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Personal computers are, at once, horrendously complicated yet simpler than one might expect. How can this be? Computer professionals spend years working on computers, but never learning all there is to know. There's just too much information for one human being to absorb in a lifetime, especially because the technology changes continually and there are so many different types of each component. However, it is not necessary to know anything close to "everything" to be able to repair or even build computers. Because the parts are all modular, most technicians rarely, if ever, use a soldering iron. When a component such as a modem has a hardware problem, you wouldn't spend hours trying to repair it. You simply replace it-a procedure that normally takes a few minutes. Other problems can be corrected through software. So, while it cannot be said that repairing computers is "simple," it is nowhere near as complicated as the complexity of the computer would suggest.
PC Repair and Maintenance: A Practical Guide is designed to enable the reader to repair personal computers running Microsoft® Windows®, primarily Windows 9x (which includes 95, 98, and Millennium Edition, or "Me"), 2000 (mainly 2000 Professional), and XP. This book gives you hints and tricks that few other books provide. Many actions that Microsoft documentation would seem to suggest are impossible are often quite possible with software that is available for download, sometimes even at no charge, from the Internet. These kinds of tips might help you succeed in repairing a computer, or at least saving data, when other technicians might fail.
We don't believe it is necessary to have a deep understanding of every facet of how a computer works in order to diagnose and repair computer problems, so we explain only as much as necessary for each scenario. Furthermore, it is impossible for any book to cover all computer issues. Our goal with this book is to give you the basic information needed to make common repairs and to help you to be able to find information necessary to make other repairs. We decided not to spend much time with monitors, printers, imaging devices, or networking; repairing these devices takes highly specialized skills. Moreover, the software that comes with these devices often modifies the Windows interface from the standard, so configuration screens can differ from one computer to another. Additionally, there are many different types of these devices, each requiring different skill sets. In fact, there are entire books on some of these and on networking, so we don't feel that mere chapters can do them justice. We will limit our coverage to some common issues regarding these devices.
One theme evident throughout the book can be summed up in the phrase "Quality in, performance out." We explain how to select quality replacement and expansion components-even some relatively unknown manufacturers make satisfactory components. Moreover, it is often not necessary to pay top dollar to get quality components. Additionally, we want to make it clear that there's no shame in asking for advice from manufacturers and other experts. Getting appropriate advice can prevent serious problems and save huge amounts of time and money.
This book and accompanying CD-ROM contain many photographs, diagrams, and videos showing the right and wrong ways to perform various tasks, even to the level of physically connecting connectors.
Due to version and configuration differences, some computers might not have items described in tutorials. In this case, please use Windows Help if you can't find what you're looking for.
This book often uses greater-than signs (>) to indicate the next step in a software command. For example, Start > Settings > Control Panel > System.
Windows versions are usually referred to by the following designations:
9x: Windows 95, 98, and Me. These versions are sometimes referred to individually.
2000: Windows 2000 Professional. Much of the information also covers Windows 2000 Server and Advanced Server.
XP: Windows XP Home and Professional Editions. These are also referred to individually in places.
We use URLs in this book to direct you to helpful Web sites. We leave out the "http://www." from each URL that starts that way. URLs without "www" are shown in full.
Just as telephone directories are out of date by the time they are printed, some of these URLs won't be in service by the time you read this book. However, there is little or no exclusivity on this type of information, and we encourage you to look up any information you need.
Most changes in 2000 and XP require that the user be logged on as an administrator. We don't point that out in subsequent chapters.
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