Glossary of Computer Terms

Page from a dictionary with definitions

Glossary, care of Stockvault

 A Brief List of Computer Terms

Address (of a website or webpage) the unique name with symbols and letters that specifies the location of a website or webpage. Its on the top of any webpage, typically. Example: https://www.youtube.com. This address tells you exactly where you are in the Internet, just like my home address in Florida, 1026 Anclote Drive, etc.

Autofill: The filling in of letters of your word search: Example, start typing “Marilyn M..” and the computer shows you a number of websites immediately below that with many articles listing “Marilyn Monroe.” Computer programs/software guess where you are going (based on where you have been in the past). Just left click the article you want and save some typing.

Backups: Copying or backing up your data files, photos, documents, audio, etc. You must do this or risk losing forever unique documents you have created. Every computer has a limited life span-even Porsches don’t last forever!

Browser: a program used to navigate the Internet. For example, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, the Edge, or Mozilla Firefox. Consider them like a Ford, a Chevy, and a Dodge car to get you on the Internet Highway.

Cache: Fast computer memory that improves the performance of a larger and slower memory or device. Also, a storage of data or files, usually temporary while you are on the Internet.

CD-R (Compact Disc-Recordable) An optical compact disc which may be written to once only.

CD-RW (Compact Disc-Rewritable) An optical compact disc which may be written on many times.

CD-ROM (Compact Disc Read-Only Memory) A pre-recorded optical compact disc which contains data or music playback. Can only be written once.

Copy-Paste Combination: Several simple steps of copying a document, folder, or text from one folder, document, etc., to another.

Cut-Paste Combination-Several simple steps of moving a document, folder, or text from one folder, document, etc., to another. See Copy-Paste above.

CPU (Central processing unit) – the portion of a computer system that executes the instructions of a computer program.

“Desktop” refers to the screen when you first open up the computer-you will see “icons”, little boxes for different programs-click an icon and it opens a document or a program.

Download-this means to receive from an outside source on the Internet like a program or update of a program. You can also “download” a document, file, image, or photo. WARNING: MAKE ABSOLUTELY SURE YOU NEED AND ASKED FOR THE PROGRAM OR SIGNED UP FOR IT. DO NOT OPEN A PROGRAM SOMEONE OR SOME COMPANY OFFERED UNLESS YOU FIRST ASKED FOR IT. YOU CAN ALSO RECEIVE DOWNLOADS FROM YOUR BANK, BROKER, ETC., BUT FIRST MAKE SURE IT’S LEGITIMATE. TOO MANY PROGRAMS ARE FAKE AND YOU CAN LOSE YOUR SSN, DOB, BANK ACCOUNT NUMBER, PASSWORDS AND THE LIKE. IF YOU ARE NOT SURE WHETHER TO DOWNLOAD AND INSTALL IT HAVE SOMEONE YOU TRUST WITH COMPUTERS LOOK AT IT AND HELP YOU INSTALL IT OR AT LEAST GIVE YOU AN OPINION IT IS SAFE OR NOT!

Downloading-this means you are receiving a document, file, or program from a website to your computer such as photos, Word documents, spreadsheets, etc. If you receive a photo in an email from your sister, that’s called downloading. Be careful because any attachment or downloaded document can be infected-see the previous paragraph.

Drives: You typically have a “C” drive, a “D” drive-usually the CD/DVD player, and possibly an “F” drive-you can have more than this depending on how your computer was set up or configured. “C” Drive houses software programs and is typically where you put documents, photos, and the like. Programs and information, data, etc. are “copied” on metal discs-these are the C Drive (and possibly F Drive). When you create a new document, copy from the internet to the computer, you are copying data on those metal discs and “saving it” to a sector or space on the computer.

Drop Down Menu: See below. Right click wherever you are to show the drop down menu and then you get a “menu” of choices you can select. Each drop down menu varies according to with where you are. Make the selection on the menu by touching the command with the cursor and left clicking. In the example below the drop down menu starts with “cut” then “copy,” etc.

Execute – to perform the specified operation or action

Favorites: This is an Internet Explorer term for Websites that you use frequently; you save the “address” of the website so you don’t have to remember its exact address. Example: the website for Bank of American is “bofa.com.” In Internet Explorer, the search for Microsoft, you open the small star at the top right of the screen and a drop menu shows all your favorites-select the one you want to open with a click, such as “Bofa.”

Fields: A unique block or space where you enter data, for example when you sign up for Gmail, you have to enter name, address, phone, password, etc., each one of these is found in a separate “field” or box. Using the tab key moves you from one field to the next, saving time.

Firewall – A hardware device or software to protect a computer from viruses, malware, Trojans, which can infect your computer, data, and even in severe cases physically damage your computer.

Flash Drive/Thumb Drive A small computer storage device that can be electrically erased and reprogrammed. Commonly used as a backup for your documents/photos to your laptop or desktop. Buy one at Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, Staples, etc., for $10-20 and copy or save/backup your files.

Freeware: The software is free-usually there is a more robust version of the program for which you will pay to use. Be careful, some “freeware” is junk, and may attempt to charge you-read the bottom line first! Also, many freeware programs have a 30 trial limit-on day 31 you either buy the full version or the trial version will stop (many times you can reinstall it).

Hard drive: This is a magnetic spinning device using metallic platters that stores programs and data.

Hardware – the physical components of a computer.

