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Absolute Beginner's Guide to Upgrading and Fixing Your PC

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Absolute Beginner's Guide to Upgrading and Fixing Your PC


  • Sorry, this book is no longer in print.
Not for Sale


  • Copyright 2004
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-7897-3045-6
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-7897-3045-9

Absolute Beginner's Guide to Upgrading and Fixing Your PC is a comprehensive, non-technical guide to upgrading your computer and fixing common problems. It provides step-by-step instructions for specific types of upgrades, fast and easy ways to troubleshoot common computer problems - and how to restore your system to working order after a bad upgrade.

Included are instructions for the following types of system enhancements: * Adding new USB, serial, parallel, and FireWire ports * Adding bigger hard disks and more system memory * Upgrading to better mice and keyboards * Upgrading to new printers, faxes, and scanners * Upgrading to bigger monitors and more powerful video cards * Upgrading for digital photography and digital video editing * Upgrading for TV and DVD viewing * Upgrading for digital music playback * Upgrading for enhanced game play * Installing a wired or wireless network * Speeding up your Internet connection * Upgrading your operating system to Windows XP

Sample Content

Online Sample Chapters

Ports Ahoy: Upgrading System Inputs

Ports Ahoy: Upgrading System Inputs on Your PC

Table of Contents


How This Book Is Organized.

Conventions Used in This Book.

Menu Commands. Shortcut Key Combinations. Other Commands. Web Page Addresses. Special Elements.

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1. Hardware Basics for the Absolute Beginner.

Getting to Know Your Personal Computer System. Your PC's System Unit-The Mother Ship. Inside the Case. Microprocessors: The Main Engine. Computer Memory: Temporary Storage. Hard Disk Drives: Long-Term Storage. Diskette Drives: Portable Storage. CD Drives: Storage on a Disc. DVD Drives: Even More Storage on a Disc. Keyboards: Fingertip Input. Mice: Point-and-Click Input Devices. Video Cards and Monitors: Getting the Picture. Sound Cards and Speakers: Making Noise. Modems: Getting Connected. Network Devices: Sharing Files and Peripherals. Printers: Making Hard Copies. The Operating System: Windows to the World of Computing. Understanding the Startup Process.

2. Preparing Your System for an Upgrade.

To Upgrade or Not to Upgrade-That Is the Question. What to Upgrade. Before You Upgrade.

Pre-Upgrade Checklist. Assembling an Upgrade Toolkit. Creating a System Hardware Report with Device Manager. Print a More Detailed Report with Microsoft System Information. Backing Up Your Data. Setting a System Restore Point.

An Upgrade Roadmap.

Upgrading from the Outside. Upgrading from the Inside. Using the Windows Add Hardware Wizard. Configuring System Settings.

What to Do if the Upgrade Goes Wrong.


3. Ports Ahoy: Upgrading System Inputs.

What Ports Can You Add? Buying a Port Expansion Card. Upgrade #1: Adding a New Port Card. Upgrade #2: Adding an External USB Hub. Upgrade #3: Adding Ports to a Portable PC.

4. Bigger Is Better: Upgrading System Storage.

Understanding Hard Disk Drives.

Understanding Hard Drive Specs. Disk Drive Manufacturers.

Upgrade #1: Adding an External Hard Drive. Upgrade #2: Adding a Second Internal Hard Drive.

Installing the Drive. Partitioning and Formatting with Windows XP. Partitioning and Formatting Pre-Windows XP.

Upgrade #3: Replacing Your Existing Hard Drive. Upgrade #4: Adding an Internal Floppy or Zip Drive. Upgrade #5: Adding a Memory Card Reader.

Understanding Flash Memory Storage. Installing a Memory Card Reader. An Alternate Type of Flash Memory: USB Drives.

5. Optical Tricks: Upgrading CD and DVD Drives.

Understanding Optical Storage.

CD Formats. DVD Formats. Shopping for a CD or DVD Drive. CD and DVD Drive Manufacturers.

Upgrade #1: Adding an External CD or DVD Drive. Upgrade #2: Adding an Internal CD or DVD Drive.

6. You Must Remember This: Upgrading System Memory.

Understanding Computer Memory.

Types of RAM Modules. Types of Memory Chips. Specifying Memory. Memory Manufacturers.

Upgrade #1: Adding RAM to a Desktop PC. Upgrade #2: Adding RAM to a Portable PC.

