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Glossary Of Terms


Access Point – A device that gives computers and other devices the ability to connect to a wired network.

ActiveX – A Microsoft-based technology that allows certain desktop applications to become interactive and connect to the World Wide Web e.g. spreadsheets and animation.

Address – The term given to an internet resource either from e-mail, the web or the internet e.g. ‘www.tmb.co.uk’.

Alias – A nickname that represents a user. It is often easy to remember and commonly acts as a reference in email applications.

Anti-Spam – The term given to various spam prevention techniques that administrators and end users regularly use to fortify their e-mail systems.

Application – A program designed to carry out a specific purpose, such as graphic design or word processing.

ASCII file – A file that can be read using standard text editor programs such as Notepad. They are also known as ‘Plain Text Files’, with options to save in this format in programs such as Microsoft Word.

Attachment – Files that are added to e-mails to accompany a message before being sent.


Backbone – a term commonly associated with the core network connections that make up a major network as well as the internet.

Bandwidth – The measurement used to calculate the amount of data capable of being transmitted by a network at a certain time. A higher bandwidth results in an increased amount of data being transmitted.

Binary File – Files that cannot be read or opened using a standard text editor program such as Notepad e.g. ‘.com’ or ‘.exe’.

BinHex – After being renamed as an .hqx extension, this file format commonly associated with Macintosh is capable of transferring a binary file over the internet as an ASCII file.

Bit – The term given to the most basic unit of data, it is a binary digit that is recognised and processed by a computer.

Blog – An online journal that is regularly updated by its author for the purpose of public viewing.

Bluetooth – A wireless network connection technology that uses radio waves to allow users of multiple devices to share data e.g. voice messages or video files.

Bookmark – Commonly associated with online browsers such as Internet Explorer and Firefox as well as Acrobat Reader, a bookmark is a feature that acts as a shortcut for users to reach a visited webpage (IE and Firefox) or a specific part of a document (Acrobat Reader).

Bounce – The term given to e-mails that have failed to reach the intended addressee and have subsequently been returned to the sender.

Broadband Connection – A high-speed internet connection currently available through a number of transmission technologies including Cable Modems, Digital Subscriber Lines (DSL), Fiber, Wireless, Satellite and Broadband Power Lines (BPL).

Buffered- The term given to data required for streaming that is collected but not made available immediately i.e. a translator waiting for a statement to finish before providing a translation. Media streaming tools like RealMedia Player require data to be buffered before playback can commence.

Byte – A collection of adjacent binary digits that form a unit which is then processed by the computer to create characters or images. A single byte is made up of 8 bits.


Cache – 1) an area of computer memory that stores frequently accessed data so that it can be easily accessed in future or 2) an area of a computer hard-drive where frequently accessed data is stored for ease of access in the future. The process of storing this type of data and accessing it in future, a feature commonly associated with browsers such as Internet Explorer and Firefox, is called ‘caching’.

Case-Sensitive – Restrictions which mean that lower and upper-case letters cannot be regarded as the same piece of data e.g. ‘tmb’ and ‘TMB’ are not equivalent. It is commonly associated with data input fields.

CBT – Or Computer-Based Training, is a method of computer training whereby a student learns various methods and applications through the use of special programs on a computer.

CD-R Drive – A computer drive that is used to create audio CD’s and CD-ROMs.

CD-ROM – a data containing, pre-pressed optical compact disc. All CD-ROM’s are readable by a computer but not all can be written on or erased.

CGI – Common Gateway Interface; the online mechanism used to process data that is received by a webpage from a user.

Chat – online communication taking place in real-time between two or more users via network-connected computers.

Cloud – the shorthand for a cloud computing service. Collectively referred to as ‘The Cloud’ in some cases.

Cloud-Computing – services that run within a web browser, predominantly social media, online backup services and applications. It also refers to computer networks that are connected for server redundancy purposes.

