IT Jargon Buster

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Z

Access
See Microsoft Access.
Access point
A type of radio transmitter that allows computers to connect to a wireless network.
Adobe Flash Player
A free browser plugin that displays animations, presentations and interactive graphics on a web page.
Adobe Reader
A free program that allows you to read documents in PDF format.
ADSL
Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line. Technology that allows rapid transmission of data over a telephone line. ADSL provides a convenient method of accessing the Internet at broadband speeds without the need for a cable connection. Unlike dial-up, ADSL allows you to make phone calls whilst online.
Adware
Advertising Software. Software that contains or displays advertising. Adware installed without a user's consent is a form of malware.
AGP
Accelerated Graphics Port. A type of graphics adapter powerful enough to process complex graphics, e.g. 3-dimensional images and virtual reality.
AMD
Advanced Micro Devices Inc. A leading manufacturer of CPUs for the PC.
Antivirus software
Software designed to protect your computer against viruses. Because new viruses are unleashed continually, it is essential to update your antivirus software on a regular basis. Updates are usually downloaded automatically from the Internet every day.
Apple
An American company famous for developing the Macintosh computer and the iPod MP3 player.
Application
A program used to perform a specific task, e.g. a word-processor.
Backup
A secondary copy of important documents and data kept as insurance against loss due to a hardware failure or accidental deletion. It is essential to keep backup copies of all your important data, preferably on removable storage or on a different computer. Unfortunately, it usually takes a disaster before most computer users realise the importance of making backups.
Backward compatibility
The ability of new technology to work with older technology. For example, a new version of an application may use a different file format. If it is backward compatible, it will still be able to open files created with the previous version.
Bandwidth
The amount of information or data that can be sent over a network connection in a given period of time. Bandwidth is usually stated in bits per second (bps), kilobits per second (kbps), or megabits per second (mbps).
BIOS
Basic Input-Output System. A program stored in a ROM chip on the motherboard which configures hardware components such as the keyboard and hard disk. The BIOS makes it possible for the computer to boot and load the operating system. You can usually access a computer's BIOS by pressing Delete just after switching it on.
Bit
The smallest element of computer data. A bit is a number equal to 1 or 0. The number is represented in digital electronics by a switch that is either on or off. Larger numbers can be stored as groups of several bits. A group of eight bits is known as a byte.
Blog
See Web log.
Bluetooth
A short-range wireless technology used to transfer data between mobile phones, computers and other devices.
Boot
To start up a computer. Because the computer cannot run until it has loaded a program, and it cannot load a program until it is running, it is said to "lift itself up by its own bootstraps" - which explains the origin of the term. In fact it is the BIOS which makes it possible for a computer to start up.
Bot
See Robot.
Broadband
A broad bandwidth (i.e. fast) connection to the Internet. Broadband is now much more common than the older, slower type of Internet connection known as Dial-up.
Browser
A program that displays pages from the World Wide Web and allows you to move from one web page to another by clicking hyperlinks. Popular browsers include Internet Explorer, Firefox, Netscape and Opera.
Bug
A mistake in the design of a computer program that prevents it from working correctly. The term originates from a malfunction in one of the earliest computers which was caused by a moth.
Burn
The process of writing data onto a CD-R or CD-RW to create an audio or data CD.
Byte
A group of eight bits. A byte can store a number between 0 and 255 which is often used to represent a character. Computer storage space is measured in bytes, kilobytes, megabytes and gigabytes.
Cable
A broadband transmission technology that relies on cables or fiber-optic lines, originally developed for television and now used for Internet access. An alternative to cable is ADSL, which only requires a telephone line.
Cache
Memory or storage space that holds copies of recently accessed data. Browsers usually keep recently viewed web pages in a cache so users can return to them quickly. Most hard disks have a memory cache to speed up the retrieval of recently accessed data.
CD
Compact Disk. An optical storage medium developed for audio and now also used to store computer data. The capacity of a standard CD is approximately 700 megabytes.
CD-R
Compact Disk Recordable. A type of CD which can be used only once to store information. Once data is burnt onto a blank CD-R, its contents cannot be modified.
CD-ROM
Compact Disk Read-Only Memory. A type of CD that allows information to be retrieved but not modified. The term is a misnomer, because CD-ROMs are actually a form of storage rather than memory.
