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PC and Computer Components Explained

5. April 2017 07:23 by sirclesadmin in Hardware
PC and Computer Components Explained The Motherboard. This is the backbone of your computer system.

PC and Computer Components Explained

The Motherboard. This is the backbone of your computer system. All of the data connections (busses) between all of the components are embedded into the Motherboard and it is where you insert or plug all of the peripherals, cards, the processor and the memory. The motherboard hold the BIOS - the Basic In/Out System which is the onboard software which allows the hardware to be managed and to identify itself to the Operating System.

The RAM - Random Access Memory. This is the middle-man between the Hard Disk Where everything is stored, and the CPU, where all the work is done. It is much faster to read and write to than a Hard Disk because it has no moving parts and so can move as fast as the micro transistors can. It is where all of the tasks that your computer is currently dealing with are being stored and these tasks will be reporting back to the Hard Disk to file the results or to seek further information from archived files.

The Hard Disk Drive or HDD is the filing cabinet for all of the information on your computer. Here is kept your Operating System, Your Applications and all of your Data. Everything that makes your computer different from the day it was installed is remembered and altered in the Hard Disks' file system. The Hard Disk is a magnetic storage device that is changed by electro-magnetic forces, but retains its information when left without power even for long periods - just like a magnet.

The Operating System is the software base that is loaded onto your computer which allows all of your applications to understand how to use the peripherals like the processor, memory, keyboard and monitor, and so makes it possible for you, as the user, to manipulate and interact with the system. The Operating System or OS is the fundamental building block of software that understands all of your actions and without it, your computer cannot understand anything you tell it.

The Output Devices make up all of the equipment which allow us to experience the incredible power computers have come to hold over us all. Monitors (Pictured) Soundcards, Network Cards, Projectors are all examples, and there are many more. Any means of us interpreting or communicating the results of a computation are reliant upon being told what the result is and this can only be done by the computer controlling an output device in a way suitable for us to understand.

The Processor or CPU (Central Processing Unit) does lots of the real work that your computer is asked to do. It is the core of the computer being on the fastest part of the Bus and processing every job loaded from the memory or hard disk. The memory will be on a part of the system bus that will be a fraction of the speed of the processor bus but that may be faster than the rest of the bus, this core part of the bus is often called a Front Side Bus or FSB and can be upwards in speed of 800MHz. Increasingly many components of the computer incorporate their own CPU such as Video Display and Sound Cards so that the PC is slowly creeping toward being given a processor for each task. The latest CPUs from AMD and Intel are twin-core which means that they are really two processors sharing a single bus connection or a single cache which is the memory where the data is stored on which the actual processing is being carried out. The one pictured has a water-cooling system.

The Power Supply is from where the whole system draws its power. The Hard Disk, The DVD/CD reader/writers, sound and video display cards and the motherboard itself all draw current in order to function from the power supply. Usually the power supply is hard fixed to the back of the computer casing and is where you connect the 'Kettle Plug' before switching on. The power supply is then connected to all of the disks and other other 'off-board' components (the Hard disk and DVD/CD readers etc do not connect to the Motherboard for power, they are directly connected to the Power Supply) and the Motherboard. The Motherboard also connects the Power Supply to the on/off switch so that the system all begins taking power at the same time - the switch is connected from the case to the Motherboard to the Power Supply-.


HP DL360 G7 Red Screen of Death Illegal OpCode

This is a fairly disturbing occurrence - when your server, instead of booting-up, just after one rec

HP DL360 G7 Red Screen of Death Illegal OpCode


This is a fairly disturbing occurrence - when your server, instead of booting-up, just after one recommended update or a fist time reboot after install you receive a bright red screen explaining that the server feels it has done enough and will proceed no further. Not great news if you have a lot of users awaiting emails or database results and even worse if you've never seen it before.



Well this error can be related to a few problems related to running various forms of Linux on SD card drives but it can also affect those of us just running plain old Windows Server on the inbuilt 410i RAID controller.

In essence the message means that it is unable to read the boot device and so has thrown an HP level issue instead of a standard Windows or BIOS error.