Cookie – Allows websites to identify you during your session. Cookies collect information about your browsing habits for that particular site, which can be used to better enhance your experience on the website in the future. Cookies often require acceptance from the user before information can be sent to a server. Cookies are specific to the server they are generated by.

CPU – The Central Processing Unit (CPU) is an essential computer component that oversees all computer calculations and operations.

CSP – Cloud Service Provider; the provision of cloud services at the hands of a business model.

Cursor – A symbol that provides you with a focus point for your next movement on a computer. When operated with a mouse, you can select a specific location on your screen to type characters, whilst you can also use the arrow keys on a keyboard to move the cursor around.


Database – the collection of data by a computer application so that the information required can be easily accessed. Traditional databases tend to consist of fields, records and files.

Decompress – restoring a file to its original size and format; the opposite of compress. Winrar is a common decompressing tool for Windows.

Defragmentation – the process of rewriting and allocating a file to adjacent sectors on a hard drive in order to increase ease of access and retrieval.

Desktop – the backdrop to PC, Macintosh and other compatible computers which displays icons for easy access to installed applications, services and more.

Dialog Box – an enclosed area that is displayed in order to complete a data entry procedure related to that specific program or application.

Dial Up Connection – The process of a special communications software connecting your computer to a regular telephone line by dialling a number that provides access to a system or network. This process was a predecessor to broadband connection, which we still use today.

Digitise – the process of converting an image, sound, video clip or coordinates into a suitable format for use on a computer. This is also referred to as digital imaging.

Directory – A disk space that efficiently organises and stores specific file divisions into sub directories and folders.

Distance Education – the act of studying outside of an academic environment with the help of a course instructor; utilising network connections to gather resources, engage in online discussion groups and study effectively from home using a computer. It is often regarded as an equivalent to distance learning.

DNS – Domain Name System; a system that provides an access route to a networked computer without the need of a numerical (IP) address.

Domain – part of a network hierarchy that makes up an internet address (e.g., com, gov). A network hierarchy is usually split into domains and subdomains.

Download – The act of transferring files from a remote computer to a local computer.

DPI – Dots per Inch; a printer resolution measurement, with a higher amount of dots resulting in a higher quality print. A minimum of 300 dpi is required to achieve a professional standard of printing.

DVD – Digital Video Disk; a compact disc with superior storage capacity in comparison to a CD-ROM. A DVD can hold as much as 4.7GB of data, enough for an entire full-length film. They are also backward-compatible.


eLearning – Electronic Learning; applies to a number of processes including computer-based instruction, digital collaboration, virtual classrooms and web-based learning. Course topics and resources are provided through the use of satellite broadcast, interactive TV and the internet.

E-mail – Electronic mail; the process of exchanging messages between users, either through the same system or via a connected network. Messages are saved and stored should they not be received at the specific time they are sent.

Emoticon – Keyboard characters that are regularly used in electronic communications as a means of exchanging representations of facial expressions or a tone of voice e.g. J

Emulation – A program’s ability to imitate a separate program or device. In order to access a mainframe, communications software tends to have terminal emulation drivers.

Encryption – the manipulation of data leading to the prevention of outside interpretation by anyone other than those who the data is intended for.

Ethernet – A method of network data transfer technology that allows data to travel at 10 megabits a second. Ethernet connection is often referred to as a ‘direct connection’.

Extension – The suffix found at the end of a filename to determine its specific type e.g. Windows computers place ‘.exe’ at the end of an executable file.


Field – 1) A piece of information in a database or a dialog box where information such as a name or address can be entered.

File – A collection of data where important information is stored on a computer. Examples of files include data files, text files and executable files.

Firewall – An implemented tool that prevents unauthorized access to a network; usually included in a security software bundle

FireWire – Similar to the USB, a FireWire is used to make data-sharing between two pieces of equipment quick and efficient.

Flash Drive – A miniature portable hard-drive device that plugs into a USB port as an alternative storage method.

