only when there isn't enough RAM available to run all open programs.

NOTE Virtual memory is a completely automated process and does not require user intervention. Technological intervention is another story! To load, Program D needs a certain amount of free RAM. Clearly this requires downloading some other program (or programs) from RAM without closing any programs. Windows analyzes all running programs, in this case A, B, and C, and decides which program is used the least. That program is then cut or swapped out of RAM and copied to the page file. In this case, Windows has chosen Program B (see Figure 7-24). Unloading Program B from RAM provides enough RAM to load Program D (see Figure 7-25).

Figure 7-24 Download program B from memory

Figure 7-25 Program B stored in the page file, leaving room for Program D It is important to understand that none of this activity is visible on the screen. The window of program B is still visible, along with those of all other running programs. Nothing tells the user that Program B is no longer in RAM (see Figure 7-26).

Figure 7-26 You cannot know if a program is exchanged or not. So what happens if you click on the Program B window to bring it to the front? The program can't actually be run from the page file; it must be reloaded into RAM. First, Windows decides which program should be removed from RAM, and this time Windows chooses Program C (see Figure 7-27). It then loads Program B into RAM (see Figure 7-28).

Figure 7-27 The C program is changed to the page file. Swapping programs to and from the page file and RAM takes time. Although there are no visual cues to suggest a swap is in progress, the machine slows down noticeably as Windows performs the swaps. Page files are a crucial aspect of how Windows works. Windows handles page files automatically, but occasionally you'll run into problems and need to resize the page file or delete it and let Windows recreate it automatically. The page file is PAGEFILE.SYS. You can often find it in the root directory of the C: drive, but again, that can be changed. Wherever it is, the page file is a hidden system file, which means that in practice you'll have to play around with the folder display options to see it.

Figure 7-28 Program B is moved back into RAM.

NOTE If you have a second hard drive installed in your PC, you can often get a nice performance boost by moving your page file from drive C (the default) to the second drive. To move your page file in all versions of Windows, open the System Control Panel applet and select the Advanced tab in Windows XP or the Advanced System Settings menu in Windows Vista/7. This opens the System Properties dialog. In the Performance section of the Advanced tab, click the Settings button to open the Performance Options dialog. Select the Advanced tab, and then click the Change button in the Virtual Memory section. In the Virtual Memory dialog, select a drive from the list and assign it a size or range, and you're ready to go. Just don't turn virtual memory off completely. Although Windows can run without virtual memory, it will definitely take a performance hit. If Windows needs to access the page file too often, you'll notice the hard drive access LED going crazy as Windows rushes to move programs between RAM and the page file in a process called disk thrashing. Windows uses the page file all the time, but excessive disk hyperactivity suggests you need more RAM. You can diagnose disk thrashing simply by watching the hard drive access LED blink or through various third-party tools. I like FreeMeter ( It's been around for quite some time, runs on all versions of Windows, and is easy to use (see Figure 7-29). Notice in the FreeMeter screenshot that a part of the page file is being used. That is perfectly normal.

Figure 7-29 FreeMeter System RAM Recommendations

Microsoft sets the listed minimum RAM requirements for the various Windows operating systems very low to get the maximum number of users to upgrade or convert, and that's okay. A Windows XP Professional machine runs quite well with 128MB of RAM. Just don't ask him to do any serious computer work like running Crysis 2! Windows Vista and Windows 7 raised the bar considerably, especially with 64-bit versions of the operating system. Table 7-4 lists my recommendations for system RAM.

Table 7-4 Windows RAM recommendations for determining current RAM capacity

Before you get RAM, you obviously need to know how much RAM you currently have in your PC.

Windows displays this amount in the System Control Panel applet (see Figure 7-30). You can also access the screen with the WINDOWS-PAUSE/BREAK key combination.

Figure 7-30 Mike has a lot of RAM! Windows also includes a handy Performance tab in Task Manager (as shown in Figure 7-31). The Performance tab includes a lot of information about how much RAM your PC is using. Access the Task Manager by pressing CTRL-SHIFT-ESC and selecting the Performance tab.

Figure 7-31 Performance tab in Windows 7 ReadyBoost Task Manager

Windows Vista and Windows 7 offer a feature called ReadyBoost that allows you to use flash media devices (removable USB flash drives or memory sticks) as super-fast dedicated virtual memory. The performance gain over using a typical hard drive for virtual memory can be significant with ReadyBoost because flash memory read/write speeds exceed hard drive read/write speeds. Also, the added ReadyBoost device(s) means that Windows has multiple sources of virtual memory that it can use at the same time. Windows 7 can handle up to eight flash drives, while Windows Vista can take advantage of just one flash drive. Devices can be between 1 and 32 GB in capacity. The flash device's file system is important in terms of how much memory Windows can use. Typically, the most you'll get from a flash drive is 4 GB without manually changing the file system. Finally, Microsoft recommends using 1-3 times the amount of system RAM for Ready-Boost drives or devices for optimal performance.


NOTE See Chapter 12 on file systems for the differences between FAT, FAT32, NTFS, and

Plug a ReadyBoost-approved device into a USB port or built-in flash memory card reader slot. Right-click the device under Computer and select Properties. Click the Ready-Boost tab and select the radio button next to Dedicate this device to ReadyBoost or Use this device (see Figure 7-32). Click Apply to improve your system performance.

Figure 7-32 Dedicating a Flash Drive to Ready-Boost to Improve System Performance Getting the Right RAM To perform the perfect RAM upgrade, determine the optimal RAM capacity to install, and then get the right RAM for your motherboard . Your first two stops toward these goals are the inside of the box and your motherboard manual. Open the case to see how much RAM you currently have installed and how many free slots you have open. Consult your motherboard book to determine the total amount of RAM your system can handle and what specific technology works with your system. You can't put DDR2 in a system that can only handle DDR SDRAM, after all, and it won't do you much good to install a pair of 2GB DIMMs when your system maxes out at 1.5GB. Figure 7-33 shows the RAM limits for my ASUS Crosshair motherboard.

Figure 7-33 The motherboard book shows how much RAM the motherboard will handle.

TIP The free program CPU-Z tells you the total number of slots on your motherboard, the number of slots used and the exact type of RAM in each slot - very helpful. CPU-Z not only determines the latency of your RAM, but also lists the latency at a variety of motherboard speeds. The media accompanying this book has a copy of CPU-Z, so check it out. Mix and match at your own risk

All motherboards can handle different capacities of RAM. If you have three slots, you can put a 512MB USB stick in one and a 1GB USB stick in the other with a high probability of success. However, to ensure maximum stability in a system, look for as close to uniformity of RAM as possible. Choose RAM memories that match in technology, capacity and speed. mixing speeds

With so many different DRAM speeds available, it can often be tempting to mix DRAM speeds on the same system. Although you can get away with mixing speeds in a system, the safest and easiest rule to follow is to use the DRAM speed specified in the motherboard book, and make sure every piece of DRAM runs at that speed. In the worst case, mixing DRAM speeds can cause the system to hang every few seconds or minutes. You may also get some data corruption. Mixing speeds sometimes works well, but don't do your taxes on a machine with mixed DRAM speeds until the system has proven stable for a few days. The important thing to note here is that you won't break anything, except possibly data, by experimenting. Ok, I've mentioned enough disclaimers already. Modern motherboards provide some flexibility regarding RAM speeds and mixing. First, you can use RAM that is faster than what the motherboard specifies. For example, if the system needs PC3200 DDR2 SDRAM, you can install PC4200 DDR2 SDRAM and it should work fine. Faster DRAM won't make your system run faster though, so don't look for any system upgrades. Second, sometimes you can get away with putting one DRAM speed in one bank and another speed in another bank, as long as all speeds are as fast or faster than the speed specified by the motherboard. Don't bother trying to put DRAM of different speeds in the same bank with a motherboard that uses dual-channel DDR. Installing DIMMs and RIMMs Installing DRAM is so easy that it's one of the few jobs I recommend to non-techies. First, put on an antistatic wrist strap or touch some bare metal to the power supply to ground yourself and prevent ESD. Then move the side tabs of the RAM slots down from the vertical position. Take a stick of RAM (do not touch those contacts) and align the notch or notches with the raised portions of the DIMM socket (see Figure 7-34). A good nudge down is usually all you need to ensure a solid connection. Make sure the DIMM clicks into place to show that it is fully seated. Also, notice that the two side tabs move inward to reflect a tight connection.

Figure 7-34 Inserting a Serial Presence Detector DIMM (SPD)

Your motherboard should automatically detect and configure any DIMMs or RIMMs you install, assuming you have the proper RAM for your system, using a technology called Serial Presence Detect (SPD). RAM manufacturers add a handy chip to modern devices called an SPD chip (see Figure 7-35). The SPD chip stores all the information about your DRAM, including size, speed, ECC or non-ECC, registered or non-registered, and a host of other more technical data.

Figure 7-35 SPD chip on a device When a PC boots, it queries the SPD chip so the MCC knows how much RAM is in the device, how fast it runs, and other information. Any program can query the SPD chip. Take a look at Figure 7-36 for the output of the popular CPU-Z program showing RAM information from the SPD chip.

Figure 7-36 CPU-Z Displaying RAM Information All new systems have SPDs to set the RAM timings correctly for your system when it boots. If you add RAM with a faulty SPD chip, you will receive a POST error message and the system will not boot. You can't fix a broken SPD chip; You just bought a new RAM stick. RAM count

After installing the new RAM, turn on the PC and closely watch the boot process. If you installed the RAM correctly, the RAM count on the PC reflects the new value (compare Figures 7.37 and 7.38). If the RAM value remains the same, it is likely that you have installed the RAM in a slot that the motherboard does not want it to use (for example, you may need to use a particular slot first) or you have not installed the RAM at all. correctly. If your computer won't boot and you have a blank screen, you probably haven't installed all of your RAM correctly. Usually a good second look is all you need to determine the problem. Replace or reinstall the RAM and try again. RAM counts are confusing because RAM uses megabytes and gigabytes instead of millions and billions. Here are some examples of how different systems would display 256MB of RAM:

Figure 7-37 Hey, where's the rest of my RAM?

Figure 7-38 RAM count after proper DIMM insertion 268435456 (exactly 256 × 1 MB) 256 M (some PCs try to make it easy for you) 262,144 (number of KB) You should know how much RAM you are trying to install and use some sense common. If you have 512MB and add another 512MB device, you should end up with a gigabyte of RAM. If you still see a RAM count of 524582912 after adding the second device, something went wrong! Installing SO-DIMMs in Laptops Not so long ago, adding RAM to a laptop was either impossible or required you to return the system to the manufacturer. For years every laptop manufacturer had custom built proprietary RAM packs that were unwieldy and staggeringly expensive. The wide acceptance of SO-DIMMs in recent years has virtually eliminated these problems. All laptops now provide relatively convenient access to their SO-DIMMs, allowing for easy replacement or addition of RAM. Access to RAM usually requires removing a panel or lifting the keyboard; the procedure varies among laptop manufacturers. Figure 7-39 shows a typical laptop RAM access panel. You can slide the panel to reveal the SO-DIMMs. SO-DIMMs are generally inserted exactly like old SIMMs; slide the pins into position and snap the SO-DIMM into the retention clips (see Figure 7-40).

Figure 7-39 RAM access panel on a laptop

Figure 7-40 Inserting an SO-DIMM Before doing any work on a laptop, turn off the system, unplug it from the AC wall outlet, and remove all batteries. Wear an antistatic wrist strap because laptop computers are much more susceptible to ESD than desktop computers.

802 Troubleshooting RAM "Memory" errors show up in a variety of ways on modern systems, including parity errors, ECC error messages, system crashes, page faults, and other error screens in Windows. These errors can indicate faulty RAM, but they often point to something unrelated. This is especially true with intermittent problems. Technicians must recognize these errors and determine which part of the system caused the memory error. You can get two radically different types of parity errors: real and phantom. Actual parity errors are simply errors that the MCC detects from the parity or ECC chips (if it has them). then the operating system

reports the problem in an error message, such as "Parity error at xxxx:xxxxxxx", where xxxx:xxxxxxx is a hexadecimal value (a string of numbers and letters, such as A5F2:004EEAB9). If you get an error like this, write down the value (see Figure 7-41). A real parity/ECC error appears in the same memory location every time and almost always indicates that you have bad RAM.

Figure 7-41 Windows error message Ghost parity errors appear on systems that do not have parity or ECC memory. If Windows generates parity errors with different addresses, you most likely don't have a problem with RAM. These phantom errors can occur for a variety of reasons, including software glitches, heat or dust, solar flares, fluctuations in the Force... you get the idea. System crashes and page faults (they often go together) in Windows can indicate a problem with RAM. A system crash is when the computer stops working. A page fault is a minor error that can be caused by memory problems, but not necessarily by system RAM problems. Certainly page faults look like RAM problems because Windows generates scary error messages filled with long strings of hex digits, like "KRNL386 caused a page fault at 03F2: 25A003BC." However, just because the error message contains a memory address does not mean that you have a problem with your RAM. Write down the address. If it is repeated in subsequent error messages, you probably have faulty RAM. If Windows shows different memory locations, you need to look elsewhere for the culprit. Every once in a while, something potentially catastrophic happens inside the PC, some little electron hits the big red panic button, and the operating system has to shut down certain functions before it can save.

data. This panic button inside the PC is called a non-maskable interrupt (NMI), defined more simply as an interrupt that the CPU cannot ignore. An NMI manifests itself to the user as what technicians affectionately call the Blue Screen of Death (BSoD): a glowing blue screen with a scary-sounding error message (see Figure 742).

Figure 7-42 Blue Screen of Death Poor RAM sometimes triggers an NMI, although often the culprit lies in buggy programming or crashing code. The BSoD varies by operating system, and it would require a much longer tome than this to cover all the variations. Suffice to say that RAM could be the problem when you get that lovely blue screen. Finally, intermittent memory errors can come from a variety of sources, including a dying power supply, electrical interference, buggy applications, buggy hardware, etc. These errors show up as crashes, general protection faults, page faults, and parity errors, but they never have the same address or occur with the same applications. I always check the power supply first. RAM Test Once you discover that you may have a RAM problem, you have a couple of options. First, several companies make hardware RAM testers, but unless you have a lot of disposable income, they're probably priced too high for average technology ($1,500 and up). Second, you can use the method I use: replace and pray. Open the system box and replace each stick, one at a time, with a known-good replacement stick. (You have one of those lying around, don't you?) This method, while it can be time consuming, certainly works. With PC prices as low as they are now, you could simply

Replace your entire system for less than the price of a dedicated RAM tester. Third, you can run a software based tester in RAM. Because you have to load a software RAM tester into the memory you are about to scan, there is always a small chance that simply starting the software RAM tester could cause an error. Still, you can find some pretty good free ones out there. Windows 7 includes the Memory Diagnostic Tool, which can automatically scan your computer's RAM when it finds a problem. If you are using another operating system, my favorite tool is the venerable Memtest86 written by Mr. Chris Brady ( Memtest86 thoroughly checks your RAM and reports bad RAM when found (see Figure 7-43).

Figure 7-43 Memtest86 in action

NOTE A General Protection Fault (GPF) is a bug that can cause an application to crash. GPFs are often caused by programs that are stepping on their toes. Chapter 19 goes into more detail about GPFs and other Windows errors.

Chapter 1 Review Questions Steve adds a second 1 GB 240-pin DIMM to his PC, which should bring the total system RAM to 2 GB. The PC has a 3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and three 240-pin DIMM slots on the motherboard. However, when you turn on the PC, only 1 GB of RAM appears during the RAM count. Which of the following is most likely the problem? A. Steve was unable to properly seat the RAM.

B. Steve put DDR SDRAM in a DDR 2 slot. C. The CPU cannot handle 2 GB of RAM. D. The motherboard can only use one RAM slot at a time. 2. Scott wants to add 512 MB of PC100 SDRAM to an outdated but still serviceable desktop system. The system has a 100 MHz motherboard and currently has 256 MB of non-ECC SDRAM in the system. What else do you need to know before installing? A. What speed of RAM do you need. B. What type of RAM do you need. C. How many pins does the RAM have? D. Whether the system can handle that much RAM. 3. What is the main reason why DDR2 RAM is faster than DDR RAM? A. The core speed of DDR2 RAM chips is faster. B. The I/O speed of DDR2 RAM is faster. C. DDR RAM is single channel and DDR2 RAM is dual channel. D. DDR RAM uses 184-pin DIMMs and DDR2 uses 240-pin DIMMs. 4. What is the time frame for the delay in the response of the RAM to a request from the MCC? A. Variance B. MCC gap C. Latency D. Recovery interval 5. Rico has a motherboard with four RAM slots that doesn't seem to work. You have two RDRAM RIMMs installed, for a total of 1 GB of memory, but the system will not boot. What is likely to be the problem? A. The motherboard requires SDRAM, not RDRAM. B. The motherboard requires DDR SDRAM, not RDRAM. C. The motherboard requires all four slots to be filled with RDRAM. D. The motherboard requires the two empty slots to be filled with CRIMM for termination. 6. Silas has an AMD-based motherboard with two DDR2 RAM modules installed in two of the three

RAM slots, for a total of 2 GB of system memory. When you run CPU-Z to test the system, you notice that the software claims that you are running single channel memory. What could be the problem? (Select the best answer). A. Your motherboard only supports single channel memory. B. Your motherboard only supports dual channel memory with DDR RAM, not DDR2. C. You need to install a third RAM to enable dual channel memory. D. You need to move one of the installed sticks to a different slot to activate dual channel memory. 7. Which of the following Control Panel applets will display the amount of RAM on your PC? A. System B. Devices and Printers C. Device Manager D. Action Center 8. What is the best way to determine the total capacity and specific type of RAM your system can handle? A. Please refer to the motherboard book. B. Open the case and inspect the RAM. C. Check Device Manager. D. Check the system utility in Control Panel. 9. Gregor installed a third good RAM in his Core i7 system, bringing the total amount of RAM to 3 GB. However, within a few days, he started having random crashes and reboots, especially when performing memory-intensive tasks like gaming. What is the most likely problem? A. Gregor installed DDR RAM in a DDR2 system. B. Gregor installed DDR2 RAM in a DDR3 system. C. Gregor installed RAM that did not match the speed or quality of the RAM in the system. D. Gregor installed RAM that exceeded the speed of the RAM in the system. 10. Cindy installs a second DDR2 RAM in her Core 2 Duo system, bringing the total system memory to 2 GB. However, within a short period of time, she begins to experience blue screens of death. What could be the problem? A. She installed faulty RAM.

B. The motherboard could only handle 1 GB of RAM. C. The motherboard required dual channel RAM. D. No problem. Windows always does this initially, but it gets better after crashing a few times. Answers 1. A. Steve was unable to place the RAM correctly. 2. D. Scott needs to know if the system can handle that much RAM. 3. B. The I/O speed of DDR2 RAM is faster than DDR RAM (although latency is higher). 4. C. Latency is the term for the delay in the response of the RAM to a request from the MCC. 5. D. RDRAM-based motherboards require empty slots to be filled with CRIMM for termination. 6. D. Motherboards can be complicated and require you to install RAM in the proper slots to allow dual channel memory access. In this case, Silas must move one of the installed devices to a different slot to enable dual channel memory. (And he has to check the motherboard manual for the proper slots.) 7. A. he You can use the system applet to see how much RAM is currently in your PC. 8. A. The best way to determine the total capacity and the specific type of RAM your system can handle is to consult your motherboard book. 9. C. Gregor most likely installed RAM that did not match the speed or quality of the RAM in the system. 10. A. If he doesn't have a problem with a system and then experiences problems after installing something new, it's likely that something new is to blame.



BIOS In this chapter, you will learn to: • Explain the function of the BIOS • Distinguish between various CMOS setup utility options • Describe option ROM and device drivers • Troubleshoot Power On Self Test (POST) • Maintain BIOS and CMOS Properly In Chapter 6, you saw how the address bus and external data bus connect RAM to the CPU through the memory controller chip (MCC) to run programs and transfer data. Assuming you apply power in the right places, you don't need anything else to make a simple computer. The only problem with such a simple computer is that it would bore you to hell, there is no way to do anything with it! A PC needs devices like keyboards and mice to provide input, and output devices like monitors and sound cards to tell it the current status of running programs. A computer also needs permanent storage devices, such as hard drives, USB drives, and optical drives, to store programs and data when you turn off the computer.

Historical/Conceptual We need to talk Simply putting a number of components in a computer is useless if the CPU can't communicate with them. Getting the CPU to communicate with a device starts with some kind of interconnect: a communication bus that allows the CPU to send commands to and from the devices. To make this connection, let's promote the MCC, giving it extra power to act not only as the interconnect between the CPU and RAM, but also as the interconnect between the CPU and the other devices in the PC. The MCC isn't just the memory controller anymore, so we'll call it the Northbridge now because it acts as the main bridge between the CPU and the rest of the computer (see Figure 8-1).

(Video) Download Any Book PDF For Free || Best Trick To Download Paid Books PDF For Free ||

Figure 8-1 Meet the Northbridge Your PC uses so many devices that the PC industry decided to delegate some of the interconnectivity work to a second chip called the Southbridge. Northbridge takes care of high-speed interfaces, like connecting to your video card and RAM. Southbridge primarily works with lower speed devices such as USB controller and hard drive controllers. Chipmakers design matched sets of particular Northbridge and Southbridge models to work together. You don't buy a Northbridge from one company and a Southbridge from another, they are sold as a set. We call this set of Northbridge and Southbridge the chipset.

EXAM TIP Modern processors include Northbridge functions directly on the CPU. The Southbridge is now called Input/Output Controller Hub (ICH) on new Intel systems and Fusion Controller Hub (FCH) on new AMD systems. However, to help you understand their function, I'll still refer to Northbridge and Southbridge as separate elements. The chipset extends the data bus to all devices on the PC. The CPU uses the data bus to move data to and from all of the PC's devices. Data constantly flows on the external data bus between the CPU, chipset, RAM, and other devices in the PC (see Figure 8-2).

Figure 8-2 The chipset extends the data bus The first use of the address bus, as you know, is for the CPU to tell the chipset to send or store data in memory and to tell it which section of the memory access or use . As with the external data bus, the chipset extends the address bus to all devices (see Figure 8-3). That way, the CPU can use the address bus to send commands to devices, just as it sends commands to the chipset.

Figure 8-3 All the devices on your computer connect to the address bus. It's not too hard to accept the concept that the CPU uses the address bus to talk to devices, but how does it know what to tell them? How does it know all the patterns of ones and zeros to put on the address bus to tell the hard drive that it needs to send a file? Let's look at the interaction between the keyboard and the CPU to understand this process.

Talking to the Keyboard The keyboard provides a great example of how buses and supporting programming help the CPU get work done. In early computers, the keyboard was connected to the external data bus via a special chip known as a keyboard controller. Don't bother looking for this chip on your motherboard - Southbridge now handles keyboard controller functions. However, the way the keyboard controller, or technically the keyboard controller circuit, works with the CPU has changed only slightly in the last 25 years, making it a perfect tool for illustrating how the CPU communicates with a device.

NOTE Technicians commonly talk about various chipset functions as if those functions are still handled by discrete chips. So, you will hear about memory controllers, keyboard controllers, mouse controllers, USB controllers, etc., although they are all just circuits on the Northbridge or Southbridge. The keyboard controller was one of the last single function chips to be absorbed into the chipset. For many years, in fact, well into the Pentium III/Early Athlon era, most motherboards had separate keyboard controller chips. Figure 8-4 shows a typical keyboard controller from those days. Electronically, it looked like Figure 8-5.

Figure 8-4 A keyboard chip on a Pentium motherboard

Figure 8-5 Electronic View of Keyboard Controller

NOTE Although model numbers have changed over the years, you'll still hear technicians refer to the keyboard controller as the 8042, after the original keyboard controller chip. Every time you press a key on your keyboard, a scanning chip in the keyboard notes which key you pressed. The scanner then sends a coded pattern of 1's and 0's, called a scan code, to the keyboard controller. Each key on your keyboard has a unique scan code. The keyboard driver stores the scan code in its own registry. Are you surprised that the humble keyboard controller has a register similar to a CPU? Many chips have registers, not just CPUs (see Figure 8-6).

Figure 8-6 Scan code stored in the keyboard controller register How does the CPU obtain the scan code from the keyboard controller (see Figure 8-7)? While we're at it, how does the CPU tell the keyboard to change the typing buffer rate (when you hold down a key and the letter repeats itself) or turn the num lock LED on and off, to name just a few other jobs? What does the keyboard need to do for the system? The point is that the keyboard driver needs to be able to respond to multiple commands, not just one.

Figure 8-7 The CPU ponders the age old dilemma of how to get the 8042 to release its data.

The keyboard controller accepts commands exactly as you saw the CPU accept commands in Chapter 6. Remember when you added 2 to 3 with the 8088? You had to use specific commands from the 8088 codebook to tell the CPU to do the addition, and then put the response on the external data bus. The keyboard controller has its own codebook, much simpler than any CPU's codebook, but conceptually the same. If the CPU wants to know which key was last pressed on the keyboard, the CPU needs to know the command (or string of commands) that tells the keyboard controller to put the letter scan code on the external data bus to that the CPU can read it

801 BIOS The CPU doesn't magically or automatically know how to talk to any device; it needs some kind of supporting programming loaded into memory that teaches it about a particular device. This programming is called basic input/output services (BIOS). Programs dedicated to allowing the CPU to communicate with devices are called services (or device drivers, as you'll see later in this chapter). This goes way beyond the keyboard, by the way. In fact, all computer devices need BIOS! But let's stick with the keyboard for now. Bringing BIOS to the PC A talented programmer could write BIOS for a keyboard if the programmer knew the keyboard's codebook; Keyboards are pretty simple devices. This raises the question: where would this supporting programming be stored? Well, the programming could be built into the operating system. Storing programming to communicate with your PC's hardware in the operating system is great: all operating systems have built-in code that knows how to communicate with your keyboard, your mouse, and just about every other piece of hardware you can put on your PC. . That's fine once the OS is up and running, but what about a new stack of parts you're about to assemble into a new PC? When you're building a new system, you don't have an operating system. The CPU must have access to the BIOS for the most important hardware in your PC: not just the keyboard, but also the monitor, hard drives, optical drives, USB ports, and RAM. This code cannot be stored on a hard drive or optical drive: these important devices must be ready any time the CPU calls them, even before installing a mass storage device or operating system. The perfect place to store support programming is on the motherboard. That solves one problem, but another one arises: What storage medium should the motherboard use? The DRAM won't work because all the data will be erased every time you turn off the computer. You need some kind of permanent program storage device that doesn't depend on other peripherals to function. And you need that storage device to sit on the motherboard. ROM motherboards store keyboard controller support programming, among other programs, on a special type of device called a read-only memory (ROM) chip. A ROM chip stores programs, called services, just like RAM: that is, like an 8-bit wide spreadsheet. But ROM differs from RAM in two important ways. First, ROM chips are non-volatile, which means that the information stored in the ROM is not erased when the computer is turned off. Second, traditional ROM chips are read-only, which means that once you store a program on one, you can't change it. Modern motherboards use a type of ROM called a flash ROM that differs from traditional ROMs in that you can update and change the content through a very specific process called "ROM flashing," which is discussed later in this chapter. Figure 8-8 shows a typical flash ROM.

chip on a motherboard. When the CPU wants to talk to the keyboard controller, it goes to the flash ROM chip to access the proper programming.

Figure 8-8 Typical Flash ROM Every motherboard has a flash ROM chip, called a system ROM chip because it contains code that allows your CPU to communicate with your PC's basic hardware (see Figure 8-9). As mentioned above, the system ROM contains BIOSes for more than just the keyboard controller. It also stores programs to communicate with the floppy drive, hard drives, optical drives, display devices, USB ports, and other basic devices on your motherboard.

Figure 8-9 Flash ROM Chip Function Hundreds of small services (2 to 30 lines of code each) are required to communicate with all this hardware. These hundreds of small programs stored on the system ROM chip on the motherboard are collectively called the system BIOS (see Figure 8-10). Techs call programs stored in ROM chips of any kind of firmware.

Figure 8-10 CPU running BIOS service The system ROM chips used in modern PCs store up to 2 MB of programs, yet only 65,536 bytes are used to store the system BIOS. This allows compatibility with previous systems. The rest of the ROM space is used to do other work.

EXAM TIP Programs stored on ROM chips (flash or any other type of ROM chip) are collectively known as firmware, unlike programs stored on erasable media, which are collectively called software. System BIOS Support Each system BIOS supports two types of hardware. First, the system BIOS supports all the hardware that never changes, like the keyboard. (You can change your keyboard, but you can't change the built-in Southbridge keyboard driver.) Another example of hardware that never changes is your PC speaker (the little one that beeps at you, not the ones that play music). The system ROM chip stores the BIOS for these and other devices that never change. Second, the system BIOS is compatible with all hardware that may change from time to time. This includes RAM (you can add RAM), hard drives (you can replace your hard drive with a larger drive or add a second hard drive), and floppy drives (you can add another floppy drive, although that's not common today). . The system ROM chip stores the BIOS for these devices, but the system needs another place to store information about the specific details of a piece of hardware. This allows the system to differentiate between a 1.5TB Western Digital Caviar Black hard drive and a 1TB Seagate Barracuda drive, yet still support both drives out of the box.

CMOS A separate memory chip, called a complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) chip, stores the information that describes device-specific parameters. CMOS does not store programs; it only stores data that is read by the BIOS to complete the programs needed to communicate with the writable hardware. CMOS also acts as a clock to maintain the current date and time. Years ago, CMOS was a separate chip on the motherboard, as shown in Figure 8-11. Today, the CMOS is almost always built into the Southbridge.

Figure 8-11 Old-style CMOS Most CMOS chips store about 64 KB of data, but the PC generally only needs a very small amount, about 128 bytes, to store all the necessary information on the interchangeable hardware. Don't let the small size fool you. The information stored in CMOS is absolutely necessary for the PC to function! If the data stored in CMOS about a particular piece of hardware (or about its more sophisticated functions) is different from the specifications of the actual hardware, the computer cannot access that piece of hardware (or use its more sophisticated functions). It is crucial that this information is correct. If you change any of the hardware components listed above, you must update the CMOS to reflect those changes. Therefore, you need to know how to change the data in CMOS. Modifying CMOS: The Setup Program Each PC ships with a program built into the system ROM called the CMOS Setup Program or System Configuration Utility that allows you to access and modify CMOS data. When you turn on your computer in the morning, the first thing you'll probably see is the BIOS information. It might look like the example shown in Figure 8-12 or perhaps the example shown in Figure 8-13.

Figure 8-12 AMI BIOS Information

Figure 8-13 Award/Phoenix BIOS information

NOTE The terms CMOS setup program, CMOS, and system configuration utility are now functionally interchangeable. You'll even hear the program known as the BIOS setup utility. Most technicians just call it CMOS. Who or what is AMIBIOS, and who or what is Phoenix Technologies? These are trade names of BIOS companies. They write BIOS programs and sell them to computer manufacturers. In today's world, motherboard manufacturers rarely write their own BIOS. Instead, they purchase their BIOS from specialized third-party BIOS manufacturers, such as Award Software and Phoenix Technologies. Although several companies

writing BIOS, two large companies control 99 percent of the BIOS business: American Megatrends (AMI) and Phoenix Technologies. Phoenix bought Award Software and still sells the Award brand as a separate product line. These three are the most common brand names in the field. It always accesses a system's CMOS setup program at boot time. The real question is how to access the CMOS settings at boot time for your particular PC. AMI, Award, and Phoenix use different keys to access the CMOS setup program. BIOS manufacturers usually tell you how to access the CMOS setup directly on the screen when the computer starts up. For example, at the bottom of the screen in Figure 8-13, you are prompted to "press DEL key to enter BIOS setup". Please note that this is only one possible example. Motherboard manufacturers can change the key combinations to enter CMOS setup. You can even configure the computer so that the message is not displayed - a good idea if you need to keep nosy people out of your CMOS settings! If you don't see an "enter settings" message, wait until the RAM count begins, and then try one of the following keys or key combinations: DEL, ESC, Fl, F2, CTRL-ALT-ESC, CTRLALT-INS, CTRL-ALT-ENTER, or CTRL-S. It may take a few tries, but you will eventually find the correct key or key combination. If not, check your motherboard book or manufacturer's website for the information. Okay, so I've thrown a bunch of terms at you that describe various pieces of hardware and software and what does what to whom. Here is the scorecard so you can categorize the various data. 1. The system ROM chip stores the system BIOS, the programs needed by the CPU to communicate with devices. 2. The system ROM chip also contains the program that accesses the information stored in the CMOS chip to support interchangeable hardware parts. This program is called a CMOS setup program or system configuration utility. 3. The CMOS contains a small amount of data that describes interchangeable hardware parts supported by the system BIOS. The CMOS today is a part of the Southbridge. Do you have all that? Let's take a quick tour of a CMOS setup program. A quick tour of a typical CMOS setup program Each BIOS manufacturer's CMOS setup program looks a little different, but don't let that confuse you. They all contain basically the same configuration; you just have to be comfortable poking around. To avoid doing anything foolish, don't save anything unless you're sure you've set it up correctly. As an example, let's say your machine has Award BIOS. Boot the system and press DEL to enter CMOS setup. The screen shown in Figure 8-14 appears. You are now in the main menu of the Award CMOS setup program. The setup program itself is stored in the ROM chip, but it only edits the data in the CMOS chip.

Figure 8-14 Typical Award CMOS Main Screen If you select the CMOS Standard Features option, the CMOS Standard Features screen appears (see Figure 8-15). On this screen you can change the floppy drive, hard drive, and optical drive settings, as well as the system date and time. You will learn how to configure the CMOS for these devices in later chapters. At this point, your only goal is to understand CMOS and how to access CMOS settings on your PC, so don't try to change anything just yet. If you have a system that can reboot, try going into CMOS setup now.

Figure 8-15 Standard CMOS Features Screen

CAUTION Accessing the CMOS setup utility for a system is perfectly fine, but do not make changes unless you fully understand that system. Does it look anything like these examples? If not, can you find the screen that allows you to change floppy drives, hard drives, and optical drives? Trust me, every CMOS setup has that screen somewhere! Figure 8-16 shows the same standard CMOS setup screen on a system with Phoenix BIOS. Note that this CMOS setup utility calls this screen "Main".

Figure 8-16 Phoenix BIOS CMOS Setup Utility Main Screen The first BIOS was nothing more than this standard CMOS setup. Today, all computers have many additional CMOS settings. They control things like memory management, passwords and boot options, error diagnostics and handling, and power management. The next section takes a quick tour of an Award CMOS setup program. Remember that your CMOS settings almost certainly look at least slightly different than mine, unless you have the same BIOS. The chances of that happening are pretty slim. Phoenix has pretty much taken the desktop BIOS market by storm with its Award Modular BIOS. Motherboard manufacturers buy a boilerplate BIOS, designed for a particular chipset, and add or remove options (Phoenix calls them modules) based on each motherboard's needs. This means that seemingly identical CMOS setup utilities can be wildly different. Options that appear on one computer may be missing on another. Compare the older Award display in Figure 8-17 with the newer Award CMOS display in Figure 8-14. Figure 8-17 looks different, and it should, since this much older system simply doesn't need the extra options available on the newer system.

Figure 8-17 Previous Rewards Setup Screen

NOTE All of these screens tend to overwhelm new technicians. When first encountering the many options, some technicians feel they need to understand each option on each screen in order to properly configure CMOS. Relax: If I don't talk about a particular CMOS setting anywhere in this book, it probably isn't important, either to CompTIA A+ certification exams or to a real technician. The next section begins with a walkthrough of a CMOS setup utility with MB Intelligent Tweaker, followed by some of the Advanced screens. You will then go through other common screens such as Integrated Peripherals, Power, and more. MB Intelligent Tweaker You can use the MB Intelligent Tweaker (M.I.T.) to change the default voltage and multiplier settings on the motherboard for the CPU. Motherboards that cater to overclockers tend to have this option. Typically, you just set this to Automatic or Default and stay away from this screen (see Figure 8-18).

Figura 8-18 MB Intelligent Tweaker (M.I.T.)

NOTE Under Advanced BIOS Features, you can also find various diagnostic tools. I'll talk about a common hard drive diagnostic tool, Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology (S.M.A.R.T.), in Chapter 11. Advanced BIOS Features The advanced BIOS features are the dumping ground for all settings not covered in the chapter. Standard menu and doesn't fit well under any other screen. This screen varies greatly from system to system. You most often use this screen to select boot options (see Figure 8-19).

Figure 8-19 Virtualization support of advanced BIOS features

You've already learned a lot about how an operating system interacts with hardware and software, but did you know that you can also recreate an entire PC (including hardware, software, and operating system) virtually as a program on your PC? A virtual machine is a type of powerful program that allows you to run a second (or third or fourth) software-based machine inside your physical PC. It recreates the motherboard, hard drives, RAM, network adapters and more, and is as powerful as a real PC. However, to run these virtual machines, you will need a very powerful PC; after all, you are trying to run multiple PCs at the same time. To support this, CPU manufacturers have added hardware-assisted virtualization. Intel calls its version Intel Virtualization Technology, and AMD calls its version AMD Virtualization Technology, perhaps the only time these two companies agreed on a name. This technology helps virtual machines use their hardware more efficiently and is controlled by the BIOS. This feature is disabled by default in BIOS, so if your virtual machine requires hardware-assisted virtualization, you'll need to enable it here. Chassis intrusion detection

Many motherboards support the chassis intrusion detection feature provided by the computer case or chassis. Compatible cases contain a switch that is triggered when someone opens the case. With support from the motherboard and a proper connection between the motherboard and the case, the CMOS records whether the case has been opened and, if it has, posts a notification to the screen at subsequent boot. How cool is that? Advanced Chipset Features The Advanced Chipset Features screen (see Figure 8-20) strikes most people with fear as it deals with extremely low-level chipset features. Avoid this screen unless a high level technician (such as a

motherboard manufacturer's support technician) explicitly tells you to do something here.

Figure 8-20 Advanced Integrated Peripherals Chipset Features The Integrated Peripherals screen will be used a lot. Here you configure, enable or disable the integrated devices, such as the integrated sound card (see Figure 8-21).

Figure 8-21 Integrated Peripherals Power Management Settings As the name implies, you can use the Power Management Settings screen (see Figure 8-22) to configure power management settings for the system. These settings work in conjunction (sometimes in conflict) with Windows power management settings to control how and when devices turn off and back on to save power.

Figure 8-22 Overclocking Power Management Settings Many PCs have CMOS settings menus that display information about the CPU, RAM, and GPU and include controls for overclocking them. He learned about overclocking in Chapter 6, so he already knows what it does and how dangerous it can be. Overclocking works by changing bus speeds, clock multipliers, and the desired component voltage. Be very careful when overclocking or you could end up with a dead CPU!

EXAM TIP When overclocking your PC, look for settings that adjust CPU clock and bus speeds. The more you press them, the faster your PC will go. PnP/PCI Settings All CMOS setup utilities come with menu items that are for the most part no longer needed, but no one wants to remove them. The PnP/PCI Settings screen is a perfect example (see Figure 8-23). Plug and Play (PnP) is the way devices work automatically when you connect them to your PC. PCI is a type of slot used for cards. The odds are very good that you will never deal with this screen.

Figure 8-23 PnP/PCI Settings and Other CMOS Settings... The other options in the main menu of an Award CMOS do not have their own screens. Rather, these simply have little dialog boxes that pop up, usually with "Are you sure?" messages The Load FailSafe/Optimized default options save you from having to memorize all those weird settings you'll never touch. Fail-Safe sets everything down to very simple settings - you can occasionally use this setting when very low-level problems are occurring, such as freezes, and you've checked the most obvious areas first. Optimized sets the CMOS to the best possible speed/stability for the system. You would use this option after you've messed with the CMOS too much and you need to put it back to the way it was! Many CMOS setup programs allow you to set a CMOS password to force the user to enter a password each time the system boots. Do not confuse this with the Windows login password. This CMOS password appears at boot, long before Windows begins to load. Figure 8-24 shows a typical CMOS password prompt.

Figure 8-24 CMOS Password Prompt Some CMOS setup utilities allow you to create two passwords: one to boot and one to access the CMOS setup program. This extra password just to get into CMOS setup is a godsend in schools, for example, where non-technicians tend to wreak havoc in areas (like CMOS) they shouldn't be accessing. Many CMOS setup utilities also allow you to monitor CPU temperature, system temperature, and CPU and RAM voltages. This menu, usually called PC Health, also allows you to change the fan speed. A system will almost always handle them on its own, but if you're setting up a home theater PC and want the quietest system possible, you can go in and set the fans to the lowest speed.

TEST HINT On some motherboards, the CMOS Setup program allows you to control the ATA Security Mode feature set, also commonly known as DriveLock. ATA security mode is the first line of defense in protecting hard drives from unwanted access when a system is lost or stolen. Some PC manufacturers also include LoJack security features in their BIOS; This way, if your PC is stolen, you can track its location, install a keylogger, or even remotely shut down your computer. Trusted Platform Module

The Trusted Platform Module (TPM) acts as a secure cryptoprocessor, that is, it is a hardware platform for the acceleration of cryptographic functions and the secure storage of associated information. The specification for TPM is published by the Trusted Computing Group, an organization whose corporate members include Intel, Microsoft, AMD, IBM, Lenovo, Dell, HewlettPackard, and many others.

The TPM can be a small circuit board attached to the motherboard, or it can be built directly into the chipset. The CMOS setup program usually contains settings that can turn the TPM on or off and enable or disable it. TPMs can be used in a wide range of cryptographic operations, but one of the most common uses for TPMs is hard drive encryption. For example, Microsoft's Windows Vista and Windows 7 BitLocker Drive Encryption feature can be accelerated by using a TPM, which is more secure because the encryption key is stored on the tamper-resistant TPM hardware rather than on an external flash drive. Other possible uses of TPMs include digital rights management (DRM), network access control, application execution control, and password protection. Exit and save settings Of course, all CMOS settings provide some method of saving and exiting or exiting without saving. Use them as needed for your situation. Exit Without Saving is particularly good for people who want to poke around in the CMOS setup utility but don't want to mess anything up. Use it! The CMOS setup utility would fill all the needs of a modern system for BIOS if manufacturers would simply stop creating new devices. That's not going to happen, of course, so let's move on now to the devices that need to have the BIOS loaded from somewhere else.

Option ROMs and Device Drivers Every piece of hardware in your computer needs some form of programming that tells the CPU how to communicate with that device. When IBM invented the PC more than 30 years ago, they couldn't possibly have included all the necessary BIOS routines for every conceivable piece of hardware on the system's ROM chip. How could they? Most of the devices used today did not exist on early PCs. When programmers wrote the first BIOS, for example, network cards, mice, and sound cards didn't exist. The early PC designers at IBM understood that they couldn't anticipate every new type of hardware, so they gave us some ways to add programming in addition to the BIOS. I call this BYOB - bring your own BIOS. You can BYOB in two ways: Option ROMs and Device Drivers. Let's see both. Option ROMs The first way to BYOB is to put the BIOS on the hardware device itself. Look at the card shown in Figure 8-25. This is a serial ATA RAID hard drive controller, basically just a card that allows you to add more hard drives to a PC. The chip in the center with the wires coming out the sides is a flash ROM that stores the BIOS for the card. The system BIOS has no idea how to communicate with this card, but that's okay, because this card comes with its own BIOS on what's called an option ROM chip.

Figure 8-25 Option ROMs Most BIOSes that come with option ROMs tell you that they exist by displaying information when you start the system. Figure 8-26 shows a typical example of an option ROM advertising itself.

Figure 8-26 Boot Option ROM In the early days of the PC, you could find all sorts of devices with BIOSes on option ROMs. Today, option ROMs have mostly been replaced by more flexible software methods (more on device driver software in the next section), with one major exception: video cards. Every video card manufactured today contains its own BIOS. Option ROMs work fine, but are difficult to update. For this reason, most hardware relies on software for BYOB. Device Drivers A device driver is a file stored on a PC's hard drive that contains all the commands necessary to talk to whatever device it was written for. All operating systems employ a method to load these

device drivers into RAM every time the system boots. They know which device drivers to install by reading a file (or files) that lists which device drivers the system needs to load at boot time. All operating systems are designed to look at this list early in the boot process and copy the listed files into RAM, giving the CPU the ability to communicate with hardware supported by the device driver. Device drivers come with the device when you buy it. When you buy a sound card, for example, it comes with a disk containing all the necessary device drivers (and usually a bunch of extras). The generic name for this type of CD-ROM is the installation disk. In most cases, you install a new device, start the computer, and wait for Windows to ask for the installation disc (see Figure 8-27).

Figure 8-27 Windows Prompts for Installation Disc Sometimes you may want to manually add or remove device drivers. Windows uses a special database called the Registry that stores everything you want to know about your system, including device drivers. You shouldn't access the Registry directly to access these drivers, but rather use the venerable Device Manager utility (discussed in Chapter 4). BIOS, BIOS, everywhere! As you should now understand, every piece of hardware in a system must have a program attached to it that provides the CPU with the necessary code to communicate with that particular device. This code can reside in the system ROM on the motherboard, in the ROM on a card, or in a device driver file on the hard drive loaded into RAM at boot time. BIOS is everywhere in your system, and you need to deal with it from time to time.

802 Power On Self Test (POST)

BIOS is not the only program in your system ROM. When the computer is turned on or reset, it starts a special program, also stored in the system ROM chip, called the power-on self-test (POST). The POST program checks the system every time the computer starts. To perform this verification, the POST sends a command that says to all devices: "Check yourselves!" All of the standard devices on the computer then run their own internal diagnostics: the POST doesn't specify what to check for. The quality of the diagnosis depends on the people who made that particular device. Let's consider POST for a moment. Suppose some device, let's say it's the keyboard controller chip, runs its diagnostics and determines that it's not working properly. What can the POST do about it? Only one thing really: tell it to the human in front of the PC! So how does the computer tell the human? PCs transmit POST information to you in two ways: beep codes and text messages. Before and During Video Test: Beep Codes The computer first tests the most basic parts of the computer, down to and including the video card. On early PCs, you would hear a series of beeps, called beep codes, if something went wrong. By using beep codes before and during the video test, the computer could communicate with you. (If a POST error occurs before the video is available, obviously the error must manifest as beeps, because nothing can be displayed on the screen.) The meaning of the beep code you would hear varied between different BIOS manufacturers. You can find the beep codes for a specific motherboard in your motherboard manual. Most modern PCs have just two beep codes: one for bad or missing video (one long beep followed by two or three short beeps) and one for bad or missing RAM (a single beep that repeats indefinitely).

CAUTION You will find a lot of documentation online about beep codes, but it is usually very out of date. You will hear another three beep sequences on most PCs (although these are not officially beep codes). At the end of a successful POST, the PC produces one or two short beeps, simply to let you know that all is well. Most systems make a rather strange noise when RAM is missing or badly damaged. Unlike traditional beep codes, this code repeats until you turn off the system. Finally, your speaker may beep for reasons unrelated to POST or boot. One of the most common is a series of short beeps after the system has been running for a while. That's a CPU alarm telling you that the CPU is approaching its high heat limit. Text Errors After the video has tested fine, any POST errors are displayed on the screen as text errors. If you get a text error, the problem is usually, but not always, self-explanatory (see Figure 8-28). Text errors are much more useful than beep codes, because you can simply read the screen to determine the faulty device.

Figure 8-28 POST Text Error Messages POST Cards Beep codes, numeric codes, and text error codes, while useful, can sometimes be misleading. Worse than that, a dead device can sometimes interrupt POST, forcing the machine into an endless loop. This causes the PC to act dead with no beeps and nothing on the screen. In this case, you need a device, called a POST card, to monitor the POST and identify which piece of hardware is causing the problem. POST cards are simple cards that fit into expansion slots in your system. A small two-character light-emitting diode (LED) readout on the card indicates which device is currently testing POST (see Figure 8-29).

Figure 8-29 POST card in action POST cards used to be essential tools for technicians, but today I use them only when I have a "dead" PC to determine at what level it is dead. If the POST card shows no reading, I know the problem is before the POST and must be with power, CPU, RAM, or motherboard. If the board publishes then I know I need to look at more issues like units etc. The Boot Process All PCs need a process to start their operations. Once it powers the PC, the tight interrelationship of hardware, firmware, and software allows the PC to boot itself, "wake itself up," or

boot itself. When you first turn on the PC, the power supply circuitry tests for the proper voltage and then sends a signal through a special wire called the good power wire to activate the CPU. The moment the power cord activates it, each CPU immediately sends an onboard memory address over its address bus. This special address is the same on every CPU, from the oldest 8086 to the latest microprocessor. This address is the first line of the POST program in the system ROM! This is how the system starts the POST. After POST is complete, there must be a way for the computer to find the programs on the hard drive to start the operating system. The POST passes control to the last BIOS function: the bootloader. The bootloader is little more than a few dozen lines of BIOS code added to the end of the POST program. Your job is to find the operating system. The boot loader reads information from CMOS to tell it where to look first for an operating system. Your PC's CMOS setup utility has an option that you configure to tell the bootloader which devices to check for an operating system and in what order (see Figure 8-30).

Figure 8-30 CMOS Boot Order Almost all storage devices—floppy disks, hard drives, CDs, DVDs, and even USB flash drives—can be configured to boot an operating system by reserving a specific location called the boot sector. If the device is bootable, its boot sector contains special programming designed to tell the system where to locate the operating system. Any device with a functional operating system is called a boot disk or system disk. If the boot loader locates a good boot sector, it passes control to the operating system and it is removed from memory. If not, it goes to the next device in the boot order that you configured in the CMOS setup utility. Boot order is an important tool for technicians because you can set it to load special boot media so you can run utilities to maintain PCs without using the main operating system. Some BIOSes include a feature that allows a PC to use a Preboot Execution Environment (PXE). A PXE allows you to boot a PC without any local storage by retrieving an operating system from a server over a network. You'll see more about PXE when we talk about installing Windows in Chapter 14.

BIOS and CMOS Power and Care BIOS and CMOS are areas of your PC that you don't visit very often. BIOS itself is invisible. The only real clue you have that it exists is the POST. The CMOS setup utility, on the other hand, is very visible if you launch it. Most CMOS setup utilities work acceptably well without needing to touch them. However, you are an aspiring technician and every technician worth their salt starts the CMOS setup utility and makes changes. That's when most CMOS setup utility problems occur. If you mess with the CMOS setup utility, remember to only make as many changes at a time as you can remember. Document the original settings and changes on a piece of paper so you can put things back if necessary. Don't make changes unless you know what they mean! It's easy to mess up a computer pretty seriously by messing with CMOS settings you don't understand. Lost CMOS Settings Your CMOS needs a continuous trickle charge to retain its data. Motherboards use some kind of battery,

usually a coin-type battery like those found in wristwatches, to give the CMOS the charge it needs when the computer is turned off (see Figure 8-31). This battery also keeps track of the date and time when the PC is turned off.

Figure 8-31 A CMOS battery If the battery dies, you will lose all your CMOS information. If some mishap suddenly erases the information on the CMOS chip, the computer may not boot or get nasty boot errors. Any PC made after 2002 will boot to factory defaults if the CMOS is cleared, so the chances of it not booting are slim, but you'll still get errors on boot. Here are some examples of errors that point to loss of CMOS information: • CMOS configuration mismatch • CMOS date/time not set • No boot device available • CMOS battery low status Here are a few of the most common reasons for losing CMOS data: • Removing and inserting cards

• Touching the motherboard • Dropping something on the motherboard • Dirt on the motherboard • Faulty power supplies • Power surges If you encounter any of these errors, or if the Windows clock automatically resets to January 1 each time you reboot the system, the battery on the motherboard is losing its charge and needs to be replaced. To replace the battery, use a screwdriver to gently pry up the battery latch. The battery should pop up for easy removal. Before installing the new battery, verify that it has the same voltage and amperage as the old battery. To preserve your CMOS settings while you replace the battery, simply leave your PC plugged into AC power. The smooth 5 volt power on all modern motherboards provides enough electricity to keep the CMOS charged and the data safe. Of course I know you'll be very careful about ESD while pulling the battery out of a live system! Flashing ROM Flash ROM chips can be reprogrammed to update their content. With ROM flash, when you need to update your system BIOS to add support for a new technology, you can simply run a small command line program, combined with an update file, and voila, you have a fresh, updated BIOS! Different BIOS manufacturers use slightly different processes for updating the BIOS, but generally, you insert a removable disk of some sort (usually a USB stick) containing an updated BIOS file and use the update utility in CMOS setup . Some motherboard manufacturers provide Windows-based flash ROM upgrade utilities that check for updates on the Internet and download them for you to install (see Figure 8-32). Most of these utilities also allow you to back up your current BIOS so you can go back to it if the updated version causes problems. Without a good backup, you could end up throwing away your motherboard if a BIOS flash update goes wrong, so you should always do one.

Figure 8-32 ROM update program for an ASUS motherboard Finally, don't update your BIOS unless you have a compelling reason to do so. As the old saying goes: “If it ain't broke, don't fix it!”

EXAM TIP While technicians often talk about "updating the BIOS," CompTIA A+ exams also refer to this process as "installing firmware updates."

Beyond A+ UEFI Your computer's system BIOS is a very old piece of programming. BIOS has not changed much since it was conceived with the 286-based IBM AT computer in the 1980s. As a result, the BIOS works only in 16-bit mode and is dependent on x86-compatible hardware. Also, if you have more than one operating system loaded on a single drive, you need one of those operating systems installed to "take over" and act as the boot loader. If computing was to advance, a new type of BIOS needed to appear. Intel's Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) fulfills that role. In 2005, Intel released EFI for public standards and created the Unified EFI forum to manage the specification. EFI was then renamed Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI).

TIP Although it is actually called UEFI, most technicians use the term EFI. UEFI acts like a super-BIOS, doing the same job as the BIOS, but in a 32-bit or 64-bit environment. UEFI, however, does much more than just replace BIOS. Think of UEFI as an industry-standard mini operating system that's not yet very well defined and runs on top of your computer's firmware, allowing it to do some cool stuff at boot. Here are some of the things that UEFI does: • UEFI supports 32-bit or 64-bit boot. • UEFI handles all bootloading tasks. • UEFI does not depend on x86 firmware. UEFI became a standard years ago, so why didn't anyone see a UEFI motherboard until 2011? The answer is simple: 3TB hard drives. The normal BIOS will only boot to Master Boot Record (MBR) drives, and MBR drives do not support partitions larger than 2.2TB. As 3TB and larger drives began to appear in 2011, people using traditional BIOSes found that strange problems appeared when they wanted to boot from a 3TB hard drive (see Figure 8-33). Instead of a 3TB volume, you'll find a 2.2TB volume and unpartitioned space.

Figure 8-33 This is what happens when you install Windows 7 on a drive larger than 2.2TB using a normal BIOS. UEFI motherboards support booting from a newer type of hard drive partition called the GUID Partition Table (GPT) which supports partitions larger than 2.2TB. If you want to boot from a single partition hard drive larger than 2.2TB, you must use a UEFI motherboard and the hard drive must be blank. If your system meets these two criteria, the Windows 7 setup routine will automatically create a GPT drive for you (see Figure 8-34).

Figure 8-34 This is what happens when you install Windows 7 on a drive larger than 2.2TB using UEFI.

NOTE While UEFI works for both 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems, Microsoft decided to enable UEFI support only for 64-bit editions of Windows 7. Although the EFI folks clearly defined issues such as startup and access to the firmware, do not define issues such as the graphical user interface or audio. If you think UEFI has a standard Windows desktop-like interface, forget it. Figure 8-35 shows the UEFI interface of an ASUS motherboard. UEFI works like a 32-bit or 64-bit bootloader that is not hardware or operating system specific. This doesn't make the things we know and love, like POST or system settings, go away. They still exist, but now UEFI runs the program instead of BIOS (see Figure 8-36).

Figure 8-35 ASUS EFI BIOS Utility

Figure 8-36 System setup and POST are still here.

Chapter Review Questions 1. What does the BIOS provide to the computer? (Choose the best answer). A. BIOS provides the physical interface for various devices, such as USB and FireWire ports.

B. BIOS provides the programming that allows the CPU to communicate with other hardware. C. The BIOS provides memory space for applications to load from the hard drive. D. The BIOS provides memory space for applications to load from the main system RAM. 2. What is the correct boot sequence for a PC? A. CPU, POST, Power Good, Bootloader, OS B. POST, Power Good, CPU, Bootloader, OS C. Power Good, Bootloader, CPU, POST, OS D. Power Good, OS CPU, POST , Bootloader, OS 3. Jill decided to go retro and added a second floppy drive to her computer. She thinks she has it physically installed correctly, but it doesn't show up in Windows. Which of the following is likely to lead Jill where she needs to go to solve the problem? A. Reboot the computer and press the F key on the keyboard twice. This indicates that the computer has two floppy drives. B. Restart the computer and observe the instructions for entering the CMOS setup utility (for example, a message may instruct you to press the DELETE key). Do as she says to go to CMOS settings. C. In Windows, press the DELETE key twice to enter the CMOS setup utility. D. In Windows, go to Start | Run and write floppy. Click OK to open the floppy drive setup wizard. 4. Henry bought a new card to capture TV on his computer. However, when he finished checking the package, he didn't find any driver disk, just an application disk to configure the TV capture software. After installing the card and software, everything works perfectly. What is the most likely explanation? A. The device does not require a BIOS, so there is no need for a driver disk. B. The device has an option ROM that loads BIOS, so a driver disk is not necessary. C. Windows supports TV capture cards out of the box, so a driver disk is not necessary. D. The manufacturer made a mistake and did not include everything needed to configure the device. 5. Which of the following most accurately describes the relationship between the BIOS and the hardware? A. All hardware requires a BIOS. B. All hardware that connects to the motherboard via ribbon cables needs a BIOS.

