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Information Management

Information moves around a Mac in this way: When the Mac starts up, it looks to the ROM chip for instructions on how to start up. During this process, the Mac runs a series of hardware tests to make sure that everything is ready to go; it checks to make sure that functioning RAM chips are in place and that the processor works, for example. The ROM-in-RAM process then kicks in, with more startup instructions and portions of the Mac OS being loaded into RAM.

Next, the Mac searches for a valid startup drive, first attempting to boot from the disk chosen in the Startup Disk control panel. This drive may be your internal hard drive or, barring that, any other attached drive with a kosher System Folder (including a CD-ROM). When it finds the desired startup disk (or another disk with a bootable system, if your chosen disk isn't capable of booting the Mac), it proceeds to load the system and—under Mac OS 9.2 and earlier—such add-ons as extensions and control panels from the hard drive into RAM. During this startup process, the Mac also communicates with any hardware devices attached to the computer, such as your printer or scanner. When the Mac is completely up and running, any items stored in the Startup Items folder are launched.


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