Labs and Study Guide Third Edition

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Patrick Regan

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IT Essentials: PC Hardware and Software Labs and Study Guide, Third Edition Instructor's Edition

Patrick Regan

Copyright© 2008 Cisco Systems, Inc.

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Published by: Cisco Press 800 East 96th Street Indianapolis, IN 46240 USA

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First Printing January 2008

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ISBN-13: 978-1-58713-198-1 ISBN-10: 1-58713-198-6

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About the Author

Patrick Regan has been a PC technician, network administrator/engineer, design architect, and security analyst for the past 16 years after graduating with a bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Akron. He has taught many computer and network classes at Sacramento local colleges (Heald College and MTI College) and has participated in and led many projects (Heald College, Intel Corporation, Miles Consulting Corporation, and Pacific Coast Companies). For his teaching accomplishments, he received the Teacher of the Year award from Heald College, and he has received several recognition awards from Intel. Previously, he worked as a product support engineer for the Intel Corporation Customer Service, a senior network engineer for Virtual Alert supporting the BioTerrorism Readiness suite, and as a senior design architect/engineer and training coordinator for Miles Consulting Corp (MCC), a premiere Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and consulting firm. He is currently a senior network engineer at Pacific Coast Companies, supporting a large enterprise network. He holds many certifications, including the Microsoft MCSE, MCSA, MCT; the CompTIA A+, Network+, Server+, Linux+, Security+, and CTT+; the Cisco CCNA; and the Novell CNE and CWNP Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA).

Over the past several years, he has written several textbooks for Prentice Hall, including Troubleshooting the PC, Networking with Windows 2000 and 2003, Linux, Local Area Networks, Wide Area Networks, and the Acing series (Acing the A+, Acing the Network+, Acing the Security+, and Acing the Linux+). He also coauthored Exam Cram 70-290 MCSA/MCSE Managing and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Environment, Second Edition.

About the Technical Reviewers

Mayfield Fayose has been teaching and working with computer technology since 1995 and has also been a consultant for large international corporations. He is currently working as a systems administrator and computer technology instructor. For the past eight years, Mayfield has been teaching A+ and Network+ certification programs, as well as MCP and CCNA classes. Mayfield has certifications in MCSE NT 4.0, CCNA, and A+.

Matt Newell has been with the Ohio CATC (TRECA) since 2000, serving as an IT instructor and systems administrator in its data center. At the Ohio CATC, Matt teaches instructor-level courses in IT Essentials, CCNA, Wireless, and PNIE. He has extensive experience with LAN/WAN hardware, structured cabling, and multiplatform server and desktop hardware. Over the years, Matt has gathered various IT certifications from Cisco, Microsoft, and CompTIA, and he is TRECA's technical contact for its Microsoft Certified Partner Program.


To Jessica, my best friend and confidante. She is always there for me.

