Be a Pro With This Computer Glossary Guide for Laymen

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Computer Glossary

Glossary of computer terms is a list compiled to familiarize you with computer terms, some of which are used on a day-to-day basis, while the others are certainly terms which would help you while reading and conversing.

Stuck in a situation where you don’t know what is being referred to? Here are some computer terms written in an alphabetical order and explained in simple language to equip you to use them appropriately.


Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM)

Whenever a data transfer is made, a route is created between two points, which facilitates the transaction, this is called the ATM. ATM equipment is created in such a way that large amounts of data can be transmitted over a single connection while ensuring that every transmission does not take up too much space when it passes through the network or modem connection.

Accelerated Graphics Port/Advanced Graphics Port (AGP)

This is a graphics card extension port used to attach a graphics card to a computer’s motherboard. AGP ports run at 66 MHz and can transfer data up to 2133 MB/sec. An AGP is used with games and applications to store and retrieve larger and better 3D shapes and textures.

Asynchronous Java Script (AJAX)

AJAX is used to create web pages that are more interactive and usable. This is done using HTML and Cascading style sheets.

American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII)

ASCII is a code used to represent the alphabets in the English language with numbers, which are used for character encoding. Numbers from 0-127 are assigned to each letter of the alphabet. Texts that we find in computers, communication equipment, and other similar devices use ASCII Codes.

Automated Document Feeder (ADP)

As the name suggests, ADP is used to automatically feed pages into the scanners and copiers. This helps in facilitating faster work, as each individual page does not need to be fed into the copier or scanner.

Alert Box

The little box that pops up to inform you that the computer you are working on is about to perform an operation which may have damaging consequences, is called the alert box. In a way, the alert box is certainly a help, especially when you might have typed in a command absentmindedly and would not like to go through with it!

Advanced Technology Attachment (ATA)

Integrated Drive Electronics (IDE) is another term used to refer to ATA. The drive controller is directly connected to the drive using ATA, which is a type of disk drive. A specific controller is not required to support the drive, as the ATA hard drive is enough for the computer provided the motherboard supports an ATA connection. In this case, no other separate card will be required.

Audio Interchange File Format (AIFF)

AIFF is an audio format used for storing high quality sampled audio data. As an AIFF file is of high quality, it can be burned on to an audio CD, and despite being created by Apple, the files can be read by audio programs on both, the MAC and PC, with ease.


Computer software that scans files, searches for and gets rid of computer viruses and other harmful software.


Beginners’ All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code (BASIC)

BASIC is a high-level programming language, which was developed in the mid 1960s and was easy to understand and simple to use. Numbers were originally used at the beginning of each instruction to tell the computer the order in which to process the instruction.”Loops” are now used to provide instructions.


A map of dots and pixels, which are generated by a computer and are used to represent types and images are called bitmaps.

Blind Carbon Copy (Bcc)

This command appears while an e-mail is being sent. Written after the commands To and Cc, an e-mail address written in the Bcc box will enable the mail to be sent to the recipient, without the knowledge of the main recipient.

Bandwidth (BW)

Bandwidth refers to the amount of data that can be transferred through either a modem connection or network within stipulated time. BW is measured in two ways- In analog devices, Hertz or cycles per second is used, whereas in digital devices, it is represented in bits per second (bps) or bytes per second.


A blog is one’s own website or space, a personal diary which is updated on a regular basis by the individual who has created it. Blogs contain images, text, links to other blogs, or useful sites and a lot of other information related to the blogger.


A program used to go look for and present pages on the web. Graphical browsers like:Netscape navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer, display graphics as well as text.

Binary Digit (Bit)

Binary digits include the numbers 0 and 1, and represent the smallest unit of computer data. These units store information used in communication related to digital computing and information theory.

Binary Term (Byte)

A single character in the computer’s memory is represented by 8 bits, which is termed as a byte. File sizes, hard disk space, and computer memory are measured in bytes. Terms such as Kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes, and terabytes are used to measure larger amounts of data.


This technology is based on radio waves and is used by a number of devices to transfer data. As it is based on radio waves, communication is made easier. Owing to the Standard 2.4 Ghz frequency, all Bluetooth devices are compatible with each other.


A fault in the hardware or software, which results in a failure in the program. A bug usually occurs when there are differences in software where one application is running side by side with another.


If a page seems interesting and is needed for later reference, a good option would be to bookmark it! This option is available in the browser’s bookmark menu. This option saves a lot of time and doesn’t put stress on the memory either.


Boot is to load the first software, which is responsible for starting the computer. In this process, the start up instructions are loaded from the computer’s ROM and the operating systems is loaded from the current boot disk.


Central Processing Unit (CPU)

Processor is another word that describes the CPU. Basically, the brain of the computer, it is used to interpret computer instructions and help in the processing of data. Simply put, highly complex functions are solved by the CPU.


Configuration, in computer terms, refers to the technical specifications that a computer has, this includes processor speed, amount of RAM, hard disk space, and the type of video card in the machine, other specifications can be added to the list too.