7. Point and Click: Upgrading Mice and Keyboards.

Upgrade #1: Installing a New Mouse.

Choosing a Mouse. Mouse Makers. Connecting the Mouse. Configuring Your Mouse.

Upgrade #2: Installing a New Keyboard.

Choosing a Keyboard. Connecting the Keyboard.

Upgrade #3: Installing a Wireless Mouse or Keyboard. Upgrade #4: Installing a New Joystick or Game Controller.

8. The Paper Chase: Upgrading Printers and Scanners.

Understanding Printers.

Different Types of Printers. Buying a Printer.

Upgrade #1: Installing a Printer.

Configuring Your Printer. Setting Your Default Printer.

Upgrade #2: Installing a Scanner.

Different Types of Scanners. Shopping for Scanners. Making the Connection.

9. The Big Picture: Upgrading Video Cards and Monitors.

Understanding PC Video.

Monitor Options. Video Card Options.

Upgrade #1: Replacing Your Monitor. Upgrade #2: Replacing Your Video Card.

Making the Installation. Configuring Your Display Properties.

Upgrade #3: Adding a Second Video Card and Monitor. Upgrade #4: Adding a TV Tuner Card. Upgrade #5: Adding a Video Capture Card or Device.

10. Pet Sounds: Upgrading Sound Cards and Speakers.

Understanding PC Audio.

Understanding Sound Cards. Understanding Speakers. Understanding Surround Sound. Understanding 3D Audio. Understanding MIDI.

Upgrade #1: Connecting New Speakers. Upgrade #2: Replacing Your Sound Card.

Installing the Card. Upgrading from Motherboard Audio.

Upgrade #3: Upgrading to a New External Sound Box. Upgrade #4: Adding an Audio Interface Box.


11. Play It Loud: Upgrading for Digital Music Playback and Recording.

Understanding Digital Audio. Application #1: Listening to CDs and Digital Music Files.

Upgrade Checklist for CD and Digital Audio Playback.

Application #2: Downloading Music from the Internet.

Upgrade Checklist for Downloading Digital Music.

Application #3: Ripping Music from a CD.

Upgrade Checklist for Ripping Music from CDs.

Application #4: Burning Your Own Music CDs.

Upgrade Checklist for Burning Audio CDs.

Application #5: Transferring Digital Music to a Portable Audio Player.

Upgrade Checklist for Transferring Digital Music to a Portable Audio Player.

Application #6: Listening to Internet Radio.

Upgrade Checklist for Internet Radio.

Application #7: Playing a Digital Piano or Synthesizer.

Upgrade Checklist for Connecting a Musical Keyboard.

Application #8: Setting Up Your Own Home Recording Studio.

Upgrade Checklist for a Home Recording Studio.

12. Slides and Prints: Upgrading for Digital Photography and Picture Editing.

Application #1: Downloading Photographs from a Digital Camera.

Upgrade Checklist for Digital Camera Downloading.

Application #2: Scanning Photo Prints.

Upgrade Checklist for Scanning Photo Prints.

Application #3: Editing Digital Photographs.

Upgrade Checklist for Editing Digital Photographs.

Application #4: Printing Digital Photographs.

Upgrade Checklist for Making Photo Prints.

Application #5: Sharing Digital Photos Over the Internet.

Upgrade Checklist for Sharing Photos Online.

13. Everyone's Gone to the Movies: Upgrading for TV Viewing and Digital Video Editing.

Application #1: Viewing Television Programs.

Upgrade Checklist for PC-Based Television Viewing.

Application #2: Viewing DVD Movies.

Upgrade Checklist for DVD Viewing.

Application #3: Editing Movies from a Digital Camcorder.

Understanding Digital Video Editing. Necessary Upgrades. Upgrade Checklist for Digital Video Editing.

Application #4: Editing Movies from an Analog Camcorder.

Upgrade Checklist for Digital Video Editing.

Application #5: Creating Your Own DVD Movies.

Upgrade Checklist for Burning DVD Movies.

14. Fun Is Good: Upgrading for Enhanced Game Play.

Application #1: PC Gaming.

Upgrade Checklist for PC Gaming.

Application #2: Network Gaming.

Upgrade Checklist for Network Gaming.

Application #3: Online Gaming.

Upgrade Checklist for Internet Gaming.


15. Connect the Dots: Upgrading to a Wired or Wireless Network.

Understanding Networks.

Wired Versus Wireless. Connecting and Configuring.