Contents at a Glance

































Introduction to the Personal Computer 1

Safe Lab Procedures and Tool Use 23

Computer Assembly—Step by Step 37

Basics of Preventive Maintenance and Troubleshooting 57

Fundamental Operating Systems 63

Fundamental Laptops and Portable Devices 131

Fundamental Printers and Scanners 143

Fundamental Networks 155

Fundamental Security 175

Communication Skills 187

Advanced Personal Computers 195

Advanced Operating Systems 253

Advanced Laptops and Portable Devices 347

Advanced Printers and Scanners 359

Advanced Networks 381

Advanced Security 421


Chapter 1 Introduction to the Personal Computer 1 Defining a Computer 2

Vocabulary Exercise: Matching 3

Processors 4

Vocabulary Exercise: Completion 4

Motherboards 4

Concept Questions 6


Vocabulary Exercise: Completion 7

Ports 7

Identify Ports and Connectors 8

Expansion Slots and Boards 9

Vocabulary Exercise: Completion 10

Cases 10

Concept Questions 10

Power Supplies 10 Hard Drive 11

Concept Questions 11 Vocabulary Exercise: Completion 11

Video Systems 12

Vocabulary Exercise: Matching 13 Concept Questions 13

Study Questions 14

Worksheet 1.1.2: Job Opportunities 17

Worksheet 1.4.7: Research Computer Components 18

Chapter 2 Safe Lab Procedures and Tool Use 23 Electrostatic Discharge 24

Concept Questions 24

PC Maintenance 25

Concept Questions 25

Power Fluctuations 26

Vocabulary Exercise: Matching 26 Concept Questions 27

Fires and Fire Extinguishers 27

Concept Questions 27

Material Safety and Data Sheets and Component Disposal 27

Vocabulary Exercise: Completion 28 Concept Questions 28

Maintenance Safety 28

Concept Questions 29

Tools of the Trade 29

Concept Questions 29

Study Questions 29

Worksheet 2.2.2: Diagnostic Software 32 Lab 2.3.4: Computer Disassembly 32

Step 1


Step 2


Step 3


Step 4


Step 5


Step 6


Step 7


Step 8


Step 9


Step 10


Step 11


Step 12


Step 13


Step 14


Step 15


Chapter 3 Computer Assembly—Step by Step 37 Installing a Processor 38

Concept Questions 38

Installing RAM 39

Concept Questions 39

Installing the Motherboard 39

Concept Questions 39

Installing a Power Supply 40

Concept Questions 40

Installing Optical Drives 41

Concept Questions 41

Installing Floppy Disk Drives 41

Concept Questions 41

Installing a Hard Drive 42

Vocabulary Exercise: Completion 42

BIOS and the BIOS Setup Program 43

Concept Questions 43

Study Questions 44

Lab 3.2.0: Install the Power Supply 47

Step Step Step

Lab 3.3

Step Step Step Step Step Step Step

Lab 3.5

Step Step Step

Lab 3.6

Step Step Step

Step Step Step Step Step Step Step

Lab 3.8

Step Step Step Step Step Step Step Step Step

Lab 3.9

Step Step Step

1 47

2 47

3 47

.3: Install the Motherboard 47

48 48

3 48

4 48

5 49

6 49

7 49

.2: Install the Drives

1 50

2 50

3 50

.3: Install Adapter Cards 50

1 51

2 51

3 51

2: Install Internal Cables 51

1 52

2 52

3 52

4 52

5 52

6 52

7 53

.2: Complete the Computer Assembly 53

1 53

2 53

3 53

4 53

5 54

6 54

7 54

8 54

9 54

2: Boot the Computer 54

1 54

2 54

3 55

Step 4 55 Step 5 55 Step 6 55 Step 7 55 Step 8 56

Chapter 4 Basics of Preventive Maintenance and Troubleshooting 57 Preventive Maintenance 58

Concept Questions 58

Troubleshooting 58

Concept Questions 58 Troubleshooting Example 59

Study Questions 60

Chapter 5 Fundamental Operating Systems 63 Introduction to Operating Systems 64

Concept Questions 64

Installing Windows 64

Vocabulary Exercise: Completion 64 Concept Questions 65 Vocabulary Exercise: Matching 66

Registry 66

Concept Questions 67

Windows 98 Boot Sequence 67

Concept Questions 67

Windows 2000/XP Boot Sequence 68

Concept Questions 68

Windows 2000 and Windows XP Advanced Boot Menu 69

Concept Questions 69

Windows File Systems 69

Concept Questions 69

File Management 70

Concept Questions 70

Control Panel 70

Concept Questions 71

Troubleshooting Tools 71

Concept Questions 71

Study Questions 72

Worksheet 5.2.2: Search NOS Jobs 76

Worksheet 5.3.2: Upgrade Hardware Components 77

Lab 5.4.2: Install Windows XP 78

Step 1


Step 2


Step 3


Step 4


Step 5


Step 6


Step 7


Step 8


Step 9


Step 10


Step 11


Step 12


Step 13


Step 14


Step 15


Step 16


Step 17


Step 18


Step 19


Step 20


Step 21


Lab 5.4.5: Create Accounts and Check for Updates 90

Step 1 90 Step 2 91 Step 3 92 Step 4 92 Step 5 93 Step 6 93 Step 7 94 Step 8 94 Step 9 95