C. All the hardware integrated in the motherboard needs BIOS. D. Some hardware devices need BIOS. 6. After a sudden power outage, Samson's PC rebooted, but nothing appeared on the screen. The PC just beeps at you, over and over and over again. What is most likely the problem? A. The power outage destroyed your RAM memory. B. The power outage toasted your video card. C. The power outage destroyed your hard drive. D. The power outage affected your CPU. 7. Davos finds out that a disgruntled ex-employee decided to sabotage her computer when she left by putting a CMOS password that prevents the computer from booting. What can Davos do to solve this problem? A. Davos must start the computer while he holds down the left SHIFT key. This will clear the CMOS information. B. Davos should try various combinations of the former employee's name. The vast majority of people use their name or initials for CMOS passwords. C. Davos should find the transparent CMOS jumper on the motherboard. You can then boot the computer with a bypass jumper to clear the CMOS information. D. Davos should find a replacement motherboard. Unless he knows the CMOS password, there is nothing he can do. 8. Richard in the sales department went crazy with CMOS and made a bunch of changes that he thought would optimize his PC. Now most of his PC is down. The computer turns on, but you can only access CMOS, not Windows. Which of the following technical call answers would likely get you up and running again? A. Reboot the computer about three times. That will clear the CMOS and get it working. B. Open the computer and find the CMOS clear jumper. Remove a shunt from somewhere on the motherboard and put it on the transparent CMOS jumper. Reboot and then put the shunt back where you got it. Reboot, and you should be up and running in no time. C. Start the CMOS setup program, and then look for the option to load a plug-and-play operating system. Make sure it is activated. Save and exit CMOS; boot normally into windows. You should be up and running in no time. D. Launch the CMOS setup program, and then look for the option to load optimized default settings. Save and exit CMOS; boot normally into windows. You should be up and running in no time. 9. Jill boots up an older Pentium III system that has been the cause of several user complaints in the office.

The system powers on and starts to run POST, but then stops. The screen shows a "CMOS configuration mismatch" error. From the list below, what is the most likely cause of this error? A. Dead CMOS battery B. Bad CPU C. Bad RAM D. Bad system BIOS 10. Where does Windows store device drivers? A. Computer B. Hardware C. Registry D. Drivers and settings Answers 1. B. The BIOS provides the programming that allows the CPU to communicate with other hardware. 2. D. This is the correct boot sequence: Power Good, CPU, POST, Boot Loader, OS. 3. B. Jill should restart the computer and wait for instructions to enter the CMOS setup utility (for example, a message might tell her to press the DELETE key). She should do what she says to go into CMOS setup. 4. B. Most likely the device has an option ROM, because it works. 5. A. All hardware needs BIOS! 6. A. Repeated beeping and a dead PC probably indicate a problem with RAM. 7. C. Davos must find the clear CMOS jumper on the motherboard, and then start the computer with a bypass on the jumper to clear the CMOS information. 8. D. Please don't give Richard a screwdriver! Most likely, she makes it load the optimized default settings. 9. A. The CMOS battery is probably running low. 10. C. Windows stores device drivers in the Registry.

9 base plates


In this chapter, you will learn to: • Explain how motherboards work • Recognize modern expansion buses • Upgrade and install motherboards • Troubleshoot the motherboard The motherboard provides the foundation for the personal computer. Every piece of hardware, from the CPU to the smallest expansion card, connects directly or indirectly to the motherboard. The motherboard contains the wires, called tracks, that make up the system buses. It contains the vast majority of ports used by peripherals and distributes power from the power supply (see Figure 9-1). Without the motherboard, you literally don't have a PC.

Figure 9-1 Visible traces under the CPU socket on a motherboard This chapter begins with an explanation of how motherboards work, identifying various types or form factors of motherboards, including distinguishing features. The second section looks at expansion capabilities on motherboards, specifically the types of expansion slots you'll come across and how to install expansion cards. The third section reviews the pragmatic steps of upgrading and installing motherboards. The chapter ends with motherboard troubleshooting techniques.

NOTE Modern motherboards are layered, copper-etched printed circuit boards (PCBs).

a non-conductive material and then coated with some kind of epoxy for strength. The layers mask some of its complexity. You can see some of the imprints on the board, but every motherboard is four or more layers thick. The layers contain a veritable highway of wires, carrying data and commands between the CPU, RAM, and peripherals. The layered structure allows multiple cables to send data without their signals interfering with each other. The layered approach allows the manufacturer to add additional complexity and components to the board without extending the overall length and width of the board. The shorter traces also allow signals to travel faster than they would if the cables were longer, as would be necessary if motherboards did not use layers. The multiple layers also add strength to the board itself, so it doesn't bend easily.

Historical/Conceptual How Motherboards Work Three variable and interrelated characteristics define modern motherboards: form factor, chipset, and components. The form factor determines the physical size of the motherboard, as well as the general placement of components and ports. The chipset defines the type of processor and RAM that the motherboard requires and determines to some degree the onboard devices that the motherboard supports, including expansion slots. Finally, the built-in components determine the core functionality of the system. Any good technician should be able to make a recommendation to a customer on a particular motherboard simply by carefully reading the specifications. Since the motherboard determines the function, expansion, and stability of the entire PC, knowing about motherboards is essential! Form Factors Form factors are industry-standardized shapes and designs that allow motherboards to work with enclosures and power supplies. A single form factor applies to all three components. Motherboards come in a basic rectangular or square shape, but vary in overall size and in the layout of built-in components (see Figure 9-2). You must install a motherboard in a custom-designed case so that the ports and slot openings on the back fit together correctly.

Figure 9-2 Typical motherboard The power supply and motherboard need matching connectors and different form factors are defined.

different connections. Since the term "form factor" applies to the case, motherboard, and power supply—the three parts of the PC most responsible for moving air inside the PC—form factor also defines how it moves. the air in the casing. To perform motherboard upgrades and provide informed recommendations to customers, technicians need to know their form factors. The PC industry has embraced, and phased out, various form factors over the years with names like AT, ATX, and BTX. Let's start with the granddaddy of all PC form factors, AT.

NOTE All AT motherboards had a split socket called P8/P9. You can see the white P8/P9 connector near the keyboard port in Figures 9.3 and 9.4. AT Form Factor The AT form factor (see Figure 9-3), invented by IBM in the early 1980s, was the predominant form factor for motherboards until the mid-1990s. AT is now obsolete.

Figure 9-3 AT Style Motherboard The AT motherboard had a few variations in size (see Figure 9-4), ranging from large to very large. The original AT motherboard was huge, around 12 inches wide by 13 inches deep. PC technology was new and needed a lot of space for the various chips needed to run PC components.

Figure 9-4 AT motherboard (bottom) and Baby AT motherboard (top) The biggest problem with AT motherboards was the lack of external ports. When PCs were first invented, the only devices attached to the average PC were a monitor and keyboard. That's what the AT was designed for: the only dedicated connector on an AT motherboard was the keyboard port (see Figure 9-5).

Figure 9-5 Keyboard connector on the back of an AT motherboard Over the years, the number of devices attached to the back of the PC has grown enormously. Your current average PC has a keyboard, mouse, printer, a few speakers, a monitor, and if your system is anything like mine, four to six USB devices plugged in at any given time. These added components created a demand for a new type of form factor, one with more dedicated connectors for more devices. Many attempts were made to create a new standard form factor. Invariably, these new form factors integrated dedicated connectors for at least the mouse and printer, and many even added connectors for video, sound, and phone lines. One variation of the AT form factor that enjoyed some degree of success was the slim form factor. The first slim form factor was known as the LPX (defined in some sources as Extended Low Profile, although there is some disagreement). It was superseded by the NIX form factor. (By the way, NLX apparently doesn't stand for anything. It's just a cool grouping of letters.) The LPX and NLX form factors met the demands of the slim market by providing a central riser slot to allow the insertion of a special riser card (see Figure 9-6) or, as it is sometimes called, a daughter board. The expansion cards then fit into the riser card horizontally. Combining built-in connections with a riser card allowed manufacturers to produce PCs smaller than 4 inches.

Figure 9-6 Riser card on an older motherboard The main problem with form factors like the LPX and NLX was their lack of flexibility. Certainly no problem occurred with dedicated connections for devices like mice or printers, but the new form factors also added connectors for devices like video and sound, devices that were prone to obsolescence, making the motherboard obsolete. at the time a new type was introduced. video or sound card became popular.

801 ATX Form Factor Demand for a form factor that had more standard connectors and was also flexible enough for changes in technology led to the creation of the ATX form factor in 1995 (see Figure 9-7). ATX got off to a slow start, but around 1998, ATX overtook AT to become the most common form factor, a distinction it holds today.

Figure 9-7 Old ATX motherboard ATX differs from AT in the lack of an AT keyboard port, replaced by a back panel that has all the necessary ports built into it. Note the mini-DIN (PS/2) keyboard and mouse ports on the left of Figure 9-8, until recently standard features on nearly all ATX motherboards. You remember the ones from Chapter 3, right?

Figure 9-8 ATX ports The ATX form factor includes many improvements over AT. The position of the power supply creates better air movement. The CPU and RAM are positioned for easier access, and the rearrangement of components prevents long expansion cards from colliding with the CPU or Northbridge. Other improvements, such as placing the RAM closer to the north bridge and the CPU than on AT boards, also offer users improved performance. The shorter the cables, the easier it is to shield them and make them capable of handling double or quadruple the clock speed of the motherboard. Figure 9-9 shows AT and

ATX motherboards: Be aware of the radical differences in the location of the internal connections.

Figure 9-9 AT (left) and ATX (right) motherboards for a quick visual comparison ATX motherboards come in three variations to accommodate different types of cases. So far, you've seen the full-size ATX form factor, which is 12 by 9.6 inches. The microATX (μATX) motherboard (see Figure 9-10) floats at a slim 9.6 by 9.6 inches (typically), or about 30 percent smaller than standard ATX, but uses standard ATX connections. A microATX motherboard will fit in a standard ATX case or the much smaller microATX cases. Please note that not all microATX motherboards are the same physical size. You will sometimes see microATX motherboards referred to by the Greek symbol for micro, as in μATX.

Figure 9-10 A microATX motherboard In 1999, Intel created a variant of the microATX called FlexATX. FlexATX motherboards have maximum dimensions of just 9 x 7.5 inches, making them the smallest motherboards in the ATX standard. Although FlexATX motherboards can use a standard ATX power supply, most FlexATX systems use a special FlexATX-only power supply. This tiny power supply fits into narrow FlexATX cases.

NOTE Many techies and websites use the term mini-ATX to refer to motherboards smaller than a full ATX board. This is technically incorrect. The specifications for these small boards use only the terms microATX and FlexATX. Note that each major type of form factor requires its own case. AT motherboards go in AT cases, NLX motherboards go in NLX cases, and ATX motherboards go in ATX cases. You cannot replace one form factor with another without purchasing a new case (see Figure 9-11). The exception to this rule is that larger form factor ATX cases can handle any smaller size ATX form factor motherboard.

Figure 9-11 That's not going to fit! ITX Not everyone wants or needs a great desktop system. Since the beginning of PCs, there has always been a demand for smaller computers. While several companies have made proprietary motherboards to support smaller computers, it wasn't until around 2001 that chipset maker VIA Technologies began the process of creating a small form factor (SFF) motherboard, the ITX. The ITX itself was not a success, but VIA, in turn, created a number of even smaller form factors that today populate the SFF market: MiniITX, Nano-ITX, and Pico-ITX. Mini-ITX is the largest and most popular of the three ITX form factors. At a minuscule 6.7 by 6.7 inches, Mini-ITX competes head-to-head with the virtually identical microATX (see Figure 9-12).

Figure 9-12 Mini-ITX (Photo courtesy of VIA Technologies, Inc.) If you think it's small, 4.7 x 4.7-inch Nano-ITX and 3.8 x 2.8-inch Pico-ITX are still smaller (see Figure 9-13). . These small motherboard form factors are commonly used for embedded systems and highly specialized devices like routers.

Figure 9-13 Pico-ITX (Photo courtesy of VIA Technologies, Inc.) One of the great benefits of these SFF motherboards is the small amount of power required to support them. ITX power supplies are quite small compared to a typical power supply. Lower power usage produces less heat, allowing for passive cooling in many SFF systems. The lack of noise from the fans makes them ideal for media center PCs.

EXAM TIP You should be aware of the variations of the ATX standard for the CompTIA 220-801 exam, especially microATX. You should also be familiar with the low power design of ITX boards. Proprietary form factors

Several of the major PC manufacturers, including Dell and Sony, make motherboards that work only with their cases. These proprietary motherboards allow these companies to create systems that stand out from the generics and, not coincidentally, push you to get service and upgrades from their authorized dealers. Some of the features you'll see on proprietary systems are riser boards like you saw with the NLX form factor, part of a motherboard separate from the main one but connected by some sort of cable, and unique power connections. Proprietary motherboards drive technicians crazy because replacement parts tend to cost more and are not readily available. Chipset Every motherboard has a chipset, one or more discrete integrated circuit chips that support the interface of the CPU with all other devices on the motherboard. The chipset determines the type of processor that the motherboard supports, the type and capacity of RAM, and the type of internal and external devices that the motherboard supports. As you learned in previous chapters, the chips in a PC's chipset serve as electronic interfaces through which the CPU, RAM, and input/output devices interact. Chipsets vary in features, performance, and stability, which is why they are an important factor in purchasing or recommending a particular motherboard. Good technicians know their chipsets! Because the chipset facilitates communication between the CPU and other system devices, its component chips are located relatively centrally on the motherboard (see Figure 9-14). For more than a decade, chipsets consisted of two main chips: Northbridge and Southbridge.

Figure 9-14 Northbridge and Southbridge The Northbridge chip on traditional Intel-based motherboards helped the CPU to work with RAM, such as

mentioned in previous chapters. However, on newer motherboards, the CPU has taken over the role of memory controller, so the Northbridge either no longer exists or only provides communication with the video card. The Northbridge chips did a lot and therefore got quite hot, requiring its own heat sink and fan assembly. Southbridge handles some expansion devices and mass storage units, such as hard drives. Most Southbridge chips do not need additional cooling, leaving the chip exposed or passively cooled with just a heat sink. This makes Southbridge a great place to look at the chipset manufacturer, since the manufacturer's name is always listed on the chip. Some motherboards support very old technologies, such as floppy drives, infrared connections, parallel ports, and modems. Although support for these older devices was once part of Southbridge's job, almost no modern chipsets still support these devices. Motherboard manufacturers add a third chip called super I/O to handle these tasks. Figure 9-15 shows a super typical I/O chip.

Figure 9-15 Super I/O chip on ASUS motherboard The system ROM chip provides part of the BIOS for the chipset, but only at a basic and generic level. The chipset still needs support for the rest of the things it can do. So how do expansion devices get BIOSes? From software drivers, of course, and the same applies to modern chipsets. You must load the appropriate drivers for the specific operating system to support all the features of current chipsets. Without software drivers, you will never create a stable and fully functional PC. Most motherboards ship with an optical disc containing drivers, support programs, and special extras such as antivirus software (see Figure 9-16).

Figure 9-16 ASUS Motherboard Driver Disk There are a limited number of chipset manufacturers. The dominant vendors of chipsets today are Intel and AMD, although several other companies continue to produce chipsets, such as NVIDIA. Motherboard manufacturers embed chipsets into motherboards that match the feature set of the chipset. Chipset companies go up and down every few years, and one company seems to hold the hot spot for a while until another company comes along to unseat it.

NOTE Super I/O chips work with chipsets, but are not part of the chipset. Motherboard manufacturers purchase motherboards separately from chipsets. Chipset manufacturers do not always use the terms Northbridge and Southbridge. Chipsets for AMD-based motherboards tend to use these terms, but Intel-based motherboards tend to say Memory Controller Hub

(MCH) for Northbridge and I/O Controller Hub (ICH) for Southbridge. With the release of the X58 Express chipset, Intel further refined its terminology, calling Northbridge simply I/O Hub (IOH), since the memory controller is located on the CPU. Intel sometimes refers to the Southbridge as the Legacy I/O Controller Hub. Regardless of the official name, Northbridge and Southbridge are the commonly used terms. Figure 9-17 shows a schematic of typical chipset tasks for an Intel X79 chipset.

Figure 9-17 Schematic of a modern chipset (Courtesy of Intel Corporation) So why do good technicians need to know the details of popular chipsets? The chipset defines almost every feature of the motherboard, except for the CPU itself. Techies love to talk about chipsets and expect a fellow techie to know the differences between one chipset and another. You should also be able to recommend a motherboard to suit a customer's needs. Chapter 31 covers choosing components and building PCs for specific purposes, such as video editing and gaming. One of the most important decisions you'll make when building a custom platform is selecting a chipset. Motherboard Components The connections and capabilities of a motherboard sometimes differ from those of the chipset that the motherboard uses. This disparity occurs for a couple of reasons. First, a particular chipset may support eight USB ports, but to keep costs down, the manufacturer might include only four ports. Second, a

The motherboard manufacturer may choose to install additional features, which are not supported by the chipset, by adding additional chips. A common example is a FireWire compatible motherboard. Other technologies you might find are built-in sound, hard drive RAID controllers, and AMR or CNR slots for modems, network cards, and more. Some motherboards have extra convenience features like case fan power connectors and power lights so you can see what you're working on. USB/FireWire Most chipsets support USB, and many motherboards come with FireWire as well, but no two motherboards seem to offer the same port arrangement. My motherboard supports eight USB ports and two FireWire ports, for example, but if you look at the back of the motherboard, you'll only see four USB ports and one FireWire port. So where are the other ports? Well, this motherboard has special connectors for the other ports, and the motherboard comes with the dongles you need to connect them (see Figure 9-18). These dongles often use an additional slot on the back of the case.

Figure 9-18 USB/FireWire Dongle to Rear Connectors These dongle connectors are standardized, which is why many enclosures have integrated front USB/FireWire ports that have dongles attached. This is very useful for USB or FireWire devices that you want to frequently plug and unplug, such as USB flash drives or digital cameras. You can also purchase additional front USB and FireWire devices that fit into a 3.5-inch drive bay (see Figure 9-19).

Figure 9-19 Front FireWire and USB drive bay device Sound Many motherboards come with integrated sound chips. These sound chips are usually pretty low quality compared to even a low-end sound card, but onboard sound is cheap and doesn't take up space. As with USB, many motherboards have a port to connect to audio jacks on the front of the case. These allow you to plug headphones or microphones into the front rather than the rear of the case, a very convenient feature. These connectors are identical to those used on sound cards, so we'll save more discussion for Chapter 25.

RAID RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent (or Inexpensive) Disks and is very common on motherboards. There are many types of RAID, but the RAID found on motherboards generally only supports mirroring (the process of using two drives to store the same data, which is good for safety because if one drive dies, the other still has all the data). ) or fragmentation (making two drives act as one drive by spreading data across them, which is good for speed). RAID is an interesting but complex topic that is covered in detail in Chapter 11. AMR/CNR The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) must certify any electronic device to ensure that it does not transmit unwanted electronic signals. This process is somewhat expensive, so in the late 1990s, Intel devised a special slot called the Audio Modem Riser (AMR) adapter, shown in Figure 9-20. An AMR slot was designed to support specialized AMR devices (modems, sound cards, and network cards). An AMR device would get an FCC certification and then be used in as many motherboards as the manufacturer wanted without going through the FCC certification process again. AMR was quickly superseded by the more advanced Communications and Networking (CNR) elevator. Many motherboard manufacturers used these slots in the early 2000s, but they have fallen out of popularity because most motherboard manufacturers simply use onboard networking and sound.

Figure 9-20 AMR Slot Case Fan Bracket Every motherboard has a CPU fan power connector, as you'll recall from Chapter 6 on the CPU installation process, typically a four-wire connector that also supports fans. three wires. Some motherboards offer one or more fan power connectors for case fans. These are almost always just three-wire connectors. Case fans connected to the motherboard can be monitored and controlled in Windows, unlike case fans connected only to the power supply, so they add a nice feature.

Expansion Bus Expansion slots have been a part of the PC from the very beginning. A long time ago, IBM created the PC.

with an eye on the future; the original IBM PC had slots built into the motherboard, called expansion slots, for adding expansion cards and thus new features to the PC. The slots and accompanying cables and support chips in the first PC and the latest and greatest PC are called the expansion bus. Expansion Bus Structure and Function As you have learned, all devices in the computer, whether soldered to the motherboard or slotted into a socket, connect to the external data bus and address bus. Expansion slots are no exception. They connect to the rest of the PC through the chipset. The exact location of the chipset varies by system. On some systems, expansion slots connect to the Southbridge (see Figure 9-21). On other systems, the expansion slots connect to the north bridge (see Figure 9-22). Finally, many systems have more than one type of expansion bus, with slots of one type connecting to the north bridge and slots of another type connecting to the south bridge (see Figure 9-23).

Figure 9-21 Expansion slots that connect to the Southbridge

Figure 9-22 Expansion Slots Connecting to Northbridge

Figure 9-23 Expansion slots that connect to the Northbridge and Southbridge The chipset provides an extension of the address bus and data bus to the expansion slots, and therefore to any expansion cards in those slots. If you plug a hard drive controller card into an expansion slot, it works as if it were built into the motherboard, but with one big difference: speed. As you will recall from Chapter 6, the system crystal, the clock, pushes the CPU. The system crystal provides a critical function for the entire PC, acting like a drill sergeant calling a cadence, setting the pace for activity on the computer. Each device soldered to the motherboard is designed to run at the speed of the system crystal. A 133 MHz motherboard, for example, has all of its chipset chips clocked by a 133 MHz crystal (see Figure 9-24).

Figure 9-24 The system crystal sets the speed. Watch crystals aren't just for CPUs and chipsets. Almost every chip in your computer has a CLK wire and must be pushed by a clock chip, including the chips on your expansion cards. Suppose you buy a device that doesn't come with your computer, such as a sound card. The sound card chips must be pushed by a CLK signal from a crystal. If PCs were designed to use the system crystal to push that sound card, sound card manufacturers would need to make sound cards for all possible motherboard speeds. You would have to buy a 100 MHz sound card for a 100 MHz system or a 133 MHz sound card for a 133 MHz system. That would be ridiculous, and IBM knew that when it designed the PC. They had to make an extension to the external data bus that ran at their own standardized speed. You would use this part of the external data bus to connect new devices to the PC. IBM achieved this goal by adding a different crystal, called the expansion bus crystal, which controlled the part of the external data bus connected to the expansion slots (see Figure 9-25).

Figure 9-25 System function and expansion bus crystals

Expansion slots operate at a much slower speed than the front side bus. The chipset acts as a divider between the two buses, compensating for the difference in speed with wait states and special buffering (storage) areas. No matter how fast the motherboard runs, expansion slots run at standard speed. On the original IBM PC, that speed was about 14.318 MHz ÷ 2, or about 7.16 MHz. Fortunately, modern expansion buses run much faster! Let's start with the oldest of modern expansion slots, PCI. PCI Intel introduced the Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) bus architecture (see Figure 9-26) in the early 1990s, and the PC expansion bus was never the same again. Intel made a lot of smart moves with PCI, one of which was to release PCI into the public domain to make PCI very attractive to manufacturers. PCI provided a broader, faster, and more flexible alternative to any previous expansion bus. The exceptional technology of the new bus, combined with the lack of a price tag, caused manufacturers to quickly abandon older buses and adopt PCI.

Figure 9-26 PCI expansion bus slots PCI really shook the PC world with its capabilities. The original PCI bus was 32-bit wide and ran at 33 MHz, which was great, but these features were expected and not critical. The genius of PCI came from its ability to coexist with other expansion buses. When PCI first came along, you could buy a motherboard with older PCI and slots. This was important because users could keep their old expansion cards and slowly migrate to PCI. Equally impressive was that PCI devices were (and still are) self-configuring, a feature that led to the industry standard that became known as plug and play (PnP). Finally, PCI had a powerful burst mode feature that allowed for very efficient data transfers.

NOTE Before PCI, it was rare to see more than one type of expansion slot in a

Motherboard. Today, this is not only common, it is expected! The original PCI expansion bus has been around in PCs for almost twenty years at the time of this writing. More advanced forms have recently begun to appear. Although these new PCI expansion buses are faster than the original PCI, they are only enhancements to PCI, not entirely new expansion buses. The original PCI may be dying out, but PCI in its many new guises is still the "King of the motherboard."

TIP There was a 64-bit version of the original PCI standard, but it was pretty rare. AGP When video became graphical with the introduction of Windows, current buses were too slow and the graphics looked terrible. PCI certainly improved graphics when it came out, but Intel was thinking ahead. Shortly after Intel invented PCI, they introduced a specialized video-only version of PCI called Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP). An AGP slot is a PCI slot, but with a direct connection to the Northbridge. AGP slots are for video cards only; don't try to fit a sound card or modem into one. You'll learn much more about this exciting technology in Chapter 21. Figure 9-27 shows a typical AGP slot.

Figure 9-27 AGP slot

NOTE The AGP slot is almost universally colored brown, making it easy to spot. PCI-X PCI Extended (PCI-X) is a great improvement of PCI that is also fully backward compatible in terms of hardware and software. PCI-X is a 64-bit wide bus (see Figure 9-28). Its slots will accept normal PCI cards. The real advantage of PCI-X is its much higher speed. The PCI-X 2.0 standard features four speed grades (measured in MHz): PCI-X 66, PCI-X 133, PCI-X 266, and PCI-X 533.

Figure 9-28 PCI-X Slot The obvious candidates for PCI-X are businesses that use workstations and servers, because they have a "need for speed" and also a need for backwards compatibility. The big providers, especially in the high-end market, are already on board. HP, Dell, and Intel server products, for example, support PCI-X. a quick

Online shopping trip reveals tons of PCI-X products on sale: gigabit NICs, Fiber Channel cards, video adapters, and more. Mini-PCI PCI has even been made into laptop computers in the special Mini-PCI format (see Figure 9-29). You'll find MiniPCI in almost every laptop these days. Mini-PCI is designed to use low power and remain flat, both good features for a laptop expansion slot. Mini-PCI returns in Chapter 26.

Figure 9-29 Tiny card in the Mini-PCI slot. Do you see the contacts at the bottom of the image? PCI Express PCI Express (PCIe) is the latest, fastest, and most popular expansion bus in use today. As its name implies, PCI Express is still PCI, but it uses a point-to-point serial connection instead of the shared parallel communication of PCI. Consider a single 32-bit chunk of data moving from a device to the CPU. In PCI parallel communication, 32 wires each carry one bit of that portion of data. In serial communication, only one wire carries those 32 bits. You'd think 32 wires are better than one, right? Well, first of all, PCIe does not share the bus. A PCIe device has its own direct connection (a point-to-point connection) to the Northbridge, so it doesn't wait for other devices. Also, when you start going really fast (think gigabits per second), it's hard to get all 32 bits of data to go from one device to another at the same time, because some bits get there a little faster than others. That means you need serious, high-speed verification of the data when it arrives to verify that it's all there and in good condition. Serial data does not have this problem, since all the bits arrive one after the other in a single stream. When data is going very fast, a single point-to-point serial connection is faster than a 32-wire shared parallel connection.

Connection. And boy, is PCIe always fast? A PCIe connection uses one cable to send and another to receive. Each of these wire pairs between a PCIe controller and a device is called a lane. Each lane direction runs at 2.5 Gbps or 5 Gbps with PCIe 2.0. Better still, each point-to-point connection can use 1, 2, 4, 8, 12, 16, or 32 lanes to achieve a maximum theoretical bandwidth of 320 Gbps. The effective data rate drops a bit due to the encoding scheme, the way the data is broken up and reassembled, but full-duplex data throughput can go up to a whopping 16GBps over a 16× connection.

NOTE As of this writing, almost all PCIe devices sold in retail stores are PCIe 2.0, because 5 Gbps per lane seems fast enough with today's devices. That hasn't stopped the industry group behind the PCI specifications, PCI-SIG, from planning ahead. In November 2010 they announced specifications for PCIe 3.0, with devices capable of lane speeds of up to 8 Gbps. The first devices using PCIe 3.0 appeared in early 2012. Additionally, they announced plans for PCIe 4.0 with the expectation of reaching lane speeds of 16 Gbps. Expect PCIe 4.0 specs in 2014 with devices below. The future seems very fast! The most common PCIe slot is the 16-lane (×16) version most commonly used for video cards, as shown in Figure 9-30. Early versions of PCIe motherboards used a combination of a single PCIe ×16 slot and multiple standard PCI slots. (Remember, PCI is designed to work with other expansion slots, even other types of PCI.) There is also a small form factor version of PCI Express for laptops called the PCI Express Mini Card.

Figure 9-30 PCIe ×16 slot (middle) with PCI slots (top and bottom) The bandwidth generated by a ×16 slot is much more than a video card would require, so most motherboards PCIe also contain slots with fewer lanes. Currently, ×1 is the most common general purpose PCIe slot (see Figure 9-31).

Figure 9-31 PCIe x | groove (upper)

NOTE When talking about rails, such as ×1 or ×8, use "by" instead of "ex" for the multiplication sign. So "by 1" and "by 8" is the correct pronunciation. Of course, you'll hear it talked about as "by 8" and "ex 8" for years to come until the technology becomes a household term. Installing Expansion Cards Successful installation of an expansion card, another one of those basic tasks for the PC technician, requires at least four steps. First, you need to know that the card works with the PC and the operating system. Second, you must insert the card into an expansion slot correctly and without damaging the card or motherboard. Third, you must provide drivers for the operating system - drivers suitable for the specific operating system. Fourth, you should always verify that the card is working properly before you walk away from the PC.

TEST HINT The four steps involved in installing expansion cards apply to all types of expansion cards. CompTIA A+ exams will ask you about cards ranging from common (sound, video, and network) to legacy (serial, parallel, and modem). They will ask about wireless network cards, TV tuner cards, video capture cards, and more, all of which we will cover in the appropriate chapters of this book. Install any of them by following the same four steps: awareness, physical installation, device drivers, and verification. Step 1 – Knowledge Learn about the device you plan to install, preferably before you buy it! Does the device work with the PC and operating system? Do you have drivers for your operating system? If you're using Windows, the answer to these questions is almost always "yes." Whether you're using an older operating system like Windows XP or a less common operating system like Linux, these questions become important. A lot of old hardware simply won't work with Windows Vista or Windows 7, especially if you go with the 64-bit versions. Check your device's documentation and check the device manufacturer's website to verify that you have the correct drivers. While checking, make sure you have the latest driver version; most devices get driver updates more frequently than the weather changes in Texas. For Windows systems, your best resource for this knowledge is the Microsoft Web site. The specific list

of the supported hardware has been renamed many times. Currently for Windows 7 it's called the Windows 7 Compatibility Center. Earlier operating systems called it the Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) or Windows Logo Product List, and you'll still hear many people refer to it as one of those names, especially the first one. You can visit the website here: This might list your product, but most people just look in the box for the device in question ( see Figure 932): All Windows Certified devices proudly show that they work with Windows.

Figure 9-32 It works with Windows 7! Step 2: Physical installation To properly install an expansion card, you must take steps to avoid damaging the card, the system board, or both. This means knowing how to handle a card and avoid electrostatic discharge (ESD) or any other electrical problem. You must also seat the card firmly and completely in an available expansion slot. Optimally, a card should always be in one of two places: on a computer or in an antistatic bag. When inserting or removing a card, be careful to hold the card only by the edges. Do not hold the card by its slot connectors or touch any components on the board (see Figure 9-33).

Figure 9-33 Where to handle a card Use an antistatic wrist strap if possible, properly connected to the PC, as shown in Chapter 2. If you don't have a wrist strap, you can use the technological way to avoid ESD by touching the power supply afterwards before removing the expansion card from its antistatic bag. This places you, the card, and the PC at the same electrical potential and therefore minimizes the risk of ESD. Modern systems have a voltage lead on the motherboard at all times when the computer is plugged into a power outlet. Chapter 10 covers PC power and how to manage it in detail, but this is the short version: always unplug the PC before inserting an expansion card! If you don't, you may destroy the card, the motherboard, or both. It's not worth the risk. Never insert or remove a card at an extreme angle. This can damage the card. A slight angle is acceptable and even necessary when removing a card. Always secure the card to the case with a connecting screw or other retention mechanism. This prevents the card from slipping out and possibly shorting with other cards. Also, many cards use the screw connection to ground the card to the case (see Figure 9-34).

Figure 9-34 Always secure all cards correctly. Many technicians have been told to clean the connectors in the slots if a particular card doesn't work. This is almost never necessary after installing a card, and if done incorrectly, it can cause damage. You should clean the slot connectors only if you have a card that has been sitting in the rack for a while and the contacts are obviously dull. Never use a pencil eraser for this purpose. Pencil erasers can leave bits of debris that wedge between the card and the slot, preventing contact and causing the card to fail. Grab a can of contact cleaning solution and use that instead. The contact cleaning solution is designed for exactly this purpose, it cleans the contacts well and leaves no residue. You can find a contact cleaning solution at any electronics store. A fully inserted expansion card sits flush against the back of the PC case, assuming the motherboard is mounted correctly, of course, with no gap between the card's mounting bracket and the motherboard's screw hole. Case. If the card is seated correctly, there are no exposed contacts above the slot. Figure 9-35 shows an expansion card that is correctly seated (ie, snug in the slot).

Figure 9-35 Expansion card seated correctly; note the snug fit between the case and the mounting bracket and the evenness of the card in the slot. Step 3: Device Drivers You already know from Chapter 8 that all devices, whether built into the motherboard or added along the way, require BIOSes. For almost all expansion cards, that BIOS comes in the form of device drivers (support software programs) loaded from an optical disk provided by the card manufacturer. Installing device drivers is quite simple. You need to use the correct drivers (obvious, but you'd be surprised how many techies mess this up), and if you're upgrading, you may need to download current drivers before uploading new drivers. Finally, if you have a problem, you may need to uninstall the drivers you just loaded, or revert to the older, more stable drivers. Get the correct drivers

To ensure that you have the best possible driver for your device, you should always check the manufacturer's website. Drivers that come with a device may work fine, but you'll likely find a newer and better driver on the website. How do you know the website drivers are newer? First, take the easy route: search on disk. Often the version is printed directly on the CD or

DVD. If it's not printed there, you'll have to load the disc into your optical drive and poke around. Many driver disks have an autorun screen announcing the version. If nothing appears on the popup screen, look for a readme file (see Figure 9-36).

Figure 9-36 Portion of a Readme File Showing Driver Version Driver or Device!

In almost all cases, you must install the device driver after installing the device. Without the device installed, the driver installation will not see the device and will display an error screen. The only exceptions to this rule are USB and FireWire devices; with these, you should always install the driver first. Removal of old drivers

Some cards, and this is especially true with video cards, require you to remove old drivers of the same type before installing the new device. To do this, you must first locate the driver in Device Manager. Right-click the device driver you want to uninstall and select Uninstall (see Figure 9-37). Many devices, especially those that come with many applications, will have an uninstall option in the Add/Remove Programs (Windows XP) or Programs and Features (Windows Vista/7) applet in Control Panel (see Figure 9-38). . .

Figure 9-37 Uninstalling a device

Figure 9-38 The Uninstall/Change option in Programs and Features Unsigned Drivers

Microsoft really wants your computer to work, so they provide an excellent and rigorous testing program for hardware manufacturers called the Windows Certification Program. Developers initially use software to test their devices, and when they're ready, they ship the device for further testing. Hardware and drivers that pass the tests may carry the Designed for Windows logo. The drivers get a digital signature that says Microsoft tested them and found everything to be OK. Not all driver manufacturers go through the complicated Windows Certification Program process, so their software doesn't get a digital signature from Microsoft. When Windows encounters such a driver, it displays a scary-looking screen (see Figure 9-39) saying that it is about to install an unsigned driver.

Figure 9-39 Unsigned Driver Warning Just because a company refuses to use the Windows Certification Program doesn't mean their drivers are bad, it just means they haven't gone through the exhaustive Windows Quality Assurance certification procedure. Microsoft. If I run into this, I usually check the driver version to make sure I'm not installing something outdated, and then take my chances and install it. (I have yet to find a problem with an unsigned driver that I haven't seen with Designed for Windows drivers either.) With the 64-bit versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7, Microsoft tightened the rules to try to provide as stable a platform as possible. You just can't install unsigned drivers without complicated workarounds. Microsoft must approve each 64-bit driver. Installing the new driver

You have two ways to install a new driver: using the installation disc directly or using the Add Hardware Wizard in Control Panel. Most experienced technicians prefer to run from the installation disk.

Most devices come with additional programs. My motherboard comes with several useful applications for temperature control and overclocking. The Add Hardware Wizard does not install anything other than the drivers. Granted, some techies find this a blessing because they don't want all the extra junk that sometimes comes with a device, but most installation disks provide clear options so you can choose what you want to install (see Figure 9-40 ). ).

Figure 9-40 Installation Menu The other reason to use installation disks instead of the Add Hardware Wizard stems from the fact that many expansion cards are actually many devices in one, and each device needs its own drivers. Some video cards have built-in TV tuners, for example. The Add Hardware Wizard will install all the devices, but the installation disk brings them to your attention. Please go to the optical disk installation program first and save the Add Hardware Wizard in case of problems, as you will see in the next section. Driver rollback

All versions of Windows offer the nifty feature of rolling back drivers after a driver install or update. If you decide to live on the edge and install beta drivers for your video card, for example, and your system becomes terribly unstable, you can revert to the drivers that worked before. (Not that I ever had to use that feature...) To access the rollback feature, simply open Device Manager and go to the properties of the device you want to adjust. On the Controller tab (see Figure 9-41), you will find the Roll Back Controller button.

Figure 9-41 Controller rollback function

TIP To install drivers on a Windows computer, you must have the appropriate permission. I'm not talking about asking someone if you can install the device. Permissions are given in Windows to allow people to do certain things, such as add a printer to a local computer or install software, or to prevent people from doing such tasks. Specifically, you need administrative permissions to install drivers. Step 4: Verify As the last step in the installation process, inspect the installation results and verify that the device is working correctly. Immediately after installation, you should open Device Manager and verify that Windows sees the device (see Figure 9-42). Assuming Device Manager shows that the device is working correctly, your next check is to get the device to work by making it do what it's supposed to do. If you installed a printer, print something; if you installed a scanner, scan something. If it works, you're finished!

Figure 9-42 Device Manager shows the device working properly.

TIP Many PC enthusiasts try to squeeze every bit of performance out of their PC components, just as car enthusiasts tinker with engine settings to get a little extra power out of their engines. Expansion card manufacturers love enthusiasts, who often act as free testers for their raw drivers, known as beta drivers. Beta drivers are fine for the most part, but can sometimes cause incredible system instability - never a good thing! If you are using beta drivers, make sure you know how to uninstall or revert to previous drivers. Troubleshooting Expansion Cards A properly installed expansion card rarely causes problems; it's the failed installations that cause the headaches. There is a good chance that you will have to troubleshoot an expansion card installation at some point, usually from a failed installation of your own. The sign of a badly installed card usually shows up when you try to get the card to do what it's supposed to do and it doesn't. When this happens, your main troubleshooting process is a reinstall, after registering with Device Manager. Other chapters in this book cover hardware-specific troubleshooting—sound cards in Chapter 25, for

example, and video cards in Chapter 21. Use this section to help you decide what to look for and how to deal with the problem. Device Manager provides the first troubleshooting and diagnostic tool in Windows. After installing a new device, Device Manager gives you plenty of clues if something went wrong. Sometimes Device Manager may not even show the new device. If that happens, check that you have inserted the device correctly and, if necessary, that the device has power. Run the Add Hardware Wizard and see if Windows recognizes the device. You will find the wizard as a Control Panel applet in Windows XP and Windows Vista. On Windows 7, run the program by clicking Start and typing the executable name in the search bar: hdwwiz.exe.

EXAM TIP Don't be surprised to see hdwwiz.exe on CompTIA A+ exams. It is the only way to run the Add Hardware Wizard in Windows 7. If Device Manager does not recognize the device at this point, you have one of two problems: either the device is physically damaged and you need to replace it, or the device is damaged. an onboard device, not a card, and is off in CMOS. Device Manager rarely completely crashes when viewing a device. More commonly, device problems manifest themselves in Device Manager through error icons: • An “!” black on a yellow circle (Windows XP) or a triangle (Windows Vista/7) indicates that a device is missing (see Figure 9-43), Windows does not recognize a device, or there is a problem with the device driver. A device can still function even while producing this error. • A black arrow pointing down in a white field in Windows Vista and Windows 7 indicates a disabled device. This usually points to a device that was manually turned off or a damaged device. A device that produces this error will not work. Windows XP uses a red "X" for the same status indicator.

Figure 9-43 A “!” in Device Manager, indicating a problem with the selected device The "!" The symbol is the most common error symbol, and usually the easiest to correct. First, double check the device connections. Second, try to reinstall the driver using the Update Driver button. To access the Update Driver button, right-click the desired device in Device Manager and select Properties. In the Properties dialog, select the Controller tab. On the Driver tab, click the Update Driver button to open the update wizard (see Figure 9-44).

Figure 9-44 Driver Update If you get a down arrow or red "X" error, first check that the device is not disabled. Right-click on the device and select Enable. If that doesn't work (it often doesn't), try rolling back the driver (if you updated the driver) or uninstalling it (if it's a fresh install). Power off the system and make sure you have the card physically installed. Then redo the entire driver installation procedure, making sure you have the latest driver for that device. If none of these procedures work, return the card; it is almost certainly damaged. As you look at the errors in Device Manager, you'll notice error codes for the device that's not working properly. Windows has around 20 error codes, but the fixes still boil down to the same methods just shown. If you really want to get frustrated, try the Troubleshooter. You start most fixes the same way: by reinstalling the device driver.

Motherboard Installation and Upgrade For most technicians, the concept of adding or replacing a motherboard can be extremely intimidating. It really shouldn't be; Motherboard installation is a common and necessary part of PC repair. It is cheap and easy, although it can be a bit tedious and complicated at times due to the large number of parts involved. This section covers the installation and replacement process and shows you some of the tricks that make this necessary process easy to manage. Choosing the motherboard and case

Choosing a motherboard and case can be quite a challenge for any technician, whether you are a newcomer or a seasoned veteran. First you need to figure out the type of motherboard you want, such as AMD or Intel. Then he has to think about the form factor, which of course influences the type of case he'll need. Third, how feature rich is the motherboard and how difficult is it to configure? You have to read the motherboard manual to find out. Finally, you need to select the case that matches your space, budget, and form factor needs. Now look at each step in a little more detail.

EXAM TIP Being able to select and install a suitable motherboard for a customer is something every CompTIA A+ technician should know. First, determine which motherboard you need. What CPU are you using? Will the motherboard work with that CPU? Because most of us buy the CPU and the motherboard at the same time, please have the seller guarantee that the CPU will work with the motherboard. If you can, choose a motherboard that runs speeds much higher than the CPU you can afford; that way you can update later. How much RAM do you plan to install? Are there additional RAM sockets available for future upgrades?

NOTE Chapter 31 covers the necessary items for specialized PCs. There are several excellent motherboard manufacturers out there today. Some of the most popular brands are ASUS, BIOSTAR, DFI, GIGABYTE, Intel, MSI, and Shuttle. Your vendor may also have some lesser-known but perfectly acceptable brands of motherboards. As long as the provider has an easy returns policy, it's perfectly fine to try one of these. Second, make sure you get a form factor that works with your case. Don't try to put a regular ATX motherboard into a microATX case! Third, all motherboards come with a technical manual, better known as the motherboard book (see Figure 9-45). You must have this book! This book is your primary source for all critical motherboard information. If you misconfigure CPU or RAM timings in CMOS, for example, and you have a dead PC, where would you find the clear CMOS jumper? Where do you plug in the speaker? Even if you let someone else install the motherboard, please insist on the motherboard book; You will need it.

Figure 9-45 Motherboard box and book

TIP If you have a motherboard without a manual, you can usually find a copy of the manual in Adobe Acrobat (.PDF) format online at the manufacturer's website. It's a good idea to grab and print a copy to keep with your motherboard. I often paste a copy (either a hard copy or saved to disk) of the manual in the case where I installed the motherboard. Just don't cover any vents! Fourth, choose your case carefully. Cases come in many sizes: Slim, Desktop, Mini-Tower, Mid-Tower, Tower, and Cube. Plus, you can get specialized cases, like tiny cases for home entertainment systems or that fit the same format as a stereo receiver or DVD player. Slimline and desktop models usually sit on the desk, under the monitor. The various towers usually take up quite a bit of space on the floor next to the desk. Mini-tower and mid-tower cabinets are the most popular options. Make sure you get a case that fits your motherboard - most microATX and all FlexATX cases are too small for a regular ATX motherboard. Cube cases usually require a specific motherboard, so be prepared to buy both pieces at once. A quick fit test before you buy saves a lot of trips back to the dealer. Cases come with many options, but three most common options point to a better case. One option is a removable face (see Figure 9-46) to make disassembly much easier.

Figure 9-46 Removable face Another common feature, the front-facing USB, FireWire, and headphone ports can make using a PC much easier. The best cases offer these ports, though you can also get additional components that fit into the now-useless floppy drive bay to provide additional front-facing connectivity to the PC. Figure 9-47 shows a case with both types of front connectors.

Figure 9-47 Case with front-mounted ports and additional flash memory card reader The best cases offer tool-less component installation, so cards or drives do not need to be screwed together. They just snap into place. (However, you'll still need a reliable screwdriver to secure the motherboard. No installation is completely tool-free yet.) Power supplies often come with the case. Beware of "really good deal" cases because that invariably points to a cheap or missing power supply. You should also check that the power supply has enough power. This issue is covered in Chapter 10. Motherboard Installation If you are replacing a motherboard, first remove the old motherboard. Start by removing all the cards. Also remove anything else that might prevent removal or installation of the motherboard, such as a hard drive. Keep track of the screws – A good idea is to return the screws to their mounting holes temporarily, at least until you can reinstall the parts. Sometimes it is even necessary to temporarily remove the power supply to allow access to the motherboard.

EXAM TIP The CompTIA A+ exams will test you on the basics of installing a motherboard. Unscrew the motherboard. It won't just get up. The motherboard mounts to the case via small connectors called standoffs that either slide into keyed slots or screw into the bottom of the case (see Figure 9-48). Screws are then driven into the bosses to hold the motherboard in place. Be sure to position the studs correctly before installing the new motherboard.

Figure 9-48 Overhang in a case, motherboard ready

CAUTION Watch out for ESD here! Remember that it is very easy to damage or destroy a CPU and RAM with a small electrostatic discharge. It is also quite easy to damage the motherboard with ESD. Always wear an antistatic wrist strap. When you insert your new motherboard, don't assume you'll put the screws and bosses in the same places they were on your old motherboard. When it comes to screw and stud placement, only one rule applies: anywhere it will fit. Don't be afraid to be a little harsh here! Installing motherboards can be a jolting, twisting, and knuckle-scraping process.

CAUTION Pay attention to the location of the highlights if you are changing a motherboard. If you leave a screw-type protrusion under a place on the motherboard where you can't add a screw and then apply power to the motherboard, you risk shorting the motherboard.

TIP Many technicians install the CPU, CPU fan, and RAM on the motherboard before installing the motherboard in the case. This helps in a number of ways, especially with a new system. First, you want to make sure that the CPU and RAM play nice with the motherboard and with each other; without it, you have no hope of setting up a stable system. Second, installing these components first prevents the phenomenon of bending the motherboard. Some cases do not provide enough support for the motherboard, and pushing the RAM can cause the motherboard to bend. Third, connecting a CPU fan can be a chore, one that is considerably easier to do on a table than within the confines of a case. The next part of motherboard installation is connecting the front LEDs, buttons, and ports on

the front of the box. This is sometimes easiest to do before you fully install the motherboard in the case. You can trace the cables from the front of the case to the appropriate protrusions on the motherboard. They typically include the following: • Soft power button • Reset button • Speaker • Hard drive activity light • Power light • USB • FireWire • Sound These cables have specific pin connections to the motherboard. Although you can refer to the motherboard book for its location, a quick inspection of the motherboard will usually suffice for an experienced technician (see Figure 9-49).

Figure 9-49 Motherboard cable connections labeled on the motherboard There are a few rules to follow when installing these cables. First, the lights are LEDs, not bulbs; they have a positive side and a negative side. If they don't work one way, flip the connector over and try the other way. Second, when in doubt, guess. Wrong installation only results in device not working; it will not harm the computer. Consult the motherboard book for the correct installation. The third and final rule is that with the exception of the soft power switch on an ATX system, you don't need any of these cables to make the computer work. Many technicians often just ignore these wires, although this would not be something I would do to any system other than my own. There is no strict rule to determine the function of each cable. Often the function of each wire is

printed on the connector (see Figure 9-50). If not, trace each wire back to the LED or switch to determine its function.

Figure 9-50 Example of case cables Finally, install the motherboard completely into the case and secure it with the appropriate screws. Once you've mounted the motherboard in the case, with the CPU and RAM correctly installed, it's time to insert the power connections and test it. A POST card can be useful with system testing because you won't have to add the speaker, video card, monitor, or keyboard to verify that the system is booting. If you have a POST card, boot the system and see if the POST is done; You should see a number of POST codes before the POST stops. If you don't have a POST card, install a keyboard, speaker, video card, and monitor. Boot the system and see if the BIOS information appears on the screen. If so, you're probably fine. If not, it's time to check the motherboard book to see where you went wrong. If you are not getting power at all, check that you have plugged in all the necessary power connectors. If you turn on the fans but get nothing on the screen, you could have a number of issues. The CPU, RAM, or video card may not be properly connected to the motherboard. The only way to determine problems is to test. Check the easy connections (RAM and video) first before removing and reseating the CPU. (Also, see Chapter 10 for power issues.)

EXAM TIP Very old motherboards used to require technicians to set jumpers to determine the bus speed for the motherboard. This allowed these motherboards to accommodate CPUs that needed a 100 MHz bus, for example, and other CPUs that needed a 66 MHz bus. CompTIA A+ exams may refer to these types of manual adjustments required for installation. Incorrectly setting these jumpers resulted in strange behavior. First, if you set the bus speed too high, many CPUs won't even try to power on. If you set the speed too low, you will not get optimal CPU usage. The motherboard manuals had extensive graphics for the configuration of the supported CPUs. Modern motherboards automatically detect CPU and RAM settings and adjust accordingly, so these errors only

It occurs when you intentionally overclock or underclock a CPU through the CMOS setup utility.

802 Motherboard Troubleshooting Motherboards fail. It's not often, but motherboards and motherboard components can die from any number of causes: weather, dust, cat hair, or just minor manufacturing defects made worse by the millions of amps of current leaking through them. through the traces of the motherboard. Installing cards, electrostatic discharge, flexing the motherboard too many times when changing RAM or drives – any of these factors can cause a motherboard to fail. The motherboard is a hard working and often abused PC component. Unfortunately for common technology, fixing a motherboard problem can be difficult and time consuming. Let's end this chapter with a look at the symptoms of a faulty motherboard, troubleshooting techniques, and the options you have when you discover a motherboard problem. Symptoms Motherboard failures commonly fall into three types: catastrophic, component, and ethereal. With a catastrophic failure, the PC simply won't boot. Check the hard drive activity and power indicator lights on the front of the PC. Assuming they worked before, having them completely flat points to a power supply failure or motherboard failure. This type of problem happens to new systems due to manufacturing defects, often called burn-in faults, and to any system that receives an electrostatic discharge. Burn-in failure is rare and usually occurs within the first 30 days of use. Swap out the motherboard for a replacement and it should be fine. If you accidentally bump your motherboard while inserting a card or moving cables, be upset. Change your daring ways and wear an anti-static wrist strap! Component failure rarely occurs and shows up as irregular connections between a device and the motherboard, or as intermittent problems. A hard drive connected to a faulty controller on the motherboard, for example, might show up in CMOS autodetect but not be accessible in Windows. Another example is a serial controller that worked fine for months until a huge storm took out the external modem attached to it and it no longer works, even with a replacement modem. The most difficult of the three types of symptoms to diagnose are what I call ethereal symptoms. Things just don't work all the time. The PC restarts itself. You get a Blue Screen of Death (BSoD) in the middle of heavy computing, like right before you hit the villain and rescue the damsel. What can cause such symptoms? If you answered any of the following, you win the prize: • Defective component • Faulty device driver • Faulty application software • Minor operating system corruption • Power supply issues Err…get the picture.

What a nightmare scenario to fix! However, The Way of the Tech knows the ways through such hazards, so let's move on to troubleshooting techniques now. Techniques Troubleshooting a possible motherboard failure requires time, patience, and organization. Undoubtedly, some problems will be quicker to solve than others. If the hard drive is not working as expected, as in the example above, check the drive configuration. Try a different drive. Try the same drive with a different motherboard to verify that it is a good drive. Like any other troubleshooting technique, what you're trying to do with motherboard testing is to isolate the problem by eliminating potential factors. This three part system (check, replace, check good component) works for both simple and more complicated motherboard problems. You can even apply the same technique to ethereal problems that can be anything, but you have to add one more verb: document. Take notes on the individual components you test so you don't waste time or redundant efforts. Furthermore, taking notes can lead to the establishment of patterns. Being able to recreate a system crash by performing certain actions in a specific order can often lead you to the root of the problem. Document your actions. Motherboard testing takes quite a bit of time without adding inefficiency. Options Once you determine that the motherboard has problems, you have several options to fix all three types of failures. If you have a catastrophic failure, you must replace the motherboard. Even if it works a little, don't waste your time. The motherboard must provide fundamental stability for the system. If it's remotely faulty or problematic, get rid of it!

CAUTION If you have lost components due to ESD or a power surge, you are probably better off replacing the motherboard. Damage that you can't see can definitely sneak up to bite you and create system instability. If you have a failed component, you can often replace the component with an add-on card that will be as good or better than the failed device. Adaptec, for example, makes excellent cards that can replace the SATA ports built into the motherboard (see Figure 9-51).

Figure 9-51 Adaptec PCIe SATA Card If your component failure is more of a technology problem than physical damage, you can try updating the BIOS on the motherboard. As you will recall from Chapter 8 on BIOS, every motherboard comes with a small set of code that allows the CPU to communicate properly with the onboard devices on the motherboard. You can easily update this programming by updating the BIOS: running a small command line program to write a new BIOS to the flash ROM chip. See Chapter 8 for details on flashing.

NOTE Updating a motherboard's BIOS can fix many system stability issues and provide better implementation of onboard technology. What you can't do for your system is upgrade the hardware. If AMD comes out with a new, improved, lower voltage Phenom, for example, and your motherboard can't drop the voltage properly, you can't use that CPU, even if it fits into your motherboard's AM3 socket. No amount of BIOS updating can change the hardware built into your motherboard. Finally, if you are experiencing an ethereal, ghosting type of problem on your machine that you have determined is motherboard related, you only have a couple of options to fix the problem. You can flash the BIOS in a desperate attempt to fix whatever, which sometimes works and is less expensive than the other option, which is replacing the motherboard.

Chapter Review Questions 1. Which of the following statements about the expansion bus is true? A. The expansion bus runs at the speed of the system clock. B. The expansion bus crystal sets the speed of the expansion bus.

C. The CPU communicates with the RAM through the expansion bus. D. The front side bus is another name for the expansion bus. 2. What does a black down arrow next to a device in Device Manager indicate? A. A compatible driver has been installed that may not provide all of the functionality of the device. B. The device is missing or Windows cannot recognize it. C. System resources have been manually allocated. D. The device has been disabled. 3. Which variation of the PCI bus was specifically designed for laptop computers? A. PCI-X B. PCIe C. Mini-PCI D. AGP 4. Which of the following form factors dominates the PC industry? A. AT B. ATX C. ITX D. CTX 5. Amanda bought a new system that, right in the middle of an important presentation, gave her a blue screen of death. Now her system won't boot at all, not even in CMOS. After extensive troubleshooting, she determined that the motherboard was at fault and replaced it. Now the system works fine. What was the most likely cause of the problem? A. Burn failure B. Electrostatic discharge C. Component failure D. Power supply failure 6. Martin purchased a new motherboard to replace his old ATX motherboard. When he left the store, the technician on duty called out to him: "Check out his highlights!" What could the technology have meant?

A. Notable are the connectors on the motherboard for the front panel buttons, such as the on/off switch and the reset button. B. Featured are the metal edges in some cases that are not rolled. C. The prominent ones are the metal connectors that connect the motherboard to the case. D. Dongles that allow a motherboard to support more than four USB ports stand out. 7. Solon has a very buggy computer that crashes at odd times and reboots spontaneously. I suspect the motherboard. How should I test it? A. Check the configuration and verify that the components are in good condition. B. Verify good components and document all tests. C. Replace the motherboard first to see if the problems go away. D. Verify configuration, verify components are in good condition, replace components, and document all tests. 8. As Jane proudly showed off her new motherboard, the senior tech scratched his beard and asked, "What kind of ICH do you have?" What could she be asking her? A. The AMR slot B. The CNR slot C. The North Bridge D. The South Bridge 9. Which companies dominate the chipset market? (Select two). A. ATI B. Intel C. NVIDIA D. SiS 10. If a device is recognized by Windows, where will it appear? A. Device Manager B. C:\Windows\System32\Devices C. Desktop D. Safely Remove Hardware applet

Answers 1. B. A separate expansion bus crystal allows the expansion bus to operate at a different speed than the front side bus. 2. D. The device has been disabled. 3. C. The Mini-PCI format saves space and power, making it an ideal card type for use in laptop computers. 4. B. Almost all modern motherboards follow the ATX form factor. 5. A. Although all answers are plausible, the best answer here is that your system suffered a burn fault. 6. C. Featured are the metal connectors that connect the motherboard to the case. 7. D. Solon needs to verify configuration, verify good components, replace components, and document all tests. 8. D. Intel calls its chips Southbridge I/O Controller Hub (ICH) in many of its chipsets. 9. B, C. Intel and NVIDIA produce the vast majority of chipsets used in personal computers. 10. A. Windows displays recognized devices in Device Manager.

10 power supplies


In this chapter, you will learn how to: • Explain electrical basics • Describe PC power details • Install and maintain power supplies • Understand power supply troubleshooting and fire safety To Powering the PC requires a single box, the power supply, which takes electricity from the wall socket and transforms it into electricity to run the motherboard and other internal components. Figure 10-1 shows a typical power supply inside a box. All the cables hanging from it connect to the motherboard and peripherals.

Figure 10-1 Typical power supply mounted inside the PC system unit As simple as it appears on the surface, power supply problems are of critical importance to technicians. Power problems can create system instability, crashes, and data loss—all things most computer users would prefer to avoid! Therefore, good technicians know a lot about PC power, from understanding the basics of electricity to knowing the many variations of PC power supplies. In addition, you must know how to recognize power problems and implement the appropriate solutions. Too many technicians fall into the "just plug it in" camp and never learn how to deal with power, much to the dissatisfaction of their customers.

