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Roughly speaking, you could say that understanding how and why a computer works requires comprehension of two integrated but separate categories: computer hardware and computer software. Most casual users are probably more familiar with the latter—it includes the programs, applications, and operating systems that we use every time we turn on a system. If you’re comfortable around a computer, you’re already used to installing, repairing, and fiddling with software. Hardware is quite a different story. It’s the big bad lurking in the closet for many of us, a tangle of wires and circuitry humming under glossy covers that strikes fear into our hearts when something goes wrong—and we don’t know how to fix it. Whether you’d like training to improve your computer hardware knowledge for your own satisfaction, or would like to use it towards more formal applications, computer hardware training is a popular choice nowadays. Computer hardware training starts with the basics. No two machines are alike, though they all inarguably share similarities. But as you move across models, makers, and years, these similarities can be hard to spot—knowledge of how the latest tiny netbook works might not translate into knowing how to fix your neighbor’s relic of a ’97 Apple desktop. That’s why most computer hardware training begins by teaching you the essentials of how a computer works, what each part contributes, and then moves on to identifying general parts that might come in different forms for different machines. Depending on what level of expertise you want, you can then tackle the specifics of different computers.

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