Our guide to computer hardware
Jade O'Donoghue

Our guide to computer hardware

First published date June 25 2014 Amended date June 25 2014

Do computer accessories baffle you a bit? Are you forever being told off by your techie friends for pulling the plug on your USB port at every instant? Is your printer your enemy? If so, a computer hardware course might just be the thing to help you understand your USB from your HDMI. Generally aimed at people who aren’t IT experts (although there are others that can act as add on courses to your IT training), computer hardware courses look at the different gadgets that can plug into your computer and how to use these properly without damaging either piece of equipment.

We’ve all had the experience of buying a swanky new gadget only to get it home and realise we haven’t got the right lead to connect it to the mains, or we don’t understand the directions, or it’s not compatible with the technology we already have. Computer hardware courses are designed to demystify this process and ensure you can embrace the genius of the 21st century with open arms.


Areas computer hardware courses cover

When looking for computer hardware courses, you’ll notice there are a variety and that many focus on specific topics. Here are a few of the most popular ones you’ll find...


Digital cameras

There are an overwhelming number of digital camera hardware focused courses. These aren’t going to teach you how to take amazing photos (you’ll need a photography course for that) but they will teach you how to get the photos you have taken off your device and onto your computer. They’ll show you what you can upload and how to safely do it without wiping memory on your camera. You may even learn a small amount about photo editing and programmes such a Photoshop.


Installing webcams, scanners and printers

When it comes to getting these kinds of devices to work, it can sometimes be hit or miss. If you’ve got a detailed instruction leaflet, it should be a breeze but the fact is that it often isn’t. For printers you have to take into account the ink and ensuring that this is in the correct place to print correctly. For scanners, bulbs have to be working and for webcams there’s a whole camera you have to get to function correctly. Even for the most tech-savvy computer user this can be difficult. Computer hardware courses which focus on installing these devices though can demystify the process and will allow you to ask questions as you go, a luxury which just following the instructions won’t allow.


Repairing computers

Being able to troubleshoot on your own computer is an invaluable skill that many don’t have. However it can save you loads of money. If you can learn how to make repairs yourself you won’t have to spend a fortune on specialists to look at it for you and it will lengthen the time your computer stays healthy for, meaning you won’t have to frequently fork out for new technology.


Computer hardware as a job

While most computer hardware courses are aimed at the novice technology user, there are some that go into more detail and can therefore help those working in IT. Whilst we’d expect any IT technicians out there to already know the basics, computer hardware courses can provide helpful top ups, especially when new devices and fresh technology is released. Whether you’re working as a consultant or an in house IT expert, these will be useful in keeping you up to date.

If it’s an IT career you’re after though, taking a computer hardware course alone won’t be enough to ensure you get a job in this area after. You’ll need to know much more than this so it’s worth looking into other IT courses and professional training.


Computer hardware commandments

There are certain rules to live by in the world of computer hardware and here are five of them –


1. Never spontaneously unplug

Always ensure you eject your device properly from your computer. If you don’t, you’ll risk damaging the memory on both items.


2. If in doubt turn it on and off again

The old ones are always the best and actually this usually works. If you’re having problems with something working, give it ago. Whatever happens though, make sure you’ve saved everything before you hit the switch!


3. Follow the instructions

It might seem like the most obvious thing, but it’s surprising how many people just assume they know what they’re doing. It’s really worth taking the time to make sure you know exactly what you’re doing before you start plugging things in where they’re not meant to be.


4. Make sure you have the right cables before you leave the shop

There’s nothing worse than getting home with your brand new hi-tech camera only to discover you don’t have the right lead to connect it to your computer and get the pictures off it. Speak to the person in the shop and get them to talk you through exactly what’s in the box and what leads you need to purchase beforehand.


5. Always make back ups

Anyone who has ever lost work will know how important this is. Always save your work in more than one place because accidents can always happen.