Category Archives: Computer Repair

Hard Disk Operational Overview

As an illustration, I’ll describe here in words how the various components in the disk interoperate when they receive a request for data. Hopefully this will provide some context for the descriptions of the components that follow in later sections.

A hard disk uses round, flat disks called platters, coated on both sides with a special media material designed to store information in the form of magnetic patterns. The platters are mounted by cutting a hole in the center and stacking them onto a spindle. The platters rotate at high speed, driven by a special spindle motor connected to the spindle. Special electromagnetic read/write devices called heads are mounted onto sliders and used to either record information onto the disk or read information from it. The sliders are mounted onto arms, all of which are mechanically connected into a single assembly and positioned over the surface of the disk by a device called an actuator. A logic board controls the activity of the other components and communicates with the rest of the PC.

Each surface of each platter on the disk can hold tens of billions of individual bits of data. These are organized into larger “chunks” for convenience, and to allow for easier and faster access to information. Each platter has two heads, one on the top of the platter and one on the bottom, so a hard disk with three platters (normally) has six surfaces and six total heads. Each platter has its information recorded in concentric circles called tracks. Each track is further broken down into smaller pieces called sectors, each of which holds 512 bytes of information.

The entire hard disk must be manufactured to a high degree of precision due to the extreme miniaturization of the components, and the importance of the hard disk’s role in the PC. The main part of the disk is isolated from outside air to ensure that no contaminants get onto the platters, which could cause damage to the read/write heads.

Exploded view of a hard drive
Exploded line drawing of a modern hard disk, showing the major components.
Though the specifics vary greatly between different designs, the basic
components you see above are typical of almost all PC hard disks.
Original image © Seagate Technology Image used with permission.

Here’s an example case showing in brief what happens in the disk each time a piece of information needs to be read from it. This is a highly simplified example because it ignores factors such as disk caching, error correction, and many of the other special techniques that systems use today to increase performance and reliability. For example, sectors are not read individually on most PCs; they are grouped together into continuous chunks called clusters. A typical job, such as loading a file into a spreadsheet program, can involve thousands or even millions of individual disk accesses, and loading a 20 MB file 512 bytes at a time would be rather inefficient:

  1. The first step in accessing the disk is to figure out where on the disk to look for the needed information. Between them, the application, operating system, system BIOS and possibly any special driver software for the disk, do the job of determining what part of the disk to read.
  2. The location on the disk undergoes one or more translation steps until a final request can be made to the drive with an address expressed in terms of its geometry. The geometry of the drive is normally expressed in terms of the cylinder, head and sector that the system wants the drive to read. (A cylinder is equivalent to a track for addressing purposes). A request is sent to the drive over the disk drive interface giving it this address and asking for the sector to be read.
  3. The hard disk’s control program first checks to see if the information requested is already in the hard disk’s own internal buffer (or cache). It if is then the controller supplies the information immediately, without needing to look on the surface of the disk itself.
  4. In most cases the disk drive is already spinning. If it isn’t (because power management has instructed the disk to “spin down” to save energy) then the drive’s controller board will activate the spindle motor to “spin up” the drive to operating speed.
  5. The controller board interprets the address it received for the read, and performs any necessary additional translation steps that take into account the particular characteristics of the drive. The hard disk’s logic program then looks at the final number of the cylinder requested. The cylinder number tells the disk which track to look at on the surface of the disk. The board instructs the actuator to move the read/write heads to the appropriate track.
  6. When the heads are in the correct position, the controller activates the head specified in the correct read location. The head begins reading the track looking for the sector that was asked for. It waits for the disk to rotate the correct sector number under itself, and then reads the contents of the sector.
  7. The controller board coordinates the flow of information from the hard disk into a temporary storage area (buffer). It then sends the information over the hard disk interface, usually to the system memory, satisfying the system’s request for data.

The PC Guide
Site Version: 2.2.0 – Version Date: April 17, 2001
© Copyright 1997-2004 Charles M. Kozierok. All Rights Reserved.