Compact Disc (CD)

Originally developed for storing digital audio, compact discs now store digital data. They are made of polycarbonate with one or more metal layers capable of storing digital information. About 80 minutes of audio/700 MB of data can be stored on a single compact disc. The data is represented by small notches on the disc which is read by a laser from an optical drive.

Compact Disc-Read Only Memory (CD-ROM)

The data on a CD-ROM cannot be altered or erased once the information has been copied on to it. Large amounts of data, up to 700 MB can be stored on CD-ROMs. CD-ROMs are used for distribution of software, games, and multimedia applications.

Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA)

The English allies during World War II developed the wireless transmission technology to avoid having their transmission jammed. CDMA transmits frequency range, using a method called multiplexing in which no specific frequency is assigned to each user on the communications network, thus making more bandwidth available for use. CDMA operates in the frequency range of 800 MHz to 1.9 GHz.


A moving symbol represented by a solid rectangle, a blinking underline character, or a straight vertical line which informs the user where the next character will be displayed on the screen, is called a cursor. One can also click or double click the mouse button when the cursor is over an object, to perform an action on that object.


C++, pronounced C plus plus, is a high-level programming language developed in the mid-1970s. It is a popular programming language, which is used to write applications on a variety of platforms. Programming is more efficient and simpler to use because of its power and flexibility.

Cathode Ray Tube (CRT)

Used in televisions and computer display screens, CRT works by using electrons which are fired from the back of the tube to phosphorous which is placed in the front, near the display. Once this happens, they light up and are thus projected on the screen. Red, green, and blue (RGB) are the three colors that blend to produce the images that are viewed on the screen.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

As the name suggests, CRM covers all facets linked to companies and the relationship they share with their customers.

Computer Aided Design (CAD)

A software, which is considered a blessing to all designers. It is used to create three dimensional designs with a number of features. Designs created on CAD can be rotated, moved, and sizes can be changed in a short time.


This term refers to an individual or an organization who holds back a fee for discussions and transactions over the Internet. The concerned organization or individual does not take possession or own the services and goods. Real estate brokers and online insurance are examples.

Common Business Oriented Language (COBOL)

COBOL is a third- generation programming language, which even though considered to be one of the oldest languages, is still used today. COBOL is used in the areas of business, finance, and administrative systems by the government and companies.


Database (DB)

A DB can be compared to a filing system, the only difference being that this one would be automatically managed. In a DB, information or data is stored in a structured sequence like files, folders, and folders in the computer. Whenever information is required, the computer program can consult it and retrieve the required data.


This term refers to receiving or copying data from a main source to another device. This is often practiced while copying movies, games, and software from the Internet.


Removing or erasing in computer terminology is known as deleting. While working on a computer, a word, a file, a character, or even a folder is removed when the delete key is pressed on the keyboard. Large chunks of text can be selected and then deleted too. Deleted files are not completely erased once they have been removed, this only happens when they are written over.


Information that has been processed and then stored in the computer is known as data. Such information is available in the form of text documents, images, audio clips, software programs, and a range of other types of data. The information is then processed by the CPU and later stored in files and folders in the hard disk of the computer.


This term is used to refer to moving an object from the display screen. Dragging not only involves moving icons and objects, it can also be used for a number of other functions like repositioning a window and dragging the scroll bar, to name a few. Dragging can be done by putting the cursor over the object, then clicking and holding the left button of the mouse till you reach the place the object needs to be placed. This done, the mouse button can be released.

Dynamic Hyper-Text Markup Language (DHTML)

Interactive and animated websites are created with DHTML, which is a collection of technologies used together. A combination of HTML , JavaScript, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), and the Document Object Model is used.

Digital Versatile Disc (DVD)

A high-capacity optical disc that resembles a CD but can store much more information in comparison. It is mainly used for movies, software, and data backup purposes. While a CD can store up to 700 MB of data, a single-layer, single-sided DVD can store up to 4.7GB of data. A prerequisite for using a DVD on a computer is to have a DVD-ROM drive.

Dots Per Inch (DPI)

It is a measure of the resolution of an image, whether on the screen or in print. DPI, as the name itself implies, measures how many dots fit into a linear inch (2.4 cm) of space. An image that has more dots per linear inch will produce more details in an image.


As the name suggests, this term is used to get rid of bugs which stand for errors in programs. These errors may have minor or serious consequences. To counter this, programmers debug the programs, thus getting rid of as many errors as possible, before releasing the software into the market. In situations where there is tight coupling of various subsystems, changes in one may cause bugs to appear in another, hence prolonging the debugging process.

Data Transfer Rate

Transfer rate or data transfer rate measures the speed at which data is carried from one device or location to another. Data transfer rates are measured in bits per second (bps).