I have found this problem in connection with the following:

  • Installing using iLO3 with a network accessed ISO file and then rebooting for the first time
  • Installing a recommended update to the NICs that made the whole server BSOD and then reboot into this and so we had to fix the error to find out that the DB was intact
  • Updating BIOS for the motherboard that has somehow disabled the USB boot in the BIOS and so lost the SD card boot device (which I was using on that occassion)
  • Installed the Windows iLO3 drivers which then somehow told Windows, because there was an ISO listed in the ILO3 boot-up system, that Windows was not the boot device

In order to fix these issues you should:

  1. Update the iLO3 firmware as there is a fix in the latest versions (allegedly) but I have found this unreliable
  2. Disable the iLO if this fails at boot-up
  3. Change the boot order in BIOS so that your boot device is first and then:
  4. Boot from a Windows DVD and ensure you can see the boot volume and then use the inbuilt repair (this seems to be the best solution for Windows installs)

If all the above fails you can just try unplugging all the PSUs for ten minutes as this is a recommended solution from HP but only for the G8 servers. 

Good luck with a really distressing and fairly futile error screen.


8. January 2017 12:07 by sirclesadmin in Hardware
So What are Serial ATA (SATA) disk drives? Serial ATA is basically a replacement for IDE whi

So What are Serial ATA (SATA) disk drives?

Serial ATA is basically a replacement for IDE which we have been using now for about 20 years. IDE and EIDE were developed for desktop machines mostly, to allow them to have high data capacity and data rates to the internal storage systems. They did a superb job, lets face it with Apple & co coming round to the idea from SCSI because of the fantastic value for money. IDE has used ATA (Advanced Technology Architecture) in it's parallel form (PATA) and the SATA systems are using the serial form.

SCSI disks are often seen as too expensive for smaller servers with the advent of SATA-600


Serial ATA (SATA) brings easier installations because the cables are smaller and there is no longer any requirement for Master/Slave configuration.

As well as this the data rates are faster and the communication the disk makes with the interface has been improved. Data rates for SATA are 300 and 600 MB/sec at both the disk and interface.




Serial ATA connector - significantly smaller.


About Serial ATA
Industry leaders including Intel, Seagate, Maxtor, Dell, APT Technologies designed Serial ATA. This group is known as the Serial ATA working group and includes over 80 companies. This innovative interface is designed to overcome the limitations of Parallel ATA and replace it which it is doing as we speak.

Serial ATA offers consumers a new level of interface scalable performance, flexibility, and cost efficiency. Industry leaders designed Serial ATA with customer convenience in mind by ensuring 100% software compatibility, flexible thin cables, hot plug connectors, and improved data reliability and protection.

With a maximum external (burst) data transfer speed of 300 MB per second, Serial ATA improves hard drive performance to keep pace with increasing data intensive environments such as audio/video, consumer electronics and entry-level servers. The new drives appearing Q4 2005 SATA-II drives allow transfer speeds of 600 MB per second.

What is the difference between SATA I, SATA II and SATA III?

The SATA I (revision 1.x) interface, formally known as SATA 1.5Gb/s or SATA-150, is the first generation SATA interface running at 1.5 Gb/s. Somewhat confusingly, the throughput supported by the interface, is up to a maximum of 150MBs per second.

The SATA II (revision 2.x) interface, formally known as SATA 3Gb/s or SATA-300, is a second generation SATA interface running at 3.0 Gb/s. The throughput supported by the interface, is maxes out at 300MB/s.

SATA III (revision 3.x) interface, formally known as SATA 6Gb/s or SATA-600, is a third generation SATA interface running at 6.0Gb/s. This system supports throughput of up to 600MB/s. This interface is backwards compatible with SATA 3 Gb/s hardware.

Each incarnation of the SATA system supports backward compatibility to its predecessors but the maximum speed of the drive will be slower due to the lower speed limitations of the port.