Worksheet 5.4.9: Answer NTFS and FAT32 Questions 96 Lab 5.5.1: Run Commands 96

Step 1 96 Step 2 97 Step 3 98 Step 4 99

Lab 5.5.4: Install Third-Party Software 99

Step 1 99 Step 2 100 Step 3 104

Lab 5.6.2: Restore Points 107

Step 1 107

Step 2 107

Step 3 108

Step 4 108

Step 5 109

Step 6 109

Step 7 110

Step 9 111 Step 10 111 Step 11 112 Step 12 112 Step 13 113 Step 14 113 Step 15 114 Step 16 115 Step 17 115 Step 18 115

Lab 5.6.3: Windows Registry Backup and Recovery 116

Step 1 116

Step 2 116

Step 3 117

Step 4 117

Step 5 118

Step 6 118

Step 7 119

Step 8 119

Step 9 120 Step 10 120 Step 11 121 Step 12 121 Step 13 122 Step 14 122 Step 15 123 Step 16 124 Step 17 125 Step 18 126 Step 19 126 Step 20 127 Step 21 127 Step 22 127 Step 23 128

Step 24 128 Step 25 129

Chapter 6 Fundamental Laptops and Portable Devices 131

Laptop Fundamentals 132

Vocabulary Exercise: Completion 132 Identify the Parts of a Laptop 133

Power Management 133

Vocabulary Exercise: Matching 133 Concept Questions 134

Laptop Maintenance 134

Concept Questions 134

Troubleshooting Laptop Computers 135

Concept Questions 135

Study Questions 135

Worksheet 6.1.2: Research Laptops, Smart Phones, and PDAs 137 Worksheet 6.2.3: Complete Docking Stations True or False Questions 139 Worksheet 6.3.4: Answer Laptop Expansion Questions 139 Worksheet 6.4.1: Match ACPI Standards 140 Worksheet 6.7.2: Research Laptop Problems 140

Chapter 7 Fundamental Printers and Scanners 143 Printers 144

Vocabulary Exercise: Matching 144 Electrophoto (EP) Stages 145 Vocabulary Exercise: Matching 145 Vocabulary Exercise: Completion 145 Printer Troubleshooting 146

Scanners 147

Vocabulary Exercise: Completion 147

Study Questions 148

Lab 7.4.2: Install All-in-One Device and Software 150

Step 1 150 Step 2 150 Step 3 152 Step 4 153 Step 5 153 Step 6 154

Chapter 8 Fundamental Networks 155 Defining a Network 156

Vocabulary Exercise: Matching 157

Network Devices 157

Vocabulary Exercise: Completion 158

Cable Types and Connectors 158

Vocabulary Exercise: Completion 158

Network Topologies 159

Vocabulary Exercise: Matching 160

Networking Technology 160

Concept Questions 160

Connecting to the Internet 161

Vocabulary Exercise: Matching 162

Network Troubleshooting Tools 163

Concept Questions 163

Study Questions 163

Worksheet 8.3.2: Identify IP Address Classes 167 Worksheet 8.9.1: Internet Search for NIC Drivers 167 Lab 8.9.2: Configure an Ethernet NIC to Use DHCP 168

Step 1 168 Step 2 168 Step 3 169 Step 4 170

Worksheet 8.10.3: Answer Broadband Questions 172 Worksheet 8.12.2: Diagnose a Network Problem 173

