Technology Explained: Computer Parts

Most people know the parts of a computer, at least enough to look at specs when they’re buying one. It’s common knowledge that the more RAM your computer has, the faster it’ll run. But do you know why? 

To help even the most non-technical folks understand the parts of the computer, we’ll use a library as an analogy. 

The outer case of the computer or laptop is the walls of the library, or even the building itself. It keeps all the parts of the library safe and indoors. When it rains, snows, or the wind blows, the building is going to keep all of the books inside protected. 

Once we walk inside the library, we’re met with shelves upon shelves of books. Consider these shelves your hard drive. The more shelves you have, the more books you can fit on them. So, the more hard drive space you have, the more files and programs and data you can store. 


Hard Drive 

There are 2 different types of hard drives: a solid-state drive (SSD) and a hard drive disk (HDD). The HDD tends to be cheaper and has more storage capacity, while an SSD will be more expensive and won’t be available in extremely large sizes.  

Back to our library analogy, an HDD would be like having to walk all the way up the stairs and down rows of stacks to find the book you need. An SSD would just have all of the books you want right in front of your face.  

An HDD is also like a record, it spins and must follow the path to get to the files, whereas an SSD would just be able to locate the file immediately. 



When you are ready to browse through some books you grab the ones you need and move them to a table inside the library. The table is your Random Access Memory (RAM).   

Since these books are on your table, it’s easy for you to jump from book to book. As you open programs and files, they get moved to the table—the RAM—for quick access. 

When you save the files and close them, you put them back on the shelf. The table still has a limited amount of space and can fill up quickly. If your table is full of books, it’s still hard to find the one you need and may take some time. The bigger the table, the more books you can have out at once, and the more you spread them out, the easier they’ll be to find.  

Essentially, the more RAM you have, the bigger your table will be, and you will be able to run more programs and have more files open at once. 



The processor in the computer is like the librarian. It’s basically the brains of the whole operation.  

The librarian knows where to find the books, can go get them for you, or tell you where to get them. The processor is what tells your computer what to do in order to complete your requests. Better processors work more efficiently and can help you perform your tasks quickly. 



The floor of the library connects everything together. The shelves, the table, and the case are all attached to the floor. Even the librarian is standing on the floor. The motherboard keeps all of the parts connected and allows the librarian to move around and perform the tasks required of them. 


Each of these parts work together to make a smooth computing experience. You can imagine if one shelf in the library is broken, some books might not be in the correct location, or they may have gotten damaged. Each part needs to be functioning for the library to work, and so do all the parts of the computer. 




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