Folder – A storage area of a computer on a hard disk that contains related files

Font – A mixture of numbers and letters in a particular design and size. Fonts are designed to benefit different scenarios, from professional business-like fonts to those designed for graphics technology.

Fragmentation – parts of a disk file are spread across new areas of a disk; occurs when files are deleted and new files are created


GIF – Graphics Interchange Format; the format name given to files that contain moving images or graphics. Web pages often possess .gif files.

Gigabyte (GB) – the sum of 1024 x 1024 x 1024 (or 2 to the 30th power). 1000mb and one billion bytes. Now a common commercial measurement of bytes e.g. 250GB Hard Drive.

GPS – Global Positioning System; A receiver that utilises the mathematical principle of “trilateration” to tell you exactly where you are on earth at that specific time.

GIU – Graphical User Interface; a system that contains windows, icons and drop-down menus for use with a mouse. The GIU allows users to navigate through all the Macintosh and Windows computers currently being sold worldwide.


Hard Disk – the standard storage option for devices capable of holding large amounts of data. Some hard disks are capable of storing thousands of gigabytes-worth of data. Hard drive and hard disk are often used interchangeably but the hard drive actually refers to the data-reading mechanism in the disk itself.

Hardware – physical computer components, examples of which include a keyboard, a mouse, internal chips or disk drives.

Header – the part of an e-mail message that provides brief information regarding the date, the subject and the sender themselves.

Home Page – the online web page that appears on start-up after clicking on a web browser icon or shortcut. Can be changed to suit the preferences of the user.

Host – working from or accessing a computer at a remote location. Can also be related to an internet connection or any other TCP/IP network.

HTML – HyperText Markup Language; the computer language used to assist the creation and development of web pages.

HTTP – HyperText Transfer Protocol; the instruction procedure that designates the way in which both a web server and browser connect and interact.

Hyperlink – Connecting two pieces of related information, (one ‘anchor’ to another related ‘anchor’) in an electronic document.


Icon – part of a GUI (Graphical User Interface) on Windows and Macintosh computers; icons are interactive and provide shortcuts to other destinations on a computer, with files, folders, web browsers and software all possessing an icon.

ICS – Internet Connection Sharing; allows a computer on your network to connect to the internet via another computer when enabled.

IMAP – Internet Message Access Protocol – the ability to access e-mail messages on your computer without storing their data on a hard disk.

Internet – A worldwide network using the TCP/IP protocol; capable of connecting computers of all types all over the world.

Internet Explorer – A Microsoft-based client program that often comes pre-installed on most commercial PC’s. Provides users with the ability to access the World Wide Web.

IP address – a method of identifying every specific computer that connects to the Internet; every computer possesses a unique IP address.

ISP – Internet Service Provider; the company that regularly provides either a domestic or commercial environment with internet connectivity.


Java – A programming language commonly used with web pages that contain animation, moving imagery or graphics.

JavaScript – A scripting language used to equip online pages with interactivity potential.

JPEG – Joint Photographic Experts Group; a format that compresses an image to reduce the amount of space it takes up on a storage device.


K (Kilobyte) – The sum of 1,024 bytes. 1024 K equals one megabyte.

Kerning – Adjusting the space available between characters in a word; associated with publishing and word documents.

Keyword – An index entry that is in correlation with a specific document; often refers to a text editing feature.

Knowledge Base – an online location where information is stored so it can be easily referenced in future.


LAN – Local Area Network; a small network that allows for program, file, document and printer sharing on a central server

Link – The alternative name for a hyperlink

LINUX – an operating system that is available to run on PC’s and Macintosh computers. It can be downloaded for free on the internet. It is often used by those who want to learn more about how to code their own operating system and can be quite difficult to master.

Log In – The process of entering a username and password into a designated field in order to gain access to a secure computer or network.


