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How to find compatible computer parts online

Building your own computer or upgrading your existing system can be a dream or a nightmare. Simply finding parts that are compatible with each other can be challenging. But there are some really helpful websites that can make finding the correct parts easy.

How to find compatible computer parts online

There is no greater satisfaction than being able to say you built or upgraded your computer yourself. Whether it be upgrading the memory or drive in your computer or building a entirely new system from the ground up.

But picking compatible computer parts can be daunting. Most of the time, you have to use the different parts' specifications to determine which components will work together.

We at Geeks in Phoenix have been building custom-built computers for over two decades and have written numerous articles on the subject. Let's run down some of our more popular articles on computer building and computer upgrading.

Make your computer faster by upgrading the hardware

Things to consider when replacing or upgrading computer components

How to upgrade the hard drive in your computer

How to upgrade or add more memory to your computer

How to add an expansion card to your desktop computer

Things to keep in mind when building a custom-built computer

How to build a computer

But none of these articles will do you any good if you cannot find compatible computer parts. If you're working on an older PC, say five to ten years old, you will have to use the different manufacturers' specifications to find compatible parts.

Now, if you are looking at upgrading a relatively new computer or building a new one, then the following websites will come in handy. When it comes to finding compatible computer parts, the websites seem to be broken down into two categories; complete systems and just memory.

Complete computers

Let's start with websites that can help you find every part of a custom-built computer. Several websites will give you a list of components that work together, but only a couple allow you to customize the different elements truly.

The first website is PC Part Picker. You can select any component (motherboard, processor, etc.) and assemble a list of compatible parts for a complete system. Or you can use it to find compatible parts to upgrade your existing computer.

The nice thing about PC Part Picker is that it will notify you when you have selected an incompatible component. It usually will not even show you parts that will not work together. That way, you are assured of getting completely compatible parts.

And almost every part listed has a link to where you can purchase it and its current price. I noticed that the majority of the links go to Amazon, but sometimes they have the lowest price.

The second website is Newegg. They have a section on their website specifically for custom PC building that is similar to PC Part Picker. The only difference is they link to products they or their affiliates sell.

Separate computer components

The PC Part Picker and Newegg websites can also help find individual components. As long as the manufacturer is still selling the component, you can use either of these websites to find compatible parts for your computer.

Let's say you built a computer recently and want to upgrade the processor. All you would have to do is find your specific motherboard, and these websites will show you what processors are compatible with your motherboard.

But as I always say, the biggest bang you can get for your buck is a memory upgrade. And most of the memory manufacturers have what they call 'memory finders'.

All you have to do is find your computer make / model or motherboard make / model; their websites will show you which of their memory modules will work in your computer.

Crucial

Kingston

Corsair

Newegg

CDW

FYI - If you are trying to get the lowest price on a component, you can check a vendor's website to see if they do price matching. I have used price matching to get some terrific deals on hardware.

If you have found a website with a computer parts configurator that we do not have listed, please let us know. Just send us the information via our contact page.

Five free Windows 10 utilities that do not require installation

Some of my favorite programs for performing computer diagnostics are the kind that you just download and run. These applications are simple to use and can be deleted when I am finished with them. So here are some of my favorite portable programs for Windows 10.

Five free Windows 10 utilities that do not require installation

Since I repair computers for a living, I use many different programs during my typical workday. Most of them I can store on USB drives for quick access.

But there are some programs that I like to download before I use them, as they are portable applications and do not require installation. Since they do not get installed, the only way to get the latest updated version is by downloading them.

Some of these programs have time stamps on them and will expire after a certain amount of time. So downloading them when I need them makes the most sense. The hardest thing about downloading them is remembering where you saved them.

All of the applications mentioned in this are article can run on any version of Windows currently supported by Microsoft. And the best thing of all is that they all are free to use.

CPU-Z

Portable program - CPU-Z

This is a convenient utility that displays the details of the installed processor, motherboard, memory, and graphics card in any given computer. This way, you do not have to disassemble a computer to determine what components it has installed.

CPU-Z comes in handy when you are looking to add or upgrade your computer's memory modules. I use it when a customer wants to upgrade the installed memory, as it displays the exact part number of all of the installed memory modules.

There are portable (ZIP) and installable (EXE) versions of CPU-Z and versions customized for particular motherboard vendors. If you are going to use CPU-Z to measure system performance between different BIOS settings, the installed version may be the best bet.

But if you are only going to run it a couple of times, then the stand-alone version will work quite well. All you have to do is extract the files inside of the ZIP archive, and you are ready to go.

For more information on CPU-Z, just follow the link below.

CPU-Z

Advanced IP Scanner

Portable program - Advanced IP Scanner

Have you ever added a new device to your network and then could not find it? That is where Advanced IP Scanner comes in handy. It can scan your network and find network devices, shared folders, and shared printers. You can even use it to access other network computers remotely.

Advanced IP Scanner can be installed or run as a stand-alone program. When you download the program, it comes as an EXE file. When executing it, you have the option of installing it or just running it.

If you are only going to use it a couple of times, then the stand-alone version will work. If you are going to use it regularly, you may want to perform a complete installation.