EXAM TIP Some questions on the CompTIA A+ certification exams may refer to a power supply as a PSU, per power supply unit. A power supply also falls into the field replaceable unit (FRU) category, which refers to the typical parts a technician must bring with them, such as RAM and a hard drive.


Understanding Electricity Electricity is a flow of negatively charged particles, called electrons, through matter. All matter allows the flow of electrons to some degree. This flow of electrons is very similar to the flow of water through pipes; so similar that the best way to learn about electricity is by comparing it to how water flows through pipes. So let's talk about water for a moment. The water comes from the ground, through wells, aquifers, rivers, etc. In a typical city, your water comes to you through pipes from the water supply company that pulled it from the ground. What do you pay when you pay your water bill each month? You pay for the water you use, to be sure, but the price of the water you use is built into the guarantee that when you turn on the tap, the water will flow at a more or less constant rate. Water sits in the pipes under pressure from the water company, waiting for you to turn on the faucet. Electricity works in essentially the same way as water. Power companies collect or generate electricity and then push it into your home under pressure through wires. Like water, electricity sits in the wires, waiting for you to plug something into the wall socket, at which point it will flow at a more or less constant rate. You plug a lamp into an outlet and flip the switch, the electricity flows and you have light. You pay for reliability, electrical pressure, and electricity used. The pressure of the electrons in the wire is called voltage and is measured in units called volts (V). The number of electrons passing a certain point on a wire is called current or amperage, which is measured in units called amps (amps or A). The number of amps and volts required to run a particular device is expressed as the number of watts (watts or W) required by that device. The correlation between the three is very simple math: V × A = W (or VA = W). You will learn more about wattage a bit later in this chapter. Wires of all kinds, whether copper, tin, gold, or platinum, have a slight resistance to the flow of electrons, just as water pipes have a small amount of friction that resists the flow of water. Resistance to the flow of electrons is measured in ohms (Ω). • Pressure = Voltage (V) • Volume flowing = Amps (A) • Work = Wattage (W) • Resistance = Ohms (Ω) A particular thickness of wire can only handle a certain amount of electricity at a time. If you push too hard, the wire will overheat and break, the same way an overloaded water pipe will burst. To ensure you use the correct cord for the correct job, all electrical cords have an amperage rating, such as 20 amps. If you try to push 30 amps through a 20 amp wire, the wire will break and the electrons will search for a way back to the ground. Not a good thing, especially if the way back to the ground is through you! Circuit breakers and ground wires provide basic protection against accidental overflow. A circuit breaker is a heat sensitive electrical switch rated at a certain amperage. If you push too much amperage through the breaker, the inside wiring senses the heat buildup and opens automatically, stopping the flow of electricity before the wiring overheats and breaks. Reset the breaker to restore the circuit and electricity once again flows through the wires. A ground wire provides a path of least resistance for electrons to flow back to ground in the event of an accidental spillover.

Many years ago, your electrical supply used fuses instead of circuit breakers. Fuses are small devices with a tiny filament designed to break if subjected to too much current. Unfortunately, the fuses had to be replaced every time they blew, making circuit breakers much more preferable. Although you may no longer see fuses in a building's electrical circuits, many electrical devices, such as a PC's power supply, often still use fuses for their own internal protection.

EXAM TIP An electrical outlet must have a ground wire to be suitable for PC use. Electricity comes in two flavors: direct current (DC), in which electrons flow in one direction around a continuous circuit, and alternating current (AC), in which the flow of electrons alternates direction back and forth. in a circuit (see Figure 10 -2). Most electronic devices use DC power, but all power companies supply AC power because AC travels long distances much more efficiently than DC.

Figure 10-2 Diagrams showing DC and AC electron flow

801 PC Power On Your PC uses DC voltage, so some conversion process must be done before the PC can use AC power from the power company. A computer power supply converts high-voltage AC power from the wall outlet to low-voltage DC. The first step in powering the PC, therefore, is to obtain and maintain a good AC power supply. Second, you need a power supply to convert AC to the proper voltage and amperage of DC power for the motherboard and peripherals. Finally, you need to control the by-product of electricity use, namely heat. Let's see the details of PC power. AC supply

Every PC power supply should have standard AC power from the power company, supplied steadily rather than in gusts, and protected against accidental power interruptions. The power supply connects to the power cord (and therefore to a wall outlet) via a standard IEC-320 connector. In the United States, standard AC is between 110 and 120 V, often written as ~115 VAC (volts alternating current). The rest of the world uses 220–240 VAC, so most power supplies are dual voltage and compatible with both. Power supplies with voltage selection switches are called fixed input. Power supplies that you don't have to manually switch for different voltages are known as auto-switching. Figure 10-3 shows the back of a power supply. Consider the three components, from top to bottom: the on/off switch, the 115/230 switch, and the IEC-320 connector.

Figure 10-3 Rear of fixed input power supply, showing typical switches and power connection

CAUTION Flipping the AC switch on the back of a power supply can wreak all kinds of havoc on a PC. Moving the switch to ~230V in the US is a great practical joke (as long as the PC is off when you do it) - the PC might try to boot, but it probably won't get very far. You don't risk damaging anything by running on half the AC that the power supply expects. In countries running the ~230 standard, on the other hand, turning on the PC with the AC switch set to ~1 15 can cause the power supply to die a horrible, smoking death. Watch out for that switch! Before plugging any critical component into an AC outlet, take a moment to first test the outlet using a multimeter or device designed exclusively for testing outlets. If AC outlets are not properly tested, equipment may stop working or be destroyed, as well as possible electrocution. The IEC-320 plug has three holes, called live, neutral, and ground. These names describe the function of the cables that connect to them behind the wall plate. The hot wire carries electrical voltage, like a pipe delivering water. The neutral wire carries no voltage, but instead acts as a water drain, completing the circuit by returning electricity to the local source, typically a breaker panel. The ground wire makes it possible for excess electricity to safely return to ground. When testing AC power, you need to check three things: that the heat outputs about 115V (or whatever the proper voltage is for your part of the world), that the neutral is grounded (0V output), and that the ground connects to ground (again, 0 V). Figure 10-4 shows the voltages at an electrical outlet. You can use a multimeter, often also known as a volt-ohmmeter (VOM) or digital multimeter (DMM), to measure various aspects of electrical current. A multimeter consists of two probes, an analog or digital meter, and a dial to set the type of test you want to perform. See Figure 10-5 for

Familiarize yourself with the components of the multimeter.

Figure 10-4 Output Voltages

Figure 10-5 Digital Multimeter Note that some multimeters use symbols instead of letters to describe AC ​​and DC settings. The V with the solid line over a dashed line, for example, in Figure 10-6, refers to direct current. The V~ stands for alternating current.

Figure 10-6 Multimeter with DC and AC Symbols Every multimeter offers at least four types of electrical tests: continuity, resistance, AC voltage (VAC), and DC voltage (VDC). Continuity tests whether electrons can flow from one end of a wire to the other end. If so, you have continuity; if not, you don't. You can use this setting to determine if a fuse is good or to check for breaks in wires. If your multimeter doesn't have a continuity tester (many cheaper multimeters don't), you can use the resistance tester. A broken wire or fuse will show infinite resistance, while a good wire or fuse will show no resistance. Testing AC and DC voltages is a matter of making sure the measured voltage is what it should be. Using a multimeter to test AC outlets All competent technicians know how to use a multimeter, so if you haven't used one in the past, get one. Here is a tutorial on how to test AC outlets. You must first configure the meter to measure AC. Follow these steps: 1. Move the selector switch to AC V (usually red). If multiple settings are available, put them on the first scale above 120V (usually 200V). Autoranging meters set their own range; they do not need any selection except AC V. 2. Put the black wire into the common (–) hole. If the black wire is permanently connected, skip this step. 3. Put the red wire into the V-Ohm-A (+) hole. If the red wire is permanently connected, skip this step. Once you have configured the meter for AC, go through the process of testing the various wires into an AC outlet. Just don't put your fingers on the metal parts of the wires when inserting them into the socket! Follow these steps: 1. Put either wire live, the other neutral. It should read 110 to 120 VAC. 2. Put one of the wires on hot and the other on ground. It should read 110 to 120 VAC. 3. Put either wire in neutral, the other in ground. It should read 0 VAC.

If any of these readings are different than what is described here, it's time to call an electrician.

TIP Many devices in the computing world use an AC adapter instead of an internal power supply. Although it sits outside of a device, an AC adapter converts AC current to DC, just like a power supply. Unlike power supplies, AC adapters are rarely interchangeable. Although manufacturers of different devices often use the same type of plug at the end of the AC adapter cord, these adapters are not necessarily interchangeable. In other words, just because you can plug an AC adapter from your friend's laptop into your laptop doesn't mean it's going to work. You need to make sure three things match up before connecting an AC adapter to a device: voltage, amperage, and polarity. If the voltage or amperage output is too low, the device will not work. If the polarity is reversed it won't work, just like putting a battery in a flashlight backwards. If the voltage or amperage, especially the latter, is too high, on the other hand, it can toast your device very quickly. Do not do it! Always check the voltage, amperage, and polarity of a replacement AC adapter before connecting it to a device. Using Special Equipment to Test AC Voltage Several good AC-only test devices are available. With these devices, you can test all voltages from an AC outlet simply by inserting it into the outlet. Be sure to test all outlets used by the computer system: power supply, external devices, and monitor. Although convenient, these devices are not as accurate as a multimeter. My favorite tester is made by Radio Shack, a seemingly simple tool (see Figure 10-7). This handy device provides three light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that describe everything that can go wrong with a plug.

Figure 10-7 Circuit Tester Protecting your PC against spikes and dips in AC power If all power companies could supply electricity in smooth, continuous flows without drops or spikes in pressure, the next two sections of this chapter would be irrelevant . Unfortunately, no matter how clean the AC supply looks to a multimeter, the truth is that power company voltage tends to drop well below (sag) and spike well above (surge or spike) the 115V standard. (in the U.S) . These dips and spikes don't usually affect lamps and coolers, but they can prevent your PC from working or

it can even destroy a PC or peripheral device. Two essential devices handle spikes and dips in the AC supply: surge suppressors and uninterruptible power supplies.

TESTING TIP Large power outages are also known as blackouts. When the power is completely cut off, it is called a blackout. surge suppressors

Surges or spikes are much more dangerous than dips. Even a hard crash just shuts down or restarts your PC; any power surge can damage your computer, and a strong power surge destroys components. Given the severity of surges, each PC should use a surge suppression device that absorbs the additional voltage of a surge to protect the PC. The power supply does a good job of suppressing surges and can handle many of the smaller surges that happen quite often. But the power supply takes a lot of damage from this and will eventually fail. To protect your power supply, a dedicated surge suppressor runs between the power supply and the outlet to protect the system from surges (see Figure 10-8).

Figure 10-8 Surge Suppressor Most people tend to spend a lot of money on their PC, and for some reason, the surge suppressor is suddenly cheap. Do not do that! Make sure your surge suppressor is Underwriters Laboratories UL 1449 rated for 330V to ensure substantial protection for your system. Underwriters Laboratories ( is a US-based, not-for-profit, widely recognized industry testing laboratory whose testing standards are very important to the consumer electronics. Also, check the joule rating before purchasing a new surge suppressor. A joule is a unit of electrical energy. The amount of power a surge suppressor can handle before failing is described in joules. Most authorities agree that your surge suppressor should be rated at least 800 joules, and the more joules, the better the protection. My surge suppressor is rated at 1,750 joules. While protecting your system, don't forget that power surges also come from phone and cable connections. If you use a modem, DSL, or cable modem, be sure to get a surge suppressor that includes support for these types of connections. Many manufacturers make surge suppressors with phone line protection (see Figure 10-9).

Figure 10-9 Surge suppressor with telephone line protection

No surge suppressor works forever. Make sure your surge suppressor has a test/reset button so you know when the device has, as we say in the business, become an extension cord. If your system takes a hit and you have a surge suppressor, call the company! Many companies provide cash guarantees against system failure due to power surges, but only if you follow their guidelines.

CAUTION No surge suppressor in the world can handle the maximum surge voltage, the ESD of lightning. If your electrical system takes such a hit, you can say goodbye to your PC if it was plugged in at the time. Always unplug electronics during electrical storms! If you want really great surge suppression, you need to move on to power conditioning. Your power lines get all kinds of weird signals that don't have to be there, like electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio frequency interference (RFI). Most of the time, this line noise is so minimal that it's not worth addressing, but occasionally events (such as lightning) generate enough line noise to cause weird things on your PC (key hangs, messy data). All of the best surge suppressors add power conditioning to filter out EMI and RFI. UPS

An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) protects your computer (and, more importantly, your data) in the event of a power outage or drop. Figure 10-10 shows a typical UPS. A UPS essentially contains a large battery that provides AC power to your computer, independent of the power coming from the AC outlet.

Figure 10-10 Uninterruptible Power Supply All uninterruptible power supplies are measured in both watts (the actual amount of power they deliver in the event of a power outage) and volt-amperes (VA). Volt-amps are the amount of power that the UPS could supply if the devices drew power from the UPS perfectly. Your UPS provides perfect AC power, smoothly moving current back and forth 60 times per second. However, power supplies, monitors, and other devices may not draw all the power the UPS has to offer at each point, as AC power moves back and forth, creating inefficiencies. If your devices consumed all the power offered by the UPS at each point as power moved from one place to another, VA would equal watts. If UPS manufacturers knew ahead of time exactly what devices you plan to connect to your UPS, they could tell you the exact watts, but different devices have different efficiencies, forcing UPS manufacturers to go by what they can deliver (VA), not what your devices will draw (watts). The wattage value they give is an assumption, and it is never as high as the VA. The VA rating is always higher than the Watt rating.

Since you have no way of calculating the exact efficiency of each device you will connect to the UPS, go with the power rating. Add up the total wattage of each component in your PC and buy a UPS with a higher wattage. You will spend a lot of time and mental energy calculating precisely how much wattage your computer, monitor, drives, etc. require to get the right UPS for your system. But you're not done yet! Remember that the UPS is a battery with a limited amount of power, so you need to figure out how long you want the UPS to run when it runs out of power. The fastest and much better method of determining the UPS you need is to go to any of the major surge suppressor/UPS manufacturers' websites and use their helpful wattage calculators. My personal favorite is on the American Power Conversion website: APC makes great surge suppressors and UPSs, and the company's online calculator will show you the actual power you need and teach you about whatever new power is going on at the same time. There are two main types of UPS: online, where devices are constantly powered via the UPS battery, and standby, where devices connected to the UPS receive battery power only when AC drops below ~80– 90 V. Another type of UPS is called a line interactive UPS, which is similar to a standby UPS but has special circuitry to handle moderate AC dips and surges without the need to switch to battery power. Every UPS also has surge suppression and power conditioning, so look for joule ratings and UL 1449. Also look for replacement battery costs – some UPS replacement batteries are very expensive. Lastly, look for a UPS with a USB or serial port connection. These handy UPSs come with monitoring and maintenance software (see Figure 10-11) that tells you the status of your system and the amount of battery power available, logs power events, and provides other useful options.

Figure 10-11 APC PowerChute Software Table 10-1 gives you a quick look at low-end and high-end UPS products (as of early 2012).

Table 10-1 Typical UPS Devices Supplying DC Once you have secured a supply of good AC power to the PC, the Power Supply Unit (PSU) takes

on top of that, converting high-voltage AC to various DC voltages (particularly 5.0, 12.0, and 3.3V) usable by the delicate components inside. Power supplies come in a myriad of shapes and sizes, but by far the most common size is the standard 150mm × 140mm × 86mm desktop PSU shown in Figure 10-12.

Figure 10-12 Desktop PSU The PC uses 12.0V power to power motors in devices such as hard drives and optical drives, and uses 5.0V and 3.3V power to support integrated electronics. However, manufacturers are free to use these voltages in any way they wish and may deviate from these assumptions. Power supplies also come with standard connectors for the motherboard and internal devices.

TIP FOR THE EXAM Modern power supplies include many connectors. You will find the cheapest ones with as few as 10 connectors. The most powerful models could have 25 or more. Motherboard Power Modern motherboards use either a 20- or 24-pin P1 power connector. Some motherboards may require special 4-, 6-, or 8-pin connectors to supply additional power (see Figure 10-13). We'll talk about each of these connectors in the discussion of form factor standards later in this chapter.

Figure 10-13 Motherboard power connectors Peripheral power: Molex, Mini, and SATA

Many devices inside the PC require power. These include hard drives, floppy drives, optical drives, and fans. The typical PC power supply has as many as three types of connectors that connect to peripherals: Molex, mini, and SATA. Molex Connectors The most common type of power connection for devices that require 5 or 12 V power is the Molex connector (see Figure 10-14). The Molex connector has notches, called chamfers, that guide its installation. The tricky part is that Molex connectors require a firm push to plug them in correctly, and a strong person can defeat the chamfers by plugging a Molex in backwards. It's not a good thing. Always check the correct orientation before pushing it!

Figure 10-14 Molex connector

CAUTION As with any power connector, plugging a mini connector into a device incorrectly will almost certainly destroy the device. Double check before connecting one! Minijacks All power supplies have a second type of connector, called a minijack (see Figure 10-15), which supplies 5 and 12 V to peripherals, although only floppy drives in modern systems use this connector. Drive manufacturers adopted the mini as the standard connector on 3.5-inch floppy drives. These mini connectors are often referred to as floppy power connectors.

Figure 10-15 Minijack Be very careful when plugging in a minijack! While Molex connectors are difficult to plug in backwards, you can insert a mini plug the wrong way with very little effort. Just like with a Molex connector, it will almost certainly destroy the floppy drive. Figure 10-16 shows a mini-plug correctly oriented, with the small connector ridge facing away from the body of the data connector.

Figure 10-16 Correct orientation of a mini connector SATA power connectors

Serial ATA (SATA) drives require a special 15-pin SATA power connector (see Figure 10-17). The increased pin count supports SATA hot-swappable function and 3.3, 5.0, and 12.0V devices. SATA power connectors are L-shaped, making it nearly impossible to insert one the wrong way on a SATA drive. No other device on your computer uses the SATA power connector. For more information about SATA drives, see Chapter 11.

Figure 10-17 SATA Power Connector Splitters and Adapters

Occasionally you may find yourself without enough connectors to power all the devices inside your PC. In this case, you can purchase splitters to create more connections (see Figure 10-18). You may also run into the phenomenon of needing a SATA connector but only having a spare Molex. Since the voltages on the wires are the same, a simple adapter will do the trick just fine.

Figure 10-18 Molex Splitter Using a Multimeter to Test DC A common practice for technicians troubleshooting a system is to test the DC voltages coming out of the power supply. Even with good AC, a bad power supply can fail to convert AC to DC at the voltages needed by the motherboard and peripherals. Here is a tutorial on how to test DC on a PC turned on with the side cover removed. Note that you need to have P1 connected to the motherboard and the system needs to be running (you don't need to be on Windows of course). 1. Switch your multimeter to DC, somewhere around 20V DC if you need to make that choice. Make sure your leads are connected to the multimeter correctly: red to hot, black to ground. The key to testing CC is what leads you to touch which wire is important. Red applies to hot wires of all colors; black always goes to the ground. 2. Plug the red wire into the red wire socket of a free Molex connector and plug the black wire into one of the two black wire sockets. You should get a reading of ~5 V. 3. Now move the red wire to the yellow plug. You should get a reading of ~12 V. 4. Testing the P1 connector is a bit trickier. Push the red and black wires to the top of P1, sliding them along with the wires until they bottom out. Leave the black wire in one of the black wire's ground terminals. Move the red wire through all the colored wire plugs. You should get readings of ~5 and ~12 V depending on where the red wire goes. The black wire, remember, always goes to ground when testing for DC. ATX The original ATX power supplies had two distinctive physical features: the motherboard power connector and soft power. Motherboard power came from a single cable with a 20-pin P1 motherboard power connector. ATX power supplies also had at least two other cables, each with two or more Molex or mini connectors for peripheral power. When plugged in, ATX systems have 5V on the motherboard. They are always "on", even when they are turned off. The power switch you press to turn on the PC is not a true power switch like the light switch on your bedroom wall. The power switch on an ATX system simply tells the computer if it has been pushed. The BIOS or operating system takes control from there and takes over the task of turning the PC on or off. This is called soft power.

Using soft power instead of a physical switch has several important benefits. Soft power prevents a user from shutting down a system before the operating system has shut down. Allows the PC to use power-saving modes that put the system to sleep and then wake it up when you press a key, move the mouse, or receive email (or other network traffic). (See Chapter 26 for more details on sleep mode.) All the most important settings for ATX smooth power reside in the CMOS settings. Boot into CMOS and look for a Power Management section. Take a look at the Power Button Function option in Figure 10-19. This determines the function of the on/off switch. You can set this switch to turn off the computer, or you can set it to the more common 4 second delay.

Figure 10-19 The soft power setting on CMOS ATX did a great job of supplying power for over a decade, but over time, more powerful CPUs, multiple CPUs, video cards, and other components began to draw more current than normal. provided by the original ATX. This motivated the industry to introduce a number of updates to ATX power standards: ATX12V 1.3, EPS12V, multi-rail, ATX12V 2.0, other form factors, and active PFC. ATXI2V 1.3

The first widespread update to the ATX standard, ATX12V 1.3, came out in 2003. This introduced a 4-pin motherboard power connector, unofficially but commonly called P4, which provided more 12V power to assist the motherboard power connector. 20-pin P1. Any power supply that provides a P4 connector is called an ATX12V power supply. The term "ATX" has been dropped from the ATX power standard, so if you want to get really nerdy, you can accurately say that there is no such thing as an ATX power supply. All power supplies, assuming they have a P4 connector, are ATX12V or one of the later standards.

EXAM TIP SATA also supports a slim connector that has a 6-pin power segment and a micro connector that has a 9-pin power segment.

NOTE It is normal and common to have unused power connectors inside the case of your PC. The ATX12V 1.3 standard also introduced a 6-pin auxiliary connector, commonly called the AUX connector, to supply increased 3.3 and 5.0 V current to the motherboard (see Figure 10-20). This connector was based on the ATX precursor motherboard power connector, called AT.

Figure 10-20 Auxiliary Power Connector The introduction of these two additional power connectors caused the industry some teething problems. In particular, motherboards using AMD CPUs tended to need the AUX connector, while motherboards using Intel CPUs only needed the P4. As a result, many power supplies only came with a P4 or AUX connector to save money. Some motherboard manufacturers skipped adding either connector and used a standard Molex connector so that people with older power supplies wouldn't have to upgrade just because they bought a new motherboard (see Figure 10-21).

Figure 10-21 Molex Power on Motherboard The biggest problem with the ATX12V was its lack of teeth: it made many recommendations but few requirements, giving PSU manufacturers too many options (such as choosing or not to add AUX and P4 connectors). ) which were not fixed until later releases.


Server motherboards are power hungry and sometimes ATX12V 1.3 just isn't enough. An industry group called Server System Infrastructure (SSI) developed a standard non-ATX motherboard and power supply called the EPS12V. An EPS12V power supply came with a 24-pin motherboard main power connector that resembled a 20-pin ATX connector, but offered more current and therefore more stability for motherboards. It also came with an AUX connector, an ATX12V P4 connector, and a dedicated 8-pin connector. That's a lot of connectors! EPS12V power supplies were not interchangeable with ATX12V power supplies. The EPS12V may not have had much of a life beyond servers, but it did introduce a number of power features, some of which eventually became part of the ATX12V standard. The biggest issue was something called rails. rails

Typically, all of your PC's power comes from a single transformer that takes AC power from a wall outlet and converts it to DC power that is split across three main DC voltage rails: 12.0 V, 5.0 V, and 5.0 V. V and 3.3 V. Groups of wires run from each of these voltage rails to the various connectors. Under ideal circumstances, these rails are fully independent: an overloaded 12V rail should not draw power from the 3.3V rail. However, many power supply manufacturers do not follow this rule, especially when they make cheap power supplies. Each rail has a maximum amount of power it can supply. Normal computer use rarely approaches this ceiling, but powerful computers with advanced processors and graphics cards require more power than some rails can provide. Back in the day, 12V rails only supplied around 18 amps, which wasn't enough to power all that high-end gear. The most popular solution was to include multiple 12V rails on the power supply. This worked fine, but you needed to make sure you weren't drawing all your power from the same 12V rail. Most power supplies weren't able to mark which power wires were connected to which rail, so it became a confusing mess of trial and error to figure out how to power your components. Power supply manufacturers today seem more interested in high amp 12V single rails, ignoring the 16-18 amp rule. Now you can find power supplies with 12V rails that push 50 amps or more! ATX 12V 2.0

The ATX12V 2.0 standard brought many of the good ideas from the EPS12V into the ATX world, starting with the 24-pin connector. This 24-pin motherboard power connector is backward compatible with the previous 20-pin connector, so users don't have to buy a new motherboard if they use ATX12V 2.0 power supply. ATX12V 2.0 requires two 12V rails for any power supply rated greater than 230W. ATX12V 2.0 dropped the AUX connector and requires SATA hard drive connectors. In theory, a 20-pin motherboard power supply connector will work on a motherboard with a 24-pin socket, but doing so is risky because the 20-pin connector may not provide enough power to your system. Try to use the correct power supply for your motherboard to avoid problems. Many ATX12V 2.0 power supplies have a 24-pin to 20-pin convertible converter. These are useful if you want to make a good "clean" connection, because many 20-pin connectors have capacitors that prevent a 24-pin connector from being plugged in. You'll also see the occasional 24-pin connector built in such a way that you can slide in the extra four pins. Figure 10-22 shows 20-pin and 24-pin connectors; Figure 10-23 shows a

convertible connector. Although they look similar, those four extra pins will not replace the P4 connector. They are incompatible!

Figure 10-22 20-pin and 24-pin connectors

Figure 10-23 Convertible Motherboard Power Connector Many modern ATX motherboards feature an 8-pin CPU power connector like the one found on the EPS12V standard to help support high-end, power-hungry CPUs. This connector goes by several names, including EPS12V, EATX12V, and ATX12V 2x4. Half of this connector will be compatible with the P4 power connector pins and the other half may be under a protective cap. Be sure to check your motherboard installation manuals for recommendations on if and when you need to use the full 8 pins. For backwards compatibility, some power supplies provide an 8-pin power connector that can be split into two 4-pin sets, one of which is the P4 connector. Another notable connector is the PCI Express (PCIe) auxiliary power connector. Figure 10-24 shows the 6-pin PCIe power connector. Some motherboards add a Molex socket for PCIe and some cards come with a Molex socket as well. Higher-end cards have a dedicated 6- or 8-pin PCIe power connector. The 8-pin PCIe connector should not be confused with the EPS12V connector, as they are not compatible. Some PCIe devices with the 8-pin connector will accept a 6-pin PCIe power connection, but this may limit performance. You'll often find that 8-pin PCIe power cables have two pins on the end that you can disconnect for easier compatibility with 6-pin devices.

Figure 10-24 PCI Express 6-pin power connector

Niche Power Supply Form Factors

The demand for smaller and quieter PCs has led to the development of a number of niche market power supply form factors. They all use standard ATX connectors, but differ in size and shape from standard ATX power supplies. Here are some of the more common specialty power supply types: • Mini-ATX and micro-ATX Smaller power supply form factors designed specifically for mini-ATX and micro-ATX cases, respectively • TFX12V Single form factor Small Power Supply Form Factor Optimized for Profile ATX Systems • SFX12V A small power supply form factor optimized for systems using Flex-ATX motherboards (see Figure 10-25)

Figure 10-25 SFX Power Supply

NOTE You will usually find niche power supplies included in computer cases (and often motherboards as well). These form factors rarely sell themselves.

EXAM TIP The CompTIA A+ exams put you to the test quite a bit on power supplies. You need to know which power supply works with a particular system or with a particular computing goal in mind. active PFC

Visualize the AC current coming from the power company like water in a pipe, moving smoothly back and forth 60 times per second. A PC's power supply, simply due to the process of changing this AC current into DC current, is like a person sucking on a straw at the end of this pipe. It takes shots only when the current fully pushes or pulls at the top and bottom of each cycle and creates an electrical phenomenon, a kind of back pressure, which is called harmonics in the power industry. These harmonics

creates the hum you hear from electrical components. Over time, harmonics damage electrical equipment and cause serious problems with the power supply and other electrical devices in the circuit. Once you put a few thousand PCs with power supplies in the same local area, harmonics can even damage the power supplier's equipment! Good PC power supplies come with Active Power Factor Correction (Active PFC), additional circuitry that smooths the way the power supply draws power from the utility company and eliminates harmonics (see Figure 10-26). . Never buy a power supply that does not have active PFCs; all active PFC power supplies will advertise this on the box.

Figure 10-26 Power Supply Announcing Active PFC Wattage Requirements Every device on a PC requires a certain amount of wattage to operate. A typical hard drive consumes 15 W of power when accessed, for example, while a quad-core AMD Phenom II X4 consumes a whopping 125

W at peak usage. The total wattage of all devices combined is the minimum you need the power supply to provide. If the power supply can't produce the power a system needs, that PC won't function properly. Since most devices on the PC require maximum wattage when first started, the most common result of insufficient wattage is a paperweight that looks like a PC. This can lead to some embarrassing moments. You can plug in a new hard drive for a client, press the power button on the case, and nothing happens - a dead PC! Eek! You can quickly determine if the problem is insufficient power. Disconnect the unit and turn on the system. If the system boots, the power supply is probably suspect. The only solution for this problem is to replace the power supply with one that provides more watts (or leave the new unit out, a less than ideal solution). No power supply can convert 100 percent of the AC power from the power company into direct current, so all power supplies provide less power to the system than the wattage advertised on the box. The ATX12V 2.0 standards require a power supply to be at least 70% efficient, but you can find power supplies with greater than 80% efficiency. Higher efficiency can tell you how many watts the system delivers to the PC in actual use. Plus, the added efficiency means the power supply uses less power, saving you money.

EXAM TIP CompTIA A+ certification exams do not require you to calculate precise power needs for a particular system. However, when building a PC for a client, you need to know this! A common argument these days is that people buy power supplies that provide much more power than a system needs and therefore waste energy. This is false. A power supply provides only the amount of power your system needs. If you put a 1000W PSU (yes, they really are) into a system that only needs 250W, that big PSU will provide only 250W to the system. So buying a higher wattage, efficient power supply gives you two benefits. First, running a power supply with less than 100% charge helps it last longer. Second, you'll get a lot of extra power by adding new components. As a general recommendation for a new system, use at least a 500W power supply. This is a common wattage and gives you plenty of extra power to start up as well as any other components you may add to your system in the future. Don't cut the specifications too tight for power supplies. All power supplies produce fewer watts over time, simply because of internal component wear. If you create a system that initially runs with only a few watts of additional power available from the power supply, chances are that that system will start to cause problems within a year or less. Do yourself or your customers a favor and get a power supply that has more wattage than you need.

Power Supply Installation and Maintenance Although installing and maintaining power supplies requires a little less math than selecting the right power supply for a system, they are still essential skills for any technician. Installation takes just a moment, and maintenance is almost as simple. We'll see. installing

The typical power supply connects to the PC with four standard computer screws, mounted on the back of the case (see Figure 10-27). Unscrew the four screws and the power supply easily lifts out (see Figure 1028). Insert a new power supply that fits into the case and secure it using the same four screws.

Figure 10-27 Mounting screws for power supply

Figure 10-28 Removing the power supply from the system unit Handling ATX power supplies requires special consideration. Understand that an ATX power supply never shuts down. As long as that power supply remains connected to a power outlet, the power supply will continue to supply 5V to the motherboard. Always unplug an ATX system before doing any work. For years, technicians argued about the advantages of leaving a PC plugged in or unplugged when it's being serviced. ATX solved this problem for good. Many ATX power supplies provide an actual on/off switch on the back of the PSU (see Figure 10-29). If you really need the system to shut down without power to the motherboard, use this switch.

Figure 10-29 On/Off switch for an ATX system When working on an ATX system, you may find it inconvenient to use the power button because you are not using a case or have not bothered to connect the power button cables to the motherboard. That means there is no power button. A trick in that situation is to use a car key set or screwdriver to contact the two wires to start and stop the system (see Figure 10-30).

Figure 10-30 Shorted On/Off Soft Jumpers Your first task after purchasing a new power supply is simply to make sure it works. Insert the motherboard power connectors before starting the system. If you have video cards with power connectors, connect those as well. Other connectors, like hard drives, can wait until you have a successful boot, or if you're arrogant, just plug everything in! Cooling Heat and computers are not the best of friends. Therefore, cooling is a vital consideration when building a computer. Electricity equals heat. Computers, being electrical devices, generate heat while they are running, and too much heat can seriously damage a computer's internal components. The power supply fan provides basic cooling for the PC (see Figure 10-31). It not only cools the voltage regulator circuitry inside the power supply, but also provides a constant flow of outside air throughout the interior of the computer case. A dead power supply fan can quickly cause tremendous problems, even equipment failure. If you ever turn on a computer and it boots fine, but notice that

seems unusually quiet, check to see if the power supply fan has turned off. If so, quickly shut down the PC and replace the power supply.

Figure 10-31 Power supply fan Some power supplies come with a built-in sensor to help regulate airflow. If the system gets too hot, the power supply fan spins faster. The 3-pin, 3-wire fan sensor connector plugs directly into the system board (see Figure 10-32).

Figure 10-32 3-wire fan sensor connector The case fans are large, square fans that fit into special brackets on the case or bolt directly to the case, providing additional cooling for key components (see Figure 10 -33). Most cases come with a case fan, and no modern computer should be without one or two.

Figure 10-33 Case Fan The biggest issue with case fans is where to plug them in. Most case fans come with standard Molex connectors, which are easy to plug in, but other case fans come with special three-prong power connectors that you need to connect to the motherboard. You can get adapters to plug three-prong connectors into Molex connectors or vice versa. Maintaining Airflow A computer is a closed system, and computer cases help the fans keep things cool—everything is inside a box. Although many tech guys like to run their systems with the side panel of the case open for easy access to components, in the end they are fooling themselves. Because? A closed box allows fans to create airflow. This airflow substantially cools the interior components. When the side of the case is open, it ruins the airflow of the system and you lose a lot of cooling efficiency. An important point to remember when implementing good airflow inside your computer case is that hot air rises. Warm air always rises above cool air, and you can use this principle to your advantage to keep your computer cool. In the typical case fan design for a computer case, an intake fan is located near the bottom of the case's front bezel. This fan draws in cool air from the outside of the case and blows it onto the components inside the case. Near the top and back of the case (usually near the power supply), you'll usually find an exhaust fan. This fan works the opposite of the intake fan: it takes hot air from inside the box and sends it outside. Another important part of maintaining proper airflow inside the case is making sure that the slot covers cover any empty expansion bays (see Figure 10-34). To maintain good airflow inside your box, you should not provide too many opportunities for air to escape. Slot covers not only help maintain constant airflow; They also help keep dust and smoke out of your case.

Figure 10-34 Slot covers

TIP FOR THE EXAM Missing slot covers can cause the PC to overheat! Fan Noise Reduction Fans generate noise. In an effort to ensure proper cooling, many technicians put multiple high-speed fans in a case, making the PC sound like a jet engine. You can reduce fan noise by using manually adjustable fans, larger fans, or special "quiet" fans. Many motherboards allow you to control the fans through software. Manually adjustable fans have a small knob that you can turn to speed up or slow down the fan (see Figure 1035). This type of fan can reduce some of the noise, but you risk slowing down the fan too much and letting the inside of the case get hot. A better solution is to get quieter fans.

Figure 10-35 Manual fan adjustment device Larger fans that spin more slowly are another way to reduce noise while maintaining good airflow. Fan sizes are measured in millimeters (mm) or centimeters (cm). Traditionally, the industry used 80mm power supplies and cooling fans, but today you'll find 100mm, 120mm, and even larger fans in PSUs and cases. Many companies make and sell high-end, low-noise fans. The fans have better bearings than your run-of-the-mill fans, so they cost a bit more, but they're definitely worth it. They market these fans as

"calm" or "silencer" or other similar adjectives. If you find yourself with a PC that sounds like an airplane, try swapping out your case fans for a low-decibel fan from Papst, Panasonic, or Cooler Master. Just check the decibel rating to decide which one to get. Lower, of course, is better. Since the temperature inside a PC changes depending on the load placed on the PC, the best solution for noise reduction combines a good set of fans with temperature sensors to speed up or slow down the fans automatically. An idle PC uses less than half the power of a PC running a video-intensive computer game, and therefore generates much less heat. Virtually all modern systems support three fans via three 3-pin fan connectors on the motherboard. The CPU fan uses one of these connectors and the other two are for the system fans or the power supply fan. Most CMOS setup utilities provide a bit of control over the fans attached to the motherboard. Figure 10-36 shows a typical CMOS configuration for the fans. Note that you can't tell the fans when to turn on or off, only when to alarm when they reach a certain temperature.

Figure 10-36 CMOS Fan Options Software is the best way to control your fans. Some motherboards come with system monitoring software that allows you to set the temperature at which you want the fans to turn on and off. If no program came with your motherboard and the manufacturer's website doesn't offer one to download, try the popular free utility SpeedFan (see Figure 10-37). Written by Alfredo Milani Comparetti, SpeedFan monitors voltages, fan speeds, and temperatures on computers with hardware monitor chips. SpeedFan can even access S.M.A.R.T. information (see Chapter 11) for hard drives that support this feature and also display hard drive temperatures. You can find SpeedFan at

Figure 10-37 Fan Speed

NOTE When buying fans, remember your metric system: 80mm = 8cm; 120mm = 12cm. You'll find fans marketed both ways. Even if you don't want to mess with your fans, always make sure to turn on temperature alarms in CMOS. If the system gets too hot, an alarm will alert you. There's no way to tell if a fan dies other than to have an alarm.

CAUTION SpeedFan is a powerful tool that does much more than work with fans. Don't change any settings you don't understand!

802 Power Supply Troubleshooting

Power supplies fail in two ways: sudden death and slow death over time. When they suddenly die, the computer will not start, and the power supply fan will not work. In this case, verify that there is electricity at the power source before doing anything. Avoid the embarrassment of trying to repair a power supply when the only problem is a faulty outlet or an extension cord that isn't plugged in. Assuming the system has power, the best way to check whether or not a power supply is working is to use a multimeter to check the voltages coming out of the power supply (see Figure 10-38).

Figure 10-38 Testing one of the 5V DC connections Don't panic if your power supply puts out a little more or less voltage than its nominal value. The voltages supplied by most PC power supplies can safely vary by up to ±10 percent from their rated values. This means that the 12 V line can vary from approximately 10.8 to 13.2 V without exceeding the tolerance of different PC systems. The 5.0 and 3.3 V lines offer similar tolerances. Be sure to test every connection on the power supply, that is, every connection on your main power, as well as every Molex and mini. Since all voltages are between –20 and +20 VDC, simply set the voltmeter to the 20 VDC setting for everything. If the power supply does not provide power, throw it in the recycle bin and get a new one, even if you are a component expert and a genius with a soldering iron. Don't waste your time or your company's; the price of new power supplies makes replacement the way to go. No motherboard Power supplies won't boot unless they're connected to a motherboard, so what do you do if you don't have a motherboard you trust to test with? First, try an ATX tester. Many companies make these devices. Look for one that supports 20-pin and 24-pin motherboard connectors, as well as all the other connectors on your motherboard. Figure 10-39 shows a power supply tester.

Figure 10-39 ATX Power Supply Tester

NOTE Many CMOS utilities and software programs monitor voltage, saving you the hassle of using a multimeter. Switches Broken power switches are an occasional source of trouble for non-starting power supplies. The power switch is behind the on/off button on every PC. It is usually secured to the front cover or inside the front bezel of your PC, making it quite a difficult part to access. To test, try shorting the soft power jumpers as described above. A wrench or screwdriver will do the trick. When Power Supplies Die Slowly If all power supplies died suddenly, this would be a much shorter chapter. Unfortunately, most PC problems occur when power supplies slowly die over time. This means that one of the internal electronics of the power supply has started to fail. The failures are always intermittent and tend to cause some of the most difficult to diagnose problems in PC repair. The secret to finding out that a power supply is dying lies in one word: intermittent. Any time you experience intermittent issues, your first assumption should be that the power supply is bad. Here are some other clues you might hear from users: • “Every time I turn on my computer in the morning, it starts to boot up and then crashes. If I press CTRL-ALTDEL two or three times, it will boot fine." • “Sometimes when I start my PC, I get an error code. If I reboot, it goes away. Sometimes I get different errors.” • “My computer will work fine for an hour or so. Then it crashes, sometimes once or twice an hour." Sometimes something bad happens and other times it doesn't. That is the clue to replace the power supply. And don't bother with the voltmeter; the voltages will show to be within tolerances, but will only occasionally rise and fall (much faster than your voltmeter can measure) and cause these intermittent errors. If in doubt, change the power supply. Power supplies break in computers more often than any other part of the PC except hard drives and floppy drives. You can choose to keep

Additional power supplies available to swap and test. Fuses and Fire Inside each power supply resides a simple fuse. If your power supply just jumps out and stops working, you might be tempted to go into the power supply and check the fuse. This is not a good idea. First of all, the capacitors in most power supplies carry high voltage charges that can hurt a lot if you touch them. Second, fuses blow for a reason. If a power supply isn't working properly inside, you want the fuse to blow because the alternative is much less desirable. Failure to respect the power of electricity will eventually result in the most catastrophic of all situations: an electrical fire. Don't think it won't happen to you! Have a fire extinguisher handy. Every PC workbench needs a fire extinguisher, but make sure you have the right one. The fire prevention industry has divided fire extinguishers into four fire classes: • Class A Ordinary, free-burning combustibles, such as wood or paper • Class B Flammable liquids, such as gasoline, solvents, or paint • Class C Live electrical equipment • Class D Combustible metals like titanium or magnesium Unsurprisingly, you should only use a Class C fire extinguisher on your PC if it catches fire. All fire extinguishers are required to have their type prominently labeled on them. Many fire extinguishers are multi-class in the sense that they can handle more than one type of fire. The most common fire extinguisher is the ABC type - it works on all common types of fires.

TIP FOR THE TEST If your power supply smokes or you smell something burning inside, stop using it now. Replace it with a new power supply.

Beyond A+ power supplies provide essential services for the PC, creating DC from AC and cooling the system, but that utilitarian function doesn't stop the power supply from being a toy for enthusiasts. Also, high-end servers and workstations have slightly different needs than more typical systems, so naturally they need a power boost. Let's take a Beyond A+ look at these issues. shine! The enthusiast community has been tinkering or modifying their PCs for years: cutting holes in cases, adding fans to make overclocking feasible, and attaching glowing strips of neon and cold cathode tubes. The power supply escaped the scene for a while, but it's back. A quick visit to a good offline or online computer store such as reveals power supplies that light up, sport a fancy color, or have more fans than some rock stars. Figure 10-40 shows a transparent power supply.

Figure 10-40 Transparent power supply that glows blue You can also find super-quiet and silent power supplies, with high-end single or dual fans that react to the temperature inside your PC, revving up when needed but running slowly and in silent when not One of these would be a perfect power supply for a home entertainment PC because it would provide function without adding excessive noise. Modular Power Supplies It's becoming more and more popular to make PCs look good both inside and out. Unused power cords dangling inside PCs make for a not-so-pretty picture. To help people with style, manufacturers have created power supplies with modular cables (see Figure 10-41).

Figure 10-41 Modular Cable Power Supply Modular cables are great because you add only the lines you need to your system. On the other hand, some technicians claim that modular cables hurt efficiency because modular connectors add resistance to the lines. You choose; Is a slight reduction in efficiency worth it? Temperature and Efficiency Be careful with power supplies whose operating temperature is 25°C, approximately room temperature. TO

A power supply that delivers 500 W at 25°C will deliver substantially less in warmer temperatures, and the inside of your PC is typically 15°C hotter than the outside air. Unfortunately, many power supply manufacturers, even those that make good power supplies, evade this fact.

Chapter Review Questions 1. What is the proper voltage for a US electrical outlet? A. 120V B. 60V C. 0V D. –120V 2. What voltages does an ATX12V P1 connector provide for the motherboard? A. 3.3V, 5V B. 3.3V, 12V C. 5V, 12V D. 3.3V, 5V, 12V 3. What type of power connector does a drive typically use? floppy? A. Molex B. Mini C. Sub-mini D. Micro 4. Joachim ordered a new power supply but was surprised when it arrived because it had an extra 4-wire connector. What is that connector? A. P2 connector for plugging in auxiliary components B. P3 connector for plugging in case fans C. P4 connector for plugging into modern motherboards D. Auxiliary connector for plugging in a secondary power supply 5. What should you consider when testing the dc connectors? ?

A. DC has polarity. The red wire must always touch the live wire; the black wire should touch a ground wire. B. DC has polarity. The red wire must always touch the ground wire; the black wire should always touch the hot wire. C. DC has no polarity, so you can connect the red wire to ground or hot. D. DC has no polarity, so you can connect the black wire to hot or neutral, but not ground. 6. What voltages should the two live wires read in a Molex connector? A. Red = 3.3V; Yellow = 5V B. Red = 5V; Yellow = 12 V C. Red = 12 V; Yellow = 5V D. Red = 5V; Yellow = 3.3V 7. Why is it a good idea to make sure all the slot covers on the computer case are covered? A. To maintain good airflow inside your box. B. To help keep dust and smoke out of your case. C. Both A and B are correct ratios. D. Trick question! Leaving a slot uncovered does no damage. 8. A PC power supply provides DC power in what standard configuration? A. Two primary voltage rails, 12 and 5 volts, and one 3.3 volt auxiliary connector B. Three primary voltage rails, one for 12, 5, and 3.3 volt connectors each C. One voltage rail Primary DC Rail for 12, 5, and 3.3 Volt Connectors D. One voltage rail with a 12 volt connector for the motherboard, a second voltage rail with a 12 volt connector for the CPU, and a third power rail with voltage for the 5 connector -3.3 volt and 3.3 volt connectors 9. Which feature of ATX systems prevents a user from turning off a system before the operating system has shut down? A. Motherboard power connector B. CMOS settings C. Sleep mode

D. Smooth power 10. How many pins does a SATA power connector have? A. 6 B. 9 C. 12 D. 15 Answers 1. A. US outlets operate at 120 V. 2. D. An ATX12V power supply connector P1 provides 3.3, 5, and 12 volts to the motherboard. 3. B. Floppy drives typically use a mini connector. 4. C. The P4 connector goes into the motherboard to support more power-hungry chips. 5. A. DC has polarity. The red wire must always touch the live wire; the black wire should touch a ground wire. 6. B. The red wires of a Molex connector should be at 5 volts; the yellow wire should be 12 volts. 7. C. Both A and B are correct ratios. Keeping the slots covered helps maintain good airflow in your case and keeps dust and smoke away from all those sensitive internal components. 8. B. The standard PC power supply configuration has three primary voltage rails, one for 12 volt, 5 volt, and 3.3 volt connectors. 9. D. The soft power feature of ATX systems prevents a user from turning off a system before the operating system has been turned off. 10. D. SATA power connectors have 15 pins.

11 hard drive technologies


In this chapter, you will learn to: • Explain how hard drives work • Identify and explain PATA and SATA hard drive interfaces • Identify and explain SCSI hard drive interfaces • Describe how to protect data with RAID • Install hard drives • Configure CMOS and install drivers • Troubleshoot hard drive installation Of all the hardware in a PC, none commands more attention, or causes more angst, than the hard drive. There's a good reason for this: if your hard drive crashes, you lose data. As you probably know, when data is gone, you have to redo the job or restore from a backup, or worse. It's good to worry about data, because data runs the office, maintains payroll, and stores email. This level of concern is so strong that even the most neophyte PC users are exposed to terms like IDE, PATA, SATA, and controller, even if they don't put them into practice. This chapter focuses on how hard drives work, beginning with the internal layout and organization of hard drives. You will see the different types of hard drives in use today (PATA, SATA, SSD, and SCSI), how they interact with the PC, and how to properly install them in a system. The chapter covers how more than one drive can work with other drives to provide data security and improve speed through a feature called RAID. Let us begin.

Historical/Conceptual How Hard Drives Work Hard drives come in two main types. The most common type has moving parts; the newest and most expensive technology has no moving parts. Let's see both.

NOTE Chapter 12 continues the hard drive discussion by adding operating systems, showing you how to prepare your drives to receive data, and showing you how to maintain and upgrade your drives in Windows. Platter-Based Hard Disk Drives A traditional hard disk drive (HDD) is made up of individual disks, or platters, with read/write heads on each side.

actuator arms controlled by a servomotor—all contained in a sealed enclosure that prevents contamination by outside air (see Figure 11-1).

Figure 11-1 Inside the hard drive The aluminum platters are coated with a magnetic medium. Two small read/write heads service each platter, one to read the top and the other to read the bottom of the platter (see Figure 11-2).

Figure 11-2 Read/Write Heads on Actuator Arms The coating on the platters is extraordinarily smooth. It has to be, since the read/write heads float on a cushion of air above the platters, which spin at speeds between 3,500 and 15,000 RPM. The distance (height of flight) between the heads and the disk surface is less than the thickness of a fingerprint. The closer the read/write heads are to the platter, the more densely packed the data will be on the drive. These infinitesimal tolerances require that the dishes are never exposed to outside air. Even a tiny particle of dust on a platter would act like a mountain in the path of the read/write heads and cause catastrophic damage to the drive. To keep the air inside the drive clean, all hard drives use a small, highly filtered opening to keep air pressure balanced between the inside and outside of the drive. Data Encoding Although the hard drive stores data in binary form, visualizing a magnetized dot representing a one and

an unmagnetized point representing a zero greatly simplifies the process. Hard drives store data in small magnetic fields; think of them as little magnets that can be placed in any direction on the plate. Each tiny magnetic field, called a flux, can flip the north/south polarity back and forth through a process called flux reversal. When a read/write head passes an area where a flow reversal has occurred, the head reads a small electrical current. Today's hard drives use a complex and efficient method to interpret flow reversals. Instead of reading individual stream reversals, a modern hard drive reads groups of them called runs. Around 1991, hard drives began using a data encoding system known as Limited Run Length (RLL). With RLL, any combination of ones and zeros can be stored in a preset combination of about 15 different runs. The hard drive looks for these runs and reads them as a group, resulting in much faster and much denser data. Today's units use an extremely advanced method of RLL called Partial Response Maximum Likelihood (PRML) coding. As hard drives accumulate more and more streams on the drive, the individual streams begin to interact with each other, making it increasingly difficult for the drive to verify where one stream stops and another begins. PRML uses powerful and intelligent circuitry to analyze each flow reversal and make a "best guess" about what type of flow reversal it just read. As a result, the maximum run length for PRML units reaches between 16 and 20 streams, much longer than the 7 or more for RLL units. Longer execution lengths allow the hard drive to use more complicated execution combinations so that the hard drive can store a phenomenal amount of data. For example, a run of just 12 streams on a hard drive can equal a string of 30 or 40 1's and 0's when delivered to the system from the hard drive. The size required for each magnetic flux in a hard drive has been greatly reduced over the years, resulting in higher capacities. As the flows get smaller, they start to interfere with each other in strange ways. I have to say strange because to make sense of what's going on at this subatomic level (I told you these flows are small!) would require you to take a semester of quantum mechanics. Let's say that fluxing against the plate has reached its limit. To get around this problem, hard drive manufacturers began making hard drives that store their streams vertically (up and down) instead of longitudinally (forward and back), which allowed them to make hard drives in the range of 1 terabyte (1024 gigabytes). Manufacturers call this method of vertical storage perpendicular recording. Despite all this discussion and details about data encryption, the day-to-day PC technician never bothers with encryption. Sometimes, however, knowing what you don't need to know helps just as much as knowing what you need to know. Fortunately, data encryption is inherent to the hard drive and completely invisible to the system. You'll never have to deal with data scrambling, but you'll surely sound smart when talking to other PC techs if you know their RLL from your PRML! Moving Arms The read/write heads move across the platter at the ends of the actuator arms or head actuators. In the entire history of hard drives, manufacturers have used only two technologies to drive the arms: the stepper motor and the voice coil. Hard drives first used stepper motor technology, but today they have all moved to voice coil.

NOTE Floppy drives use stepper motors. Stepper motor technology moved the arm in fixed increments or steps, but the technology had several

limitations that doomed him. Because the interface between the motor and the actuator arm required minimal slip to ensure precise and reproducible movements, the positioning of the arms became less accurate over time. This physical deterioration caused errors in data transfer. Also, heat warping wreaked havoc on stepper motors. Just as valve clearance in automobile engines changes with operating temperature, positioning accuracy changed as the PC operated and various hard drive components became hot. Although very small, these changes caused problems. Accessing data written to a cold hard drive, for example, became difficult after the drive got hot. Also, the read/write heads could damage the disk surface if unparked (placed in a non-data area) when not in use, requiring technicians to use special parking programs before transporting a stepper motor. passed. All magnetic hard drives manufactured today use a linear motor to drive the actuator arms. The linear motor, more popularly called a voice coil motor, uses a permanent magnet that surrounds a coil in the actuator arm. When an electric current is passed, the coil generates a magnetic field that moves the actuator arm. The direction of movement of the actuator arm depends on the polarity of the electrical current through the coil. Because the voice coil and actuator arm never touch, there is no degradation in positional accuracy over time. Voice coil units automatically park the heads when the drive loses power, making old stepper motor parking programs obsolete. Lacking the discrete steps of the stepper motor drive, a voice coil drive cannot accurately predict the movement of the heads across the disk. To make sure the moving coil units land in exactly the right area, the unit reserves one side of a platter for navigation purposes. This area essentially maps the exact location of the data on the disk. The voice coil moves the read/write head to its best estimate of the correct position on the hard drive. The read/write head then uses this map to adjust its true position and make any necessary adjustments. Now that you have a basic understanding of how a drive physically stores data, let's move on to how the hard drive organizes that data so that we can use that drive. Geometry Have you ever seen a cassette tape? If you look at real brown Mylar (a type of plastic) tape, nothing will tell you if sound is recorded on that tape. However, assuming the tape is not blank, you know there is something on the tape. Cassettes store music on separate magnetized lines. You could say that the physical location of those lines of magnetism is the "geometry" of the tape. Geometry also determines where a hard drive stores data. Just like with a cassette tape, if you were to open a hard drive, you wouldn't see the geometry. But rest assured, the unit has geometry; in fact, each model of hard drive uses a different geometry. We describe the geometry of a particular hard drive with a set of numbers that represent three values: heads, cylinders, and sectors per track. Heads The number of heads on a specific hard drive logically describes the number of read/write heads used by the drive to store data. Each dish requires two heads. If a hard drive has four platters, for example, you need eight heads (see Figure 11-3).

Figure 11-3 Two heads per platter Based on this description of heads, you would think that hard drives would always have an even number of heads, right? Mistaken! Most hard drives reserve one or two heads for their own use. Therefore, a hard drive can have an odd or even number of heads. Cylinders To visualize cylinders, imagine taking an empty soup can and opening both ends. Look at the shape of the can; It is a geometric shape called a cylinder. Now imagine taking that cylinder and sharpening one end so that it easily cuts through the toughest metal. Visualize placing the former soup can on top of the hard drive and pushing it down through the drive. The can cuts through one side and out the other of each plate. Each circle transcribed by the can is where it stores data on disk and is called a track. Each side of each deck contains tens of thousands of tracks. Interestingly, the individual tracks themselves are not directly part of the drive geometry. Our interest lies only in the groups of footprints of the same diameter, which cover the entire path. Each group of tracks of the same diameter is called a cylinder (see Figure 11-4). There is more than one cylinder. Go find about a thousand more cans, each a different diameter, and push them through the hard drive.

Figure 11-4 Cylinder sectors per track Now imagine cutting through your hard drive like a birthday cake, slicing all the tracks into tens of thousands of tiny slivers. Each sliver has many thousands of tiny pieces of track. The term sector refers to a specific part of the track in a strip, with each sector storing 512 bytes of data. The sector is the universal atom of all hard drives. You can't split data into anything smaller than a slice. Although sectors are important, the number of sectors is not a geometric value that describes a hard drive. The geometry value is called sectors per track (sectors/track). The sectors/track value describes the number of sectors in each track (see Figure 11-5).

Figure 11-5 Sectors per track

The three large cylinders, heads, and sectors/tracks combine to define the geometry of the hard drive. In most cases, these three critical values ​​are called CHS. All three values ​​are important because the PC BIOS needs to know the geometry of the drive in order to know how to communicate with the drive. In the old days, a technician needed to enter these values ​​into the CMOS setup program manually. Today, each hard drive stores CHS information on the drive itself, in an electronic format that allows the BIOS to automatically query the drive to determine these values. You'll see more about this later in the chapter, in the "Auto Detection" section. Two other values ​​(type precompensation cylinder and landing zone) are no longer relevant on today's PCs. However, people still toss around these terms, and some CMOS setup utilities still support them: another classic example of a technology appendage. Let's look at these two holdouts from another era so that when you go into CMOS, you don't say, "What the hell are these?" Write Precompensation Cylinder Older hard drives had a real problem with the fact that the sectors to the inside of the drives were much smaller than the sectors to the outside. To handle this, an older drive would spread the data out a bit further apart once it got to a particular cylinder. This cylinder was called a write precompensation (write precompensation) cylinder, and the PC had to know which cylinder started this larger data space. Hard drives no longer have this problem, making the write-precompile configuration obsolete. Landing Zone On older hard drives with stepper motors, the Landing Zone value designated an unused cylinder as a "parking spot" for the read/write heads. As mentioned above, before moving older stepper motor hard drives, the read/write heads needed to be parked to prevent accidental damage. Today's voice coil units park themselves when not accessing data, automatically positioning the read/write heads in the landing zone. As a result, the BIOS no longer needs the geometry of the landing zone.

801 Spindle (or Rotational) Speed ​​Hard drives operate at a set spindle speed, measured in revolutions per minute (RPM). Older drives ran at a speed of 3,600 RPM, but newer drives go as high as 15,000 RPM. The faster the spindle speed, the faster the controller can store and retrieve data. Here are the common speeds: 5400, 7200, 10,000, and 15,000 RPM. Faster drives mean better system performance, but they can also cause your computer to overheat. This is especially true in narrow cases, like mini-towers, and in cases that contain many units. Two 5400 RPM drives can run forever, conveniently stored together in their old case. But throw a new 15,000 RPM drive in the same case and watch your system start crashing left and right! You can handle these very fast drives by adding drive bay fans between the drives or by migrating to a roomier case. Most enthusiasts end up doing both. Drive bay fans are located at the front of a drive bay and blow air across the drive. They range in price from $10 to $100 (US) and can dramatically reduce the temperature of your drives. Some cabinets come with a built-in bay fan (see Figure 11-6).

