Software & Devices

The information technology world is full of technical jargon that can leave consumers scratching their heads. Without condescension, Loyal IT aims to make our world a little easier to navigate by explaining what some of the lingo is referring to.

All-in-One

A monitor with the desktop components in the back, hidden from view. This gives the system the appearance of just being a monitor, when it is actually a fully functioning system. These systems are available in touch screen and non-touch screen versions.

Application

An application, or application program, is a software program that runs on your computer. Web browsers, e-mail programs, word processors, games, and utilities are all applications. The word "application" is used because each program has a specific application for the user. For example, a word processor can help a student create a research paper, while a video game can prevent the student from getting the paper done.

Architecture

The word "architecture" typically refers to building design and construction. In the computing world, "architecture" also refers to design, but instead of buildings, it describes the design of computer systems. Computer architecture is a broad topic that includes everything from the relationship between multiple computers (such as a "client-server" model) to specific components inside a computer.

Backup

A backup is a copy of one or more files created as an alternate in case the original data is lost or becomes unusable. For example, you may save several copies of a research paper on your hard drive as backup files incase you decide to use a previous revision. Better yet, you could save the backups to a USB flash disk, which would also protect the files if the hard drive failed.

Big Data

The phrase "big data" is often used in enterprise settings to describe large amounts of data. It does not refer to a specific amount of data, but rather describes a dataset that cannot be stored or processed using traditional database software.

Cloud

The term "cloud" comes from early network diagrams, in which the image of a cloud was used to indicate a large network, such as a WAN. The cloud eventually became associated with the entire Internet, and the two terms are now used synonymously. The cloud may also be used to describe specific online services, which are collectively labeled "cloud computing."

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing refers to applications and services offered over the Internet. These services are offered from data centers all over the world, which collectively are referred to as the "cloud." This metaphor represents the intangible, yet universal nature of the Internet.

Commercial Software

Computer software comes in three different flavors: freeware, shareware, and commercial software. Freeware is free to use and does not require any payment from the user. Shareware is also free to use, but typically limits the program's features or the amount of time the software can be used unless the user purchases the software. Commercial software requires payment before it can be used, but includes all the program's features, with no restrictions or time limits.

CPU

Stands for "Central Processing Unit." The CPU is the primary component of a computer that processes instructions. It runs the operating system and applications, constantly receiving input from the user or active software programs. It processes the data and produces output, which may stored by an application or displayed on the screen.

Data

Computer data is information processed or stored by a computer. This information may be in the form of text documents, images, audio clips, software programs, or other types of data. Computer data may be processed by the computer's CPU and is stored in files and folders on the computer's hard disk.

Data Management

Data management is a general term that covers a broad range of data applications. It may refer to basic data management concepts or to specific technologies. Some notable applications include 1) data design, 2) data storage, and 3) data security.

Data Design

Data design, or data architecture, refers to the way data is structured.

Data Storage

Data storage refers to the many different ways of storing data. This includes hard drives, flash memory, optical media, and temporary RAM storage.

Data Security

Data security involves protecting computer data. Many individuals and businesses store valuable data on computer systems. It is also important to backup your data so that you will be able to recover your files in case your primary storage device fails.

Desktop

The desktop is the primary user interface of a computer. When you boot up your computer, the desktop is displayed once the startup process is complete. It includes the desktop background (or wallpaper) and icons of files and folders you may have saved to the desktop. In Windows, the desktop includes a task bar, which is located at the bottom of the screen by default. In Mac OS X, the desktop includes a menu bar at the top of the screen and the Dock at the bottom.

Enterprise

In the IT world, enterprise refers to large businesses and organizations. It is often used to describe hardware, software, and technical services that are aimed at business customers.

Ethernet

Ethernet is the standard way to connect computers on a network over a wired connection. It provides a simple interface and for connecting multiple devices, such computers, routers, and switches. With a single router and a few Ethernet cables, you can create a LAN, which allows all connected devices to communicate with each other.