For more information on the Advanced IP Scanner, follow the link below.

Advanced IP Scanner

Adwcleaner

Portable program - Adwcleaner

This is by far my favorite tool for cleaning up Internet browsers. Just download and run Adwcleaner to remove adware and PUPs (Probably Unwanted Program) from your favorite browser.

Unlike the rest of the programs in this article, when Adwcleaner downloads its latest database, it also checks for a new version of itself. It will download an updated version but does not remove the previous version. It has to be removed manually.

Besides cleaning up browsers, it will also clean up and reset the TCP/IP network stack back to the default settings. And if you only need to run it a couple of times, it can delete itself and all of its quarantine files.

For more information on Adwcleaner, follow the link below.

Adwcleaner

Microsoft Safety Scanner

Portable program - Microsoft Safety Scanner

When it comes to scanning for viruses and malware, Microsoft's Safety Scanner is a powerful utility. Even though the user interface is kind of sparse, the true power is built into it.

Since this program is updated on a pretty regular basis, you will defiantly want to download it when you are ready to perform a scan. Keep in mind that this program is date stamped and will run only for ten (10) days after it was downloaded.

There are only a couple of choices regarding the types of scans it will perform; Quick, Full, or Customized. Be warned that if you choose a full scan, it can take hours or even days to complete, depending on how much data your drive(s) contains.

Remember that the Microsoft Safety Scanner is for manually scanning for malware and viruses and does not replace the need for a full-time anti-virus program.

For more information on Microsoft's Safety Scanner, follow the link below.

Microsoft Safety Scanner

Sysinternals Suite

Portable program - Sysinternals Suite

With over seventy utilities, Microsoft's Sysinternals Suite has the most extensive set of diagnostics tools. Sysinternals have been around for more than two decades and have become a staple in computer technicians' toolbox.

Every single program in the suite is a stand-alone program and does not require installation. You can download the complete suite of utilities in a single ZIP file or a single utility separately; it is your choice.

Now you have to remember that the Sysinternals Suite does not automatically update any of its programs. But there are script files out there that can download updated files.

There is also the Sysinternals Live service that allows you to run the tools directly from the web. That way, you will always have the latest and greatest version of any of the utilities.

For more information on Microsoft's Sysinternals Suite, follow the link below.

Sysinternals Suite

Everything you wanted to know about Windows 10 shortcuts

When it comes to using a Windows-based computer, accessing programs, folders, and files quickly is essential for productivity. This is where shortcuts come in handy. Let's take a closer look at the different types of shortcuts you can have on your Windows 10 computer.

Everything you wanted to know about Windows 10 shortcuts

Before we proceed any further, let's take a look at the history of shortcuts in Windows. All three types of shortcuts I will be discussing in this article were introduced in 1995 with the release of Windows 95.

Windows 95 had a new graphical user interface called Windows Explorer (now named File Explorer). When you hear File Explorer, you probably think of the file manager program you navigate to find your documents, pictures, and music. And you would be right.

But File Explorer is also responsible for displaying the Start Menu, Taskbar, and Desktop. All of the shortcuts I will be discussing are directly related to File Explorer.

Geek Tip: If you ever start Windows 10 and get to a black screen with just a white cursor arrow, that is a sign that File Explorer did not start. You can manually start File Explorer and here is how to do it.

How to fix the Windows 10 black screen with a white mouse cursor

The different types of Windows 10 shortcuts

Now, there are three (3) kinds of shortcuts in Windows 10;

  • File - which contains a link to a program, file, or folder.
  • Internet - which contains a link to a file or website on the Internet.
  • Keyboard - which is when you press two (2) or more keys on the keyboard simultaneously.

The first two types of shortcuts (File and Internet) are small files that contain a link to a specific file, folder, or website. You can spot one of these types of shortcuts by the curled arrow overlay in the lower left-hand corner of the shortcut's icon on the Desktop or File Explorer. Shortcuts on the Start Menu do not have the curled arrow.

The third type of shortcut (Keyboard) is when you use a combination of keys on your keyboard to start a program or action. Usually, these are applications or actions that you use frequently. You can even add keyboard shortcuts to File shortcuts on your Desktop.

File and Internet shortcuts

As I said before, File and Internet shortcuts are just files with different extensions. File shortcuts have a .lnk extension, Internet shortcuts use .url extensions.

File and Internet shortcuts on the Desktop, Taskbar, and the Tiles section of the Start menu are relatively easy to create. To learn how to create File and Internet shortcuts quickly, check out the following article.

How to create a shortcut in Windows 10

Creating shortcuts in the Start menu's application list can be challenging only because the location where Start menu shortcuts is hidden by default. But if you want to learn more on how to customize the Start menu, check out the following article.

How to customize the Start menu in Windows 10

Keyboard shortcuts

When it comes right down to it, Keyboard shortcuts are the fastest way to open various programs and settings in Windows 10. You do not have to go hunting for a Desktop icon or open the Start menu.

Just by pressing two or more keys simultaneously on your keyboard, you can bring up File Explorer or the Run dialog box. Using the Clipboard, you can also copy, cut or paste text or images too.

