Unit II Scholarly Activity
CS 1010 Computer Essentials
Columbia Southern University
This paper will present results from inquires of the CSU online library and typical internet search engines in regard to the functions and purposes of today’s most utilized operating systems. It will briefly describe a Windows-based file management system and provide insight as to what constitutes the average user’s file structure within a consumer grade desktop computer. I will discuss which programs are generally used for backing up both Windows and Mac OS systems while explaining the process that results in a safe and useful copy of important data. This scholarly activity will explain the importance of several preinstalled system utilities and finally, it will provide solutions for three common computer problems that have plagued personal home computer users for years.
Whether it is a desktop, laptop, tablet, or even a video game system or smartphone, every one of them needs an operating system to perform. The operating system (OS) is the core software that merges application programs with hardware, allocates resources to needed processes, distributes memory, and enforces security or safety features so the user does not harm or damage the entire system (Melendez, 2019). In addition, the operating system communicates with other hardware items such as fans and other cooling devices to enable the device to run for hours without overheating. Currently, the most common operating systems being used around the world are Microsoft’s Windows, Apple’s macOS, Linux, Android, Blackberry, and Apple’s iOS. While Microsoft and Apple products have been successful for many years, recent trends have shown that Blackberry, who many say dominated handheld devices for several years, have experienced a major downturn recently. Blackberry, known as RIM, now holds less than 1% of the current market share (Luo, 2018). In essence, these operating systems define how the computer works internally and how it interacts with peripherals such as cameras (input devices), printers (output devices), and the mouse & keyboard. How the different operating systems uniquely perform these basic functions leads users to find common advantages and disadvantages of each. Depending on how a person uses their computer can have varying impacts as to how well or how poorly these systems work within their particular environment.
Many experts in the educational services fields have found advantages with Apple and Microsoft operating systems when utilizing computers in the classroom (Information Week, 2008). Some advantages included higher rates of student/teacher recognition, ease of use, and clean interfaces. Moreover, the Mac OS had far less security issues while the Windows users enjoyed rapid and automatic updates when security flaws were found. Some highlights noted by researchers for Linux and Android were the open-source advantages. Many say that open-source programs like these provide greater numbers of applications from a greater number of sources (Information Week, 2008). In contrast, applications pushed by Windows and Apple have been strictly vetted by these companies which delays their launch. In the fast paced tech industry, these delays can be problematic because something a year old may already be too old to run or run properly by that time. When Blackberry was in the game, users enjoyed the ability to seamlessly switch from mail to word processing programs and back again within the handheld devices whereas Blackberry competitors at the time were having difficulty running multiple applications at the same time (Lou, 2018).
Each of these different operating systems contain their own file management system. Basically, a file management system is a type of software that manages data files within the entire computer system. Contained within is the capability to manage individual and groups of files such as office documents, records, and/or suites of word processors and presentation programs. These sub-systems allow for permissions and roles of specific files that increases the efficiency of the overall system.
As seen in the screenshot below, the Windows file management system utilizes an easy-to-read interface and enables the user to clearly see folder names, available drives, and file types in the same view. If the user were to click and open any of the displayed folders, he/she would find files that correspond with that specific file. While other operating systems have different interfaces or looks to them, they all basically work in the same way; folders contain files or they may even contain additional folders and those folders contain files (Gaskin et al., 2017). When the user follows this virtual tree, from top to bottom, they are able to view and manipulate whatever data is contained within.
As discussed previously, and depicted in the above screen capture, even the modest user can have thousands upon thousands of files. Some of these files might be worthless while others may contain something of the upmost importance. In fact, some files may actually be priceless and contain something that simply cannot be replaced. Because of this, a robust and through back-up should be utilized. Each operating system maintains some sort of automated back-up program, but most require some sort of action or permission from the owner/user to utilize. While the operating system itself is constantly and routinely backing up its own files via a redundancy-based program to ensure seamless operation, it may not automatically backup that priceless photo of Grandma with baby Timmy unless directed to do so by the owner. Even if the system did create an automatic backup, it is the user’s responsibility to know where that file is located and how to retrieve it upon need. Windows and Mac OS both offer such as system that will create and maintain these files. These backup programs must be enabled by the administrator. For Windows systems, the backup and restore program is located within the settings menu then by selecting update & security. From there, the operator has the ability to select the process to be followed and frequency of these backups. Apple users using the Mac OS also have the same ability by following similar instructions after navigating to system preferences and then using a program entitled Time Machine.