Fiber Optic Cable

Fiber optic cable is a high-speed data transmission medium. It contains tiny glass or plastic filaments that carry light beams. Digital data is transmitted through the cable via rapid pulses of light. The receiving end of a fiber optic transmission translates the light pulses into binary values, which can be read by a computer.

Firewall

Firewall acts as a barrier between a trusted system or network and outside connections, such as the Internet.

Firmware

Firmware is a software program or set of instructions programmed on a hardware device. It provides the necessary instructions for how the device communicates with the other computer hardware. But how can software be programmed onto hardware? Good question. Firmware is typically stored in the flash ROM of a hardware device. While ROM is "read-only memory," flash ROM can be erased and rewritten because it is actually a type of flash memory.

Grid Computing

Grid computing (also called "distributed computing") is a collection of computers working together to perform various tasks. It distributes the workload across multiple systems, allowing computers to contribute their individual resources to a common goal.

GUID

Stands for "Globally Unique Identifier." A GUID is a 128-bit (16 byte) number used by software programs to uniquely identify the location of a data object. Some examples of data that include GUIDs are streaming media files, Windows registry entries, database keys, and various file types.

Hacker

While this term originally referred to a clever or expert programmer, it is now more commonly used to refer to someone who can gain unauthorized access to other computers. A hacker can "hack" his or her way through the security levels of a computer system or network.

Hardware

Computer hardware refers to the physical parts of a computer and related devices. Internal hardware devices include motherboards, hard drives, and RAM. External hardware devices include monitors, keyboards, mice, printers, and scanners.

Honeypot

A honeypot is a security system designed to detect and counteract unauthorized access or use of a computer system. The name "honeypot" is used in reference to the way the system traps unauthorized users, such as hackers or spammers so they can be identified and prevented from causing further problems.

iCloud

iCloud is an online service provided by Apple. It provides an email account, online storage, and backup services. It also allows you to share data between devices, such as Macs, iPhones, and iPads.

Internet

The Internet is a global wide area network that connects computer systems across the world. It includes several high-bandwidth data lines that comprise the Internet "backbone." These lines are connected to major Internet hubs that distribute data to other locations, such as web servers and ISPs.

ISO

Stands for "International Organization for Standardization." The ISO works with standards institutes from over 150 countries to develop technology and product standards. These standards lead to a more efficient, safer, and cleaner development of products. It also leads to more standardized products for consumers.

ISP

Stands for "Internet Service Provider." In order to connect to the Internet, you need an ISP.

IT

Stands for "Information Technology," and is pronounced "I.T." It refers to anything related to computing technology, such as networking, hardware, software, the Internet, or the people that work with these technologies.

Laptop

Laptop computers, also known as notebooks, are portable computers that you can take with you and use in different environments. They include a screen, keyboard, and a trackpad or trackball, which serves as the mouse. Because laptops are meant to be used on the go, they have a battery which allows them to operate without being plugged into a power outlet. Laptops also include a power adapter that allows them to use power from an outlet and recharges the battery.

Latency

This is the amount of time it takes a packet of data to move across a network connection. When a packet is being sent, there is "latent" time, when the computer that sent the packet waits for confirmation that the packet has been received. Latency and bandwidth are the two factors that determine your network connection speed.

Load Balancing

Load balancing helps make networks more efficient. It distributes the processing and traffic evenly across a network, making sure no single device is overwhelmed.

Network

When you have two or more computers connected to each other, you have a network. The purpose of a network is to enable the sharing of files and information between multiple systems. The Internet could be described as a global network of networks. Computer networks can be connected through cables, such as Ethernet cables or phone lines, or wirelessly, using wireless networking cards that send and receive data through the air.

Operating System

An operating system, or "OS," is software that communicates with the hardware and allows other programs to run. It is comprised of system software, or the fundamental files your computer needs to boot up and function. Every desktop computer, tablet, and smartphone includes an operating system that provides basic functionality for the device.

