Unit 10.  Adding new Hardware (I)


It is possible to add new physical components to our computer like a modem or a new monitor, just to name a few examples. For the new component to work, our operating system needs to detect it. Usually, Windows will detect the new hardware automatically, but in the event that it does not, Windows provides us with the tool Printers and Other Hardware that lets us install the new hardware correctly.

Currently many of the components that we install incorporate Plug & Play technology. This consists of transfering all the responsibility to the operating system, thus the operating system is in charge of detecting the new hardware and installing the neccessary programs for it to work properly. It also detects if we uninstall a component and uninstalling programs to free space

This is all possible because Plug&Play components incorporate common protocols that allow the operating system to communicate with them.

Many Plug&Play components can be connected and disconnected without having to turn the computer off, specially the ones that use the USB system.

The Plug&Play allows WindowsXP to control their power use so that you can turn them off or minimize their power consumption when not in use.

When new hardware is installed, the computer needs the files that descibe the hardware and allows the computer to communicate with it. These files are known as drivers.

When we buy a modem, for example, a CD is included that contains the drivers for the modem. When installing the modem, the operationg system asks you to insert the disk in order to copy the drivers.

Windows XP already has the drivers for the most commonly used equipment. There are thousands of hardware manufacturers, so it is impossible for Windows to have all the drivers in the install CD. Sometimes it will not be necessary to insert the disk provided by the manufacturer.

In addition, WindowsXP is now capable of going online to search for driver updates through Windows Update.

When we want to add new hardware to our computer, a monitor for example, two things can happen: either the component is Plug&Play or it is not. In the first case, as we have mentioned, simply connect the hardware and Windows will recognize and install it automatically. The Plug&Play elements are conveniently labeled, but in case of a doubt, we can find out by plugging it into the computer. If the window recognizes it, this means it is Plug&Play and if it does not, it is not.

In the case that the element is not Plug&Play we need to install it manually. For this reason we are provided with an assistant, which we will discuss shortly.

Generally speaking, once having installed a hardware element we may need to access it. This is done through the control panel. It is a good idea to be familiar with these options, because we may need to delete a driver and modify some of its characteristics.

From the Start menu access the Control panel, and as you can see above, there are various options for configuring hardware. WindowsXP has divided the hardware into various groups, and there are different ways to configure each group.

These groups are: Network, Sounds, Printer and other hardware, etc.

In this unit we will discuss how to add elements that are not Plug&Play and how to add a digital camara. Then we will discuss printers and networks.

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