CD-RW
Compact Disk Re-Writable. A type of CD which can be erased and reused.
Character
A letter, number, punctuation mark or symbol.
Click
To press a button on the mouse while pointing to an object on the screen. The left-hand mouse button is used unless otherwise indicated (see right-click).
Clipboard
An area of memory which stores text, graphics and other data when it is cut or copied so that it can be pasted somewhere else later on.
Codec
Compressor-Decompressor. Software that converts compressed audio or video into an uncompressed form so it can be played. For example, the playback of MP3 audio files requires an MP3 codec.
Compression
The process of encoding data so that it takes up less space. Apart from saving memory and storage space, compression speeds up the transmission of data over a network and reduces bandwidth consumption. However, it sometimes results in loss of information or a reduction in quality. Most of the images on the World Wide Web are compressed JPEG or GIF files. Other compression formats include Zip (primarily for text-based documents) and MP3 (for audio data).
Cookie
A small file created by a browser to store information about a web site. Cookies are typically used to identify previous visitors to the site, remember their user names and passwords, and customize the site to suit their preferences. It is usually safe to delete all the cookies on your computer.
Copy
See Clipboard.
CPU
Central Processing Unit. A microchip that acts as the computer's "brain", executing instructions sequentially as if following a recipe for making a cake. The speed of a CPU is measured in megahertz or gigahertz. The most common CPUs are manufactured by Intel (e.g. Pentium) and AMD (e.g. Athlon, Duron, Sempron).
Crawler
See Robot.
CRT
Cathode Ray Tube. A large, heavy type of computer monitor that works like a traditional television. CRT monitors are becoming less common due to the popularity of flat screens.
CSS
Cascading Style Sheet. A set of instructions that tells a browser how to display the content of a web page. A single style sheet can be used to specify the fonts, colours and layout of an entire web site.
Cursor
Usually refers to the flashing vertical line that indicates the current position in a document. (Strictly speaking, "cursor" refers to the mouse pointer; the correct term for the flashing line is actually "insertion point" or "caret".)
Cut
See Clipboard.
Database
A collection of related tables of information organized in a way that allows rapid retrieval, sorting, and reorganization of data. Databases are created using specialised applications such as Microsoft Access.
DDR
Double Data Rate. A type of RAM.
Debugging
The process of finding and correcting bugs in a computer program.
Device driver
A piece of software that controls an item of hardware such as a printer or scanner. After purchasing a new device it is usually necessary to install a driver before using it. If the driver does not work correctly, an updated version can usually be downloaded from the manufacturer's web site.
Dial-up
A slow and almost obsolete method of connecting to the Internet via a telephone line. It is usually not possible to make telephone calls when using a dial-up connection.
DIMM
Dual Inline Memory Module. A type of memory card that can be plugged into the motherboard of a computer.
Directory
An alternative name for a folder.
Diskette
An alternative name for a floppy disk.
Domain name
A unique name that identifies a web site. Internet addresses begin with a domain name (e.g. "microsoft.com"), which is a substitute for an IP address. The domain name makes the URL easier to remember.
DOS
See MS-DOS.
Download
To copy a file from a networked computer such as a web server connected to the Internet. Indiscriminate downloading of software from untrustworthy sources is one of the most common causes of computer problems such as viruses, spyware, adware and other kinds of malware.
DPI
Dots Per Inch. A measure of resolution that determines the quality of an image.
Drag
To move or resize an object on the screen by holding down a mouse button and moving the mouse to a different position before releasing the button. Dragging is usually done with the left-hand mouse button.
Driver
See Device Driver.
DVD
Digital Versatile Disk. An optical storage medium with a much higher capacity than the CD, developed to replace the videocassette and now used to store computer data as well as video. The storage capacity of a standard DVD is about 4.7 gigabytes (equivalent to almost 7 CDs).
DVD-R
Digital Versatile Disk Recordable. A type of DVD which can be used only once to store information. Once data is burnt onto a blank DVD-R, its contents cannot be modified.
DVD-RW
Digital Versatile Disk Re-Writable. A type of DVD which can be erased and reused.
Dynamic content
Refers to web pages generated by a server as and when required. For example, when you purchase something online, the page that displays your "shopping basket" is dynamic content; there is no permanent page on the Internet that contains information about what you have chosen to buy. Often contrasted with static content.