Chapter 9 Fundamental Security 175 Importance of Security 176

Vocabulary Exercise: Matching 177 Concept Questions 178

Wireless Security 178

Vocabulary Exercise: Completion 178

Viruses 179

Vocabulary Exercise: Completion 179

Denial of Service Attacks 179

Vocabulary Exercise: Matching 180

Study Questions 180

Worksheet 9.1.0: Security Attacks 183

Worksheet 9.2.1: Third-Party Antivirus Software 183

Worksheet 9.4.2: Operating System Updates 184

Remote Technician 9.5.2: Gather Information from the Customer 185

Chapter 10

Communication Skills 187 Dealing with the Customer 188

Concept Questions 189

Study Questions 189

Worksheet 10.1.0: Technician Resources 191 Class Discussion 10.2.2: Controlling the Call 191 Class Discussion 10.2.3: Identifying Difficult Customer Types 193 Class Discussion 10.3.0: Customer Privacy 194

Chapter 11 Advanced Personal Computers 195 Motherboards 196

Concept Questions 196

RAM 196

Concept Questions 197

Cooling the System 197

Concept Questions 197

Power Supply 198

Concept Questions 198

Hard Drive 198

Concept Questions 199

Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks (RAID) 199

Concept Questions 200

Video Systems 200

Concept Questions 200

Performance Bottlenecks 201

Concept Questions 201

Study Questions 201

Worksheet 11.1.0: Job Opportunities 205

Worksheet 11.3.7: Research Computer Components 206

Lab 11.4.1: Install a NIC 209

Step 1 210

Step 2 211

Step 3 213

Step 4 213

Step 5 213

Step 6 214

Step 7 214

Step 8 214

Step 9 218 Step 10 220 Step 11 222 Step 12 225 Step 13 226 Step 14 228

Lab 11.4.3: Install Additional RAM 230

Step 1 230 Step 2 231 Step 3 231 Step 4 232 Step 5 232

Lab 11.4.4: BIOS File Search 233

Step 1 233 Step 2 234

Lab 11.4.5: Install, Configure, and Partition a Second Hard Drive 236

Step 1 236 Step 2 238 Step 3 239 Step 4 239 Step 5 240 Step 6 243 Step 7 247 Step 8 247

Lab 11.6.3: Repair Boot Problem 248

Scenario 248 Step 1 248 Step 2 248 Step 3 248

Remote Technician 11.6.3: Repair Boot Problem 249

Chapter 12 Advanced Operating Systems 253 Using the Command Prompt 254

Concept Questions 254

Installing Windows 2000 and Windows XP 255

Concept Questions 255

Windows Folder Structure 255

Concept Questions 256

Control Panel and Administrative Tools 256

Concept Questions 256

Fonts 257

Concept Questions 258

Disk Management 258

Concept Questions 258

Windows Boot Options 259

Concept Questions 259

Troubleshooting Tools 259

Concept Questions 259

Study Questions 261

Lab 12.2.2: Advanced Installation of Windows XP 264

Step 1 264 Step 2 264 Step 3 266 Step 4 266 Step 5 274 Step 6 275 Step 7 276 Step 8 282 Step 9 285 Step 10 286

Curriculum Lab 12.2: Creating a Partition in Windows XP Pro (12.2.3) 288

Step 1 288 Step 2 289 Step 3 289 Step 4 290 Step 5 293 Step 6 294 Step 7 295 Step 8 296 Step 9 296 Step 10 297 Step 11 298 Step 12 298 Step 13 299 Step 14 300 Step 15 300 Step 16 301 Step 17 301 Step 18 303

Lab 12.2.4: Customize Virtual Memory Settings 303

Step 1 303 Step 2 304 Step 3 304 Step 4 306 Step 5 308 Step 6 311 Step 7 313 Step 8 314 Step 9 316 Step 10 316

Step 11 321 Step 12 322 Step 13 324

Lab 12.2.5: Install an Alternate Browser (Optional) 325

Step 1 325 Step 2 326 Step 3 327 Step 4 329 Step 5 331

Lab 12.4.1: Schedule Task Using GUI and at Command 333

Step 1 333 Step 2 333 Step 3 334 Step 4 334 Step 5 335 Step 6 338 Step 7 338 Step 8 340 Step 9 341