This is an archive of Charles M. Kozierok’s PCGuide (pcguide.com) which disappeared from the internet in 2018. We wanted to preserve Charles M. Kozierok’s knowledge about computers and are permanently hosting a selection of important pages from PCGuide.

How to get Windows 10 after 7 Support Ends

Coming January 14th, 2020, Windows 7’s support officially ends – which means that if you’re still desiring those security updates or over various updates that allow your PC to work its best, you’ll want to upgrade to Windows 10.

There are a few options that you may have to get Windows 10, including:

You can still forget the 2020 deadline and continue using Windows 7. It’ll continue to be functional. However, any issues regarding 7 will be yours to deal with. Using the free upgrade can possibly cause more complications, including Microsoft determining your product key update eligibility.

Just a heads up, if you don’t activate Windows 10, you’ll most likely see watermarks on your desktop, requesting activation.

For inquiries with computer issues, call us at 1-800-620-5285.  Karls Technology is a nationwide computer service company with offices in many major cities. This blog post was brought to you from our staff at the Frisco Computer Repair Service, if you need computer repair in Frisco, TX please call or text the local office at (469) 299-9005.

Mac Users Can Use iPad as Second Display

If you feel that your Mac needs something extra to handle your overloaded work space, look no further. MacOS Catalina users can use their iPad as a second display with an incredibly handy feature called Sidecar.

The Sidecar feature requires certain system requirements, which include using macOS Catalina and iOS 13 on your iPad.

For your Mac to use Sidecar, connecting/disconnecting is easy. Simply click on the AirPlay icon and allow it to connect/disconnect to your iPad. From there you can move any open windows to it. Works like a charm! The quicker way to move a Window over is the drop down displayed through the green full-screen button (right next to the red and orange buttons). The options include “Enter Full Screen”, Tile Window to Left of Screen”, “Tile Window to Right of Screen”, and “Move to iPad Pro”. Not only is it quick, but this will also resize to your iPad display automatically.

For help with any MacOS problems, call us at 1-800-620-5285.  Karls Technology is a nationwide computer service company with offices in many major cities. This blog post was brought to you from our staff at the Frisco Computer Repair Service, if you need computer repair in Frisco, TX please call or text the local office at (469) 299-9005.

Forgot your Wi-Fi Password?Use MacOS Keychain!

If you are currently using MacOS and haven’t heard of Keychain Access yet, you’re about to! This handy software feature is only available on Macs and it stores any personal information you allow it to – including website info, credit card numbers, passwords, etc. A pop-up will show when any passwords or other types of access information is needed. The pop-up gives you the option to save the data.

One of the perks of Keychain is you can store even stronger passwords to keep any and all accounts more secure. You don’t have to remember needed information because the Keychain feature keeps it safe and only available to you.

To find Keychain Access to view all of your stored information, Apple shares how to do this in Catalina:

  1. In the Keychain Access app on your Mac, if you don’t see a list of keychains, choose View > Show Keychains.
  2. Select the keychain that you want to view.
  3. To see more information about an item, double-click it.

For help with any Apple issues, call us at 1-800-620-5285.  Karls Technology is a nationwide computer service company with offices in many major cities. This blog post was brought to you from our staff at the Denver Computer Repair Service, if you need computer repair in Denver, CO please call or text the local office at (720) 441-6460.

Windows 10 Mobile Drops Support

Starting tomorrow, December 10th, 2019, Windows 10 mobiles will see an end to their support.

Microsoft Support states, “Windows 10 Mobile, version 1709 (released October 2017) is the last release of Windows 10 Mobile and Microsoft will end support on December 10, 2019. The end of support date applies to all Windows 10 Mobile products, including Windows 10 Mobile and Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise.

Windows 10 Mobile users will no longer be eligible to receive new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free assisted support options or online technical content updates from Microsoft for free.”