E-mail
Electronic mail. A system of exchanging messages by means of computers attached to a network.
E-mail client
An application used to send and receive e-mail.
Encryption
A process that renders information unintelligible to anyone not authorized to read it. Wireless network connections are often encrypted to prevent data from being intercepted during transmission.
Ethernet adapter
The most common type of network interface card.
Excel
See Microsoft Excel.
Expansion card
A circuit board that can be plugged into a computer's motherboard to provide additional functions. For example, to connect a computer to a wireless network it may be necessary to install a wireless network card.
FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions. An acronym in common use on the Internet.
File
A named block of information on a hard disk or other storage device. Files can contain any kind of data including documents, pictures and programs. They are grouped together in folders or subfolders which together form a hierarchical structure like the branches of a tree.
File extension
A suffix appended to the name of a file and separated by a full-stop. The extension helps to identify the file format and determines the application used to open the file. For example, Word documents usually end in ".doc" (although this is not always apparent because the extension may be hidden).
File format
The system of organizing data within a file so that it can understood by a particular application. A standardised file format makes it possible for different programs to share the same information. For example, web pages are stored in a format called HTML, which is understood by all browsers. The format of a file can usually be deduced from its file extension.
Firewall
A program or device that limits access to a computer from an external network for security reasons. A computer connected to the Internet without a firewall is more vulnerable to hackers.
Fixed disk
See Hard disk.
Flash
see Adobe Flash Player.
Flash memory
A special type of memory that preserves its contents when the power is switched off. Flash memory is often used in USB removable storage devices and MP3 players.
Flat screen
A compact, light-weight type of computer monitor with a perfectly flat TFT-LCD screen, unlike the slightly curved surface of a CRT.
Floppy disk
A flexible magnetic disk enclosed in a plastic sleeve. Most floppy disks can store 1.44 megabytes of computer data, which is quite small by today's standards: a single CD is equivalent to almost 500 floppy disks.
Folder
A container for grouping files together on a hard disk and other storage devices.
Font
A graphic design specifying the shape, style, size and spacing of a set of characters.
Freeware
Free software, usually downloaded from the Internet.
FTP
File Transfer Protocol. A protocol that allows files to be transmitted over a network from one computer to another. FTP is frequently used to update web sites by copying files to the web server.
GB
See Gigabyte.
GHz
See Gigahertz.
GIF
Graphics Interchange Format. An image file format popular on the Internet because of its high compression and small file size. GIF is especially suitable for images containing large areas of uniform colour (e.g. graphics), whereas JPEG is better for complex, realistic images (e.g. photographs).
Gigabyte
A measure of computer storage or memory capacity equal to 1024 megabytes. Why 1024? Computers count in twos, and 1024 is the closest power of two to 1000. A gigabyte is often wrongly assumed to be 1000 megabytes.
Gigahertz
A measure of frequency equal to one billion (i.e. thousand million) cycles per second, or 1000 megahertz. The clock frequency of a CPU is expressed in gigahertz and is related to the number of instructions executed per second.
Google
An American company known for its popular search engine of the same name.
Graphics
Computer-generated images.
Graphics adapter
A device that generates graphics to be displayed on a monitor. Many motherboards have a socket for connecting a PCI or AGP graphics adapter in the form of an expansion card. Boards which have a built-in adapter are said to have integrated or on-board graphics.
Hacker
A person who attempts to gain unauthorised access to a computer system.
Hard disk
A storage device containing a rigid magnetic disk in a sealed metal housing inside a computer. Hard disks they are extremely fast and can store much more data than removable storage media such as CDs and floppy disks. Also known as a "hard drive" or "fixed disk".
Hardware
The physical components of a computer system, e.g. keyboards, monitors, CPUs, memory, etc. Often contrasted with software.
Home page
1. The main page of a web site (usually a file named "index.html").
2. A web page that is displayed automatically by a browser when it is opened.
Hosting
The provision of web space by an Internet company or ISP.
HTML
Hypertext Markup Language. A standard file format used to store web pages. An HTML file includes formatting instructions called "tags" that tell the browser how its contents are to be displayed.