Lab 12.5.3: Fix an Operating System Problem 342

Scenario 342 Step 1 342 Step 2 343 Step 3 343 Step 4 343

Remote Technician 12.5.3: Fix an Operating System Problem 343

Chapter 13 Advanced Laptops and Portable Devices 347 Processors and RAM 348

Concept Questions 348

Expansion Cards 348

Concept Questions 348

Mobile Wireless Devices 349

Concept Questions 349

Batteries 350

Vocabulary Exercise: Completion 350 Concept Questions 350

Mobile Video Systems 351

Concept Questions 351

Study Questions 352

Worksheet 13.2.0: Investigating Repair Centers 354 Worksheet 13.3.1 : Laptop Batteries 354

Worksheet 13.3.2: Docking Station 355 Worksheet 13.3.3: Research DVD Drive 356 Worksheet 13.3.4: Laptop RAM 357 Worksheet 13.5.3: Verify Work Order Information 358

Chapter 14 Advanced Printers and Scanners 359 Printer Technology and Interfaces 360

Concept Questions 360

Troubleshooting Printers 360

Concept Questions 361

Printing in Windows 362

Concept Questions 362

Scanners 362

Concept Questions 363

Study Questions 363

Lab 14.2.4: Install an All-in-One Printer/Scanner

Step 1 365 Step 2 366 Step 3 366 Step 4 367 Step 5 370

Lab 14.3.2: Share the All-in-One Printer/Scanner

Step 1 370 Step 2 371 Step 3 371 Step 4 373

Lab 14.4.2: Optimize Scanner Output

Step 1 374 375 375 375 375 375

Step 2 Step 3 Step 4 Step 5 Step 6

Worksheet 14.5.1: Search for Certified Printer Technician Jobs 376

Lab 14.6.3: Fix a Printer

Scenario 376 Step 1 376 Step 2 377 Step 3 377 Step 4 377 Step 5 377

Remote Technician 14.6.3: Fix a Printer Problem 377

Chapter 15 Advanced Networks 381 OSI Model 382

Identify the OSI Layers 382

TCP/IP Protocol Suite 382

Vocabulary Exercise: Matching 383 Vocabulary Exercise: Matching 383 Identify the TCP/IP Ports 384

IP Addressing 384

Concept Questions 384

Configuring Windows 385

Concept Questions 385

Troubleshooting Tools 386

Concept Questions 386

Study Questions 387 Worksheet 15.2.2: Protocols 390 Worksheet 15.3.2: ISP Connection Types 390 Lab 15.4.2a: Configure Browser Settings 391

Step 1 391 Step 2 392 Step 3 393 Step 4 394 Step 5 395

Lab 15.4.2b: Share a Folder, Share a Printer, and Set Share Permissions 397

Step 1 397

Step 2 397

Step 3 398

Step 4 398

Step 5 399

Step 6 399

Step 7 399

Step 8 403

Lab 15.5.1: Install a Wireless NIC 404

Step 1 404 Step 2 405 Step 3 407 Step 4 407 Step 5 408

Lab 15.5.2: Configure a Wireless Router 409

Step 1 409 Step 2 409 Step 3 409 Step 4 410 Step 5 412

Lab 15.5.3: Test the Wireless NIC 412

Step 1 413 Step 2 414 Step 3 415

Lab 15.8.3: Fix Network Problem 416

Scenario 417 Step 1 417 Step 2 417 Step 3 417 Step 4 417

Remote Technician 15.8.3: Fix Network Problem 417

Chapter 16 Advanced Security 421

Access Control 422

Concept Questions 422

NTFS and Share Permissions 423

Concept Questions 423

Auditing 424

Concept Questions 424

Wireless Security 424

Concept Questions 424

Social Engineering 425

Concept Questions 425

Denial of Services Attacks and Other Forms of Attacks 425

Concept Questions 426

Study Questions 427

Worksheet 16.1.1: Answer Security Policy Questions 429 Worksheet 16.2.3: Research Firewalls 430 Lab 16.3.2: Configure Windows XP Firewall 431