Figure 11-6 Bay fan Airflow in a case can increase or decrease the stability of your system, especially when you add new drives that increase the ambient temperature. Hot systems get flaky and crash at odd times. Many things can impede airflow: jumbled ribbon cables, drives squashed in a small box, fans clogged by dust or pet hair, etc. Technicians need to be aware of the dangers when adding a new hard drive to an old system. Get in the habit of tying ribbon cables, adding front fans to cases when systems lock up intermittently, and making sure the fans are working well. Finally, if a customer wants a new drive for a system in a small mini-tower with just the power supply fan to cool it down, be nice, but definitely move the customer to one of the slower drives! Solid State Drives Booting up a computer takes time, in part because a traditional hard drive must first spin up before the read/write heads can retrieve data from the drive and load it into RAM. All the moving metal parts of a platter-based drive use a lot of power, generate a lot of heat, take up space, wear out over time, and take many nanoseconds to get things done. A Solid State Drive (SSD) solves all of these problems nicely. In technical terms, solid-state technology and devices are based on the combination of semiconductors, transistors, and bubble memory that are used to create electrical components with no moving parts. That's a mouthful! Here is the translation. In simple terms, SSDs (see Figure 11-7) use memory chips to store data instead of all those annoying spinning pieces of metal used in platter-based hard drives. Solid-state technology has been around for many moons. It was originally developed for the transition from vacuum tube-based technologies to semiconductor technologies,

such as the move from cathode ray tubes (CRT) to liquid crystal displays (LCD) in monitors. (You'll get the scoop on monitor technologies in Chapter 21.)

Figure 11-7 A solid-state drive (photo courtesy of Corsair) Solid-state devices use current flow and negative/positive electron charges to do their magic. Although Mr. Spock may find the physics of how this technology actually works "fascinating," it is more important for him to be aware of the following points related to solid state drives, devices, and technology.

NOTE With solid-state drives becoming more widely used, you'll see the initials HDD being used more often than in years past to refer to traditional disk-based hard drives. Thus, we have two drive technologies: SSD and HDD. • Solid-state technology is commonly used in desktop and laptop hard drives, memory cards, cameras, USB flash drives, and other portable devices. SSD form factors are typically 1.8-inch, 2.5-inch, or 3.5-inch. • SSDs can be PATA, SATA, eSATA, SCSI, or USB for desktop systems. Some laptops have mini-PCI Express versions. You can also buy SSD cards built into PCIe cards (which you'd plug into your PC like any other expansion card). • SSDs that use SDRAM cache are volatile and lose data when powered off. Others that use non-volatile flash memory, such as NAND, retain data when power is turned off or unplugged. (See Chapter 13 for detailed information on flash memory technology.) • SSDs are more expensive than traditional HDDs. Less expensive SSDs generally implement less reliable

Multi-Level Cell (MLC) memory technology instead of the more efficient Single-Level Cell (SLC) technology to reduce costs.

EXAM TIP The term IDE (integrated disk electronics) refers to any hard drive with a built-in controller. All hard drives are technically IDE drives, although we only use the term IDE when talking about ATA drives. Parallel and Serial ATA Over the years, there have been many interfaces for hard drives, with names like ST-506 and ESDI. Don't worry about what these abbreviations mean; neither the CompTIA A+ certification exams nor the computing world in general have any interest in these prehistoric interfaces. Around 1990, an interface called Advanced Technology Accessory (ATA) appeared that now virtually monopolizes the hard drive market. ATA hard drives are often referred to as integrated drive electronics (IDE) drives. Only one other type of interface, the moderately popular Small Computer System Interface (SCSI), has any relevance to hard drives. ATA drives come in two basic versions. Older Parallel ATA (PATA) drives send data in parallel, on a 40- or 80-wire data cable. PATA drives dominated the industry for over a decade, but have mostly been replaced by Serial ATA (SATA) drives that send data serially, using only one cable for data transfer. The jump from PATA to SATA is just one of the many changes that have occurred with ATA. To appreciate these changes, we'll review the many ATA standards that have appeared over the years.

NOTE A quick trip to any major computer store will reveal a thriving trade in external hard drives. I used to find external drives that plugged into the slow parallel port, but today's external drives plug into a FireWire, USB, or eSATA port. All three interfaces offer high data transfer rates and hot-swap capability, making them ideal for transporting large files such as digital video clips. However, regardless of the external interface, you'll find an ordinary PATA or SATA drive inside the external enclosure (the name used to describe the enclosure of external hard drives). ATA-1 When IBM introduced the IBM PC AT with 80286 technology in the early 1980s, it introduced the first PC to include BIOS support for hard drives. This BIOS supported up to two physical drives, and each drive could be up to 504 MB, much larger than the 5 MB and 10 MB drives of the time. Although having built-in support for hard drives certainly improved PC power, installing, configuring, and troubleshooting hard drives could, at best, be considered difficult at the time. To address these issues, Western Digital and Compaq developed a new hard drive interface and submitted this specification to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) committees, which in turn submitted the AT Attachment (ATA) interface in March 1989. ATA interface specified a cable and a controller built into the drive itself. More importantly, the ATA standard used the existing AT BIOS on a PC, which meant you didn't have to replace the old system BIOS for the drive to work, a very important consideration for compatibility, but one that would later affect ATA drives. the official name

because the standard, ATA, never became the common vernacular until recently, and only as PATA to distinguish it from SATA drives. Early physical ATA connections Early ATA drives connected to the computer with a 40-pin ribbon cable that plugged into the drive and into a hard drive controller. The cable has a colored stripe on one side indicating pin 1 and should be connected to pin 1 on the drive and pin 1 on the controller. Figure 11-8 shows the business end of an older ATA drive, with connectors for the ribbon cable and power cable.

Figure 11-8 Back of IDE drive showing 40-pin connector (left), jumpers (middle), and power connector (right) The controller is the support circuitry that acts as the intermediary between the disk drive drive and the external data bus. Electronically, the configuration looks like Figure 11-9.

Figure 11-9 Inverter, Controller, and Bus Relationship Wait a minute! If the ATA drives are IDE (see Exam Tip above), they already have a built-in controller. Why then do they have to connect to a controller on the motherboard? Well, this is a great example of a term not being used correctly, but everyone (including motherboard and hard drive manufacturers) uses it this way. What we call the ATA controller is nothing more than an interface that provides a connection to the rest of the PC system. When your BIOS communicates with the hard drive, it's actually communicating with the IC in the drive, not the connection on the motherboard. But, although the actual controller resides on the hard drive, the 40-pin connection on the motherboard is called the controller. We have a lot of misnomers to live by in the ATA world. The ATA-1 standard defined that no more than two drives connect to a single IDE connector on a single ribbon cable. Since up to two units can be connected to a connector via a single cable, you must be able to

to identify each unit on the cable. The ATA standard identifies the two drives as "master" and "slave." Set one drive as master and one drive as slave using small jumpers on the drives (see Figure 11-10).

Figure 11-10 A typical hard drive with instructions (top) for setting a jumper (bottom) The drivers are on the motherboard and manifest as two 40-pin male ports, as shown in Figure 11-11.

Figure 11-11 IDE interfaces on a motherboard

NOTE The ANSI subcommittee directly responsible for the ATA standard is called the T13 Technical Committee. If you want to know what's going on with ATA, check out the T13 website:

PIO and DMA modes If you are creating a standard hard drive, you must define both the method and the speed at which data will be moved. ATA-1 defined two methods, the first using Programmed I/O (PIO) addressing and the second using Direct Memory Access (DMA) mode. PIO is nothing more than the traditional I/O addressing scheme, where the CPU directly communicates with the hard drive through the BIOS to send and receive data. Three different PIO rates called PIO modes were initially adopted: • PIO Mode 0: 3.3 MBps (megabytes per second) • PIO Mode 1: 5.2 MBps • PIO Mode 2: 8.3 MBps DMA modes defined a method for allow hard drives to communicate with RAM directly, using old-style DMA commands. (The ATA folks called it single word DMA.) This old-style DMA was slow, and the three resulting single-word DMA modes were also slow: • Single-word DMA mode 0: 2.1 MBps • Single-word DMA mode 1: 4.2 MBps • Word DMA mode unique 2: 8.3 MBps When a computer started up, the BIOS would query the hard drive to see what modes it could use and then automatically adjust to the fastest possible mode. ATA-2 In 1990, the industry adopted a series of enhancements to the ATA standard called ATA-2. Many people called these new features Enhanced IDE (EIDE). EIDE was actually just a marketing term invented by Western Digital, but it caught on in the common vernacular and is still in use today, although its usage is fading. Regular IDE drives quickly disappeared, and by 1995, EIDE drives dominated the PC world. Figure 11-12 shows a typical EIDE drive.

Figure 11-12 The EIDE ATA-2 drive was the most important ATA standard as it included powerful new features such as higher capacities, support for storage devices other than hard drives, support for two more ATA devices for a maximum of four, and substantially improved performance.

NOTE The terms ATA, IDE, and EIDE are used interchangeably. Increased Capacity with LBA IBM created AT BIOS to support hard drives many years before IDE drives were invented, and all systems had that BIOS. The IDE developers made sure that new drives would run from the same AT BIOS command set. With this capability, you could use the same CMOS and BIOS routines to communicate with a much more advanced drive. Your motherboard or hard drive controller wouldn't instantly become obsolete when you installed a new hard drive. Unfortunately, the BIOS routines for the original AT command set allowed a hard drive size of only up to 528 million bytes (or 504 MB; remember one mega = 1,048,576, not 1,000,000). A drive could not have more than 1024 cylinders, 16 heads, and 63 sectors/track: 1024 cylinders × 16 heads × 63 sectors/track × 512 bytes/sector = 504 MB For years, this was not a problem. But when hard drives began to approach the 504MB barrier, it became clear that there had to be a way to get past 504MB. The ATA-2 standard defined a way to overcome this limit with Logical Block Addressing (LBA). With LBA, the hard drive lies to the computer about its geometry through an advanced type of sector translation. Let's take a moment to understand industry translation, and then back to LBA.

Sector translation Long before hard drives approached the 504 MB limit, the 1024 cylinder, 16 head, and 63 sector/track limits gave hard drive manufacturers trouble. The big problem was the heads. Remember that every two heads means another platter, another physical disk that you have to put on a hard drive. If you wanted a hard drive with the maximum number of 16 heads, you would need a hard drive with eight physical platters inside the drive. Nobody wanted that many platters: it made the drives too tall, it required more power to spin the drive, and many parts cost too much money (see Figure 11-13).

Figure 11-13 Too Many Heads Manufacturers could easily produce a hard drive that had fewer heads and more cylinders, but the stupid 1024/16/63 limit got in the way. In addition, the traditional sector layout wasted a lot of usable space. The sectors on the inside of the drive, for example, are much shorter than the sectors on the outside. The sectors on the outside don't need to be that long, but with the traditional geometry setup, hard drive manufacturers had no choice. However, they could make a hard drive store much more information if they could make hard drives with more sectors/tracks on the outer tracks (see Figure 11-14).

Figure 11-14 Multiple sectors/track The ATA specification was designed to have two geometries. The physical geometry defined the actual layout of the CHS within the unit. The logical geometry described what the drive told the CMOS. In other words, the IDE drive "lied" to the CMOS, thereby bypassing the artificial boundaries of the BIOS. When data was transferred to and from the drive, the drive's ICs translated the logical geometry to physical geometry. This function was called, and is still called, sector translation.

Let's look at a couple of hypothetical examples in action. First, imagine that Seagate introduced a new, cheap, and fast hard drive called the ST108. However, to get the ST108 drive quickly and cheaply, Seagate had to use some rather strange geometry, shown in Table 11-1.

Table 11-1 Seagate ST108 Drive Geometry

NOTE Hard drive manufacturers refer to hard drive capacities in millions and billions of bytes, not megabytes and gigabytes. Note that the number of cylinders is greater than 1024. To overcome this problem, the IDE drive performs a sector translation that reports a geometry to the BIOS that is totally different from the true geometry of the drive. Table 11-2 shows the physical geometry and the “logical” geometry of our legendary ST108 drive. Notice that the logical geometry is now within the acceptable parameters of the BIOS limitations. Sector translation never changes the capacity of the drive; it only changes the geometry to stay within the BIOS limits.

Table 11-2 Physical and logical geometries of the ST108 drive Back to LBA Now let's see how LBA's advanced sector conversion provides support for hard drives larger than 504 MB. Let's use an older drive, the Western Digital WD2160, a 2.1 GB hard drive, as an example. This unit is no longer in production, but its smaller CHS values ​​make it easier to understand LBA. Table 11-3 lists their physical and logical geometries.

Table 11-3 Western Digital WD2160 Physical and Logical Geometries Note that even with sector translation, the number of heads is greater than the allowed 16. So this is where the LBA magic comes in. When the computer boots, the BIOS asks the drives if they can perform LBA. If they say yes, the BIOS and the drive work together to change the way they communicate with each other. They can do this without conflicting with the original AT BIOS commands by taking advantage of unused commands to use up to 256 heads. LBA allows support for a maximum of 1024 × 256 × 63 × 512 bytes = 8.4 GB hard drives. In 1990, 8.4 GB was hundreds of times larger than the drives in use at the time. Don't worry, later ATA standards will update the BIOS on today's huge drives. It's Not Just Hard Drives Anymore: ATAPI ATA-2 added an extension to the ATA specification, called Advanced Technology Packet Attachment Interface (ATAPI), which allowed devices other than hard drives, such as CD-ROM drives and copies of tape security, they will connect to the PC through the ATA controllers. ATAPI drives have the same 40-pin interface and master/slave jumpers as ATA hard drives. Figure 11-15 shows an ATAPI CD-RW drive connected to a motherboard. The key difference between hard drives and any other type of drive that connects to the ATA controller is how the drives get BIOS support. Hard drives get it through the system BIOS, while non-hard drives require the operating system to load a software driver.

Figure 11-15 ATAPI CD-RW drive connected to a motherboard via a standard 40-pin ribbon cable

NOTE With the introduction of ATAPI, the ATA standards are often referred to as ATA/ATAPI instead of just ATA.

More drives with ATA-2 ATA-2 added support for a second controller, bringing the total number of drives supported from two to four. Each of the two drivers is equal in power and capacity. Figure 11-16 is a close-up of a typical motherboard, showing the primary controller marked PRI_IDE and the secondary marked SEC_IDE.

Figure 11-16 Labeled primary and secondary controllers on a motherboard Increased Speed ​​ATA-2 defined two new PIO modes and a new type of DMA called multiword DMA that was a substantial improvement over the old DMA. Technically, multiword DMA was still the old-style DMA, but it worked in a much more efficient way, so it was much faster. • PIO mode 3: 11.1 MBps • PIO mode 4: 16.6 MBps • DMA multiword mode 0: 4.2 MBps • DMA multiword mode 1: 13.3 MBps • DMA multiword mode 2: 16.6 MBps ATA-3 ATA-3 came quickly after ATA-2 and added a new feature called Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology (S.M.A.R.T.), one of the few PC acronyms that requires the use of dots after each letter. ELEGANT. helps predict when a hard drive will fail by monitoring the hard drive's mechanical components. ELEGANT. It's a great idea, and it's popular in specialized server systems, but it's complex, flawed, and hard to understand. As a result, only a few utilities can read the S.M.A.R.T. data on your hard drive. Your best sources are hard drive manufacturers. All hard drive manufacturers have a free diagnostic tool (which usually only works for their drives) that will perform a S.M.A.R.T. check along with other tests. Figure 11-17 shows Western Digital's Data Lifeguard tools in action. Note that it only tells if the drive has passed or not. Figure 11-18 shows some S.M.A.R.T. information.

Figure 11-17 Data Lifeguard Tools

Figure 11-18 S.M.A.R.T. information Although you can see the S.M.A.R.T. data, it is generally useless or indecipherable. Your best bet is to trust the opinion of the manufacturer and run the provided software. ATA-4 Anyone who has ever opened a large database file on a hard drive knows that a faster hard drive is better. ATA-4 introduced a new DMA mode called Ultra DMA which is now the primary way a hard drive communicates with a PC. Ultra DMA uses DMA bus mastering to achieve much faster speeds than were possible with old-style PIO or DMA. ATA-4 defined three Ultra DMA modes: • Ultra DMA Mode 0: 16.7 MBps • Ultra DMA Mode 1: 25.0 MBps • Ultra DMA Mode 2: 33.3 MBps


NOTE Ultra DMA 2 mode, the most popular of the ATA-4 DMA modes, is also called

INT13 Extensions Here's an interesting fact for you: The original ATA-1 standard allowed for hard drives up to 137 GB. It wasn't the ATA standard that caused the 504MB size limit; the standard used the old AT BIOS, and the BIOS, not the ATA standard, could only support 504MB. LBA was a workaround that told the hard drive to lie to the BIOS to get up to 8.4 GB. But eventually, hard drives began to approach the LBA limit and something had to be done. The people of T13 said: “This is not our problem. It's the old BIOS problem. You BIOS makers need to fix the BIOS." And they did. In 1994, Phoenix Technologies (the BIOS maker) introduced a new set of BIOS commands called Interrupt 13 (INT13) extensions. The INT13 extensions broke the 8.4 GB barrier by completely ignoring CHS values ​​and instead feeding the LBA a stream of addressable sectors. A system with INT13 extensions can handle drives up to 137 GB. The entire PC industry quickly adopted INT13 extensions, and all systems manufactured since 2000-2001 support INT13 extensions. ATA-5 Ultra DMA was such a success that the ATA folks adopted two faster Ultra DMA modes with ATA-5: • Ultra DMA 3 mode: 44.4 MBps • Ultra DMA 4 mode: 66.6 MBps Ultra mode DMA 4 ran so fast that the ATA-5 standard defined a new type of ribbon cable that could handle the higher speeds. This 80-wire cable still has 40 pins on the connectors, but also includes another 40 wires in the cable that act as ground to improve the cable's ability to handle high-speed signals. The 80-wire cable, like the 40-pin ribbon cable, has a colored stripe on one side to give you the proper orientation for pin 1 on the controller and hard drive. Earlier versions of ATA did not define where the various drives connected to the ribbon cable, but ATA-5 defined exactly where the controller, master, and slave drives connected, and even defined colors to identify them. Look at the ATA/66 cable in Figure 11-19. The connector on the left is colored blue and you must use that connector to connect to the controller. The middle connector is grey, it is for the slave unit. The connector on the right is black, it is for the master unit. Any ATA/66 controller connection is colored blue so you know it's an ATA/66 controller.

Figure 11-19 ATA/66 Cable ATA/66 is backward compatible, so you can safely connect an older drive to an ATA/66 cable and controller. If you connect an ATA/66 drive to an older controller, it will work, but not in ATA/66 mode. The only risky action is to use an ATA/66 controller and a hard drive with a non-ATA/66 cable. Doing it

it will almost certainly cause nasty data loss! The size of the ATA-6 hard drive skyrocketed at the turn of the 21st century, and the seemingly impossible to fill limit of 137 GB created by the INT13 extensions became a barrier sooner than most people had anticipated. As drives began to hit the 120 GB mark, the T13 committee adopted an industry proposal pushed by Maxtor (a major hard drive manufacturer) called Big Drive that increased the limit to more than 144 petabytes (approximately 144,000 000 GB). Fortunately, T13 also gave the new standard a less silly name, calling it ATA/ATAPI-6 or just ATA-6. Big Drive was basically 48-bit LBA, supplanting the old 24-bit addressing of the LBA and INT13 extensions. In addition, the standard defined an enhanced block mode, allowing drives to transfer up to 65,536 sectors in a slice, versus a paltry 256 sectors for lesser drive technologies. ATA-6 also introduced Ultra DMA mode 5, bringing the data transfer rate up to 100 MBps. Ultra DMA mode 5 is more commonly known as ATA/100 and requires the same 80-wire cable as ATA/66.

NOTE Ultra DMA 4 mode, the most popular of the ATA-5 DMA modes, is also called ATA/66. ATA-7 ATA-7 brought two new innovations to the ATA world: one evolutionary and one revolutionary. Evolutionary innovation came with the latest of the ATA Ultra DMA parallel modes; what was revolutionary was a new form of ATA called serial ATA (SATA). ATA/133 ATA-7 introduced the fastest and probably the least widely adopted of all ATA speeds, Ultra DMA 6 mode (ATA/133). Even though it runs at a speed of 133 MBps, the fact that it came out with SATA kept many hard drive manufacturers away. ATA/133 uses the same cables as Ultra DMA 66 and 100. While you won't find many ATA/133 hard drives, you will find many ATA/133 controllers. There is a trend in the industry to color hard drive controller connections red, although this is not part of the ATA-7 standard. Serial ATA The real story of ATA-7 is SATA. For all its longevity as the mass storage interface of choice for the PC, Parallel ATA has its problems. First, ribbon cables impede airflow and can be tricky to insert correctly. Second, the cables are limited in length, only 18 inches. Third, you cannot hot swap PATA drives. You must power down completely before installing or replacing a drive. Finally, technology has simply reached the limits of what it can do in terms of performance. Serial ATA solves these problems. SATA creates a point-to-point connection between the SATA device (hard drive, CD-ROM, CD-RW, DVD-ROM, DVD-RW, BD-R, BD-RE, etc.) and the SATA controller, adapter host bus (HBA). At a glance, SATA devices appear identical to standard

PATA devices. However, take a closer look at the power cable and connectors and you will see significant differences (see Figure 11-20).

Figure 11-20 SATA hard drive power (left) and data (right) cables Because SATA devices send data in serial instead of parallel, the SATA interface requires far fewer physical cables (seven instead of eighty). typical PATA cables), resulting in much thinner cabling. This may not sound significant, but the benefit is that thinner cabling means better cable control and better airflow through the PC case, resulting in better cooling. Also, the maximum length of the SATA device cable is more than double that of an IDE cable: approximately 40 inches (1 meter) instead of 18 inches. Again, this may not sound like much of a problem unless you've had trouble connecting a PATA hard drive installed in the top bay of a full tower case to an IDE connector located on the bottom of the motherboard. SATA does away with the whole master/slave concept. Each drive connects to one port, so no more daisy chaining drives. Also, there is no maximum number of drives - there are now many motherboards available that support up to eight SATA drives. They want more? Plug in a SATA HBA and charge 'em up!

NOTE Number-savvy readers may have noticed a discrepancy between the names and performance of SATA drives. After all, SATA 1.0's 1.5 Gbps throughput translates to 192 MBps, much more than the advertised speed of "mere" 150 MBps. The encoding scheme used on SATA drives consumes about 20 percent of the drive overhead, leaving 80 percent for pure bandwidth. The SATA 2.0 3Gbps drive created all kinds of problems, because the committee that worked on the specifications was called the SATA II committee, and the marketers took the name SATA II. As a result, you'll find many hard drives labeled "SATA II" instead of 3 Gbps. The SATA committee is now called SATA-IO. The big news, however, is in the data performance. As the name implies, SATA devices transfer data in serial bursts rather than in parallel, as PATA devices do. Typically, you might not think of serial devices as faster than parallel, but in this case, a single data stream from a SATA device moves much faster than multiple data streams coming from one device. Parallel IDE; theoretically, up to 30 times faster. . sata

The drives come in three common varieties: 1.5 Gbps, 3 Gbps, and 6 Gbps, which have a maximum throughput of 150 MBps, 300 MBps, and 600 MBps, respectively.

TEST HINT Each variety of SATA is named after the revision of the SATA specification that introduced it: • SATA 1.0: 1.5 Gbps • SATA 2.0: 3 Gbps • SATA 3.0: 6 Gbps SATA is backwards compatible with SATA drives. current PATA standards and allows you to install a parallel ATA device, including a hard drive, optical drive, and other devices, to a serial ATA controller via a SATA bridge. A SATA jumper manifests itself as a tiny card that plugs directly into the 40-pin connector on a PATA drive. As you can see in Figure 11-21, the controller chip on the bridge requires separate power; plug a Molex connector into the PATA drive as usual. When you start the system, the PATA drive shows up in the system as a SATA drive.

Figure 11-21 SATA Bridge The ease of use of SATA has made it the choice for desktop storage, and its success is already demonstrated by the fact that more than 90 percent of all hard drives sold in the These are currently SATA drives. AHCI Windows Vista and later operating systems support Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI), a more efficient way to work with SATA HBAs. Using AHCI unlocks some of the advanced features of SATA, such as hot swapping and native command queuing. When you connect a SATA drive to a Windows computer that does not have AHCI enabled, the drive does not appear automatically. On Windows XP/Vista, you need to go to Control Panel and run Add New Hardware for the drive to appear, and on Windows 7, you need to run hdwwiz.exe from the Start menu search bar. With AHCI, the drive should show up in My Computer/Computer immediately, just what you'd expect from a hot-swappable device. Native Command Queuing (NCQ) is a disk optimization feature for SATA drives. Enables faster read and write speeds.

AHCI is implemented at the CMOS level (see "BIOS Support: CMOS Setup and Driver Installation" later in this chapter) and generally must be enabled before installing the operating system. Enabling it after installation will cause Windows Vista and 7 to blue screen. How nice.

TIP If you want to enable AHCI but have already installed Windows Vista or Windows 7, don't worry! Microsoft has developed a procedure ( that will allow you to enjoy all the fun of AHCI in no time. Before you jump in, note that this procedure requires you to edit your Registry, so always remember to back it up before you start editing. eSATA External SATA (eSATA) extends the SATA bus to external devices, as the name implies. eSATA drives use similar connectors to internal SATA, but are keyed differently so you can't confuse one for the other. Figure 11-22 shows the eSATA connectors on the back of a motherboard.

Figure 11-22 eSATA Connectors External SATA uses shielded cable lengths of up to 2 meters outside the PC and is hot-swappable. The beauty of eSATA is that it extends the SATA bus to full speed, which tops out at 6 Gbps in theory, while the fastest USB connection (USB 3.0, also called SuperSpeed ​​USB) tops out at 5 Gbps. It's not that big of a speed difference, especially when you consider that neither type of connection fully utilizes your bandwidth yet, but even in real-world tests, eSATA still holds its own. If a desktop system does not have an external eSATA connector, or if you need more external SATA devices, you can install an eSATA HBA PCIe card or internal to external eSATA slot board. Similarly, you can upgrade notebook systems to support external SATA devices by inserting an eSATA ExpressCard (see Figure 11-23). There are also USB to eSATA adapter plugs. Install eSATA PCIe, PC Card, or ExpressCard following the same rules and precautions for installing any expansion device.

Figure 11-23 eSATA Express Card

NOTE In addition to eSATA ports, you'll also find eSATAp ports on some laptops. This port physically combines a powered USB connection with a fast eSATA connection; you can connect a special USB, eSATA, or eSATAp cable to the port. eSATAp allows you to connect an internal drive (HDD, SSD, or optical drive) to your laptop without a case, using a single cable to power it and send/receive data. SCSI - Still Exists Many specialized server machines and enthusiast systems use Small Computer System Interface (SCSI) technologies for various pieces of central and peripheral hardware, from hard drives to printers to high-end tape backup machines. high. SCSI, pronounced "scuzzy," is different from ATA in that SCSI devices connect together in a series of devices called a chain. Each device in the chain gets a SCSI ID to distinguish it from other devices in the chain. Finally, the ends of a SCSI chain must be terminated. Let's dive into SCSI now and see how SCSI chains, SCSI IDs, and termination work. SCSI is an old technology dating back to the late 1970s, but it has been continually upgraded. SCSI is faster than ATA (although the gap is closing fast), and until SATA came along, SCSI was the only good choice for anyone using RAID (see the "RAID" section a bit later). SCSI is arguably fading, but it deserves a mention. SCSI Chains SCSI manifests itself as a SCSI chain, a series of SCSI devices that work together through a host adapter. The host adapter provides the interface between the SCSI chain and the PC. Figure 11-24 shows a typical PCI SCSI host adapter. Many technicians refer to the host adapter as the SCSI controller, so you should be comfortable with both terms.

Figure 11-24 SCSI Host Adapter All SCSI devices can be divided into two groups: internal and external. Internal SCSI devices plug inside the PC and connect to the host adapter through the host adapter's internal connector. Figure 1125 shows an internal SCSI device, in this case a CD-ROM drive. External devices connect to the external connector of the host adapter. Figure 11-26 is an example of an external SCSI device.

Figura 11-25 CD-ROM SCSI interno

Figure 11-26 Rear of External SCSI Device Internal SCSI devices connect to the host adapter with a 68-pin ribbon cable (see Figure 11-27). This flat, flexible cable works exactly like a PATA cable. Many external devices connect to the host adapter with a 50-pin high-density (HD) connector. Figure 11-28 shows an external port on the host adapter. High-end SCSI devices use a 68-pin HD connector.

Figure 11-27 Typical 68-pin ribbon cable

Figure 11-28 50-pin HD port on SCSI host adapter

TEST TIP Some earlier versions of SCSI used a 25-pin connector. This connector was much more popular on Apple devices, although it was used on PCs with older SCSI Zip drives. While the connector is now deprecated, you should be aware of it for CompTIA A+ exams. Multiple internal devices can be connected simply by using a cable with enough connectors (see Figure 11-29). The 68-pin ribbon cable shown in Figure 11-27, for example, can support up to four SCSI devices, including the host adapter.

Figure 11-29 Internal SCSI chain with two devices Assuming the SCSI host adapter has a standard external port (some controllers have no external connection at all), connecting an external SCSI device is as simple as running a cable from the device to the controller. External SCSI connectors are D-shaped, so you can't plug them in backwards. As an added benefit, some external SCSI devices have two ports, one for connecting to the host adapter and one for connecting to another SCSI device. The process of connecting one device directly to another device is called daisy chaining. You can daisy chain up to 15 devices to a host adapter. SCSI chains can be internal, external, or both (see Figure 11-30).

Figure 11-30 Internal and external devices on a SCSI chain SCSI ID If you are going to connect a number of devices on the same SCSI chain, you must provide some way for the host adapter to distinguish one device from another. To differentiate devices, SCSI uses a unique identifier called a SCSI ID. The SCSI ID number can range from 0 to 15. SCSI IDs are similar to many other PC hardware configurations in that a SCSI device can theoretically have any SCSI ID, as long as that ID hasn't already been. taken another device connected to the same host adapter. . Some conventions must be followed when configuring SCSI IDs. Typically, most people set the host adapter to 7 or 15, but you can change this setting. Note that there is no order to the use of SCSI IDs. It doesn't matter which device gets which number, and you can skip numbers. Restrictions on IDs apply only within a single string. Two devices can have the same ID, in other words, as long as they are in different chains (see Figure 11-31).

Figure 11-31 IDs do not conflict between separate SCSI chains. Every SCSI device has some method of setting its SCSI ID. The trick is figuring out how while holding the device in your hand. A SCSI device can use jumpers, DIP switches, or even tiny dials; each new SCSI device is a new adventure as you try to determine how to set your SCSI ID.

NOTE Older SCSI hardware allowed SCSI IDs 0 through 7 only. Termination Every time you send a signal down a cable, part of that signal is reflected back on the cable, creating an echo and causing electronic chaos. SCSI chains use termination to avoid this problem. Termination simply means putting something on the ends of the cable to prevent this echo. Terminators are usually pull-down resistors and can manifest in many different ways. Most devices inside a PC have the proper termination built in. On other devices, including SCSI chains and some network cables, you must configure termination during installation. The rule with SCSI is that you should only terminate the ends of the SCSI chain. You must terminate both ends of the cable, which generally means that you must terminate both devices at the ends of the cable. Do not terminate devices that are not at the ends of the cable. Figure 11-32 shows some examples of where to terminate SCSI devices.

Figure 11-32 Location of Terminated Devices Because any SCSI device can be at the end of a chain, most manufacturers build SCSI devices that can be self-terminating. Some devices can detect that they are at the end of the SCSI chain and terminate automatically. However, most devices require you to set a jumper or switch to enable termination (see Figure 11-33).

Figure 11-33 Termination Configuration Data Protection with RAID Ask Experienced Technicians "What is the most expensive part of a PC?" and everyone will respond in the same way: "It's the data." You can replace any part of your PC for a few hundred dollars tops, but if you lose critical data, well, let's just say I know of two small businesses that went out of business because they lost a hard drive full of data.

Data is king; Data is the life of your PC. Data loss is a bad thing, so you need some method to avoid data loss. Of course, you can make backups, but if a hard drive fails, you have to shut down the computer, reinstall a new hard drive, reinstall the operating system, and then restore the backup. There's nothing wrong with this, as long as you can afford the time and cost of shutting down the system. However, a better solution would be to save your data if a hard drive were to fail and allow you to continue working throughout the process. This is possible if you stop relying on a single hard drive and instead use two or more drives to store your data. Sounds good, but how do you do this? Well, first of all, you could install some fancy hard drive controller that reads and writes data to two hard drives simultaneously (see Figure 11-34). The data on each drive would always be identical. One drive would be the primary drive and the other drive, called the mirror drive, would not be used unless the primary drive failed. This process of reading and writing data to two drives at the same time is called disk mirroring.

Figure 11-34 Mirrored drives If you really want to protect your data, you can use a separate controller for each drive. With two drives each on a separate controller, the system will continue to run even if the main drive controller goes down. This super-drive mirroring technique is called disk mirroring (see Figure 11-35). Disk mirroring is also much faster than disk mirroring because a controller does not write each piece of data twice.

Figure 11-35 Drive Mirroring Although mirroring is faster than mirroring, both are slower than the classic one drive and one controller configuration. You can use multiple drives to increase the speed of accessing your hard drive. Disk striping (no parity) means distributing data across multiple (at least two) drives. Disk striping by itself does not provide redundancy. If you save a small Microsoft Word file, for example, the file is divided into several parts; half of the pieces go in one unit and half in the other (see Figure 11-36).

Figure 11-36 Disk striping The only advantage of disk striping is speed: it is a fast way to read and write to hard drives. But if either drive fails, all data is lost. You should not do disk striping unless you are willing to increase the risk of losing data to increase the speed at which your hard drives save and restore data. Striping with parity, by contrast, protects data by adding additional information, called parity data, that can be used to rebuild the data if one of the drives fails. Disk striping with parity requires at least three drives, but it is common to use more than three. Disk striping with parity combines the best of disk mirroring and raw disk striping. It protects data and is quite fast. Most network servers use a type of disk striping with parity. RAID A couple of smart folks at Berkeley in the 1980s orchestrated the many techniques for using multiple drives for data protection and increasing speeds like Redundant Array of Independent (or Inexpensive) Disks (RAID). They described seven RAID levels, numbered 0 through 6: • RAID 0: Striping Disk striping requires at least two drives. It does not provide redundancy to the data. If any drive fails, all data is lost. • RAID 1 – Mirroring/Disk Mirroring RAID 1 arrays require at least two hard drives, but any even number of drives will also work. RAID 1 is the ultimate in security, but loses storage space

because the data is duplicated; you need two 100 GB drives to store 100 GB of data. • RAID 2: Striping Disks with Multiple Parity Drives RAID 2 was a weird RAID idea that never saw any practical use. ignore it. • RAID 3 and 4: Striping Drives with Dedicated Parity RAID 3 and 4 combined dedicated data drives with dedicated parity drives. The differences between the two are trivial. Unlike RAID 2, these versions saw some real-world use, but were quickly superseded by RAID 5. • RAID 5: Disk Striping with Distributed Parity Instead of dedicated parity and data drives, RAID 5 stripes data and parity information uniformly across all drives. . This is the fastest way to provide data redundancy. RAID 5 is by far the most common RAID implementation and requires at least three drives. RAID 5 arrays effectively use a drive's space for parity. If, for example, you have three 200 GB drives, your total storage capacity is 400 GB. If you have four 200 GB drives, your total capacity is 600 GB. • RAID 6 – Striping with added parity If you lose a hard drive in a RAID 5 array, your data is at great risk until you replace the failed hard drive and rebuild the array. RAID 6 is RAID 5 with additional parity information. RAID 6 needs at least five drives, but in return you can lose up to two drives at the same time. RAID 6 is gaining popularity among those willing to use larger arrays.

NOTE An array in the context of RAID refers to a collection of two or more hard drives. No technology worth its salt says things like "We are implementing disk striping with parity." Use the RAID level. Say: "We are implementing RAID 5." It is more accurate and very impressive for the people in the accounting department! After these early RAID levels were defined, some manufacturers came up with ways to combine different RAIDs. For example, what happens if you take two pairs of striped units and double the pairs? You would get what is called RAID 0+1. Or what would happen if (read this carefully now) you took two pairs of mirrored drives and striped the pairs apart? Then you get what we call RAID 1+0 or what is often called RAID 10. Combinations of different single RAID types are called multiple RAID or nested RAID solutions.

NOTE There is actually a term for a storage system made up of multiple independent disks rather than RAID-organized disks: JBOD, which simply means an array of disks (or drives). RAID Implementation RAID levels describe different methods of providing data redundancy or improving the speed of data throughput to and from groups of hard drives. They don't say how to implement these methods. There are literally thousands of methods that can be used to configure RAID. Which method you use largely depends on the RAID level you want, the operating system you use, and the thickness of your wallet. The obvious starting point for RAID is to connect at least two hard drives in some way to create a

RAID array. For many years, if you wanted to do RAID beyond RAID 0 and RAID 1, the only technology you could use was SCSI. SCSI chaining multiple devices to a single controller made it a natural for RAID. SCSI drives make great RAID arrays, but the high cost of SCSI drives and RAID-capable host adapters kept RAID away from all but the most critical systems, typically large file servers. In recent years, substantial advances in ATA technology have made ATA a viable alternative to SCSI drive technology for RAID arrays. Specialized ATA RAID controller cards support ATA RAID arrays of up to 15 drives, enough to meet even the most complex RAID needs. In addition, serial ATA's inherent hot-swap capabilities have virtually guaranteed that serial ATA will quickly take over the lower end of the RAID business. Personally, I think the price and performance of Serial ATA means that SCSI's days are numbered. Once you have multiple hard drives, the next question is whether to use hardware or software to control the array. Let's look at both options. Hardware vs. Software All RAID implementations fall into either hardware or software methods. The software is often used when price takes precedence over performance. Hardware is used when you need speed along with data redundancy. Software RAID does not require special drivers; you can use regular ATA controllers, SATA controllers, or SCSI host adapters to create a software RAID array. But you do need "smart" software. The most common software implementation of RAID is the embedded software RAID that comes with Windows 2008 Server and Windows Server 2008 R2. The Disk Management program in these versions of Windows Server can configure drives for RAID 0, 1, or 5 and works with PATA, SATA, and/or SCSI (see Figure 11-37). Disk Management in Windows XP and Windows Vista can only perform RAID 0, while Windows 7 Disk Management can perform RAID 0 and 1.

Figure 11-37 Computer Management Disk Management tool in Windows Server 2008 R2 Windows Disk Management isn't the only RAID software suite available. Various third-party software programs work with Windows or other operating systems. Software RAID means that the operating system is in charge of all RAID functions. It works for small RAID solutions, but tends to overload your operating system easily, leading to slowdowns. When you really need to keep going, when you need a RAID that doesn't even let users know a problem has occurred, hardware RAID is the answer. Hardware RAID centers on an intelligent controller, either a SCSI host adapter or a PATA/SATA controller that handles all RAID functions (see Figure 11-38). Unlike a normal PATA/SATA controller or SCSI host adapter, these controllers have chips that have their own processor and memory. This allows the card, rather than the operating system, to handle all of the RAID implementation work.

Figure 11-38 Serial ATA RAID Controller Most RAID configurations in the real world are based on hardware. Almost all of the many hardware RAID solutions provide hot-swapping: the ability to replace a failed drive without disturbing the operating system. Hot swapping is common in hardware RAID. Hardware-based RAID is invisible to the operating system and is configured in a number of ways, depending on the specific chips involved. Most RAID systems have a special configuration utility in Flash ROM that you access after CMOS but before the operating system loads. Figure 11-39 shows a typical firmware program used to configure a hardware RAID solution.

Figure 11-39 Personal RAID Configuration Utility

Due to drastic reductions in the cost of ATA RAID controller chips, in recent years we have seen an explosion of ATA-based hardware RAID solutions built into mainstream motherboards. While this "ATA RAID on Motherboard" began with Parallel ATA, the introduction of Serial ATA made motherboards with built-in RAID extremely common. These personal RAID motherboards may be common, but they are not used as often since these RAID solutions generally only provide RAID 0 or RAID 1. If you want to use RAID, spend a few extra bucks and buy a RAID 5 controller.

NOTE RAID controllers are not just for internal drives; some models can handle multiple eSATA drives configured in any of the RAID levels. If you're lucky, you can create a RAID array using internal and external SATA drives. The future is RAID RAID has been around for about 20 years, but until recently it was the domain of large systems and deep pockets. However, over those 20 years, a number of factors came together to make RAID a reality for both large servers and common desktop systems. Imagine a world where dirt cheap RAID on every computer means no one ever loses critical data again. I get goosebumps just thinking about it! Installing Drives Installing a drive is a fairly simple process if you take the time to make sure you have the right drive for your system, configure the drive correctly, and run a few quick tests to see if it works correctly. Since PATA, SATA, and SCSI have different cabling requirements, we'll look at them separately. Choosing the unit First, decide where you will place the unit. Look for an open ATA connection. Is it PATA or SATA? Is it a dedicated RAID controller? Many motherboards with built-in RAID controllers have a CMOS setting that allows you to enable or disable RAID (see Figure 11-40).

Figure 11-40 RAID Configuration in CMOS Second, make sure you have room for the drive in the cage. Where will you place it? Do you have a spare power connector? Will the data and power cables reach the drive? A quick fit test is always a good idea. Jumpers and cabling on PATA drives If you only have one hard drive, set the drive jumpers to primary or independent. If you have two drives, set one as the master and the other as the slave. See Figure 11-41 for a close-up of a PATA hard drive, showing the jumpers.

Figure 11-41 Master/slave jumpers on a hard drive

At first glance, you may notice that the jumpers are not actually labeled master and slave. So how do you know how to set them correctly? The easiest way is to read the front of the unit; most drives have a diagram on the case that explains how to properly set the jumpers. Figure 11-42 shows the label for one of these drives, so you can see how to set the drive as master or slave.

Figure 11-42 Drive label showing Hard drives may have other jumpers that may or may not concern you during installation. A common set of jumpers is used for diagnostics at the manufacturing plant or for special configurations on other types of devices that use hard drives. Ignore them; they have no influence in the PC world. Second, many drives provide a third configuration to use if only one drive is connected to a controller. Often the master and single drive have the same configuration on the hard drive, although some hard drives require separate configurations. Note that the name of the single drive configuration varies between manufacturers. Some use Single; others use 1 Drive or Standalone. Many PATA hard drives use a jumper setting called cable select instead of master or slave. As the name implies, the position on the cable determines which unit will be master or slave: master at the end, slave in the middle. For cable select to work correctly with two drives, you must configure both drives as cable select and the cable itself must be a special cable select cable. If you see a ribbon cable with a pinhole through one cable, look out! That is a cable select cable. If you don't see a label on the drive telling you how to set the jumpers, you have several options. First, check the drive manufacturer's website. All drive manufacturers list their drive jumper settings on the Web, although finding the information you want can take a while. Second, try calling the hard drive manufacturer directly. Unlike many other PC part manufacturers, hard drive producers tend to stay in business for a long time and offer excellent technical support. Hard drive cables have a colored stripe that corresponds to pin number one, called pin 1, on the connector. You need to make sure that pin 1 of the controller is on the same wire as pin 1 of the hard drive. If you do not connect the drive correctly, it will also prevent the PC from recognizing the drive. If you incorrectly set the master/slave jumpers or the cable to the hard drives, you won't break anything; it just won't work. Finally, you need to connect a Molex connector from the power supply to the drive. All modern PATA drives use a Molex connector.


NOTE Most high-speed ATA 66/100/133 cables are compatible with the cable selection: try one and

SATA Drive Cabling Installing SATA hard drives is even easier than installing PATA devices because there are no master, slave, or cable selection settings to change. In fact, there is no need to worry about jumper settings, since SATA only supports a single device per controller channel. Simply connect power and plug in the controller cable as shown in Figure 11-43, the drive is automatically detected by the operating system and ready to go. The coding of the SATA controller and power cables makes it impossible to install them incorrectly.

Figure 11-43 Correctly Connected SATA Cable The biggest problem with SATA drives is that many motherboards come with four or more. Sure, the wiring is easy enough, but what do you do when it's time to boot up the computer and the system is trying to find the right hard drive to boot from? That's where CMOS (which you'll read about a little later) comes into play. Connecting Solid State Drives Install a solid state drive as you would any PATA or SATA drive. As with the previous types of hard drives, you connect SSDs correctly and they work, or you connect them incorrectly and they don't work. If they fail, nine times out of ten they will need to be replaced.

NOTE Installation of removable solid-state media, such as USB thumb drives and flash memory cards (such as SD cards), is covered in Chapter 13.

You're more likely to come across solid-state drives today in laptops. SSDs are expensive and offer much less storage capacity compared to traditional hard drives. Because they require much less electricity to run, on the other hand, they make a lot of sense in laptops where battery life is of the essence. You can often use solid-state drives to replace the existing disk-based drives in laptops. Keep the following considerations in mind before installing or replacing an existing HDD with an SSD: • Does the system currently use a PATA or SATA interface? You need to make sure that your solid state drive can connect properly. • Do you have the proper drivers and firmware for the SSD? This is especially important if you are running Windows XP. Windows Vista and 7, on the other hand, are likely to load most currently implemented SSD drivers. As always, check the manufacturer's specifications before doing anything. • Do you have everything important backed up? Good! You are ready to shut down the system, unplug the battery, ground yourself, and join the wonderful world of solid state.

TIP SSDs are more reliable and more expensive than traditional hard drives. They use less power overall, have smaller form factors, are quiet, and use NAND (non-volatile flash memory) technology to store and retrieve data. They can retrieve (read) data much faster than typical hard drives. SSDs address the many shortcomings of traditional HDDs. With solid-state technology, there are no moving metal parts, use less power, come in smaller form factors, and you can access that fancy PowerPoint presentation you created and saved almost instantly. In geek terms, there is little to no latency involved in accessing fragmented data with solid-state drives.

CAUTION Do not defrag an SSD! Because solid-state drives access data without first searching for that data on the surface of a physical drive, there's never any reason to defragment one. Also, SSDs have a limited (albeit massive) number of read/write operations before they become expensive paperweights, and are hungrily used by the defragmentation process. Connecting SCSI Drives Connecting SCSI drives requires three things. You must use a driver that works with your drive. You must set unique SCSI IDs on the controller and drive. You must also connect the ribbon cable and power connections correctly. With SCSI, you must connect the data cable correctly. You can reverse a PATA cable, for example, and nothing happens except that the drive doesn't work. However, if you reverse a SCSI cable, you can seriously damage the drive. As with the PATA cables, pin 1 of the SCSI data cable must go to pin 1 on both the drive and the host adapter.

NOTE Do not let your hard drive fall into its case. Remember to take a screwdriver and screw the hard drive into a slot on its case. BIOS Support: CMOS Setup and Driver Installation Every device on your PC needs BIOS support, and hard drive controllers are no exception. Motherboards provide support for ATA hard drive controllers through the system BIOS, but require CMOS configuration for the specific attached hard drives. SCSI drives require software or firmware drivers on the host adapter. In the old days, you had to boot to CMOS and manually enter the CHS information every time you installed a new ATA drive to make sure the drive was seen by the system. Today, this process is automated. In fact, if you just plug in a hard drive and turn on your computer, there's a 99 percent chance that your BIOS and operating system will figure everything out for you. Driver Configuration As the first step in configuring drivers, make sure they are enabled. Most drivers stay active, ready to automatically detect new drives, but you can disable them. Browse your CMOS settings to locate the controller power on/off options (see Figure 11-44 for typical settings). This is also the time to check if your onboard RAID controllers work in RAID and non-RAID configurations.

Figure 11-44 Typical driver settings in auto CMOS detection

If the drivers are enabled and the drive is properly connected, the drive should show up in CMOS through a process called autodetect. Auto detection is a powerful and useful feature that takes almost all the work out of configuring hard drives. Is that how it works. One of your hard drives stores the operating system needed when you start your computer, and your system needs a way to know where to look for this operating system. The older BIOS supported a maximum of only four ATA drives on two controllers, called the primary controller and the secondary controller. The BIOS looked for the master drive on the main controller when the system started. If you used only one controller, you used the main controller. The secondary drive was used for CD-ROM, DVD, or other non-bootable drives. The older CMOS made this clear and easy, as shown in Figure 11-45. When it booted, the CMOS queried the drives via auto-detect, and any drives that CMOS saw, showed up here. In some even older CMOS, you had to run a special menu option called Auto Detect to see the drives on this screen. There are places for up to four devices; notice that not all of them have a device.

Figure 11-45 Old Standard CMOS Settings The auto detect screen indicated that you installed a PATA drive successfully. If you installed a hard drive on the main controller as master but messed up the jumper and set it as slave, it showed up on the auto detect screen as slave. If you had two drives and set them as master, one or the other drive (or sometimes both) would not show up, indicating that something was wrong with the physical installation. If you forgot to plug in the ribbon cable or power, the drives would not be automatically detected. SATA changed auto-sensing happiness. The SATA world has nothing like master, slave, or even primary and secondary controller. To prevent this, motherboards with SATA use a numbering system, and each motherboard uses its own numbering system! A common numbering method uses the term channels for each controller. The first boot device is channel 1, the second is channel 2, and so on. (PATA channels can have a master and a slave, but a SATA channel has only one master, because

SATA controllers only support one drive). So instead of unit names you will see numbers. See Figure 11-46.

Figure 11-46 New standard CMOS functions Phew! Lots of hard drives! This motherboard supports six SATA connections. Each connection is numbered, with hard drives on SATA 1 and SATA 2, and the optical drive on SATA 6. The BIOS detected and configured each one automatically without any intervention from me. Oh, to live in the future! Boot Order If you want your computer to work, it will need an operating system to boot. While the PCs of our ancestors (the 1980s and early 1990s) absolutely required you to put the OS on the primary master, BIOS manufacturers eventually allowed you to put the OS on either four drives and then tell the system via CMOS which hard drive to boot from. With the sheer number of SATA drives available in modern systems, you're not even limited to just four options. Also, you may need to boot from an optical disc, USB stick, or even a floppy disk (if you're feeling retro). CMOS takes care of this by allowing you to set a boot order.

NOTE The boot order is the first place to look when you see this boot error: Invalid Boot Disk The system is attempting to boot to a non-bootable disk. Remove any devices that might precede the desired device in the boot order.

Figure 11-47 shows a typical boot order screen, with a first, second, and third boot option. Many users like to boot from the optical drive first and then from a hard drive. This allows them to put in a bootable optical drive if they have problems with the system. You can of course set it to boot from your hard drive first and then go to CMOS and change it when you need to, it's your choice.

Figure 11-47 Boot Order Most modern CMOS setup utilities include a second screen for determining the boot order of your hard drives. You might want to set up a boot order that goes from the optical drive, followed by the hard drive, and then the USB thumb drive, but what if you have more than one hard drive? This screen allows you to set which hard drive goes first. If you have a different operating system on each hard drive, this can be very useful. Enabling AHCI On motherboards that support AHCI, it implements it in CMOS. Usually you will have up to three options: IDE or compatibility mode, AHCI or RAID. Use compatibility mode to install older operating systems, such as Windows XP. Going to AHCI or RAID enables the AHCI option for the HBA.

802 Hard Drive Installation Troubleshooting A technician's best friend when it comes to hard drive installation troubleshooting is the auto-detect feature of the CMOS setup utility. When a drive doesn't work, the most important question, especially during installation, is "Did I connect it correctly?" With automatic detection, the answer is simple: if the drive is not seen by the system, something is wrong with the hardware configuration. Either a device physically failed or, more likely, you didn't power on the hard drive, plugged in a cable backwards, or messed up some other connectivity issue.

To install a drive and have it recognized by the system, you need three or four things: jumpers (PATA only), data cable, power, and the CMOS setting that recognizes the drive. If you skip or mess up any of these steps, you have a drive that doesn't exist according to PC! To troubleshoot hard drives, simply follow each step to find out what went wrong. First, remember to set your PATA drive as Master, Slave, Standalone, or Cable Select, depending on where you decide to install it. If a drive is alone on the cable, configure it as master or standalone. With two drives, one must be a master and the other a slave. Alternatively, you can configure both units for cable select and use one cable select cable. Second, you need to connect the data cable to both the drive and the controller, pin 1 to pin 1. Reversing the data cable on one end is very easy to do, especially with rounded cables. They obviously don't have a big red stripe on the side to indicate the location of pin 1! If it cannot auto detect the drive, please check the wiring. Third, be sure to power up the hard drive. PATA hard drives use a standard Molex connector and SATA drives use the SATA power connector. If you don't hear the drive hum, be sure to plug in a Molex from the power source instead of another source, such as an unplugged fan. You'd be surprised how often I've seen that. Fourth, you need to make sure that the BIOS recognizes your hard drive. Use the CMOS setup program to verify. Most of the time, however, everything is automatic. Once you have verified the physical connections, run these issues in CMOS. Is the driver enabled? Is the storage technology (LBA, INT13, ATA/ATAPI-6) configured correctly? Similarly, can the motherboard support the type of drive you are installing? If not, you have a couple of options. You can update the BIOS with an updated BIOS from the manufacturer or obtain a hard disk controller that inserts into an expansion slot. Finally, with non-integrated hard drive controllers, like the ones that come with many SATA drives, make sure you have installed the proper drivers for the controller. Driver problems can arise with new and very large drives and with changes in technology. Always check the manufacturer's website for new drivers.

Beyond A+ Hybrid Hard Drives Windows Vista and Windows 7 support Hybrid Hard Drives (HHDs), drives that combine flash memory and spinning platters for fast, reliable storage, and offer ReadyBoost for faster caching and booting . Samsung has 128MB and 256MB flash cache drives, for example, which cut boot times in half and, since the platters don't have to spin all the time, add an extra 20 to 30 minutes of battery life. for portable devices. computers. Adding a lot more runtime with only a small price premium and no extra weight is the holy grail of portable computing.

Chapter Review Questions 1. John's system is running INT13 extensions. What is the maximum hard drive size it can support?

A. 504 GB B. 137 GB C. 10 GB D. 8.4 GB 2. How many PATA hard drives can you have in a system with two PATA hard drive controllers? A. 1 B. 2 C. 3 D. 4 3. How do you tell two PATA drives on the same cable? A. The ribbon cable has a twist of seven wires that determines which is which. B. Set jumpers on individual drives to determine which is master and which is slave. C. The PATA controller determines the hierarchy. D. Both units are considered equal. 4. What happens if you incorrectly cable a PATA hard drive? A. You can destroy that hard drive. B. The data will be erased, but the hard drive will be fine. C. The system will not be able to communicate with that hard drive. D. Nothing. It doesn't matter how the cable is configured; it does not have the seven-wire twist. 5. John needs to install an old ATA/100 compliant hard drive to verify the contents before recycling it. However, looking through his connector box, he doesn't find any 80-wire cable, just a 40-wire cable. If he installs the ATA/100 drive with a 40-wire EIDE cable, what will happen? A. The drive will work but it will not work at ATA/100 speed. B. It could damage the motherboard. C. He will not be able to install the unit because the cables are incompatible. D. It will not be able to run in ATA mode.

6. What is the maximum cable length for an internal SATA device? A. 2 meters B. 12 inches C. 18 inches D. 1 meter 7. Which of the following is part of the ATA-7 standard? A. Red controller connections on motherboard B. SATA C. ATA/100 D. Maximum cable length 1 meter 8. What is the maximum number of SATA drives you can have in a system? A. One master, one slave B. Two, no master/slave distinction C. Eight D. There is no maximum other than your motherboard limitations. 9. Simon wants to connect his old PATA hard drive to the SATA controller on his new computer. What does he need to do this? A. He needs a SATA jumper to connect to the drive's PATA connector. B. You need a PATA converter to connect to the controller's SATA bridge. C. Nothing at all; he can simply connect the PATA drive directly to the SATA controller. D. he can't do it; the SATA controller is not compatible with PATA drives. 10. What is a series of SCSI devices that work together through a host adapter called? A. A SCSI controller B. A SCSI chain C. RAID D. SCSI cabling

Answers 1. B. A system running INT13 extensions can support a hard drive of up to 137 GB. 2. D. Each controller supports two drives. 3. B. PATA drives use master/slave jumpers to differentiate between the two drives. 4. C. Nothing will be damaged or lost, there will simply be no communication. 5. A. ATA/100 drives work fine with a 40-wire cable, they just won't work at ATA/100 speed. 6. D. The maximum cable length of an internal SATA device is 1 meter. 7. B. Serial ATA is part of the ATA-7 standard. 8. D. There is no maximum number of SATA drives you can have in a system beyond the limits imposed by the number of ports on your motherboard/host card. 9. A. Simon needs a SATA jumper to plug into the PATA drive connector to connect his old PATA hard drive to the SATA controller. 10. B. A series of SCSI devices that work together through a host adapter is a SCSI chain.

12 Implementation of hard drives


In this chapter, you will learn to: • Explain the partitions available in Windows • Discuss hard drive formatting options • Partition and format hard drives • Maintain and troubleshoot hard drives From your PC's point of view, a newly installed is nothing more than a huge stack of sectors. Sure, CMOS recognizes it as a drive, always a step in the right direction, but your operating system has no idea without more information. Your operating system must organize those sectors so that you can use the drive to store data. This chapter covers that process.

NOTE This chapter uses the term “hard drive” as a generic term that covers all of the types of drives you learned about in Chapter 11. Once you enter Windows, the operating system doesn't particularly care if the drive is a hard drive based on on disk. disk drive (HDD), a flash-based solid-state drive (SSD), or some hybrid combination of the two. The tools and steps to prepare the drives for data are the same.