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)

Data transfer over regular lines is done using the DSL. A DSL circuit is faster than a regular phone connection despite the copper wires used. DSL can be divided into an Asymmetric DSL and a Symmetric DSL. An ADSL connection has a download speed of 1.5 megabits per second and upload speeds of 128 kilobits per second. The SDCL has data transfer speed of 384 kilobits per second in both directions.


Electronic mail (E-mail)

When a message is transferred over a communication network, it is termed as an E-mail. E-mail messages are typically sent by Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) and received by Post Office Protocol 3 (POP3) or Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP).

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

A standard method used for transferring data from one computer network or system to another, is termed as EDI. It is used for tracking equipment, sending orders to warehouses, creating invoices, and other e-commerce purposes.


A small piece of specialized American Standard Code For Information Interchange (ASCII) art used in text messages as an informal markup to indicate emotions and attitudes, that would be conveyed through ones’ body language in ordinary situations, can be termed as emoticons. Keys on the keyboard can be used to create them.


Excel is an application created by Microsoft that stores data in grids, rows, and columns. It is compatible with Microsoft Windows and Macintosh computers. Calculation and graphics can be done in Excel.

Electronic-Commerce (E-commerce)

Buying and selling products and services over electronic systems, such as the Internet and other computer networks, is termed as eCommerce or e-commerce. This way of selling and purchasing has seen a drastic growth with a lot of websites venturing into it. E-commerce is of two types – Business-2-Consumer (B2C) and Business-2-Business (B2B)


Formerly known as Internet based learning and then Web based learning, computer-enhanced learning today is generally referred to by e-learning. In e-learning, electronic applications and processes are used in the learning process, these include Web-based learning, computer-based learning, virtual classrooms, and even digital collaboration.

Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory (EPROM)

A type of memory that retains content until exposed to ultraviolet light. When exposed the light clears its content, this enables reprogramming of the memory to take place. A special device called PROM Programmer or PROM Burner is required to write and erase an EPROM.


An effective way to keep important data a secret! This is done by coding and scrambling in such a way that it can only be deciphered by someone who has the appropriate decoding key. Secure websites as well as other mediums of data transfer use this method, so that no one can tap the information.


A combination of education and entertainment is what results in edutainment. This term is used for entertainment that is designed to educate as well as amuse the user. Edutainment uses familiar forms like television programs, computer and video games, films, and music to instruct and socialize.



A combination of typeface and other qualities such as size, pitch, and spacing comprise a font. Most word processing programs constitute a font Menu, with the help of which the selection of the font can be made.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Common questions that are asked about a certain software program or a website that a new user should go through. Going through it, the user is provided with answers to his queries.


Accumulated data stored in one unit, under a filename is called a file. This data may include a picture, an audio or video file, a library, or an application. Text files include Word documents, Rich Text Format (RTF), and layered image files. Under the audio file category one would find MP3s and AIFs.


Computer software that is copyrighted and made available for use free of charge is referred to as freeware. Since freeware is copyrighted, no one can market the software as their own. Common freeware are program updates and small games.

First In, First Out (FIFO)

This term refers to a method of how data can be processed and retrieved. In this system, the items that are entered first are also the first ones to be removed. In simpler words, it would be right to say that the items are removed in the same order in which they entered.


Hardware or software devices that have been created in such a way as to allow, stop, or proxy data through a network in which the level of trust is different for each is called a firewall. By using a firewall, a network server or client machine can be stopped from being damaged by users who are not authorized to use it.


A term coined to refer to the act of posting or sending unpleasant messages over the Internet. These kinds of messages can be sent using e-mails, instant messaging applications, and can be posted within online discussion forums also referred to as bulletin boards and newsgroups.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP)

FTP is a protocol used to exchange files over networks that support TCP/IP protocol. Two computers are required in a FTP transfer, the server and the client.


Graphics Interchange Format (GIF)

A compressed image format is known as GIF. The images in GIF use a compression formula, developed by CompuServe. They are based on a palette of almost 256 colors, these colors are indexed colors.

Garbage In, Garbage Out (GIGO)

This term is a computer maxim, which means that if data that is invalid is entered into the computer, the output will also be invalid.

Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)

A single-chip processor, which is mainly used for computing 3-D functions. 3-D functions include lighting effects, object transformations, and 3-D motion. The tasks referred to above are all mathematically intensive, which if done on the CPU would put a strain on it. The GPU comes into the picture here as it can help the computer to run more efficiently.

Graphical User Interface (GUI)

The graphical interface of a computer is something which allows users to click and drag objects with the help of a mouse in place of text, at a command line. Windows and MAC OS are two operating systems which are popular.


A hardware or software which acts like an entrance from one network to another. This is done to facilitate data transfer between a number of computers. A task like sending an E-mail or logging onto a website, involves a gateway which helps the connection take place.


Invented by the University of Minnesota, the gopher system helps users search for and collect information using a text interface. It is based on the client-server structure, where a gopher client program looks up the gopher servers, where documents, articles, programs are stored.