Step 1 431 Step 2 432 Step 3 433 Step 4 433 Step 5 434

Lab 16.5.3: Fix a Security Problem 435

Scenario 435 Step 1 435 Step 2 435 Step 3 435 Step 4 436

Remote Technician 16.5.3: Fix a Security Problem 436


IT Essentials: PC Hardware and Software Labs and Study Guide is a supplemental book that helps the students in the Cisco Networking Academy course prepare to take and pass the CompTIA A+ exams (based on the 2006 objectives). The hands-on labs, worksheets, remote technician exercises, and class discussions from the course are also included within this book to practice performing tasks that will help you become a successful PC technician. By reading and completing this book, you have the opportunity to review all key concepts that the CompTIA exams cover, reinforce those concepts with hands-on exercises, and test that knowledge with review questions.

Who Should Read This Book?

This book is intended for students in the Cisco Networking Academy IT Essentials PC Hardware and Software version 4 course. This student typically is pursing a career in information technology (IT) or wants to have the working knowledge of how a computer works, how to assemble a computer, and how to troubleshoot hardware and software issues.

How This Book Is Organized

This course is divided into two main units. The first unit, covered in Chapters 1 through 10, covers the foundational knowledge that aligns with the CompTIA A+ Essentials exam (220-601). The second unit, covered in Chapters 11 through 16, explores more advanced concepts in greater depth and provides opportunities for practical application to prepare you for the specialized CompTIA A+ technician exams (220-602 for IT Technician, 220-603 for Remote Support Technician, and 220-604 for Bench Technician). You must pass both the A+ Essentials and one of the technician exams to earn the A+ certification.

The Labs and Study Guide is designed as a valuable teaching and learning tool for the Cisco Networking Academy curriculum, incorporating new features to improve your hands-on skills and reinforce the key topics of the course.

Each chapter includes a Study Guide portion and a Lab Exercises portion.

The Study Guide portion of each chapter focuses on certification exam preparation in context with the course objectives and assessments. The Study Guide section is designed to provide additional exercises and activities to reinforce your understanding of the course topics, preparing you for the course assessments and focusing on preparing for the associated certification exams.

The Lab Exercises portion of each chapter features the complete collection of the hands-on labs, worksheets, remote technician exercises, and class discussions specifically written for the IT Essentials course in the Cisco Networking Academy curriculum, reviewed by instructors and formatted and edited by Cisco Press. The labs are designed by Cisco to give students hands-on experience in a particular concept or technology.

The chapters cover the following topics:

■ Chapter 1, "Introduction to the Personal Computer": In this chapter you learn about IT industry certifications and then jump into identifying components of a computer system, including cases and power supplies, internal components, ports and cables, and input and output devices. The chapter also goes into system resources and their purpose.

■ Chapter 2, "Safe Lab Procedures and Tool Use": This chapter covers safe working conditions and procedures along with the tools and software used with personal computer components. You learn how to implement proper tool use.

■ Chapter 3, "Computer Assembly—Step by Step": In this step-by-step chapter you learn how to safely open the computer case, install the power supply, attach the components to the motherboard, and install the motherboard, internal drives, drives in external bays, and adapter cards. You connect all internal cables, reattach the side panels, and connect external cables to the computer. Then you boot the computer for the first time.

■ Chapter 4, "Basics of Preventive Maintenance and Troubleshooting": This chapter explains the purpose of preventive maintenance and helps you identify the elements of the troubleshooting process.

■ Chapter 5, "Fundamental Operating Systems": Covering the fundamentals of operating systems, this chapter explains the purpose of an operating system and compares the limitations and compatibilities of different systems. You learn how to determine the operating system based on customer needs, install an operating system, navigate a GUI, apply common preventive maintenance techniques, and troubleshoot.

■ Chapter 6, "Fundamental Laptops and Portable Devices": In this chapter, you learn how to identify external laptop components, comparing and contrasting desktop and laptop components. You also learn how to configure laptops, apply common preventive maintenance techniques and troubleshoot laptop and portable devices.

■ Chapter 7, "Fundamental Printers and Scanners": In this chapter you learn the types of printers and scanners currently available and how to install and configure them. You also learn how to apply common preventive maintenance techniques and troubleshoot.

