Assignment on Computer Systems

Assignment on Computer Systems

Assignment on Computer Systems

Introduction

The Assignment on Computer Systems will focus upon to understand the function of computer systems and to be able to design a computer system. The study will focus on building and be configuring a  computer systems  to meet as per the design specification.

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Task 1: Understanding the Functions of a Computer System

P 1.3 Comparison of types of computer systems     

Computers are classified into 4 types depending on the shape, size and processing capabilities. The preference of a computer is based on several factors namely, the type of CPU and processing speeds, memory and storage volume, a number of user interactions and costs. Supercomputers are known to be the most powerful which can handle millions of data and needs an exclusive environment. Next to this are the mainframe computers which also need a specific surrounding. The uniqueness of a mainframe computer is that it can be used by hundreds and thousands of people and it is very powerful that failure is close to impossible. Minicomputers are also mainframe computers but the speed and performance are comparatively less. These computers are used in smaller companies where there is a lesser number of users that interact with the system. Microcomputers are also called the personal and professional computers are the most familiar type of computer. From laptops to workstations all the computers fall into this category and it comes in different shapes and sizes. A visual representation of the cost differences and respective performances between each type of a computer is provided below. It is very clearly seen that the cost is directly proportional to the performance of the computer system.

Super Computers

Most expensive. Ranging up to £ 11.7 million

Mainframe computers

Second most expensive. Ranging up to £ 5.8 million

Mini computers

Quite cheaper. £ 6000 to £ 50,000

Micro

Cheapest. £800 to £5000

 
Differences in Cost and Performance

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Task 2: Designing a Computer System

P2.1 System design for smith solicitor

The client for this task is Smith Solicitor a law firm from London with 20 staffs including Mr. Smith. A computer is to be designed to accomplish the required functions. The requirements stated are; handling payment, record staffs in and out, client information (DBS), have a connection with the clients and staffs (Network), multimedia works (Multimedia application) and have the data confidential (Security). It is quite advisable to have a separate system for managing data along with a secure network so that the server system performs the best at what it is doing. It also needs a secure connection with the other staff computers in order to maintain the data confidential. In this case a single IP method in LAN connection with strong password is good enough. To make the connection even more secure, any network and shared document that is bound with the internet networks should be unbound. A wired printer is the best choice as wireless printers are more vulnerable to hackers. A complete specification of a computer system that is to be designed for Smith Solicitor is given below in the table. For each system the price comes up to £ 676.67. As there are 20 staffs and 1 DBS server, the total will be 20x676.67 = £ 13533.40 (PRACTICALLY NETWORKED, 2014)

SPECIFICATIONS OF THE COMPUTER SYSTEM

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P2.2 Evaluation of suitability of the system design

Smith solicitor is composed of few people and hence the requirement of higher grade system is not necessary. The above mentioned specification will be good enough to meet the everyday tasks. An additional power source can be used to avoid problems during power failures. Having a server with cloud computing, data bases are easily managed and stored and during an unlikely situation of a system failure, the data can always be retrieved from the server. As the server is connected to a secure Local Area Networking Technologies, the possibility of hacking/data robbing becomes close to impossible. While the basic requirements are met, the right application to do a specific task is needed. As the requirement says the firm needs data presentation software and an antivirus and firewall. Hence the following programs and operating system are best chosen;

  • Windows 7 Professional – Provides access to the high graphics user-interface. This platform is chosen because it is more ideal for Smith Solicitor.

PRICE: £107.15
Source:
Custom PC

  • Bitdefender Total Security – Sometimes the hackers use virus programs to obtain the system information or to destroy the entire work. This top rated anti-virus program that prevents any form of virus/malware infecting the system and also provides a firewall for the entire system. This firewall prevents intruders. This is available for 3 PCs and it is supposed to be renewed annually.

Price : £24.48
Source:
Custom PC

  • Microsoft Office Professional 2013 – A software package which has text editor, spreadsheet editor, presentation maker, Data base manager etc. and fulfils all the company’s needs.

PRICE: £ 264.19
Source:
Custom PC (PRACTICALLY NETWORKED, 2014)

Task 3: Configuration of Computer System

P 3.1 Configuring the system

Configuration is the arrangement of hardware or setting up of software. There are 3 basic steps to configure a computer system namely installation of parts, booting and driver and application software installation.

Configuring a system for Smith Solicitor

The required parts for the firm are listed above and these parts are used in the configuration process. The installation process needs quite some knowledge about how and what the devices look like. Similarly for booting process, the user must know how to boot the operating system from the CD/DVD/USB and from there the installation screen will guide through help texts whereas verification and testing can be done by anyone who knows what a computer is. Anyways it is advisable to make use of the help of a computer technician to avoid mistakes and delay. There is a greater risk of short circuiting with a wrongly build system while powering up.

