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Computer Basics


What is a Computer?

A computer is an electronic device that manipulates information, or "data." It has the ability to store, retrieve, and process data. You can use a computer to type documents, send email, and browse the internet. You can also use it to handle spreadsheets, accounting, database management, presentations, games, and more.



Understanding Operating Systems

An operating system is the most important software that runs on a computer. It manages the computer's memory, processes, and all of its software and hardware. It also allows you to communicate with the computer without knowing how to speak the computer's "language." Without an operating system, a computer is useless.


Understanding Applications

You may have heard people talking about using an application or an app. But what exactly does that mean? An application (or app) is a type of software that allows you to perform specific tasks. Applications for desktop or laptop computers are sometimes called desktop applications, and those for mobile devices are called mobile apps. When you open an application, it runs inside the operating system until you close it. Much of the time, you will have more than one application open at the same time, and this is known as multitasking.

App is a very common term for an application, especially for simple applications that can be downloaded cheaply or even for free. Many apps are also available for mobile devices and even some TVs.



What is the Cloud?

You may have heard people using terms like the cloud, cloud computing, or cloud storage. But what exactly is the cloud? Basically, the cloud is the internet - more specifically, it's all of the things that you can access remotely over the internet. When something is in the cloud, that means it is stored on servers on the internet, instead of on your computer. It lets you access your calendar, email, files and more, from any computer that has an internet connection.

There are many reasons to use the cloud, but the main reasons are convenience and reliability. In the past, if you wanted to bring a file with you, you would have to save it to a USB flash drive, external hard drive, or CD-R disc. Saving a file to the cloud ensures that you'll be able access it with any computer that has an internet connection, so you don't have any physical media to keep track of. The cloud also makes it much easier to share a file with coworkers or friends, making it possible to collaborate over the internet.

With the cloud, you're much less likely to lose your data, since it is stored on servers. However, just like anything online, there is always a risk that someone may try to gain access to your personal data, so it's important to choose a strong password and pay attention to any privacy settings for the service you're using.

All About the Desktop Computer

Basic Parts of the Desktop Computer

The basic parts of a desktop computer are the computer case, monitor, keyboard, mouse, and power cord. Each part plays an important role whenever you use a computer.




Buttons & Ports on a Desktop Computer

Take a look at the front and back of your computer case and count the number of buttons, sockets, and slots you see. Now, look at your monitor and count any that appear there. You probably counted at least 20.

Each computer is different, so the buttons, slots, and sockets will vary from computer to computer. However, there are certain features you can expect to find on most desktop computers. Being familiar with the names of each and how they are commonly used will help you later on when you connect that new printer, mouse, digital camera, or other device.




Inside a Desktop Computer

Have you ever looked inside a computer case before, or seen pictures of the inside of one? The small parts may look complicated, but the inside of a computer case really isn't all that mysterious. This lesson will help you master some of the basic terminology and understand a little about what goes on inside the four walls of the computer casing.




Laptop Computers and Mobile Devices

Getting To Know Laptop Computers

A laptop is a battery or AC-powered personal computer that can be easily carried and used in a variety of locations. Many laptops are designed to have all of the functionality of a desktop computer, which means they can generally run the same software and open the same types of files. However, some laptops, such as netbooks, sacrifice some functionality in order to be even more portable.




Getting Started

Setting up a Desktop Computer

You have a new computer and are ready to set it up. While this may seem like an overwhelming and difficult task, it is really very simple. It does not matter what name brand of computer you have, as most computers are set up in a very similar way.

If you are setting up a newly purchased computer that is still in the box, you will probably find a how-to guide in the packaging that includes step-by-step details. However, even if it didn't include instructions, you can still set up the computer in just a few easy steps. In this lesson, we'll go through the different steps that are needed to set up a typical computer.




Getting Started With Windows

The screen that you see when your computer has finished starting up is called the desktop. Depending on what kind of operating system you have, the desktop will look different, but it generally consists of menus at the bottom, top, and/or sides of the screen, with the rest of the screen containing a desktop background (or wallpaper). The desktop background area can also contain any files, applications, or shortcuts that you want to have quick access to.




Connecting to the Internet

Once you've set up your computer, you'll probably want to get internet access so that you can send and receive email, browse the web, watch movies, and more. Before you can access the internet, there are three things that you need: internet service, a modem, and a web browser.



Cleaning Your Computer


Computers are expensive, and with all big purchases, you probably want to protect your investment. Luckily, it is not difficult to keep your computer healthy and in good working order. Maintaining a computer involves three things: keeping it physically clean, protecting it from malware, and backing up your important files.




Protecting Your computer

Malware is any type of software that is designed to damage your computer or gain unauthorized access to your personal information. It includes viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware, and other types. Most malware is distributed over the internet, often bundled with other software.

The best way to guard against malware is to install antivirus software such as BitDefender, Norton, or Kaspersky. Antivirus software helps to prevent malware from being installed, and it can also remove malware from your computer. New malware is being created all the time, so it's important to update your antivirus software frequently. Most antivirus programs can do this automatically, but you'll need to make sure that this feature is enabled.

It's also important to stay smart when you're browsing the web or using email. If a website or email attachment looks suspicious, trust your instincts. Keep in mind that your antivirus program may not catch everything, so it's best to avoid downloading anything that might contain malware.



Creating a Safe Workspace

In addition to keeping your computer healthy, it's important to think about your own health. Using a computer involves a lot of repetitive motions such as typing and using the mouse. Over time, these motions can begin to take their toll on your body, especially your wrists, neck, and back. Staring at a monitor for long periods of time can also cause eye strain. To minimize this, you should take a few moments to make sure your workspace is arranged in a comfortable and healthy way.



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