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The meanings of confusing computer words

By April 21, 2016 Article

If you’re not an IT professional or you don’t have in-depth knowledge of technology, computer terms can seem like a foreign language. While you certainly don’t need to be fluent in Geek Speak, having a basic understanding of it can help in a number of ways. For example, it can help you purchase the right equipment when searching for new hardware, or help you clearly explain a technical issue you’re having. Here are a few computer terms that can help you along.

App – These days when someone hears the word app, they think of a program for their tablet or smartphone. However, “app” has a broader meaning. Apps, short for applications, have been around since the birth of computers, and the word really refers to any type of computer program. Some examples of common apps used today include Microsoft Word, Adobe Photoshop, and Norton AntiVirus.

Browser – Your window to the Internet, a browser enables you to access all the information there is online. In fact, the Internet is virtually inaccessible without the use of a browser! Google Chrome, FireFox, and Microsoft Edge are a few examples of common browsers.

Hard drive – A hard drive is essentially a storage unit for everything on your computer. Everything from your operating system to applications, such as Excel and PowerPoint, are stored on your hard drive, and it allows your computer to access these files and programs for your use. The more hard drive space you have, the more applications, videos, documents, and various files you can store on your computer.

Motherboard – If your computer had a heart, the motherboard would be it. The motherboard is a circuit board that powers your RAM, CPU, and hardware, so your computer can communicate with itself. (Don’t worry! Those terms are explained below!) If your motherboard is taken out of the equation, your computer will be unable to operate.

CPU/Processor – If the motherboard is the heart of the computer, then the CPU, or Central Processing Unit, is the brains. A CPU carries out the instructions it receives from the different hardware and software operating on the computer. At one point or another, everything on your computer goes through the CPU. The more powerful it is, the faster it will be able to operate and the more advanced applications you’ll be able to run.

RAM – Random Access Memory stores all the temporary programs and data that your computer is currently using so they can quickly be accessed by your computer’s CPU. For example, if you are running Microsoft Word, Google Chrome, Adobe Reader, and Skype all at the same time, RAM enables you to access them fast —without having to reopen them every time. The more RAM you have, the quicker these programs will run. Once your computer shuts down, it will no longer store these programs in the RAM, but instead in the hard drive.

These are just a handful of terms a layperson may come across when asking for technology services or talking about computers. If you’d like to learn more about the tech talk native to us IT professionals, or if you have any concerns with your current IT, don’t hesitate to get in touch.