Historical/Conceptual After you've successfully installed a hard drive, you must perform two more steps to translate a drive's geometry and circuitry into something the system can use: partitioning and formatting. Partitioning is the process of electronically subdividing the physical hard drive into smaller units called partitions. A hard drive must have at least one partition, and you can create multiple partitions on a single hard drive if you want. In Windows, each of these partitions is typically assigned a drive letter such as C: or D:. After partitioning, you need to format the drive. Formatting installs a file system on the drive that organizes each partition in such a way that the operating system can store files and folders on the drive. Windows uses several types of file systems. This chapter will discuss them after covering partitioning. Partitioning and formatting a drive is one of the few remaining areas on the software side of PC assembly that requires you to perform a rather complex series of manual steps. The CompTIA A+ 220-802 exam tests your knowledge of what these processes do to make the drive work, as well as the steps required to partition and format hard drives in Windows XP, Vista, and 7. This chapter continues disk exploration. hard drive installation explaining partitioning and formatting and then going through the process of partitioning and formatting hard drives. The chapter concludes with a discussion of hard drive maintenance and troubleshooting issues.

hard drive partitions

Partitions provide great flexibility in organizing your hard drive. With partitions, you can organize a drive according to your personal taste. For example, I divided my 1.5 terabyte (TB) hard drive into a 250 GB partition where I store Windows 7 and all my programs, a second 250 GB partition for Windows Vista, and a 1 TB partition where I store all my programs. personal. data. This is a matter of personal choice; In my case, backups are easier because the data is stored in a partition and I can back up that partition without including the applications. You can partition a hard drive to store more than one operating system: store one operating system in one partition and create a second partition for another operating system. Of course, most people use just one operating system, but if you want the option of booting into Windows or Linux, partitions are the key.

802 Windows supports three different partitioning methods: the older but more universal Master Boot Record (MBR) partition scheme, the Windows proprietary heap partition scheme, and the GUID Partition Table (GPT). Microsoft calls a hard disk that uses the MBR partitioning scheme or the GPT partitioning scheme a basic disk, and a drive that uses the dynamic storage partitioning scheme is called a dynamic disk. A single Windows system with three hard drives can have one disk partitioned with MBR, another with GPT, and the third configured as a dynamic disk, and the system will work just fine. The bottom line? You will learn about three totally different types of partitions! I'll also cover some other types of partitions, like hidden partitions, tell you when you can and should create your partitions, and demystify some of Microsoft's partition naming confusion. Master Boot Record The first sector of an MBR hard drive contains the Master Boot Record (MBR). To clarify, hard drives that use the MBR partition scheme have a small amount of data that is also called the "master boot record." As your computer boots, BIOS looks for instructions in the first sector of your hard drive. At this point, it doesn't matter what operating system you use or how many partitions you have. Without this code snippet, your operating system will never load.

NOTE Drives with MBR partitions are often referred to as "MBR drives" by technicians. The same goes for GPT partitioned drives, which many technicians refer to as "GPT drives." The master boot record also contains the partition table, which describes the number and size of partitions on the disk (see Figure 12-1). MBR partition tables support up to four partitions: The partition table is large enough to store entries for only four partitions. The instructions in the master boot record use this table to determine which partition contains the active operating system.

Figure 12-1 The Master Boot Record After the MBR locates the appropriate partition, the partition's boot sector loads the operating system on that partition. The partition boot sector stores important information for your partition, such as the location of the operating system boot files (see Figure 12-2).

Figure 12-2 Using the master boot record to start an operating system

TESTING HINT There is only one master boot record and one partition table within that master boot record per MBR disk. Each partition has a partition boot sector. MBR partition tables support two types of partitions: primary partitions and extended partitions. Primary partitions are designed to support bootable operating systems. Extended partitions are not bootable. A single MBR disk can have up to four primary partitions or three primary partitions and one extended partition. Primary partitions and multiple operating systems

Primary partitions are usually assigned drive letters and appear in My Computer/Computer (once you format them). The first primary partition in Windows is always C:. After that, you can label the partitions D: to Z:.

NOTE Partitions do not always get drive letters. See the "Mount partitions as folders" section later in this chapter for more details. Only primary partitions can start operating systems. On an MBR disk, you can easily install four different operating systems, for example, each operating system on its own primary partition, and boot at your choice every time you turn on the computer. Each primary partition on a single drive has a special configuration stored in the partition table called active that determines the active partition. The MBR finds the active partition and boots the operating system on that partition. Only one partition can be active at a time because it can only run one operating system at a time (see Figure 12-3).

Figure 12-3 The active partition containing Windows To control multiboot configurations, many people use a free Linux-based boot manager called Grand Unified Bootloader (GRUB), shown in Figure 12-4, although some people prefer Avanquest Software's Partition Commander to set up partitions. When the computer boots, the boot manager software boots the MBR check and asks you which operating system you want to boot. Once a partition is set active, the partition's boot sector loads the operating system.

Figure 12-4 GRUB in action Extended partitions With a limit of four partitions, an MBR disk would be limited to only four drive letters if it uses only primary partitions. An extended partition exceeds this limit. An extended partition can contain multiple logical drives, each of which can have a drive letter (see Figure 12-5).

Figure 12-5 An extended partition containing multiple logical drives A logical drive functions as a primary partition; usually you get a drive letter like D: or E:, but you can't boot an operating system from it. You format it like you would a primary partition. The only difference is that each logical drive is actually in the same extended partition.

QUIZ TIP Extended partitions do not receive drive letters, but logical drives within an extended partition do. Dynamic Disks With the introduction of Windows 2000, Microsoft defined an entirely new type of partitioning called dynamic storage partitioning, better known as dynamic disks. A disk structure created with a dynamic disk is called a volume by Microsoft. There is no dynamic disk equivalent to primary vs. extended partitions. A dynamic disk volume is still technically a partition, but it can do things that a normal partition can't.


NOTE The terms "volume" and "partition" refer to the same thing: a defined part of your

First of all, when you convert a hard drive to a dynamic drive, you can create as many volumes as you want. You are not limited to four partitions. Second, you can create, in software, new drive structures that you can't do with MBR drives. Specifically, you can implement RAID, span volumes across multiple drives, and span volumes across one drive.

or more units. Table 12-1 shows you which version of Windows supports which type of volume.

Table 12-1 Compatibility of dynamic disks

EXAM TIP Only high-end editions of each version of Windows support dynamic disks. This includes Windows XP Professional; Windows Vista Business, Ultimate and Enterprise; and Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise. Simple volumes work much like primary partitions. If you have a hard drive and you want half to be E: and half to be F:, for example, create two volumes on a dynamic disk. That's all. Spanned volumes use unallocated space on multiple drives to create a single volume. Spanned volumes are a bit risky: if any of the spanned drives fail, the entire volume is lost. Striped volumes are RAID 0 volumes. You can take two Unallocated spaces on two separate hard drives and strip them. But then again, if either drive fails, you will lose all your data. Mirrored volumes are RAID 1 volumes. You can take two Unallocated space on two separate hard drives and mirror them. If one of the two mirrored drives fails, the other continues to function. RAID 5 volumes, as the name suggests, are for RAID 5 arrays. A RAID 5 volume requires three or more dynamic disks with equal size unallocated spaces. The GUID Partition Table MBR partition came along a long time ago, at a time when 32MB hard drives were more than would ever be needed. While it has long endured as the partitioning standard for boot drives, there's a new kid in town with the power to outshine the old partitioning scheme and take over all the functions of the old partitioning style. The globally unique identifier (GPT) partition table shares much with the MBR partitioning scheme, but most of the limitations of the MBR scheme have been fixed. Here are the big improvements: • While MBR drives are limited to four partitions, a GPT drive can have an almost unlimited number of primary partitions. Microsoft has limited Windows to 128 partitions.

• MBR partitions cannot be larger than 2.2TB, but GPT partitions have no such restrictions. Well, there is a maximum size limit, but it's so big that we measure it in zettabytes. A zettabyte, by the way, is a million terabytes. • Remember all the lies MBR drives had to tell the BIOS to make Logical Block Addressing (LBA) look like Cylinder Head Sector (CHS) values? With GPT disks, the lies are over. GPT partitioning supports LBA out of the box. On paper, a GPT drive looks a lot like an MBR drive, except that it's organized by LBA instead of sectors (see Figure 12-6). LBA 0, for example, is the protective MBR. This is a recreation of the MBR drives master boot record so disk utilities know it is a GPT drive and won't mistakenly overwrite any partition data.

Figure 12-6 GUID Partition Table Instead of the old master boot record and partition table, GPT drives use a GPT header and partition entry array. Both are located at the beginning and end of the disk, so there is a protected backup. The partitions on a GPT drive go between the primary and backup headers and arrays, as shown in Figure 126. You can configure only 64-bit versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7 to boot from GPT if you are using a UEFI motherboard. All other operating systems have no luck when it comes to booting, but every current version of Windows can use GPT on additional non-bootable drives.

NOTE You first encountered UEFI in Chapter 8 in the "Beyond A+" section. Although UEFI is not currently in the exams, it is important for modern technicians to understand. So if you can't remember the details, revisit that chapter. Other Partition Types The partition types supported by Windows aren't the only partition types you may encounter; other

there are types. One of the most common is called the hidden partition. A hidden partition is really just a primary partition that is hidden from your operating system. Only special BIOS tools can access a hidden partition. Some PC manufacturers use hidden partitions to hide a backup copy of an installed operating system that you can use to restore your system if you accidentally throw it away, for example, by learning about partitions and using a partitioning program incorrectly.

EXAM TIP CompTIA refers to a hidden partition that contains a restorable copy of an installed operating system as a factory recovery partition. A swap partition is another special type of partition, but swap partitions are only found on Linux and BSD systems. The only job of a swap partition is to act as RAM when your system needs more RAM than you have installed. Windows has a similar function with a page file that uses a special file instead of a partition, as you'll recall from Chapter 7. When to partition Partitioning is not a common task. The two most common situations that are likely to require partitioning are when you are installing an operating system on a new system and when you are adding an additional drive to an existing system. When you install a new operating system, the installation disc asks you how you would like to partition the drive. When you add a new hard drive to an existing system, each operating system has a built-in tool to help you partition it. Each version of Windows offers a different tool for partitioning hard drives. For over 20 years, from the days of DOS and early Windows (through Windows Me), we used a command line program called FDISK to partition drives. Figure 12-7 shows the FDISK program. Modern versions of Windows use a graphical partitioning program called Disk Management, shown in Figure 12-8.

Figure 12-7 FDISC

Figure 12-8 Windows 7 Disk Management Tool in Computer Management Linux uses several different tools for partitioning. The older one is called FDISK, yes, the same name as the DOS/Windows version. However, that is where the similarities end, since Linux FDISK has a totally different set of commands. Although every copy of Linux comes with the Linux FDISK, it is rarely used because there are so many better partitioning tools available. One of the newer Linux partitioning tools is called GParted. See the "Beyond A+" section for more information on third-party partitioning tools. In the early days of PCs, you couldn't change the size or type of a partition (other than deleting it) once you'd done it with any Microsoft tool. Some third-party tools, led by PartitionMagic, have given technicians the tools to resize partitions without losing the data they contained. Today's Microsoft tools have more flexibility than the older tools that came with DOS and Windows. Windows XP can non-destructively resize a partition to make it larger, but not smaller. In Windows Vista and Windows 7, you can non-destructively resize partitions by shrinking or expanding existing partitions with available free space. Partition naming issues So far, you've learned that MBR and GPT disks use partitions and dynamic disks use volumes. Unfortunately, Windows Vista and Windows 7 blur this perfectly clear distinction when you use the Disk Management utility. Here's the scoop. When you create a drive structure on an MBR or GPT disk, you create a partition, regardless of which operating system you use. Figure 12-9 shows the partitioning utility in Windows XP with the partitions correctly named (main and extended) and the logical drives in the extended partition. They are shaded gray so that you can easily see the different structures.

Figure 12-9 Windows XP showing very clearly the primary and extended partitions and the logical drives in the extended partition If you create a dynamic drive structure, Windows creates a volume. A dynamic disk volume is owned by Microsoft, so no other tool allows you to create them. Both during installation and in Disk Management, the partition names remain the same. Not so in Windows Vista and Windows 7. During installation, everything is one partition, just like with Windows XP. Here's the really bad punchline. For some reason only understandable to Microsoft marketing people, Microsoft decided to describe the process of creating each drive structure in Windows Vista and Windows 7 in Disk Management as creating a volume (see Figure 12-10). As you'll find out when we get to the partitioning process, you can create primary partitions, extended partitions, and logical drives in Disk Management, but you'll create them as volumes.

Figure 12-10 New Volume Option Formatting the Hard Drive Once you've partitioned a hard drive, there's one more step you must perform before your operating system can use that drive: formatting. Formatting does two things: it creates a file system, such as a library card catalog, and it creates the root directory on that file system. You should format each partition and volume that you create so that it can contain data that you can easily recover. The various versions of Windows you're likely to encounter today can use a number of different file systems, so we'll look at them in detail below. The root directory provides the base on which the operating system creates files and folders.

NOTE If you've ever been in a library and walked past all the Internet-connected computers, down the stairs into a dark basement, you may have seen a dusty set of drawers filled with cards with information on every book in the library. This is a "card catalog" system, invented over 2000 years ago. These days, you probably won't find this phrase anywhere outside of the explanations for the format. File systems in Windows Every version of Windows comes with a built-in formatting utility with which to create one or more files.

systems on a partition or volume. Versions of Windows in use today support three separate Microsoft file systems: FAT16, FAT32, and NTFS. The simplest hard drive file system, called FAT or FAT16, provides a good introduction to how file systems work. The more complex file systems solve many of the problems inherent in FAT and also add additional features. FAT The base storage area for hard drives is a sector; each sector stores up to 512 bytes of data. If an operating system stores a file smaller than 512 bytes in a sector, the rest of the sector is wasted. We accept this waste because most files are much larger than 512 bytes. So what happens when an operating system stores a file larger than 512 bytes? The operating system needs a method to fill a sector, find another that is not in use and fill it, continuing to fill sectors until the file is completely stored. Once the operating system stores a file, it must remember which sectors contain the file, so it can be retrieved later. MS-DOS version 2.1 first supported hard drives that used a special data structure to keep track of the data stored on the hard drive, and Microsoft called this structure the File Allocation Table (FAT). Think of the FAT as nothing more than a card catalog that keeps track of which sectors store the various parts of a file. The official slang term for a FAT is data structure, but it's more like a two-column spreadsheet. The left column (see Figure 12-11) gives each sector a hexadecimal number from 0000 to FFFF. You will recall from Chapter 5 that each hexadecimal character represents four binary numbers, or four bits. Therefore, four hexadecimal characters represent 16 bits. If you do the math (216), you will find that there are 65,536 (64K) sectors.

Figure 12-11 16-bit FAT We ​​call this type of FAT 16-bit FAT or FAT16. Not only hard drives have FAT. Many USB flash drives use FAT16. Floppy disks use FAT, but their FATs are only 12-bit because they store much less.

data. The right column of the FAT contains information about the state of the sectors. All hard drives, even new drives straight out of the factory, contain bad sectors that cannot store data due to imperfections in the drive's construction. The operating system must locate these bad sectors, mark them as unusable, and then prevent files from being written to them. This allocation of bad sectors is one of the functions of high-level formatting. After the format program creates the FAT, it proceeds through the entire partition, writing to and attempting to read from each sector sequentially. If it finds a bad sector, it places a special status code (FFF7) at the sector's FAT location, indicating that the sector is unavailable for use. Formatting also marks good sectors as 0000.

NOTE There is "low level formatting", but that is usually done at the factory and is not the concern of technicians. This is especially true if you are working with modern (post 2001) hard drives. However, using FAT to track sectors creates a problem. 16-bit FAT addresses a maximum of 64K (216) locations. Therefore, the size of a hard drive partition should be limited to 64K × 512 bytes per sector, or 32MB. When Microsoft first introduced FAT16, this 32MB limit did not present a problem because most hard drives were only 5-10MB. As the size of hard drives increased, you could use FDISK to divide them into multiple partitions. You could split a 40MB hard drive into two partitions, for example, making each partition less than 32MB. But as hard drives became much larger, Microsoft realized that the 32MB limit for drives was unacceptable. We needed an improvement on 16-bit FAT, a new and improved FAT16 that would support larger drives while maintaining backwards compatibility with the old-style 16-bit FAT. This need led to the development of a dramatic enhancement to FAT16, called pooling, which allowed you to format partitions larger than 32 MB (see Figure 12-12). This new FAT16 appeared in the DOS-4 days.

Figure 12-12 Cluster vs. Sector Clustering simply refers to combining a set of contiguous sectors and treating them as a single unit in the FAT. These units are called file allocation units or clusters. Each row of the FAT addressed a group instead of a sector. Unlike sectors, the size of a cluster is not fixed. Clustering improved FAT16, but it still only supported a maximum of 64K storage drives, so the formatter set the number of sectors in each cluster according to the size of the partition. The larger the partition, the more sectors per cluster. This method kept clustering fully compatible with 64K locations on the old 16-bit FAT. The new FAT16 could support partitions up to 2 GB. (The old 16-bit FAT is so old it doesn't really even have a name; if someone says "FAT16" they mean the new FAT16 that supports bundling.) Table 12-2 shows the number of sectors per cluster for FAT16.

Table 12-2 FAT16 cluster sizes FAT16 in action Assume that you have a copy of Windows that uses FAT16. When an application like Microsoft Word tells the operating system to save a file, Windows starts at the beginning of the FAT, looks for the first space marked "open for use" (0000), and starts writing to that cluster. If the entire file fits within that group, Windows places the code FFFF (last group) in the group status area on the FAT. That's called the end-of-file marker. Windows then goes to the folder that stores the file and adds the name of the file and the

cluster number to the folder list. If the file requires more than one cluster, Windows looks for the next open cluster and puts the next cluster number in the status area, completing and adding clusters until the entire file is saved. The last group receives the end of file marker (FFFF). Let's look at an example of this process and start by selecting an arbitrary part of the FAT: from 3ABB to 3AC7. Suppose you want to save a file called mom.txt. Before saving the file, the FAT looks like Figure 12-13.

Figure 12-13 Initial Windows FAT finds the first open cluster, 3ABB, and populates it. But the entire mom.txt file will not fit into that group. Needing more space, the operating system goes through FAT to find the next open cluster. Find the 3ABC cluster. Before filling 3ABC, the value 3ABC is placed in the 3ABB state (see Figure 12-14).

Figure 12-14 The first cluster used Even after filling two clusters, more of the mom.txt file remains, so Windows must find one more cluster. The 3ABD cluster was marked as FFF7 (bad sector or bad cluster marker), so Windows skips 3ABD and finds 3ABE (see Figure 12-15).

Figure 12-15 The second cluster used Before populating 3ABE, Windows enters the value 3ABE into the 3ABC state. Windows does not completely populate 3ABE, which means that the entire mom.txt file has been stored. Windows enters the value FFFF in the 3ABE state, indicating the end of the file (see Figure 12-16).

Figure 12-16 End of file reached After saving all clusters, Windows locates the file folder (yes, folders are clustered too, but they get a different set of clusters, somewhere else on disk) and logs the file name, size, date/time, and initial cluster, like this: mom.txt 19234 05-19-09 2:04p 3ABB If a program requests that file, the process is reversed. Windows locates the folder that contains the file to determine the starting cluster, and then extracts a portion of the file from each cluster until it sees the final file cluster. Windows then delivers the reassembled file to the requesting application. Clearly, without FAT, Windows cannot locate files. FAT16 automatically makes two copies of the FAT. One FAT backs up the other to provide special utilities to recover a corrupted FAT, a painfully common occurrence. Even when FAT works perfectly, over time the files start to get separated in a process called fragmentation. Chunking Continuing with the example, let's use Microsoft Word to save two more files: a letter to the IRS (irsrob.doc) and a letter to IBM (ibmhelp.doc). The irsrob.doc file takes the following three clusters: 3ABF, 3AC0, and 3AC1, and ibmhelp.doc takes two clusters: 3AC2 and 3AC3 (see Figure 12-17).

Figure 12-17 Three files saved Now suppose you delete mom.txt. Windows does not remove the cluster entries for mom.txt when you delete a file. Windows only alters the information in the folder, simply by changing the first letter of mom.txt to the Greek letter Σ (sigma). This causes the file to "disappear" as far as the operating system knows. It will not appear, for example, in Windows Explorer, although the data still resides on the hard drive for now (see Figure 12-18).

Figure 12-18 The deleted mom.txt file Note that, under normal circumstances, Windows does not delete files when you press the DELETE key. Instead, Windows moves the files to a special hidden directory that you can access through the Recycle Bin. The files themselves are not deleted until you empty the Recycle Bin. (You can bypass the Recycle Bin entirely if you like by highlighting a file and then holding down SHIFT when you press DELETE.)

Since all the data in mom.txt is intact, you could use some program to change the Σ back to another letter and thus recover the document. Various third-party recovery tools are available. Figure 12-19 shows one such program in action. Just remember that if you want to use a recovery tool, you have to use it quickly. The space allocated to your deleted file may soon be overwritten by a new file.

Figure 12-19 WinUndelete in action Let's say you just emptied your Recycle Bin. Now save one more file, taxrec.xls, a big spreadsheet that will take six groups, in the same folder Mom once had. txt. As Windows writes the file to the drive, it overwrites the space used by mom.txt, but needs three more clusters. The next three groups available are 3AC4, 3AC5, and 3AC6 (see Figure 12-20).

Figure 12-20 The fragmented taxrec.xls file Notice that taxrec.xls is in two parts, therefore fragmented. Fragmentation happens all the time on FAT16 systems. Although the system easily negotiates a small fragmented file divided into only two parts, excessive fragmentation slows down the system during hard drive reads and writes. This example is broken into two pieces; in the real world, a file can be fragmented into hundreds of parts, forcing read/write heads to travel all over the hard drive to retrieve a single file. You can dramatically improve the speed at which your hard drive reads and writes files by eliminating this fragmentation. Windows comes with a program called Disk Defragmenter, which can rearrange files into neat, contiguous chunks (see Figure 12-21). Defragmentation is crucial to ensure maximum performance from a hard drive. The "Maintaining and Troubleshooting Hard Drives" section of this chapter provides details on working with the various Disk Defragmenters in Windows.

Figure 12-21 Windows FAT32 Disk Defragmenter When Microsoft introduced Windows 95 OSR2 (OEM Service Release 2), it also introduced a completely new file format called FAT32 that brought a couple of dramatic improvements. First, FAT32 supports partitions up to 2TB (more than 2 trillion bytes). Second, as the name implies, FAT32 uses 32 bits to describe each cluster, which means that clusters can be reduced to more reasonable sizes. FAT32's use of so many FAT entries gives it the power to use small clusters, making the old "keep your partitions small" rule obsolete. A 2 GB partition with FAT16 would use 32 KB clusters, while the same 2 GB partition with FAT32 would use 4 KB clusters. You get much more efficient use of disk space with FAT32, without the need to create multiple small partitions. However, FAT32 partitions still need defragmentation just as often as FAT16 partitions. Table 12-3 shows the cluster sizes for FAT32 partitions.

Table 12-3 FAT32 NTFS Cluster Sizes The Windows format of choice these days is the New Technology File System (NTFS). NTFS came out a long time ago with the first version of Windows NT, hence the name. Over the years, NTFS has undergone a number of improvements. The version used in modern Windows is called NTFS 3.1, although you'll see it referred to as NTFS 5.0/5.1. NTFS uses clustering and file allocation tables, but in a much more complex and powerful way compared to FAT or FAT32. NTFS offers six important enhancements and enhancements: redundancy, security, compression, encryption, disk quotas, and cluster size.

NOTE If you're geeky about the version of NTFS you're running, open a prompt and type this command: fsutil fsinfo ntfsinfo c:ntfs structure NTFS uses an improved file allocation table called the master file table (MFT). An NTFS partition keeps a backup copy of the most critical parts of the MFT on the middle of the drive, reducing the possibility that a fatal drive failure could delete both the MFT and the copy of the MFT. Every time you defragment an NTFS partition, you'll see a small irremovable chunk somewhere on the drive, often near the front; that is the MFT (see Figure 12-22).

Figure 12-22 The NTFS MFT appears in a defrag program as gray blocks within a circle. Security NTFS views individual files and folders as objects and provides security for those objects through a feature called an Access Control List (ACL). The next few chapters will delve into this in more detail.

NOTE Microsoft has never made public the exact operation of NTFS. NTFS compression allows you to compress individual files and folders to save space on a hard drive. Compression slows down data access time because the operating system has to decompress the files each time it uses them, but in a space-constrained environment, sometimes that's what it has to do. Explorer shows the names of the compressed files in blue. Encryption One of the great attractions of NTFS is file encryption, the black art of making files unreadable by anyone who doesn't have the right key. You can encrypt a single file, a folder, or a folder full of files. Microsoft calls the encryption utility in NTFS the Encrypting File System (EFS), but it is simply an aspect of NTFS, not a separate file system. You'll learn more about encryption when you read Chapter 16. Disk Quotas NTFS supports disk quotas, which allow administrators to set limits on disk space usage for users. To set quotas, you must log in as an administrator, right-click the hard drive name, and select Properties. In the Drive Properties dialog, select the Quota tab and make your changes. Figure 12-23 shows configurations

quotas for a hard drive. Although rarely used on single-user systems, setting disk quotas on multi-user systems prevents any single user from monopolizing your hard drive space.

Figure 12-23 Hard drive quotas in Windows 7 cluster sizes Unlike FAT16 or FAT32, you can adjust cluster sizes in NTFS, although you probably rarely do so. Table 12-4 shows the default cluster sizes for NTFS.

Table 12-4 NTFS Cluster Sizes By default, NTFS supports partitions up to ~16TB on a dynamic disk (although only up to 2TB on a basic disk). By changing the cluster sizes, you can make NTFS support partitions up to 16 exabytes, or 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 bytes. That could support any and all upcoming hard drive capacities for the next 100 years or so.

QUIZ TIP NTFS supports partitions up to 16TB by default. With so many file systems, how do you know which one to use? For internal hard drives, you should use the system with the most features that your operating system supports. For all modern versions of Windows, use NTFS. External hard drives still use FAT32 because NTFS features like ACLs and encryption can make access difficult when you move the drive between systems, but with that exception, NTFS is your best bet on a Windows-based system. FAT64 Everyone loves USB sticks. Their ease of use and comfort make them essential for those of us who enjoy sharing a program, photos or a playlist. But people today want to share more than just a few small files, and they can do it with larger USB sticks. However, as USB sticks grow in capacity, the file system becomes a problem. The file system we've used for years on USB sticks, FAT32, doesn't work on drives larger than 2TB. Worse yet, FAT32 limits the file size to 4 GB. Now that you can find many USB sticks larger than 2 GB, Microsoft wisely developed a replacement for FAT32.

QUIZ TIP FAT32 only supports drives up to 2TB and only supports files up to 4GB. The newer file system, called exFAT or FAT64, breaks the 4 GB file size barrier and supports files up to 16 exabytes (EB) and a theoretical partition limit of 64 zettabytes (ZB). Microsoft recommends a partition size of up to 512TB on current USB flash drives, which should suffice for a while. The exFAT file system extends FAT32 from 32-bit cluster entries to 64-bit cluster entries in the file table. Like FAT32, on the other hand, exFAT still lacks all the extra features of NTFS, like permissions, compression, and encryption.

NOTE An exabyte is 260 bytes; a zettabyte is 270 bytes. For comparison, a terabyte is 240 bytes. Recall from your binary practice that each superscript number doubles the total number, so 241 = 2TB, 242 = 4TB, and so on. That means a zettabyte is really big! Now, if you're like me, you might be thinking, "Why don't we just use NTFS?" And I'd say, "Good point!" However, Microsoft considers NTFS to be too powerful for what most of us need from flash drives. For example, flash drives do not need NTFS permissions. But if for some reason you really want to format large USB drives with NTFS, Windows 7 will gladly let you do it, as shown in Figure 1224.

Figure 12-24 Formatting a USB stick in Windows 7

NOTE Microsoft introduced exFAT in Windows 7, but Windows Vista with SPI also supports exFAT. Microsoft even enabled Windows XP support for exFAT with a special download (see Microsoft Knowledge Base article 955704).

The Partitioning and Formatting Process Now that you understand the concepts of formatting and partitioning, let's review the process of configuring an installed hard drive using different partitioning and formatting tools. If you have access to a system, try following these descriptions. Remember, do not make any changes to a drive you want to keep, as both partitioning and formatting are destructive processes. Bootable Media Imagine that you have built a new PC. The hard drive has no operating system, so you need to boot something to configure that hard drive. Any software that can boot a system is, by definition, an operating system. You need an optical disk or USB stick with a bootable operating system installed. Any removable media that has a bootable operating system on it is generically called a boot device or boot disk. Your system boots from the bootable media, which then loads some sort of operating system that allows you to partition, format, and install an operating system on your new hard drive. Bootable media comes from many sources. All Windows operating system installation disks are bootable devices, just like Linux installation disks. Every boot disk or device has some sort of partition tool and a way to format a new partition. A hard drive must have a partition and must be formatted to support the installation of an operating system. Partitioning and formatting with the installation disk When you start a Windows installation disk and the installation program detects a hard disk that is not yet partitioned, it prompts you through a sequence of steps to partition (and format) the hard disk. Chapter 14 covers the entire installation process, but we'll go ahead and dive into the partitioning part of the installation here to see how it's done. Partition and format tools differ between Windows XP and Windows Vista/7. Windows XP has a text-based installation tool. Windows Vista and Windows 7 use a graphical tool. But the drive configuration process is almost identical. Partitioning during Windows XP installation The most common partitioning scenario is to convert a new blank drive into a single bootable C: drive. To achieve this goal, you need to convert the entire disk to a primary partition and then activate it. Let's walk through the process of partitioning and formatting a single new 1TB hard drive. Windows XP installation begins by booting from a Windows installation CD-ROM like the one shown in Figure 12-25. The installation program starts automatically from the CD. The installation first loads some necessary files, but finally shows you the screen shown in Figure 12-26. This is your clue that the partition is about to start.

Figure 12-25 Windows Installation CD

Figure 12-26 Welcome to Setup Press the ENTER key to start a new Windows installation and accept the license agreement to see the main partition screen (see Figure 12-27). The bar that says Unpartitioned Space is the drive.

Figure 12-27 Partition screen The Windows installer is pretty smart. If you press ENTER at this point, it will partition the hard drive as a single primary partition, activate it, and install Windows for you. That is the type of partition you will do in the vast majority of installations. As you can see on the screen, the partition tool also gives you the option to press c to create a partition on the drive. You can also press D to delete an existing partition. When you press c, the installer asks you how big to make the partition (see Figure 12-28). You can make the partition any size you want by erasing the current number (all unpartitioned space by default) and typing a number, from a minimum of 8 MB up to the size of the entire drive. Once you have set your number, press ENTER to create the partition.

Figure 12-28 Partition size setting If you select a size smaller than the maximum and press ENTER, you will see the newly created partition and the remaining drive as unpartitioned space (see Figure 12-29). You can create more "partitions" by moving the selection bar to the No Partitions space and pressing c to create a new partition. Repeat this for as many new "partitions" as you want to create. The on-disk installer in Windows XP calls all the drive structures it creates at the moment partitions, but what happens is a little different. The first partition you create will be a primary partition. The second partition you create will automatically be an extended partition. Each "partition" you create after the second will be a logical drive in the extended partition.

Figure 12-29 A newly created partition along with unpartitioned space After you finish partitioning, select the partition you want to use for the installation. Again, you should almost always select C:. At this point, Windows asks how you want to format that drive (see Figure 12-30).

Figure 12-30 Format Screen So you might be wondering, where is the Basic vs. Dynamic option? Where do you tell Windows to make the partition primary instead of extended? Where do you put it as an asset? The Windows installer makes a number of assumptions for you, such as always making the first partition

primary and set it as active. The installer also converts all hard drives to basic drives. You'll need to convert a unit to dynamic later (if you want to convert it at all). Select NTFS for the format. Any of the options, quick or full, will do the job here. (The quick format is faster, as the name suggests, but the full option is more thorough, and therefore more secure.) After Windows formats the drive, the installation continues, copying the new Windows installation to drive C:. The installation program can delete partitions just as easily as it creates them. If you're using a hard drive that's already partitioned, for example, simply select the partition you want to delete and press D. A dialog box will appear, giving Windows one last chance to change your mind (see Figure 1231). Press L to delete the partition.

Figure 12-31 Option to delete partition Partition during Windows Vista/7 installation The partitioning and formatting process with Windows Vista or Windows 7 installation differs from the Windows XP process mainly in appearance (it is graphical) and not in the function. You will go through a couple of installation screens (see Figure 12-32) where you select things like language and are prompted for a product key and acceptance of the license agreement. Eventually, you'll get to Where do you want to install Windows? dialog box (see Figure 12-33).

Figure 12-32 Starting Windows 7 installation

Figure 12-33 Where do you want to install Windows? Click Next to perform the most common partitioning and formatting action: create a single C: partition, activate it, and format it as NTFS. Note that Windows 7 creates two partitions, a 100MB System Reserved partition and the C: partition. This is normal, the way the system was designed to work. Figure 12-34 shows a typical Windows 7 installation in Disk Management.

Figure 12-34 Disk Management showing default partitions in Windows 7 If you want to create custom partitions or delete existing partitions, click Drive Options (Advanced) under Where do you want to install Windows? dialog box. To create a new partition, click the New button. Type an amount in gigabytes that you want to use for a new partition, then click Apply. In Windows 7, you will receive a notice that Windows might create additional partitions for system files. When you click OK, Windows will create the 100 MB System Reserved partition as well as the partition you specified (see Figure 12-35). Any remaining disk space will appear as Unallocated Space. Once you create a new partition, click on the Format button. The installer will not ask you which file system to use. Windows Vista and Windows 7 can read FAT and FAT32 drives, but will not install to that partition by default. The example here has a 1TB drive with a 499GB partition and 500GB of unallocated space. If you've gone through this process and changed your mind, wanting the partition to use the full terabyte, what do you do? On Windows XP, you would have to delete the partition and start over, but not on Windows Vista or Windows 7. Just click the Extend button and then apply the rest of the Unallocated space to the currently formatted partition. The extend feature allows you to add unpartitioned space to an already partitioned disk with a mouse click.

Figure 12-35 New 499 GB partition with 100 MB system reserved partition and unallocated space Disk Management The primary tool for partitioning and formatting drives after installation is the Disk Management utility (see Figure 12-36 ). You can use Disk Management to do everything you want to do with a hard drive in one handy tool. You can access Disk Management by going to Control Panel and opening the Computer Management applet. You can also click Start | Run Windows XP and type diskmgmt.msc, or just type diskmgmt.msc in the Start menu search bar in Windows Vista/7, and press ENTER.

EXAM TIP The CompTIA A+ 220-802 exam will test you on how to get into Disk Management. Know the ways. Disk Initialization Each hard drive in a Windows system has special information placed on the disk through a process called disk initialization. This initialization information includes identifiers that say "this disk belongs to this system" and other information that defines what this hard disk does in the system. If the hard drive is part of a software RAID array, for example, its RAID information is stored at initialization. If it is part of a spanned volume, it is also stored there. All new drives must be initialized before they can be used. When you install an additional hard drive on a

Windows system and starts Disk Management, notices the new drive and starts Hard Drive Initialization Wizard. If you do not allow the wizard to run, the drive will appear as unknown (see Figure 1237).

Figure 12-36 Disk Management

Figure 12-37 Unknown drive in Disk Management

To initialize a disk, right-click the disk icon and select Initialize. In Windows 7 you will have the option to select MBR or GPT as the partition style. Once a drive is initialized, you can view the status of the drive, a useful troubleshooting tool. Disk Management allows you to view the status of each drive in your system. Hopefully, most of the time you will see the drive as Healthy, which means nothing is wrong with it and everything is fine. You're also already familiar with the Unassigned and Active states, but here are a few more to familiarize yourself with CompTIA A+ exams and real life as a technician: • External drive. You see this when you move a dynamic disk from a computer. to another. • Formatting As you may have guessed, you see this when you are formatting a drive. • Failed I hope you never see this status, because it means the drive is damaged or corrupted and you probably have lost some data. • Online This is what you see if a drive is healthy and communicating properly with the computer. • Offline The drive is damaged or has communication problems. A newly installed drive is always configured as a basic disk. There's nothing wrong with using basic disks, other than you miss out on some useful features. Creating partitions and volumes in Disk Management To create partitions or volumes, right-click the unallocated part of the drive and select New Partition in Windows XP or New Simple Volume in Windows Vista/7. Disk Management runs the New Partition Wizard or the New Simple Volume Wizard. In Windows XP, you will be prompted to select a primary partition or an extended partition (see Figure 12-38). Once you do that, you will go to a screen where you will specify the partition or volume size. Since Windows Vista and Windows 7 do not give you the option to specify whether you want primary or extended partitions, you will go directly to the size screen (see Figure 1239).

Figure 12-38 Windows XP New Partition Wizard in the Select Partition Type dialog box

Figure 12-39 Specifying the Simple Volume Size in the New Simple Volume Wizard Specify a volume or partition size and click Next. The wizard will ask you whether you want to assign a drive letter to the partition or volume, mount it as a folder on an existing partition or volume, or do nothing (see Figure 12-40). In almost all cases, you'll want to give primary partitions and simple volumes a drive letter.

Figure 12-40 Assigning a drive letter to a partition It is important to note here that Windows Vista and Windows 7 do not allow you to specify whether you want a primary or extended partition when you create a volume. The first three volumes you create will be primary partitions. Thereafter, each volume will be a logical drive in an extended partition. The last screen of the New Partition Wizard or the New Simple Volume Wizard prompts you for the type of format you want to use for this partition (see Figure 12-41). If your partition is 4 GB or less, you can format it as FAT, FAT32, or NTFS. If your partition is larger than 4 GB but less than 32 GB, you can make the drive FAT32 or NTFS. Windows requires NTFS on any partition larger than 32 GB. Although FAT32 supports partitions up to 2TB, Microsoft wants you to use NTFS on larger partitions and creates this limit. With today's large hard drives, there's no good reason to use anything other than NTFS.

Figure 12-41 Choosing a file system type

NOTE Windows reads and writes to FAT32 partitions larger than 32 GB; you simply cannot use Disk Management to create such partitions. If you ever find a drive from a system running old Windows 9x/Me that has a FAT32 partition larger than 32 GB, it will work just fine on a modern Windows system. You have a few more tasks to complete on this screen. You can add a volume label if you want. You can also choose the size of your clusters (allocation unit size). There's no reason to change the default cluster size, so leave it alone, but you can speed up the format by selecting the Perform a quick format check box. This will format your drive without checking each cluster. It's fast and a little risky, but new hard drives almost always come from the factory in perfect condition, so you have to decide whether or not to use them. Finally, if you choose NTFS, you can enable file and folder compression. If you select this option, you will be able to right-click any file or folder in this partition and compress it. To compress a file or folder, choose the one you want to compress, right-click, and select Properties. Then click the Advanced button and enable compression (see Figure 12-42). Compression is useful for freeing up space on a filling hard drive, but it also slows down disk access, so only use it when you need it.

Figure 12-42 Enabling compression Dynamic disks Dynamic disks are created from basic disks in Disk Management. Once you convert a drive from a basic disk to a dynamic disk, the main and extended partitions no longer exist; dynamic disks are divided into volumes instead of partitions. This is obvious in Windows XP because the name changes. Since Windows Vista and Windows 7 call volumes partitions, the change to dynamic disk is not at all obvious.

EXAM TIP When you move a dynamic disk from one computer to another, it appears in Disk Management as an external drive. You can import an external drive to the new system by right-clicking the drive icon and selecting Import External Drives. To convert a basic disk to a dynamic disk, simply right-click the drive icon and select Convert to Dynamic Disk (see Figure 12-43). The process is very fast and safe, although not the other way around. Converting from dynamic disk to basic disk first requires that you delete all volumes on the hard disk.

Figure 12-43 Converting to a dynamic disk Once you have converted the disk, you can create one of five types of volumes on a dynamic disk: simple, spanned, striped, mirrored, or RAID 5. You will learn how to do this below. to implement the three most common volume types. The final step is to assign a drive letter or mount the volume as a folder. Simple volumes A simple volume acts as a primary partition. If you only have one dynamic disk on a system, you can only have one simple volume. It's important to note here that a plain volume can act like a traditional primary partition, but it's very different in that you can't install an operating system on it. In Disk Management, right-click any unallocated space on the dynamic disk and choose New Simple Volume (see Figure 12-44) to run the New Simple Volume Wizard. You'll see a series of screens telling you the file system and size, and then you're done. Figure 12-45 shows Disk Management with three simple volumes.

Figure 12-44 Selection to open the New Simple Volume Wizard

Figure 12-45 Simple volumes Spanning volumes You can extend the size of a simple volume to any unallocated space on a dynamic volume.

disk. You can also extend the volume to get additional space on completely different dynamic disks, creating a spanned volume. To extend or expand, simply right-click the volume you want to enlarge and choose Extend Volume from the options (see Figure 12-46). This opens the Extend Volume Wizard, which prompts you for the location of the free space on a dynamic disk and the increased volume size you want to allocate (see Figure 12-47). If you have multiple drives, you can just as easily expand the volume to one of those drives.

Figure 12-46 Selecting the Extend Volume option

Figure 12-47 Extend Volume Wizard The ability to extend and expand volumes makes dynamic disks worth their weight in gold. If you start to run out of space on a volume, you can simply add another physical hard drive to the system and expand the volume to the new drive. This keeps your drive letters consistent and unchangeable so your programs don't get confused, but allows you to expand drive space when needed.

CAUTION Once you convert a drive to dynamic, you cannot revert it to a basic disk without losing all data on that drive. Be prepared to back up all data before converting. You can extend or expand any simple volume on a dynamic disk, not just the "one at the end" in the disk management console. Simply select the volume to expand and the total volume increase you want. Figure 12-48 shows a simple 488.28 GB volume called Extended that has been extended an additional 1316.40 GB on a portion of the hard drive, omitting the 195.31 GB section of contiguous Unallocated space. This created a volume of 1804.68 GB. Windows has no problem skipping areas on a drive.

Figure 12-48 Extended Volume

NOTE You can extend and shrink volumes in Vista and 7 without using dynamic disks. You can shrink any volume with free space available (although you cannot shrink the volume by the total amount of free space, depending on the location of irremovable sectors such as the MBR), and you can expand volumes with Unallocated space on the drive. To shrink a volume, right-click on it and select Shrink Volume. Disk Management will calculate how much you can reduce it, and then you can choose up to that amount. To extend, right click and select Extend Volume. It is a fairly simple process. Striped Volumes If you have two or more dynamic disks on a PC, Disk Management allows you to combine them into a striped volume. Although Disk Management doesn't use the term, it knows it as a RAID 0 array. A striped volume spreads blocks of each file across multiple disks. Using two or more drives in a group called a stripe set, the distribution writes data first to a certain number of clusters on one drive, then to a certain number of clusters on the next drive, and so on. It speeds up data throughput because the system has to wait much less time for a drive to read or write data. The downside of striping is that if a single drive in the stripe set fails, all data in the stripe set is lost. To create a striped volume, right-click any unused space on a drive, point to New Volume, and then select Striped. The wizard prompts for the other drive you want to add to the stripe and you must select

Unallocated space on another dynamic disk. Select another unallocated space and review the remaining size and format screens until you have created a new striped volume (see Figure 12-49). The two stripes in Figure 12-49 appear to be different sizes, but if you look closely, you'll see that they are both 1000 GB. All stripes must be the same size on each unit.

Figure 12-49 Two drives striped Mirrored volumes Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions can create a mirrored set with two drives for data redundancy. You know mirrors from Chapter 11 as RAID 1. To create a mirror, right-click the unallocated space on a drive and select New Mirrored Volume (see Figure 12-50). This runs the New Mirrored Volume Wizard. Click Next to continue. Select an available disk in the Available box and click the Add button to move it to the Selected box (see Figure 12-51). Click Next to reach the familiar Assign Path or Drive Letter dialog box and select whatever is appropriate for the PC.

Figure 12-50 Selecting a new mirror

Figure 12-51 Selecting drives for the array Other RAID levels Disk Management allows you to create a RAID 5 array that uses three or more disks to create a robust storage solution. This applies to all professional versions of Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. Unfortunately for users of those operating systems, you can only create the array on a Windows Server machine that you access remotely over a network. . Disk Management cannot do nested RAID arrays. So if you want RAID 0+1 or RAID 1+0 (RAID 10), you have to use third-party software (or go with hardware RAID). Mounting partitions as folders Although partitions and volumes can be assigned a drive letter, D: through Z:, they can also be mounted as a folder on another drive, also known as a mount point. This allows you to use your existing folders to store more data than can fit on a single drive or partition/volume (see Figure 12-52).

Figure 12-52 Mounting a drive as a folder Imagine that you use your My Documents folder on a Windows XP machine to store your digital photos. As your collection grows, you realize that your current 500 GB hard drive is running out of space. You're willing to buy another hard drive, but you have a great organizational structure in your existing My Documents folder and you don't want to lose it. You also don't have to move everything to the new hard drive. After installing the new hard drive, you can mount the primary partition (or logical drive) as a folder inside the existing My Documents folder on your C: drive (for example, C:\Users\Mike\My Photos). At this point, the drive doesn't have a letter (although you could add one later if you wanted). To use the new drive, simply drop your files into the My Photos folder. They will be stored on the second hard drive, not the original 500 GB drive (see Figure 12-53). Amazing!

Figure 12-53 Adding Photos to Mounted Folder stores them on the second hard drive.

NOTE Mounting a partition or volume as a folder in the scenario here only applies to Windows XP and Windows Vista. While you can certainly mount them as folders in Windows 7, using Libraries makes them irrelevant. I would just add a drive, give it a letter, and add a folder to the drive. Then add that folder to the appropriate Library and it will appear to be just like any other folder. To create a mount point, right-click an unallocated section of a disk and choose New Partition or New Simple Volume. This opens the wizard with the appropriate name. On the second screen, you can select a mount point instead of a drive letter (see Figure 12-54). Look for a blank folder on an NTFS-formatted drive

or create a new folder and you're in business.

Figure 12-54 Choosing to create a mounted volume

EXAM TIP The CompTIA A+ 802 exam objectives mention "division" partitions. To be clear, you never actually partition a partition. If you want to convert one partition into two, you need to either delete the existing partition and create two new ones, or shrink the existing partition and add a new one to Unallocated space. If you see it on the exam, know that this is what CompTIA stands for. Formatting a partition You can format any Windows partition/volume in My Computer/Computer. Simply right-click the drive name and choose Format (see Figure 12-55). You will see a dialog asking for the type of file system you want to use, the size of the cluster, a place to put a volume label, and two other options. The quick format option tells Windows not to test clusters and is a useful option when you're in a hurry and feeling lucky. The Enable Compression option tells Windows to give users the ability to compress folders or files. It works fine, but it slows down the hard drive.

Figure 12-55 Choose format in Computer Disk Management is the preferred formatting tool in Windows today. When you create a new partition or volume, the wizard also asks what type of format you want to use. Always use NTFS unless you're that oddball freak who wants to dual boot some old version of Windows. All operating system installation disks are partitioned and formatted as part of the operating system installation. Windows simply asks you to partition and then format the drive. Read the screens and you'll do great.

Hard Drive Maintenance and Troubleshooting Hard drives are complex mechanical and electrical devices. With the platters spinning at thousands of revolutions per minute, they also generate heat and vibration. All of these factors make hard drives susceptible to failure. In this section, you'll learn some basic maintenance tasks that will keep your hard drives healthy, and in those unavoidable cases where a hard drive fails, you'll also learn what you can do to fix them. Maintenance Hard drive maintenance can be divided into two distinct functions: checking the drive occasionally for failed clusters, and keeping data organized on the drive so it can be accessed quickly.

Error Checking Individual clusters of hard drives sometimes fail. There is nothing you can do to prevent this from happening, so it is important to occasionally check your drives for bad clusters. The tools used to perform this check are generically called error-checking utilities, although the terms are often used for two older Microsoft tools: ScanDisk and chkdsk (pronounced "checkdisk"). Microsoft calls the Error Checking tool in Windows XP/Vista/7. Whatever the name of the utility, each does the same job: when the tool finds bad clusters, it places the electronic equivalent of orange cones around them so that the system doesn't try to put data on those bad clusters.


TIP FOR THE COMPTIA A+ EXAM use the terms CHKDSK and check disk instead of Error-

Most bug checking tools do much more than just look for bad clusters. They review all the file names on the drive, looking for invalid names and trying to correct them. They look for groups that have no associated filenames (we call this missing strings) and delete them. From time to time, the underlying links between the parent and child folders are lost, so a good error checking tool checks all parent and child folders. With a folder like C:\Test\Data, for example, they make sure that the Data folder is correctly associated with its parent folder, C:\Test, and that C:\Test is correctly associated with its child folder, C : \Test data. To access error checking on a Windows system, open My Computer/Computer, right-click the drive you want to check, and select Properties to open the Drive Properties dialog. Select the Tools tab and click the Check Now button (see Figure 12-56) to display the Check Disk dialog, which has two options (see Figure 12-57). Check the box next to Automatically fix file system errors, but save the Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors option for times when you really suspect a problem, as it takes a while on larger hard drives.

Figure 12-56 The Tools tab in the Properties dialog box

Figure 12-57 Check Disk Options Now that you know how to run error checking, your next question should be, "How often do I run it?" A reasonable maintenance plan would include running it once a week. Error checking is quick (unless you use the Find and try recovery option), and it's a great tool for keeping your system in tip-top condition. Defragmentation Cluster fragmentation can drastically increase drive access times. It's a good idea to defragment, or defragment, your drives as part of monthly maintenance. You access the Disk Defragmenter defragmentation tool the same way you access Error Checking: Right-click a drive in My Computer/Computer and choose Properties, except click the Defrag Now button on the Tools tab to open Disk Defragmenter. In Windows Vista/7, Microsoft has given Disk Defragmenter a major visual makeover (see Figure 12-58), but both the old and new versions do the same job.

Figure 12-58 Disk Defragmenter in Windows 7 (left) and Windows XP It's interesting to look at defragmentation, once. From then on, schedule Disk Defragmenter to run late at night. You should defragment your drives about once a month, although you could run Disk Defragmenter every week, and if you run it every night, it will only take a few minutes. The longer you go between defrags, the longer it will take. If you have Windows 7, Microsoft has made defragmentation even easier by automatically defragmenting your disks once a week. You can adjust the schedule or even turn it off completely, but remember that if you don't run Disk Defragmenter, your system will run slower. If you do not run error checking, you may lose data.

NOTE If you have one of those ultra-fast solid-state drives (SSDs), you don't have to defragment it. In fact, you should never defrag an SSD because it can shorten its lifespan. Windows 7 is even smart enough to disable scheduled defragmentation for SSDs. Disk Cleanup Did you know that the average hard drive is full of junk? Not the junk you intentionally put on your hard drive, like the 23,000 email messages you refuse to delete from your email program. This kind of junk is all the files that you never see and that Windows saves for you. Here are some examples: • Files in the Recycle Bin When you delete a file, it's not actually deleted. It is placed in the Recycle Bin in case you decide you need the file later. I just checked my Recycle Bin and found about 3 GB of files (see Figure 12-59). That's a lot of garbage! • Temporary Internet files When you visit a website, Windows saves copies of graphics and other elements so that the page loads faster the next time you access it. You can view these files by opening the Internet Options applet in Control Panel. Click the Settings button under the Browsing History label, and then click the View Files button in the Temporary Internet Files and History Settings dialog box. Figure 12-60 shows Internet Explorer temporary Internet files. • Downloaded program files Your system always saves a copy of any Java or ActiveX applet you download. You can view them in the Internet Options applet by clicking the Settings button under the Browsing History label. Click the View Objects button under Temporary Internet Files and History

Settings dialog. Usually you will only find a few small files here. • Temporary files Many applications create temporary files that are supposed to be deleted when the application is closed. For one reason or another, these temporary files are sometimes not removed. The location of these files varies depending on the version of Windows, but they always reside in a folder called "Temp."

Figure 12-59 Mike's Recycle Bin

Figure 12-60 Lots of temporary Internet files

Every hard drive eventually fills up with a lot of unnecessary junk. All versions of Windows tend to act erratically when drives run out of unused space. Fortunately, all versions of Windows have a powerful tool called Disk Cleanup (see Figure 12-61). You can access Disk Cleanup on all versions of Windows by selecting Start | All programs | Accessories | System Tools | Disk cleanup.

Figure 12-61 Disk Cleanup Disk Cleanup removes the four types of files just described (and a few others). Run Disk Cleanup once a month to keep enough space available on your hard drive. Hard Drive Deployment Troubleshooting There is no more frightening computer problem than an error pointing to a problem with a hard drive. This section looks at some of the most common problems that occur with hard drives and how to fix them. These problems fall into four broad categories: installation errors, data corruption, failed hard drives, and RAID problems. Installation Errors Installing a drive and getting to the point where it can contain data requires four separate steps: connectivity, CMOS, partitioning, and formatting. If you make a mistake at any point in these steps, the unit

won't work The beauty of this is that if you make a mistake, you can go back through each step and look for problems. The "Troubleshooting Hard Drive Installation" section in Chapter 11 covered physical and CMOS connections, so this section focuses on the last two problems. Partitioning Partitioning errors generally fall into two groups: failing to partition at all and creating the wrong partition size or type. You will recognize the first type of error the first time you open My Computer/Computer after installing a drive. If you forgot to partition it, the drive won't even show up in My Computer/Computer, just Disk Management. If you made the partition too small, that will become painfully obvious when you start filling it up with files. The solution for partition errors is to simply open Disk Management and partition correctly. If you have added files to the wrong size drive, be sure to make a backup before repartitioning in Windows XP. Just right click and select Extend Volume in Windows Vista/7 to fix the error. Formatting If a drive is not formatted, the drive cannot store data. Accessing the drive in Windows results in an "unable to access drive" error, and from a C:\ prompt, you'll get the famous "Invalid Media" type error. Format the drive unless you are sure the drive is already formatted. Corrupted files can create the invalid media error. See the next section "Data Corruption" for the solution. Most of the time, formatting is a slow and boring process. But sometimes the drive makes “bad noises” and you start to see errors like the one shown in Figure 12-62 at the top of the screen.

Figure 12-62 The "Attempting to recover lost allocation unit" error An allocation unit is another term for a cluster. The drive encountered a bad cluster and is trying to fix it. For years I have told techies that seeing this error multiple times (610) means nothing; every record comes with some bad points. This is not true. Modern drives actually hide a significant number of extra sectors that they use to automatically replace bad sectors. If a new drive is getting a lot of "Attempting to recover lost allocation drive" errors, you can bet the drive is dying and needs to be replaced. Get the hard drive manufacturer's diagnostic tool to be sure. Bad clusters are reported by S.M.A.R.T. Mental Reset Focus on the fact that all of these mistakes share a common thread: they just

installed a unit! Installation errors do not appear on a system that has been running correctly for three weeks; they appear the moment you try to do something with the drive you just installed. If a newly installed drive doesn't work, do a "mental reinstall." Does the drive show up in CMOS? No? Then recheck cables, master/slave configuration on old PATA drives, and power. If it appears, did you remember to partition and format the drive? Did you have to set it as active? These are common sense questions that come to mind as you go through your mental reset. Even if you've installed thousands of drives over the years, you'll be surprised how often you do things like forget to connect power to a drive. Do the mental reinstall, it really works! Data Corruption All hard drives occasionally get corrupted data in individual sectors. Power surges, accidental power failures, corrupt installation media, and viruses along with hundreds of other issues can cause this corruption. In most cases, this type of error appears while Windows is running. Figure 12-63 shows a classic example.

Figure 12-63 A corrupted data error You may also see Windows error messages that say one of the following: • “The following file is missing or corrupted” • “The download location information is corrupted” • “Cannot can load the file” • “… is not a valid Win32 application” If the main boot files become damaged, you may see text errors at boot, such as: • “Cannot find COMMAND.COM” • “Error loading operating system” • “Invalid BOOT.INI” • “NTLDR is missing or corrupted” • “An error occurred while trying to read boot configuration data”

In older programs, you may see an open command prompt with errors like this: Sector not found reading drive C: Cancel, Retry, Fail?

The first solution to any of these problems is to run the error checking utility. The bug check will go through and mark the bad clusters and hopefully move your data to a good cluster. If the same errors continue to appear after running the error check utility, there is a possibility that the drive has bad sectors. Nearly all drives today take advantage of built-in Error Correcting Code (ECC) that constantly checks the drive for bad sectors. If the ECC detects a bad sector, it marks the sector as bad on the drive's internal error map. Do not confuse this error map with a FAT. The partition program creates the FAT. The internal drive error map is created at the factory on reserved drive heads and is invisible to the system. If the ECC finds a bad sector, you will get a bad data error when the computer tries to read the bad sector. Check disk utilities fix this problem most of the time. However, many times, the ECC thinks that a bad sector is good and does not update the internal error map. In this case, you need a program that will go back to the drive and mark the sectors as bad. That's where Gibson Research's powerful SpinRite utility comes in. SpinRite marks sectors as good or bad with greater precision than ECC and does not tamper with data, allowing you to run SpinRite without fear of losing anything. And if it finds a bad sector with data, SpinRite has powerful algorithms that typically recover data in all but the most bad sectors (see Figure 12-64).

Figure 12-64 SpinRite in operation Without SpinRite, you must use a low-level format program provided by the hard drive manufacturer, assuming you can get one (not all are willing to distribute them). These programs work like SpinRite in that they aggressively check hard drive sectors and update the internal error map. Unfortunately, all of them erase all the data on the drive.

Dying hard drive Physical problems are rare but devastating when they occur. If a hard drive is really physically damaged, there is nothing you or any service technician can do to repair it. Fortunately, hard drives are designed to take a great deal of punishment without failing. Physical problems manifest themselves in a variety of ways: you start having read/write failures, the drive is working fine but is noisy, or the drive seems to go missing. Windows will give you error messages with read/write failures. Good hard drives do not fail to read or write. Only the dying have these problems. All hard drives make noise: the hum as the platters spin and the occasional slight scratching noise as the read/write heads access sectors are normal. However, if your drive begins to make any of the following sounds, it is about to shut down: • Continuous high-pitched squeal • Series of loud clicks, a brief pause, then another series of clicks • Continuous squeaks or rumblings Back up of your critical data and replace the drive. Windows comes with great tools for backing up your data.