Program

A program is executable software that runs on a computer. It is similar to a script, but is often much larger in size and does not require a scripting engine to run. Instead, a program consists of compiled code that can run directly from the computer's operating system.

Proprietary Software

Proprietary is an adjective that describes something owned by a specific company or individual. In the computing world, proprietary is often used to describe software that is not open source or freely licensed. Examples include operating systems, software programs, and file formats.

Remote Access

Remote access is just what it sounds like -- the ability to access your computer from a remote location. Programs like PC Anywhere (Windows), Remote Access (Mac), and Timbuktu (Windows and Mac) allow users to control remote computers from their local machine.

Remote Desktop

Remote desktop technology makes it possible to view another computer's desktop on your computer. This means you can open folders, move files, and even run programs on the remote computer, right from your own desktop.

Remote User

In the computer world, a remote user is someone who works on a computer from a remote location.

Repository

In software development, a repository is a central file storage location. It is used by version control systems to store multiple versions of files. While a repository can be configured on a local machine for a single user, it is often stored on a server, which can be accessed by multiple users.

Router

This is a hardware device that routes data (hence the name) from a local area network (LAN) to another network connection. A router acts like a coin sorting machine, allowing only authorized machines to connect to other computer systems. Most routers also keep log files about the local network activity.

SaaS

Stands for "Software as a Service." SaaS is software that is deployed over the Internet rather than installed on a computer. It is often used for enterprise applications that are distributed to multiple users. SaaS applications typically run within a Web browser, which means users only need a compatible browser in order to access the software.

Server

A server is a computer that provides data to other computers. It may serve data to systems on a local area network (LAN) or a wide area network (WAN) over the Internet.

Software

Computer software is a general term that describes computer programs. Related terms such as software programs, applications, scripts, and instruction sets all fall under the category of computer software. Therefore, installing new programs or applications on your computer is synonymous with installing new software on your computer.

Switch

A switch is used to network multiple computers together. Switches made for the consumer market are typically small, flat boxes with 4 to 8 Ethernet ports. These ports can connect to computers, cable or DSL modems, and other switches. High-end switches can have more than 50 ports and often are rack mounted.

Tablet

A tablet is a portable computer that uses a touchscreen as its primary input device. Most tablets are slightly smaller and weigh less than the average laptop. Examples of tablets include the Apple iPad, Dell Venue, Microsoft Surface Pro and Motorola Xoom.

TCP/IP

Stands for "Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol." The TCP part has to do with the verifying delivery of the packets. The IP part refers to the moving of data packets between nodes. TCP/IP has since then become the foundation of the Internet.

Technology Services

Technology services are, not surprisingly, services that involve technology. These include information technology, or IT, services, such as technical support, computer networking, systems administration, and other services. Common Internet services, such as Web hosting, e-mail, and social networking websites also fall under the scope of technology services.

Telecommunications

Telecommunications, or telecom, is the transmission of signals over long distances.

Virtualization

Virtualization can refer to a variety of computing concepts, but it usually refers to running multiple operating systems on a single machine. While most computers only have one operating system installed, virtualization software allows a computer to run several operating systems at the same time.

VoIP

Stands for "Voice Over Internet Protocol," and is often pronounced "voip." VoIP is basically a telephone connection over the Internet. The data is sent digitally, using the Internet Protocol (IP) instead of analog telephone lines. This allows people to talk to one another long-distance and around the world without having to pay long distance or international phone charges.

WAN

Stands for "Wide Area Network." It is similar to a Local Area Network (LAN), but it's a lot bigger. Unlike LANs, WANs are not limited to a single location. Many wide area networks span long distances via telephone lines, fiber optic cables, or satellite links. They can also be composed of smaller LANs that are interconnected. The Internet could be described as the biggest WAN in the world.

Web Host

In order to publish a website online, you need a Web host. The Web host stores all the pages of your website and makes them available to computers connected to the Internet.