Computers, which were invented as far back as in the 1940s, are highly complex machines that need both hardware and software for their operation. If, in the middle of the 20th century, it was crucial only for computer technicians to understand how these components interact, in the age of computerization and data sharing, this knowledge is beneficial for every user. In the first place, it is necessary to differentiate between the terms.
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Hardware can be defined as a visible, material part of the computer system, including all its physical components. On the contrary, software encompasses all programs and other operating information, constituting the intelligence of the system. Software is the driving force that enables hardware components to operate without failures (“What are the differences between hardware and software?” 2017).
Thus, the question arises: How to choose software for it to be a perfect fit for the hardware? What are the hardware components of the primary significance? In fact, there are only three of them that actually make the whole system work. These are CPU, ROM, and RAM. These constituents are essential for considering when one chooses which applications to install. They can be defined as follows (Siewiorek & Swarz, 2017):
- CPU (Central Processing Unit) is the key component (or the ‘brain’) of the entire system, the circuitry of which is required for interpretation and execution of software instructions; all calculations take place here. There are four major functions, which the CPU has to perform. First and foremost, it must receive instructions that guide the performance of all computer programs. Second, it deciphers these instructions. Then, it translates them into practical implementation. Finally, it receives feedback, and stores performed activities in the computer memory to be able to extract them when necessary.
- ROM (Read Only Memory) is a built-in, non-volatile form of data storage used not only in computers but also in a number of other electronic devices. Its peculiarity consists in the fact that it cannot be easily modified or reprogrammed. It can be done only with a lot of effort due to the fact that ROM is meant to store firmware. This type of software is too closely connected with particular hardware, which makes updates unnecessary. Thus, ROM can be called hard-wired: Although some circuits are possible to alter, integrated circuits are not–therefore, this memory cannot be changed after manufacturing. This creates a considerable disadvantage for a number of programs since security threats cannot be eliminated, and bugs are impossible to fix. New features cannot be added to the existing ones either.
- RAM (Random-Access Memory) is another form of data storage, which, unlike ROM, is responsible for memorizing program instructions of frequently run applications in order to maximize the system speed of operation. Its major task to make it possible for data to be written or read in the same time period regardless of where it is stored (in comparison, in other storage media, the time required to process data may vary considerably because of the location). Modern RAM is manufactured in the form of integrated circuits and is often referred to as volatile types of memory.
Thus, when the user chooses software, these three hardware components are the key point of discussion with the IT specialist. The following questions are to be answered about the programs that are to be installed:
- How much storage will be required (since some applications need a lot of it to operate effectively)? Where will it be located?
- How much RAM is sufficient for the software to be speedy?
- How often will it have to be upgraded and updated?
- Will it be possible to stay with the same hardware when the programs are updated?
As far as the key utilities for customization, optimization, and maintenance are concerned, they can be summed up as follows:
- Customization utilities. Although for the majority of users, default settings are quite acceptable as long as they can change the wallpaper or the color scheme, there are those who are eager to make their desktops highly customized to be both aesthetically pleasant to look at and convenient to use. OS customization utilities allow not only changing the screen resolution, wallpaper, start-up screen, and color scheme, but also customizing live tiles, setting what folders appear on Start, learning the user’s voice, personalizing taskbar, lock screen, default app, and Action Center, setting up OneDrive, etc. For more advanced customization, there also exist programs like TweakNow Power Pack, Customizer God, Winaero Tweaker, TileCreator, Ultimate Windows Tweaker, Folder Marker, Taskbar Tweaker, etc. (Price, 2016).
- Disk Cleanup. Such utilities allow the user to scan the hard drive in order to delete all unnecessary files, such as those stored in the cache. It helps clean the extra room and optimizes the performance of the system. It is also possible to delete uninstall programs, restore points, old files, Windows components, etc. (“Tips to free up drive space on your PC,” 2016).
- Disk Defragmenter. This tool is used to solve plenty of problems. Its major function is to reassemble fragmented files stored in broken pieces across the hard drive (which can lead to malfunction). The utility finds the parts and reassembles them in one place. This increases the speed of the system operation by removing delays connected with slow searching and opening of fragments (“How to improve your computer’s performance,“ 2016).
- System Restore. This utility makes it possible for the user to set the system back to the earlier time when it functioned properly. This is necessary when an unexpected error occurs due to the actions of malware. The user can set restore points in the calendar (Siewiorek & Swarz, 2017).
- Disk Compression and Archivers. Such utilities make it possible to compress big files to a free storage room and improve the functionality since the computer is freed from the necessity to keep track of a huge number of files simultaneously. Archivers allow not only compressing but also decompressing files when it is convenient for the user (Siewiorek & Swarz, 2017).
- Registry Cleaners. For effective maintenance of the computer, the user needs to scan it not only for redundant files but also for registry mistakes. The registry encompasses all core files that are responsible for the functionality and general performance. That is why it is essential to repair its damaged parts and clean up the mess created by malware or even safe programs that may cause errors when they are misused. It is also necessary to check up the registry in order to remove unnecessary or outdated files that slow down the system (“Microsoft supports policies for the use of registry cleaning utilities,” 2017).
The PC Model Example
- Country Origin: China.
- Model: ThinkPad X1 Yoga (1st Gen).
How to improve your computer’s performance. (2016). Microsoft. Web.
Microsoft supports policies for the use of registry cleaning utilities. (2017). Microsoft. Web.
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Price, D. (2016). Seven best tools to tweak and customize Windows 10. MUO. Web.
Siewiorek, D., & Swarz, R. (2017). Reliable computer systems: Design and evaluation. New York, NY: Digital Press.
Tips to free up drive space on your PC. (2016). Microsoft. Web.
What are the differences between hardware and software? (2017). Computer Hope. Web.