NOTE Most hard drives have three-year warranties. Before disposing of a dead drive, check the hard drive manufacturer's website or call them to see if the drive is still under warranty. Request a Return Material Authorization (RMA). You'll be surprised how many times you get a newer, usually larger hard drive for free. It never hurts to check it out! You will know when a unit simply dies. If it is the drive that contains your operating system, the system will crash. When you try to restart the computer, you will see this error message or something similar: No boot device present

If it's a second drive, it will simply no longer appear in My Computer/Computer. The first thing to do in this case is to start system setup and see if autodetect detects the drive. If so, you do not have a physical problem with the drive. If auto detection fails, turn off the system and remove the data cable, but leave the power cable connected. Reboot the system and listen to the unit. If the unit spins up, you know it's getting good power. This is usually a clue that the drive is probably good. In that case, you need to look for more mundane problems like a disconnected data cable or improperly set jumpers. If the drive does not spin up, try another power connector. If it still won't spin up and you've triple checked the jumpers (PATA only) and data cable, you have a problem with the onboard electronics and the drive is dead.

NOTE If you ever lose a hard drive that contains absolutely critical information, you can go to a company that specializes in hard drive data recovery. The work will be expensive, prices usually start around 1000 (US), but when you have to have the data, these companies are your only hope. Do a web search for "data recovery" or check the yellow pages for companies in this line of business. Troubleshooting RAID For the most part, problems with drives in a RAID array are identical to those seen with individual drives. There are a couple of RAID-only bugs, however, that need their own separate discussion. Unrecognized Drives If you are using hardware RAID and the configuration firmware does not recognize one of the drives, first verify that the drives are powered on and connected to the proper connections. This is especially true of motherboards with built-in RAID that require you to use only certain special RAID connectors. RAID stops working When one of the drives in a RAID array fails, a number of things can happen depending on the type of array and the RAID controller. With RAID 0, the effect is spectacular. Many enthusiasts use RAID 0 for their OS drive to make it more streamlined. If you're running such a platform that later loses a drive, you'll most likely get a critical stop error, a Blue Screen of Death (BSoD). Upon reboot, the computer will not start or you will receive a message that the operating system cannot be found. You lose all your data because there is no redundancy in a stripe set. All other RAID levels tend to do nothing extraordinary when one drive in the array fails. When you reboot the system, that's when the RAID controller, if it's hardware, or Windows, if you used the built-in tools, will squeal and tell you that a drive has failed. Often the failure of a drive will cause access to the drive's contents to become slow, and that sluggish performance is your clue to check Device Manager or RAID controller firmware. Some drive failures will cause the computer to crash. Others won't show any effect until you get the error messages on reboot. Regardless of the reason why a RAID stops working or the effects, the solution is simple. Replace the failed drive and let the RAID rebuild itself. Life is good. RAID Not Found The CompTIA A+ 220-802 exam objectives use the term "RAID not found", which doesn't actually exist as an error, but rather implies a series of errors where an existing RAID array is suddenly missing. The problem with these errors is that they vary greatly depending on the make and model of your hardware RAID or (God forbid) if you used software RAID. A properly working hardware RAID array will always show up in the configuration utility. If an existing array stops working and you go into the setup utility only to find that the array is gone, you've got a big problem. This points to dead drives or faulty drivers. In any case, they must be replaced. If the array is gone but you can still see the drives, the driver may have broken the array on its own. This is a rare action that some drivers do to try to save data. You should at least try to rebuild the array using the tools the drivers provide.

Beyond A+ Modern hard drives have many other features that are worth knowing about but rarely bother novice technicians. Some of the most interesting are spindle speed and third party hard drive tools. If you have a burning desire to dive into hard drives in all their glory, you need look no further than, a great site dedicated exclusively to hard drives. Third party partition tools disk management is a good tool and has been greatly improved with Windows 7, but it is still limited in some situations. Some really great third-party tools on the market can give you incredible flexibility and power to structure and restructure your hard drive storage to meet your changing needs. Each has interesting and unique features, but in general they allow you to create, change, and delete partitions on a hard drive without destroying any of the programs or data stored there. slippery! These programs aren't covered in the CompTIA A+ exams, but every PC technician uses at least one of them, so let's explore three of the best-known examples: Symantec's Norton Partition-Magic, Avanquest Partition Commander Professional, and the open source Tool. Linux, GParted. Probably the best known third-party partitioning tool is PartitionMagic, although it is quite outdated at this point. It is compatible with older versions of Windows but has problems with Windows Vista/7. With it, you can create, resize, split, merge, delete, recover and convert partitions without destroying your data. Among the additional features it advertises are the ability to browse, copy, or move files and folders between supported partitions; to expand an NTFS partition, even if it is a system partition, without rebooting; to change NTFS cluster sizes; and add new partitions for multiple operating systems using a simple wizard. Avanquest offers a variety of related products, one of which is the very useful Partition Commander. It is compatible with all versions of Windows (unlike PartitionMagic) and allows you to play with your partitions without destroying your data. Among its niftier features are the ability to convert a dynamic disk to a basic disk non-destructively (which you can't do with the Windows tools provided by Microsoft); to defragment the master file table on an NTFS partition; and to move unused space from one partition to another on the same physical drive, automatically resizing the partitions based on the amount of space you tell it to move. Figure 12-65 shows the Partition Commander dialog box for moving unused space between partitions.

Figure 12-65 Partition Commander The only problem with PartitionMagic and Partition Commander is that they cost money. There's nothing wrong with spending money on a good product, but if you can find something that does the job for free, why not give it a try? If you think like me, check out the GNOME Partition Editor, better known as GParted. You can find it here at: GParted is an incredibly powerful partition editor and does almost everything paid partition editors do, but it's free. In fact, you may already have a copy of Ubuntu Desktop Live CD. If you look closely at Figure 12-66, you'll notice that it uses strange partition names, such as HDA1 or SDA2. These are Linux conventions and are well documented in the GParted help screens. Take a little time and you'll love GParted too.

Figure 12-66 GParted in action The only disadvantage of GParted is that it is a Linux program: since there is no version of Windows, you need Linux to run it. So how do you run Linux on a Windows system without installing Linux on your hard drive? The answer is easy: the folks at GParted will give you the tools to burn a live CD that boots Linux so you can run GParted. A live CD is a complete operating system on a CD. Please understand that this is not an installation CD like your Windows installation disk. The operating system is already installed on the CD. You boot from the live CD and the operating system is loaded into RAM, just like the operating system on your hard drive is loaded into RAM at boot. As the live CD boots up, it recognizes your hardware and loads the appropriate drivers into RAM to get everything working. You get everything you'd expect from an operating system with one big exception: a live CD doesn't touch your hard drive. Of course, you can run programs (like GParted) that work on your hard drive, which makes live CDs popular with PC techies, because you can drop them into a cranky system and run utilities. The truly intrepid might consider using The Ultimate Boot CD (UBCD), basically a bunch of useful free utilities compiled by frustrated techie Ben Burrows, who couldn't find a boot disk when he needed one. His website is The UBCD has over 100 different tools all placed on a single live CD. It has all the low-level diagnostic tools for all hard drive manufacturers, four or five different partition tools, S.M.A.R.T. viewers, hard drive cleanup utilities, and hard drive cloning tools (great for when you want to replace a hard drive with a larger one). However, little documentation is provided, and many of the tools require expertise well beyond the scope of CompTIA A+ exams. I'll tell you I have a copy and I use it.

Chapter Review Questions

1. What is the most comprehensive list of file systems Windows can use? A. FAT16, FAT32, NTFS B. FAT16, FAT32, FAT64, NTFS C. FAT16, FAT32 D. FAT16, NTFS 2. Which of the following correctly identifies the four possible entries in a file allocation table? A. File name, date, time, size B. Starting pool number, ending pool number, number of pools used, number of pools available C. An end-of-file marker, a bad sector marker, code indicating cluster is available, the number of the cluster where the next part of the file is stored D. File name, folder location, starting cluster number, ending cluster number 3. What program does Microsoft include with Windows to partition and format a unit? A. Format B. Disk Management Console C. Disk Management Console D. System Commander 4. What does NTFS use to provide security for individual files and folders? A. Dynamic disks B. ECC C. Access control list D. MFT 5. Adam wants to create a new simple volume on some unallocated space on his hard drive on his Windows XP machine, but when he right-clicks on the space in Disk Management you only see an option to create a new partition. What is the problem? A. The drive has developed bad sectors. B. The drive is a basic disk and not a dynamic disk.

C. The drive has less than 32 GB of unallocated space. D. The drive is bypassed as a slave. 6. Jim wants to check his hard drive for errors. What tool should he use? A. FDISK B. Format C. Disk Management D. Error Checking 7. To prevent others from reading your files, what should you use? A. Pooling B. Compression C. Disk quotas D. Encryption 8. How can you effectively expand the capacity of an NTFS drive? A. Create an extended partition to expand capacity. B. Install a second drive and mount it to a folder on the original smaller NTFS drive. C. Convert the drive to a dynamic disk and create a mirror set. D. Format the drive using the Quick Format option. 9. Which configuration requires three volumes of the same size? A. RAID 5 B. Mirrored set C. Spanned volume D. Striped volume 10. Which of the following partitioning schemes allows the creation of more than four partitions or volumes on a single hard drive? (Select two.) A. MBR B. GPT

C. Dynamic Disk D. MFT Answers 1. B. Modern versions of Windows can use FAT (FAT16), FAT32 and NTFS for hard drives and FAT64 for USB sticks. 2. C. The four possible entries in a file allocation table are an end-of-file marker, a bad sector marker, a code indicating that the pool is available, and the number of the pool where the next part of the file is stored. archive. . 3. B. Windows uses the disk management console to partition and format a drive. 4. C. Because NTFS views individual files and folders as objects, it can provide security for those objects through an access control list. 5. B. The drive is a basic disk and not a dynamic disk. Partitions are created on basic disks, while volumes are created on dynamic disks. 6. D. Error checking is used to check a drive for errors. 7. D. To prevent others from reading your files, use encryption. 8. B. You can effectively expand the capacity of an NTFS drive by installing a second drive and mounting it in a folder on the smaller original NTFS drive. 9. A. RAID 5 requires three volumes of the same size. 10. B, C. The GPT and dynamic disk partitioning schemes allow the creation of more than four partitions or volumes on a single hard drive.

13 removable media


In this chapter, you will learn to: • Describe and install floppy drives • Demonstrate the variations between flash drives and other tiny drives • Identify and install optical media technology • Troubleshoot removable media Removable media refers to any type of storage device. Mass storage that you can use on one system and then physically remove it from that system and use it on another. Removable media has been a part of the PC since its introduction in 1980. Back then, the only removable media available was floppy disks, but the ability to easily move programs and data from one machine to another quickly established itself as one of the most powerful. pc points. Over time, higher capacity removable media technologies were introduced. Some technologies—CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray Discs, and thumb drives, for example—have become very common. Other technologies (which you may or may not have heard of), such as Iomega Zip drives or HD DVDs, were popular for a while, but have since disappeared or been discontinued. The history of PCs has also left behind a lot of rubbish from removable media technologies that were heralded with fanfare and big bucks, but never actually saw any adoption. Today's highly Internet-connected computers have reduced the need for removable media as a method of sharing programs and data, but removable media has so many other uses that it's still going strong. Removable media is the perfect tool for software distribution, data archiving, and system backup. Figure 13-1 shows my software toolbox. As a PC technician, you'll not only need to install, maintain, and troubleshoot removable media on users' systems, but you'll also need to turn to removable media as a way to store and run software tools to perform all kinds of support. from PC (Remember the live CDs in Chapter 12?).

Figure 13-1 Author's Toolbox This chapter covers the most common types of removable media in use today and the forgotten floppy drive. For the sake of organization, removable media types are divided into these groups:

• Floppy drives The traditional floppy drive • Flash memory From USB thumb drives to flash memory cards • Optical drives Any glossy drive technology, from CD-ROMs and DVDs to Blu-ray discs • External drives Any hard drive or optical drive that connects to a PC via an external cable Following the above description of removable memory, two other technologies, PC Cards and tape backup, also serve as removable media. PC Cards are a laptop-centric technology and are covered in Chapter 26, while tape backups are part of the big world of backups and are covered in Chapter 17.

Historical/Conceptual Floppy Drives Good old floppy disks! These tiny drives, which store a whopping 1.44MB of data per drive, were a part of PCs from the very beginning and lasted until the first decade of the 21st century. For decades, the PC industry made one attempt after another to replace the floppy disk with some larger capacity removable media, only to keep resorting to the floppy disk. Floppy drive technology was well established: motherboard manufacturers found floppy disks easy to add, all BIOSes supported them, and they were almost always the first boot device, so techies loved floppy disks when they They helped start a system. In recent years, floppy drives have disappeared from mass-produced PCs thanks to an industry push called legacy-free computing: an initiative introduced by Microsoft and Intel in 2001 to remove old technologies from computers, such as ports. PS/2, serial ports, parallel ports, and floppy drives (interesting how long it took to start being adopted by PC manufacturers). Thus, the venerable floppy drive, with insufficient capacity to hold even a single MP3 or digital photo, died.

NOTE You may notice that I talk about floppy drives as if they no longer exist. That's because nobody uses them these days, and even if you wanted to, most modern motherboards don't have the necessary connections to install a floppy drive. But CompTIA A+ exams want you to know about them in case you come across one while hiding in an abandoned building during the apocalypse. Floppy Drive Basics When you insert a floppy disk into a floppy drive, the disk's protective cover opens, revealing the magnetic media inside the plastic casing. A motor driven spindle fits into the center of the drive to make it rotate. A set of read/write heads then moves back and forth across the disk, reading or writing tracks to the disk as needed. The 3.5-inch-wide floppy disk arrived in 1987 and stored 1.44 MB (see Figure 13-2). It uses a 3½-inch floppy drive to access the contents of the disk.

Figure 13-2 Floppy Drive and Floppy Disk Each time a system accesses a floppy disk in its floppy drive, a read/write LED on the outside front of the drive lights up. Do not try to remove the diskette from the drive when this light is on! That light means that the read/write heads are accessing the floppy drive, so removing the disk while the light is on can damage the floppy. When the light is off, you can press the small release button on the front of the drive to eject the diskette.

NOTE The term “floppy disk” comes from the fact that the first floppy disks were actually floppy disks. You could fold one easily. Newer floppy disks came in much more robust and rigid plastic casings, but the term has stuck: we still call them floppy disks.

801 Installing Floppy Drives All Windows systems reserve the drive letters A: and B: for floppy drives. You can't name them anything other than A: or B:, but you can configure a floppy to get any of the drive letters. However, convention dictates that if you only have one floppy drive, you should name it A:. The second floppy drive is labeled B:. Floppy drives connect to the computer via a 34-pin ribbon cable. If the cable supports two floppy drives, it has a seven-wire twist in the middle to electronically differentiate between the A: and B: drives. Since most users don't want two floppy drives (or one, for that matter), many system builders have ditched the twist and saved a couple of cents on a simpler cable (see Figure 13- 3).

Figure 13-3 Single Drive Floppy Cable By default, almost all PCs that still support floppy drives first attempt to boot from a floppy disk before any other boot device, looking for an operating system. This process allows technicians to insert a floppy disk into a sick computer to run programs when hard drives fail. It also means that hackers can insert bootable floppies into servers and do bad things. However, you do have a choice, because most systems have special CMOS settings with which you can change this default boot order to something other than the default drive A: then C:; I'll show you how in a minute. Inserting Ribbon Cables Look at the floppy cable in Figure 13-3. Notice the connector on the left side. This connector, identical to the other connector on the same cable, plugs into the motherboard's floppy drive, as shown in Figure 13-4. Notice how clearly pin 1 is marked on the motherboard in Figure 13-4. Not all motherboards are so clear cut. Be sure to orient the cable so that the colored stripe on the side of the cable is aligned with pin 1.

Figure 13-4 Connecting a floppy cable to a controller, pin 1 labeled left Here are some tips on cable orientation. (By the way, these rules work for all ribbon cables, not just floppy cables.) Ribbon cable connectors typically have a differently oriented notch in the middle. If your cable connector has an orientation notch and the controller socket has a slot that the orientation notch fits into, your job is easy (see Figure 13-5).

Figure 13-5 Notched Floppy Drive Unfortunately, not all connectors use the notched orientation. Try looking in the motherboard book. All motherboard books provide a graphic of the motherboard showing the proper orientation position. Look at other ribbon cables on the motherboard. On almost all motherboards, all the plugs are oriented the same way. Lastly, just guess! You won't destroy anything by inserting the cable backwards. When you boot, the floppy drive will not work. This is not a big deal; turn off the system and try again. After you insert the floppy ribbon cable into the floppy drive, you must insert the ribbon cable into the floppy drive. Watch out here! You still need to route the wire to pin 1; all ribbon cable insertion rules apply here as well. Before you connect the floppy ribbon cable to the floppy drive, you must know which connector on the cable to use; That makes a big difference. The specific connector that you insert into the floppy drive determines its drive letter. If the floppy drive is installed in the end connector, it becomes drive A:; if the drive is installed in the center connector, it is drive B: (see Figure 13-6). If you are installing only one floppy disk, be sure to install it in drive position A:.

Figure 13-6 The location of the cables determines the drive letter.

NOTE In the past, CompTIA A+ certification exams have focused heavily on cable pinouts. Know the number (34) and orientation (pin 1 to pin 1) of the pins on the floppy drive ribbon cable. Power Floppy drives need electricity to function, just like any other device on your PC. Modern 3½-inch floppy drives use the small mini power jack. Be careful! Inserting a mini jack incorrectly is easy, and if you install it incorrectly, it will destroy the floppy drive and create what we call "The Nasty Smell."

Look at Figure 13-7, a bottom view of a properly installed mini power connector; note the chamfers (beveled edges) that show the correct orientation. The problem lies in the plastic used to make the connector. The plastic connector bends easily, so even the least brawny techie can put the plug on a mini upside down or hit just three of the four pins.

Figure 13-7 Properly Installed Mini Power Connector Excellent! You have installed a floppy drive! Once you've physically installed the floppy drive, it's time to get into CMOS.

CAUTION Improper installation of any power connector will destroy any device unfortunate enough to be abused. However, with the exception of minis, most power connectors are built in such a way that it's almost impossible to do so inadvertently. CMOS After installing the floppy drive, you must configure the CMOS settings, which should correspond to the capabilities of the drives. Look in your CMOS for a menu called "CMOS Standard Features" (or something similar) to see your floppy settings. Most CMOS setups configure drive A: by default as a 3½-inch, 1.44MB drive, so in most cases the floppy is already configured. Just check the settings in CMOS; if it's ok, exit without changing anything. Figure 13-8 shows a typical CMOS configuration for a single floppy drive. On the rare occasion that you need a configuration other than your typical 3½-inch 1.44MB A: drive, simply select the drive (A: or B:) and enter the correct capacity.

Figure 13-8 CMOS settings for a standard floppy drive Disabling the search for bootable floppy option tells the PC not to check for the floppy during POST, which isn't very helpful, except it speeds up slightly the boot process (see Figure 13-9).

Figure 13-9 CMOS Boot Disk Lookup Option Many CMOS setup utilities have an option called 3 Disk Modes Support. See Figure 13-8 for an example of a CMOS with this option. A Mode 3 floppy disk is a special 1.2 MB format used outside of the United States, primarily in Japan. Unless you live in Japan and use Mode 3 floppy disks, ignore this option.

Flash Memory Flash memory, the same flash memory that replaced CMOS technology for your system BIOS, has found another home in PCs in the form of removable mass storage devices. Flash memory comes in two families: USB sticks and memory cards. USB sticks are flash devices that contain a standard USB connection. “Memory card” is a generic term for various tiny cards used in cameras, smartphones, and other devices. Both families can manifest as drives in Windows, but generally perform different jobs. USB thumb drives have replaced virtually all other rewritable removable media as the way people transfer files or save copies of important programs. My USB sticks (yes, I always have two with me) hold backup copies of my current work, important photos, and a host of other utilities I need to fix computers. Memory cards are very small and are a great way to store data on small devices and then transfer that data to your PC. USB Flash Drives Moving data between computers is always a hassle, but USB flash drives, also known as thumb drives, auxiliary drives, and flash drives, are an incredibly popular solution (see Figure 13-10). For one low price, you can get a 32 GB USB stick that stores as much data as 22,000 standard 3½-inch floppy disks.

Figure 13-10 USB Flash Drives The smallest flash drives are slightly larger than an adult thumbnail; others are larger and rounded. The drives are hot-swappable in all modern editions of Windows. Simply plug one into any USB port and it will appear as a removable storage device in My Computer or Computer. After connecting the drive to a USB port, you can copy or move data to or from your hard drive, then unplug the drive and take it with you. You can read, write, and delete files directly from the drive. Since these are USB devices, they do not require an external power source. Non-volatile flash memory is solid-state, so it's shock resistant and is supposed to safely retain data for up to a decade. Newer systems allow you to boot from a USB stick. With a bootable USB stick, you can replace bootable floppy disks, CDs, and DVDs with fast flash drives. Making a USB stick bootable is challenging, so most classic boot utility CD makers have created USB versions that look for your USB stick and add an operating system with the utilities you want to use. Most of these are simply Linux-based Live CD versions. If you want to try it out, check out GParted Live at and click the Live CD/USB link.

NOTE Remember to change the boot order in CMOS when you want to boot from a USB flash drive. If you use the wrong boot order, your BIOS will jump directly to your hard drive and load your operating system. Flash Cards Flash cards are the way people store data on small appliances. Digital cameras, smartphones, and MP3 players often come with slots for some type of memory card. Memory cards come in a number of incompatible formats, so let's start by making sure you know the most common ones. CompactFlash CompactFlash (CF) is the oldest, most complex, and physically largest of all removable flash media cards (see Figure 13-11). About one inch wide, CF cards use a simplified PCMCIA bus (see Chapter 26 for more details) for the interface. CF cards come in two sizes: CF I (3.3mm thick) and CF II (5mm thick). CF II cards are too thick to fit into CF I slots.

Figure 13-11 CF Card Smart manufacturers have reused the CF form factor to create the microdrive (see Figure 13-12). Microdrives are true hard drives using platters and read/write heads that fit into the tiny CF form factor. Micro drives are slower and consume more power than flash drives, and when they were first introduced, they cost much less than an equivalent CF flash card. From the user's point of view, CF flash cards and microdrives look and act exactly the same, although the higher power consumption of microdrives makes them incompatible with some devices. These days, microdrives have been surpassed in size, speed, and cost by their flash cousins ​​and have become harder to find.

Figure 13-12 Microdrive SmartMedia SmartMedia emerged as a competitor to CF cards and was quite popular in digital cameras for a few years (see Figure 13-13). The introduction of SD media reduced the popularity of SmartMedia and no new devices use this media.

Figure 13-13 SmartMedia Secure Digital Secure Digital (SD) cards are possibly the most common flash media format today. About the size of a small postage stamp, you'll see SD cards in almost any type of device that uses flash media. SD cards come in two smaller forms called Mini Secure Digital (MiniSD) cards and Micro Secure Digital (MicroSD) cards. They are extremely popular on cell phones that use flash memory, but are of little use on other devices. Figure 13-14 shows the three forms of SD cards.

Figure 13-14 SD, MiniSD, and MicroSD Cards SD cards come in three storage capacities. Standard SD cards store 4 MB to 4 GB, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) cards store 4 GB to 32 GB, and Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC) cards have a storage capacity of 32 GB to 2 TB. Early SD card readers and devices cannot read SDHC or SDXC cards, although the latter standards provide backwards compatibility.

NOTE SD cards were developed from an older and slower flash memory technology called MultiMediaCard (MMC). If you have an MMC card lying around, you can use it in almost any SD card slot. However, SD cards are a bit thicker than MMC cards, so the reverse is not true. Memory Stick Sony always likes to use proprietary formats, and its Memory Stick flash memory is no exception. If you own anything from Sony and use flash memory, you'll need a Memory Stick, although not all Memory Sticks are made by Sony (see Figure 13-15). There are various formats of Memory Stick, including Standard, Pro, Duo, Pro Duo, and Micro.

Figure 13-15 Memory Stick xD Image Card Proprietary Extreme Digital (xD) image cards (see Figure 13-16) are approximately half the size of an SD card. They are used almost exclusively in Olympus and Fujifilm digital cameras, although Olympus (the developer of xD technology) produces a USB enclosure so you can use an xD Picture Card like any other USB flash drive. xD Picture Cards come in three versions: original, standard (type M), and high-speed (type H). Standard cards are slower than the original cards but offer more storage capacity. High-speed cards are two to three times faster than the others and allow you to capture full-motion video—assuming your camera has that capability, of course!

Figure 13-16 xD Card Card Readers Regardless of the type of flash memory you use, your PC must have a card reader to access card data directly. There are several inexpensive USB card readers available today (see Figure 13-17), and some PCs come with built-in readers, useful when someone pulls out an SD card and says “Let's see the pictures I just took! ” Of course, if the person brings their camera and a USB cable, they can connect the camera to the PC and take pictures that way. Just make sure you have spare batteries too! Wouldn't a card reader be a more elegant solution?

Figure 13-17 USB Card Reader Regardless of the type of flash memory you have, understand that it acts exactly like a hard drive. If you want, you can format a memory card and copy, paste, and rename files. Optical Drives CD, DVD, and Blu-ray Disc drives and discs come in a variety of types and formats, allowing you to back up data, burn music, master home videos, and much, much more. Optical disc is the generic term for all those different kinds of shiny 12-centimeter-wide discs that, if you're a slacker like me, gather around your computer like pizza boxes. Drives that support them are called optical drives. This section examines optical discs and ends with details on installing optical drives. CD stands for compact disc, a medium that was originally designed more than 25 years ago as a replacement for vinyl records. The digital versatile disc (DVD) first eliminated VHS cassette tapes from the commercial home movie market and has also become a competitor for high-capacity storage and backup. Blu-ray Disc (BD) phased out the High Definition DVD (HD DVD) format to become the only high-capacity, high-definition optical format. Going beyond those three big household names, the term "optical disc" refers to technologies such as CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD, DVD+RW, HD DVD, BD-R, BD-RE, etc in. Each of these technologies will be discussed in detail in this chapter; For now, please understand that while "optical disc" describes a variety of interesting formats, they all basically boil down to the same physical object: that shiny little disc. CD-Media The best way to understand the world of optical discs is to classify the many types of technologies available, starting with the first: the compact disc. All you are about to read is relevant and fair game for CompTIA A+ certification exams. Let's start by looking at how CDs work. How CDs Work CDs, the discs you buy at music stores or can find in software boxes, store data through microscopic holes. CD producers use a laser power to burn these pits into a glass master CD. Once the CD producer creates a master, expensive machines create plastic copies using a very high tolerance injection molding process. The prints are coated with a reflective metal coating and then finished with lacquer to

protection. CDs store data on only one side of the disc: we don't flip a CD like we used to flip vinyl records. Do I just sound very old? The data on a CD is near the top of the CD, where the label is located (see Figure 13-18). Many people believe that scratching a CD at the bottom makes it unreadable. This is false. If you scratch a CD on the bottom (the shiny side), just clean the scratches, assuming they aren't too deep, and read the CD again. A number of companies sell inexpensive CD polishing kits. It's the scratches on the top of the disc that wreak havoc on CDs. Avoid writing on the top with anything but a soft tip pen, and of course, don't scratch the top! CD drives (like the one in your car or your PC) use a laser and mirrors to read the data on the CD. The metal cover of the CD forms a highly reflective surface; holes create interruptions in that surface, while points without holes, called lands, leave it untouched. The laser picks up the reflected pattern created by the pits and lands, and the CD drive converts this pattern into binary 1's and 0's. Because the wells are so densely packed on the CD, a large amount of data can be stored: a standard CD contains up to 5.2 billion bits, or 650 million bytes, of data.

Figure 13-18 Location of data CD formats Early CDs were designed to play music and organized the music into a special format called CDDigital Audio (CDDA), which we generally call CD-audio. CD-audio divides the data on the CD into tracks of variable length; on music CDs, each song has a track. CD-audio is a great way to store music, but it lacks error checking, file support, or directory structure, making it a terrible way to store data. For this reason, The Powers That Be created a special method for storing data on a CD called—are

done—CD-ROM. The CD-ROM format divides the CD into fixed sectors, each containing 2353 bytes. Most CD-ROM drives also support several older and lesser-known formats. You may never find these formats (CD Text, CD+G, etc.), although you may see them listed among the supported formats on the packaging of a new drive or with a program like Nero InfoTool (see Figure 13- 19). Don't let these strange formats put you off: with a few exceptions, they've pretty much fallen by the wayside. All CD-ROM drives read all of these formats, assuming the system is loaded with the appropriate software.

Figure 13-19 Crazy CD Formats The CD-ROM format is something of a partition in the world of hard drives. The CD-ROM can define the sectors (and some other information), but it does not allow a CD-ROM disc to act like a hard drive, with a structure of files, directories and so on. To make a CD-ROM act like a hard drive, there is another layer of

format that defines the file system used on the drive. At first glance, you might think "Why don't CD-ROMs use a FAT or NTFS format like hard drives?" Well, first of all, they could. There is no law of physics that prevents the CD-ROM world from adopting any file system. The problem is that the CD manufacturers did not want the CD-ROM to be tied to the file format of Microsoft, Apple or anyone else. Also, they wanted non-PC devices to read CDs, so they invented their own CD-ROM-only file system called ISO-9660. This format is sometimes known by the more generic term, CD File System (CDFS). The vast majority of current data CDROMs use this format. Over the years, extensions to ISO-9660 have addressed certain limitations, such as the characters used in file and directory names, file name length, and directory depth. CD-ROM Speeds Early CD-ROM drives processed data at approximately 150,000 bytes per second (150 KBps), copying the speed of the original CD audio format. Although this speed is great for listening to music, the CDROM industry quickly recognized that installing programs or transferring files from a CD-ROM at 150 KBps was the electronic equivalent of watching paint dry. Since the day the first PC CD-ROM drives were released, there has been a desire to speed them up to increase their data throughput. Each increase in speed is measured in multiples of the original 150 KBps units and is assigned an x ​​to show the speed relative to the first (1x) units. Here is a list of common CD-ROM speeds, including most of the early speeds that are no longer in production:

Please note that these are maximum speeds that are rarely reached in real life. However, you can count on a 32x drive to read data faster than an 8x drive. As the multipliers keep increasing, so many other factors come into play that, for example, telling the difference between a 48x and a 52x disc becomes difficult. However, high-speed CD-ROM drives are so inexpensive that most people buy the fastest drive possible—at least installations are faster! CD-R The production of CD-ROMs requires specialized and expensive equipment and a great deal of experience, which is why a relatively small number of CD-ROM producing companies do it. However, since the day the first CD-ROMs were released, the demand has been great for ordinary PC users to create their own CDs. The CD industry made several attempts to create a technology that would allow users to record or burn their own CDs. In the mid-1990s, the CD industry introduced the CD Recordable (CD-R) standard, which allows inexpensive CD-R drives, often called CD recorders, to add data to special CD-R discs. Any CD-ROM drive can read the data stored on the CD-R, and all CD-R drives can read regular CD-ROMs. CD-R discs come in two varieties: a 74-minute disc that contains approximately 650 MB, and an 80-minute disc.

variety containing approximately 700 MB (see Figure 13-20). A CD-R writer must be specifically designed to support the CD-R format longer than 80 minutes, but most drives you'll find can do this.

Figure 13-20 A CD-R disc, with its capacity clearly labeled CD-R discs function similar to regular CD-ROMs, although the chemicals used to make them produce a brightly colored recording side on almost all CD-R discs. CD-ROM discs, by contrast, have a silver recording side. CD-R technology records data by using special organic dyes embedded in the disc. This tint is what gives CD-Rs their distinctive undercolor. CD-R recorders have a second recording laser, approximately ten times more powerful than the reading laser, which heats the organic dye. This causes a change in the reflectivity of the surface, creating the functional equivalent of the holes on a CD-ROM.

NOTE Some music CD players cannot handle CD-R discs. Once the CD-R drive writes data to a CD-R, the data cannot be erased or changed unless the disc itself is destroyed. Early CD-R drives required the entire disc to be burned in one recording session, wasting any unused portion of the CD-R disc. These were called single session units. All modern CD-R drives are multi-session drives, so you can go back and write additional data to the CD-R disc until it is full. Multi-session drives also have the ability to "close" a partially full CD-R so that no more data can be written to that disc. CD-R drives have two important speeds: the write speed and the read speed, both expressed as multiples of the 150 KBps speed of original CD-ROM drives. The write speed, listed first, is always equal to or less than the read speed. For example, a CD-R drive with a specification of 8×24× would write at 8× and read at 24×. CD-RW Despite their usefulness, CD-R drives have disappeared from the market. Note that I did not say that CD-R discs have disappeared. Just as CD-R drives could write CD-R discs and read CD-ROMs, a new type of drive called CD rewritable (CD-RW) took over the CD-R drive recording market. Although

This drive has its own type of CD-RW discs, it can also write to CD-R discs, which are much cheaper. CD-RW technology allows you to not only burn a disc, but also write over existing data on a CD-RW disc. This is not something you need for every drive. For example, I create CD-R files of my entire books to store the text and graphics for posterity: this is data I want to access later but don't need to change. However, while I'm still working on this book, I might as well make a backup copy. While I'm working on it, I'll update the backup. You couldn't do that with a CD-R. The CD-RW format, on the other hand, essentially brings CD media down to the functional equivalent of a 650MB floppy disk. Once again, CD-RW discs look exactly like CD-ROM discs with the exception of a colored underside. Figure 13-21 shows the three formats.

Figure 13-21 CD-ROM, CD-R, and CD-RW discs A CD-RW drive works by using a laser to heat an amorphous (noncrystalline) substance that, when cooled, slowly becomes crystalline. Crystalline areas are reflective, while amorphous areas are not. Because both CD-R and CD-RW drives require a powerful laser, creating a drive that could record both CDRs and CD-RWs was a simple process, and simple CD-R drives disappeared almost overnight. in the morning. Why buy a CD-R drive when a similarly priced CD-RW drive could write to both CD-R and CD-RW discs?

CAUTION You can rewrite CD-RW discs a limited number of times. The number varies by source, but expect a maximum life of around 1000 rewrites, though in real life you'll get considerably less. CD-RW drive specifications have three multiplier values. The first shows the CD-R write speed, the second shows the CD-RW rewrite speed, and the third shows the read speed. Write, rewrite, and read speeds vary greatly among different brands of CD-RW drives; Here are just a few representative samples: 8x4x32x, 12x10x32x, and 48x24x48x. One of the goals with the introduction of CD-RWs was the idea of ​​making a CD-RW act like a hard drive, so that you could simply drag a file onto the CD-RW (or CD-R) and drag it with the same ease. again. This goal was difficult for two reasons: first, the different file formats made conversion on the fly risky; Second, CD-RWs don't store data in exactly the same way as hard drives and would wear out quickly if data were copied in the same way. Two developments, UDF and packet writing, allow you to treat a CD-RW as if it were a hard drive, with some bugs. The not-so-new kid in town with CD media file formats is the Universal Data Format (UDF). UDF is a replacement for ISO-9660 and all of its various extensions, resulting in a single file format that can be read by any drive and operating system. UDF has taken over the DVD world (all movie DVDs use this

format) and is about to become the CD media file format in the near future as well. UDF handles very large files and is excellent for all rewritable CD media. UDF has been around for quite some time, but until Windows Vista came out, no version of Windows could write to UDF-formatted disks. They could read the discs, but if you wanted to write to them in Windows, you had to use one of several third-party UDF tools, such as Roxio's DirectCD and Nero's InCD. UDF also supports a feature called Mount Rainier, better known as disk writing. packages, which works with UDF so you can copy individual files back and forth like a hard drive. With UDF and packet writing, rewritable CD media is as easy to use as a hard drive. Windows and CD-Media Virtually all optical drives are ATAPI-compliant, which means they connect to the ATA controllers on the motherboard, just like a hard drive, so there's no need to install drivers. You simply plug in the drive, and assuming you didn't make any physical installation errors, the drive appears in Windows (see Figure 13-22).

Figure 13-22 Optical drive in Windows Windows displays an optical drive in My Computer or Computer with the typical optical drive icon and assigns it a drive letter. Every modern edition of Windows allows you to burn music or files to a CD using Windows Media Player or Windows Explorer, respectively. Almost all new CD-RW drives also come with some form of burning software, and other third-party developers also create software that burns music and data to a CD. You may have heard of Apple's iTunes software? Figure 13-23 shows the initial menu of one I like, the popular Nero optical disc burning program.

Figure 13-23 Nero Optical Disc Burning Program

NOTE I cover more about ATAPI installation and compliance later in this chapter. When I buy a new program on CD, the first thing I do is make a backup; then I lock up the original. If I break, melt, or destroy the backup, I quickly create a new one from the original. I can easily copy the disc because my system, like many, has both a regular CD-ROM drive and a CD-RW drive (although CD-RW drives read CD-ROM discs). I can put a CD in the CD-ROM drive and a CD-R or CD-RW disc in the CD-RW drive. I then use a disc copy application to quickly create an exact replica of the CD. CD-RW drives work great for another, larger type of backup: not the "put it on disk and put it in the closet" type of file backup, but more daily/weekly backups that most of us do (or should do! ) in our systems. Using CD-R discs for these backups is wasteful; once a drive fills up, it throws it away in the next backup. But with CD-RW, you can use the same set of CDRW discs over and over again for backup. Music CDs Computers do not have a monopoly on recording CDs. Many companies offer consumer CD recorders that work with your stereo system. These come in a wide variety of formats, but are usually double-deck player/recorder combinations. These recorders do not use regular CD-R or CD-RW discs. Instead, under US law, these home recorders must use a slightly different disc called a music CD-R. Music CD manufacturers pay a small royalty for each CD (and add it to their price). You can burn to a music CD-R or CDRW, but you can't burn from one; the idea is to restrict duplication. If you decide to buy one of these recorders, be sure to buy the special music CD-Rs. Music CD-Rs are specifically designed for these types of devices and may not work well on a PC. Burning digital music files to CD Almost all computers and many portable CD players can now play recordable CDs loaded with MP3 files. This allows you to mix songs from your music collection and put many songs on one disc (MP3s are

smaller than audio CD files). That's a great feature, but where do digital audio files come from and how do they get onto a CD? You can create MP3 files from your favorite CDs using a ripper. An ripper is a piece of software that takes audio files from standard CDs and compresses them, using specialized algorithms, into much smaller files while maintaining most of the audio qualities of the original file. A legal note, though: You should only create MP3 files from CDs you've purchased. Borrowing a friend's CD and ripping MP3s from it is illegal! Likewise, downloading MP3 files from unauthorized sources on the Internet is also illegal. You don't want to go to jail because you just had to listen to the latest and greatest single from your favorite artist, right? Now that I've taken care of the legal disclaimer, get ready to burn your MP3s. You need three things: a writable/rewritable optical drive, some CD authoring software, and of course, a blank disc. I recommend a CD-R. (Audio-only devices have a much better chance of playing a CD-R successfully than a CD-RW.) 1. Confirm that you have a CD-R/RW drive installed in your computer. You don't need to have a drive like this to rip audio files from a CD, but you should have one to burn digital audio to a CD-R. 2. Launch your favorite CD authoring software. Popular titles in this category include Nero Burning ROM and Roxio Creator. 3. Most CD authoring programs use a simple drag-and-drop interface, similar to the Windows Explorer interface. Browse for the location of the audio files and select them. Then drag them to the corresponding area; this is often referred to as the queue. 4. Once you've selected all the files you want on your CD, it's time to burn. The procedure to start the CD recording sequence is different for each program. You should always make sure to close the CD after you have burned it. Most standalone CD players (even those that play MP3s) will not play CDRs that have not been closed. Once you've entered all the setup information, just sit back and watch the fireworks. Always be sure to use CD media that is rated appropriately for your drive, both for speed and type of media. In no time, you'll be listening to MP3s while running through the park. DVD-Media For years, the video industry tried to create an optical media replacement for videotape. The 12-inch-diameter laserdisc format originally introduced by Philips gained some traction in the 1980s and 1990s. But the high cost of both discs and players, plus various marketing factors, meant that there never was. a very large market for laserdiscs. You might still find one of them sitting around, though, or you might know someone who invested in a small collection during the laserdisc heyday. DVD was developed by a large consortium of electronics and entertainment companies in the early 1990s and released as digital video discs in 1995. DVD's transformation into a data storage medium required a name change to digital discs. versatile. You will still hear both terms used. The industry also uses the term DVD-video to distinguish the film format from data formats. With the exception of the DVD logo stamped on all commercial DVDs (see Figure 13-24), DVDs look exactly like CD media discs; but that's where the similarities end. DVD has become the fastest growing media format in history and has completely surpassed VHS as the preferred media for

video. Also, a variant of DVD called DVD-RAM has seen some success as a mass storage medium.

Figure 13-24 Typical DVD-Video The best word to describe a DVD is capacity. All previous optical discs stored a maximum of 700 MB of data or 80 minutes of video. The smallest capacity DVD contains 4.37 GB of data, or two hours of standard definition video. The highest capacity DVD version stores approximately 16 GB of data, or more than eight hours of video! DVD achieves these incredible capabilities through the use of a number of technologies, but three are the most important. First, DVD uses smaller voids than CD media and packs them much more densely. Second, DVD comes in single-sided (SS) and double-sided (DS) formats. As its name suggests, a DS drive holds twice as much data as an SS drive, but it also requires you to flip it over to read the other side. Third, DVDs come in single layer (SL) and double layer (DL) formats. DL formats use two pecked layers on each side, each with a slightly different reflectivity index. Table 13-1 shows common DVD capacities.

Table 13-1 DVD Versions/Capacities

EXAM TIP CompTIA A+ exams refer to dual-layer DVDs as DL DVDs, while a rewritable DVD is referred to as a dual-layer DVD-RW. DVD-Video

The most beautiful feature of DVD-video is its ability to store two hours of video on one side. You put in a DVD-video and you can watch a whole movie without flipping it. DVD-video is compatible with TV-style 4:3 aspect ratio screens, as well as 16:9 cinema screens, but it's up to the producer to decide which one to use. Many DVD-video producers used to distribute DVD movies on DS media with a ratio of 4:3 on one side and 16:9 on the other, although that's not as common anymore. DVD-video is based on the MPEG-2 video and audio compression standard to achieve the magic of two hours of video per side. The Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) is a group of compression standards for audio and video. The MPEG-2 standard offers resolutions up to 1280 x 720 at 60 frames per second (fps), with full CD-quality audio (standard DVDs only offer 480 vertical resolution, just like regular TV). DVD-ROM DVD-ROM is the DVD equivalent of the standard CD-ROM data format, except that it is capable of storing up to almost 16 GB of data. Almost all DVD-ROM drives are also fully compatible with DVD-video, as well as most CD-ROM formats. Most DVD drives that ship with PCs are DVD-ROM drives. Recordable DVD The IT industry has no fewer than six different standards for recordable DVD media: DVD-ROM for general use, DVD-R for authoring, DVD-RW, DVD+R, DVD+RW, and DVD-RAM. Both standard DVD-R discs and DVD+R discs work like CD-Rs. You may write to them but not delete or alter what is written. DVD-RW, DVD+RW, and DVD-RAM discs can be recorded and rewritten, just like CD-RW discs. Most DVD drives can read all formats with the exception of DVD-RAM. DVD-RAM is the only DVD format that uses a cartridge, so it requires a special drive (see Figure 13-25). DVD-RAM still exists, but it's fading away.

Figure 13-25 DVD-RAM Disc Although there is little or no difference in quality between the standards, competition between the corporations that push their preferred standards has lasted for years. Sony and Phillips, for example, pushed the + series, while other manufacturers pushed the - series. Worse yet, no recordable DVD drive made before 2003 could write any format except its own. You could spend $250 on a new DVD+RW drive and still not be able to edit your friend's disc that used the DVD-RW format! Half the time, the drive couldn't even read the competitor's format disc.

The situation is much better today, as DVD±RW combo drives in PCs play just about anyone else's DVDs. The challenge is DVD players. If you want to make a DVD of your family picnic and then play it on the DVD player connected to your television, take the time to read the documentation for your player to make sure it reads that particular DVD format; not all players read all formats. . MPEG Standards Playing video and sound on the PC presents interesting challenges for developers. How do you take a moving image from a movie, translate it into ones and zeros that the CPU understands, process those bits, and then send high-quality video and sound to the monitor and speakers for the computer user's delight? How much data do you think it takes to show even a two-minute clip of a car speeding down a city street, with all the minute details of the shops, the people, the screeching tires, road debris, etc.? ? In fact, how do you store the obviously enormous amount of data needed to do this? To handle these tasks, the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) has released encoding standards such as MPEG-1, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4. Each standard provides a different compression algorithm, which makes the files manageable. The standards also implement various technologies to handle motion, called motion compensation. The details of the standards are very important to the people who produce the movies and other video and audio content, but here is the short answer that should suffice for the purposes of a PC technology. MPEG-1 is the standard on which video and MP3, among other technologies, are based. The most common implementations of this standard provide a resolution of 352 × 240 at 30 fps. This video quality is just below that of a conventional VHS video. A well-known subset of MPEG-1 is better known for audio than video. MPEG-1 Layer 3, better known as the MP3 format, rules the world of audio. MP3 takes an uncompressed audio file and drastically compresses it, but the algorithm is so strict that the music coming out of the speakers remains almost completely faithful to the original audio file. Paraphrasing a catchphrase from the 1980s: I want my MP3s! MPEG-2 provides 720 × 480 and 1280 × 720 resolutions at 60 fps (as well as others), as well as CD-quality audio, making it suitable for all major television standards, including HDTV. MPEG-2 is the standard that covers DVD-ROM technology: it can compress two hours of video into a file no larger than a few gigabytes. Although encoding video in MPEG-2 format requires a computer with some firepower, even a modest PC can decompress and play such video. The MPEG-4 standard is based on MPEG-1, MPEG-2, and Apple's QuickTime technology. MPEG-4 video and graphics files use what is known as wavelet compression to create files that are more compact than JPEG or QuickTime files. This superior compression makes MPEG-4 popular for delivering video and images over the Web. Higher efficiency MPEG-4 standards, such as Advanced Video Coding, are included with MPEG-4 and are used for Blu-ray Discs. And, in particular, MPEG-4 provides Intellectual Property Protection and Management (IPMP), which supports digital rights management. MPEG-7 is designed to complement earlier standards as a fast and efficient media search tool. MPEG-21 cares and focuses on encryption and digital rights. MPEG-21 uses a Rights Expression Language (REL) and a Rights Data Dictionary to protect digital material from illegal file sharing.

Blu-ray Disc-Media Blu-ray Disc is considered the next generation in optical disc storage and formatting technology after CD and DVD. Due to its almost perfect audio and video quality; massive acceptance by leading companies in the computer, electronics, gaming, music, retail and movie industries; and huge storage capacities of up to 25 GB (single layer disc) and 50 GB (dual layer disc), Blu-ray Disc technology is expected to make CD and DVD media and devices obsolete. Blu-ray discs come in two physical sizes, standard and mini. The standard size matches that of earlier optical discs, such as CD-Rs and DVD-RWs, and is what you'll see used on computers and movies (see Figure 13-26). Mini-size drives are much smaller and naturally offer less storage space. You'll find mini Blu-ray discs in very high-end camcorders. Table 13-2 shows the details of the two formats.

Figure 13-26 Standard Blu-ray Disc

Table 13-2 Standard vs Mini Blu-ray Disc Comparison Chart

NOTE There was a brief battle for supremacy in the high-definition digital war between Blu-ray Disc and a competing high-definition optical disc standard called HD DVD. Major content manufacturers and developers turned to Blu-ray Disc, and in early 2008 Toshiba, the main company behind HD DVD, threw in the towel. HD DVD is no longer developed or supported.

NOTE If you have a PlayStation 3, you already have a Blu-ray Disc player. That is the optical format that the game system uses. Blu-ray Disc technology offers several advantages over DVD in addition to raw capacity. First, Blu-ray Disc uses a blue-violet laser (hence the Blu in the name) with a wavelength of 405 nanometers (nm). (The DVD uses red laser technology with a wavelength of 650 nm.) The 405nm wavelength is smaller and much more precise, allowing for better use of space during the creation process, ultimately resulting in a sharper image. Second, Blu-ray Disc can handle high-definition (HD) video at much higher resolutions than DVD. Finally, Blu-ray Disc supports many more video compression schemes, giving producers more options for placing content on discs. BD-ROM BD-ROM (read-only) is the Blu-ray Disc equivalent of the standard DVD-ROM data format except, as mentioned above, that it can store much more data and produces superior audio and video results. Almost all BDROM drives are fully backward compatible and support DVD-video as well as most CD-ROM formats. If you want to display the best possible movie picture quality on your HDTV, you should get a Blu-ray Disc player and use Blu-ray Discs instead of DVDs. Most new computer systems still don't come standard with Blu-ray disc drives installed. Often, you can order a custom system with a Blu-ray drive, or you can simply install one yourself. Figure 13-27 shows a Blu-ray disc drive.

Figure 13-27 CD/DVD/Blu-ray Disc Combo Drive BD-R and BD-RE Blu-ray discs come in two recordable formats, BD-R (recordable) and BD-RE (rewritable). You can write to a BD-R disc once. You can write and erase a BD-RE disc multiple times. There are also BDR and BD-RE versions of mini Blu-ray discs. Blu-ray disc recorders

Blu-ray disc burners cost more than a standard optical drive, but will eventually be as common as your average CD-RW or DVD-RW. Blu-ray Disc recorders and other Blu-ray Disc drives can be connected internally or externally to a system. Typically, they are connected externally via USB (3.0 normally) or eSATA or internally via SATA. Operating systems such as Windows, XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 support Blu-ray Disc burners and software. The software you use to record is entirely up to you; however, as always, you should follow the manufacturer's specifications for best results. Most multi-drive Blu-ray Disc recorders offer the following support features. • Media support BD-R, BD-RE, DVD-ROM, DVD-RAM, DVD-video, DVD+/-R DL, DVD+/-R, DVD+/-RW, CD-DA, CD-ROM, CD- R , and CD-RW • Write speed (max.) 2× BD-R, 4× DVD+/-R DL, 8x DVD+/-R(8×) and 24× CD-R • Rewrite speed (max. ) 2× BD-RE, 8× DVD+RW, 6× DVD-RW, 5× DVD-RAM and 16× CD-RW • Read speed (max.) 2× BD-ROM, 8× DVD-ROM and 32× CD-ROM • Compatibility Most Blu-ray Disc drives are backward compatible, which means they can read and play CDs and DVDs. CD and DVD drives and players cannot read or play Blu-ray discs. Installing Optical Drives From ten feet away, optical drives of all types look absolutely identical. Figure 13-28 shows a CD-RW drive, a DVD drive, and a BD-R drive. Can you tell them apart with just one look? In case you were wondering, the CD-RW drive is at the bottom, the DVD drive is below it, and finally the BD-R drive is at the top. If you look closely at an optical drive, you'll usually see its function stamped on the front of the case or printed on a label in some less obvious place (see Figure 13-29).

Figure 13-28 CD-RW, DVD, and BD-R drives

Figure 13-29 Label on the optical drive indicating its type Connections Most internal optical drives use SATA connections (although you'll find that some drives still use a PATA cable) and are compliant with the ATAPI standard. (Other connections, such as SCSI and USB, are possible but less common.) External optical drives often use USB, FireWire, or eSATA connections. ATAPI treats an optical drive exactly like an ATA drive. PATA optical drives have regular 40-pin IDE connectors and master/slave jumpers. SATA optical drives use standard SATA or eSATA cables. You install them just like you would install any ATA hard drive. Figure 13-30 shows a typical DVD installation using SATA.

Figure 13-30 Typical DVD Installation

ATAPI drives do not require CMOS changes as part of the installation process. When the industry first introduced ATAPI drives, technicians familiar with hard drive installations flooded the service departments of CD-ROM manufacturers asking how to set the drives to CMOS. To reduce these calls, BIOS manufacturers have added a CD-ROM option to many CMOS setup utilities, just to give techies something to do! You can find this option in many older CMOS setup utilities. This setting didn't actually do anything at all; it simply prevented users from pestering CD-ROM manufacturers with silly support calls. Modern motherboards report the actual model numbers of the optical drives, giving technicians a degree of assurance that they have configured and installed the drive correctly (see Figure 13-31).

Figure 13-31 Auto-sensing configuration for two optical drives External optical drives Almost all new PCs have one, two, or three external expansion buses (USB, FireWire, or eSATA), and optical drive manufacturers have taken this very seriously. made. Many manufacturers have released external versions of CD, DVD, and Blu-ray Disc drives, both readers and recorders. Of the three, eSATA is the fastest, closely followed by USB 3.0 and FireWire in a distant third. Many ultralight laptops do not have a built-in optical drive; the only way to load an operating system on them is through an external drive. You won't find many CD or DVD drives with eSATA, they just can't take advantage of the incredible speed that the best of external ports can offer. Blu-ray Disc drive manufacturers, on the other hand, have released several drives with eSATA and USB 3.0 connections. Since both connections offer almost the same speed (at least in practical use), feel free to use either connection. Device Manager When you install a new optical drive, such as a DVD drive, in an existing system, the first question to ask yourself is "Does Windows recognize my DVD drive?" You can determine this by opening My Computer/Computer and verifying that a DVD drive is present (see Figure 13-32). When you want more information, go to Device Manager.

Figure 13-32 The DVD drive letter in Computer Device Manager contains most of the information about optical drives. Open Device Manager and find your drive in the list of devices. Right-click on the drive and select Properties to view more information. The General tab tells you about the current status of the DVD drive, basically telling you whether the device is working properly or not, something less useful than testing the device. Other tabs, such as the Driver tab, provide other pertinent information about the drive. Auto Push Notification Another important setting is the Auto Push Notification option, often referred to as AutoPlay. This setting allows Windows to automatically detect the presence of optical audio or data discs when they are placed in the drive. Windows XP and Windows Vista/7 handle AutoPlay in different ways. Windows XP provides a simple approach to autoplay. By default, when you insert a CD or DVD disc that does not have an autorun.inf file, Windows XP asks you what you want to do (see Figure 13-33). You can change the default behavior simply by accessing the Properties dialog for a particular drive in My Computer and making your selection on the AutoPlay tab. Figure 13-34 shows some of the options for a typical Windows XP machine.

Figure 13-33 Windows XP prompts the user to perform an action AutoPlay in Windows Vista and Windows 7 is much more robust and offers many more options than in Windows XP. For example, you can choose to enable or disable autoplay for all media and devices. (The default use of AutoPlay for all media and devices.) But what is more interesting is that you can enable very specific actions for Windows to perform when devices or digital media are inserted or detected. For an audio CD, for example, you can specify that Windows should use Windows Media Player. If a DVD or Blu-ray movie is detected, you can tell AutoPlay to play the disc using PowerDVD 12 or some other program. You can adjust autoplay options in Windows Vista/7 via Control Panel | Hardware and Sound | Self-reproduction.

Figure 13-34 AutoPlay tab for a CD-RW drive You can also change the drive letter for an optical drive, just like you can change the letter for a hard drive. You will find that option in Disk Management (see Figure 13-35).

Figure 13-35 Change CD Drive Letter option in Disk Management Applications A normal CD-ROM drive installation does not involve applications. You install it, Windows sees it, and that's it. CD-R and CD-RW drives, by contrast, require applications to enable their recording features. Windows Media Player, included with most copies of Windows, is capable of burning music to CDs, while Windows Explorer can burn data to your CDs. DVD and Blu-ray Disc drives need software to let you watch movies and burn DVDs and Blu-ray videos, though burning your data to DVD is still handled by Windows Explorer. (Burning to Blu-ray media requires third-party software.) Windows Media Player is a great application for watching DVDs, but to burn videos to DVD, you'll need to use Windows DVD Maker (Vista/7) or third-party software. tool like Nero or Roxio Creator. Ever wanted to make a perfect copy of a CD so you could keep your original in a safe place? You can do this by using a special file type called an ISO file. An ISO file is a complete copy, an ISO image as we say, of an optical disc. As you can imagine, they are huge files, but they are also very important for technicians. Technicians use ISO images to send each other copies of boot utility disks. For example, if you want a copy of the Ultimate Boot CD, go to their website and download an ISO image. With Windows XP and Windows Vista, you'll need a third-party burning program (Windows 7 can burn ISO images) and go through a special process called burning an ISO image. Learn how to burn ISO images with your burning program; you will use it all the time. Blu-ray Disc Drive Considerations Installing, connecting, and physically maintaining optical drives is fairly straightforward, but a Blu-ray drive

Disk drive installation requires some special considerations. If you plan to use your Blu-ray Disc drive primarily for storage purposes, for example, the system requirements are minimal. If you plan to watch Blu-ray Disc movies in HD resolution (720p, 1080i, or 1080p), on the other hand, the requirements are pretty high. Here is a list of recommended minimum specs. • Processor At least a Pentium 4, Pentium D, or dual or multi-core processor; or an AMD Athlon 64 X2 or Phenom multicore processor. • System memory At least 1 GB of RAM for Windows XP; 2 GB RAM for Windows Vista/7. • Video You need an HDCP-compliant video card and drivers (either DVI or HDMI). That's a lot of initials in one sentence! Here's the scoop. High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) is a standard developed by Intel to ensure copyright protection on behalf of the Motion Picture Association of America. The Digital Visual Interface (DVI) and High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) standards enable fast, uncompressed connections between an HDTV, a PC, and any other DVI/HDMI component. HDMI, which carries both video and audio signals, almost replaced the old DVI standard, which only supported video. AMD and NVIDIA offer Blu-ray Disc compatible PCIe video cards with enough power to get the job done. CyberLink offers an amazing tool called BD & 3D Advisor that will tell you if your system meets the requirements to play Blu-ray discs. You can get it at Region Codes Production DVD and Blu-ray Disc movies may contain a region code, encoding that allows you to play those movies only on a player that shares the same region code. This was instituted to try and stop movie piracy, though it failed to achieve that goal. Can you play a DVD or Blu-ray Disc encoded to play in the Somalia geographic region location on your system made in the USA? Why sure you can. However, to do so, you need to change the region code on your DVD or Blu-ray Disc player to match Somalia (5 or B, respectively, in case you're curious). You can only change the region code on your player four times. After that, you're stuck with the last used region code. Most optical devices are set to play only discs encoded for the region in which they were sold or manufactured. You can easily check and set your device's current region code in the hardware properties of your optical device in any version of Windows. As a home technician or enthusiast, you should be familiar with the following optical device and media region codes.