When users are setting up a backup protocol for their device, they are also encouraged to utilize some of the other system utilities to ensure clean and efficient operation of the computer. Some of these utilities / programs are disk cleanup, disk defragmenter, and disk cleaner. These software programs scan sectors of the computer’s hard drive for errors, misplaced files, operational blank spots, and even fragmented disassociations. While the defragging ability is not so much needed following the release of Windows 10, because the OS now does performs this task automatically, the others can be beneficial for overall smooth operation. In older versions of Windows, the disk defragmenter program was often needed as the hard drive aged. This program would search for and replace fragmented files. These files would become more and more fragmented with use which could cause the hard drive to slow to a crawl when trying to access data contained on it.
Slow drive access can also be a symptom of another problem unrelated to fragmentation. One such problem could be malware or virus infection. When user open items received from untrusted sources, these files may contain malware. Malware is basically a program designed to do something unbeknownst to or without the knowledge of the user. Some malware is benign while others can be damaging or criminal in nature. Authors of these programs use them to implant tracking items, advertisements, or even tools designed to steal information from the user. The easiest way to halt this is by not opening or viewing anything from an untrusted or safe source. This can be difficult so a good antivirus program that is constantly updated with the latest definitions and threats is also a good investment. These programs run in the background and are constantly searching for and blocking malware or unsafe web-sites.
Another common computer problem that many users do not think about much is heat. With all the processors and equipment running, sometimes 24 hours a day and seven days a week, dust can accumulate within the case and block vents. Cooling fans can also become disabled or broken. Users must ensure these vents are clear and fans are working at all times. Simply blowing these areas free of dust and debris by using compressed air is normally sufficient.
Because computers require electrical power to operate, another problem that can occur is when surges in electricity occur and flow directly into the device. Most common machines are equipped with a small suppressor embedded in the power cord, but the smart user will also invest in a suppressing power supply. Some even have the added benefit of continuous battery backup power for devices that should never lose power. If the home or office power source is lost, the automatic devices activate and ensure power is not interrupted for some time. The longer the needed time, the more these items can cost. The average user can use a simple power suppressor that limits surges and protects the internal component parts. These items are relatively inexpensive, yet when used properly, can save the user the cost of replacing the entire system. Trouble shooting these issues are rather simple and only involve physically installing these items and making sure they are in place prior to the problem.
In conclusion, being a computer owner has never been more common or easy; so much so that we often do not even realize these devices working around us. We are surrounded by computer every day from wearables, desktops, entertainment / game players, and even our automobiles (Gaskin et al., 2017). By understanding the basic functions, file systems, and what should be expected of these devices, users are able to benefit from this technology to make our lives easier. In fact, these devices can not only simplify our daily routines, but many of them extend and protect life as well.
Gaskin, S., Geoghan, D., Graviett, N., & Vargas, A. (2017). GO! with Microsoft Office 2016: All in one (3rd ed.) [VitalSource Bookshelf version]. Retrieved from https://online.vitalsource.com/#/books/9780134487328
Lou, J. (2018). The Rise and Fall of Blackberry. Harvard Business School. Retrieved from: https://digital.hbs.edu/platform-digit/submission/the-rise-and-fall-and-rise-again-of-blackberry/
Melendez, S. (2019). Five Common Operating Systems. Hurst Newspapers LLC. Retrieved from: https://smallbusiness.chron.com/five-common-operating-systems-28217.html
Miller, N. (2020). Figure 1. Author image credit. Windows file system screen capture.
Oklahoma Christian University Converts PCs For Macs; All students would also be given the choice of an iPhone or an iPod Touch with each MacBook. (2008, March 3). InformationWeek. Retrieved from: https://link-gale-com.libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/apps/doc/A175920481