Unit 14 – Installing & Maintaining Hardware

Summary:
Unit 14 – Installing & Maintaining Hardware is another one of the assignment-based units and likely the one that requires the least creativity. As with all the units, unit 14 has multiple learning aims, each which cover multiple different topics. Unit 14 specifically covers:

  1. Understanding Benefits & Implications of Installing & Maintaining Hardware in Technology Systems;
  2. Planning Installation and Maintenance of Hardware in a Technology System;
  3. Installing, Maintaining and Testing Hardware in a Technology System;
  4. Reviewing the modified Technology System;

Learning Aim 1:
For the first learning aim of Unit 14 you must understand the benefits and implications of installing and maintaining hardware in different technology systems.

Start with the basics, you learn about computer hardware, beginning with the internal components of a computer, these are components like different expansion cards – network or sound card – or memory (RAM) or the processor (CPU). You also learn about external hardware devices, such as printers, network routers and barcode readers for example.

You then cover the different reasons why you should maintain technology systems. As you would suspect, these are all rather obvious, such as to prevent faults occurring in the future or repairing faults that have already happened. Another reason could also be to upgrade internal components, such as the processor, memory or storage devices, to improve the systems performance or change system functionality, such as networking the system or allowing for network printing and scanning.

It is also required that you know computer faults are often connected to errors, mistakes, defects or failures found with individual components in the technology system and that the most common typical faults are that of loose connections, power supply faults or expansion card problems – with sound or networking cards. It is also fundamental that you understand that faults can vary depending on the hardware being maintained as it evolves over time.

Next you learn about the benefits and implications of installing and maintaining hardware, which is the most important part of the first leaning aim, as it relates directly to the first assignment of unit 14.

To complete the first assignment, you need to know some of the benefits to installing and maintaining hardware in a system, these could be that maintaining hardware will likely reduce the cost, or to improve performance (efficiency and effectiveness) of the system.

You also need to know the implications from activities, such as training and issues with compatibility and the decommissioning of components. There is also a whole load of implications due to service level agreements vs in house management.

You also need to know the implications of risk, such as electrostatic discharge, which can cause severe damage to components like circuit boards and the memory as well as general damage to components, due to incompetent users as well as general ware from usage. There is also a large selection of data risks, such as data loss and corruption with could lead to other risks, such as service loss.

For the final part of learning aim 1, you need to understand how these implications could impact on an individual or organisation. Such as upgrading a hard disk drive could mean losing valuable data or causing an electrostatic discharge to a new processor could damage the component resulting in a financial loss.

As you can see above, I have included these assets as an example of the work which I have completed for this learning aim. My method of selecting the specific example is by directly linking to what was explained in each of the specific learning aims. In this case, for the first learning aim of Unit 14 you had to create a presentation explaining how specific upgrades would improve performance, as such I have included a couple of slides.

Learning Aim 2:
The second learning aim of Unit 14 covers the planning of the installation and maintenance.

You need to create a plan that includes the purpose of the installation and maintenance, such as improved compatibility, increased capacity or speed, improved reliability, specific software requirements or network requirements.

Your plan must also contain the client/user’s requirements as well as some alternative ideas for installing and maintaining hardware. This could be that there is more than one way of improving the performance of a system, such as increasing the memory installed in the system or upgrading the processor.

Additionally, your plan must contain the hardware that will be required. This includes internal components as well as external, for example, you might want to upgrade the following components:

  • Motherboard and Memory (RAM);
  • Central Processing Unit (CPU) or Graphical Processing Unit (GPU);
  • Power Supply Unit (PSU);
  • Expansion cards, such as sound/video/networking;
  • Heat dispersal systems, such as fans and heatsinks;
  • Storage devices, solid state, optical and magnetic;
  • The connections and different IO ports;
  • Printer and scanners;
  • Monitors;
  • Network router;

Your upgrade plan must also contain a list of the required tools, such as anti-static equipment (wrist straps, mats and packaging) or computer tool-kits such as assembly tweezers, specific screwdrivers like Phillips or Torx.

Next you should list the software resources in your plan, these could and are likely to be printer drivers and installation setups. You must also include any installation and maintenance activities, such as replacing the motherboard, removing the heat sink and fan to gain access to the processor, backing up data or adding an external device like a printer.

Finally, your plan should also include details about any constraints, whether technical or budget wise, such as component cost, hardware and software availability or tools and component compatibility. You should also include a test plan to show steps taken to test the upgrade or installation for functionality and performance.

As you can see above, I have included these assets as an example of the work which I have completed for this learning aim. My method of selecting the specific example is by directly linking to what was explained in each of the specific learning aims. In this case the second learning aim of Unit 14 was mostly written documents so I have decided to include the test plan and alternative upgrades.

Learning Aim 3:
The third learning aim of Unit 14 covers the actual installation and maintenance of hardware.

To begin with you need to prepare by reading the manufacturer’s hardware instructions, as well as testing your selection and configuration. You should also prepare any health and safety consideration, such as anti-static equipment and other precautions.

You must also obtain any necessary resources, such as tools, hardware components and devices, access rights, software resources and check them for faults thoroughly. You should also consider other tasks such as backing up data or recording equipment serial numbers.

Next, you should think about fault finding tools and techniques, such as run-time analysers, diagnostic software, test procedures such as following a test plan, using power-on-self-test (POST), validating information, and responding to error messages.

You must follow the installation and maintenance actives, such as fitting new components and reconnecting components and devices as well as reassembling the computer system. You should then download software resources, such as hardware drives and then clean the system while carrying out all the necessary safety and system checks and tests.

You will also need to dispose of any packaging as well as completing any other tasks such as restoring any previously backed up data.

Additionally, you should take in to account feedback from the client, relating to functionality and performance and any potential improvements that could be applied to the technology system to improve performance, capacity, accessibility, reliability, security and further meet the user requirements.

Finally, you should consider health and safety issues throughout the installation and maintenance, relating to hardware, electrical connection risk and guidelines and when handling equipment.

As you can see above, I have included these assets as an example of the work which I have completed for this learning aim. My method of selecting the specific example is by directly linking to what was explained in each of the specific learning aims. In this case the third learning aim of Unit 14 was mainly focused on the actual installation of hardware and feedback, as such I have included my documentation as evidence.

Learning Aim 4:
The fourth and final learning aim of Unit 14 covers the reviewing of the modified technology system against the original brief – the client/user requirements – and the original purpose.

You also need to review your choices of difference hardware components, as well as any constraints you might have come across, such as the budget and compatibility of hardware components.

As you can see above, I have included these assets as an example of the work which I have completed for this learning aim. My method of selecting the specific example is by directly linking to what was explained in each of the specific learning aims. In this case the final learning aim of Unit 13 was about reviewing the final portfolio as such I have included a section of my review documents.