Handy List of Computer Terms

This page is a Dictionary of computer networking terms and definitions of other various PC terminology.

Access Point:

Hardware device used to transmit a wireless signal to create or extend a network range. Works on multiple protocols and various speeds depending on the type. Search Access Point

Adapter:
Hardware that is added to your computer to add functionality, such as a Network adapter or Display adapter. Uses many types of interfaces and could refer to anything that connections to your pc. Search Adapter

Adware/spyware:
Software that gets installed on your computer (not always with your knowledge) and tracks information about your internet habits, using that data to request pop-ups redirect your internet browsing. Search Adware/Spyware

Anti-Virus:
Software that is list of known “bad” programs that can attack your computer causing permanent damage, the software is only as effective as up-to-date the list is, making updates essential.

Browser:
Program used to view webpages, by “translating” HTML code into images, text, and links to display internet pages. Examples are Internet Explore, Mozilla, Opera, or Netscape. Search Browser

CAT-5:
Type of cabling used to connect/network computers together by using Ethernet technologies. Also see CAT-5 E (enhanced). Search CAT-5

Cable:
In terms of internet connection, Cable is using the cable company’s infrastructure to bring data from the internet to your home, typically shared between a regional group of subscribers.

Client Manager:
Software that is used to configure wireless communications between two devices. Controls encryption and authentication settings. Windows XP has built-in software for this other operating systems require a simple install. Search Client Manager

Device Drivers:
Software that tells your computer how it is going to communicate with the hardware that’s connected to it. Usually comes on a disc with the hardware and vendors have updates available for better performance. Search Drivers

DHCP
Dynamic Host Control Protocol is the technolgy used to automatically assign IP addresses to all the computers on a network and make sure each one is different. Usually set to automatic on a home network, unless you need a static address that never changes. Search DHCP

DNS:
Domain Name System is the technology used on the internet to change a computer’s IP address into an alphabet name, which makes them easier to understand and remember. This is almost always set to automatic for a home network. Search DNS

DSL:
Digital Subscriber Line is a form of high speed internet which uses the phone company’s existing phone lines that come into your home. Ussually has several different speeds to choose from, but is an older type of connection and can be less reliable. Search DSL

Ethernet:
In terms of this website ethernet refers to the technology used to connect pc’s to one another using CAT-5 cabling and network cards; or a wired connection. Search Ethernet

File and Printer Sharing:
A feature built into Windows operating systems that allows resources such as Files or Printers to be shared on a network between different pc’s. A file that is stored on one computer can be accessed from another computer. Search File and Printer Sharing

Firewall:
Software that runs in the background on your pc and controls which applications can access the internet. Without a firewall spyware and virus’s can attempt to connect without your knowledge. Search Firewall

Gateway:
Ussually a hardware device that represents the computers connection to the internet. Or the last device that connects to outside your home network; Also known as a Default Gateway. Search Gateway

HPNA:
The technology used to create a computer network by sending data through the existing telephone wiring in your homes walls. An older technology that is not as reliable or fast as other choices. Search HPNA

Hub:
A hardware device used to expand the number of ethernet connections available, not a “smart” device such as switch or router; so it will not make decisions on network traffic, it will only broadcast data on all ports. Search Hub

IP address:
Similar the address for a house, it’s used to determine which computer is which. All devices on a network have an address in the form of 4 numbers seperated by dots; such as 192.168.1.5 – which is an example of private address used for home networking. You can’t change your external/public facing IP address but you can hide it behind a proxy for example to enjoy British TV overseas online.

ISP:
Internet Service Provider is company you pay for your internet connection, can be a Telephone, Cable or others. The ISP can determine what speed you connect at based on what they charge. Search ISP

LAN:
Local Area Network is common term in the networking world used to describe a small “local” network of computers. Used as a way to segment larger networks geographically and define smaller sections of networks. Search LAN

Modem:
Hardware device used to change take the information from the internet and convert it into something a computer can understand and use. Modem stands for modulator/demodulator because it changes data so that it can be “carried” across network and changes it back again at the next modem. Search Modem

Network Interface Card:
Otherwise referred to as a NIC, this is an expansion card you insert into your computer in order to give it a way to connect to a network, could be an Ehternet card with a RJ-45 connection, or could be a wireless card, or a HPNA card – the most common type is a PCI card with a Ethernet connection. ┬áComplex devices such as Instagram proxies will be multi-homed and usually have multiple of these devices.

PCI card:
Peripheral Component Interconnect is one of most common types of connections on your motherboard, for adding internal devices. PCI adapters/cards can be used to connect networking devices, additional ports, sound cards, and some older video cards. Search PCI

PCMCIA:
Personal Computer Memory Card International Association is the term for the connection that laptops use to interface/communicate with add-on cards that slide into the slots on the side; such as network adapters, modems, harddrives, or memory. PCMCIA comes in three different sizes: Types I, II, and III. Search PCMCIA

Router:
A Hardware device that acts as the “conductor” of a network, directing all traffic as where it should be going by using information such as TCP/IP addresses. The router is usually the device that assigns each network device it’s address and is responsible for your wireless security, based on it’s configurations. Search Router

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