Computer Components 101

Computer Components 101

If you are not a tech-savvy individual, then you probably have no idea how the parts of computer work together and what each part is responsible for. You have probably heard some sort of explanation, but it’s likely that they used terms that aren’t in your everyday vocabulary. Let us break down how a computer's main components such as the processor, the RAM, and the hard drive work together seamlessly.   

Let’s think about a computer in terms of you building a sandwich in your kitchen at home.

Hard Drive/Storage = Refrigerator

A hard drive is like the refrigerator – it stores all the ingredients (AKA - “data”) needed for the sandwich. Everything that you keep on your computer is on a hard drive and it’s more than just documents, pictures and music. This also includes your programs, your preferences, and your operating system. If you refrigerator were to be damaged, you could lose all of your food. If your hard drive were to be damaged, you could lose everything: your pictures, your files, your passwords, everything! The size of your hard drive just depends how much stuff you have to store.

RAM = Your Counter Space

Now, you start to pull ingredients out of your refrigerator and start putting them on the counter where you are going to build a sandwich. This is what RAM is to the computer – RAM literally stands for random access memory and is known as a form of computer memory. It is an easy and speedy access area where the computer stores data it needs to perform the task at hand. As you work to make your sandwich, you know you may need some ingredients more than once so you keep them on the counter (RAM) because you want to get to them quickly later. If you have a small counter space (RAM), you need to constantly work harder to get ingredients put back into the fridge (Hard Drive) and if you have open counter space, you can store everything on the counter and out in the open. Too little RAM causes the whole system to work harder and slower.

Processor = YOU Do The Hard Work

Now you are the processor. The processor the the central processing unit (CPU) is the brain of the computer. Its coordinates with all of the other pieces of hardware to fetch, interpret and send information so they can all of the components can work together. Without a processor, a computer would simply not work, just as without you, the sandwich would not get made. As the sandwich is nearing completion, more and more ingredients are put into the refrigerator (storage) until at last the sandwich is complete (for example, your web browser is opened and waiting for you to click on a favorite link!).

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