  • Installation of parts - The person who is going to install the parts in the cabinet must first take a precautionary step of grounding his/her body with the cabinet till the installation is over as there are chances of electric shocks.
  • Motherboard – The unpacked motherboard has a conducting outer part so it is not advisable to keep it on the silver/black covers it come with as it is an anti-static material. These bags has a conductive outer cover and if there are any charges in it, might affect the motherboard. Before installing the motherboard in the cabinet, few components have to be installed on it. The processors are installed in the CPU housing. After being removed carefully from the packing, the processor should be oriented with the female pins on the CPU. The processor usually sits in the sockets smoothly and only if it’s a misfit/wrongly aligned, it looks like it needs some pressure (PC WORLD, 2014). Tampering of any sort/pressure on the processor will damage the processor legs. Once it is installed properly start mounting the heat sink on the processor. Most of the heat sinks these days come with a thermal paste so there wouldn’t be a need to apply heat sink manually on the processor. RAMs have two apertures on the same side with which the handles on the motherboard will lock the RAM into its place correctly. In Smith Solicitor firm all the motherboards bought support only DDR3 and hence DDR3 RAM is purchased and installed. Once all these components are installed in a motherboard, the motherboard will be ready to be fitted in the cabinet. Remove the I/O cover and put the motherboard in its place using sandoffs. These sandoffs are used to raise the motherboard from the cabinet and to hold it in place. The motherboard should be fitted in such a way that the ports on the motherboard should be in integration with the holes on the I/O cover plate. A completely assembled motherboard with all the components will look like the picture below

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  • Hard Drives and Optical Drives – These are placed in the 3.5 inch oriel and connected with a SATA data analysis and design cables with the motherboard. The oriel/bay has screws and holes to secure the hard disk in its place (PC PRO, 2013). Similarly the disk drives are installed in its oriel by removing the cover from the front. The optical drives are also connected to the motherboard using SATA cables. There are no specific directions for the wire ends as both the drive and motherboard connectors are the same.
  • Wiring the computer – The motherboard consists of an 8 pin made of 4 pin which says EPS is the place where the power supply is to be given (PC PRO, 2013). PCI and PCIe which has 6 pins connect the graphic processing unit (GPU). The 15 pin SATA connects the drives. The cooling fan with a 4 pin connector connects to the motherboard for power.
  • Boot Up: Once the installation of components is finished, the next step will be installing the operating system in the computer. In order to this, either a bootable CD/DVD/USB with OS is used. The easiest is to use a CD/DVD. Once the disc is loaded, the BIOS setting is modified and is setup to boot the operating system from the optical drive. An operating system setup is initiated and Windows 7 Professional is installed. During the installation process, there will be few critical places that need user intervention. Disk portioning helps the computer to use all the space from the hard disk and during implausible situations like OS crash, protects the data in the partitions other than the one in which the operating system is installed. After the Windows is completely installed, the date, time, region and language is selected after which the desktop will be configured by the OS.
  • Drivers Installation: Though the computer has all the necessary components are hardware, it needs something called the driver to drive the component using the operating system. Drivers are available in the CD that is usually provided along with the motherboard. Few components that are integrated with Windows 7 do not need driver as it comes with preinstalled drivers. During the case of no drivers provided in CD or preinstalled, the motherboard manufacturer’s website will have download links that can be downloaded and installed or used for later needs. The audio-visuals, graphics and certain other basic devices get activated. Smith Solicitor’s tasks will need the installation of Microsoft Word Professional 2013. This will take only few minutes to install and it’s usually easy. The CD/DVD is opened and the setup application is clicked which opens an installer. The installer will ask the user to agree to a policy statement, select the folder where the application software is to be installed and whether or not a shortcut is to be created in the desktop/start menu/quick start or all. Similarly the Bitdefender total security anti-virus is installed before connecting the computers to any network. Ethernet wires/Wi-Fi can be used for high speed network connection later (SUTHERLAND, Randall, 2014).

P 3.2 Test documents for Smith Solicitor’s computer system

Comparing a standard office system and the system specified for Smith Solicitor’s firm, it is evident that he processor speed is above the standard speed required. When buying a business desktop, look for a system with an Intel Core i3 CPU or AMD A4 Series APU (RAGAZA, Laarni Almendrala, 2014). The chosen processor is Intel Core i5 4590 with clock speed of 3.3 GHz which proves to be above average than a normal business computer. It's also good to have at least 4GB of memory (RAM) and a minimum 300GB of hard drive space but 500GB would be ideal for most companies (RAGAZA, Laarni Almendrala, 2014). Smith Solicitor’s firm uses 8GB of memory (RAM) and has been prescribed to use 1TB HDD which once again proves the excellence.

Task 4: Carrying out Maintenance on a Computer System

P 4.1 maintaining the computer systems in Smith Solicitor’s firm

Computer systems serve as long as they are maintained properly. Maintenances are done in two levels namely; hardware maintenance and software maintenance focus on different benefits. Though smith solicitor has only few staffs, the requirement of maintenance doesn’t depend on the quantity of the system but the predicaments vary relatively. Lesser the quantity of systems used lesser the difficulty.

