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Configuration is the manner in which components are arranged to make up the computer system. Configuration consists of both hardware and software components. Sometimes, people specifically point to hardware arrangement as hardware configuration and to software components as software configuration. Understanding of computer configuration is important as for certain hardware or software applications, a minimum configuration are required.
With the advent of plug and play technology, most configurations can be performed automatically in the case of software configurations. The quality of performance and life of the computer or device depends on its configuration. Most important aspects of a configuration are the speed of the processor, speed and stability provided by the motherboard, speed and size of storage, graphical display and software drivers. Some hardware or software applications have certain minimum configuration in order to provide the minimum performance. At times, this involves the addition of hardware or software accessories, commonly known as upgrades.
Information about configurations can be obtained from the operating system. For example, in the case of Windows-based operating systems, on selecting the "Properties" option on "My Computer," information on the operating system version, processor details and RAM information are provided. The same information about the computer configuration can be obtained through the command "msinfo32" in an MS-DOS prompt.
In the case of software, configuration can also refer to the application's settings. These settings can either be set by default, or configured manually by the user.
Information about configuration allows users to determine whether a particular application can be run or not. It could also aid in decisions on upgrading or purchasing a new system in order to execute certain applications. Configuration information can aid users in optimal usage of the system in order to prolong the performance and life of the system.