Set up a computer system by installing hardware and software components

After recommending a computer system for a given business purpose you will need to set up the system by installing hardware and software to makes sure that it meets the needs of the end user. When doing this you need to be able to complete a range of tasks such as those outlined below.

Connect and set up:
You will need to connect and set up a range of hardware components and equipment such as monitors, printers, routers, keyboards, mouse, speakers, microphones, RAM and hard drive. Most computer systems can automatically connect to all monitors by plugging them in using the standard cables such as VGA, DVI or HDMI. When connected, the devices drivers in the operating system will enable the system to output to the monitor using plug n play technology. Similarly, printers are normally installed using plug n play technology but some printers come with device drivers on a CD that need to be installed on the system to connect to the printer. Network printers need to be configured so that all users on the network can find and connect to the printer. The connection is normally checked by printing a test page. Routers and modems are used to connect systems to the internal network and internet. Routers need to be configured by connecting to the network through a secure password. They can be configured so that users can access the network using wireless technology and part of maintaining systems is to ensure someone takes ownership of the password and adds new machines to the network. Most standard keyboards and mouse can be connected using plug n play technology that is managed by the operating system. Plug the keyboard in and check that it operates correctly. You may then need to configure the keyboard so that it uses the correct languages settings etc. A mouse can be configured for individual uses such as click speed and operation of different buttons. Speakers and microphones are used to control the systems audio. Speakers are plugged in using the correct cables and the balance and volume settings can normally be adjusted using the operating system software. Microphones can be configured using different associated software packages to eliminate noise when recording or communicating. Adding speakers and a microphone to a computer system that is connected to the internet really increases the functionality as it can be used to communicate all over the world using software packages such as Skype. Setting up RAM requires some more technical knowledge. You need to open up the system case and install the RAM in the correct slots. The system BIOS will then install the RAM as an add on to the existing RAM or to replace the existing RAM. It is important to ensure that the RAM that you select is compatible with the system motherboard. Different types of RAM are DRAM, SDRAM, SIMM and DIMM these come in varying memory sizes and speed and you need to be careful to select the correct option for the user needs. Installing a new hard drive means either replacing the existing hard drive or configuring the new hard drive to work along side the existing drive by using master/slave configuration if the are running on the same communications bus. Different types of hard drives are IDE, SATA and PATA to name a few. Again this requires opening the system case and more technical knowledge and the hard drive will be recognised by the system BIOS when connected.

Install hardware:
We talked previously about installing hardware such as RAM and hard drives and other components that may need to be installed to set up a standalone system are sounds and graphics cards as well as CD/DVD drives. Many motherboards come with built in sound cards but if you want to get the out of your system audio it’s best to install your own sound card. Sound cards can be installed in the PCI slot of a computer and will require you to open the case and you should use a screwdriver and anti-static wrist band ensuring that the system is powered off before installation. The system operating system should automatically find drivers to support the card and you can buy output cables that plug into the cards outputs to connect to your speakers or headphones. As with audio if you wants advanced graphics capabilities it’s best to install your own graphics card. Graphics cards can be updated to output better quality graphics to HD devices for enhanced viewing. Installation also requires you to open the case and take the necessary precautions to eliminate the risk of elector static discharge. It’s important to consider the audio and video needs of a system before purchasing so that you can set up your standalone computer system for user needs. Installing a CD/DVD drive would enable you to burn your own disks or listen to music. Installing a drive is again pretty straight forward and most systems come with spare slots to install the drive in the cabinet. If the system does not recognise the drive then it may need additional drivers that can be installed from a USB pen drive until the CD drive is installed. Most PCs come with a pre-installed CD/DVD drive as operating systems such as Windows are normally installed from a CD.

Install software:
Another aspect of setting up a standalone computer system is installing software components. The main software component that you are going to need for any standalone computer system is operating system software such as Windows, Linux or Mac OS. Operating system software is used as the main interface for the user to control the system and can be configured to meet the needs of the user and used to control hard that is connected to the system as mentioned in the previous section on installing hardware. To set up your standalone system to be as useful as possible you will need to install applications software such as Microsoft Office or other packages that are required by the user such as graphics design software or development environments for programmers such as Visual Studio. In order to ensure that your system operates as efficiently as possible you will need to install a range of software utilities that help maintain the system such as security software. Security software includes virus checkers and firewalls. Virus checkers are used to ensure your system is free from viruses that may delete files from your system or steal information that may be used fraudulently. Firewalls help manage traffic to and from your system when connected to the internet to stop any illegal attempts to access your information. Firewalls can also be configured to block outgoing traffic to limit what your employees can access on the web. Device drivers are installed every time a hardware device is connected to the computer system. A device driver tells the operating system how to talk to the hardware device. A device driver is like an instruction manual that an OS uses to control devices connected to a system. Most operating systems come with pre-installed drivers to access most industry standard devices that can be connected to a system. If the device driver is not already installed the operating system may automatically search the web for a suitable device driver or ask you to install it from disk. When installing software it is important to ensure that you have the appropriate software to enable the user create appropriate directory/folder structures. The Windows operating system comes with Windows Explorer pre-installed to help create and manage folders stored on your hard drive and other storage media connected to the machine. Other standalone software packages may be installed for file management of you do not like the one that is installed as part of the operating system.

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