Upgrade #1: Creating a Wired Network.

Wired Network Hardware and Topology. Upgrade Checklist for Wired Networking. Making the Connections.

Upgrade #2: Creating a Wireless Network.

Wireless Network Hardware and Topology. Upgrade Checklist for Wireless Networking. Making the Connections.

16. The Faster the Better: Upgrading Your Internet Connection.

Understanding Broadband Internet.

Choosing a Broadband Technology. DSL. Digital Cable. Digital Satellite.

Upgrade #1: Connecting to DSL Internet. Upgrade #2: Connecting to Digital Cable Internet. Upgrade #3: Connecting to Digital Satellite Internet. Upgrade #4: Sharing a Broadband Connection.

The Bridge Configuration. The Combination Modem/Hub Bridge Configuration. The Gateway Configuration.

17. Opening New Windows: Upgrading to Windows XP.

Why Windows XP? Which Version for You? Can You Make the Upgrade?

System Requirements. Upgrade or Clean Install?

Upgrade #1: Windows XP Typical Upgrade Installation.

Before You Upgrade. Installing the Software. After the Installation: Activating and Registering.

Upgrade #2: Windows XP "Clean" Installation.

Understanding the Clean Install. Making a Clean Installation.

Upgrade #3: Updating Your Copy of Windows XP.

18. The Big Switch: Upgrading to a New Computer.

Choosing the Right PC for Your Needs. Where to Buy. Migrating Your Old Files and Settings to Your New PC.

Transferring Files Over a Network. Using a Commercial File Migration Program. Using Windows XP Files and Settings Transfer Wizard.

Getting Rid of Your Old PC.


19. Simple Steps to Keep Your System in Tip-Top Shape.

Basic Hardware Maintenance.

System Unit. Keyboard. Mouse. Monitor. Printer.

Let Windows Tune Up Your System.

Make Your Hard Disk Run Better by Defragmenting. Performing a Hard Disk Checkup with ScanDisk. Delete Unnecessary Files with Disk Cleanup. Scheduling Your Maintenance. Update Important Files with Windows Update.

Using Third-Party Utilities. Preparing a PC Survival Kit.

PC Survival Kit Checklist. Original Windows Installation CD. Windows Emergency Startup Disk. Backup Data. Original Software Installation Media. Useful Disk Utilities.

20. Protecting Your Computer from Viruses and Internet Attacks.

Dealing with Computer Viruses.

The Symptoms of a Virus. How to Catch a Virus. Different Types of Viruses. Protecting Your System from Infection. Using an Antivirus Program. Recovering from a Virus Infection.

Dealing with Internet Attacks.

Potential Threats. Protecting Your System with a Firewall. Popular Firewall Software. Using the Windows XP Internet Connection Firewall.


21. How to Deal with a Finicky PC.

Common Causes for Common Problems.

User Error. Bad Connections. Configuration Errors. Bugs. Viruses.

Dealing with Upgrade Problems. Basic Troubleshooting Tips. Using Windows Troubleshooting Utilities.

Fixing Easy Problems with Windows Troubleshooters. Fixing Driver Problems with the Device Manager. Fixing Big Problems with System Information. Tracking Down Stubborn Problems with Dr. Watson.

Turning Back Time with System Restore.

Setting System Restore Points. Restoring Your System.

Managing the Windows Registry.

Backing Up and Restoring the Registry. Editing the Registry.

Upgrading for Bug Fixes. Resorting to Repair.

22. What to Do When Your Computer Doesn't Start or Freezes Up.

Dealing with System Startup Problems.

Problem: Your Computer Doesn't Start-You Hear No Noises and See No Lights. Problem: Your Computer Doesn't Start, but It Makes the Normal Startup Noises. Problem: Your Computer Starts, but the Monitor Displays an Error Message (Before Loading Windows).

Troubleshooting Windows Startup Problems.

Windows Startup Options. Starting in Safe Mode. Tracking Down Problems with the System Configuration Utility. Using the Recovery Console.

Dealing with Windows-Related Startup Problems.

Problem: Your Computer Starts, but Windows Doesn't-And You Receive an Error Message. Problem: Your Computer Starts, but Windows Doesn't-And You Don't Receive an Error Message. Problem: Your Computer Starts, but Windows Doesn't-And You Can't Enter Safe Mode. Problem: Your Computer Starts and Windows Enters Safe Mode Automatically.

Dealing with System Freezes.

