How Computers Work

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Computers: Getting Personal With Computers

No matter how ubiquitous computer technology has become, true comfort and ease with computers remains elusive for much of the world. It’s no surprise that there are libraries’ worth of information online on the progenitor of the Web: the personal computer.

How Computers Work

Many of us use computers but rarely stop to think about how computers work. A basic understanding of the technology in front of you can greatly enhance the computing experience, and help you advance as a user.

Insights for How Computers Work

  • In this guide and on the sites referenced, you're certain to run into a fair amount of techno-babble. Use the Webopedia glossary to look up computer and Internet terms.

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Choosing a Computer

Computers double their processing power roughly every 18 months. Learn how to keep up with the technology with advice on choosing a computer.

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  • When choosing a computer, technical support is often overlooked. Types of useful support include 24/7 phone support (with a real person), online “chat” support, online tutorials and tips, a good repair and replace policy, and walk-in service at certain locations.
  • Computer specifications and features can sound great, but they don’t really tell you how the computer is going to perform. Try to browse as many user reviews as possible before you choose a particular computer.

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For help deciding on a computer …
For help choosing what Mac to buy …
For the latest PC reviews …
For information on Linux ...
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Buying a Computer Online

There may be a number of benefits to buying a computer online. Many manufacturers and retail stores give you the same service online as off, and often you’ll find the best prices from Web-only stores.

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  • Often third-party accessories, including replacement parts like power adapters, are cheaper than the original manufacturer’s products.

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For online computer retailers and shopping sites …
For specific manufacturers …
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Online Computer Support

Even for the experienced techie, keeping a computer in tip-top shape can be a challenge. Luckily, you can find online computer support with a click of the mouse.

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  • Be careful when receiving third-party online computer technical support. Tampering too much with your computer can void warranties.

Top Sites for Online Computer Support

For general online computer support …
For Apple online computer support …
For Windows online computer support …
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Computer Tutorials

Learning more about your computer and its capabilities through computer tutorials can open up new possibilities that you didn’t know existed.

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  • For offline learning, check with your local computer store. Many of them, including Apple stores, run seminars, classes and even private computer tutorials.

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How to Transfer Files to a New Computer

Use the links in this section to learn how to transfer files to a new computer, and find out what you'll need to protect your personal information and data.

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  • Getting rid of your old computer? Be sure to protect your personal information, and responsibly dispose of the machine. For more information, see the, “Computer Recycling and Donating Computers” section of this guide.
  • If you purchased and installed software programs on your old computer, hold onto the installation disks so you can install it on your new computer.

Top Sites for How to Transfer Files to a New Computer

For switching to a new computer …
 
To switch from a Windows PC to a Mac …
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Computer Recycling and Donating Computers

There are a number of computer recycling and donating options available if you want to get rid of your old computer in an environmentally, socially or fiscally responsible way.

Insights for Computer Recycling and Donating Computers

  • Computers are chock-full of materials that are either valuable or toxic. For more information on the dangers of e-waste, read this article from Greenpeace.
  • For more information on recycling your computer responsibly and tips on choosing a recycler, read this informative article from Salon.com.
  • If you choose to sell your computer, follow the advice in the sites below to make sure your data is protected. Then check out the findingDulcinea Web Guide to Selling.

Top Sites for Computer Recycling and Donating Computers

For a look at your computer recycling and donating options …
To recycle your computer …
To donate your computer …
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Community Links in Computers

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