PC Hardware Guide (E-book)

Tips for troubleshooting, optimizing, and maintaining your system

Windows 7 Guide, Volume 1 

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Computer equipment is considerably more than a PC, a keyboard, a monitor, and a mouse on your desktop these days. With the proliferation of digital devices and the many ways we use them, your software and hardware interactions are bound to cause problems from time to time.

The writers at Windows Secrets monitor advances and failures of hardware features and performance as they do software. We have compiled a collection of pieces from the Windows Secrets Newsletter to address hardware questions in several categories:

  • Part I: Troubleshooting
  • Part II: Upgrading
  • Part III: Keeping your stuff both safe and useful

Part I is “Troubleshooting.” How to tell whether your trouble is in your software or hardware is a focus of several pieces in Part I. How to fix the trouble you find and how to prevent more of it are the main points of other articles in this section.

Part II is “Upgrading.” This section is relatively short and the entries are recent because innovation is constant. Nevertheless, some general principles apply more than a year or two.

Part III is “Keeping your stuff both safe and useful.” The pieces in this section support your impulse to prolong the useful life of your gear but also help you recognize when it’s time to dispose of —in the most responsible fashion.

Happy computing!


Table of Contents

Part 1: Troubleshooting

  • A few valuable troubleshooting reminders
  • What to do when Windows refuses to boot
  • Remove a troublesome driver completely
  • The value of RAID on a desktop
  • Lost: 300 gigabytes of valuable drive space!
  • Place programs in their optimal load order
  • The not-so-strange case of missing RAM
  • Related hard-disk troubleshooting articles
  • When Windows primary disk-checking tool fails
  • Use a third-party disk-checking tool
  • Change the size of the C: drive partition
  • Network ‘improvement’ tool ruins connections
  • Checking and fixing a PC’s temperature
  • Is your personal computer headed for a meltdown?
  • What temperatures are OK — what’s too hot?
  • To be certain, do a thermal stress test
  • If your system runs hot or really overheats
  • Related laptop-heat articles
  • Resources for replacing a noisy laptop fan
  • The quick way to safely remove USB drives
  • Related device-removal articles
  • When dial-up is the only way online
  • Most Win7 PCs have no modem; what now?

Part 2: Upgrading

  • Welcome to the 64-bit era of Windows
  • The new normal: 4GB of RAM and 500GB hard drives
  • The move to 64-bit and Win7 goes hand in hand
  • Using 32-bit software: apps, yes; hardware, no
  • Future-proofing: 64-bit provides power to spare
  • Better security with a 64-bit operating system
  • When the time comes to update to Win7 x32
  • Related upgrading articles
  • Four (relatively) painless small-network upgrades
  • Chop network backup times with gigabit Ethernet
  • Start by updating your Ethernet switches
  • Slash printing costs with a network laser printer
  • Fire- and flood-resistant hard drives

Part 3: Protect, reuse, recycle

  • Keeping your business data under lock and key
  • Turn that spare PC into a digital video recorder
  • Don’t let your older hardware gather dust
  • Some shopping is required: here’s what you need
  • Ways to make the PC-to-HDTV connection
  • If it’s in a PC, the DVR is software-based
  • Make sure your DVR is energy-efficient
  • Setting up Windows for best DVR use
  • Related upgrading articles
  • Centronics parallel interfaces in a USB world
  • Recycling your PC — and your gadgets, too
  • Keeping e-waste out of the landfills
  • Preparation: get your devices ready to recycle
  • Disposal: find and donate to a deserving cause
  • Make use of manufacturers’ take-back programs
  • Locate the right electronics recycling center
  • Related recycling articles
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