This term is used to measure computer processing speeds. Previously, Megahertz was the term used to measure computer CPU speeds, but after the 1,000 Mhz mark was crossed around the year 2000, Gigahertz gained prominence. 1,000 megahertz (MHz) or 1,000,000,000 Hertz (Hz) is equal to 1 Gigahertz (GHz).


Gnutella is derived from two words, The first is GNU, General Public License and the second part comes from Nutella, a chocolate hazelnut spread. Gnutella is a Peer to peer network (P2P). In other words, it is a network which allows its users to share files. To do this, each user needs to be connected to an ‘ultrapeer’, which is a server where files are shared by the users who are connected.



The physical parts of a computer and other related devices are termed as computer hardware. Hardware can be divided into two parts – internal hardware, also referred to as components, and external hardware, which are referred to as peripherals. Devices which are included under internal hardware are motherboards, hard drives, and RAM. External hardware include monitors, keyboards, mice, scanners, and printers.


A word, phrase, or an image that needs to be clicked to enable the user to go to a new document or a section within the current document. Nearly all web pages have hyperlinks. The hyperlink stands out when the cursor is moved over it, usually changing the arrow into a small hand pointing to the link. When clicked, a new page is opened. Hyperlinks are also found in other hypertext documents like encyclopedias, glossaries, dictionaries, and other material used for reference.


This term is used to refer to someone who can gain access to other computers without permission. From a simple task like figuring out someone’s password to a difficult task like writing a custom program to break another computer’s security code can be done by a hacker with ease. Software manufacturers release periodic “security updates” to minimize hacking, especially in large business organizations.

Hard Disk

A spindle of magnetic disks, called platters, that record and store information are called hard disks. Every time data is saved or a program is installed on the computer, some information is written on the hard disk. The hard disk stores data magnetically, because of which the recorded information stays there even when the computer is turned off.

Hard Drive

Only a little bigger than the hand the typical hard drive can hold over 100 GB of data, this is stored on a stack of disks that are mounted inside a solid cover. The speed (5400 or 7200 RPM) at which these disks spin makes it possible to access data immediately from anywhere in the drive.

Home Page

It is a local file that loads when a web browser is started. This also happens when the browser’s “home” button is pressed. The front page, webserver directory index, or the main web page is what comprises the home page of a group, an individual, a company, or even an organization.

Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML)

This term refers to the language that web pages are written in. A variety of tags and attributes are used to define the structure and layout of a web document. The rules of HTML must be kept in mind while writing web pages, so that it would be displayed correctly in the web browser.

Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP)

The protocol which is being used to transfer data over the World wide web is called HTTP. This is the reason that all web addresses have “http://” at the beginning of their website address. As soon as a URL is typed into the browser and the Enter button is pressed, a http request is sent to the appropriate web server. This server then sends the HTML page you have asked for.


Web, an e-mail, and a FTP server are examples of a host. Host refers to a computer that acts as a server for other computers which are on a network.


The name used while chatting online is referred to as a handle. Using a handle, one can chat online using an identity, which does not give others’ information that you would not be comfortable revealing.



Any data that is entered into the computer using input devices like the keyboard, mouse, scanner, and other such devices is called input. The data can include text typed in a word processing document, words entered while searching using a search engine, or even information entered into an excel sheet. Small and simple things like clicking or moving the mouse button, to scanning a document, come under the term input.

IP Address

A code which is made up of numbers separated by three dots and used to identify a particular computer located on the Internet, is called an IP address. All computers require an IP address to connect to the Internet. Four sets of numbers from 0 to 255, separated by 3 dots comprise an IP address.

Input/Output (I/O)

As the name suggests, this term is used to refer to how different parts of the information processing system communicate with each other. The signals received by the unit are called inputs and the signals sent from it are termed outputs.

Internet Connection Firewall (ICF)

The term written above is a Windows XP feature. It is a feature that protects computers, which are connected to the Internet from unauthorized viewing. Once ICF is enabled, incoming requests are logged on. If the information that comes in is something that has been requested, then the transmission will be passed, if not, then the transmission will be dropped.

Instant Messaging (IM)

Instant message and IMing are two other names by which instant messaging is referred to. Instant messaging means using typed text to communicate with two or more people connected to the IM client software. This conversation differs from an E-mail, as this happens in real-time.


A term coined to connect two words, Information and Entertainment. It refers to any movie, software, television show, or website, which has content that is a perfect blend of information and entertainment.


Millions of computers all connected by a global network, constitute the Internet. The Internet consists of smaller domestic, academic, business, and government networks which together carry information and services.


Icons are small pictorial representations used for an object or program. They serve as a useful tool, as with the help of the mouse or the keyboard, icons can be minimized and maximized.

Internet Service Provider (ISP)

A company or organization that provides consumers access to the Internet and other related services for a nominal fee. Dial-up, broadband, cable modem ISDN, gigabit ethernet, and satellite Internet access are some of the popular options.

Information Technology (IT)

Pronounced as two separate letters, IT refers to anything related to networking, hardware, software, the Internet, or even the people who work using these technologies. IT departments whose responsibilities include managing the computer networks and other technical areas of the business have come into existence.

