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Glossary of Basic Computer Terms

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glossary of basic computer terms

This Glossary of Basic Computer Terms covers essential terms that are commonly encountered when using a computer. It’s a good starting point for those new to the world of computing. This glossary covers some of the fundamental terms in the world of computers and technology. Keep in mind that this field is constantly evolving, so new terms and concepts may emerge over time.

  • Algorithm: A step-by-step set of instructions for performing a specific task or solving a problem.
  • API (Application Programming Interface): A set of rules and protocols that allows different software applications to communicate with each other.
  • Backup: Creating copies of data to prevent loss in case of hardware failure, data corruption, or other disasters.
  • Bit: The smallest unit of data in computing, representing a binary digit (0 or 1).
  • Browser: Software used to access and navigate the internet, such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge.
  • Byte: A group of 8 bits, often used to represent a single character or data unit.
  • Cache: Temporary storage used to speed up data retrieval and reduce the load on a computer’s primary storage.
  • Cloud Computing: The delivery of computing services, including storage, processing, and software, over the Internet.
  • Computer: An electronic device capable of performing various tasks by executing programs and processing data.
  • CPU (Central Processing Unit): The “brain” of the computer that executes instructions and performs calculations.
  • Cursor: A graphical indicator on the screen that shows the current position for data entry or interaction.
  • Desktop Shortcut: An icon on the desktop that provides quick access to a program, file, or folder.
  • Desktop: The main screen where icons, files, and shortcuts are displayed in a graphical user interface.
  • Driver: Software that allows an operating system to communicate with and control hardware devices.
  • Email: Electronic mail for sending and receiving messages and files over the Internet.
  • Encryption: The process of encoding data to secure it from unauthorized access.
  • File Extension: A suffix added to a filename to indicate the type of file and the program that can open it (e.g., .jpg for image files).
  • File System: The method used to organize and store files on a storage device, such as FAT32, NTFS, or HFS+.
  • File: A collection of data or information stored on a computer, often represented by a name and an extension (e.g., document.txt).
  • Firewall: A security system that monitors and controls incoming and outgoing network traffic to protect a network or computer.
  • Folder: A digital container used to organize and store files.
  • GUI (Graphical User Interface): A visual way of interacting with a computer using icons, windows, and menus.
  • Hard Drive (HDD): A non-volatile storage device that stores data on spinning disks.
  • Hardware: The physical components of a computer, such as the central processing unit (CPU), monitor, keyboard, and mouse.
  • HTML (Hypertext Markup Language): The standard language for creating web pages.
  • Internet: A global network of connected computers and servers that allows for the exchange of data and information.
  • ISP (Internet Service Provider): A company that provides access to the internet.
  • Keyboard: An input device with keys for typing text and executing various functions.
  • LAN (Local Area Network): A network that connects computers and devices in a limited geographical area, like a home or office.
  • Malware: A general term for any malicious software, including viruses, spyware, and ransomware.
  • Monitor: The screen that displays visual output from the computer, including text, images, and videos.
  • Motherboard: The main circuit board of a computer, connecting various components and peripherals.
  • Mouse: A pointing device used to interact with the computer by moving a cursor on the screen and clicking on icons or links.
  • Operating System (OS): Software that manages computer hardware, provides a user interface, and allows for the execution of applications.
  • Password: A secret combination of characters used to secure access to computer systems, accounts, or files.
  • Plug and Play: The ability of a device or peripheral to be automatically recognized and configured by a computer without the need for manual setup.
  • RAM (Random Access Memory): Computer memory that provides high-speed data storage used for running active programs and processes.
  • Resolution: The number of pixels on a screen, which determines the clarity and detail of displayed images.
  • Router: A networking device that directs data between devices on a local network and the internet.
  • Search Engine: A web service that helps users find information on the internet, such as Google or Bing.
  • Software: A set of instructions and programs that tell a computer what to do. This includes applications and operating systems.
  • Solid-State Drive (SSD): A faster and more durable storage device that uses flash memory to store data.
  • Spam: Unwanted or unsolicited email, often containing advertisements or malicious content.
  • SQL (Structured Query Language): A programming language used for managing and querying relational databases.
  • URL (Uniform Resource Locator): A web address that specifies the location of a resource on the internet.
  • USB (Universal Serial Bus): A common interface for connecting external devices like flash drives, keyboards, and printers to a computer.
  • Virus: Malicious software that can replicate itself and cause harm to a computer or network.
  • WAN (Wide Area Network): A network that covers a broad area, often connecting multiple LANs across long distances.
  • WiFi: Wireless technology that allows devices to connect to the internet or a local network without physical cables.

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