An SSD disk supporting SATA-600 interface connected to a SATA-600 port, can reach speeds of up to 550/520MB/s sequential read and write rates respectively. But if the drive was connected to SATA-300 port, it could only reach speeds of up to 285/275MB/s sequential read and write rates.

Oi Windows 10, give me back my PC !!!!

If you are, like me, a very boring web user who doesn't go to many unknown websites or watch lots of

Oi Windows 10, give me back my PC !!!!

If you are, like me, a very boring web user who doesn't go to many unknown websites or watch lots of unsubscribed videos etc. then you might be feeling a little annoyed with the new 'compulsory real-time monitor' arrangement that Windows 10 suffers from. It is, of course, a sign that your computer hard disk drive is now performing two or three times the work for many operations compared to how it was functioning on Windows 7. Real-time scanning (as the word real-time is supposed to explain) means that every file your computer needs to open is examined in advance by a proprietary process before the system comes into contact with it. Now there are two reasons why I don't like this thinking. The first is the obvious performance problem (and whether that wastes more time, energy and money than all the viruses in the world put together is another question.) The second is that Windows 10 downloads so many updates of such unbelievable magnitude that they kill the performance of your machine and the internet and so what is the point of Windows Defender anyway? This is further compounded by the fact that Windows Update, like Windows Defender, now appears to be compulsory.

OK so let’ shave a look at all of the components and how we can disable them as Microsoft have recently started to run scheduled tasks to make sure that the most performance hungry Windows processes are restarted and re-enabled at regular intervals such as Sharepoint Sync in Microsoft Office and Defender in Windows 10.

So we will begin by using the simplest and safest way to disable the Windows Defender Components, using the registry editor.

If you press the Windows key and type 'regedit' and press enter you will be presented with the registry editor and you will need to navigate to the following area:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender

This means that under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE you expand the folders (called keys in registry editor, even though they lok the same - they are not folders, they are completely different - )

When you find the correct key, you highlight it on the left and then right click on the right hand side, below the (Default) value and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value 

Give the DWORD the name DisableAntiSpyWare and once it has been created, double click the DWORD and enter the value '1' and press OK so that you have the below:

Now let's try restarting Windows 10....

OK so according to the above view from the taskbar, the Windows Defender application is not running. Let's have a check under the services running by clikcing the start buton and typing services.msc

OK excellent, the service has been stopped and is now set to manual. This is going to speed us up nicely. But now how do we stop the automatic updates from hogging all of the bandwidth and disk speed?

Well there are many sites telling me to use metered connections or policies to disable this function, but the Windows update feature can be disabled by opening up the services.msc applet and disabling the service by finding it as follows:

NB This service has already been disabled but your will not have been.

Now double-click the update service and choose the start-up type:

Once it is set to disabled then click OK to confirm.

Now we are back in control of our Windows 10 PC and our Ineternet connection, RAM, Hard Disk and CPU are all our own again.

backup your user profile

14. November 2016 17:08 by sirclesadmin in Data Recovery, Hardware
When it comes to backup and restore on Windows 10 the default is to backup your disk every hour whic

When it comes to backup and restore on Windows 10 the default is to backup your disk every hour which is a pretty surefire way to ruin your backup disk, internal disk and electricity bill. You can obviously backup your files manually but an easy option is to create a shortcut on your desktop that will backup your files to your external hard disk so that you can simply copy them back if you lose your laptop or restore individual files if you lose or accidentally delete files.

If you wish to run the backup one time, you can by using the following:

If you run the following command by pressing [windows key] + R


Then paste in the code but substitute the drive letter of your external drive as appropriate:


xcopy "%userprofile%\*.*" [drive letter]:\profilebackup\ /c /s /r /d /y /i


And leave the colon in place but not the square brackets.


This will copy all of the files in your user profile into a folder called profilebackup onto the external drive from pictures and desktop, documents etc.


Or you can make a shortcut on your desktop as follows:

  1. Minimise all your applications down to the task bar to get your desktop clear.
  2. Right click on your desktop and choose 'create shortcut'

create a shortcut to Robocopy


       3. Enter the command line once you have entered the drive letter:


Robocopy shortcut details


      4. Name the shortcut something you will remember to run regularly:


Name the robocopy shortcut


      5. Click finish and you're done.

You now have a shortcut that you can use to backup anytime - just remember to plug in the external hard disk first.

