Some Commonly Used IT Terms and Their Meaning.

Here are some commonly used IT Terms (not a complete list by far) that may come in handy when trying to describe an issue you are having.

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If we are talking to you and you do not understand the terminology, please ask us to explain so we can make sure the problem is clearly understood..

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The transmission capacity of the lines that carry the Internet’s electronic traffic. The greater the bandwidth, the more data can be moved at one time. Lack of bandwidth can impose severe limitations on the ability of the Internet to quickly deliver information.

Stands for Basic Input/Output System. The BIOS gives the computer a little built-in starter kit to run the rest of software’s from floppy disks (FDD) and hard disks (HDD). The BIOS is responsible for booting the computer by providing a basic set of instructions.

Starting up an operating system. If the computer is already running, it is more often called rebooting.

A section of memory or the Hard Drive where data can be stored for rapid or frequent access.

Client / Server:-
Computer technology that separates computers and their users into two categories. When you want information from a computer on the Internet, you are a client. The computer that delivers the information is the server. A server both stores information and makes it available to any authorized client who requests the information.

A piece of information sent by a web server to a web browser and saved to the computer. These “cookies” can then be used at a later date to restore the information when the web server is accessed again. Cookies are usually set to expire after a predetermined amount of time.

Central Processing Unit. In a microcomputer, a processor on an IC chip (called a microprocessor) serves as the heart of the computer. It interprets and carries out instructions, performs numeric computations, and controls the peripherals connected to it. Often the entire system unit is called the CPU.

Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol. This protocol provides a mechanism for allocating IP addresses dynamically so that addresses can be reused. Often used for managing the IP addresses of all the cable modems in a cable plant and the PC’s connected to the cable modems.

An Internet account that connects a PC directly to the Internet. These accounts use a software application to connect to an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and establish a TCP/IP link to the Internet. To access a dial-in connection, a PC needs either a modem to connect via a regular phone line or a terminal adapter (TA) to connect via an ISDN phone line.

Dynamic Link Library. A file of functions, compiled, linked, and saved separately from the processes that use them. Functions in DLL’s can be used by more than one running process. The operating system maps the DLL’s into the process’s address space when the process is started up or while it is running. Dynamic link libraries are stored in files with the .DLL file extension.

DNS (Domain Name Server):-
A computer running a program that converts domain names into IP addresses and vice versa. Domain Name Servers (also known as Name Servers) are the backbone of the Internet.Domain Name:-
A unique name that identifies an Internet site. A domain name is the Internet’s way of translating a numeric IP address into an easy-to-remember combination of words and numbers. A given machine may have more than one domain name, but a given domain name points to only one machine. For example, the domain names “”, “” and “” can all refer to the same machine, but each domain name can refer to no more than one machine.

The process of transferring data from a remote computer to a local computer. When you copy a file from a computer on the Internet to your computer, you are “downloading” that file.

A program that controls a device. Every device, whether it be a printer, disk drive, or keyboard, must have a driver program. Many drivers, such as the keyboard driver, come with the operating system. For other devices, you may need to load a new driver when you connect the device to your computer. A driver acts like a translator between the device and programs that use the device. Each device has its own set of specialized commands that only its driver knows.

Encryption is the process of converting data into “unreadable code” so that unauthorized people cannot understand the content. Encryption may be used to make stored data private (e.g., data that is stored on a potentially vulnerable hard disk), or to allow a nonsecure communications channel to serve as a private communications channel. Encryption is sometimes described as the process of converting plaintext into ciphertext. To decipher the message, the receiver of the encrypted data must have the proper decryption key.

A networking system that enables high speed data communication over coaxial cables. The Ethernet network system supports TCP/IP, AppleTalk, Novell Netware, and other network protocols. An Ethernet (LAN) connection is 10 Mbit/s or 100 Mbit/s, and is used to connect many computers that can all “talk” directly to each other. Normally they will all talk with a few servers and printers, but the network is all-to-all.

Fiber Optic:-
An alternative to copper wire for transmitting information. In fiber optics, pulses of light representing binary data are flashed along a flexible glass fiber. The advantage over copper wiring is that a single strand of optical fiber can carry thousands and thousands of different frequencies at once without data loss.

