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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 Motes Work

Smart dust sounds like something out of a Disney movie, but it's definitely not. Also called a mote or a wireless sensing network, this new technology is intriguing everyone from military personnel to vineyard owners.

How Routing Algorithms Work

Think you know how routers work? These devices use intricate formulas to figure out exactly where to send a packet and how to get it there. Learn all about routing algorithms.

How can a totally logical machine like a computer generate a random number?

C programming can create a formula for a computer to generate a random number, but there are other ways to. Check out this explanation and diagram.

What is virtual memory?

Chances are good that your operating system includes virtual memory. It makes your computer act like it has a lot more RAM than actually it does. Find out what virtual memory is and how it increases the speed of your PC.

How PCs Work

We've all used one, and most of us are sitting in front of one right now. Curious to know what's going on inside that ever-present PC? Here's your chance to find out -- without prying open your own.

How Removable Storage Works

Removable memory has unchained us from our PCs -- we can now carry gigabytes of data wherever we go in a device the size of a matchbox. Learn about the three major digital storage technologies.

How EUVL Chipmaking Works

Silicon microprocessors are about to reach the limit to their storage capacity. But one technology may extend the life of the silicon microchip -- it's called extreme-ultraviolet lithography, and it may keep silicon useful for a few years longer.

How accessDTV Works

This special PCI card lets you access digital television on your computer monitor, and you're still free to surf and run whatever programs you want. Here's how to get started.

How SCSI Works

A computer is full of buses -- highways that take information and power from one place to another. While USB is good when utilizing small electronic devices, sometimes you need something bigger. That's where SCSI comes in.

How VoIP Works

Voice over Internet Protocol lets you make free long-distance phone calls using your computer. It's essentially a phone network that uses the Internet infrastructure already connecting computers all over the world. Learn all about the technology behind VoIP and how you can set it up on your PC.

How Ubiquitous Networking Will Work

As we move closer to intelligent computers, they may begin to follow us wherever we go. Learn how ubiquitous networking will allow our data and information to travel with us.

How PCI Works

Essentially, a bus is a channel or path between the components in a computer. And having a high-speed bus is as important as having a good transmission in a car.

How Phone-line Networking Works

If your computers are in different rooms, phone-line networking may be a good way to connect them. Learn all about the pros and cons of using a phone-line network.

How Power-line Networking Works

No new wires! Power-line networking uses the wiring already in your house to connect your computers. Learn about the pros and cons of a power-line network and how to set one up.

How Home Networking Works

If you're thinking of networking the computers in your home, you have several options to explore. Will you go wired or wireless? And what's the best way to ensure the safety of your network?

How Graphics Cards Work

The images you see on your monitor are made of tiny dots called pixels. At most resolution settings, a screen displays over a million pixels, and the computer has to decide what to do with every one in order to create an image.

How IDE Controllers Work

The Integrated Drive Electronics interface is the most popular way to connect a hard drive to a PC. Find out where IDE came from and how it works today.

How PC Power Supplies Work

The power supply in your PC provides all of the different voltages your computer needs to operate properly. Find out how it puts the pieces together and troubleshoot your power supply problems.

How Printable Computers Will Work

Did you know it takes two full weeks for a microprocessor plant to produce one silicon-based microprocessor? Imagine being able to make one yourself by downloading designs and then printing it on your desktop fabrication machine.

How Sound Cards Work

Sound cards truly ushered PCs into the world of multimedia. Before the invention of the sound card, a PC could only beep! Learn how a sound card allows a computer to create and record high-quality sound.

How Floppy Disk Drives Work

Floppy disks were the first portable computer storage devices, created in 1967. They may be obsolete these days, but they definitely made computer history.

How can I recover a deleted file from my computer recycling bin?

When you delete files from your computer and empty it out of the Recycle Bin, can it be recovered? Learn about computer recycling bins and file recovery.

How Serial Ports Work

The serial port was an integral part of most computers for more than 20 years, but new computers usually have USB connections instead. Serial ports are still used for most modems, as well as a few other electronic devices.

How Network Address Translation Works

If you're reading this via the Internet you're probably using Network Address Translation (NAT). NAT helps reuse IP addresses and improve security -- find out how it works.

Why does my PC try to access my floppy disk drive when there is no diskette in it?

When your PC tries to access your floppy disk drive, there could be a number of reasons. Luckily, they're pretty simple to solve -- we'll show you how to troubleshoot and fix this problem.

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