I typically hear people say that they are too busy to learn how a computer works, or that they think they’re too complicated to understand.
Computers have been shrinking the office down and making tasks more efficient since they day they were introduced to the modern office. But has all this progress made computers too complex to comprehend?
The computer you use every day is typically a major investment your company has made in order to give you tools to assist in doing your job. So some basic understanding is not only helpful, but necessary in today’s connected world. Below are some helpful analogies that will not only help you understand the basics, but allow others to help you as well.
Let’s start with the part of the computer you can see: the box underneath or beside your desk known as a pc, or maybe even a laptop. You should know that as computers have been pushed forward by business use, the computer makers have been digitizing every-day aspects of our life in order to let the electrons do the work. This allows you to process more in a day than was possible when the office was made up of typewriters, pencils and calculators alone.
To get a grasp how your machine works, it can be useful to think of a computer as a virtual office. The different hardware components inside the case are performing different functions in that virtual office.
The Motherboard, for example, can be thought of as the office building itself. The width of the hallways that connect each section of the office together represent how much data the different components can share between them.
The RAM, or memory, is akin the overall surface area of the desk at which you sit. The larger the desktop, the more papers, folders and files you can open and spread out. More RAM allows more things to be open and displayed on your computer as well.
The CPU can be compared to the number of people helping you to actually process the work. Quad-core CPU’s could be compared to having 4 extra people standing around your desk helping to get the job done.
Your Hard Drive is similar to filing cabinets. It controls and limits the total amount of data can you store.
The Operating System dictates what language you speak in your office. Sure you can share files between let’s say, Apple or Window’s, but when translating, (just like in the real world), it may not be the same exact presentation as the original.
You can think of the monitor as your own office manager interpreting and presenting to you the results of all the actions the computer has taken.
It also helps to know something about the software and peripherals that interact with your computer. The fact that your computer needs maintenance, protection, and an alert operator makes it similar to almost every other major investment you make, much like knowing your car needs oil and tire to keep it running. Your computer needs protection and maintenance as well.
Anti-virus and firewall protection are the first lines of defense for a computer. They are not perfect, but like a lock on your door, they can be very effective in keeping out or stopping unwanted intrusions and destruction. A network firewall with Anti-virus is like having a gated fence with security guard around your property. Not only keeping out non-expected traffic, scanning packages for malicious activity, but offering a waypoint on how traffic should reach its destination securely.
Paying for maintenance and support agreements is like having multiple staff members to take care of the items that you don’t need to train your own employees to service. When you hire a managed services provider (MSP) instead of hiring dedicated internal staff, you greatly expand the skill sets that are employed to take care of your network. Most computer technicians focus on a few areas of the IT world. A team of technicians has much more knowledge and experience collected to diagnose issues or plan for the future IT needs of your company.
Backup and restore solutions are the safety net or insurance of the computer world. The last couple years have seen an explosion in ransomware: a virus made to encrypt files and lock you out of your own data unless your pay the ransom. Some variants have been able to slip past anti-virus software and firewall services. In this case, a restore from backup may be the only way of recovering your data. Fire, natural disaster, computer component failure, and theft are just a few more common issues that can be covered by a robust insurance policy known as your backup and restore plan.
Alert operators with basic levels of understanding can be the difference between having a ransomware attack infecting your company and a healthy profit for the year. Taking the time to look at link destinations before clicking on them when using websites and emails can save hundreds of dollars and many hours of downtime and support costs. Turning off the preview pane on your inbox folder can also lower your chances of infection due to auto-open functions.
Work with your support team, describe the issue you are having, answer the questions they have for you. Most IT work does not need you to be there the entire time, but they do need to be able to ask questions initially. Identification of the issue can be found more often than not simply by asking the right questions. The faster the problem is identified, the faster the solution can be implemented.
The article you have just read should show that even with a small amount of knowledge, the ability to learn can be easy, quick, and have a positive impact on the success you and your company experience. You don’t need to become a Jedi IT master to use the computer to your advantage, but even a little familiarity will make your computer safer to use, and cause less frustration.