What are the main components of a computer and what do they do?
Case or ‘Box’ or Tower
The case or box is the outside of the computer that contains all the other parts. It usually has the brand of the computer imprinted on it. If your computer is siting on your desk, this is the part that you see. I know this sounds simplistic, but I have spoken with hundreds of people who call this the “hard drive”. As you will learn below, the hard drive is different from the case.
The motherboard is the part of the computer that all the other parts connect to.
RAM stands for Random Access Memory. Think of RAM as the short-term memory. When an application (a program) loads for you to use it, it loads into RAM. When you quit that program, it leaves the short-term memory. When people complain of their computer being slow, this is one of the first places we look as more RAM will allow the computer to run more programs more quickly.
Hard Drive/Solid State Drive (HD/SSD)
If RAM is the short-term memory, the hard drive or solid state drive is the long-term memory. This is where you store your stuff. If you write a letter on a word processing application, it is saved to the hard drive. The folders you see on your monitor, are typically on your hard drive. A hard drive spins like a CD or a vinyl record, an SSD does the same thing as a hard drive, but it doesn’t spin. An SSD is similar to a USB thumb drive.