A combination of hardware and software that separates a LAN into two or more parts for security purposes. A firewall is commonly used to separate a network from the Internet.

Software (programs or data) that has been written onto read-only memory (ROM). Firmware is a combination of software and hardware. ROMs, PROMs and EPROMs that have data or programs recorded on them are firmware.

Software that is available for download and unlimited use without charge.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol):-
A common method of moving files between two Internet sites. Most FTP sites require a login name and password before files can be retrieved or sent.

Hardware or software set up to translate between two different protocols. For example, Prodigy has a gateway that translates between its internal email format and Internet email format. Another definition of gateway is any mechanism for providing access to another system. For example, AOL might be called a gateway to the Internet.

A thousand (technically 2^10 or 1024) Megabytes.

GUI Graphical User Interface:-
A GUI is a software “front end” which lets the user use pictures and “point-and-click” technology to access the software application. It allows a computer user to interact with the computer by manipulating graphic representations (icons) with a mouse or other pointing device instead of typing text commands.

The process by which two devices initiate communications. Handshaking begins when one device sends a message to another device indicating that it wants to establish a communication channel. The two devices then send several messages back and forth that enable them to agree on a communications protocol.

Any computer on a network that is a repository for services available to other computers on the network. It is common to have one host machine provide several services, such as WWW and USENET.

HTML (HyperText Markup Language):-
The language used to build hypertext documents on the World Wide Web(WWW). They are nothing more than plain ASCII-text documents interpreted (or rendered) by a web browser to display formatted text and fonts, color, graphic images, and links.

HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol):-
The protocol for moving hypertext (HTML) files across the Internet. This requires a HTTP client program on one end and a HTTP server program on the other end. HTTP is the most important protocol used on the WWW.

Text in a document that contains a link to other text. Hypertext is used in Windows help programs and CD encyclopedias as well as web pages to link and reference related information across documents.

This is any type of point where two different things come together. Most often, the term is used to describe the programs between you and your computer like Windows, OS/2 and others. What you see on the screen is the interface between you and what your computer is doing.

The vast collection of inter-connected networks that evolved from the ARPANET of the late 60’s and early 70’s.

Internet Explorer:-
A web browser developed by Microsoft Corporation that displays HTML and other information found on the Internet.

A network inside a company or organization that uses the same kind of software found on the Internet, but is only for internal use. A company web server available only to employees would be an Intranet.

ISP (Internet Service Provider):-
A business that provides access to the Internet and WWW in some form, usually for pay.

A network-oriented programming language invented by Sun Microsystems specifically designed for creating programs that can be downloaded to your computer from a web page and immediately run. Using small Java programs (“applets”), Web pages can include features such as animations, calculators and other fancy or interactive tricks.

A thousand (technically, 2^10 or 1024) bytes.

LAN (Local Area Network):-
A computer network restricted to a limited area, usually the same building or a floor of a building. Office computers are typically connected to a LAN.

Abbreviation of Liquid Crystal Display, a type of display used in digital watches and many portable computers.

A million bytes or a thousand (technically 2^10 or 1024) kilobytes.

A network is created any time two or more computers are connected together to share resources. When two or more networks are connected, it becomes a network.

Network Adapter:-
This is a hardware unit that connects a device to a communication line. For wide area networks (WAN), these adapters connect routers to the specific type of connection (T1, BRI) that is installed. For local area networks (LAN), these adapters connect workstations to the LAN (Ethernet or TokenRing) cabling.

Network Card:-
Network Interface Card or NIC. This is a component of a computer that enables the computer to communicate with other computers via a direct network connection.

Any single computer connected to a network.

Short for NT File System. NTFS has features to improve reliability, such as transaction logs to help recover from disk failures. To control access to files, you can set permissions for directories and/or individual files.

Operating System (OS):-
The most important program that runs on a computer. Operating systems perform basic tasks, such as recognizing input from the keyboard, sending output to the display screen, keeping track of files and directories on the disk, controlling peripheral devices such as disk drives and printers, and ensuring unauthorized users do not access the system.