Icons-Boxes on the desktop or in folders, click them and you will open a program or document. If the icon has an arrow that faces up and to the right, it is a shortcut-the program is in another place or folder in the computer. Sorting icons-they are NOT organized alphabetically on the desktop unless you perform that task. Here’s how to do it. Move the cursor to a blank area of the screen, right click, see the drop down menu, go to the top and left click “sort” then select “sort by name.”

Input device – Used to provide data and control signals to an information processing system.

“Loading”-when you take an action or execute a command, it takes time for the computer to perform, from a second to a more than minutes. Just be patient, nothing is instantaneous with a computer.

Keyboard – like a typewriter keyboard but connected to the computer

Motherboard – the central printed circuit board (PCB) in many modern computers which holds many of the crucial components of the system, with connectors for other devices or peripherals.

Memory – Devices that are used to store data or programs on a temporary or permanent basis for use in a computer. The more memory (nowadays in gigabytes such as 4GB, 6GB or 8GB), the faster and more efficient the computer will run. 4GB is the minimum you need, add more if you can-it’s like having a Ferrari engine instead of a VW bug-cute but slow.

Monitor – Same as your TV screen but used for your computers.

Mouse – A pointing device that is moved on the mouse pad to select actions on your computer. The left mouse button is used to execute or take an action; the right button is used to find menus of actions. If there is a middle “button” it is a scroll button you use to go up and down a list of items, such as when you do a search on the internet and have, for example, 25 selections.

Multitasking: Performing more than 1 action at a time on the computer and can have several documents or webpages open at the same time. So too you can listen to music on the computer (youtube.com videos for example) and type documents, AND do web searches too going back and forth between the website(s) and document(s). This may slow down slightly the operation of the computer, but usually not by much.

Network-Two or more connected computers and devices.

Optical disc drive – A disk drive that uses laser light for reading or writing data to or from optical discs. It uses a “needle” analogous to a phonograph needle to “read” or play the data.

Operating system – Software that manages computer hardware and computer programs.

Peripheral – A device attached to a computer but not part of it, such as a printer or webcam.

Ports-these are the slots in the computer or other electronic equipment where you plug in the cables.

RAM (random-access memory) – Any form of computer data storage that allow stored data to be accessed in any order (i.e., at random). The higher the RAM on your computer, the more efficient and fast it will run-typically RAM is now at least 6 GB, if it is 4GB don’t buy the computer, it will run too slowly, unless you just want to play solitaire!

ROM (Read Only Memory) -A type of memory chip that keeps data when its power supply is switched off. Permanent unlike RAM.

Search Engine: A program that searches for and provides results by using keywords or characters. Google.com or Bing.com are examples.

Shortcuts-see also Icons. A shortcut is a small file allowing you to “find” a document, photo, or program immediately without having to hunt down the same.

“Skype” a free software program you can download from the internet, you can talk and see your brother in New York or Spain, for free in “real time.”

Social Media: Media companies that incorporate electronic devices and rapid communication in promoting services and products. This includes referrals by users or customers of friends and associates, linking groups in communicating and the like, both in business and personal associations. Main competitors include Facebook, LinkedIn (for Businesses), G+ with Google, Twitter for super short texts, and Instagram with photos.

Software – Computer programs.

Start button-(Windows 7 and XP-very old Windows versions) this button is round with 4 colors at the bottom left; left click it to open; you will see programs listed on the left, at the bottom “all programs,” which will show you the rest of the programs; to the right you will see a number of other categories you can select; finally at the bottom right of these lists you will see “shut down” (which turns off your computer)-cursor over (move the cursor) to the little carat/triangle to the right and a drop down menu will allow you to log off, restart the computer and other options.

Terminal – Electronic or electromechanical hardware used for entering data into, and displaying data from, a computer or a computing system.

Touchpad or trackpad – a pointing device with a rectangular shape/surface that translates the motion and position of a user’s fingers or a stylus to a relative position on a screen. It’s in the front middle of your keyboard, if you have one. There are also 2 buttons on the left and right to use with the touchpad. Comment: I recommend the mouse but that’s your personal choice or taste.

Uploading-this means you are copying or sending a file from your computer to another computer-files such as photos, Word documents, spreadsheets, etc. If you attach a photo to an email you are sending to your sister, that’s called uploading. Downloading is being on the receiving end.

USB flash drive – A flash memory device integrated with a USB interface. USB flash drives are typically removable and rewritable and used to make backup copies. Very inexpensive and useful-DO make backups of all your important documents-every computer dies and if you don’t make backups you will lose your documents!

USB connector-Very common wire connector from a peripheral to your computer with a “male” and “Female” side on the connector end so you can insert it only one way.

Virus – A computer program that can replicate itself and spread from one computer to another. The term “virus” is also commonly, but erroneously, used to refer to other types of malware Trojans, including but not limited to adware and spyware programs that do not have a reproductive ability. These sneaky/hidden programs can cause major harm to the operation of your computer. That’s why you need Anti-Malware/Antivirus programs to protect your computer.

Webcam – A webcam is a video camera that feeds its images in real time to a computer or computer network, often via USB, Ethernet, or Wi-Fi. For example, with the free “Skype” software program you can download from the internet, you can talk and see your brother in New York or Spain, for free in “real time.”

Website address – The unique number that specifies a memory location, like your home street address, but it starts with http://www…. This is found at the top of the screen when you are on the internet. Example, Http//www.yahoo.com.

Wikipedia.com: An online encyclopedia of articles written on any kind of subject-it’s free and quite useful.

Window: A screen or picture on your monitor-it can take up part or all of the space of the screen.

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