Computer Terms Glossary

Computer Glossary | Dictionary and glossary of computer terms defined in an easy to understand manner

  • Application program: A computer program that accomplishes a task or a group of tasks. Examples are work processors and spreadsheets.
  • Anti-spyware : A program that helps to block and prevent spyware and other malware infections on a computer.  It can also monitor incoming data from email, websites, and downloads of files and stop spyware programs from getting a foothold in the computer operating system (SEE malware, spyware)
  • Antivirus Program : also known as antivirus software it is a software program designed to protect your computer or network against computer viruses. If a virus is detected, the computer will display a warning asking what action should be taken, often giving the options to remove, ignore, or move the file
  • Bandwidth : Describes network speed. The maximum data transfer rate of a network or Internet connection 2. measures how much data can be sent over a specific connection in a given amount of time EXAMPLES: A gigabyte Ethernet (SEE Ethernet, gigabyte) connection has a bandwidth of 1,000 Mbps (megabits per second). An Internet connection via cable modem may provide 25 Mbps of bandwidth.
  • BIOS : basic input output system of the system…. it is attached to the motherboard
  • Bit: Stands for binary digit. The amount of information obtained by asking a yes-or-no question. The smallest unit of information on a computer system, stored as a 0 or a 1.
  • Browser : A software program that allows a person to explore the Internet in an easy-to-use way Examples include: FireFox, Safari, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Chrome, Opera
  • Byte: Data is stored on a computer in bytes. A byte is equivalent to one character, such as a letter or a number. A byte is made up of 8 consecutive bits.
    • 1,000 bytes=1 kilobyte (K or KB)
    • 1,000 KB=1 megabyte (MB)
    • 1,000 MB=1 gigabyte (GB)
    • 1,000 GB=1 Terabyte (TB)
  • Cache: Cache is another type of memory kindred to RAM. Cache is used by the computer to quickly move data between the RAM and the CPU.
  • CD-ROM: A removable disk that stores data. A CD-ROM can only be read. You cannot record (save) data onto it. (However, you can record onto a CD-Rewritable disk.) Often called a CD for short. A CD looks like a music CD, but hold data instead of music. However, you can generally play music CDs on your computer CD drive (if you like to listen to music while you work).
  • CD-R Compact Disc-Recordable; a variation of the optical compact disc which may be written to once.
  • Cloaking : the technique of hiding something or giving a false appearance.  It’s the primary method by which most malware infects a computer (SEE malware) Eg: malware disguises itself as an antivirus program when in reality it is a virus
  • Cloud Computing : The method of delivering services over a network by a collection of servers.  It  allows visiting users to access programs and services anywhere with Internet access without having to install other software on their local computer.   Examples include: Amazon Web Services, Google Docs, Google Calendar, online backup services (cloud storage), Dropbox, Mozy and more.
  • Computer: a collection of electronic parts put together so that the computer can run software programs that perform certain tasks. A computer takes input, manipulates data, stores data, and displays data.
  • Compression : the process of taking one or more files and shrinking the overall size, making them into smaller files, to enable easier downloading and sharing. Example might be a Zip file ( .zip )
  • CPU: The CPU, or central processing unit, is the brains of the computer. Also known as processor or microprocessor
  • Cursor: A graphical object on the screen that indicates your current position. A mouse has a cursor. Many programs have their own cursors.
  • Diskette: Same as a floppy disk.
  • Driver : Group of files that enable one or more hardware devices to communicate with the computer’s operating system .  It’s software that allows computer hardware, such as printers, to work with the operating system
  • DVD (Digital Versatile Disc): A technology that stores more information than a CD-ROM and can be written upon. The disk resembles a CD-ROM but has 7 times the storage capacity.
  • Emoticon : text-based faces and objects that are often seen in emails and online chat that help give the reader a sense of the writer’s feelings behind the text EXAMPLES: : ) Happy, : p Sticking Tongue Out, @—>—>–  Long Stem Rose, -_- Annoyed
  • Ethernet : The most common type of connection computers use in a local area network (aka LAN)
  • Ethernet Port : A computer port resembling a regular telephone jack, but slightly wider, used to connect a computer to another computer, a local network, or an external DSL or cable modem
  • External Hard Drive : Hard drives are used to back up data from a user’s computer and allow the information to be taken on the road. They expand the total amount of space available to a user
  • File: a collection of data with a name.
  • Firewall : A software utility or hardware device that limits outside network access to a computer or local network by blocking or restricting ports on your computer.  Firewalls help prevent unauthorized access to a company or home network
  • Firmware : software program or set of instructions programmed on a hardware device that provides necessary instructions for how the device communicates with other computer hardware
  • Floppy disk drive: The mechanism that reads a floppy disk. (On a PC often called the a: drive.)
  • Floppy disk: A storage medium for data that you can remove from your computer. It isn’t floppy; rather it is hard and doesn’t bend. (In earlier days there were floppy disks that were bendable and the name stuck.)
  • Gigabyte: 1,000 megabytes. Abbreviated as GB.
  • Graphical User Interface (GUI): a program that helps you more easily work with your operating system and application programs by providing pictures and visual clues to help you work. Windows is a GUI. So is Mac OS.
  • Hard drive: The mechanism that reads the hard disk. (On a PC, sometimes called the c: drive.)