There are so many Keyboard shortcuts in Windows 10 that I cannot list them all here. So the following articles cover almost all Keyboard shortcuts there are.

Windows logo key shortcuts for Windows 10

General keyboard shortcuts

Accessibility keyboard shortcuts

Dialog box keyboard shortcuts

My favorite left hand Windows keyboard shortcuts

How to use all of the Clipboard features in Windows 10

Now the only Keyboard shortcut not covered in all of these articles are the ones you create yourself. Desktop shortcuts can also have Keyboard shortcuts associated with them too.

When it comes to shortcut keys in Desktop shortcuts, you have to remember that you can use a combination of keys and numbers on the keyboard or just numbers on the numeric keypad.

The Desktop keyboard shortcut keys use a combination of three (3) keys, with the first two keys having to be Ctrl + Alt. Desktop numeric keypad shortcut keys are a single digit.

  1. Right-click on the Desktop shortcut you want to modify and select Properties from the context menu that appears.
    The properties form of a Desktop shortcut
  2. Left-click on the Shortcut tab and left-click on the Shortcut key field.
    Keys that can be used for Desktop shortcuts
  3. Press the desired key you want to associate with the Desktop shortcut. Remember that any key you press on the keyboard will automatically add Ctrl + Alt to the key you pressed. Numeric keys have Num before the actual number key.

See the video below for more details.

How to fix the Windows 10 black screen with a white mouse cursor

Have you ever started Windows 10, and the only thing that appeared was a black screen with a white cursor? Here is how to get the Windows 10 Graphic User Interface (GUI) to appear.

How to fix the Windows 10 black screen with a white mouse cursor

Usually, when you log in to Windows 10, the Start menu, Taskbar, and the Desktop will appear with all of your favorite icons. But there may be a time when all that appears is a black screen with a white mouse cursor.

What has happened is the GUI has failed to load. And believe it or not, it is the File Explorer. But getting a GUI to appear is easy.

How to get the Graphic User Interface (GUI) to appear in Windows 10

  1. Press CTRL + ALT + DEL at the same time. This will bring up the Windows 10 lock screen.
    The Windows 10 lock screen
  2. On the Windows 10 lock screen, left-click on Task Manager.
    The Windows 10 Task Manager without running apps
  3. If when Task Manager appears, there is nothing showing but a message that says There are no running apps, left-click on the arrow next to More Details in the lower left-hand corner. Task Manager will now show all details.
    The Windows 10 Task Manager with running apps
  4. In the upper left-hand corner of Task Manager, left-click on File, then Run new task.
    The Windows 10 Task Manager Create new task dialog box
  5. In the Create new task form that appears, type in Explorer and left-click on OK.
  6. The Desktop, Start menu, and Taskbar will now appear.

Create, extract and edit archive files with 7-Zip

For decades now, we have been compressing files and folders to make them smaller to attach to an e-mail or archive. I have used many archiving programs over the years, but the best one I have found is 7-Zip.

The 7-Zip File Manager

7-Zip is one of the most straightforward archiving programs I have ever used. It can work with a ton of different file types and has a high compression rate.

7-Zip can create several different archive files, including ZIP, TAR, and of course, 7z. And it can also open over thirty (30) other archive formats, including CAB, DMG, ISO, and RAR.

The 7-Zip File Manager is straightforward to use and has a ton of features. Besides being able to create and open archive files, it can also edit them, including splitting and combining archive files.

But the best feature is the right-click context menu. You can right-click on some files or folders and quickly create an archive file from them (7z or ZIP).

The 7-Zip right-click context menu

Or you can right-click on an archive file and quickly open, extract or test it. And the cool thing is you can edit the functions that the right-click menu can perform.

7-Zip is an open-source program that began over twenty years (20) ago and is still going strong. It has been translated into over ten (10) different languages, including French, Spanish, and German.

7-Zip is available in either 32 or 64-bit versions and can run on all Windows versions from Windows XP and up. And it is free to use for either personal or commercial use.

For more information on 7-Zip, follow the link below.

7-Zip

Customer service is #1

Here at Geeks in Phoenix, we take pride in providing excellent customer service. We aim to give the highest quality of service  from computer repair, virus removal, and data recovery.

Bring your computer to us and save

Diagnosing PC problems can be time-consuming. From running memory checking software to scanning for viruses, these are processes can take some time. We base our in-shop service on the actual time we work on your computer, not the time it takes your computer to work!

Contact us

Geeks in Phoenix
Professional service at an affordable price!
4722 East Monte Vista Road
Phoenix, Arizona 85008
(602) 795-1111

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Geeks in Phoenix is an IT consulting company specializing in servicing laptop and desktop computers. Since 2008, our expert and knowledgeable technicians have provided excellent computer repair, virus removal, data recovery, photo manipulation, and website support to the greater Phoenix metro area.

At Geeks in Phoenix, we have the most outstanding computer consultants that provide the highest exceptional service in Phoenix, Paradise Valley, Scottsdale, and Tempe, Arizona. We offer in-shop, on-site, and remote (with stable Internet connection) computer support and services.

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