Computer Hardware

From USB connectors to motherboards, the HowStuffWorks Computer Hardware Channel will help you find explanations, reviews, videos and prices for the parts you need.

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How does a Zip drive store so much more data than a floppy drive?

The main thing that separates a Zip disk from a floppy disk is the magnetic coating used on the disk. How does this coating make such an impact on the disk's storage space?

How does a computers uninterruptible power supply work?

A computer can tolerate slight differences in power, but a significant deviation will cause the computer's power supply to fail. A UPS protects a computer against four different power problems.

Is it true that the Mac G4 processor is twice as fast as a Pentium III?

In this article we'll tell you which processor is faster and why. Learn how chip designers make use of transistors.

Why are there limits on CPU speed?

A microprocessor will perform without error when executed at or below the maximum indicated speed. Why can't they speed them up? There are two things that limit a chip's speed.

Why does my computer need a battery?

The RTC chip, or Real Time Clock, does more than keep your computer set to the correct date and time. Without it, you wouldn’t even be able to boot up.

Is it better to turn my computer off or leave it on all the time?

Several factors determine whether you should leave your computer on or off overnight. Networking, economic factors, and stressed-out components all play a part.

What does it mean when a hard disk has a head crash?

The head crash -- it's one of the most terrifying and frustrating computer glitches because it can destroy all of your data. Find out how long you can expect a hard disk to last before a head crash happens.

How does a computer's parallel port work?

Computers send data through parallel ports, serial ports, or network connections. How does a computer's parallel port work? And how can I design things to attach to a parallel port?

How hard is it to set up a network between two computers in my home?

Networking two or more home computers provides many conveniences, but how do you get started? Start here for the answer.

How do I add a USB device to my computer if I am out of ports?

Running out of USB ports is annoying, but it doesn't have to stop you from adding components to your computer. Check out this list of USB accessories and learn how to get them connected.

How Web Servers Work

When you type a Web site address into your browser, Web servers are doing the work of getting you the page you request. Put our servers to use right here . . .

How Caching Works

Caching increases the speed at which your computer pulls data from memory. Do you know how it speeds things up? How can a little cache go a really, really long way?

How Ethernet Works

Ethernet is one of the most common computer-networking components, and the standardization of this technology has created some of the easiest ways to connect a few computers with or without wires.

How Hard Disks Work

Nearly every desktop computer uses one or more hard-disk drives. Your hard disk holds all of the information available on your computer. Take a look inside this incredibly precise storage mechanism.

How Microprocessors Work

The microprocessor determines the processing power available for any application you run -- without it, there IS no computer. Learn all about this amazing, ever-shrinking technology that makes your computer compute.

How USB Ports Work

You can find Universal Serial Bus connectors on just about every PC made today. But when it was introduced, USB was leaps and bounds ahead of the technologies it replaced. What makes this standard so useful?

How OSI Works

When information travels through a network, it follows certain guidelines to ensure compatibility. Find out about OSI and the protocol stacks that prepare your data for transfer.