TIP Make sure you are familiar with the Blu-ray Disc requirements discussed in this section, especially the stringent requirements to support high-definition video and audio. Also, note that CompTIA expects you to have some knowledge of DVD/BD region codes, so pay attention to those as well. DVD Region Codes: • REGION 0 All Regions

• REGION 1 United States, Canada • REGION 2 Europe, Japan, Middle East, South Africa, Greenland • REGION 3 South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, areas of Southeast Asia • REGION 4 Australia, New Zealand, Central and South America • REGION 5 Eastern Europe, Russia, India, Africa • REGION 6 China • REGION 7 Reserved for special and future use • REGION 8 Reserved for cruise ships and airlines Blu-ray Disc Region Codes:

• A East Asia (excluding China and Mongolia), Southeast Asia, the Americas and its dependencies • B Africa, Southwest Asia, Europe (except Russia), Oceania and its dependencies • C Central Asia, East Asia (China and Mongolia only), South Asia, Central Eurasia (including Russia), and their dependencies Troubleshooting Removable Media Floppy drives, flash memory, and optical drives are fairly robust devices that rarely require troubleshooting due to actual hardware failure. Most removable media issues stem from lack of knowledge, incorrect installation, abuse, and misuse of associated applications. There is no way to fix a really broken flash card, once a flash card dies it replaces it, so let's focus on troubleshooting floppy drives and optical drives. Floppy Drive Maintenance and Troubleshooting No component fails more frequently than the floppy drive. This isn't really that surprising because floppy drives are more exposed to the outside environment than anything except the keyboard. Only a small door (or in the case of 5¼-inch drives, not even a door at all) separates the read/write heads from dust and dirt. Floppy disk drives are also exposed to the threat of mechanical damage. Many people destroy floppy drives by accidentally inserting reversed disks, paper clips, and other foreign objects. Life is hard for floppy drives. In the face of this abuse, the key preventative maintenance performed on floppy drives is cleaning. You can find floppy drive cleaning kits at some electronics stores, or you can use a cotton swab and some denatured alcohol to gently scrub the inside of the drive for dust and other debris. If cleaning the drive doesn't help, try replacing the suspect disk with another one to see if the floppy drive is damaged. If it turns out that your floppy drive won't read any disks, it's time to replace the drive. Troubleshooting optical drives and discs

Optical drives are extremely reliable and durable PC components. Sometimes though, a reliable and durable device decides to become a frustrating heap of unreliable and non-durable plastic and metal. This section covers some of the most common problems with optical drives and discs (installation problems, burning problems, and firmware updates) and how to fix them. installation problems

The biggest problem with optical drives, especially in a new installation, is the connection. Your first assumption should be that the drive has not been installed correctly in some way. Some of the common culprits are forgetting to plug in a power connector, inserting a cable backwards, and misconfiguring jumpers/switches. Although you need to know the type of drive, the test for a bad physical connection is always the same: use the BIOS to see if the system can see the optical drive. The way BIOS detects an optical drive depends on the system. Most BIOS manufacturers have created smart BIOS software that can see an installed CD media drive. Figure 13-36 shows a modern BIOS from Award Software, Inc. that recognizes a CD-RW at boot time.

Figure 13-36 BIOS recognizes an optical drive at boot If the BIOS detects the device, Windows recognizes the drive and you will see it in My Computer/Computer and device manager. If the drive won't read a CD-R or CD-RW disc, try a known-good, commercial CD-ROM disc first. CD-R and CD-RW discs sometimes have compatibility issues with CD-ROM drives. The same goes for DVD-RWs or any other recordable DVD discs in your DVD drive or recordable Blu-ray discs in your Blu-ray disc drive. Also, no optical drive will read badly scratched discs. If the drive still doesn't see a disc, try cleaning the drive. Most modern optical drives have built-in cleaning mechanisms, but from time to time, you need to use a commercial optical drive cleaning kit (see Figure 13-37). Optical drives don't get cleaned very often, but disks do. Although there are several optical drive cleaning kits available, you can clean most drives fairly well with nothing more than a soft, damp cloth. Occasionally you can add a mild detergent. Always clean from the center of the optical disc toward the edge—never use a circular motion when cleaning a CD, DVD, or Blu-ray Disc! A common old tech tale about cleaning optical drives is that you can wash them in a dishwasher. Although this may sound laughable, the story has become so commonplace that it requires a serious response. This is not true for two reasons: First, the water in most dishwashers is too hot and can cause the discs to warp. Second, the water pushes against the discs, causing them to hit other objects and get scratched. Do not do it!

Figure 13-37 Optical drive cleaning kit The last problem with optical drives (jammed discs) stems from technical error and is not really the fault of the drives. I can't tell you the number of times I've removed an optical drive from a system to replace it, only to find that I or my customer left an essential drive inside the drive now without power. Fortunately, most optical drives have a small hole in the front, usually just below the drive opening, into which you can insert a cable (an unbent paper clip is the standard tool for this purpose) and push an internal release lever that ejects the disct. Try it! hot topics

The tremendous growth of the CD-R and CD-RW industry, and to a lesser extent, the recordable DVD industry, has given rise to a considerable number of disc and drive incompatibility problems. Some of these incompatibilities can be traced back to serious IO (operator ignorant) problems; people try to make these drives do jobs they weren't designed to do. Even when people read the manuals and jump through the appropriate hoops, real problems arise, many of which can be easily resolved with a few checks. Know What You Can Do Most errors occur at the point of purchase, when someone buys a drive without fully understanding its capabilities. Don't assume the device will do everything. Before I buy a CD-RW or DVD-RW drive, for example, I make it a point to get my hands on all the technical documents provided by the manufacturer to verify exactly what capabilities the drive has. I make sure the unit has a good reputation; just use any search engine and type in review and the model number of the unit to get feedback from multiple people. Media issues The optical disc standards committees refused to mandate the types of materials used in the construction of discs. As a result, you will see substantial differences in quality between CD-R and CD-RW discs from different brands and sources (they are manufactured in several different countries). As mentioned above, CD-R discs use organic inks as part of the recording process. Fellow techies love to talk about which color to use or which color gives the best results. Ignore them; the color itself means nothing. Instead, try several brands of CD-R discs when you first get your drive to determine which one works best for you. If you have a particular reason for burning CDs, such as recording music, you can ask for opinions and recommendations from people in online communities with the same focus. They are usually happy

share your hard-earned knowledge about what works. In general, two things can affect paper quality: speed and inks. Most manufacturers of CD-R and CD-RW media certify that their CDs work at a certain speed multiplier. A media manufacturer often has two product lines: a quality line guaranteed to work at a certain speed, and a generic line they take a chance on. As a general rule, I buy both. I mostly use cheap drives, but I always keep five to ten good quality drives in case I run into problems. Again, this largely depends on what you want them for - you might want to bust out the cheaper ones for temporary backups, but stick with the higher-end drives for archiving musical performances. All of this discussion about CD-Rs and CD-RWs definitely holds true for DVD and BD recordable discs and drives as well. Factor in the incompatibility of standards, and you're in for quite a mess. Know before you buy or advise a customer to buy a recordable or rewritable DVD/BD drive. Buffer Underrun Every CD, DVD, and Blu-ray Disc recorder comes with built-in RAM, called buffer RAM, often just called a buffer, which stores incoming data from the recording source. Buffer underruns, the inability of the source device to keep the recorder loaded with data, creates more coasters—that is, incorrectly burned and therefore useless CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray Discs—than any other. problem. Buffer underruns most often occur when copying from CD-ROM to CD-R/RW or from DVDROM to recordable DVD of all kinds. Many factors contribute to buffer depletion, but two stand out as the most important. The first factor is the size of the buffer. Be sure to buy drives with large buffers, a minimum of 2MB. Unlike system RAM, it cannot get a buffer update. The second is multitasking. Most systems will not allow you to run any other programs while the recorder is running. One trick to reduce burnout is to use an ISO image file. Unlike some optical drives, any hard drive can keep up with an optical recorder. Doing a bitwise copy from one disk to another drastically reduces the chances of a buffer underrun adding to your coaster collection. All current optical disc recorders include the BURN-Proof technology developed by Sanyo, which has eliminated the problem of insufficient data. These drives can literally shut down the recording process if the buffer runs out of information and automatically restart as soon as the buffer is refilled. I love this feature as now I can burn CDs in the background and run other programs without fear of timeout. If you're shopping for a new burner, make sure you get one that uses BURN-Proof technology.

TIP Most problems that occur with CD, DVD, and Blu-ray Disc drives are often the direct result of incorrectly installed or updated device drivers, disconnected cables, or incompatible or simply faulty media. Also, keep in mind that DVD and Blu-ray Disc drives use specific region codes that are often misconfigured. Blu-ray Disc drives have very specific driver and hardware specifications that must be met in order for the end user to have a smooth experience. CompTIA is likely to target these areas, so make sure you understand this information. firmware updates

Almost all optical drives come with an upgradeable flash ROM chip. If your drive won't read a particular type of media, or if other non-intermittent read/write issues develop, check the manufacturer's website to see if they offer a firmware upgrade. Almost all optical drives seem to receive one or two firmware updates during their production run.

Beyond Color Books A+

The term color books is often used in the world of CDs. Color books are... well, books! In this case, they are the standards developed in the industry to describe various media. For example, the red book describes the original audio CD format. If you have a lot of money, say US$3000, you can buy copies of these books, and yes, their covers really do match the colors of the standards. You may hear a fellow IT support user using these terms. Instead of saying, "Does your CD-ROM read CDRW?" they will say, "Is that CD-ROM of yours an orange book?" Technical specifications also use these terms. I personally don't like the way many people refer to these book colors, but the terms are used enough that I memorize the meanings of at least three book colors: red, yellow, and orange. Table 13-3 shows a complete list of book colors on CD media.

Table 13-3 CD-Media Book Colors BDXL If you think the 50GB capacity of Blu-ray Disc is limited, please refer to BDXL discs. The BDXL format was introduced in June 2010, though drives capable of reading and writing to the discs didn't start appearing until late 2011. That's right: you can't use BDXL discs in that standard Blu-ray Disc drive you just bought. buy. You will need a drive that specifically supports the new format. So why would you want one? In a word: capacity. BDXL discs come in two flavors: a triple-layer BDXL disc supports a 100GB capacity, and a quad-layer disc has a 128GB capacity. That's a lot of space, but it comes at a high price. In early 2012, a single drive cost US$100 – that's a dollar per gigabyte for a triple-layer drive! At those prices, you could go out and get a nice solid-state drive, which is much more flexible as a storage device. Needless to say, BDXL isn't quite ready for the spotlight yet, but as prices drop, it could become a great option for optical disc storage.

Chapter Review Questions 1. To install a floppy drive as drive A:, what do you do? A. Connect the mini connector. B. Connect it to the end connector of the ribbon cable. C. Connect it to the center connector of the ribbon cable.

D. Connect the Molex connector. 2. If the floppy disk you used last week doesn't work in your floppy drive today, what should you do first to determine if the problem is the drive or the disk? A. Try another disk in the drive or try the disk in another drive. B. Open the computer and check the ribbon cable. C. Replace the diskette drive. D. Check the CMOS settings. 3. Which term describes the ability to burn files to a CD-R and then go back and burn additional files? A. MultiBurn B. Multisession C. MultiDrive D. Multibuffer 4. What type of flash memory card is currently the most popular? A. CompactFlash B. Memory Stick C. Secure Digital D. SmartMedia 5. What type of device must be installed in your system in order to access data on a flash memory card? A. Scanner B. Card reader C. Floppy drive D. Zip drive 6. Which of the following can be bootable media? (Select the best answer). A. CD-R disc B. Floppy disk

C. USB flash drive D. All of the above 7. When you insert a CD, what file does Windows AutoPlay look for? A. autoplay.inf A. autorun.inf A. autoplay.ini A. autorun.exe 8. How can you save a copy of a CD or DVD as a file type? A. ISO B. ISO-9660 C. INF D. CDDA 9. A CD-RW has a speed rating of 12x10x32x. What do the three numbers refer to, in order? A. Write, rewrite, read B. Read, write, rewrite C. Rewrite, read, write D. Write, read, rewrite 10. What standard does DVD-ROM technology cover? A. MPEG-1 B. MPEG-2 C. MPEG-3 D. MPEG-4 Answers 1. B. Plug the floppy drive into the end of the ribbon cable to make it drive A:. 2. A. If the floppy disk is not readable in the drive, try another disk first.

3. B. The term multi-session describes the ability to burn files to a CD-R and then come back later and burn additional files. 4. C. Secure Digital cards are the current kings of the market. 5. B. You need some type of card reader to read a flash memory card. 6. D. You can create a boot disk using optical disks, floppy disks, or flash drives. 7. B. By default, Windows looks for AUTORUN.INF when you insert a CD. 8. A. You can save an entire CD or DVD as an ISO image. 9. A. The three speeds listed for CD-RW drives represent write, rewrite, and read. 10. B. The MPEG-2 standard covers DVD-ROM technology (among other things).

14 Installing and updating Windows


In this chapter, you will learn to: • Identify and implement pre-installation tasks • Install and upgrade Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 • Troubleshoot installation problems • Identify and implement post-installation tasks An operating system (OS) provides the essential link between the user and the hardware that makes up the PC. Without an operating system, all of the world's biggest, fanciest PC hardware is nothing more than copper, silicon, and gold wrapped up in a big beige paperweight (or, if you're a teenager, a big shiny black paperweight with a window and lights on it). bright fluorescent lights, possibly shaped like a robot). The operating system creates the interface between human and machine, allowing you to unleash the awesome power locked in the PC's sophisticated electronics to create incredible images, games, documents, business tools, medical miracles, and much more. This chapter takes you through the processes for installing and upgrading Windows. It begins by discussing the pre-installation tasks, steps the savvy technician shouldn't skip. Most of the chapter is in the second section, where you'll learn how to install and upgrade Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. Not all installations go smoothly, so section three discusses installation troubleshooting. The final section walks you through typical post-installation tasks.

802 Preparing to Install or Upgrade Installing or upgrading an operating system is like any good story: it has a beginning, middle, and end. In this case, the beginning is the various tasks that you must perform before installing or upgrading. If you do your homework here, the installation process is very easy and post-installation tasks are minimal. Do not get discouraged in all preparation tasks. They usually go pretty fast, and skipping them can cause you a lot of pain later when you're in the middle of installing and things blow up. Well, maybe there isn't an actual explosion, but the computer could crash and refuse to start anything usable. With that in mind, take a look at the nine tasks you need to complete before inserting that CD or DVD. Here is the list; Below is a discussion of each: 1. Identify hardware requirements. 2. Check hardware and software compatibility. 3. Decide what type of installation to perform. 4. Determine how to back up and restore existing data, if necessary.

5. Select an installation method. 6. Determine how to partition the hard drive and what file system to use. 7. Determine the network role of your computer. 8. Decide your computer's language and regional settings. 9. Post-installation task plan.

NOTE This nine-step process was once part of the CompTIA A+ exam objectives. Starting with the 220-801 and 220-802 exams, CompTIA removed this process from the exams, but I've grown to like it. The nine steps are practical, clear and easy to remember. I use them as a mental checklist every time I install Windows. Identify hardware requirements Hardware requirements help you decide if a computer system is a reasonable host for a particular operating system. Requirements include the CPU model, amount of RAM, amount of free hard drive space, video adapter, display, and storage devices that may be required to install and run the operating system. They are expressed as minimums or, more recently, as recommended minimums. Although you could install an operating system on a computer with the old minimums that Microsoft published, they were unrealistic if you really wanted to get the job done. With the latest versions of Windows, Microsoft has published recommended minimums that are much more realistic. You will find the published minimums on the package and on the Microsoft website ( Later in this chapter, I'll also tell you what I recommend as a minimum for Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. Check Hardware and Software Compatibility Assuming your system meets the requirements, the next thing to find out is how well it supports Windows hardware and software that you intend to use under Windows. You have three sources for this information. First, the setup wizard that runs during installation performs a quick check of your hardware. Microsoft also provides a free utility, usually called Upgrade Advisor, that you can run on a system to see if your hardware and software will work with a newer version of Windows. Second, Microsoft provides websites where you can search by hardware model number or by software version to see if it works well with Windows. Third, the device or software manufacturer often provides some type of information on the product box or on their website to tell you about compatibility with Windows. Let's look at the three sources of information. Setup Assistant/Upgrade Advisor When you install Windows, Setup Assistant automatically checks your hardware and software and reports any potential conflicts. It's not perfect, and if you have a critical problem (like a bad driver for your video card), the Setup Wizard may simply fail. With any flavor of Windows, do your homework first. To help, Windows also provides a utility called Upgrade Advisor (see Figure 14-1) on the installation media (also downloadable) that you run before attempting to install the software.

Figure 14-1 Upgrade Advisor lists and websites To make sure your PC works well with Windows, Microsoft has put a large number of hardware and software through a series of certification programs to create a list of devices that work with Windows. The challenge is that Microsoft seems to change the name of the list with each version of Windows.

NOTE You will occasionally hear the Windows Logo Product List or HCL referred to as the Windows Catalog. The Windows Catalog was a list of compatible hardware that Microsoft would add to Windows XP installation media. The Windows 7 Compatibility Center website is the best source for modern technology, so use it instead of any printed resource. It all started with Windows 95 when Microsoft produced a list of hardware known to work with its operating system, called the Hardware Compatibility List (HCL). Every version of Windows up to Windows Vista contained an HCL. This list was originally simply a text file found on the installation disc or downloaded from the Microsoft website. Over time, Microsoft created specialized websites where you could search for a piece of hardware or software to determine whether or not it worked with Windows. These websites have gone by a number of names. The current Microsoft website that recognizes what hardware and software works with Windows is the Windows 7 Compatibility Center, formerly known as the Windows Logo Product List (for Windows Vista) and Windows Catalog (for Windows XP). Now the magic words are Windows 7 Compatibility Center, as shown in Figure 14-2. Here you can find information about compatible components for Windows 7.

Figure 14-2 Windows Compatibility Center

NOTE If you search for the Windows Catalog or the Windows Logo Product List, you won't find them. You will be redirected to the Windows 7 Compatibility Center (or a web page that explains why you should upgrade to Windows 7). When you install a device that has not been tested by Microsoft, a rather scary screen appears (see Figure 14-3). This does not mean that the component will not work, just that it has not been tested. Not all component manufacturers go through the painful process of getting approval from Microsoft that allows them to list their component in the Windows 7 Compatibility Center. As a general rule of thumb, unless the device is more than five years old, go ahead and install it. . If it still doesn't work, you can simply uninstall it later.

Figure 14-3 Device not tested in Windows XP

EXAM TIP The CompTIA A+ 802 exam expects you to learn about the different compatibility tools available for each operating system covered. Windows XP offered the Upgrade Advisor and the Hardware Compatibility List (HCL). Windows Vista added the Windows Logo Products List online. All online tools (with the exception of, where you can find old HCLs in text format) now only point to the Windows 7 Compatibility Center. Manufacturer Resources

Don't panic if you don't see your device on the official Microsoft list; many compatible devices are not on it. Check the optical drive that came with your hardware for the proper drivers. Better yet, check the manufacturer's website for the most up-to-date drivers. Even when the Windows 7 Compatibility Center lists a piece of hardware, I still insist on checking the manufacturer's website for newer drivers. When preparing to upgrade, check the websites of the manufacturers of applications already installed on the previous operating system. If there are software compatibility issues with the versions you have, the manufacturer must provide updates or patches to fix the problem. Decide what type of installation to perform You can install Windows in several ways. A clean installation of an operating system involves installing it on a blank hard drive or completely replacing an existing installation. An upgrade installation means installing an operating system over a previously installed version, thus inheriting all previous hardware and software configurations. You can mix versions of Windows by creating a multiboot installation. Installation usually involves some type of optical drive, but there are other methods as well. Let's look at all the options. clean install

A clean installation means that your installation ignores a previous installation of Windows, removing the

older version as the new version of Windows is installed. A clean install is also performed on a new system with a completely blank hard drive. The advantage of performing a clean install is that you don't carry over problems from the old operating system to the new one. The downside is that you need to reinstall all your apps and reconfigure the desktop and each app based on user preferences. You usually do a clean install by setting your CMOS to boot from the optical drive before your hard drive. You then boot from a Windows installation disk, and Windows gives you the opportunity to partition and format the hard drive and then install Windows. update installation

In an upgrade installation, the new operating system is installed in the same folders as the old operating system, or in technical terms, the new operating system is installed on top of the old one. The new operating system replaces the old one, but you keep your data and apps and also inherit all your personal settings (like font styles, desktop themes, etc.). The best part is that you don't have to reinstall your favorite programs. Many tech writers refer to this upgrade process as an in-place upgrade. Upgrades aren't always perfect, but the benefits make it worth it if your upgrade path allows for it.

EXAM TIP Microsoft uses the term upgrade-in-place to define an upgrade installation, so expect to see it on exam 802. On the other hand, Microsoft documentation also uses the term for an entirely different process, called a repair installation. , so read any question you get on the exam carefully for context. To repair installations, see Chapter 19. To start the Windows update, you must run the appropriate program from the optical disc. This usually means inserting a Windows installation disc into your system while your old operating system is running, which automatically starts the installation program. The installation program will ask you if you want to perform an upgrade or a new installation; if you select new installation, the program will remove the existing operating system before installing the new one.

NOTE Before starting an operating system update, make sure you have closed all other open applications! If you are upgrading to Windows XP and for some reason the setup program does not start automatically, go to My Computer, open the setup disc, and locate winnt32.exe. This program initiates an upgrade to Windows XP. For a Windows Vista or Windows 7 update, open the disc in Windows Explorer and run Setup.exe in the root directory of the disc, which starts the update for those versions of Windows. Multiboot installation

A third option to consider is dual-boot or multi-boot installation. This means that your system has more than one installation of Windows and you can choose which installation to use when you start your computer. Every time your computer boots, you'll get a menu asking you which version of Windows you want to boot from. Multiboot requires that you format your active partition with a file system that all operating systems you install can use. This hasn't been much of a problem since the Windows 9x family stopped being relevant, because there's really no reason to use anything other than NTFS.

Windows XP can be installed in a separate folder from a previous existing copy of Windows, allowing you to put two operating systems on the same partition. Neither Windows Vista nor Windows 7 allow you to define the installation folder, so multibooting with Windows Vista or 7 requires you to put each installation on a different partition. You'll recall from Chapter 12 that Windows Vista and Windows 7 allow you to shrink the C: partition, so if you want to dual-boot but only have one drive, you can do that even if Vista/7 is already installed and the C: partition takes up the entire drive. disk. Use Disk Management to shrink the volume and create another partition on the newly unallocated space. Then install another copy of Windows on the new partition.

NOTE When configuring a computer to multiboot, there are two basic rules: first, you must format the system partition to a file system that is common to all installed operating systems, and second, you must install the operating systems in order of oldest to the newest. . The entire concept behind multibooting is to allow you to run multiple operating systems on a single computer. This is useful if you have an application that only runs on Windows XP, but you also want to run Windows Vista or Windows 7. Other installation methods

In medium to large organizations, more advanced installation methods are often employed, especially when many computers must be configured identically. A common method is to place the source files in a shared directory on a network server. Then, whenever a technician needs to install a new operating system, he can boot up the computer, connect to the source location on the network, and start the installation from there. This is generically called a remote network installation. This method only has many variations and can be automated with special scripts that automatically select the necessary options and components. The scripts can even install additional applications at the end of the operating system installation, all without user intervention once the installation has started. This type of installation is called an unattended installation. Another type of installation that is very popular for recreating standard configurations is an image deployment. An image is a complete copy of a hard drive volume on which an operating system and, typically, all necessary application software programs have been pre-installed. The images can be stored on optical discs, in which case the technician runs special software on the computer that copies the image to the local hard drive. Images can also be stored on special network servers, in which case the technician connects to the image server using special software that copies the image from the server to the local hard drive. A leader in this technology has been Norton Ghost, which is available from Symantec. Other similar programs are Clonezilla and Acronis True Image. Starting with Windows 2000 Server, Microsoft added Remote Installation Services (RIS), which can be used to start a scripted installation or an image installation. With Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2, Microsoft implemented Windows Deployment Services (WDS) to replace RIS. Although they are two different systems, they work very similarly from a technician's point of view. These tools help with large deployments of new systems and operating system upgrades.

TIP Scripting application and operating system installations is a full-time job in many organizations. Many scripting tools and methods are available from both Microsoft and third-party sources. Determine how to back up and restore existing data, if necessary

Whether you run a clean install or upgrade, you may need to back up your existing user data first, as things can go very wrong either way and the data on the hard drive can become corrupted. You will need to find out where the user is currently saving the data files. If they are being saved to the local hard drive, they should be backed up before the installation or replacement can take place. However, if all the data has been saved to a network location, you're in luck, because the data is safe from corruption during installation. If the user saves data locally and the computer is connected to a network, save the data, at least temporarily, to a network location until the upgrade or installation is complete. If your computer is not connected to a network, you have a few options for backing it up. For one thing, you can put the data on USB thumb drives. A slower option would be to copy the data to DVD. You can also use an external hard drive, which is a useful thing for any technician. Wherever you save the data, you will need to copy or restore the data to the local hard drive after installation. If you plan to migrate a user from one system to another, you can start the process by running the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard (Windows XP) or Windows Easy Transfer (Windows Vista and 7). It will complete that process after the Windows installation finishes. Rather than discuss the process twice, I'll leave the full discussion of migration for the "Post-Installation Tasks" section later in this chapter. Select an installation method

Once you have backed up everything important, you must select an installation method. You have two basic options: insert the installation disc into the drive and you're done, or install over a network. Determine how to partition your hard drive and what file system to use If you are performing a clean installation, you must decide in advance how to partition the disk space on your hard drive, including the number and size of the partitions and the file. system (or systems) you will use. Actually, in the decision process, the file system comes first and then the space issue follows, as you'll see. This was a much bigger problem back in the days when older operating systems couldn't use newer file systems, but now that every Windows operating system you could reasonably want to install supports NTFS, there's really no reason to use nothing else. You may still have a reason to partition your drive, but when it comes to choosing a file system, your job is done for you. Determine the network role of your computer

The question of your computer's networking functionality comes up one way or another during a Windows installation. A Windows computer can have one of several functions in relation to a network (in Microsoft terms). One role, called standalone, is actually an off-network role and simply means that the computer is not participating in a network. You can install any version of Windows on a standalone computer. A standalone computer belongs to a workgroup by default, even if that workgroup contains only one member.

In a network environment, a computer must be a member of a workgroup or a domain (if you're using Windows 7 in a workgroup on a home network, it can also belong to a homegroup). Decide your computer language and regional settings

These settings are especially important for Windows operating systems because they determine how date and time information is displayed and which math separators and currency symbols are used for various locations. Plan for post-installation tasks

After you install Windows, you may need to install the latest service pack or updates. You may also need to install updated drivers and reconfigure any settings, such as network settings, that didn't work. You will also need to install and configure any applications (word processor, spreadsheet, database, email, games, etc.) required by the computer user. Finally, don't forget to restore your backed up data before installing or upgrading. The Installation and Upgrade Process At the most basic level, installing any operating system follows a fairly standard set of steps. Turn on the computer, insert an operating system disc into the optical drive, and follow the setup wizard until everything is complete. Along the way, you'll agree to the End User License Agreement (EULA) and enter the product key that says you're not a pirate; the product key is invariably found on the installation disc box. At the same time, there are nuances between installing Windows XP or upgrading to Windows 7 that every CompTIA A+ certified technician should be aware of, so this section discusses many installation processes in some detail.

EXAM TIP Although the typical Windows installation involves a CD-ROM (for Windows XP) or DVD (for Windows Vista/7), there are other options. Microsoft provides a tool called the Windows 7 USB DVD Download Tool to write an ISO image to a USB thumb drive, for example, so you can download an operating system and install it on a system that doesn't have an optical drive. This is a good option with Windows 7 and could be a very popular option with Windows 8. Installing or upgrading to Windows XP Professional Windows XP has been around for a long time with a well-established installation and upgrade process. This is the only part of the CompTIA A+ exams where older versions of Windows can be mentioned, so be careful! upgrade paths

You can upgrade to Windows XP Professional from all of the following versions of Windows: • Windows 98 (all versions) • Windows Me • Windows NT 4.0 Workstation (Service Pack 5 and later)

• Windows 2000 Professional • Windows XP Home Edition Requisitos de hardware para Windows XP

The hardware requirements for Windows XP Professional are higher than for earlier versions of Windows, but still very low by modern hardware standards. Windows XP runs on a wide range of computers, but you must ensure that your computer meets the minimum hardware requirements, as shown in Table 14-1. Also shown is my recommended minimum for a system running a typical selection of business productivity software.

Table 14-1 Windows XP hardware requirements Hardware and software compatibility

You will need to verify hardware and software compatibility before you install Windows XP Professional, either as an upgrade or as a new installation. Of course, if your computer already has Windows XP, you are spared this task, but you are spared this task, but you will still need to verify that the applications you plan to add to the computer will be compatible. . Fortunately, Microsoft includes the Upgrade Advisor on the Windows XP disc. Upgrade Advisor You'd be hard-pressed to find a computer incapable of running Windows XP these days, but if you're ever unsure whether a computer you dug up on an archaeological dig can run XP, fear not! Upgrade Advisor is the first process that runs on the XP installation disc. It examines your installed hardware and software (in the case of an update) and provides a list of devices and software known to have problems with XP. Be sure to follow the suggestions on this list. You can also run Upgrade Advisor separately from the Windows XP installation. You can run it from the Windows XP disc. Microsoft used to offer the XP Upgrade Advisor on its website, but searching for it will now only redirect you to the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor, so running it from disk is the way to go these days. Booting into Windows XP setup

Windows XP discs can be booted, and Microsoft no longer includes a program to create a set of bootable setup discs. This shouldn't be a problem, because PCs made in the last few years can boot from the optical drive. This system BIOS setting, generally described as boot order, is controlled through a PC's BIOS-based setup program. In the unlikely event that your lab computer is unable to boot from its optical drive, you can create a set of six (yes, six!) Windows XP setup boot diskettes using a special program that you can download from the Microsoft. place. Note that Microsoft provides separate boot disk programs for XP Home and XP Professional. Registration vs. Activation

During setup, you will be asked to register your product and activate it. Many people confuse activation with registration, but these are separate operations. Registration tells Microsoft who is the official owner or user of the product and provides contact information such as name, address, company, phone number, and email address. Registration remains entirely optional. Activation is a way to combat software piracy, which means that Microsoft wants to make sure that each Windows XP license is used on only one computer. It is more formally called Microsoft Product Activation (MPA). Activation required within 30 days of installation Activation is required, but you can skip this step during installation. You have 30 days to activate the product, during which time it works normally. If you don't activate it within that time period, it will be deactivated. Don't worry about forgetting it, though, because once it's installed, Windows XP frequently reminds you to activate it with a balloon message above the tray area of ​​the taskbar. The messages even tell you how many days you have left. Activation Mechanics This is how product activation works. When you choose to activate, either during installation or later when XP reminds you to do so, an installation identification code is created from the product identification code you entered during installation and a 50-digit value that identifies your key hardware components. You must submit this code to Microsoft, either automatically if you have an Internet connection, or verbally through a phone call to Microsoft. Microsoft then returns a 42-digit product activation code. If you are activating online, you do not have to enter the activation code; it happens automatically. If you activate by phone, you must read the Installation ID to a representative and enter the resulting 42-digit activation code in the Activate Windows by phone dialog box. No personal information about you is sent as part of the activation process. Figure 14-4 shows the dialog box that opens when you start activation by clicking the reminder message balloon.

Figure 14-4 Activation takes just a few seconds with an Internet connection. Installing or upgrading to Windows Vista Preparing for an installation of Windows Vista is really no different than preparing for an installation of Windows XP. Of course, there are a few things to consider before installing or upgrading your system to Vista. upgrade paths

Windows Vista is finicky when it comes to performing upgrade installations with different editions; Although you can upgrade to any edition of Vista from any edition of Windows XP, many upgrade paths will require you to perform a clean installation of Vista. Vista's upgrade paths are so complicated that the only way to explain them is to use a grid that shows the operating system you're trying to upgrade from and the edition of Vista you're upgrading to. Fortunately for you, Microsoft provides such a grid, which I have recreated in Table 14-2.

Table 14-2 Labyrinthine Vista upgrade paths

EXAM TIP You don't really upgrade to Windows Vista Enterprise, although you can from Windows Vista Business. Because it's only available to large corporate customers, the Enterprise edition is typically installed as the first and last operating system on a corporate PC. Hardware requirements for Windows Vista

Windows Vista requires a substantially more powerful computer than XP. Make sure your computer meets at least the minimum hardware requirements suggested by Microsoft and outlined in Table 14-3, although it would be much better to meet my recommended requirements.

Table 14-3 Windows Vista hardware requirements

EXAM TIP CompTIA exams are likely to test your knowledge of the minimum installation requirements for Windows Vista Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, or

Company. Know them well! Hardware and software compatibility

Windows Vista is markedly different from Windows XP in many very basic and fundamental ways, and this causes all sorts of difficulties with programs and device drivers designed for Windows XP. When Vista came out, you probably heard a lot of people complaining about it, and they were probably complaining about hardware and software incompatibility. Simply put, a lot of older programs and devices don't work on Windows Vista, which is bad news for people still using Microsoft Word 97. Most programs developed since Vista's release in 2007 should work, but but checking the compatibility of any program you absolutely can't do without is always a good idea. Since the various tools for checking Vista compatibility have disappeared in favor of tools for Windows 7, you'll need to check with the developers or manufacturers of your software and devices.

NOTE Software incompatibility in Vista was such a problem for many corporate customers and end users that Microsoft has included a Windows XP mode in higher editions of Windows 7, allowing most Windows XP programs to run despite the different operating systems. Install or upgrade to Windows 7

Windows 7 didn't add anything new in terms of installation types. You still have to decide between a clean install and an upgrade install, but that's easy to do because you can only upgrade to Windows 7 from Windows Vista, and that's only if you have the same bit edition. In other words, you can upgrade Vista 32-bit to Windows 7 32-bit, but you can't upgrade Windows Vista 32-bit to Windows 7 64-bit. All other editions of Windows, including Windows XP Home and Professional, require a clean install to get Windows 7. Table 14-4 describes the upgrade paths.

Table 14-4 Installing or upgrading to Windows 7 If you have Windows 7 and want to upgrade to a higher edition with more features, from Windows 7 Home Premium to Windows 7 Ultimate, for example, you can use the built-in Windows Anytime. update function. You can find this option pinned to the Start menu. Don't forget your credit card! Hardware requirements for Windows 7

With Windows 7, Microsoft released a single list of system requirements, divided into 32-bit and 64-bit editions. Quoting directly from Microsoft's Windows 7 website, the requirements are as follows: • 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor.

• 1 gigabyte (GB) of RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB of RAM (64-bit) • 16 GB of available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit) • DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver

NOTE Windows 7 has incredibly humble minimum requirements. Today, a low-end desktop computer will have 4 GB of RAM, a processor around 2 GHz, about a terabyte of hard drive space, and a DirectX 11 video card with 256 or even 512 MB of graphics memory. Be sure to memorize the list of requirements. Microsoft also added a fairly extensive list of additional requirements that vary depending on which edition of Windows 7 you're using. From the same website, they include (author's comments in parentheses): • Internet access (charges may apply). [You need Internet access to easily activate, register, and update your system.] • Depending on resolution, video playback may require additional memory and advanced graphics hardware. • Some games and programs may require a DirectX 10 or higher compatible graphics card for optimal performance. [Video has improved dramatically over the years, and DirectX 9 dates back to 2004. Many games and high-definition video need more than DirectX 9. Also, Windows Aero Desktop (also known as Aero Glass) adds a beauty and amazing functionality to your desktop. You must have a video card with 128 MB of graphics memory for Aero to work.] • For some Windows Media Center features, a TV tuner and additional hardware may be required. [Windows Media Center works fine without a TV tuner. You can still use it to play Blu-ray Disc and DVD movies, as well as video and music files. However, if you want to watch live TV, you'll need a tuner.] • HomeGroup requires a network and Windows 7 PC. • DVD/CD creation requires a compatible optical drive. [If you want to burn something to an optical disc, you need a drive that can burn discs.] • Windows XP mode requires an additional 1 GB of RAM and an additional 15 GB of available hard disk space. Windows 7 is also designed to handle multiple CPU cores and multiple CPUs. Many, if not most, modern computers use multicore processors. 32-bit editions of Windows 7 can handle up to 32 processor cores, making it an easy fact to remember for exams. 64-bit editions of Windows 7 support up to 256 processor cores. In terms of multiple physical processors (found in high-end PCs), Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise can handle two CPUs, while Windows 7 Starter and Home Premium only support one CPU.

EXAM TIP In this chapter, you learned some of the different installation procedures for Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. Keeping them in order can be difficult, but if you want to avoid being cheated on CompTIA A+ exams, you should be able to . Review the procedures, and then make sure you can identify the points of similarity and, more importantly, the differences between the three. update problems

A few extra steps before inserting that installation disk are worth it. If you plan to upgrade instead of performing a clean install, follow these steps first: 1. Remember to check for hardware and software compatibility as explained earlier in this chapter. 2. Have an up-to-date backup of your data and configuration files available. 3. "Spring clean" your system by uninstalling unused or unnecessary applications and deleting old files. 4. Perform a disk scan (error check) and disk defragmentation. 5. Unzip all files, folders and partitions. 6. Run a virus scan, and then remove or disable all virus-detection software. 7. Disable virus checking in your system's CMOS. 8. Note that in the worst case, you may need to start over and do a clean install anyway. This makes step 2 extremely important. Back up your data! The clean installation process of Windows XP

A clean install begins with your system set to boot to your optical drive and the Windows installation disc in the drive. You start your PC and the installation program loads (see Figure 14-5). Note at the bottom that it says to press F6 for a third-party SCSI or RAID controller. Only do this if you want to install Windows on a foreign drive and Windows doesn't already have the driver for that drive controller. Do not worry about this; Windows has a huge variety of drivers for almost every hard drive ever created, and in the rare situation where you need a third-party driver, the folks who sell you the SCSI or RAID array will let you know ahead of time.

Figure 14-5 Windows Setup Text Screen

NOTE When working with RAID (on any version of Windows), make sure you have the latest drivers on hand for installation. Put them on a USB stick in case the Windows installer can't detect your RAID configuration. After the system copies a number of files, you will see the Welcome to Setup screen (see Figure 14-6). This is an important screen! As you'll see in later chapters, technicians often use the Windows installation disc as a repair tool, and this is the screen that lets you choose between installing Windows or repairing an existing installation. Since you are doing a fresh installation, just press ENTER.

Figure 14-6 Welcome text screen

NOTE Not all screens of the installation process are shown! You will now be prompted to read and accept the EULA. No one ever reads this, it would give you a stomach ache if you saw what you're actually agreeing to, so just hit F8 and go to the next screen to start partitioning the drive (see Figure 14-7).

Figure 14-7 Partition text screen If your hard drive does not have partitions, you must create a new partition when prompted. Follow the instructions. In most cases, you can create a single partition, although you can easily create as many partitions as you like. You can also delete partitions if you are using a hard drive that was partitioned in the past (or if you messed up the partition). Note that there is no option to make a partition primary or extended; this tool makes the first partition primary and the rest extended. After you have created the partition(s), you must select the partition to install Windows XP on (somewhat trivial if you only have one partition), and then you must decide which file system format to use for the new partition.

NOTE Many techies, at least those with large hard drives (>500 GB), only partition half of their hard drive for Windows. This makes it easier for them to install an alternative operating system (usually Linux) at a later date. Unless you have some strange need to support FAT or FAT32, format the partition using NTFS (see Figure 14-8).

Figure 14-8 Choosing NTFS settings now formats the drive and copies some basic installation files to the newly formatted partition, displaying another progress bar. Go find a book to read while you wait. After the copy of the basic set of files to the hard drive is complete, the computer restarts and begins the graphical mode of Windows Setup. You will see a generic screen during the installation that looks like Figure 14-9. On the left of the screen, incomplete tasks have a white button, completed tasks have a green button, and the current task has a red button. You will get a lot of advertisements to read while installing.

Figure 14-9 Starting Graphics Mode The following screens ask questions about a number of things the computer needs to know. They include the desired region and language in which the computer will operate, your name and organization to personalize your computer, and a valid product key for Windows XP (see Figure 14-10). The product key helps reduce software piracy. Be sure to enter the product key exactly, or you will not be able to continue.

Figure 14-10 Product Key

NOTE Losing your product key is a bad idea! Document it, at least write it down on the installation disk. Next, you need to give your computer a name that identifies it on a network. Check with your system administrator for an appropriate name. If you don't have a sysadmin, just enter a simple name like MYPC for now; you can change this at any time. You must also create a password for the Administrator user account (see Figure 14-11). Every Windows system has an Administrator user account that can do anything on the computer. Technicians will need this account to modify and repair the computer in the future.

Figure 14-11 Administrator computer name and password Finally, you are prompted for the correct date, time, and time zone. Windows then tries to detect a network card. If a network card is detected, the network components will be installed and you will have the opportunity to configure the network settings. Unless you know you need special settings for your network, simply select the Typical Settings option (see Figure 14-12). Chill out; XP will do most of the work for you. Also, you can easily change network settings after installation.

Figure 14-12 Selection of typical network configurations

NOTE Even experienced technicians often select the Typical Settings option. Installation is not the time to fiddle with network details unless you have to. Large file copying now starts from the CD-ROM to your hard drive. This is a good time to pick up your book, because looking at the ads is boring (see Figure 14-13).

Figure 14-13 The Big Copy After copying the files needed for the final configuration, XP reboots again. During this reboot, XP determines the size of your screen and applies the appropriate resolution. This reset may take several minutes to complete, so be patient. Once the reset is complete, you can log in as an administrator. Balloon messages may appear over the tray area of ​​the taskbar; a common message concerns screen resolution. Click on the globe and allow Windows XP to automatically adjust your display settings. The final message in the installation process reminds you that you have 30 days left for activation. Go ahead and activate it now through the Internet or by phone. It is painless and fast. If you choose not to activate, simply click the Close button in the message balloon. That's all! You have successfully installed Windows XP and should have a desktop with the default Bliss background, as shown in Figure 14-14.

Figure 14-14 Windows XP Desktop with Bliss Background Windows Vista/7 Clean Install Process

With Windows Vista, Microsoft radically changed the installation process. No more wasting your time staring at a boring blue ASCII screen and typing commands on the keyboard. The Vista installer, and also the Windows 7 installer, has a full graphical interface, making it easy to partition drives and install your operating system. You already saw some of this process in Chapter 12, but this chapter will go into a bit more detail. The installation methods for Windows Vista and Windows 7 are so similar that it would be foolish to treat them as separate entries in this book (see Figure 14-15). Only the start screens and the product key input dialog have changed between Windows Vista and Windows 7! Due to this trivial difference, showing the installation process of both operating systems would be a waste of paper. This tutorial uses Windows Vista screenshots only because you may never see them anywhere else.

Figure 14-15 Windows 7 and Vista Welcome Screens Just like when you install Windows XP, you need to start your computer from some type of Windows installation media. Typically, you'll use a DVD disc, but you can also install Vista or 7 from a USB drive, over a network, or even from multiple CD-ROMs that you must specially order from Microsoft. When you have launched the installer, the first screen you will see will ask you to set your language, time/currency, and keyboard settings, as shown in Figure 14-16.

Figure 14-16 Windows Vista Language Setup Screen The next screen in the installation process is somewhat similar to the Welcome to XP Setup text screen, in

which allows technicians to start the repair tools from the installation disk (see Figure 14-17). Like the completely revamped installer, Vista and 7 repair tools are markedly different from those of Microsoft's earlier operating systems. You'll learn more about those tools in Chapter 19, but for now all you need to know is to click where it says Repair your computer to use the repair tools. Since you are only installing Windows in this chapter, click Install Now.

Figure 14-17 Windows Vista Setup Welcome Screen The following screen shows how different the installation orders of Windows Vista and Windows 7 are. When you install Vista, you enter your product key before you do anything else, as you can see in Figure 14-18. With Windows XP (and Windows 7), this doesn't happen until much, much later in the process, and there's a very interesting reason for this change.

Figure 14-18 The Windows Vista Product Key Screen Microsoft has drastically altered the method they use to distribute different editions of their operating system; Instead of having different discs for each edition of Windows Vista or Windows 7, each installation disc contains all available editions (except Enterprise). In Windows XP, your product key did very little other than tell the installation disc that you had legitimately purchased the operating system. In Windows Vista and Windows 7, your product key doesn't just verify the legitimacy of your purchase; it also tells the installer which edition you bought, which, when you think about it, is a lot to ask of a randomly generated string of numbers and letters. If you leave the product key blank and click the Next button, you will be taken to a screen asking you which version of Windows Vista you want to install (see Figure 14-19). (However, Windows 7 disables this option; even though all versions are on the disc, you can only install the edition named on the box or disc label.) And lest you start to think you've figured out a way to install Windows for free, know that doing this simply installs a 30-day trial version of the operating system. After 30 days, you will no longer be able to start the desktop without entering a valid product key that matches the edition of Windows Vista/7 you installed.

Figure 14-19 Choose the edition of Vista you want to install. After the product key screen, you'll find Microsoft's new and improved EULA, shown in Figure 14-20, which you can skip unless you're interested in seeing what's changed in the world of obtuse legalese since the release of Windows XP.

Figure 14-20 The Vista EULA On the next page, you can decide whether you want to perform an upgrade installation or a clean installation (see Figure 14-21). As you learned earlier, you must start the Vista/7 installation process from an older operating system to use the Upgrade option, so this option will be grayed out if you booted from the installation disc. To perform a clean install of Vista/7, edit your partitions, and generally install the operating system like a pro, choose the Custom (advanced) option.

Figure 14-21 Choose your installation type. You may recall the following screen, shown in Figure 14-22, from Chapter 12. This is the screen where you can partition your hard drives and choose which partition to install Windows on. From this screen, you can click the Drive Options (advanced) link to display a variety of partitioning options, and you can click the Load Driver button to load alternative third-party drivers. The driver loading process is much more intuitive than in Windows XP: simply navigate to the location of the drivers you want using the very familiar Windows browse window (see Figure 14-23).

Figure 14-22 The partition screen

Figure 14-23 Browse for drivers. Of course, you will most likely never have to load drivers for a drive, and if you ever need to, your drive will almost certainly come with a driver disk and documentation telling you that you will need to load the drivers. Once you've partitioned your drives and selected a partition to install Windows on, the setup process takes over, copying files, expanding files, installing features, and generally doing a lot of computing stuff. This can take a while, so if you need to eat something or read War and Peace, do so during this part of the setup.

NOTE It doesn't take that long to install Windows Vista. Windows 7 installation is even faster. When Vista/7 has finished unpacking and installing, it will ask you to choose a username and image (see Figure 14-24). This screen also asks you to set up a password for your primary user account, which is definitely a good idea if you're going to have multiple people using the computer.

Figure 14-24 Choose a user image. After choosing your username and password, and letting Windows know how much you like kitten pictures, you're taken to a screen where you can type a computer name (see Figure 14-25). By default, Windows makes your computer name the same as your username but with "-PC" appended to it, which is fine in most cases.

Figure 14-25 Choose your computer name. This is also the screen where you can change the desktop wallpaper that Windows will start with. You can easily change this later, so choose what you want and click the Next button. At this point, Windows 7 will ask for your product activation key. On Windows Vista, you did this at the beginning of the installation. The next page asks how you want to configure Windows Automatic Updates (see Figure 14-26). Most users want to choose the top option, Use Recommended Settings, as it provides the easiest method to update their computer. The middle option, Install only critical updates, installs only the most critical security updates and fixes and leaves the rest of the updates up to you. This is useful when setting up computers for businesses, since many companies' IT departments like to test updates before rolling them out to employees. You only have to select the last option, Ask me later, if you can dedicate yourself to checking for updates weekly, since it will not install any automatically.

Figure 14-26 The Automatic Updates Screen Next is the time and date screen, where you can make sure your operating system knows what time it is, as in Figure 14-27. This screen should be self-explanatory, so set the correct time zone, correct date, and correct time, and proceed to the next screen.

Figure 14-27 Vista takes pity on the fool who doesn't know what time it is. If you have your computer connected to a network while running the installer, the next screen will ask about your current location (see Figure 14-28). If you are on a trusted network, such as your home or office network, make the appropriate selection and your computer will be discoverable on the network. If you're on, say, a Starbucks network, choose a public location so that caffeine addicts around you can't see your computer and potentially do malicious things to it.

Figure 14-28 Tell Windows what type of network you are on. Once you get past that screen, Windows thanks you for installing it (see Figure 14-29), which is pretty polite for a piece of software, don't you think?

Figure 14-29 Oh, my gosh, Microsoft Windows Vista. Do not mention it. Lest you think you're completely out of the woods, Windows will run some tests on your computer to give you a performance rating that, in theory, tells you how well programs will run on your computer. Sometimes you'll see minimal performance ratings on the sides of game boxes, but even then, you're more likely to need plain, old-fashioned minimum system requirements. This process can take anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes, so this is another one of those coffee break moments in the installation process. After the performance test is over, Windows Vista or Windows 7 starts and you have 30 days to activate your new operating system.

TIP When it comes down to it, you really don't need a performance rating on your computer. If you don't want to waste time, you can use the keyboard shortcut ALT-F4 to skip this step. Automating Installation As you can see, you may have to sit for quite some time while installing Windows. Instead of sitting there answering questions and typing in product keys, wouldn't it be nice to just turn on the machine and finish the installation process without any intervention on your part, especially if you have 30 PCs that need to be ready to go? tomorrow morning? Fortunately, Windows offers two good options for

automating the installation process: scripted installations and disk cloning. Scripting Windows XP installations with Configuration Manager

To automate an installation of Windows XP, Microsoft provides Setup Manager to help you create a text file, called an answer file, that contains all of your answers to setup questions. This allows you to perform an unattended installation, which means you don't have to sit in front of each computer during the installation process. You can find the Installation Manager on the Windows installation disc in the \Support\Tools folder. Double-click the DEPLOY cabinet file, and then right-click and select Extract (see Figure 14-30). Choose a location for the file.

Figure 14-30 Extracting Configuration Manager from the DEPLOY container file Configuration Manager supports the creation of response files for three types of configurations: Unattended, Sysprep, and Remote Installation Services (see Figure 14-31). The latest version of the tool can create answer files for Windows XP Home Edition, Windows XP Professional, and Windows .NET (Standard, Enterprise, or Web Server); see Figure 14-32.

Figure 14-31 The Configuration Manager can create response files for three types of configurations.

Figure 14-32 Configuration Manager can create answer files for five versions of Windows. The Configuration Manager can create an answer file to fully automate the process, or you can use it to set default options. You will almost always want to create an answer file that automates the whole process (see Figure 14-33).

Figure 14-33 The Configuration Manager can create various types of response files. When running a scripted installation, you must decide how to make the installation files available to the PC. Although you can boot your new machine from an installation CD, you can save a lot of CD swapping if you just put the installation files on a network share and install your operating system over the network (see Figure 14-34).

Figure 14-34 Choose where to store the installation files. When you run the Configuration Manager, you can answer all those pesky questions. As always, you'll also need to "accept the terms of the License Agreement" (see Figure 14-35) and enter the product key (see Figure 14-36), but at least by typing these steps you can do it all at once and be done with it.

Figure 14-35 Don't forget to accept the license agreement.

Figure 14-36 Enter the product key. Now it's time to get to the good stuff, customizing your installation. Using the graphical interface, decide

which configuration options you want to use: screen resolutions, network options, browser settings, regional settings, etc. You can even add finishing touches to the installation by installing additional programs such as Microsoft Office and Adobe Reader by automatically running additional commands after Windows Setup is complete (see Figure 14-37). You can also set programs to run once (see Figure 14-38).

Figure 14-37 Execution of additional commands

Figure 14-38 Running a program once Remember that computer names must be unique on the network. If you are going to use the same answer files for multiple machines on the same network, you must ensure that each machine has its own unique name. You can provide a list of names to use or have the installation program generate names randomly (see Figure 14-39).

Figure 14-39 Choose the names of your computers.

When you are done, the Configuration Manager will ask you to save your answers as a text file. The content of the file will look like this:

The list goes on for another hundred lines or so, and this is a pretty simple answer file. One thing to note is that if you provide a domain administrator's username and password for the purpose of automatically adding new PCs to your domain, that username and password will be in the clear text file:

In that case, you'll want to be very careful about protecting your setup files. Once you've created your answer file, you can start your installation with this command and enjoy a nice cup of coffee while the installation runs:

For %SetupFiles%, substitute the location of your setup files, either a local path (D:\i386 if you are installing from a CD) or a network path. If you are using a network path, be sure to create a network boot disk so that the installation program can access the files. For %AnswerFile%, substitute the name of the text file you created with Configuration Manager (usually unattend.txt).

Of course, you don't have to use the Configuration Manager to create your answer file. Feel free to pull out your favorite text editor and write one from scratch. However, most techies find it much easier to use the provided tool than to struggle with the sometimes arcane syntax of the answer file. Automating a Windows Vista or Windows 7 installation with the Automated Installation Kit

Starting with Windows Vista and Windows 7, Configuration Manager is history, as is any method of automating an installation that isn't extremely complicated and intimidating. Microsoft has replaced Configuration Manager with the Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK), a set of tools that, while quite powerful, seems to have made something of a Faustian bargain to get that power at the expense of ease of use (see the Figure 1440).

Figure 14-40 The Automated Installation Kit Writing a step-by-step guide to creating an answer file in the AIK would almost warrant its own chapter, and since the CompTIA A+ exams don't cover it at all, I won't. go into too much gory detail. However, I will give a brief description of the process involved. The basic idea behind the AIK is that a technician can create an answer file using a tool called Windows System Image Manager, and then use that answer file to create a master installation file that can be burned to a DVD. Vista/7 answer files are no longer just text documents but .XML files, and the process of creating one is more complicated than it used to be. Gone are the days of simply running a wizard and modifying the options as you see fit. Instead, you choose components (representing the things you want your automated installation to do, like create a partition, enter a certain product key, and much, much more) from a huge, often bewildering list, and then tweak their settings. (see Figure 14-41).

Figure 14-41 The component list in the Image Monitor

Once you have selected and modified all the components you are interested in, you should save your answer file, copy it to a USB stick, and connect it to a new computer on which you will install Vista/7. When you start a computer from the installation disk, It automatically looks for an answer file on all removable media and, when it finds one, uses it to install itself automatically. If you're just installing Vista/7 on this computer, you're done, but if you want to install it on multiple computers, you'll probably want to create a disk image based on your master installation file. To create such an image, you need to use two more tools in the AIK (Windows PE and ImageX) to "capture" the installation and create a disk image from it. If the rest of the process seemed a bit complicated, this part is like solving a Rubik's cube with your teeth while balancing on a flagpole and juggling. Suffice to say that the AIK comes with documentation that tells you how to do this, so with a little patience, you can get through it. disk cloning

Disk cloning simply takes an existing PC and makes a complete copy of the drive, including all data, software, and configuration files. You can then transfer that copy to as many machines as you like, essentially creating clones of the original machine. In the old days, making a clone was pretty simple. He simply connected two hard drives and copied the files from the original to the clone using something like the venerable XCOPY program (as long as the hard drive was formatted with FAT or FAT32). Today, you'll want to use a more sophisticated program, like Norton Ghost, to create an image file that contains a copy of an entire hard drive, and then allow you to copy that image locally or over a network.

NOTE Norton Ghost is not the only disk imaging software out there, but it is so widely used that disk cloning is often referred to by technicians as "drive ghosting." system preparation

Cloning a Windows PC works great in some situations, but what if you need to send the same image to machines that have slightly different hardware? What if you need the customer to go through the final steps of Windows installation (create a user account, accept the license agreement, etc.)? That's when you need to combine a scripted setup with cloning using the system preparation tool, Sysprep, which can undo parts of the Windows installation process. After installing Windows and adding any additional software (Microsoft Office, Adobe Acrobat, Yahoo Instant Messenger, etc.), run Sysprep (see Figure 14-42) and then create your disk image using the cloning application of your choice. The first time a new system cloned from the image is booted, an abbreviated version of setup, Mini-Setup, is executed and the last steps of the installation process are completed: installing drivers for hardware, prompting the user to accept the license agreement and create a user. accounts etc Optionally, you can use Configuration Manager to create an answer file to customize the minimal installation, just as you would a standard scripted installation.

Figure 14-42 Sysprep, the system preparation tool Installing Windows over a network

Technicians working for large corporations may end up installing a lot of Windows. When you have a hundred PCs to take care of and Microsoft releases a new version of Windows, you don't want to have to walk from cubicle to cubicle with an installation disc, running one installation after another. You're already familiar with automated installations, but network installations go a step further. Imagine another scenario. You're still a technician at a large company, but your boss has decided that each new PC will use an image with a default set of applications and settings. You must put the image on each workstation, but most workstations do not have optical drives. Network installation saves the day again! The phrase "network installation" can imply many different tools depending on which version of Windows you're using. Most importantly, the machines receiving the installations (the clients) must be connected to a server. That server could be another copy of Windows XP, Vista, or 7; Or it could be a full server running Windows Server 2003, 2008, or 2008 R2. The service PC must host an image, which can be the default Windows installation or a custom image, often created by the network administrator.

NOTE Windows Server 2003 uses Remote Installation Services to enable network installations, while Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 use Windows Deployment Services, as mentioned earlier in this chapter. Both services combine several powerful tools that allow you to customize and send installation files over the network to the client's PC. These tools are aimed more at enterprise networks that run hundreds of PCs and are managed by network professionals. All server-side issues should be handled by a network administrator: Setting up a server to deploy Windows installations and images goes beyond what the CompTIA A+ exams cover. PXE

On the client side, you will need to use the Preboot Execution Environment (PXE). PXE uses multiple protocols such as IP, DHCP, and DNS to allow your computer to boot from a network location. That means the PC does not need an installation disc or USB drive. Just connect your computer to the network and you're done! Okay, it's a little more complicated than that. PXE Boot To enable PXE, you will need to enter the BIOS system setup. Find the screen that

configures your NIC (which changes depending on your particular BIOS). If there is a PXE setting there, enable it. You will also need to change the boot order so that the PC boots from a network location first.

