Tech Terms

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The A-Z of Tech 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.Account
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.

<Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) is a type of digital subscriber line (DSL) broadband technology that is used to connect to the Internet. It utilises standard telephone lines to deliver high-speed data communications (up to 24 megabytes per second).

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.

Assistive Technology
Assistive technology refers to any software or hardware that acts to assist and improve the functional capabilities of people with disabilities. Examples include wheelchairs, prosthetics, voice to text and text to speech.

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

Backward Compatible
Backward compatibility relates to superseded software that can relate to earlier versions. For example, 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 bit (short for binary digit) is the smallest unit of measurement in computing. 8 bits comprise 1 byte.

Bluetooth is a wireless communications technology intended to replace the cables connecting different types of devices, including mobile phones, tablets, headsets and medical equipment. It allows short-range connections between two or more Bluetooth compatible devices.

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 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.

Computer-Aided Design (CAD) is a type of software that allows users to create 2D and 3D design and modelling. CAD is used by architects, engineers, artists and other professionals to create precise technical drawings.

Chat Room
An electronic space, typically a website or a section of 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.

Cloud Computing
Cloud computing refers to the storing and accessing of data and programs over the Internet instead of another type of hard drive. Examples of Cloud services include iCloud, Google Cloud, Dropbox etc.

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 stored on a user’s computer. It is used to keep track of the user’s patterns and preferences.

The Central Processing Unit (CPU) 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.

Cybercrime is a term used to define any type of illegal activity that uses a computer as its main device to perform the activity. There are thousands of types of cybercrime, including network intrusions, identity theft and the spreading of computer viruses.

Cybersecurity is the process of protecting your computer, device or network from cybercrime. This involves the employment of certain technologies, processes and practices that help to prevent unintended and unauthorised access, change and damage.

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.

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.

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.

DV stands for digital video.

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, numbers and symbols that identifies a person or organisation on the internet.

Encryption is the process of converting electronic data to an unrecognisable or encrypted form, which cannot be easily understood by unauthorized parties.

Ethernet is the most common way of connecting computers on a network with a wired connection. It is a type of local area network (LAN) technology, providing a simple interface for connecting multiple devices.

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 firewall is a barrier acting as a security system established to protect trusted systems and networks from outside connections and untrusted networks, such as the Internet.

Frequency measures the number of times something happens in a set amount of time. In technical language, the standard unit of frequency is measured in hertz.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a common method of transferring files via the internet from one host to another host.

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 formats 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 that an Internet browser first opens up to. It is usually the starting point of an organisation’s or individual’s website.

Hyper-Text Markup Language is the language that web pages are written in.

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 (ISP) is a company which provides access to the Internet. Examples of ISPs include Bigpond, iiNet etc.

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

Java is a programming language that is commonly used in the development of client-server web applications.

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

A Local Area Network (LAN) is a system that interconnects computers and other devices that share a common communications line and wireless link, generally within a limited geographical area such as a home or office building.

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.

Short for malicious software, malware refers to a software program that has been developed to do harm to other computer users. Types of malware include viruses, worms and spyware.

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 monitor is the screen which displays the images generated by the CPU.

The National Broadband Network (NBN) is an Australia wide project aiming to upgrade the existing fixed line phone and internet network infrastructure. It aims to enable access to faster and more reliable internet services.

A network is the connection of two or more computers so that information and resources can be shared.

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
An operating system (OS) is the software that manages all the computer’s processes and allows programs and applications to run. The most prominent operating system is Microsoft’s Windows. Others include Mac OS X and Linux.

A 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). A PDF can be read using free software called Acrobat Reader and other PDF readers.

Phishing is a type of email fraud in which the perpetrator sends out emails which appear to come from legitimate services or reputable companies (including banks, social networks, email service provider, etc). These emails lure the recipient to reveal personal and sensitive information which the perpetrator can use for their financial advantage.

A software plug-in is a component which adds to a software program’s functionality.

A Post Office Protocol (POP) is an Internet protocol used by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to handle email. A POP account is an email account.

Pages Per Minute (PPM) generally refers to the speed of a printer.

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 computers and other devices use when communicating with one another.

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.

A read-only file contains information that cannot be edited, modified or deleted.

Remote Access
Remote access is the ability to access a computer or network from a remote location.

Remote User
A remote user is someone who accesses a computer or network from a remote location (remote access).

Resolution refers to the number of distinct pixels that are contained on a display monitor. 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 router is a device used to send data packets between computer networks.

Software as a Service is a software distribution model whereby software applications are centrally hosted and licensed on a subscription basis.

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 details) over the Internet. A secret socket layer (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.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the practice of making adjustments to certain aspects of a web site in an effort to improve its ranking on search engines. Approaches taken in this process include adjusting the HTML of individual web pages and submitting the web site to directory services that increase the amount of traffic to the site.

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

SKU stands for Stock Keeping Unit. It is a number or sequence of symbols that gives a product a unique and identifiable code that allows it to be tracked.

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

Troubleshooting is an approach to locating, diagnosing and fixing issues with software, hardware, computers and other electronics.

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.

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

Viral refers to a digital video, image, article or action that experiences a sudden spike in popularity in a short period of time.

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

Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) is a security protocol used in Wi-Fi networks. It is designed to provide a wireless local area network (LAN) with a similar level of security to that of a regular wired LAN. Users can generally enter a WEP network password to access the WEP-secured network.

Wi-Fi is the common term for high-frequency wireless local area network (LAN) technology. It allows computers and other devices to communicate over a wireless signal.

Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) is a security protocol used in Wi-Fi networks. It is an improvement on and is expected to replace WEP as it offers greater protection through a more sophisticated data encryption.

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.