Understanding Your Computer’s Operating System and Some Basic Terminology

Understanding Your Computer’s Operating System and Some Basic Terminology

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  1. In a perfect world you purchase your PC and it works great without ever having a problem, however this is not a perfect world and a certain amount of responsibility comes with being a PC owner. Before you can attempt to repair an error that is plaguing your PC or even to perform preventive, routine maintenance, you must first understand how it works. By spending a short amount of time learning some basic information and terminology, you just might be able to save yourself the expense of a repair tech, or in the event you cannot perform the repair yourself, having this knowledge can be helpful to the person who fixes you PC.

    When you purchase a computer it comes with an OS installed. OS stands for Operating System, which is a piece of software that is used to control how the hardware components work and react to user input. It also provides you with a GUI, which stands for a Graphical User Interface, which provides a user-friendly interface. Otherwise, without a GUI, all you would see on your screen is black with white colored writing, which in a nutshell is DOS, which is what was used before the Windows operating system came along.

    With that in mind, when you first turn on your computer, it goes through what is called the boot process. This means that the hardware begins to search for the installed operating system and once it finds it, then Windows begins to load. Once the boot process is complete, you end up at a colorful screen which is referred to as the desktop. This is where you will find several items, icons, the taskbar and the Windows Start Menu.

    The Start Menu contains links to all installed software on the PC, the control panel, a log off button and a shutdown button. It is essential to know where the shutdown button is because it is used to turn your PC off. Never just pull the plug or use the button which you use to turn it on to turn a PC off. This is what the shutdown button is for. Windows must be given a chance to shut down properly, if not the next time you turn the PC  on, you most likely will find that you have system errors, or worst case, the OS won’t boot at all.

    The other items located on your desktop are the taskbar, which runs across the bottom of the screen and holds open windows, which would be a program or file that you have open and are using. They are stored on the taskbar so that you can easily move between your open Windows when you are multi-tasking.  Finally the last item on your desktop is the icons. These represent installed software on the PC and are there as a quick link to opening the program.

    Armed with this knowledge, you will be more prepared to tackle some of the more basic PC errors you may encounter or if you bought your PC brand new and purchased a warranty, then you have the option of calling the helpdesk and knowing this information will help you to more easily communicate your issue to the person on the other end of the phone.

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