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The A-Z of Technology Terms

If you want to know what all those vague technology terms may mean or even if you are totally unaware of what they mean, here is our summary listing of the A-Z of technology terms.

An account is an often used term to describe what rights a user has on a network or system such as an Internet Service provider (ISP). This will usually detail what "privileges" the user has.

Adobe Acrobat Reader (PDF Documents)
Acrobat Reader is software available through Adobe that allows you to view a PDF document (A document that does not allow editing). It can be downloaded free of charge from Adobe.

Analogue is a conventional method of transmitting data. It is the method that standard telephones operate as distinct from digital which provides for greater quality and speed of transmission. Attachment
An attachment is a document sent with an email message. You can attach many types of files to an email but you should be wary of attaching large files as these can take a lot of time to download. If you have a large file you are best to compress the file using software such as Winzip. By attaching the file the receiver can edit or amend as required.

The back-end is often used computer term that relates to that part of an application that performs an essential task not apparent to the user. It is often refers to the process end of applications.

Backward Compatible
Backward compatibility relates to superseded software that can relate to earlier versions. eg. MS Word 2010 can read MS Word 2003 files, so it is backward compatible.

Bandwidth is the maximum amount of data that can travel a communications path in a given time, usually measured in seconds.

A bookmark is a saved link to a Web page that has been added to a list of saved links. Microsoft Internet Explorer denotes these as "favourites."

Boolean Operators
Most search engines (eg. Google) allow you to limit your search or make it more specific by using words like "And," "Or," and "Not." These words are known as boolean operators because of their origin as terms in logic.

Boot (re-boot)
To load and initialise the operating system on a computer. Basically, this is starting up your PC. To reboot is to turn the PC on again in Windows you use the CTRL+ALT+DEL keys as a "soft" boot. This means that you restart the PC rather than turn it completely off and on as this can cause damage to your PC's hard disk.

Bounce Back
An electronic mail message that is undeliverable and returns an error notification to the sender is said to "bounce back". Check that you have typed the address correctly.

Broadband is a type of communication where a single wire can carry more than one type of signal at once, from audio to video frequencies. Cable TV (eg. Foxtel) is one technology that uses broadband data transmission.

A software program that allows you to surf the Web. The most popular web browsers are Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer.

When you download a web page, the data is "cached," meaning it is temporarily stored on your computer. The next time you want that page, instead of requesting the file from the web server, your web browser just accesses it from the cache, so the page loads quickly. The one downside to this is that if the website you have cached is often updated you may miss the latest "version". If this occurs you can use the refresh button on your browser.

Chat Room
An electronic space, typically a website or a section an ISP where people can go to communicate online in real time. Chat Rooms are generally devoted to a particular interest or topic.

A "chip" is the microprocessor that performs many functions and calculations that make your computer run. A chip is also referred to as the CPU or the processor.

Compression is the reduction of the size of a file. A compression program will save a file differently so that it takes up less memory and can be downloaded or sent over the Internet more quickly.

Content refers to the text and information included in a website, as opposed to the design and structure of the site.

A piece of code or data created by a web server that is stores on a user's computer. It is used to keep track of the user's patterns and preferences.

The Central Processing Unit is the brains behind your computer. The CPU is responsible for performing calculations and tasks that make programs work. The higher the speed of a CPU the faster the CPU undertakes the calculations and tasks.

A database is a set of information that is structured primarily to allow calculations and analysis to be undertaken. Microsoft Access is the main lower level database used.

A fragmented file or folder is split up into many pieces and scattered over the storage capacity on your hard drive. This means that it takes a lot longer to load and process files. A regular defragment will ensure that files are stored more logically and will help speed up processes.

Dial Up Account
A dial-up account connects via a standard telephone line to an internet service provider via your modem. This then connects to the internet and allows you to surf the net

Disk Drive
A round object that you use to store digital information. Floppy Disks (FDD) are usually allocated the A: Drive and the Hard Disk is usually allocated the C:\ Drive (HDD) on your PC.

A domain is a set of computers on a network that are managed as a unit. On the Internet, a domain is defined by an IP or URL address. The way users encounter a domain is through the domain name.

Downloading is the method by which users access and save or "pull down" software or other files to their own computers from a remote computer via the Internet.

Device Driver
A device driver is a small program that allows a peripheral device such as a printer or scanner to connect to your PC.

Email or electronic mail is a way of sending messages over the internet. Popular email applications are Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird, Gmail and Yahoo Mail.

Email Address
An email address is a string of letters and punctuation marks that identifies a person or organisation on the internet.

Floppy Disk
A small, portable plastic disk coated in a magnetisable substance used for storing computer data, readable by a computer with a floppy disk drive. The standard floppy disk is now 3.5" and holds 1.44Mb of data.

To export data is to format it differently so that it can be read by a different application. You can do this via many applications such as Excel and Word so that Lotus or WordPerfect can read it.

A point within a network that interconnects with other networks.