A chunk of data. The TCP/IP protocol breaks large data files into smaller “packets” for transmission over the Internet. When the data reaches its destination, the protocol makes sure that all packets arrived without error.

Packet Switching:-
A method of moving data around the Internet that allows many people to use the same lines at the same time. In packet switching, all data being transferred from a machine is broken into packets, with each packet having the address of its origin and destination. This enables packets from different sources to be simultaneously transferred, sorted and directed on the same line.

Peer to Peer:-
A type of network in which each workstation has equivalent capabilities and responsibilities. This differs from client/server architectures, in which some computers are dedicated to serving the others. Peer-to-peer networks are generally simpler and less expensive, but they usually do not offer the same performance under heavy loads.

Any external device attached to a computer. Examples of peripherals include printers, disk drives, display monitors, keyboards, and mice.

A program for determining if another computer is presently connected to the Internet.

A small piece of software that adds features to a larger software application. Common plug-ins are those for web browsers (RealAudio, Quick Time, flash, shockwave etc.)

Short for Plug and Play, a technology developed by Microsoft and Intel that supports plug-and-play installation. PnP is built into the Windows operating system.

POP (“Point Of Presence” or “Post Office Protocol”):-
A Point of Presence usually refers to a city or location where a network can be connected to. For example, if an Internet company says they have a POP in Vancouver, this means they have a local telephone number in Vancouver and/or a place where leased lines can connect to their network. A second definition, Post Office Protocol, refers to the way email software (such as Eudora) retrieves mail from a mail server.

Port (3 definitions):-
First and most frequently, a port is where information goes into and/or out of a computer, such as the serial port on a PC. Secondly, a “port” often refers to the number appearing after the colon (:) in a domain name, such as Thirdly, to “port” something refers to translating a piece of software from one computer platform to another (for example, from Windows to Macintosh).

A processor is a device that processes programmed instructions and performs tasks. Your processor sends and receives information from the different parts of the system (from hardware and software). The speed at which the CPU processes information internally is measured in MegaHertz (MHz) and GigaHertz (GHz). 1 GHz is equal to 1,000 MHz.

Computer rules that provide uniform specifications so that all computer hardware and operating systems can communicate with each other.

A computer or software package that handles the connection between 2 or more networks. Routers spend all their time looking at the destination addresses of the packets passing through them to decide which route to send them on.

Software that is available on a limited free trial basis. Some shareware applications are fully featured products, while others may have disabled features to encourage purchase of the full (“registered”) version.

Spam (or Spamming):-
To send a message or advertisement to a large number of people who did not request the information, or to repeatedly send the same message to a single person. “Spamming” is considered very poor Netiquette.

SQL (Structured Query Language):-
A specialized programming language for sending queries to databases. Each application will have its own version of SQL-implementing features unique to that application, but all SQL-capable databases will support a common subset of SQL.

A connection capable of transferring data at 1,544,000 bps. At maximum capacity, a T-1 line could move a megabyte in less than 10 seconds.

A leased-line connection capable of transferring data at 44,736,000 bps. This is fast enough to view full-screen, full-motion video, which requires a transfer rate of at least 10,000,000 bits-per-second.

TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol):-
This is the suite of protocols that defines the Internet. Originally designed for the UNIX operating system, TCP/IP software is not available for every major computer operating system. To connect to the Internet, a computer must have TCP/IP software.

A thousand (technically 2^10 or 1024) Gigabytes.

Terminal Server:-
A special-purpose computer with places to plug in several modems on one side, and a connection to a LAN or host machine on the other side. The terminal server does the work of passing connections on to the appropriate node. Most terminal servers can provide PPP or SLIP services if connected to the Internet.

The most common operating system for servers on the Internet. UNIX systems are designed to be used by many people at the same time and have TCP/IP built in.

The process of transferring data from a local computer to a remote computer. When you copy a file from your computer to a computer on the Internet, you are “uploading” that file.

VPN (Virtual Private Network):-
Virtual Private Network is a network that is constructed by using public wires to connect nodes. For example, there are a number of systems that enable you to create networks using the Internet as the medium for transporting data. These systems use encryption and other security mechanisms to ensure that only authorized users can access the network and that the data cannot be intercepted.


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