Internet Connection Sharing (ICS)

Using ICS, several computers can connect to the Internet using the same connection as well as IP address. For several computers in a household to connect to the same cable or DSL modem, a router has to be used. Apart from a router, software like Windows 98 and later as also Mac OS X, support Internet connection sharing.

Integrated Circuit (IC)

A small electronic device made out of silicon, that possesses the ability to hold hundreds to millions of transistors, resistors, and capacitors. Though small ICs can perform calculations and store data,using both the digital and analog technologies.



Originally called OAK, Java is a high-level programming language developed by Sun Microsystems. As OAK was unsuccessful, it was renamed Java. Java is similar to C++, though it has been simplified to get rid of common errors made while programming.


A scripting language developed by Sun Microsystems together with Netscape. As mentioned earlier, being a scripting language, JavaScript cannot be used to create stand-alone programs, so it is instead used to create web pages that are dynamic and interactive.

Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG)

JPEG is a compression method commonly used for photographic images. JPEG itself specifies the program code, which defines how an image is compressed into bytes and then decompressed back into images, and the file format used during this procedure.

Java Runtime Environment (JRE)

Also known as J2RE, this is a software bundle created by Sun Microsystems. Using this software allows a computer system to run a Java application, which is necessary to view many Internet pages.

Java Server Page (JSP)

JSP is a Java technology with the help of which software developers can dynamically generate HTML, XML, or other types of documents, which are created in response to a request by a client. Using this technology, certain pre-defined Java codes are allowed to be embedded into static content.


A metal connector, small in size that acts as an on/off switch and is used to change hardware configurations, is termed a jumper. It is usually made up of two wires and a small piece of metal. The jumper is turned on by connecting the wires to the metal piece and is disconnected by removing the wires. Jumper blocks, which are made up of multiple jumpers, are used to provide information to a computer regarding the configuration of certain devices, like a hard drive or a modem.


Kilobits Per Second (Kbps)

The term written above is used to describe data transfer rates, 33.6 Kbps and 56 Kbps are two modem speeds which are common.


The kernel is used to refer to the central component of most computer Operating Systems. Managing the system’s resources is one of its responsibilities. Different kernels perform different tasks, which depend on their design and implementation.


This term is used to refer to the space which exists between the characters of a font. If Kerning were not available then each character would take up a block of space after which the next character would be printed. Using Kerning, characters vertically overlap, meaning part of two characters take up the same vertical space. This is useful because it allows more text to be placed within a confined space.


Computer hardware which has been made like the typewriter keyboard. There are three types of keys on a computer keyboard – Alphanumeric, which comprises letters and numbers, punctuation, which is made of the comma, exclamation mark, and so on, and the special keys which include function keys, control keys, arrow keys, and the caps lock. The keyboard is used to enter data into a computer.

Keyboard Shortcut

A set of keys that perform a function when used with some special key combinations. Most of what is termed as keyboard shortcuts are shortcuts for commands located in a program’s Menu bar. For instance the shortcut for copying data in Windows is “Control + C” and “Command + C” in Mac.


This term is used to refer to a character on the keyboard. A keystroke is performed when a key is pressed. At times, keystrokes per minute is used to measure the typing speed of an individual, instead of words per minute.

Kibibyte (KiB)

Established by the International Electrotechnical Commission in 2000, Kibibyte is a unit of computer storage or information. The term has been coined to refer exclusively to 1,024 bytes.

KVM Switch

The Keyboard, Video, and Mouse together constitute the KVM Switch. This is a hardware device using which a user can control multiple computers. Though multiple computers are connected to the KVM, a smaller number can also be controlled at any time given.


Local Area Network (LAN)

A computer network that covers a small geographical area like a home, office, or group of buildings, together make up the LAN. Largest and mid-sized business establishments today use the LAN. This makes it easy and convenient for employees to share information.


Portable computers that can be carried while on the move, laptops include a screen, keyboard, and a trackpad, also referred to as a trackball. Since Laptops were created for people who are on the move, they contain a battery that allows them to operate without being connected to a terminal. The battery can be charged using an adapter. Most modern laptops also include a wireless networking adapter, which makes it possible to access the Internet without wires.

Laser Printer

Laser printers use a laser beam to produce an image on a drum. The electrical charge on the drum is altered whenever the light of the laser hits it. After this, the drum is rolled through a reservoir or toner, this is picked up by the charged portions of the drum. At the end of all this, the toner is transferred to the paper using a combination of heat and pressure.


When there is a transfer of data taking place, there is latent time, which is the time it takes after the packet has been sent, to the time it is received. This amount of inactive time is called Latency.

Liquid Crystal Display (LCD)

A thin, flat display device, which is made up of a number of colors or monochrome pixels laid out in front of a source of light or reflector. LCDs are used in laptop computer screens and flat panel monitors. Smaller LCDs screens are used in PDAs and portable video games.