  • Hard disk space: The amount of permanent storage of data, measured in bytes. This storage is maintained whether the computer is on or off
  • Hard disk: A storage medium for data inside your computer.
  • Hardware: any part of the computer that you can physically touch. It includes parts that are attached to the computer, called peripherals (monitor, printer, mouse, keyboard, modem, scanner).
  • IP Address : Internet Protocol Address. (Also known as an IP number or IP.) 2. address of a computer or other network device assigned to your computer by a router (SEE router) and later updated by an Internet Service Provider once the user has connected to the Internet 3. code that is made up of numbers separated by three dots that identifies a particular computer on the Internet. Every computer requires an IP address to connect to the Internet
  • Keyboard: What you use to type in text or other data. Like the keyboard of a typewriter. (Do you know what a typewriter is?)
  • Kilobyte: 1,000 bytes. Abbreviated as K or KB.
  • Megabyte: 1,000,000 bytes or 1,000 kilobytes. Abbreviated as MB.
  • Megahertz (MHz): The clock speed of the microprocessor. The higher the number, the quicker the information is processed. MHz relates to how many millions of instructions can be processed per second.
  • Memory (RAM): The amount of temporary storage of data that you can use at one time. Memory storage closes down when you turn off the computer. For this reason, you need to save your work before you turn off the computer. Saving transfers data from RAM to a hard or floppy disk.Memory is typically measured in megabytes (MBs).When your computer has more memory, it can hold more programs open at one time and handle more complicated processes, such as 3D graphics and animation.
  • Modem: A means of transferring data via a phone line, usually via the Internet. It can be attached internally or externally. Some modems can also be used for faxing and as an answering machine.
  • Monitor: The box with a screen that displays the data on your computer, so you can see what you are doing. Larger monitors cost more. Currently the most common size is 17″ or 19.” Monitors vary not only in their size, but in the resolution they can support. (See Resolution.) There are two monitor types: CRT and LCD. The majority of desktop monitors are CRTs, but the new, thin, and more expensive LCD monitors are beginning to appear on some desktops. Monitors emit radiation, so you shouldn’t sit too close!
  • Motherboard: The circuit board that everything in the computer plugs into. The CPU, RAM and cache all plug into the motherboard.
  • Mouse: A peripheral that you use to point at or move over objects on your screen. Moving the mouse moves the mouse cursor on the screen so you can see what you’re pointing at. The mouse has one (Mac) or two (PC) buttons. You click the button to choose an item on the screen. You double-click (click twice rapidly in succession) to open programs or windows.
  • Multitasking: the ability to do more than one task at a time. Since you can actually only do one thing at a time, it really means that the computer can have more than one program in memory at one time, but only one can be fully active. However, inactive programs can be processing data or doing other tasks in the background.
  • Network: A group of two or more computers linked together.
  • NIC (Network Interface Card): A card that goes in your computer and lets you connect to a network.
  • Operating system: tells the computer how to operate. It is a middleman (or woman) between the hardware and the application programs that you use to do your work. It gives you access to the files on your computer, loads application programs into memory, and closes programs.
  • Peripheral: Anything that attaches to your computer, such as a keyboard, printer, mouse, or external modem.
  • Port: A connector on your computer that lets you connect a device, such as a monitor, disk drive, mouse, printer, or keyboard. Some common types of ports are: serial for connecting a modem or mouse; parallel port for connecting a printer, scanner, digital camera, ZIP drive, or other device; SCSI for connecting any device made for a SCSI port (all Macs come with a SCSI port); and USB for connecting a scanner, digital camera, printer or any device made for a USB port (most newer PCs and Macs have a USB port).
  • RAM: See Memory.
  • Resolution: The degree of sharpness, or clarity, of what you see on a computer screen. The resolution on computer monitors is measured by the number of dots, or pixels, of color that are displayed across and down the screen. For instance, 800×600-pixel resolution means that there are 800 dots of color across each of 600 rows down the screen.  If your monitor can go up to 1,280×1,024 but your video system can only handle 800×600, you won’t be able to take advantage of the monitors 1,280 x 1,024 resolution.
  • Scanner: This peripheral can copy written documents, pictures or photographs directly into your computer, converting them to digital files. There are three types of scanners: handheld, hopper-feed and flatbed. Recently flatbed scanner prices have gone way down, so that you can buy one for $100-$200.
  • Screen resolution. The number of horizontal and vertical pixels on a display screen. The more pixels, the more information is visible without scrolling. Screen resolutions have a pixel count such as 1600×1200, which means 1,600 horizontal pixels and 1,200 vertical pixels.
  • Software: any program/application that helps operate the computer or accomplish certain tasks.
  • Solid-state drive (or solid-state disk or electronic disk) a data storage device that uses integrated circuit assemblies as memory to store data persistently. It has no moving parts.
  • Sound Card: This device allows your computer to reproduce music, sounds and voices. Make sure you have a sound card if you’re planning to play multimedia games. Many Web sites also include music or sound, requiring a sound card.
  • System Unit (the computer itself): The box that contains the inner workings of the computer.
  • Video Card: The part of the computer that sends the images to the monitor.
  • Wi-Fi : Wireless Local Area Network . Name of a popular wireless networking technology that uses radio waves to provide wireless high-speed Internet and network connections
  • ZIP drive: A mechanism for reading ZIP disks. ZIP disks are similar to floppy disks but hold a lot more data. They are produced by Iomega, Inc.