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Getting Started

When you power on your PC, you set off a fairly complex chain of events. First, your computer runs through a series of checks called the power on self test (POST), in which the computer verifies that it has all the hardware it needs: random access memory (RAM), disk storage, a video card, a mouse and keyboard, and other essential hardware components. Some computers display a series of black and white text screens during this phase, while others hide these informative messages behind a logo screen of some sort.

Lingo

Random access memory (RAM) is often referred to as just memory. This is the area where Windows stores data, programs, and parts of the operating system you’re using right now. RAM is temporary storage; the data is available in the chips that make up your computer’s memory banks, and when you turn off your computer, the contents of your computer’s memory go away. In contrast, you use disks for long-term storage. The disks record the data on magnetic surfaces that continue to store data even when power is unavailable.



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