MAC – Media Access Control; the address given to a piece of hardware that is connected to a network. Not to be confused with the Mac, short for an Apple Macintosh computer

Mail Server – a dedicated server for electronic mail services

Mainframe – a large computer that supports multiple computers running various programs at once

Malware – software designed to cause damage to or disrupt ordinary computer actions and procedures e.g. spyware, trojans

MAPI – Messaging Application Programming Interface – allows different e-mail programs to share and deliver messages as one; requires MAPI to be enabled on a Windows-based computer

Megabyte – the sum of 1024 X 1024 bytes; one megabyte equals one million bytes and is a standard commercial measurement for computer storage devices

Mhz – Megahertz; a measurement used to calculate the speed of a microprocessor. The higher the megahertz, the faster the computer

Menu – Part of a graphical interface that allows the user to select an active command from a drop down list

Microsoft Windows – a group of operating systems designed for PC or other compatible computers; the graphical interface allows users to conduct actions through moving and pointing a mouse

Modem – a device that uses a telephone line to connect a computer to the internet

Monitor – a piece of hardware that receives messages from the central processing unit (CPU) to make up a display screen. A higher number of pixels contribute to better resolution. Similar to a TV screen

MPEG – Motion Picture Experts Group; a video file format regularly used online to display high quality videos

MSP – Managed Service Provider; the provision of information-technology services at the hands of a business model

Multitasking – the term given to a CPU that is capable of performing multiple operations at the same time


NAT – Network Address Translation; enables a LAN to utilise multiple IP addresses for the purpose of internal traffic and a single IP address for other online communications

Network – a group of computers capable of sharing documents, files, programs, software and hardware using a secure connection

Network Adapter – a device that is used to assist computers without built-in connectivity so that they can also connect to a network

Network Security – the provision of administrative services that prevent and monitor the potential for unauthorised access, modifications and misuse of data within a network.


OCR – Optical Character Recognition; using a visual scanning device to read text from hard copy so that it can be understood by a computer

On-site – the provision of online security or assistance within a place of work or business environment, often by a professionally trained or qualified technician

Online – a term that refers to being ‘connected to the internet’


Packet – a unit used to calculate transmission during data communications.

Page – a term used to describe an HTML document present on the World Wide Web or any particular website

Password – a combination of discreet characters used to ensure private information remains secure. Often required for use with a network, program or computer

PC – 1) an IBM PC or 2) Personal Computer depending on context

PDA – Personal Digital Assistant; a hand-held computer device that allows for the storage and input of addresses, appointments, projects, to-do lists, notes and more in its most basic form

PDF – Portable Document Format; enables files to be viewed on any device regardless of the original format

Phishing – a scamming technique that collects secure information through ‘conning’ users; often by depicting legitimate websites such as eBay or PayPal

Pixel – a unit of measurement for resolution; one picture element on a screen is equal to one pixel

Plug-In – required for when multimedia files cannot be processed using standard web browser capabilities

Pop-Up Blocker – an application capable of disabling ‘pop-ups’ (automated windows or websites) that appear online

Program – a collection of instructions that allows a computer to a perform a specific task

Proxy – a special server that acts as an intermediate link between a client application and a real server

Public Domain Software – a non-copyrighted program


Quick Time – an Apple Computer-developed video format that is regularly used for files on the internet


RAM – Random Access Memory; a computer’s internal memory for the use of programs e.g. 4mb RAM is equal to four million bytes of available memory. This is different to storage memory

Registry – a computer database used by Windows for storing configuration information.

Remote Backup – a service for users who require a system to back-up files for storage away from a computer

Remote Desktop – having access to a windows session from another computer

ROM – Read Only Memory; special memory with the role of storing start-up and diagnostics programs

Router – a device used to connect two separate LAN connections


SAN – Storage Area Network; a storage network that provides access to block level storage.

SATA – Serial Advanced Technology Attachment; an improvement on the dated computer interface Parallel ATA.