The Leaderboard is a type of online advertisement which was introduced in 2003 to change the size of conventional advertisements. The standard size of the Leaderboard advertisement is 728 pixels wide by 90 pixels tall. Leaderboards contain images, text, or even animation. Once clicked, the user is redirected to the advertiser’s website.


Here, leaf refers to files which are placed at the very bottom of the hierarchical file systems, very much like the leaves on a tree. Directories, in the same system can be compared to the nodes.

Last In, First Out (LIFO)

This term is used to refer to a method of processing in which the last items entered are the first to be removed. This method is used while extracting data from a range of available data. In cases when the most recent information has to be accessed, the LIFO method is used.


A link is a navigation element in a document,which leads to another section. The section referred to may be in the same document, another document, or a specified part of another document. These links may be in the form of an underlined, highlighted, or colored word/phrase or image.


Linux is an Unix-based operating system which was created by Linus Torvalds, as he was not happy with the currently available options in Unix. Linux is easily customizable and new codes can be added to the operating system, thus making it a hit with users.


A small program which automatically sends messages to multiple e-mail addresses, which are present on a mailing list. The address of a subscriber is automatically added to the list when the person subscribes to it. This enables future e-mails to be sent to the new subscriber along with the other people on the list. The listserv automatically removes the address when the person unsubscribes from the facility.

Load Balancing

Evenly spreading out the processing and communication activities across a computer network to ensure that no single device is overloaded, is called Load Balancing. This is particularly useful for networks where the number of requests that will be sent to a particular server cannot be predicted. Networks become more efficient using the load balancing technique.


The local computer on which a program runs is called the localhost. Let us take for instance that a web browser is being run on your computer, in this case, your computer is considered to be the localhost.

Logic Gate

This is a type of circuit that regulates the flow of electricity which determines the computers use to make complex logical decisions. Microprocessors have millions of Logic gates while other circuits may only have a few. Highly complex operations can be made successful by combining thousands or millions of logic gates.


To supply the computer with information which is necessary to obtain access to it, is the login procedure. This information could be a username and a password, or an ID number and a security code. Once this information is entered and verified, the session will begin.

Lines Per Inch (LPI)

The resolution of images printed in halftones is measured in LPI. Halftone images are printed as a series of dots, the higher the number of LPIs, the more dense the dots can be, this helps in providing images with finer resolution.


LAPP is a combination of Linux, Apache, PostGreSQL, and Perl. It is an open source web development platform. Linux is used as the operating system, Apache, the web server, PostGreSQL, as the relational database management system, and PHP, as the object-oriented scripting language.



A digital electrical component that is programmable and contains the functions of the CPU on a single semi conducting integrated circuit is called a Microprocessor. Functions like adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing are done by the microprocessor. Megahertz or cycles per second, is used to measure the speed of a microprocessor.

Menu Bar

A horizontal strip that contains lists of available menus related to a certain program. Functions such as opening files, interacting with an application, or help are housed in the menu bar.


The main circuit board of a computer is called the motherboard. It is the basic unit on which the whole computer works. The motherboard is what houses the CPU, the RAM, memory expansion slots, PCI slots, serial ports, etc. Even the slots for hard drive, DVD drive, keyboard, and mouse are found there.


A software program that has been developed for multiple operating systems is called multiplatform. Microsoft Word is a multiplatform application as it runs on both Windows and Macintosh platforms.

Media Access Control Address (MAC address)

A hardware identification number that identifies each device on a network in an unique way. Every network card whether Ethernet or Wi-Fi has a MAC address manufactured into them, because of this, the MAC address cannot be changed. Six two digit hexadecimal numbers make up MAC addresses.


A very big and expensive computer, which is capable of supporting a large number of users simultaneously is called a mainframe. Mainframe computers are mostly used in large businesses and for scientific purposes.

Malicious Software (Malware)

This term is used to refer to software programs, which have been created to harm or process unwanted actions on a computer system. Viruses, worms, trojan horses, and spyware are some examples of malware.

Modulator/Demodulator (Modem)

A communication device which allows one computer to connect with another and transfer data over telephone lines is called a modem. A modem can be either external or internal to the computer.


This term is used to refer to open sources relational database management system, which is based on the structure query language. This language is used for adding, removing, and modifying information in the database. Commonly found on web servers, MySQL can be used for a variety of other applications too.



Etiquette on the net is referred to as netiquette. Displaying good netiquette means respecting another person’s privacy and not doing anything that will frustrate another person. Some areas where good netiquette must be displayed are, while sending an e-mail, chatting online, and in newsgroups.


Two or more computers, which are connected to each other, form a network, this facilitates the sharing of files and information which can take place between a number of systems.

Network Interface Card (NIC)

This term refers to a card which needs to be inserted into the computer to connect it to a network. Some of these NICs are designed for particular types of networks, while there are those which can serve multiple networks too.

Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP)

An Internet application used mainly for reading and posting articles, as also transferring news among news servers. A message that has been sent will go through this protocol before being sent to the newsgroup.

Network Operations Center (NOC)

NOC is the location where the company’s servers and networking equipment are kept, managed, and monitored. This may be at an external location or within the company premises itself.


A term which originated in the 1990s and is used to refer to a new user of a computer or the Internet.


Half of one byte, which equals to a set of four bits, make up a nybble. Sometimes, the nybble is also known as a hexadecimal digit or “hex digit.”



The time when a computer or any other device is not connected to another device or turned on, we would say that it is offline. Not being connected to the Internet is another instance when one would use this term.

Operating System (OS)

This is the term used to refer to the software that communicates with the computer hardware. The OS is important because without it, it would not be possible to run software applications. The allocation of memory, processing of tasks, assessing of disks and peripherals are all tasks which are performed by the Operating Systems (OS).


The place where an outgoing e-mail message is stored until it is successfully sent to the recipient.

Open Shortest Path First (OSPF)

The method of finding the shortest path from one router to another in a LAN (Local Area Network) is called OSPF. When several routers are on a network, a table is created of the router connections, thus, when data is sent from one location to another, the best and the most efficient option available is selected for the data to be sent. This is done by the OSPF algorithm.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

The branch of computer science that involves reading text from paper and translating the images into a form that the computer can manipulate is called OCR. Using this system, it is possible to take a magazine or book article and feed it directly into an electronic computer file. This information is then read using a word processing program.

Object Linking and Embedding (OLE)

OLE is used to refer to a compound document standard developed by Microsoft Corporation, which enables the user to create objects using one application and linking or embedding them using the next. The objects that are embedded retain their original format.

Optical Media

Discs that are read by a laser are called Optical media. CD-ROMs, DVD-ROMs, and their variations along with Blu-ray are included under this term. Optical discs have a longer shelf life and are cheaper to produce.

Open source

A program in which the source code is known to the general public. This information is divulged for use and / or modification from its original design, which is done free of charge. The open source code is created as an effort in which programmers work on the code and improve it and then share the changes with the community.



Computer data sent over a network is called a packet. The amount of data sent over a network is small and this data comes to the computer in the form of many small packets. The address of its origin, destination, and the information that connects it to the related packets is what constitutes a packet.


A hidden series of characters that makes it possible for a user to gain access to a file, computer, or a program. Usually passwords are made up of several characters, which may include letters, numbers, and most symbols leaving out spaces. Passwords ensure that the computer is not accessed without permission.

Proxy Server

A server that all the computers in large businesses, organizations, and universities are connected to before they gain access to information on the Internet. Using a proxy server, the Internet speed is improved.


A common set of rules and instructions which a computer follows while communicating with each other is termed as Protocol. Many different types of protocols exist because of the many methods which computers use to communicate.


This term is used to refer to a website or a service that provides a broad spectrum of services and resources. E-mails, forums, search engines, and on-line shopping malls fall under this category.

Post Office Protocol (POP3)

A method of delivering e-mails, which is simple and standardized, is called POP3. E-mails are received by the POP3 mail server, whose task it is to filter them into the appropriate user folders. Messages are downloaded from the mail server to the user’s hard disk whenever a user connects to the mail server to check his mail.



A number of jobs that are in sequence, waiting to be processed is what makes up a queue. New jobs are added to the already existing line and are processed in the order in which they were sent.


QuickTime was developed by Apple Inc. It is a multimedia framework, which can handle various forms of digital video, media clips, sound, text, and a whole range of interactive panoramic images. It is available for operating systems like Microsoft Windows, Classic Mac OS, and Mac OS X.


Tape Drive

An essential element of a computer system, a tape drive can be used to store a large amount of information on magnetic tape cartridges. They can be used for daily back-up of information.

Task Bar

The horizontal bar located at the bottom of the screen is called a task bar. Apart from the Start button and the time, the task bar houses the programs which are open.

Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)

Developed by the U.S military, the TCP/IP was used to enable communication between different types of computers and networks. The former is connection-oriented and provides communication that is dependable and the latter provides packet routing.


This term is used to refer to a text-based program which is used to directly connect and interact with a remote host or a server.


Templates are formats which have already been designed. If required the text and graphics can be customized according to one’s own needs.

Terabyte (TB)

A terabyte is a unit of measurement which is equivalent to 1000 gigabytes.


A device which enables the user to be connected to a computer is called a terminal. Usually, a terminal consists of a monitor and a keyboard. Terminals are usually of three kinds: Intelligent, smart, and dumb terminal.

Text Editor

Text editor is a program which can be used to input, update, delete, write, or store information on the computer. Programs, data, or textual material are some of the kinds of information.


  • In networking, a series of bits found on a token-ring network, is called a token. It is used to send information to other computers.
  • A single element which is found in a programming language is called a token.
  • When we take into account security systems, token would refer to a small card with an ID code used to log into a network.