Problem: Windows Freezes-And Displays an Error Message. Problem: Windows Freezes-And No Error Message Appears. Problem: Windows Freezes-Your System Unit Has Power, But Your Keyboard or Mouse Isn't Working. Problem: Windows Won't Let You Exit. Problem: Windows Won't Wake Up from Standby Mode. Problem: Your System Crashes-Nothing Remains Onscreen, and All Power Goes Off.

23. What to Do When You Can't Access Your Disks.

Dealing with Hard Drive Problems.

Problem: You Can't Access Your Hard Drive. Problem: You Just Installed a New Hard Disk and It Doesn't Work. Problem: You Lost Valuable Data on a Bad Hard Disk. Problem: Windows Doesn't Recognize Your Hard Disk's Full Size. Problem: Your Hard Disk Is Running Slower Than Normal.

Dealing with CD-ROM or DVD Problems.

Problem: Your CD/DVD Drive Doesn't Work-Nothing Happens. Problem: Your CD/DVD Drive Doesn't Work-The Drive Spins, But You Can't Access the Disc. Problem: Your CD/DVD Drive Doesn't Always Read Data Accurately. Problem: Your CD/DVD Drive Can't Read a Rewritable CD. Problem: You Can't Play Music CDs on Your CD/DVD Drive. Problem: Your CD-R/RW Drive Won't Burn a CD. Problem: Your Newly Installed CD/DVD Drive Doesn't Work Right.

24. What to Do When Your Mouse or Keyboard Won't Work.

Dealing with Mouse Problems.

Problem: Your Mouse Doesn't Work at All. Problem: Using Other Peripherals Causes Your Mouse to Act Up. Problem: Your Mouse Moves Erratically. Problem: Your Wireless Mouse Moves Erratically-If at All. Problem: You Receive an Error Message About Your Mouse. Problem: You Spilled Something on Your Mouse.

Dealing with Keyboard Problems.

Problem: Your Keyboard Won't Type-No Characters Appear Onscreen. Problem: Your Keyboard Quits Working After You Install a New Peripheral. Problem: Your Keyboard Won't Type-Every Time You Press a Key, You Hear a Beep. Problem: You Spill Some Liquid on the Keyboard. Problem: You Type a Lowercase Letter, but an Uppercase Letter Appears Onscreen. Problem: You Type a Number, but the Onscreen Cursor Moves Instead. Problem: You Type One Key, and a Different Character Appears Onscreen. Problem: Your Keyboard Isn't Responding Properly. Problem: Your Wireless Keyboard Isn't Responding Properly. Problem: You Press the Page Up or Page Down Keys, but Your Window Doesn't Scroll.

25. What to Do When Your Printer Won't Print.

Understanding Potential Problems. Dealing with Printer Problems.

Problem: Your Printer Has No Power. Problem: Your Printer Has Power but Doesn't Print. Problem: Your Printer Prints, but Output Is Smudged or Garbled. Problem: Your Printed Page Looks Half-Finished. Problem: Your Printer Prints, but the Fonts Aren't Correct. Problem: Your Color Printer Doesn't Print All Available Colors. Problem: Paper Jams in Your Printer.

26. What to Do When Your Display Looks Funny.

What Can Give You Bad Video. Dealing with Video Problems.

Problem: Your Monitor Is Dead-The Power Light Isn't On. Problem: Your Monitor Doesn't Display-But the Power Light Is On. Problem: Your Monitor Doesn't Display-The System Unit Issues a Series of Beeps. Problem: Your Monitor Works, but Displays an Error Message Before Windows Loads. Problem: Your Monitor Works, but Displays a Screen Full of Garbage. Problem: Windows Displays at a Lower Resolution Than Normal. Problem: Your New Video Card Doesn't Display at Its Maximum Resolution or Color Depth. Problem: Your Screen Display Flickers. Problem: Your CRT Monitor Doesn't Display-It Makes a High-Pitched Whine. Problem: Your CRT Monitor Pops and Crackles and Starts to Smell. Problem: Your Dual-Monitor Display Doesn't Work Properly.

27. What to Do When Your Sound System Doesn't Sound Right.

What Can Cause Bad Sound. Dealing with Audio Problems.