Windows 2008 R2 Restore using Windows Backup error (0x80042408)

Whilst restoring (transfering) a Windows 2008 R2 machine using the built-in Windows Backup software

Windows 2008 R2 Restore using Windows Backup error (0x80042408)


Whilst restoring (transferring) a Windows 2008 R2 machine using the built-in Windows Backup software we ran into a few problems:

The original machine was a PC server with some dynamic disks as the system did not have RAID support for all drives.

The system disk was 111 GB

The data disk was 465 GB

The log file disk was 69 GB

We were restoring to a SUN X4150 with:

131GB system disk

514 GB Data disk

131 GB log file disk

The error we were getting was that the disks were too few or too small ????

0x80042408 We have never understood why it thought that there were not enough disks but...

We used the workaround with the wbadmin command line:

wbadmin get versions –backuptarget:<Target:> 

This is to interrogate the media for the backup sets that are present on the target drive.

wbadmin get items –version:<versionid> -backuptarget:<Target:>

Then this command shows the volumes and applications contained within the backup set on that drive or device.

Wbadmin start recovery –version:<versionid> -backuptarget:<Target:> -itemType:Volume –items:C: -recoverytarget:D:

Where Target: is the target drive letter. This command performs the restore. Here we are only restoring the system drive, as the applications and services relying on the data contained on other disks could be restored simply by robocopying the data back onto those data disks and then correcting the drive letters afterwards whereupon the services could be started.

After completing the above, the system was then still missing some boot files.

We then repaired using a Windows 2008 R2 / 7 x64 automatic repair and the system started to boot but obviously BSOD'd itself from lack of drivers for the new storage devices.

The Windows DVD could not repair any further and so we therefore had to add the storage device drivers manually using:

DISM /image:C:\ /add-driver /driver:G:\ /recurse
(C is my OS partition and G is the DVD drive where the driver DVD is inserted.)

This added the files from the X4150 drivers\storagetek\windows\2008\ and drivers\storagetek\windows\2008\amd64\ 

The system then booted OK but the drive letters had changed. After re-assigning the drive letters the system appeared to be back to normal.

Just for anyone still having difficulty, sometimes we are unable to run the repair from the DVD until we have repaired the bootcfg folder using bootrec /rebuildbcd after which we can run the DVD repair and start Windows successfully which on 7/2008 R2 or later will then install the required drivers to boot from there.

If you still have BSOD difficulties then use the DISM command above to add necessary drivers.



DrayTek Vigor Router Logons and Windows 10 Microsoft Edge

5. July 2016 17:37 by sirclesadmin in Hardware, Internet, Internet Security
This is just a quick not to beware so that you do not get stuck in a loop. Once a DrayTek Vigor 2830

This is just something to be beware of so that you do not get stuck in a loop.

After a DrayTek Vigor 2830 had been factory reset we still could not login - none of the passwords would work!

As we can see from the above it should be admin and admin but from Microsoft Edge on Windows 10 nothing would work.

After a few tries we did notice that the response from admin/admin was considerably slower than the other options and....

Yes, you guessed it, the Microsoft Edge browser just bounces back to the login page even when the login is correct.

We didn't try adding the router logon site to the compatibility view as an option but no doubt that would work. As it was we just used Google Chrome instead.

As an aside the Google Chrome option doesn't work on the 2830 and older certificates for SAL login so stick to Firefox or goog, old-fashioned IE for that.

Finally - the ultimate office phone system replacement mobile add-on

24. May 2016 12:12 by sirclesadmin in Hardware
We ll it has been a while but finally it has arrived - you can now make and receive calls as you wou

We ll it has been a while but finally it has arrived - you can now make and receive calls as you would on a full spec. office phone system using only your mobile phone. And I mean as if you were actually in the office with all of the established sensations and feelings of using a conventional phone system.