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An operating
system (O/S) is the most important software that runs on a computer. It manages
the computer’s memory and processes, as well as all of its software and
hardware. It also allows you to communicate with the computer without knowing
how to speak the computer’s language. Without
an operating system, a computer is useless.

The operating
system’s job

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The computer’s
operating system (OS) manages all of the hardware and software on the computer there
can be several programmes and or process running at anyone time, and they all
need to access your computer’s central processing unit (CPU), memory, and
storage. The operating system coordinates all of this to make sure each program
gets what it needs.

Types of
operating systems

Most computers
come with the O/S already installed.

But there are
options with regards the O/S of choice. The three most common operating systems
for personal computers are Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux

created the Windows operating system in the mid-1980s. Over the years, there
have been many different versions of Windows. Windows comes pre-loaded on most
new PCs, which helps to make it the most popular operating system in the world.

Mac OS is a
line of operating systems created by Apple. It comes preloaded on all new
Macintosh computers, or Macs as they are commonly known

(pronounced LINN-ux) is a family of open-source operating systems which means
that it free software

Machine and
peripheral management

management is when the operating system translates commands given by the user,
it communicates with the components inside the computer to execute the task
such as using a word processing application

The OS is in
charge of the computers file management it will allow the user to name and
update data within files. Users will be able to add more data and set back up
plan from the Windows setting. User can delete, add and edit information in the
files. User can set data structure e.g. videos will save to this drive,
pictures to another, games to another and all backed up to the back up drive
for the protection of information.

Machine and
peripheral management

management is when the operating system translates commands given by the user,
it communicates with the components inside the computer to execute the task
such as using a word processing application

Management is when the o/s allows the connection of external devices such as
hard drives or printers.

Each peripheral
is programmed with its own piece of code and has its own set of rules on how it
communicates between the device and the computer



The O/s uses
device drivers to manage connections with peripherals

Device drivers

Handles the
translation of requests between the device and the computer

Outlines where
a process must put outgoing data before it can be sent and where incoming data
will be stored upon being received

Wakes up the
device when needed and back to sleep when not

The o/s will
have generic drivers to enable connection most common peripherals, but it is
always advisable to check for the most up to date version

File systems

The OS
organises files on the storage drive.

To retrieve
data from a file, the computer needs to know:

what storage
device it is held on

where it is
stored on the device

how files are
organised on the device

how much data
is in it

the protocol
needed to communicate with it

It is the job
of the OS to maintain this information for other programs, and it does this by
providing a file system. The file system is a way to provide programs with a
consistent way of storing and retrieving data

File management

File management
allows you to store all your files in your computer such as Documents, Music,
Videos and Programs. It will display the name, size and location of your files.
It also allows your files to be edited and deleted. The OS organises where and
how files are stored, deleted, read, found and repaired. It detects errors such
as missing disks or incorrect file names, and informs the user if and when
errors have occurred.


File systems
work in a similar way to the way that libraries organise books. Folders and
directories correspond to different sections of the library. Inside each folder
can be other folders (sub-sections within a subject) and files (the books
themselves). If you need to access a specific file you just need to know how to
look for it in the index which describes where each file is located.


Most o/s will
include some form of security which can include

User accounts
which allows only specific users and will protect personal files and programmes
from unauthorised access

Anti Virus
which detects and blocks viruses

Firewall which
rejects people from connecting to your computers network without authority.

to customise

Using an
operating system allows you to change the interface to your liking. Windows for
example allows you to change the colour scheme, background and cursor

Support for
connectivity of portable media

Most operating
systems support portable media, for example windows supports USB drives, CDs,
etc. This allows to connect other devices such as these without major issue


When choosing
an operating system there are many things to consider such as

Examine your

Every O/S has a
learning curve for those that haven’t used it before, most people will have
used a windows O/S as it is the market leader. But they all claim that they are
easy to use

Look at the
software that you are most likely to use on a daily basis, is it available on
the O/S platform of your choice?

If you are
choosing an O/S for business as opposed to home use, then you need to consider
what is best for both your employees and of course your budget (PC’s running
Windows will in the main be cheaper than their main rival Apple).

Generally, you
would want all of the PC’s to be running the same software for easier
compatibility and networking

An example of
this could be an office that requires a special printer for example posters
will the printer run on your chosen software

Or a school
librarian that needs to use a hand held scanner to read the barcodes on the
books in order for them to be catalogued by the system would that be compatible
with the chosen O/S

And finally the
cost of the O/S has to be considered as well


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