  • Hardware Maintenance: Maintaining hardware is not easy. The primary goal is to protect it from moisture, dirt/dust and keeping the temperature under control. Most of the workers who use computers have a way of distracting themselves from the monotony and bringing food products is just one example. Each staff has a different way of handling a computer and these are inevitable. Though not frequent, the Smith Solicitor company needs regular maintenance and during these maintenance periods, it is recommended for the maintenance team to individually look into all the hardware that is there
    • Cleaning the cabinet – When dust settles in the cooling fan or the vents, the heat exchanging process slows down leading to over-heating of the system. Cleaning the vents and cooling fans is very important. Few vents might get tricky to clean. Blowers are best used to blow the dust and the sensible way of doing it will be blowing from the inside out.
    • Cleaning the keyboard and monitor – Monitors just need a wipe or a blow with compressed air. Brushing the vents can also be done. That should clean almost all the dust in and around the monitor vents. Keyboard is very vulnerable to collect all the dust as it is kept open most of the time. Any food particle or dust that is collected in the keys of the keyboard will make the keys sticky and inconvenient to use. Sometimes food also attracts ants and similar insects. Blowing air might help get rid of all the dust and food crumble. Placing the cabinet in a place where there is a less possibility of catching dust is wise. This reduces the frequency of maintenance.
    • Cleaning the optical drives – The optical drives might get dirty sometimes and their casing can be cleaned by wiping with a soft moisture cloth. There are lens cleaners available that helps clean the optical lens in the drive.
  • Software Maintenance: Software maintenance is not as complicated as hardware maintenance but selection of the right tool is a big task (STEERS, Kirk, 2004). Here are some tools that can be used to maintain the software used in Smith Solicitor company;
    • Cleaning Junk – Windows has tool called the Disk Cleanup which cleans up all the junk and temporary files saved in the disk drives. This is important because when junk keeps accumulating, the disk space reduces which brings down the performance of the system. If the inbuilt application is not preferred, free applications like the famous System Mechanic Pro, CCleaner and Fix-it utilities pro can be used and these tools are the best for boosting the speeds (Welling, M., 2014).
    • Uninstalling unimportant applications – Windows has an easy access to the control panel which has a program uninstaller. Any programs that are of no use to Smith Solicitor’s firm should be removed freeing up space for important use. The firm might as well use any specialized uninstalled programs like
    • Trouble shooting – Windows has a very good support which works 24x7 and in case of any intricate problems, windows trouble shoot can be launched which gives an access to communicate with Microsoft and rectify errors.

P 4.2 Upgrading software and hardware in Smith Solicitor’s computer system

Smith Solicitor’s firm has computer systems that have a lifetime of not more than 5 years. Not only the firm’s computer but any computer for that matter has a lifetime of 3-5 years. Though the mother board and the CPU works for many years, the other components tend to fail over the years. This situation calls in for a replacement of the faulty component. Almost all the hardware is manufactured keeping replacement situations in mind and hence come up with easy to replace models. Even the software might need an upgrade due to the quicker evolution of the products. Few of the components that might need a replacement in the near future are;

  • Memory and Video cards – The need of performance level might not be the same as it is now. As the Smith Solicitor firm expands, along with the addition of new computer systems with better memory, the current systems will also be updated as replacement of an entire system just for graphics and memory will lead to a greater expense.
  • Drives and I/O devices – Expansion of the firm means amplification in the data which are worked on and the DBS is also expanded. As all the drives are connected to the motherboard using SATA cable connection, it is easy to replace the existing HDD with a better one in the future. There might be some difficulty in transferring the data and the platform from one HDD to another but with the help of someone experienced in this, entire HDD replacement is not going to take a longer time. There is no specific time for a change in the I/O devices. It can be changed when the device gets worn out/fails or when something better is required.
  • Software – System and application software can be updated over-the-air or using an update patch/service packs.

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Conclusion

The uses of computer systems in various environments were analysed and knowledge of different hardware and software development was obtained. A system design generated for Smith Solicitor was configured, evaluated on its suitability and discussed how the maintenance and upgrading tasks are performed. The data access must be through a secure protocol which will enhance the security. Adding to this, the firm must keep upgrading in terms of both hardware and software which will cut down the expenses of buying new ones.

References

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OPEN PROJECTS. (n.d.). Computer Software Definition. [online]. [Accessed 19 june 2014]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.openprojects.org/software-definition.htm>
PC PRO. 2013. How to build a PC: a step-by-step guide. [online]. [Accessed 19 june 2014]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.pcpro.co.uk/features/379330/how-to-build-a-pc-a-step-by-step-guide>
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RAGAZA, Laarni Almendrala. 2014. The 10 Best Business Desktops. [online]. [Accessed 19 june 2014]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2385217,00.asp>
STEERS, Kirk. 2004. Hardware Tips: Complete PC Preventive Maintenance Guide. [online]. [Accessed 19 june 2014]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.pcworld.com/article/116583/article.html>
SUTHERLAND, Randall. 2014. BEST ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE REVIEW. [online]. [Accessed 19 june 2014]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://anti-virus-software-review.toptenreviews.com/>

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