Problem: Your New Sound Card Doesn't Work-You Don't Get Any Sound. Problem: Your New Sound Card Crashes Your System. Problem: Windows Generates an Error Message About Your Sound Card. Problem: Audio from Your Sound Card Skips-Or Plays Continually. Problem: You Only Get Sound from One Channel of a Stereo Setup. Problem: Your System's Audio Level Is Too Low or Too High. Problem: Program- or Event-Specific Sounds Don't Play.

28. What to Do When Your Files Are Lost or Corrupted.

Why Files Go Bad. Dealing with File Problems.

Problem: You Accidentally Delete an Important File. Problem: You Can't Delete a File. Problem: You Can't Find a File. Problem: You Attempt a File Operation and Get a Windows Error Message. Problem: You Open a File and Its Data Is Scrambled or Incomplete. Problem: You Can't Open a Document File.

29. What to Do When Your Network or Internet Connection Starts Acting Up.

Dealing with Network Problems.

Problem: You Can't Find Another Computer on Your Network. Problem: Your PC Doesn't Recognize Your Network. Problem: Your PC Can't Connect to Your Wireless Network.

Dealing with Internet-Related Problems.

Problem: Your Modem Doesn't Work-Nothing Happens. Problem: Your Modem Is Working, but It Doesn't Dial. Problem: Your Modem Dials, but It Doesn't Connect. Problem: Your Broadband Modem Doesn't Connect. Problem: You Connect to Your ISP, but at a Slower Speed Than Desired. Problem: Your Online Session Disconnects Unexpectedly. Problem: Using Your Modem Causes Your Mouse to Act Funny-Or Vice Versa. Problem: You Can't Connect to Your Email Server. Problem: Your Email Program Connects to Your ISP, but You Have Trouble Sending or Receiving Email Messages. Problem: An Email Message You Sent Is Returned as "Undeliverable". Problem: You Don't Receive a Message Someone Sent to You. Problem: You Have Trouble Sending an Attachment to an Email Message. Problem: Your Computer Acts Oddly Soon After You Download a File or Open an Email Attachment. Problem: Your Web Browser Won't Connect to Any Web Site. Problem: Your Web Browser Won't Connect to a Specific Web Site. Problem: Your Web Browser Gives You an Error Message When You Try to Load a Specific Page. Problem: You Connect to a Web Page, but It Only Partially Loads.

30. What to Do When You Receive a Windows Error Message.

Understanding Common Error Messages.

A fatal exception <XY> has occurred at xxxx:xxxxxxxx. Abnormal termination. Another application is using communication port. Application execution error: Cannot find file. Check to ensure path and filename are correct. Application execution error: No association exists for this file. Application is still active. Call to undefined dynalink. Cannot communicate with modem. Cannot copy file. Cannot find a device file that may be needed. Cannot find the file "XXX" or one of its components. Cannot format disk. Cannot print. SoftRIP error. Cannot read from drive x. Cannot replace xxxx: Access Denied. Cannot run program-No application is associated with this file. Cannot run program-Out of system resources. Cannot start application. Cannot start more than one copy of xxx. Could not print page x. Dangerously low on system resources. Deleting this file will make it impossible to run this program. Destination disk drive is full. Disk error. Divide by zero. Drive x: is inaccessible. Explorer caused a fatal exception xxxxxxx in module KERNEL32.DLL at xxxx:xxxxxxxx. Extremely low on memory, close applications and try again. File already exists. Overwrite? File not found. General protection fault. Illegal operation. Insufficient disk space. Insufficient memory to run this application. Invalid destination specified. Invalid page fault. Invalid VxD Dynamic Link Call. Invalid system disk, replace the disk, and then press any key. Keyboard error. Press F1 to continue. No association exists for this file. No COM ports available. Not a valid filename. Not enough disk space. Not enough memory. Open With. Out of memory. Parity error. Print queue is still active. Rundll32.exe has performed an illegal operation. Sector not found reading drive X. Setup detects that an earlier version of SetupX.dll or NetDi.dll is in use. Setup cannot create files on your startup drive and cannot set up Windows. There may be too many files in the root directory of your startup drive, or your startup drive letter may have been remapped (SU0018). Setup could not back up your system files. System Error. The file or folder that this shortcut refers to cannot be found. The network could not validate your user name. The printer on LPT1 is offline or not selected. There was an error writing to LPT1:. This filename is not valid. This program has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down. The system has recovered from a serious error. Unmountable boot volume. Windows protection error. Windows Setup was unable to update your system files. Windows was not properly shut down. Write protected disk. X:/ is not accessible. The device is not ready. You cannot format the current drive.



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