PC jargon buster

By Charlotte Parker 07 Jun 2018
jargon buster

Computers are great, but understanding them and their terminology can be tricky. All the acronyms and abbreviations can make things a bit of a minefield. This guide will help you understand some of this jargon, and help you figure out what exactly is being said about your computer.


Hardware jargon


These are all physical things you will find on/in your computer.

  • CPU - It stands for ‘Central processing unit’ and is like the brain of your computer.
  • Graphics card - An upgradable circuit board that does all the calculations to build what you see on the screen.
  • HDD/SSD - These are both types of ‘Hard drives’. They can be thought of like a cupboard where you store your work. You have to get it out of the cupboard and put it on the workbench (RAM) before your brain (CPU) can start working on it.
  • MOBO - Short for ‘motherboard’, this can be thought of like a road network between two places.
  • Optical drive - This is where CDs/DVDs go into the computer.
  • RAM - It stands for ‘Random access memory’. Think of it like a workbench. You temporarily store your work here while you’re working on it. The bigger the workbench (RAM), the more you can work on at once.
  • USB 2.0 - Most computers will have at least one ‘USB port’ or 'Universal Serial Bus'.They’re for connecting something to your computer, or transferring data to/from a USB memory stick. A mouse or keyboard that needs plugging in will use a USB port.
  • USB 3.0/3.1 - This is the same as USB 2.0 except the transfer rate is faster. USB 3.0 is 10x faster than USB 2.0 and USB 3.1 is 20x faster than USB 2.0 (ten times faster than USB 3.0).


Networking jargon


These are all things to do with 'networking', or, how your computer connects to other computers/the internet etc.

  • Bandwidth - The amount of data that can be sent on the network at any given time. Think of it like the number of lanes on motorway.
  • Ethernet cable - A type of network cable that connects things together on a local network (like computers and routers etc).
  • Hotspot - A public place where wireless internet is available. You can turn your phone into a hotspot for your friends/family to connect to.
  • ISP - ‘Internet service provider’. The company that provides your internet (BT, Virgin, Sky etc).
  • Powerline - This plug lets you use your home’s electrical wiring to connect devices to your home network, instead of using long ethernet cables or Wi-Fi around your home.
  • Router - The box with lights on. It’s like a the sorting room at the post office. It sends ‘packets’ of data to where they need to go.
  • Wi-Fi - Wireless radio signals that let you connect your devices to the internet. Can be thought of like a two-way walkie talkie between the wireless router and your device.


Web browsing jargon


These are all terms you might come accross when using the internet.

  • Bookmarks/Favourites - A way to save a web page in a browser. They are the same thing, but it will be called one of these depending on what browser you use.
  • Browser - A computer program that lets you look around the World Wide Web.
  • Cache - A storage area that lets you quickly see things you’ve recently used. You might have noticed that a website loads faster the second time you use it. That’s because there’s probably some information ‘cached’ somewhere.
  • Cloud - A remote server on the internet where you can save phtos, videos and documents.
  • Cookies - Small bits of information about you that are saved in your browser, so the website knows who you are and what you've done on the site during your visit.
  • Incognito mode - This lets you browse websites without any information being saved. Your browser won't save cookies or your search/browsing history. It’s a way to browse privately, because other people using the computer can’t see what you’ve been doing (you can’t hide from your ISP though!)
  • Search engine - Different to a browser, this is an online website/service that pulls links based on the keywords or characters that you search for (Google).
  • Tabs - In a ‘browser’, you can have more than one ‘tab’ open so you can look for different things at the same time.


Online security jargon


Most of these are harmful to your computer or your data, so it's good to know what they are and what they do.

  • Adblocker - A piece of software designed to stop adverts popping up on a web page.
  • Adware - Software that has adverts in it. It can be annoying, with its pop-ups and banners, but it’s usually not dangerous to your computer.
  • Malware - Short for Malicious software, it is designed specifically to cause damage to your computer. It can be code, scripts, active content, and other software.
  • Phishing - A fraudulent way companies try and get your information. A good example of this is fake emails pretending to be your bank, asking for personal information.
  • Virus - A piece of malicious code that can make copies of itself and spreads accross the internet. It can corrupt or destroy data. A computer virus can be compared to the common cold.


Hopefully that's cleared up some of the more confusing terms about your computer. For more help, get in touch with Team Knowhow Experts.

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