HTTP
Hypertext Transfer Protocol. A protocol that allows web pages to be transmitted over the Internet. When a browser requests a page from a web server, the two computers communicate using HTTP. This accounts for the prefix "http" at the beginning of a web address.
Hyperlink
An underlined word or phrase on a web page that can be clicked with the mouse to move to another page or to a different location on the same page.
Hypertext
Text containing hyperlinks.
Icon
A small picture representing an object such as a document, program or device.
Intel
A leading manufacturer of CPUs for the PC.
Internet
A global network connecting millions of computers, also known as the "Net".
Internet Explorer
See Microsoft Internet Explorer.
IP address
Internet Protocol address. A sequence of numbers that identifies a computer or network device on the Internet. An IP address consists of four numbers between 0 and 255 separated by full-stops, e.g. "192.168.0.1".
ISP
Internet Service Provider. A company that supplies an Internet connection. Most ISPs provide additional services such as e-mail, web space and domain name registration.
Java
A programming language used to create software that can run on almost any type of computer or operating system. Programs written in Java can also be embedded in web pages to make them more interactive. Not to be confused with Javascript.
Javascript
A script used to modify the behaviour of web pages. Javascript can be combined with HTML to create an interactive document. For example, a page containing a quiz could use Javascript to check the user's answers. Not to be confused with Java.
JPEG
Joint Photographic Experts Group. An image file format popular on the Internet because of its high compression and small file size. JPEG is especially suitable for complex, realistic images (e.g. photographs), whereas GIF is better for images containing large areas of uniform colour (e.g. graphics).
KB
See Kilobyte.
Kilobyte
A measure of computer storage or memory capacity equal to 1024 bytes. Why 1024? Computers count in twos, and 1024 is the closest power of two to 1000. A kilobyte is often wrongly assumed to be 1000 bytes.
LCD
Liquid Crystal Display. See TFT LCD.
Log in
To identify yourself by entering a user name and password.
Mac
See Macintosh.
Macintosh
A popular desktop computer designed by Apple and usually referred to as a "Mac". The Macintosh is an alternative to the more ubiquitous Windows PC.
Macro
A sequence of commands stored for later use in an application such as a word-processor. Creating a macro can save time when performing a common or repetitive task.
Malware
Malicious Software. Software which intentionally damages a computer or causes inconvenience to the user, whether for commercial, criminal or destructive purposes. Examples of malware include viruses, spyware and adware.
MB
See Megabyte.
Megabyte
A measure of computer storage or memory capacity equal to 1024 kilobytes. Why 1024? Computers count in twos, and 1024 is the closest power of two to 1000. A megabyte is often wrongly assumed to be 1000 kilobytes.
Megahertz
A measure of frequency equal to one million hertz (cycles per second). The clock frequency of a CPU is expressed in megahertz or gigahertz and is related to the number of instructions executed per second.
Memory
Part of a computer that stores programs and data during processing. The most common type of memory is RAM. When you create a document using a word-processor or similar program, the document is stored in RAM. Data that exists in RAM is lost when the power is switched off. To preserve the document, it must be saved onto a permanent storage medium such as the hard disk.
Menu
A list of commands available to the user of a computer application.
MHz
See Megahertz.
Microfilter
A device that prevents telephone calls from interfering with data transmission over an ADSL broadband connection. All telephones and modems should be connected via a microfilter when using ADSL.
Microsoft
A large multinational software company best known for its Windows operating system.
Microsoft Access
An application for creating databases. Part of Microsoft Office.
Microsoft Excel
An application for creating spreadsheets. Part of Microsoft Office.
Microsoft Internet Explorer
A free browser included with Windows. Often abbreviated to "IE".
Microsoft Office
A suite of administrative, communications and business applications including Access, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and Word.
Microsoft Outlook
An application for managing e-mail messages, address lists, engagements and appointments. Part of Microsoft Office; not to be confused with Outlook Express.
Microsoft Outlook Express
An e-mail client included with Windows. Not to be confused with Outlook.
Microsoft PowerPoint
An application for creating presentations. Part of Microsoft Office.
Microsoft Windows
A computer operating system produced my Microsoft. Windows dominates the market, running on approximately 90% of all personal computers.
Microsoft Word
A common word-processor. Part of Microsoft Office.