NOTE Not all NICs support PXE. To boot from a network location without PXE, you can create bootable media that forces your PC to boot from a network location. When you restart your PC, you'll see the first familiar screens of the boot process. At some point, you should also see an instruction to "Press F12 to start the network." (It's almost always F12.) The PC will try to find a server on the network that it can connect to. When it does, you will be prompted to press F12 again to continue booting from the network, as you can see in Figure 14-43.

Figure 14-43 Network Boot Depending on how many images are prepared on the server, you will be taken directly to the Windows Setup screen or asked to choose from several images. Choose the option you need, and everything else should proceed as if you were installing Windows from the local optical drive. Installation troubleshooting The term "installation problem" is quite misleading. The installation process itself almost never fails. Usually something else fails during the process which is usually interpreted as an "install failure". Let's look at some typical installation problems and how to correct them. Text mode errors

If you're going to have a problem installing Windows XP, this is the place to get one. It is always better to get the error right away rather than when the installation is almost complete. Text mode errors occur most frequently during clean installs and usually point to one of the following issues:

RAID array not detected

If Windows does not detect a RAID array during the text-mode portion of Windows XP setup, this could be because Windows does not have the proper driver for the hard drive or RAID controller. If the hard drives appear correctly in the RAID controller configuration utility, it is almost certainly a driver issue. Obtain the manufacturer's driver disk and run setup again. Press F6 when prompted very early in the Windows XP setup process. Nothing happens right away when you hit F6, but later in the process you'll be prompted to install. No boot device present when booting from the Windows installation disc

Either the boot disk is bad, or the CMOS isn't set to look at that optical drive first. Windows setup requires XXXX amount of available disk space

There's already a ton of stuff on the drive. Optical drive not ready error

You probably just need to give the optical drive a moment to catch up. Press R to try again multiple times. It is also possible that you have a damaged installation disc or that the optical drive is too slow for the system. A stop error (blue screen of death) after reboot at the end of text mode

This may mean that you did not do your homework by checking hardware compatibility, especially the BIOS. I'll tell you more about stop errors in Chapter 19, but if you encounter one of these errors during installation, check out the Microsoft Knowledge Base. graphics mode errors

Graphics mode bugs are found in all versions of Windows and can cause a new crop of problems to crop up.

EXAM TIP Because partitioning and formatting occurs during the graphical mode of Windows Vista and Windows 7 setup, failure to detect a RAID array indicates that the drivers are not loaded. The same driver issue applies, just like in Windows XP. Hardware Detection Errors

Failure of any version of Windows Setup to correctly detect hardware can be avoided simply by researching compatibility beforehand. Or, if you decided to skip that step, you might be lucky and just get a hardware detection error related to a non-critical hardware device. You can fix this problem at any time. In a sense, you are turning in your homework late, checking for compatibility and finding a suitable driver after installing Windows. Every Windows installation depends on Windows Setup correctly detecting the type of computer (motherboard and BIOS, in particular) and installing the correct hardware support. Microsoft designed Windows to run on various hardware platforms using a software layer tailored specifically for the hardware, called the Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL).

Can't read CAB files

This is probably the most common of all XP installation errors. CAB files (as in cabinet) are special compressed files, recognizable by their .cab file extension, that Microsoft uses to distribute copies of Windows. If your system cannot read them, first check the installation disk for scratches. Next, try copying all the files from the disk's source directory (\i386) to a directory on your local hard drive. Then run Windows Setup from there, remembering to use the correct program (WINNT32.EXE). If you can't read any of the files on the installation disk, you may have a faulty drive. Crashes during installation Crashes are one of the most challenging problems that can occur during installation, because they don't give you an idea of ​​what is causing the problem. Here are some things to check if you get a hang during installation. unplug it

Most system crashes occur when Windows Setup queries the hardware. If a system crashes once during setup, literally shut down the computer. Disconnect the system! Do not press CTRL-ALT-DEL. Do not press the Reset button. Unplug it! Then turn the system back on, start the setup program, and run the setup program again. Windows will see the partial installation and restart the installation process automatically. Microsoft used to call this Smart Recovery, but the term has faded over the years. Optical Drive, Hard Drive Faulty optical drives, optical drives, or hard drives can cause crashes. Check if the optical disc is scratched or dirty, and clean or replace it. Try a known-good disc in the drive. If you get the same error, you may need to replace the drive. log files

Windows generates a series of special text files called log files that track the progress of certain processes. Windows creates different log files for different purposes. On Windows XP, the two most important log files are: • Setuplog.txt tracks the entire installation process, recording the success or failure of copying files, registry updates, reboots, and so on. • Setupapi.log keeps track of each piece of hardware as it is installed. This is not an easy log file to read, as it uses plug and play code, but it will show you the last device installed before Windows crashed. Windows Vista and Windows 7 create about 20 log files each, organized by the phase of the installation. However, each phase creates a setuperr.log file to track any errors during that phase of the installation. Windows stores these log files in the Windows directory (the location where the operating system is installed). These operating systems have powerful recovery options, so the chances of you actually having to read a log file, understand it, and then fix something as a result of that understanding are pretty small. What makes log files useful is when you call Microsoft or a hardware manufacturer. They love reading these files and actually have people who understand them. Don't worry about trying to understand CompTIA A+ exam log files; just make sure you know the names of the log files and their location. Leave the details to the übergeeks.

Post-Installation Tasks You may think that's enough work for one day, but your task list has a few more things. They include updating the operating system with patches and service packs, updating drivers, restoring user data files, and migration and retirement. Patches, Service Packs and Updates

Someone once described a commercial airplane as consisting of millions of parts that fly in close formation. I think it's also a good description for an operating system. And we can even take that analogy further by thinking about all the maintenance required to keep a commercial airplane flying safely. Like a commercial airplane, parts (programming code) of its operating system were created by different people, and some parts may even have been outsourced. Although each component is tested as much as possible, and the assembled operating system is also tested, it is not possible to test all possible combinations of events. Sometimes a part is simply found to be defective. The solution for such a problem is a corrective program called a patch. In the past, Microsoft provided patches for individual issues. They also stockpiled patches until they reached some kind of critical mass and then bundled them together as a service pack. They still do this. But they also make it easier for you to find and install the appropriate patches and service packs, which, when combined, are called updates. They make these updates available on their website or on an optical disc. Many organizations make updates available for distribution from network servers. Immediately after installing Windows, install the latest updates on the computer. Chapter 17 covers this process more fully. Updating Drivers Even if you have completed all the pre-installation tasks, you can choose to use the default drivers that come with Windows and then update them to the latest drivers. This is a good strategy because installation is a complicated task that you can simplify by installing old but suitable drivers. Maybe those newer drivers are only a week old - waiting until after Windows installation to install new drivers gives you a usable driver to fall back to if the new driver turns out to be a lemon. Restoring user data files (if applicable)

Remember when you backed up your user data files before you installed? you do not? Well, check again, because now is the time to restore that data. Your restore method depends on how you backed up your files in the first place. If you used a third-party backup program, you must install it before you can restore those files, but if you used the Windows Backup Utility (Windows XP) or the Backup and Restore Center (Windows Vista and Windows 7), you should be lucky. because they are installed by default (except for Windows XP Home edition). If you did something simpler, like copying to optical discs or a network location, all you have to do is copy the files back to your local hard drive. Good luck! migrate and retire

The seasons change and so does the state of the art in computing. At some point in a computer's life, you may need to retire an old system. This means that you must move data and users to a new system or at least a new hard drive (a process called migration) and then safely dispose of the old system. Microsoft offers a few tools to accomplish this task, and because it's important to know them for CompTIA A+ exams (not to mention your next computer purchase), I'll go over them. File and Settings Transfer Wizard

You already heard a bit about the Files and Settings Transfer (FSTW) Wizard in Chapter 4, but the CompTIA A+ exams expect you to have more than just passing knowledge. When migrating to a new system, you should run the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard on the newer computer (assuming the newer computer is running Windows XP; more on Windows Vista and Windows 7 migration options later) , which the wizard would then use to extract files from the old computer. The wizard is started by going to Accessories | System Tools on the All Programs menu in Windows XP. Once you have turned it on, you are presented with the screen in Figure 14-44.

Figure 14-44 The initial screen of the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard When you click the Next button on the first screen of the wizard, you are asked whether the computer you are using is the new or the old one, as in Figure 14 -Four. Five.

Figure 14-45 Is this the old or new computer? Note that the old computer can run any version of Windows up to Windows 95. Older Windows operating systems did not come with the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard installed, so if you are migrating from an earlier version of Windows, you will need to install the wizard on the old computer with the XP disk or create a wizard disk that allows you to do the same. You have the option of creating such a disk by clicking Next with New Computer selected, as in Figure 14-46.

Figure 14-46 Creating a wizard disk Once you've created a wizard disk (or told the wizard that you're going to install the wizard from the XP CD), you'll be presented with a screen asking where to look for the files and settings you have collected (see Figure 14-47). The first two options are a bit outdated, because the first refers to a direct serial connection, now a rarity in the world of personal computing, and the second calls for a floppy disk, although you can use it with USB thumb drives as well. The third option is the most likely candidate for a migration, because it allows you to find your older computer on your home network.

Figure 14-47 Where are the files and settings? In the meantime, to actually determine which files and settings are to be transferred, you need to run the wizard on your old computer. If you are migrating from another Windows XP machine, you must tell the wizard where it is running; otherwise, it goes to the next step, which asks how you want to transfer the files (see Figure 14-48). The best option is to transfer them over a home network, but you can also save the files to a USB stick or just a folder on your computer, although obviously that doesn't do much for transferring the files.

Figure 14-48 How will you transfer the files? When you click Next, the wizard displays your default list of folders and settings to save, but since you're a PC techie, you'll probably want to customize which folders are migrated. You can do this by checking the box that says Allow me to select a custom list of files and settings when I click Next (see Figure 14-49).

Figure 14-49 The files and settings to transfer If you checked that box, the next page allows you to add additional settings and browse for additional folders, files, or even file types to back up, which makes it quite attractive. easy to simply back up each .MP3 on your computer (see Figure 14-50). Ready huh?

Figure 14-50 Transfer Customization Once you click Next on that screen, the wizard begins the actual transfer process, which can take a long time depending on how many things you are transferring. This is an excellent time, for example, to read the complete works of Pliny the Elder or, what is even more useful, to memorize all the previous chapters of this book verbatim, because you will probably have a lot of time. . User State Migration Tool

If you're the type of computer user who demands maximum functionality and power from your operating system, you'll probably want to use the User State Migration Tool (USMT). USMT has all of the same features as the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard, but with much more control over advanced settings for the new computer. Its primary use is in businesses because it must run on a Windows Server domain. In practice, if you are migrating a single user, use the FSTW. If you need to migrate multiple users, USMT is the tool.

EXAM TIP As a reminder from Chapter 4, the CompTIA A+ exam competitions mention that the very old Windows NT (that's the version before Windows 2000, which in turn preceded Windows XP) came with the Data Migration Tool (UDMT) that facilitated the migration of users. from an earlier version, just like the USMT. This tool does not exist in current operating systems, but it may appear as an incorrect answer choice. Easy Windows Transfer

With Windows Vista and Windows 7, Microsoft has updated the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard,

calling it Windows Easy Transfer. Windows Easy Transfer comes native on Vista/7 and can also be downloaded and installed on Windows XP. Windows Easy Transfer is located in the System Tools subfolder of the Accessories folder on the Programs menu. The first screen of Windows Easy Transfer simply gives you a bit of information about the process, so there's not much to do there. When you click Next, you are taken to a screen that asks if you want to start a new transfer or continue with an old one (see Figure 14-51). If you already set up your old computer to transfer the files, select the last option; if you haven't, select the first one.

Figure 14-51 Start a new transfer or continue one? If you choose to start a new transfer, the process is very similar to the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard: select whether you're using your old or new computer, and then follow the same basic steps as before. There are some differences, of course: network security is improved by using Transfer Keys to protect your files from others on the network, there's an option to use a special Easy Transfer Cable to transfer your files between USB ports, and the order of some The screens change a bit, but if you understand the transfer process from the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard, Windows Easy Transfer shouldn't be too difficult. Migration Practices

When talking about migration or retirement in terms of security, you have to answer one question: What do you do with the old system or drive? All but the simplest of new installations have sensitive data, even if it's just email messages.

or notes to oneself that would cause embarrassment if discovered. Most PCs, especially in a work environment, contain a large amount of sensitive data. You can't just format C: and hand over the drive. Follow three principles when migrating or retiring a computer. First, migrate your user information and data in a secure environment. Until you get the passwords right and test the security of the new system, you cannot consider that system secure. Second, remove data remnants from hard drives that you store or donate to charity. Third, recycle older equipment; don't throw it away. PC recyclers go through a hardware deconstruction process, breaking down system drives, keyboards, printers, and even monitors into their basic plastics, metals, and glass for reuse. The easiest way for someone to compromise or access sensitive data is to simply walk up and grab it when you're not looking. This is especially true when you are in the process of copying information to a new, unprotected system. Don't set a copy to run while you go out to lunch, but instead be there to monitor and remove any remnant data that may still reside on any mass storage devices, especially hard drives. data destruction

You may think that as easy as it may seem to lose data, you could easily get rid of it if you tried. However, that is not the case with flash memory or magnetic media such as hard drives. When you delete something in Windows, or even empty the Recycle Bin, the "deleted" data stays on your storage device until new data overwrites or replaces it. (This "deleted" data is also what you see as free space in Windows.) This can be a huge security hole when disposing of a drive. Cleaning a drive completely is very difficult. You can physically destroy the hard drive or disinfect it with a software utility. Physical destruction is not complicated: you break the disk into small pieces. Tools to accomplish this include drive shredders, drills, electromagnets, and degaussing tools (which reduce or eliminate the magnetic fields that store data on hard drives). Keep in mind that as hard drives get older and pack more data into smaller spaces, you'll need to divide the hard drive into smaller pieces to prevent anyone from retrieving your data. Sanitizing your drive means that the hard drive will continue to function after the data has been destroyed. There are several more or less effective ways to do this. CompTIA A+ exams want you to know the difference between a standard format and a low level format. You already learned about the standard format in Chapter 12, so how is the low-level format different? With older drives (pre-1990s), low-level formatting would create the physical markings on the disk surface so the drive would know where to store the data; in the process, it erases the data on the drive. This was initially done at the factory, but there were utilities to repeat this operation later. As drives became more complex, hard drive manufacturers disabled the ability to perform low-level formats out of the factory. Today, the term "low-level format" is often used to describe an overwrite or zero-padding operation. This process returns the drive to as close to like-new as possible by writing zeros to each location on the drive. You can also use a drive cleaning utility to erase any old deleted data that has not yet been overwritten. Simply put, this overwrites free space on your drive with junk data that is more difficult to restore. Piriform's CCleaner is a data sanitization utility that can clear your web browsing history, clear your recent Windows activity (such as programs you've run), and even wipe free space on your hard drive to make the deleted file unrecoverable (see Figure 14-52) .

Figure 14-52 Piriform CCleaner showing files to be removed Recycle

One important and relatively easy way to be an environmentally conscious computer user is to recycle. Recycling products like paper and printer cartridges not only keeps them out of overcrowded landfills, but also ensures that the most toxic products are disposed of the right way. Safe disposal of hardware that contains hazardous materials, such as computer monitors, protects both people and the environment. Anyone who has tried to sell a computer more than three or four years old learns a hard lesson: They're not worth much, if anything. It's a real temptation to take that old computer and just throw it away, but never do that! First, many parts of your computer, such as your computer monitor, contain hazardous materials that pollute the environment. Fortunately, thousands of companies now specialize in computer recycling and will gladly accept your old computer. If you have enough computers, they might even pick them up. If you can't find a recycler, call your local municipal waste authority to see where to drop off your system. An even better alternative for your old computer is a donation. Many organizations are actively looking for old computers to restore and donate to schools and other organizations. Just keep in mind that the computer may be too old, not even a school wants a computer that is more than five or six years old. No installation is perfect

Even when the installation seems smooth, problems can arise slowly, especially in the case of updates. Be prepared to reinstall apps or deal with new features that were missing from the previous operating system. If things really fall apart, you can go back to the previous operating system, or, if you have an OEM computer (one made, say, by Dell or HP instead of you), your computer probably came with a special recovery partition. on your hard drive or a set of recovery discs that you can use to restore your operating system to its factory settings. You usually invoke a system recovery by pressing a certain key during boot, usually F10 or F11, and then following a series of prompts. The procedures I've presented in this chapter may seem like a lot of work: how bad would it be to take an installation disc, ship a copy of Windows to a system, and, as the saying goes, let the chips fall where? which can? Too bad, that's bad. Understanding these procedures is not only important for CompTIA A+ certification exams; These how-tos can also save your, oh, hideaway, once you're a working PC technician tasked with installing the latest version of Windows on the boss's new computer.

Chapter Review Questions 1. Which of the following is an advantage of running Windows on NTFS instead of FAT32? A. Security B. Support for DOS applications C. Long file names D. Network support 2. Ricardo's Windows XP installation has failed. Which file should I check to see which files could not be copied? A. Install.log B. Setup.log C. Setup.txt D. Setuplog.txt 3. If you don't complete the activation process for Windows, what will happen to your computer? A. Nothing. Activation is optional. B. The computer will work fine for 30 days, and then Windows will be deactivated. C. Microsoft will not know how to contact you with update information. D. You will need to use a set of floppy disks to start Windows. 4. If Windows crashes during installation, what should you do?

A. Press CTRL-ALT-DEL to restart the installation process. B. Press the Reset button to restart the installation process. C. Press the ESC key to cancel the installation process. D. Unplug the computer and restart the installation process. 5. From which of these operating systems can you directly upgrade to Windows 7? A. Windows 2000 B. Windows XP C. Windows Vista D. All of the above 6. Which two tools are on the Windows XP disc for checking hardware and software compatibility? A. The HCL and the HAL B. The HCL and the Windows Catalog C. The Windows Catalog and the Update Advisor D. The Update Advisor and the HCL 7. Which term describes a combination of many updates and fixes? A. Hotfix B. Hot pack C. Service pack D. Service release 8. Which of the following tools can help you install multiple copies of Windows 7 more efficiently? A. Automated Installation Kit B. Windows Easy Transfer C. Upgrade Advisor D. Activation Key 9. If you are having problems with Windows XP and want to install Windows 7, what type of installation is required?

A. Clean install B. Upgrade install C. Network install D. Image deployment 10. You just replaced Jane's PC with a new Windows 7 machine. Which post-install tool should you run to make the transition smooth? as painless as possible for her? A. Windows Activation B. Installation Repair C. Windows Easy Transfer D. User State Migration Tool Answers 1. A. Security is an advantage of running NTFS instead of FAT32. 2. D. Ricardo should review Setuplog.txt. 3. B. If you do not complete the activation process for Windows XP, Vista, or 7, your computer will work fine for 30 days, and then Windows will be deactivated. 4. D. If Windows crashes during installation, you should unplug your computer and restart the installation process. 5. C. You can directly upgrade to Windows 7 from Windows Vista. 6. C. The Windows XP disc contains the Windows Catalog and Upgrade Advisor for checking hardware and software compatibility. 7. C. A service pack is a combination of many updates and fixes. 8. A. The Automatic Installation Kit (for Windows Vista/7) can help you set up an automatic procedure for installing copies of Windows on multiple machines. 9. A. Because you are upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7, you must perform a clean install. 10. C. Run the Windows Easy Transfer tool to move all your personal files and familiar settings, like your desktop, to your new computer.

15 windows under the hood


In this chapter, you'll learn how to: • Work with the Registry • Understand and look closely at the Windows startup process • Control processes and services • Explore Windows developer tools Windows is powerful, easy to use, surprisingly idiot-proof , backward-compatible, and robust A lot of the power of Windows is hidden, under the hood, in programs and processes that Microsoft doesn't want ordinary users to see. For the record, I think hiding anything normal users don't need access to is a smart idea; They can't break what they can't find. Technicians, on the other hand, not only need to understand these processes and programs, but also know how to use, configure, and repair them when necessary. Let's start with one of the most famous and important items under the hood: the Registry.

802 Registry The Registry is a huge database that stores everything about your PC, including information about all of the PC's hardware, network information, user preferences, file types, and just about anything else you can find with Windows. Almost any form of configuration you do on a Windows system involves editing the Registry. Each version of Windows stores numerous registry files (called hives) in the \%SystemRoot%\System32\config folder and in each user account folder. Fortunately, you rarely have to directly access these massive files. Instead, you can use a relatively tech-friendly suite of applications to edit the Registry. The CompTIA A+ 220-802 certification exam does not expect you to memorize every aspect of the Windows Registry. However, you must understand the basic components of the Registry, know how to manually edit the Registry, and know the best way to locate a particular setting. Accessing the Registry Before looking at the Registry, let's look at how to directly access the Registry using a Registry editor. Once you know that, you can open the Registry on your machine and compare what you see with the examples in this chapter. Before Windows XP, Windows came with two Registry editors: regedt32.exe and the much older regedit.exe. You started any of these programs by going to a command prompt and typing its file name. The reason for having two different Registry editors is long and boring, and explaining it would require a very boring 15 minute monologue about how the Registry worked in Windows 9x and Windows NT. Suffice to say, starting with Windows XP, Microsoft removed the entire two-registry editor.

nonsense by creating a new regedt32 that includes strong search functions. There are no longer two separate programs, but interestingly, entering regedit or regedt32 at a command prompt (or in the Start | Run or Start | Search dialog) brings up the same program, so feel free to use any program name. program. You can also do without calling Registry Editor by its file name and use its appropriate title.

EXAM TIP You may see regedit or regedt32 in the exam as the way to access the Registry Editor. Registry Components

The Registry is organized in a tree structure similar to PC folders. Once you open the Registry Editor in Windows, you will see five main subgroups or root keys: • HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT • HKEY_CURRENT_USER • HKEY_USERS • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE • HKEY_CURRENT_CONFIG Try opening one of these root keys by clicking the plus sign to its left; note that more subkeys are listed below. A subkey can also have other subkeys or values. The values ​​define aspects of the subkey. Figure 15-1 shows an example of a subkey with some values. Note that Registry Editor shows only keys (root keys and subkeys) on the left and values ​​on the right. Each of the root keys has a specific function, so let's take a look at them individually.

Figure 15-1 Typical registry root keys, subkeys, and values ​​HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT This root key defines the standard class objects used by Windows. A class object is a named group of

(Video) A+ Certification Exam Tips

functions that define what you can do with the object it represents. Just about everything to do with files on the system is defined by a class object. For example, the Registry uses two class objects to define the popular MP3 sound file. If you look in my computer's Registry for the .PDF file extension, you'll find a class object that associates the .PDF file extension with the name “FoxitReader. Document” (see Figure 15-2). Unless you use the popular Foxit Reader for your PDFs, you'll see a different program name, but the process still works.

Figure 15-2 Association of .PDF with Foxit Reader So, what are the properties of FoxitReader? Document? That's what the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT root key is designed for. Look again in this section for “FoxitReader. Document" (or whatever it says in the value of your PDF file) and look for a subkey called "open". This subkey tells the system everything it needs to know about a particular piece of software, from which program to use to open a file (its file association), to the type of icon used to display the file, what to display when does it correctly. click that file type (see Figure 15-3).

Figure 15-3 PDF file settings Although it is possible to change most of these settings in Registry Editor, the normal way is to choose more user-friendly methods. Select a data file, right-click the data file, and click Properties. Click the Change button on the General tab to open the Open With dialog box. From there, you can select the program you want to use. If Windows knows of another program designed for that type of file, it will show you these alternative programs. If not, you can simply search for the program you want to use (see Figure 15-4).

Figure 15-4 Easily change the file association HKEY_CURRENT_USER and HKEY_USERS Windows is designed to support more than one user on the same PC by storing custom information such as desktop colors, screen savers, and desktop content for each user who has an account in the system. HKEY_CURRENT_USER stores current user settings and HKEY_USERS stores all custom information for all users on a PC. While you can change things like the screen saver here, the best way is to right-click on the desktop and select Properties. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE This root key contains all the data for non-user specific configurations of a system. This covers all devices and all programs on your PC. HKEY_CURRENT_CONFIG If the values ​​in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE have more than one option, such as two different monitors,

this root key defines which one is currently being used. Because most people only have one type of monitor and similar equipment, this area is rarely touched. Talkin' Registry When describing a registry setting, we use a simple nomenclature. For example, I recently moved my copy of World of Warcraft from my C: drive to my D: drive and had problems starting the program. I went online to (home of Blizzard Entertainment, the people who make World of Warcraft) and contacted support, who gave me instructions on how to access the Registry and make this change: "Go to HKLM\SOFTWARE\Blizzard Technologies\World of Warcraft and change the GamePath object and InstallPath object to reflect the new drive letter of your new WoW location." To do so, I fired up regedit. Using this nomenclature, I was able to find the location of these registry settings. Figure 15-5 shows this location. Compare this image to the path described in the Blizzard instructions. Note that HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE is abbreviated as HKLM. You'll see this abbreviation on the quiz!

Figure 15-5 Editing the Registry to move World of Warcraft to a new drive Describing the location of a specific Registry value, like where the Blizzard tech told me, requires a bit of repetition. Namely, in the example above, World of Warcraft is a subkey of Blizzard Technologies, which in turn is a subkey of the HKLM root key. The World of Warcraft subkey has four values. All keys have the value (Default), so in this case the World of Warcraft subkey offers three functional values. Values ​​must have a defined data type that they store:

• String Value These are the most flexible type of value and are very common. You can put any form of data in these. • Binary Value These values ​​store nothing more than long strings of ones and zeros. • DWORD Value These values ​​are like binary values ​​but are limited to exactly 32 bits. • QWORD Value These values ​​are like binary values ​​but are limited to exactly 64 bits. There are other types of values, but these four are used for 98 percent of all registry entries. Manual Registry Edits There's little motivation for you to go into the Registry and make manual edits unless you've done some research that tells you to do so. When you find yourself using Registry Editor to access the Registry, you risk breaking things in Windows: applications may not start, utilities may not work, or worse, your computer may not boot. To avoid these problems, always back up the Registry before changing anything. Once the backup is in a safe place (I personally like to use a USB stick), reboot the system to see if the changes you made had the desired result. If it worked, great. If not, you will need to restore the previous Registry settings using your backup. Let's see this in action. One of the most common manual edits to the Registry is to remove autostart programs. I want to prevent three programs installed by my Logitech GamePanel keyboard and mouse from starting automatically. The most common place to make this change is here: HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run

When you open Registry Editor and access this subkey, you'll see something like Figure 15-6.

Figure 15-6 Mike's Run Subkey Before I delete these keys, I'm going to save a copy of my Registry. The Export function of Registry Editor allows you to save the entire Registry or just a single root key or subkey (with all subkeys and values ​​under it). Select Run in the left pane, and then click File | Export. Save the subkey as a registry file with a .reg extension. Be sure to put that file somewhere you'll remember. You should

you need to restore that key, use File | Import command, or simply right-click the icon as shown in Figure 15-7 and click Merge.

Figure 15-7 Backup File Key Combination Command-Line Registry Editing Tools Windows includes a couple of command-line tools for editing the Registry (plus many more in PowerShell). The two you might need at times are reg and regsrv32.

TIP If you are new to the command line interface, you may want to bookmark this section from Chapter 15 and skip it for now, then return to it after reading about the command line and how it works in Chapter 18. The Command reg is a complete Registry editing tool. You can view Registry keys and values, import and export part or all of a Registry, and even compare two different versions of a Registry. The tool is so powerful that it has multiple levels of help so you can tailor a command to achieve very precise registry edits. For example, write reg /? displays a list of 12 specific operations that you can seek help with, such as the log query /? and record add /?. The regsrv32 command, unlike reg, can modify the Registry in only one way, by adding (or

register) dynamic-link library (DLL) files as command components. For information on what regsrv32 does, see "Component Services" later in the chapter for a description of the graphical tool that does the same thing. By the way, only 32-bit versions of Windows have the regsrv32 command. The Boot Process Installing Windows creates a series of specific files and folders that the operating system needs to run a PC. Some of these files and folders are directly at the root of the C: drive; others may be elsewhere. The best way to remember the locations of these files and folders and learn their importance to the operating system is to observe how they interact to start the PC. Booting Windows XP differs drastically from booting Windows Vista/7. Windows XP was the last operating system from Microsoft to use a very old boot process known as ntldr (NT Loader). Windows Vista introduced the much more flexible, complex and powerful Windows Boot Manager (or bootmgr), which is also used by Windows 7. The vast difference between these two boot managers forces us to dig deeper into both. The Windows XP boot process Windows XP distinguishes between the files that start the operating system (called system files) and the rest of the operating system files (by default in the \Windows folders). System files (memorize them!) consist of three necessary files: ntldr, boot.ini, and If you are using a SCSI hard drive, there is a fourth file called ntbootdd. sis. The ntldr (pronounced NT loader) file starts the boot process.

NOTE To view these files, go to My Computer and open the C: drive. Go to Tools | Folder options. Click Show hidden files and folders, clear the Hide protected operating system files (recommended) option, and click OK. Now, when you view the folder in My Computer again, you'll see certain critical files that Windows hides from you to prevent you from accidentally moving, deleting, or changing them in some unwanted way. You know from Chapter 12 that making a drive bootable requires an active primary partition, right? Let's see the process on a PC with a hard drive partitioned as C: and D:. The CPU wakes up and runs the system BIOS, and then the BIOS sends a routine that looks in the partition table of the first boot drive for a boot sector marked active. This is usually the C: drive. The boot sector replaces the BIOS and reads the Master File Table (MFT) on the boot partition. The MFT points to the location of the Windows XP system files. Windows XP calls the primary active partition the system partition or the system volume (if it is a dynamic disk). We're almost done, but to complete the process, we need to take a moment to learn about some of the more important Windows XP files: the Windows startup files and the Windows system files. The Windows XP startup files consist of ntoskrnl.exe (the Windows kernel), the \Winnt\System32\Config\System file (which controls the loading of device drivers), and device drivers. Although these files are the core of the Windows XP operating system, they are not capable of booting or starting the system. For that feat, they require ntldr,, and boot.ini, the system files. The system files start the PC and then at the end of that process point the CPU to the boot location.

files The CPU goes through and chats with ntoskrnl, and the GUI starts to load. So the operating system is up and running and you can work. The strange thing about all this is that Microsoft decided to make the operating system files mobile. Windows XP operating system files can reside on any partition or volume on the PC. The \Windows folder, for example, might as well be on drive D:, not drive C:. The drive that contains the main operating system files is called the boot partition or boot volume. This can get a little confusing when it says system files are on drive C: and Windows is on drive D: but that's the way it is. Fortunately, the vast majority of Windows XP systems have the system partition and the boot partition on the same large C: partition. Now you know the general process, so let's look more specifically at the composition and function of the individual files involved in the boot process. ntldr

When the system boots, the master boot record (MBR) or MFT on the hard drive starts the ntldr program. The ntldr program then starts Windows XP. To find the available operating systems, the ntldr program must read the boot.ini configuration file. To do so, it loads its own minimal file system, which allows it to read the boot.ini file outside of the system partition. boot.ini

The boot.ini file is a text file that lists the operating systems available to ntldr and tells ntldr where to find the boot partition (where the operating system is stored) for each of them. The boot.ini file has sections defined by headers enclosed in square brackets. A basic boot.ini file in Windows XP looks like this:

A more complex boot.ini file might look like this:

Such a boot.ini file would result in the boot menu shown in Figure 15-8.

Figure 15-8 Windows XP boot loader showing dual boot configuration This crazy multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)(1) partition is an example of the Advanced RISC Computing (ARC) naming system. It is a system designed to allow your PC to start Windows from any hard drive, including removable devices. Let's take a quick look at each ARC configuration to see how it works. is the number of the adapter and always starts with 0. The adapter is determined by the boot order you set in your CMOS setup. For example, if you have a PATA controller and a SATA controller, and you configure the system to boot from the PATA controller first, any drives on that controller will get the value multi(0) placed in their ARC format. Any SATA drive will get multi(1). Multi(x)

It is only used for SCSI drives, but the value is required in the ARC format, so with ATA systems it is always set to disk (0). Disk(x)

Rdisk(x) specifies the number of the disk on the adapter. On a PATA drive, the master is rdisk(0) and the slave is rdisk(1). For SATA drives, the order is generally based on the number of SATA drives.

connection printed on the motherboard, although some systems allow you to change this in CMOS. Partition (x) is the partition or logical drive number in an extended partition. Numbering starts at 1, so the first partition is partition(1), the second is partition(2), and so on.

is the name of the folder that contains the boot files. It is important to appreciate this! The ARC format searches the folder, so there is no problem running different editions of Windows XP on a single partition. You can simply install them in different folders. Of course, you have other limitations, such as the type of file system, but in general, multibooting with Windows is quite easy. Better yet, this is all handled during the installation process. \WINDOWS

NOTE You cannot start multiple installations of Windows Vista or Windows 7 from a single partition because their installation programs do not allow you to choose the installation directory. The ARC format can get a lot more complicated. SCSI drives get a slightly different ARC format. For example, if you installed Windows on a SCSI drive, you might see this ARC setting in your boot.ini file:

If you want to boot from a SCSI drive, Windows adds a fourth file to your system files called ntbootdd.sys. This file only exists if you want to boot from a SCSI drive. Most people won't boot with SCSI, so don't worry if you don't see this file with the other three system files. In rare cases, you may need to edit the boot.ini file. Any text editor easily edits this file, but most of us prefer to edit boot.ini via the System Configuration dialog. In Windows XP, open the System applet from the Control Panel. Click the Advanced tab, and then click the Startup and Recovery button. The boot.ini options appear at the top (see Figure 15-9).

Figure 15-9 The boot.ini options

Boot.ini has some interesting switches at the end of the ARC formats that give special instructions on how the operating system should start. Sometimes Windows puts them in automatically, and sometimes you'll add them manually to troubleshoot. Here are some of the most common: • /bootlog Tells Windows to create a log of the boot process and write it to a file called ntbtlog.txt. • /cmdcons Tells Windows to start Recovery Console (see Chapter 19 for a discussion of Recovery Console). • /lastknowngood Tells Windows to boot the last known set of files. • /noexecute Newer CPUs come with Data Execution Protection (DEP) to prevent rogue programs from causing system crashes. The setting for this, /noexecute=optin, is the default on Windows systems.

If ntldr determines that you have chosen to start Windows XP, it boots the system in protected mode and then calls to detect the hardware installed on the system. Ntldr then refers to the boot.ini file to locate the Windows startup files. Critical boot files

Naming all the critical boot files for Windows XP is similar to naming every muscle in the human body: entirely possible, but time consuming and of no real benefit. Some of the most important files certainly deserve a brief mention. After ntldr finishes its detections, it loads ntoskrnl.exe, hal.dll, part of the registry, and some basic device drivers; it then passes control to the ntoskrnl.exe file. Ntoskrnl.exe completes loading the registry, initializes all device drivers, and starts the winlogon.exe program, which displays the Windows XP logon screen (see Figure 15-10).

Figure 15-10 Where do you want to go today? Take the time to memorize the main boot files and the Windows XP boot process. Most boot errors are easily fixed if you know which files are used to boot and in what order they are loaded.

TIP The Recovery Console can be used to restore damaged, corrupted, or missing ntldr and files from the Windows XP installation disc. The Windows Vista/7 Boot Process Windows Vista and Windows 7 have a very different boot process than earlier versions of Windows. For one thing, Vista/7 supports both BIOS and UEFI, whereas earlier versions of Windows did not, so things are a bit more complex right off the bat. So not only is there a completely new boot process, this new Windows Vista/7 boot process toggles between two slightly different boot processes: one for systems using BIOS and one for systems with UEFI. The first thing that happens when you turn on a Vista/7 system is that the BIOS or UEFI boots. The difference between BIOS and UEFI systems is in what happens next. • On a BIOS-based system, the BIOS uses its boot order to scan a hard drive for a Master Boot Record (MBR). The MBR contains a small file system boot code snippet that scans the partition table for the system partition and then loads its boot sector. The boot sector, in turn, contains code that does nothing more than point the boot process to a file called bootmgr (pronounced Boot Manager, or "boot thief" if you're trying to make nerds laugh). • On a UEFI system, on the other hand, neither the MBR/GUID partition table (GPT) nor the file system boot code is executed, and UEFI simply loads bootmgr directly.

NOTE On Windows Vista, bootmgr resides in the root directory of the boot drive. Windows 7, however, keeps bootmgr on the special 100MB system partition you learned about in Chapter 12. If you're using a UEFI system, the EFI system partition with a helpful name contains a special version of bootmgr called bootmgr.efi . If you've ever run a dual-boot system with Vista or 7 as one of the operating systems, you're probably already familiar with bootmgr; one of his works shows that "What operating system do you want to load?" screen and then load the appropriate operating system. When bootmgr starts, it reads data from a Boot Configuration Data (BCD) file that contains information about the various operating systems installed on the system, as well as instructions on how to load (boot) them. Once an operating system is selected (or immediately if only one is present), bootmgr loads a program called winload.exe, which prepares your system to load the operating system kernel, just as it cleans your house before it Aunt Edna arrives. visit. It does this by loading the hardware abstraction layer, the system registry, and the drivers for any bootable devices into memory before the operating system takes over.

NOTE Unlike Windows XP, startup files and system files must all reside on the same partition on Vista/7.

Once the operating system process (called ntoskrnl.exe) takes over, loading all the various processes and systems that make up Windows, the Windows logo appears, and you're happily computing, completely oblivious to all the complex electronic communication. that just happened inside your computer.

NOTE The BCD file replaces the boot.ini file used in earlier operating systems and can be modified using the bcdedit.exe command line tool. Processes, services and threads, oh my! In Chapter 6, you learned that CPUs execute threads, pieces of programs that are fed into the CPU. Let's see how all this looks from the point of view of Windows.

NOTE For the purposes of the CompTIA A+ 220-802 exam, I'm simplifying things a bit, but keep in mind that processes, services, and threads can get much more complicated. In Windows, programs are executable files that wait on a mass storage device. When you start a program, Windows loads it into RAM as a process. Once there, the CPU reads the process, and the process tells the CPU which pieces of code to execute. Dealing with processes in their many forms is a big part of understanding what goes on "under the hood." Windows is a multitasking operating system that runs many processes simultaneously. Many of these processes appear in a window (or full screen) when you open them and end when you close that window. These processes are called applications. There is also a whole class of processes that, by the nature of their work, do not require a window of any kind. These processes run invisibly in the background, providing a host of necessary support roles. Collectively, these are called services. Let's look at the applications, services and processes and the tools we use to control them.

NOTE All versions of Windows use services. Task Manager Windows Task Manager is your one stop shop for anything you need to do with applications, processes, and, if you're using Windows Vista or Windows 7, services (see Figure 15-11). The quick way to open Task Manager is to press CTRL-SHIFT-ESC. There are two other ways to open the Task Manager that you can see in CompTIA A+ exams: go to Start | Run or Start | Search, type taskmgr, and press ENTER; or press CTRL-ALT-DELETE and select Task Manager.

Figure 15-11 Task Manager in Windows 7 If you're running Windows XP, Task Manager is similar (see Figure 15-12) but lacks some useful features offered in Windows Vista and Windows 7 Task Manager I will cover these differences in this section.

Figure 15-12 Task Manager in Windows XP Applications

The Applications tab shows all the applications running on your system. If you're having trouble getting an app to close normally, this is the place to go. To force close an app, select the naughty app and click End Task, or right-click the app and select End Task from the context menu. Be careful when using this feature! There is no "Are you sure?" fast and it's easy to accidentally close the wrong app. There are two other useful buttons on the Applications tab: • Switch to allows you to bring any program to the front (very useful when you have a large number of applications running). • New Task is a life-saving tool that allows you to start any program you want, as long as you know the program's file name. One of the most common uses for New Task is to restart your desktop in Windows XP. If your desktop crashes, Task Manager usually keeps running. Click New Task and type explorer. Unfortunately, this doesn't work on Windows Vista or Windows 7, but New Task is still a useful tool for starting programs, especially if you don't have access to the Start menu. Remember that everything is a process, so each application also appears in the Processes tab. Right-click an application and select Go to Process to open the Processes tab and see which process the application is running.


If you really want to harness the power of Task Manager, you should click the Processes tab (see Figure 15-13). Since everything is a process, and the Processes tab shows you all running processes, this is the only place that lets you see everything running on your computer.

Figure 15-13 Processes tab in Windows 7 All processes have certain common characteristics that you should recognize: • A process is named after its executable file, which usually ends with .exe but can also end with other extensions. • All processes have a username to identify who started the process. A process started by Windows has the username System. • All processes have a Process Identifier (PID). To identify a process, use the PID, not the process name. Task Manager does not display the PID by default. Click View | Select Columns and select the PID (Process Identifier) ​​check box to view the PIDs (see Figure 15-14).

Figure 15-14 Processes tab showing the PID column in Windows 7 Task Manager provides important information about processes. Displays the amount of CPU time (in percent) and the amount of RAM (in kilobytes) that the process is using. Most processes also provide a description to help you understand what the process is doing, although you may have to scroll to the right to see this information (see Figure 15-15).

Figure 15-15 Details of processes in Windows 7 You will notice that almost all processes have the same username. By default, Task Manager shows only the processes associated with the current user. Click Show processes from all users to see all processes on the system (see Figure 15-16). Note that some of the processes display a Local Service or Network Service username. As you can imagine, those are services!

Figure 15-16 Processes for all users in Windows 7 Now that you understand the basics, let's see how Task Manager does its magic with processes. If you select a process and click the End Process button, you will instantly end that process. If the process is an application, that application will be closed. Closing processes is important, but to take it even further, you should select a process and right-click on it to see a number of options. If you select a process that is an application (the process name is a good clue: winword.exe is Microsoft Word), you'll see something like Figure 15-17.

Figure 15-17 Right Click Process Detail Open File Location takes you to where the file is located. This is extremely useful when you're looking at a mysterious process and trying to figure out what it's doing on your computer. You already know what End Process does. The backend tree is extremely important but also complex, so let's save that for later. Debugging is grayed out, unless you are running a Windows debugging program; see the explanation of dump files below. UAC virtualization gives older programs that were not written to prevent access to protected folders a way to do so by creating a fake protected folder. In most cases, Windows handles this automatically, but there are rare cases where you'll need to set it up manually. Again, you won't be doing this on your own: you'll be on the phone with some software company's tech support, and they'll tell you how to use UAC virtualization. The dump files show the state of the program at the time you click Create Dump File. Programmers use special debugging utilities to read dump files to analyze problems with programs. The only time you would use this option is if you are having problems with a program and the support people ask you to make a dump file.

Setting priority gives you the ability to spend more or less processor time on a process (see Figure 15-18). This is very useful when you have a process that slows down your machine or if you have a process that is running too slow and you want to speed it up.

Figure 15-18 Process Priority Playing with priorities can get complicated quickly. The best idea here is to simply increase the priority of a single process that needs to run faster, or lower the priority of a single process that needs to run slower, without touching any other priorities.

NOTE Setting any individual process to realtime priority will often bring the entire system to a halt, since no other process gets much CPU time; avoid real-time priority. Set Affinity is a handy way to give a process more CPU time without changing priorities. Windows tends to use its first two CPUs more than the others. If you have more than two cores on your CPU and you have a single process using a lot of CPU time, try unchecking the affinity checkbox for the first two cores to force the process to use only your other cores (see Figure 15- 19).

Figure 15-19 Disabling affinity with the first two kernels The Properties option is not very interesting. This is the same as if you right-clicked the executable file and selected Properties in Windows Explorer. Going to Service(s) will take you to the Services tab of the Task Manager, showing you any and all services associated with the process. Depending on the process, you might not use any services or use multiple services. This is a great tool for those "Program won't start because associated services are not running" situations. Figure 15-20 shows what happens when you use Go to service(s) for a process called lsass.exe.

Figure 15-20 Services associated with the lsass.exe process

TEST HINT Windows XP Task Manager lacks all of these context menu options except End Process, End Process Tree, Debug, and Set Priority. Let's go back to the End process tree option. It is very common for a single process to depend on other processes (or for a process to start other processes). This creates a dependency tree. Unfortunately, Task Manager doesn't give you any clues as to which processes depend on other processes, but it still gives you the option to End Process Tree, which kills not only the process, but also any processes it depends on. At first glance, this is scary since it is very common for many processes to depend on one major process. Microsoft makes this less scary by not letting you kill a process tree for the most important system processes. Still, it would be nice to see what processes you're about to kill, wouldn't it? That's when the popular (and free) Process Explorer, written by Mark Russinovitch, is your go-to tool (see Figure 15-21).

Figure 15-21 Process Explorer Think of Process Explorer as Task Manager on steroids. It is very powerful and many technicians use it instead of Task Manager. It's not on the CompTIA A+ exams, but it should be. Instead of just listing all the processes, Process Explorer uses a tree structure so you can see all the dependencies.

NOTE Process Explorer does much more than display a tree structure. Download a copy and play with it. You will see why it is so popular. Services

If you have Windows Vista or Windows 7, you can use the Services tab in Task Manager to work with services directly (see Figure 15-22). Here, the services can be stopped or started, and you can go to the associated process.

Figure 15-22 Services tab in Task Manager The best way to see services in action is to use the Services Control Panel applet. To open it, click the Services button at the bottom of the Services tab in Task Manager or go to Control Panel | Administrative tools | Services. Figure 15-23 shows the Services applet running in Windows 7.

Figure 15-23 Services applet

EXAM TIP You can open the Services applet from Start | Run dialog or Start | Search bar. Type services.msc and press ENTER. Look closely at Figure 15-23. Each line of this subprogram is an individual service. Services do not have their own window, so you use the Services applet to start, stop, and configure them. You can see if a service is running by reading the Status column. To configure a service, right-click on the service name. The context menu allows you to start, stop, pause, resume or restart any service. Click Properties to display a dialog box similar to the one shown in Figure 15-24.

Figure 15-24 Service Properties dialog Of the four tabs you see in the Properties dialog, General and Recovery are by far the most used. The General tab provides the name of the service, describes the service, and allows you to stop, start, pause, or resume the service. You can also define how the service starts: Manual (you go here to start it), Automatic (starts at the beginning of Windows startup), Disabled (prevents the service from starting anyway), or Automatic (delayed start), which is it starts the service at boot, but only after pretty much everything else has started.

NOTE You can start or stop any service at a command prompt by typing the service name net start (or stop). Performance

For optimization purposes, Task Manager is a great tool to investigate how hard your RAM and CPU are working at any given time and why. Click the Performance tab to reveal a helpful screen with the most frequently used information: CPU usage, available physical memory, disk cache size, commit load (memory for programs), and kernel memory (memory used by windows). Figure 15-25

it shows a system with an eight-core processor, so you'll see eight graphs under CPU Usage History. A system with a single core processor would have a single display.

Figure 15-25 Performance tab of Task Manager Task Manager not only tells you how much CPU and RAM usage is taking place, but also which program is using those resources. Let's say your system is running slowly. You open Task Manager and see that your CPU usage is at 100 percent. Next, click on the Processes tab to see all the processes running on your system. Click the CPU column header to sort all processes by CPU usage to see who is hogging the CPU (see Figure 15-26). If necessary, turn off the program or change its priority to fix the problem.

Figure 15-26 CPU Usage Network and Users The other two tabs in Task Manager, Network and Users, allow you to view network usage at a glance and see which user accounts are currently connected to the local machine. The Networking tab is a good first place to look if you think your computer is running slowly on the network. If little activity is showing, then it's not your computer's traffic that's causing the slowdown, so you need to look elsewhere. Chapter 22 covers network troubleshooting in much more detail, so we'll leave the Networking tab alone for now. The Users tab allows you to log out other users if you have the appropriate permissions. You can also sign out from here. There's not much more to say, but since the CompTIA A+ 220-802 exam objectives want this tab to be used in a scenario, here's a hypothetical one. Another user is still logged in and left a critical file open that he needs to access. Logging out the user forces their applications to close and makes the file available. Of course, any unsaved changes will be lost, so be careful here. The tasklist and taskkill commands

The two command line utilities tasklist and taskkill allow you to work with tasks, similar to what you can do with Task Manager. The tasklist command allows you to view running processes on a local or remote system. Open a command prompt and type task list. The following is a partial example of the output:

EXAM TIP The CompTIA A+ 802 exam objectives mention a command line utility called tlist. Tasklist replaced tlist in Windows XP, but for some reason CompTIA included it anyway. You can kill a process using the taskkill command. Do you see the list of notepad.exe in the task list output above? You can kill the process using the name or the PID, as shown here:

TEST HINT You can use the kill command in the Windows PowerShell command-line environment to stop a running process. Kill is actually an alias for the Stop-Process cmdlet, although you don't need to know that for the exam. See Chapter 18 for a more detailed discussion of working with the command line and PowerShell. Performance Console Task Manager is good for identifying current problems, but what about problems that occur when you're not around? What if your system is always running at 20 percent CPU utilization? Is that good or bad? Windows XP provides a tool called Performance Console that logs resource usage so you can track things like CPU and RAM usage over time. Performance is an MMC console file, perfmon.msc, so you can call it from Start | Run or via the Performance icon in Administrative Tools. Use either method to open the performance console (see Figure 15-27). As you can see, there are two nodes, System Monitor and Performance Logs and Alerts.

Figure 15-27 Performance Console Objects and Counters

To start working with the Performance console, you need to understand two terms: object and counter. An object is a system component that receives a set of characteristics and can be managed by the operating system as a single entity. A counter tracks specific information about an object. For example, the Processor object has a counter, %Processor Time, that keeps track of the percentage of elapsed time that the processor uses to execute a non-idle thread. Many counters can be associated with one object. system monitoring

System Monitor collects real-time data about objects such as memory, physical disk, processor, and network, and displays this data in the form of a graph (line graph), histogram (bar graph), or simple report. When you first open the Performance Console, System Monitor displays data in graph form. The data shown is from the set of three counters listed below the chart. If you want to add counters, click the Add button (the one that looks like a plus sign) or press CTRL-I to open the Add Counters dialog. Click the Performance Object dropdown list and select one of the many different objects you can monitor. The Add Counters dialog includes a useful feature: you can select a counter and click the Explain button to get information about the counter, as shown in Figure 15-28. Try that now.

Figure 15-28 Add Counters dialog box Even with only three counters selected, the graph can get a bit busy. That's where one of my favorite System Monitor features shines. If you want the graphed data line for a single counter to stand out, select the counter in the list below the graph, and then press CTRL-H. See how this trick makes the % Processor Time line stand out in Figure 15-29? Imagine how useful that is when you're monitoring a dozen meters.

Figure 15-29 Pressing CTRL-H makes a data set stand out. Performance logs and alerts

The Performance Logs and Alerts snap-in allows Windows to create a written record of almost everything that happens on your system. Do you want to know if someone is trying to log into your system when you are not present? To create the new event log, right-click Counter Logs and select New Log Setup. Give the new record a name; in this example, "Unauthorized access". Click OK and a properties dialog box for the new record will appear, similar to the one shown in Figure 15-30.

Figure 15-30 Creating a new performance log To select counters for logging, click Add Counters, and then select the Use Local Computer Counters radio button. Select Server from the Performance Object dropdown, and then select Login Failures from the list of counters; click Add, and then click Close. Back in the properties dialog for your new log, click the Schedule tab and set when you want it to start running, probably the end of today's business day. Then select when you should stop logging in, probably tomorrow morning when you start work. Click the Log Files tab to see where the log file will be saved, probably C:\PerfLogs, and make a note of the file name. The file name will consist of the name you gave the record and a number. In this example, I named the new performance log "Unauthorized Access", so the file name is Unauthorized Access_000001.blg. When you return in the morning, open the Performance console, select Performance Logs and Alerts, and then select Counter Logs. Your record should appear on the right. The icon next to the log name will be green if the log is still running or red if it has stopped. If it hasn't stopped, select it and click the Stop button (the one with the black square, circled in Figure 15-31).

Figure 15-31 Stopping performance logging To view the log, open the performance console, select System Monitor, switch to Report view, and load the file as a new source using the log properties dialog. Performance Tools in Windows Vista and Windows 7 Microsoft dramatically improved the performance console with Performance and Reliability Monitor in Windows Vista and again with Performance Monitor in Windows 7. Performance and Reliability Monitor still has a performance console. Complete performance with all the objects and counters you need. view in Windows XP, but adds a great resource overview, a reliability monitoring tool, and a much more flexible way of using counters with data collector sets and reports. Performance Monitor in Windows 7 works almost identically to Reliability and Performance Monitor in Windows Vista, but Microsoft removed the Reliability tool to make the remaining tool smaller and more stringent. You can open Reliability and Performance Monitor/Performance Monitor by starting the Performance Information and Tools applet in Control Panel. The initial screen is Rate and improve your computer's performance (see Figure 15-32), which shows how your computer's hardware stacks up on the Windows Experience Index. Click the Advanced Tools link in the task area on the left. Then click Open Reliability and Performance Monitor or Open Performance Monitor, depending on your version of Windows. You can also open the tool by going to Start | Search bar, typing perfmon.msc and pressing ENTER.

Figure 15-32 Performance information and tools showing the computer's rating in the Windows Experience Index

NOTE The Windows Experience Index runs on a scale of 1.0 to 7.9 and gives you a pretty good indicator of a system's relative strengths and weaknesses. The system in Figure 15-32, for example, has a CPU near the top of the table (it's an Intel Core i7) and lots of fast RAM (8 GB), but a relatively modest hard drive. So the next obvious upgrade to this system would be to move from a disk-based drive to a solid-state drive. Disk performance would certainly increase drastically. The Reliability and Performance Monitor in Windows Vista opens to a Resource Overview screen (see Figure 15-33). Think of Resource Overview as an advanced Task Manager, providing details about CPU, hard drive, network, and memory usage.

Figure 15-33 Summary of resources in Windows Vista When you click one of the four bars, you get details about exactly which processes are using those resources—a powerful tool when you suspect a program might be hogging something! Figure 15-34 shows the Network bar open to reveal the processes using the network and the amount of data each is sending.

Figure 15-34 Network Bar in Resource Summary

NOTE The Reliability Monitor tool gives you an overview of how a PC has performed over time, displaying important events such as application or operating system crashes. You can find the tool in Windows 7 as part of the Action Center Control Panel applet. Performance Monitor in Windows 7 opens to a more modest screen that displays text about Performance Monitor and a System Summary (see Figure 15-35). You can access the Overview screen by clicking the Open Resource Monitor link on the main screen. Other than orienting graphical displays to the right instead of the top, the tool is the same as the Resource Overview in Windows Vista (see Figure 15-36).

Figure 15-35 Initial Performance Monitor screen in Windows 7

Figure 15-36 Resource Monitor showing CPU usage The Performance Monitor option that you can select in Monitoring Tools on any version of the operating system is simply a recreation of the Performance Console and works as described above for Windows XP (see Figure 15-37) . This is a great tool for quick checks on specific counters.

Figure 15-37 Reliability and Performance Monitor Microsoft included data collector sets in Reliability and Performance Monitor and Performance Monitor, groupings of counters that you can use to create reports. You can create your own (user-defined) data collector sets or just take one of the predefined system sets. Once you start a Data Collector Set, you can use the Reports option to view the results (see Figure 15-38). Data collector sets not only allow you to choose counter objects to track, but also allow you to schedule when you want them to run.

Figure 15-38 Sample report

EXAM TIP The CompTIA A+ exams will not ask many detailed questions about Performance Monitor or Reliability and Performance Monitor. That doesn't mean you can ignore these amazing tools! Make sure you understand that these tools give you the power to inspect anything going on in your system to help you diagnose problems. Developer Tools In Chapter 4, I discussed many of the tools available under Administrative Tools in Control Panel. I omitted two applets that I want to discuss now for two reasons: first, because they are covered in the CompTIA A+ 220-802 exam, and second, because they deal with some low-level functions in Windows that affect a lot of applications being programmed. Read on to learn more about the Data Source and Component Services (ODBC) applet.

Component Services To understand all that Component Services can do, you would need a vast amount of information, far beyond the scope of CompTIA A+ exams. Simply put, for as long as Windows has been around, Microsoft has created many tools (with names like COM, DCOM, and COM+) to allow programmers to share data objects (an element of programs) between applications on a single computer. Over time, this sharing was extended so that you could share objects between computers on a network. In almost all cases, this exchange of objects does not require you to do anything more than install an application that uses these features. However, component services are there for those very rare cases when something goes wrong or a programmer needs you to make manual changes (see Figure 15-39). If you're a company that builds in-house or buys custom apps, chances are you'll turn on Component Services and work with developers, manually install programs, and modify those programs to work the way you want them to. Professional third-party applications (the kind you buy in stores) should automatically configure any of these programs during the installation process, so it's extremely rare that you'll need to access Component Services.

Figure 15-39 Component Services in Windows 7 Every version of Windows has Component Services, but there is no ready-to-use icon in Windows XP or Windows Vista. You will need to create a custom MMC and load Component Services from there. data sources

One of the oldest and most common motivations for creating networks is the idea of ​​multiple computers accessing one or more shared databases. These computers may not all run the same operating system, nor will they always use the same application to access those databases. That's where Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) really shines. ODBC is a coding standard that allows programmers to write databases and the applications that use them in such a way that they can query ODBC to see how to locate and access a database without worrying about which application or operating system is being used. Microsoft's tool for configuring ODBC is called ODBC Data Source Administrator (see Figure 15-40). The Data Source Administrator allows you to create and manage entries called Data Source Names (DSNs) that point ODBC to a database. ODBC-compliant applications use DSNs to query ODBC and find their databases. Note that you will rarely access the Data Source Manager unless you are creating your own shared databases.

Figure 15-40 Data Source Manager in Windows 7

Chapter Review Questions 1. What is the name of the program that boots Windows Vista and Windows 7? A. ntldr B. boot.ini C. bootmgr

D. Registry 2. What is the name of the command line version of Task Manager? A. taskman B. tasklist C. taskkill D. tasks 3. Which of the following tools allows programmers to share objects between applications and computers? A. Task Manager B. Performance Console C. bootmgr D. Component Services 4. When using the Performance Console, what sett