They also share that although any programs from either third party or paid still have the ability to implement their own support, Microsoft Support will no longer be available. After Tuesday, they explain, “automatic or manual creation of new device backups for settings and some applications will continue for 3 months, ending March 10, 2020.  Some services including photo uploads and restoring a device from an existing device backup may continue to work for up to another 12 months from end of support.”

To see if you have a Windows Phone OS, follow the steps below:
  1. Settings
  2. System
  3. About
  4. Tap on More info

The information will show the Software and OS Build, which will show that it is a Windows 10 mobile device and operating system build 10.0.15254.

For any operating system inquiries you may have, call us at 1-800-620-5285.  Karls Technology is a nationwide computer service company with offices in many major cities. This blog post was brought to you from our staff at the Frisco Computer Repair Service, if you need computer repair in Frisco, TX please call or text the local office at (469) 299-9005.

Windows 10 Expiration Scams Are a Thing

You may have received a warning pop-up.

Microsoft’s Windows 10 is one of cyber hackers favorite OS to imitate. With the large amount of users, the chance of someone falling for one of their scams is quite high. Many of the viruses look legit, as hackers tend to use the brand logos.

Recently, some Windows 10 users have received pop-ups on their computers. These raise warnings, stating that their Windows 10 license is expiring and that they should address the issue by calling a toll-free number.

What should you do?

First off, Windows 10 licenses that are normally pre-loaded onto the computer itself, never expire. Second, Windows wouldn’t share a toll-free number for you to call to buy a new license. Third, check the spelling. Always check the spelling. The majority of scams or viruses include a variety of spelling errors.

Windows Phone Scams

In addition to this information, Windows phone scams have started to spread to take advantage of users. So if you have a Windows phone, keep an eye out. According to AZCentral:

The scammers are trying leverage the news of Windows 7’s upcoming end of life in January and hope consumers running Windows 10 get confused when they call pretending to be a concerned Microsoft support person offering to help.

The scam is designed to convince you that you need to purchase a license renewal so that your computer won’t stop working. If you get this call, just hang up on them or feel free to have some fun with them and waste their time.

If you have any questions regarding Windows 10, call us at 1-800-620-5285.  Karls Technology is a nationwide computer service company with offices in many major cities. This blog post was brought to you from our staff at the Phoenix Computer Repair Service. If you need computer repair in Phoenix, AZ please call our local office at (602) 445-9862.

How To: Boot Windows 10 in Safe Mode

If you’re needing to troubleshoot Windows to understand the reasoning behind your PC not functioning properly, use Safe Mode. This allows Windows to load when the operating system won’t start up. And it only uses the bare minimum necessities, like uninstalling updates, running system restore, and malware scans.

Here’s how to Boot Windows 10 in Safe Mode:
  1. Hold the Shift button and then press Restart
  2. The blue screen will show up, then go to Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Startup Settings > Restart > Press #4 from the list
  3. The computer will restart and you’ll be in Safe Mode
If you have Windows 8 or earlier, try these steps:
  • Windows 7 and earlier: Press the F8 key while the computer is booting (after the initial BIOS screen, but before the Windows loading screen), and then select Safe Mode in the menu that appears.
  • Windows 8Hold Shift while clicking Restart on the Power menu on either the login screen or through the Charms bar menu to begin the process.

When you get into safe mode, you’ll have the ability to run any troubleshooting tasks available to get the job done.

For help with Safe Mode on Windows 10, call us at 1-800-620-5285.  Karls Technology is a nationwide computer service company with offices in many major cities. This blog post was brought to you from our staff at the Frisco Computer Repair Service, if you need computer repair in Frisco, TX please call or text the local office at (469) 299-9005.

Support Ended for Windows Notepad App

Back in August, we wrote about Windows Notepad getting small upgrades to its application. However, Windows just released a statement in their Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 19035 about ending support for it in the Microsoft Store.