A row, column, or block of onscreen buttons or images is what a toolbar is. When a button or an image is clicked on a toolbar, certain functions of the program are activated.


When the mouse pointer is moved over a button on the toolbar, the name and description about it appears in a rectangular box, this is called tooltip.

Trojan Horse

A trojan horse refers to a program that looks genuine, but performs some wrong activity when it is run. The only difference that exists between trojan horses and viruses is that, the former do not replicate themselves.


A set of characters like letters, numbers, punctuation marks, and symbols of the same design make up a typeface. Typefaces are vector-based, because of this, they can be scaled very large and still appear sharp.


Unified Modeling Language (UML)

UML is a programming language used for visualizing, specifying, and documenting the artifacts of software systems. UML uses blueprints to simplify the complex designing process.


Unix is an operating system which was created by Bell Labs in the 1960s. It only gained popularity with the consumers in the 1990s. Unix, is still considered the most common operating system for web servers.


To upload is to send a file from a local computer to another remote computer.

Uniform Resource Locator (URL)

URL is an address that indicates where a file is located on the Internet.

Universal Serial Bus (USB)

The most common type of computer port used is the USB. Basically, USB is a protocol which is used when there is a data transfer taking place from one digital device to another.


A string of characters that is unique to a person and is used for identification while attempting to gain access to the Internet or any restricted website.


Software programs that perform tasks which are very specific and are usually related to managing system resources are called utility programs. Some of these programs help ensure that the computer is free from unwanted software, while other utility programs add functionality like desktop customization.


Vector Graphic

Vector images are made up of paths. A line, a square, a triangle, or a curvy shape are what constitute a path. Using these paths, simple and complex diagrams can be created.

Video Graphics Array (VGA)

Originally developed in 1987 by IBM, the VGA is the standard monitor interface used in most personal computers.

Video Card

A card that possesses the necessary circuits to create video signals that can be processed by the computer display.

Virtual Memory

Memory that is created when the RAM is full is called virtual memory. This is done by using the hard disk space of the computer.

Virtual Reality

An environment created artificially using computer hardware and software. In a virtual world, sound effects are also used along with visuals.


Viruses are tiny programs which are capable of causing harm to files and programs on the same network. Viruses are able to duplicate themselves, attach themselves to other programs and even travel across networks.

Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP)

A combination of hardware and software with the help of which people can use the Internet to make telephone calls. In this case, the voice data is sent using packets. Making calls this way is much cheaper as the user only pays for Internet access.

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

A network that is connected to the Internet and uses encryption to bring into order all data that is sent through the Internet making the entire network Virtually private, this is called VPN.

Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML)

This term is used to refer to a 3D navigation specification using which interactive 3D websites can be created. Virtual tours through malls and other buildings as also models of cars can be viewed using VRML.


Wide Area Network (WAN)

Computer networks that are connected together over long distances using telephone lines, fiber-optic cables, or satellite links are called WANs

Web Host

This term is used to refer to a service which a company provides to Internet users with online systems which are used for storing information, images, video, or any other content using the web, web hosts also provide Internet connectivity. A small fee is usually charged for using this service.

Web Page

A web page is used to refer to a document or file which is written in HTML and stored on the web server. This document can be viewed over the Internet with the help of a Web browser.


Web pages, images, sound, video, and other files make up a website. A website can be retrieved using a browser.


Windows is an operating system with a graphical user interface.

Windows Sockets (Winsock)

Winsock is an application programming interface which is used for developing Windows programs. These programs can communicate using the TCP/IP protocol.


This term is used to refer to a computer that has been set up to perform a set of tasks. Photo editing, audio recording, or video production are a few of those tasks. These workstations are connected together which make it possible for files and other information to be sent from one computer to another.

World Wide Web (WWW)

Researchers at CERN in Switzerland, created the concept of the WWW. The WWW is a collection of online documents which are stored in servers around the world. These servers are connected to the Internet, using a web browser, these documents can accessed over the Internet.


Extensible Hypertext Markup Language (XHTML)

This term is used to refer to a Markup language which is written XML.

Extensible Markup Language (XML)

XML is a language that is used to define documents. This is done using a standard format which can be read by any application that is compatible with XML.

Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformation (XSLT)

XSML is a language which is used to change XML or XSL documents into HTML, using a set of well-defined rules. This change makes it suitable for a browser to display.



Yobibyte is a unit of measurement which is equal to 2 to the 80th power. 1,208,925,819,614,629,174,706,176 bytes or 1,024 zebibytes make up a yobibyte.


The largest unit of measurement used for computer data is the yottabyte, it consists of 1,024 zettabytes.



A unit of data storage which equals to 2 to the 70th power is called a zebibyte. It is equal to 1,024 exbibytes.


Zettabyte is a name derived from Zeta which stands for the last letter of the Greek alphabet. A unit used to measure data storage, a zetabyte is equal to 1,024 exabytes.


This term is used for a file format which is used to compress or zip files. This is done in order to reduce storage space and time taken to transfer a file.

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