Screen Reader – a program that converts text into spoken audio

Scroll Bar – part of a user interface system found at the right side of a web page; allows users to scroll up and down on a page

Search Engine – an online keyword search tool that provides search results in accordance with a specific search term

Server – a computer that responds and acts upon the actions and requests of an associated client program

SMTP – Simple Mail Transfer Protocol; a method of using electronic mail

Software – any program that holds a specific responsibility or method of functioning e.g. word processing

Spam – also known as junk email; the term given to identical, irrelevant email messages being sent to multiple recipients in bulk

Streaming – a method of data transfer that allows a file to utilise an online browser plug-in before it has been received in its entirety; commonly associated with video sharing websites such as YouTube

Spyware – a concealed user information-tracking technique that takes place online; often used for advertising purposes

Subdirectory – the level below a directory; often contains a specific set of file types


Table – commonly associated with web design; a method used to format and organise information on a page

TCP/IP – Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol; the ruling used when transferring information over the internet from one computer to another

Tool Bar – part of a graphical user interface; a range of options found at the top of any associated program

Trojan Horse – a program disguised as an essential software tool that conducts harmful actions once installed

Tweet – associated with social media service Twitter; a 140-character update that reaches a collection of ‘followers’ upon being sent

Twitter – a social media service that incorporates ‘tweeting’, ‘followers’, ‘direct messages’, ‘hash tags’ and other  unique methods of social interactivity; accessed using devices such as computers or mobile phones


Upload – transferring files from a local computer to a remote computer; opposite of download

USB – Universal Serial Bus; a connection that lets you attach various devices to a computer quickly and efficiently for hardware use, data transfer, external storage etc.

Username – the name provided during a login procedure; often accompanied by a password

URL – Uniform Resource Locator; used to identify resources online. A URL is made up of three different parts – the protocol, the server name and the item path.

USB Port – the interface that allows a USB (Universal Serial Bus) to connect to a computer or other compatible device.


Virtual Classroom – an online educational environment for students and instructors to form discussion groups; also provides access to learning tools and other helpful resources

Virtual Hosting – hosting multiple domain names on one computer using a single IP address to allow for more efficient data sharing

Virtual Memory – a data usage technique that separates a portion of auxiliary memory on the hard disk so that a computer can access larger amounts of data

Virtual Reality – an artificial projection of reality that incorporates the simulation of a real life environment through visual display, audio and the imaginary manipulation of a 3D world

Virus – a destructive program that invades a computer with the intention of altering data discreetly. The term comes from the programs ability to ‘infect’ other computers by reaching them through an online connection. Antivirus programs are available to reveal viruses before they can cause damage to a computer.

VPN – Virtual Private Network; a method of accessing resources by connecting to a remote access server using a secure network connection


WAN – Wide Area Network; network computers that cover a large geographical area

WAP – Wireless Application Protocol; communication protocols that provide access to a secure network connection

WEP – Wired Equivalent Privacy; security protocols for local area networks, providing a similar level of security to that of a wired LAN.

Wi-Fi – Wireless Fidelity; the term given to a wireless network connection of any 802.11 type e.g. 802.11b.

Window – Part of the graphical user interface system; a rectangular area that appears on the display screen, consisting of information related to a specific program. Windows are designed to improve computer multitasking

Windows – shorter name given to the operating systems designed by Microsoft Windows

WLAN – Wireless Local Area Network; the term given to a group of computers connected through a local wireless network

World Wide Web – a system made up of multiple servers that use hypertext to link data on the internet. Links provide access to various online resources including sound, graphics, text and animation.

WPA – Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) Protected Access; an improvement on the security protocols associated with WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy)


XHTML – Extensible Hypertext Markup Language; an alternative to HTML that has been modified to accommodate the guidelines of XML (Extensible Markup Language)

XML – Extensible Markup Language; a method of coding documents used by designers who intend to customise their own tags when structuring a page




ZIP – a file compression technique that requires extraction before the contents of a file can be accessed; tools such as Winrar are designed for file extraction

Zoom – a tool that allows onscreen imagery to be enlarged; improves the precision of detailed graphics work









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