How to Decode Computer Jargon

Having trouble understanding some of the computer lingo? Look no further, as here is a quick list of the most commonly used phrases in computing.


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    Learn the hardware terms:
    • Hard Drive – This is the disk in your computer where all your data, programs, and files are magnetically stored.
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    • Router – A cigar box sized box, usually with a small aerial attached which splits the internet signal coming into the house and transmits it both wirelessly and down cables attached to it.
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    • RAM – Random Access Memory. This is the temporary memory of the computer used to store things it is currently working on. Think of preparing a meal. You have all your ingredients (data) in the cupboard (hard drive) and you have your kitchen counter (RAM) where you are going to prepare the meal. If you have a small kitchen counter then you can only prepare one part of the meal at once, and you need to spend more time making trips to the cupboard to retrieve the ingredients.

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    Learn the software terms:
    • Driver – A bit of software your computer uses to operate hardware. It acts as a translator allowing your computer to talk to hardware devices.

    • Operating System – Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 are all operating systems - the main program which allows the user to access data, run programs, etc. The purpose of an operating system is to organize and control hardware and software so that the device it lives in behaves in a flexible but predictable way.
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    Learn the terms relating to actions you can perform:
    • Downloading – Taking a file off the Internet and saving it to your computer.
    • Installing – Installing a program is often confused with downloading a program but it is important to understand the difference.
    • Uploading – The opposite of downloading. Taking a file stored on your computer and saving it to the Internet (such as a server connected to the Internet)
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    Imagine you just purchased a new bookcase from Ikea. Downloading it would be having it delivered in its box. Installing it would be unpacking all the parts, putting it together and setting it up in the location you want it to go.
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    Learn what an Internet Service Provider (ISP) is. An ISP is a company that supplies connection to the internet i.e. Sky, Virgin, British Telecom, etc. Often they will also provide their customers with an email account.

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Categories: Basic Computer Skills