Modem
Modulator/Demodulator. A device that allows computer information to be sent over a telephone line or cable TV connection. The most common types of modem are ADSL, cable and dial-up. Sometimes the modem is built into another network device such as a router.
Monitor
A computer screen. The most common types of monitor are CRT and TFT-LCD.
Motherboard
The main circuit board inside a computer. The motherboard provides an infrastructure that links the CPU, memory, hard disk and other components together. Certain functions may be built into the motherboard, e.g. audio and graphics processing; those not supported by the motherboard require a suitable expansion card.
Mouse
A device that controls a pointer on the screen and allows objects to be manipulated by clicking or dragging them.
MP3
A file format for storing compressed audio data. Converting an audio file to MP3 can reduce its size by a factor of ten without serious loss of quality.
MP3 player
A portable device capable of playing MP3 audio files.
MS-DOS
Microsoft Disk Operating System. A text-based operating system designed for the very first PCs. Most operation in DOS were carried out by typing a command, e.g. "RENAME C:\OLD.TXT NEW.TXT". Some DOS programs can still be run on modern PCs thanks to backward compatibility.
Multimedia
The presentation of data in more than one medium, e.g. a combination of text, graphics, audio and video.
Network
A group of computers connected together so that they can share data and other resources.
Network Interface Card
An expansion card that allows a computer to be connected to a network. Also known as a "NIC".
NIC
See Network Interface Card.
Office
See Microsoft Office.
Online
Connected to a network. Also refers to activities that require a connection to the Internet, e.g. online banking.
Operating system
The software that controls a computer system. The operating system is loaded when the computer boots up. It performs basic tasks such as processing keyboard input, updating the screen, accessing disk drives, allocating memory and running programs. Common operating systems include Windows, Unix, Linux and Mac OS.
Optical storage
A form of storage that reads data from a disk using a laser. Most optical disk drives can read or write data in one or more of the following formats: CD Audio, CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD, DVD-R, DVD-RW.
Outlook
See Microsoft Outlook.
Outlook Express
See Microsoft Outlook Express.
P2P
See Peer-to-peer.
Password
A sequence of characters used to confirm someone's identity and prevent unauthorised access to a computer system. Choosing a secure password is important because hackers may try thousands of possible passwords when attempting to break into a system. Common words and names should either be avoided altogether, or combined with numbers, punctuation marks and unpredictable capitalisation.
Paste
See Clipboard.
Patch
An update that fixes a problem in a piece of software after it has been released.
PC
Personal Computer. Usually refers to computers that are compatible with Microsoft Windows or MS-DOS.
PCI
Peripheral Component Interconnect. A standard for connecting expansion cards to a motherboard.
PCMCIA
Personal Computer Memory Card International Association. A standard for connecting small, credit card-sized expansion cards to a laptop computer.
PDF
Portable Document Format. A file format used to exchange and view print-ready documents. PDF is a universal format that preserves the fonts, images, graphics, and layout of a document exactly as intended by the author. A free program called Adobe Reader is required to display PDF documents.
Peer-to-peer
A method of sharing files with other people via the Internet. Peer-to-peer technology allows computer users to share files directly without uploading them to a server.
Peripheral
A device connected to a computer system, e.g. a printer.
Phishing
A form of Internet fraud that involves tricking people into revealing confidential information (e.g. credit card details, user names, passwords etc.) by means of a fake e-mail that appears to come from a well-known, legitimate organisation (e.g. a bank).
Pixel
Picture Element. The smallest point of light that can be displayed on a computer monitor. Images are formed from thousands of pixels of varying colours and intensities.
Plugin
A software component that adds features to another application. The component "plugs into" the application. For example, some web pages can only be displayed in a browser that has a particular plugin. Common browser plugins include Adobe Reader and Adobe Flash Player.
POP3
Post Office Protocol 3. A protocol used to download e-mail messages from a server. Messages are usually sent to the server using the SMTP protocol.
Port
A place where information enters or leaves a computer. For example, a printer port is a socket used to connect a printer.
Power Supply Unit
A hardware component that supplies low-voltage direct current to the motherboard and allows the computer to be switched off by the operating system.
PowerPoint
See Microsoft PowerPoint.
Presentation
A sequence of slides containing text, graphics, photographs, diagrams and charts, usually displayed on an overhead projector to illustrate a talk or lecture. Presentations can be created using an application such as Microsoft PowerPoint.