Brandon LeBlanc, the Windows Insiders Program Senior Program Manager stated in the blog post:

Thank you for all the feedback you provided on the Store version of Notepad. At this time, we’ve decided not to roll this out to customers. Insiders may notice some changes as we remove this change from this build:

-If you pinned Notepad to your Taskbar or Start menu, you will need to re-pin after you upgrade to this new build.

-If you had certain file types set to open in Notepad by default, you will see a prompt when you try to open files of that type again and will need to re-select Notepad.

There doesn’t seem to be a reason as to why this change is occurring, but if you’re a Windows Insider, you’ll have to make the necessary changes stated above. If you’d like to sign up to be in the Windows Insiders Program, you can register here, accept the terms and you’ll receive a Welcome E-mail. Be certain to read the Important Notice before agreeing to join, as it adds a variety of risks to your computer.

For help with Windows 10 issues, call us at 1-800-620-5285.  Karls Technology is a nationwide computer service company with offices in many major cities. This blog post was brought to you from our staff at the Denver Computer Repair Service, if you need computer repair in Denver, CO please call or text the local office at (720) 441-6460.

Windows 10 ‘Snipping Tool’ App Getting the Boot

While any and all Windows 10 updates include a variety of fixes, improvements and features, there also calls on a list of app removals. One of the reasons for the removals are the lack of usage from users.

A few of the features that Microsoft is no longer developing are ‘My People’, Windows To Go, and Hologram app (which they’ve replaced with Mixed Reality Viewer). Another major feature that is an important one is the Snipping Tool. However, Microsoft is giving it the boot.

The Snipping Tool app was used to screenshot any part of the screen and customize it to whatever you were needing. But why get rid of an app that is quite essential? Microsoft answers:

In Windows 10, version 1809, we’re introducing a new universal app, Snip & Sketch, that provides the same screen snipping abilities, as well as additional features. You can launch Snip & Sketch directly and start a snip from there, or just press WIN + Shift + S. Snip & Sketch can also be launched from the “Screen snip” button in the Action Center. We’re no longer developing the Snipping Tool as a separate app but are instead consolidating its functionality into Snip & Sketch.

Snipping Tool VS Snip & Sketch

So long story short, there’s no reason to have both the Snipping Tool AND the Snip & Sketch features. Combining both to have the ultimate screenshot app seems the better choice.

Source: Windows Blogs

For help updating, restoring or dealing with any Windows 10 issues, call us at 1-800-620-5285.  Karls Technology is a nationwide computer service company with offices in many major cities. This blog post was brought to you from our staff at the Denver Computer Repair Service, if you need computer repair in Denver, CO please call or text the local office at (720) 441-6460.

Preferred OneNote 2016 App Gets Extended Support

If you’re like the majority of Windows 10 users that prefer the OneNote 2016 version, you’ll be happy to know that support will be extended.

OneNote 2016 is Microsoft’s digital notebook application, where you can write and store any information (such as notes) you may need in one place. The 2016 version is a few years old, but users don’t want it to go away. So Microsoft announced that mainstream support will go until October 10th of 2023 and extended support will end October 14th of 2025.

According to Microsoft Office Support, “Microsoft is continuing mainstream support for OneNote 2016 beyond October 2020. This means you can continue using it and expect to see new feature updates. OneNote 2016 support dates will align with Office 2019 support dates (October 10, 2023 for mainstream support and October 14, 2025 for extended support). Starting in March 2020, when you install Office 365 or Office 2019, the OneNote desktop app will be installed alongside the Word, PowerPoint, and Excel desktop apps.

If you have Windows 10, you can use one or both of OneNote 2016 and OneNote for Windows 10.

For any Windows 10 feature inquiries, call us at 1-800-620-5285.  Karls Technology is a nationwide computer service company with offices in many major cities. This blog post was brought to you from our staff at the Arvada Computer Repair Service, if you need better SEO or computer repair in Arvada, CO please call or text the local office at (720) 441-6460.