■ Chapter 8, "Fundamental Networks": The principles of networking are explained in this chapter. You learn about the types of networks, basic networking concepts and technologies, and the physical components of a network. After completing this chapter, you will understand LAN topologies and architectures and can identify standards organizations and Ethernet standards. The OSI and TCP/IP data models are reviewed, and you configure a NIC and a modem. Additionally, you identify names, purposes, and characteristics of other technologies for establishing connectivity. Finally, you apply common preventive maintenance techniques for networks and troubleshoot the network.

■ Chapter 9, "Fundamental Security": You'll learn why security is so important in this chapter, which describes security threats and identifies security procedures, and learn common preventive maintenance techniques for security.

■ Chapter 10, "Communication Skills": To be a good PC technician, it is very important that you have good communication skills. This chapter thoroughly explains the relationship between communication and troubleshooting and describes good communication skills and professional behavior. You'll also learn some ethics and legal aspects of working with computer technology. The chapter provides a realistic description of the call-center environment and technician responsibilities.

■ Chapter 11, "Advanced Personal Computers": This chapter begins to move you into more tangible features of the job skills needed in this field. It gives an overview of field, remote, and bench technician jobs and underscores safe lab procedures and tool use. You'll be introduced to situations requiring replacement of computer components, upgrading and configuring personal computer components and peripherals, additional preventive maintenance techniques, and troubleshooting for personal computer components.

■ Chapter 12, "Advanced Operating Systems": You learn how to select the appropriate operating system based on customer needs, and then how to install, configure, and optimize that operating system. The chapter describes how to upgrade operating systems and additional preventive maintenance and troubleshooting procedures for operating systems.

■ Chapter 13, "Advanced Laptops and Portable Devices": Here you learn about the wireless communication methods for laptops and portable devices. You select laptop components and learn common repairs for laptops and portable devices along with advanced preventive maintenance and troubleshooting procedures for laptops.

■ Chapter 14, "Advanced Printers and Scanners": This chapter describes potential safety hazards and safety procedures associated with printers and scanners. You'll cover more advanced topics in installing and configuring a local printer and scanner and how to share a printer and a scanner on a network. You'll also learn how to upgrade and configure printers and scanners as well as more preventive maintenance and troubleshooting techniques for printers and scanners.

■ Chapter 15, "Advanced Networks": In this chapter you design a network based on the customer's needs, determining the components for your customer's network; then you learn how to implement and upgrade that network. The chapter also covers installation, configuration, and management of a simple mail server.

■ Chapter 16, "Advanced Security": Going into greater depth, this chapter outlines the security requirements based on customer needs, and you can select security components to implement a customer's security plan.

Strategies for Exam Preparation

Although many websites offer information about what to study for a particular exam, few sites explain how you should study for an exam. The study process can be broken into various stages. However, key to all these stages is the ability to concentrate. Concentration, or the lack of, plays a big part in the study process.

To be able to concentrate, you must remove all distractions. Although you should plan for study breaks, it is the unplanned breaks caused by distractions that do not allow you to concentrate on what you need to learn. Therefore, first you need to create an environment that's conducive to studying or seek out an existing environment that meets these criteria, such as a library.

Do not study with the TV on, and do not have other people in the room. It is too easy for something on TV to grab your attention and break your concentration. Do not study with others in the room who might not share your dedication to passing this exam. Opinions differ on whether it is better to study with or without music playing. Some people need to have a little white noise in the background to study; if you choose to have music, keep the volume on a low level and listen to music without vocals.

After you find a place to study, you must schedule the time to study. Don't study on an empty stomach. You should also not study on a full stomach; a full stomach tends to make people drowsy. You may also consider having a glass of water nearby to sip. In addition, make sure that you are well rested so that you don't start dozing off. Find a position that is comfortable and use furniture that is also comfortable. Finally, make sure that your study area is well lit. Natural light is best for fighting fatigue.