Processor
See CPU.
Program
A sequence of instructions that can be executed by a computer, or more specifically, its CPU.
Protocol
A set of rules that dictates how computers are to communicate and exchange data. Computers must observe the same protocol in order to communicate successfully.
PSU
See Power Supply Unit.
Query
A request for information from a database, usually written in SQL.
RAM
Random Access Memory. The most common type of computer memory. Data stored in RAM is lost when the power is switched off.
Reboot
To restart a computer. See Boot for more information.
Removable storage
A storage medium that can be removed from a computer. The most common types of removable storage are CDs and DVDs, USB flash memory devices and floppy disks.
Resolution
The number of pixels in a given area, usually measured in DPI. The resolution of a monitor, printer or digital camera determines the quality of the images it can generate. High resolution images occupy more memory and storage space and require more processing power. Monitor resolution is sometimes expressed as a total number of pixels (e.g. 1024 x 768) assuming a certain screen size (e.g. 17-inch).
Right-click
To click with the right-hand mouse button.
Rip
The process of copying tracks from an audio CD onto a computer. Once a CD has been ripped, the resulting audio files be converted to MP3 format and played on an MP3 player.
Robot
A computer that systematically visits every page it can find on the World Wide Web by following hyperlinks. Most search engines use robots to analyse and index web pages. Also called a "bot", "crawler" or "spider".
ROM
Read-Only Memory. A type of memory containing data that cannot be changed. Data stored in ROM is fixed at the point of manufacture and is preserved when the power is switched off.
Router
A device that determines the correct destination for data being transmitted from one network to another. Most domestic routers allow up to four computers to be connected together and share the same Internet connection.
Safe mode
A way of loading Windows that helps diagnose problems resulting from a faulty or incompatible device driver. In Safe Mode, only the most important drivers are loaded (e.g. those that control the keyboard and mouse). Once the system is able to boot up normally, the other drivers can be tested individually to find out which one is causing the problem.
Save
To transfer a document from memory to the hard disk or removable storage so that it is preserved when the computer is switched off.
Scanner
A device similar to a photocopier that captures a digital image of a document or photograph so that it can be displayed on a computer.
Screensaver
A program that displays a moving image on the screen when a computer has not been used for several minutes. Screensavers were originally designed to extend the life of the monitor by illuminating only a small number of pixels, leaving most of the screen blank. Partly due to their popularity with children, screensavers downloaded from the Internet are frequently used to spread adware, spyware, viruses and other forms of malware.
Script
A program that is interpreted and executed by another program, rather than directly by the CPU. For example, Javascript embedded in a web page is processed by the browser when it loads the page.
Scroll bar
A bar with arrow buttons at each end which allows information that does not fit inside a window to be moved into view.
Search engine
A computer system that uses a robot to index documents on the World Wide Web. Search engines typically provide a web page where you can search for documents that meet certain criteria. Popular search engines include Google, Yahoo! and Windows Live Search.
Server
A computer that delivers information to other computers in response to a request transmitted over a network. For example, a browser might send an HTTP request to a web server in order to display a web page.
Shareware
Software that can be downloaded from the Internet and evaluated for a limited period before purchase.
Shortcut
An icon which points to an object such as a document, program or device to make it easier to access from a different location. Shortcut icons in Windows are indicated with an arrow in one corner. Deleting a shortcut does not delete the item it points to.
SMTP
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. A protocol used to send e-mail messages to a server on the Internet. The recipient can download them from the server using the POP3 protocol.
Software
Programs that are loaded into a computer's memory for processing, e.g. operating systems, device drivers, applications, codecs, plugins etc. Often contrasted with hardware.
Spam
Electronic junk mail. Because e-mail is practically free, unsolicited messages can be sent to millions of computer users even though only a tiny fraction of it reaches its target audience. Spam typically contains advertising, viruses and worms. It is also a vehicle for phishing and other scams. Spammers use robots to search for e-mail addresses on the Internet. If you allow your e-mail address to be displayed on a web page, you will probably receive a considerable amount of spam.
Spider
See Robot.
Spreadsheet
A table of figures and formulas used to perform calculations in an application such as Microsoft Excel.