Graphics Interchange Format or GIF is a graphics file format. Because GIF files are compressed, the file can be quickly and easily transmitted over a network. GIF is one of the main graphics format on the Internet.

Hard Disk
The hard disk drive (HDD) of the computer is where information is stored. Applications as well as files are stored on the HDD. The bigger the HDD the more data that can be stored.

Home Page
The page by which a user normally enters a website. It is usually the starting point of an organisation's or individual's website.

To import a file or data is to transfer that file from another application into the format you are working in.

A set of interconnected networks which allow computers in different locations to exchange information. The Internet includes services such as the World Wide Web, electronic mail, file transfer (FTP), chat and remote access to networks and computers.

Internet Explorer
Microsoft Internet Explorer is the graphical World Wide Web browser that is provided with the Microsoft Windows operating systems.

Internet Service Provider
An Internet Service Provider, or ISP, is a company which provides access to the Internet. eg.BigPond, Ozemail etc.

An intranet is basically a private, internal internet specific to an organisation or group.

Joint Photographer Experts Group; an image file format that tends to be used for full-colour scanned photographs shown as websites.

A laptop (or notebook PC) is a portable computer that can be battery or mains powered. They provide flexibility beyond the standard PC but often at a significant price premium.

A highlighted word or image within a website or document that will take you to a reference point or site when you click on it.

A measure of computer processor storage and real and virtual memory. A megabyte (Mb) is 2 to the 20th power bytes, or 1,048,576 bytes in decimal notation.

Megahertz is the unit used to measure the speed of a computer's processor. (eg. 2.8Ghz)

A modem (mo(dulate)dem(odulate) allows computers to transmit information to each other via ordinary telephone lines.

The screen or monitor typically come in sizes from 15" - 21" (measured diagonally).

A network is two or more computers connected to each other so they can share resources

Online refers to a computer or user currently connected to a network or to the Internet. Online is often used to refer to resources available on the Internet.

Operating System
The major operating system is Microsoft's Windows. Others include Mac OS X and Linux. An operating system, or OS, is the software that manages all the computer's processes and runs applications.

An acronym for Portable Document Format. PDF is a file type created by Adobe Systems, Inc. that allows fully formatted, high-resolution, PostScript documents to be downloaded and transferred without being able to be edited (unless you have a full Adobe Acrobat software licence). It is read using free software called Acrobat Reader.

Post Office Protocol. An Internet protocol used by your ISP to handle email. A POP account is an email account.

Ppm stands for Pages Per Minute and is used generally when measuring the speed of printers.

The processor is the brain behind your computer. It is responsible for performing calculations and tasks that make programs work. The faster the processor, the quicker programs can process computations.

A protocol is the standard or set of rules that two computers use to communicate with each other.

Random Access Memory (RAM) is usually referred to as a computer's "memory" - meaning that it stores information that is used by running programs and applications. More memory lets you run more applications at the same time without degrading your system's performance.

Indicates the number of dots (or pixels) that make up an image on a screen or printer. It is denoted in dpi (dots pre inch). The higher the resolution, the finer and smoother the images appear when displayed at a given size.

Read-Only Memory. A chip or chips with information (usually a program) written into them at the time of their manufacture. These chips cannot be re-written, hence the term "read-only." The contents of ROM remain even when the computer is turned off.

A scanner is a piece of equipment that captures images (much like a camera) from various sources for editing or display.

Screen Saver
A moving picture or pattern that appears on your screen when you have not moved the mouse or pressed a key on the computer for a specified period of time. Screen savers prevent screen damage caused when the same areas of light and dark are displayed for long periods of time.

Search Engine
A search engine is a type of software that creates indexes of databases or Internet sites based on the titles of files, keywords, or the full text of files. The major search engines are,,

Secure Socket Layer
A protocol that allows you to send encrypted messages across the Internet. This is generally used when transmitting confidential information (eg. personal data or credit card info) over the net. SSL uses public key encryption to pass data between your browser and a given server (for example, to submit credit card information). A URL that begins with "https" indicates that an SSL connection will be used.

Serial Port
A port that transmits data a bit at a time, used for modems, mice, certain printers and communication devices.

A server is a computer that handles requests for data, e-mail, file transfers, and other network services from other computers (i.e., clients or workstations).

Use of email addresses to send unsolicited messages for the purpose of marketing.

To unzip a zip file is to extract compressed files from one archive zip file. The files will also be decompressed if they were compressed in the archive.

Unique Resource Locator or web address. A URL is the string of characters you type into a browser to access a website or other resource on the Internet. (eg. )

A virus is a piece of programming code inserted into other programming to cause damage. Viruses can be sent in many forms but are often received in email messages that when opened may erase data or cause damage to your hard disk. Recent viruses also enter your email system and send themselves to your address list.

A Web site is a related collection of files belonging to an individual or organisation. It is the address location of a server on the Internet.

To zip files is to archive and compress them into one file of smaller size often using the WinZip program. This can also be the terminology used when you use a Zip disk.

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