The first thing that you should do when you begin to study is to clear your mind of distractions. So, take a minute or two, close your eyes, and empty your mind. When you prepare for an exam, the best place to start is to take the list of exam objectives and study the list carefully for its scope. The objectives can be downloaded from the CompTIA website ( You can then organize your study with these objectives in mind, narrowing down your focus area to specific topics/subtopics. In addition, you need to understand and visualize the process as a whole, to help prepare you to address practical problems in a real environment and to deal with unexpected questions.

In a multiple-choice exam, you have one advantage: The answer or answers are already there, and you just have to choose the correct one(s). Because the answers are there, you can start eliminating the incorrect answers by using your knowledge and some logical thinking. One common mistake is to select the first obvious-looking answer without checking the other options. Don't fall into this trap. Always review all the options, think about them, and then choose the right answer. Of course, with multiple-choice questions, you have to be exact, and you should be able to differentiate among similar answers. This is one reason you need a peaceful place of study without distractions, so that you can read between the lines and don't miss key points.

Taking the Exam

The CompTIA A+ exam is explained in detail, including a list of the objectives, by visiting the following website:

When you are ready to take the exam, you must purchase and schedule your two A+ exams. The necessary information to accomplish this can be found at the following website:

Before you take an exam, eat something light, even if you have no appetite. If your stomach is actively upset, try mild foods such as toast or crackers. Plain saltine crackers are great for settling a cranky stomach. Keep your caffeine and nicotine consumption to a minimum; excessive stimulants aren't exactly conducive to reducing stress. Plan to take a bottle of water or some hard candies, such as lozenges or mints, with you to combat dry mouth.

When you take the exam, dress comfortably and arrive at the testing center early. If you have never been to the testing center before, make sure that you know where it is. You might even consider taking a test drive. If you arrive between 15 and 30 minutes early for any certification exam, it gives you the following:

■ Ample time for whatever relaxes you: prayer, meditation, or deep breathing.

■ Time to scan glossary terms and quickly access tables before taking the exam so that you can get the intellectual juices flowing and build a little confidence.

■ Time to visit the washroom before you begin the exam. However, don't arrive too early.

When you are escorted into the testing chamber, you will usually be given two sheets of paper (or laminated paper) with a pen (or wet-erase pen). As soon as you hear the door close behind you, immediately jot down on the paper information that you might need to quickly recall. For example, some of the things that you can jot down are the lengths for the various network cable types or speeds of the various wireless technology. Then, throughout the exam, you can refer to this information and not have to think about it. Instead, you can use this information as a reference and focus on answering the questions. Before you actually start the exam, close your eyes and take a deep breath to clear your mind of distractions. Then, throughout the test, you can jot down little notes that may be used in other questions or do some simple math, such as when you need to figure out how much available memory you have when you have a system that uses part of the memory for video memory.

Typically, the testing room is furnished with anywhere from one to six computers, and each workstation is separated from the others by dividers designed to keep anyone from seeing what's happening on someone else's computer screen. Most testing rooms feature a wall with a large picture window. This layout permits the exam coordinator to monitor the room, to prevent exam takers from talking to one another, and to observe anything out of the ordinary that might go on. The exam coordinator will have preloaded the appropriate CompTIA certification exam, and you are permitted to start as soon as you're seated in front of the computer.

All exams are completely closed book. In fact, you are not permitted to take anything with you into the testing area, but you receive a blank sheet of paper and a pen or, in some cases, an erasable plastic sheet and an erasable pen. Immediately write down on that sheet of paper all the information you've memorized for the test. You are given some time to compose yourself, record this information, and take a sample orientation exam before you begin the real thing. It's a good idea to take the orientation test before taking your first exam; but because all the certification exams are more or less identical in layout, behavior, and controls, you probably don't need to do so more than once.

All CompTIA certification exams allow a certain maximum amount of testing time (90 minutes). This time is indicated on the exam by an onscreen timer clock, so you can check the time remaining whenever you like. All CompTIA certification exams are computer generated, and the questions are multiple-choice questions.


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