Spyware
A program designed to steal confidential information (e.g. credit card details, user names, passwords etc.). Software downloaded from the Internet may contain spyware and other forms of malware.
SQL
Structured Query Language. The language used in a query to request information from a database. For example, a list of books by Tolstoy could be generated with the following query: SELECT Title FROM Books WHERE Author = "Tolstoy".
Static content
Refers to web pages that stay the same unless updated by the author. Often constrasted with dynamic content.
Storage
Hardware that is capable of storing data. Storage devices can retain information permanently (e.g. hard disks, CDs, DVDs and floppy disks), unlike memory, which loses any data stored in it when the power is switched off.
Subdirectory
An alternative name for a subfolder.
Subfolder
A folder located inside another folder.
TCP/IP
Transfer Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. Protocols that allow computers on the Internet to communicate and exchange data.
TFT-LCD
Thin Film Transistor Liquid Crystal Display. A technology used in flat-screen computer monitors.
Tool Bar
A row of buttons near the top of a window providing an alternative way to access an application's menu commands. Each button contains a small picture to illustrate its function.
Trojan
A virus, worm or other species of malware hidden inside a program which looks legitimate. Trojans are commonly found in software downloaded from the Internet (especially if it comes from a disreputable source) and in files attached to e-mails.
TWAIN
Technology Without An Interesting Name. A protocol that allows computers to communicate with imaging devices such as scanners and digital cameras.
Upload
To copy a file to a networked computer, e.g. a web server connected to the Internet. When creating a web site it is necessary to upload it to a web server before others can access it.
URL
Uniform Resource Locator. An address that specifies the location of a file or web page on the Internet. For example the URL of this page is http://www.it-station.co.uk/jargon.html.
USB
Universal Serial Bus. A standard type of port for connecting peripherals such as a keyboards, digital cameras, printers and scanners. A USB device can be used as soon as it is connected, without having to reboot the computer.
User name
A name that allows a computer system to identify the person using it.
Virus
A self-replicating sequence of instructions that spreads from one computer to another by inserting copies of itself into an executable file (i.e. program). Viruses do not arise spontaneously: they are purposefully written by vandals to cause as much disruption as possible, or by hackers to compromise the security of a large number of computers.
Web log
A web page used as a diary or journal. Web logs are updated regularly and may contain any information that the author wishes to share with the world. Also known as a "blog".
Web mail
A facility for sending and receiving e-mail messages by logging into a web site provided by an ISP or a company such as Google or Microsoft. Although web mail has the advantage of being accessible from any computer on the Internet, it is usually slower and less convenient than purpose-built e-mail clients such as Outlook Express.
Web master
The creator or administrator of a web site.
Web page
A hypertext document that is publicly available on the World Wide Web. Web pages are usually written in HTML or XHTML and may contain static content or dynamic content.
Web site
A collection of web pages relating to a specific entity such as a business, organization or individual.
Web space
Storage space for a web site on a server that is permanently connected to the Internet.
Wi-Fi
Wireless Fidelity. A set of internationally accepted standards which ensures the compatibility of wireless network devices manufactured by different companies.
Window
A rectangular box on a computer screen that displays an application, document, message or other information. Application windows usually have a menu, tool bar and scroll bars.
Windows
See Microsoft Windows.
Wireless network
A computer network in which data is transmitted using radio signals instead of cables.
Word
See Microsoft Word.
Word-processor
An application for creating text-based documents, changing their layout and adding footnotes, annotations or revisions.
World Wide Web
The portion of the Internet that contains hypertext documents. The name refers to the fact that all the documents are linked together; users can move from one page to another by clicking on hyperlinks.
Worm
A self-replicating program that spreads from one computer to another, usually causing damage and compromising security in the process. A worm is similar to a virus except that it can be run without attaching itself to a separate program. Worms do not arise spontaneously: they are purposefully written by vandals to cause as much disruption as possible, or by hackers to compromise the security of a large number of computers.
XHTML
Extensible Hypertext Markup Language. A newer version of HTML, based on XML.
XML
Extensible Markup Language. A universal file format for storing and exchanging structured data. Like HTML, XML uses tags to define (or "mark up") the purpose of each piece of information in a file.
Zip
A type of compression commonly applied to text-based files. A file that has been compressed in Zip format must be extracted (i.e. decompressed) before it can be opened.

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