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Installing Computer Software

How to Install Computer Software

Normally modern software will take you through the installation process through easy to  follow  steps. Once you insert the CD or run downloaded software from the internet it will  automatically launch the software installation prompt which takes the user through the installation process. But as with anything computer related it may not always go as planned and sometimes you might need to manually install software, especially if there are any custom preferences or a different location it needs to be installed in. Most of the hardware like removable drives, printers, cameras etc. require software called drivers to enable them to work properly. These drivers come with the hardware, or Windows may have them inbuilt in its Operating System.


Many people have problems with the installation of software and it is no wonder really. Software manufacturers are even more numerous than hardware manufacturers and as a result, the number of interpretations of compatibility is even higher than for most things. That is not to say that the software is not compatible, but often this can depend on the machine running the precise configurations that the manufacturer had in mind when the  software was developed. Always check installation guidelines carefully before beginning to load software. Most software should have a Readme.doc or Readme.txt file or similar. This file often contains information on any late technical developments that were not included in the written notes that came with the software.

Boot Disk

A boot disk is a removable digital data storage medium from which a computer can load  and run (boot) an operating system or utility program. On most systems the computer will boot up by following the procedures saved in its’ start up autoexec.bat and config.sys files. These files direct the computer to access certain areas of the HDD which contain the Operating System and any other programs that are required. This might include certain drivers, such as the mouse driver and perhaps some memory resident drivers which will boot up every time the computer is turned on. Sometimes these files and resident programs will cause conflicts, or alternatively use up too much memory, so that installed software will not operate.

A boot disk can often solve this problem quite easily. Instead of booting the computer as  usual from the hard disk, a boot disk is used and the autoexec.bat and config.sys files are altered to allow compatibility with the relevant software. No long-term changes need to be made to the actual system which will return to its normal configuration as soon as it is restarted without the boot disk being used. Many software programs include a function to make a boot disk in the install directory. This will write and save the correct autoexec.bat and config.sys to a blank disk that you provide.

Modern PCs are configured to boot from various devices since they do not come with a floppy drive.  If your computer is not booting up, you will have to enter the BIOS setup function to change the boot order from the CD ROM, which will then run the operating system. Also, PCs these days will come with a recovery disk or will have an option for you to create a recovery disk. This is useful when your operating system becomes corrupted and you need to recover it to a previous state. Always make sure that you have some form of recovery should your PC fail.

Technical Support

When  purchasing  software  it  pays  to  go  with  a  reputable  manufacturer.  Most established computer companies provide technical support for their products and often will include either a telephone or internet contact for their technical support department.

It is a good idea to write down your current config.sys and autoexec.bat files as well as any  error  messages you might be receiving during the installation or running of a program.

Using Manuals

Whenever you buy a computer or a new program, you will get a series of leaflets and manuals (e.g. Installation Guide, Reference Guide, training guide etc).  These are all important and should not be ignored, however, it is rarely important to read everything from cover to cover. The Reference Guide is usually just something to refer to when you have a specific problem.

The installation Guide or instructions ARE IMPORTANT and should be read and followed thoroughly. Don't try to use the program or equipment until the Installation Guide has been read through at least once, and understood.

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