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Glossary

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  • Access Point
    Example: "The coffee shop provides an access point for customers with Wi-Fi devices."
    An access point provides wireless access to a network. Devices connected to an access point can communicate with other devices on the network. They may also connect to the Internet if the access point is linked to an Internet connection, which is commonly the case. Access points that use Wi-Fi are also called base stations. Public access points are often referred to as "unsecured". Unsecured access points often do not use encryption to secure the traffic, meaning that there is an increase risk of data theft.
     
  • BIOS
    Basic Input/Output System - A computer programs that Initializes and tests the computers hardware components. The BIOS is usually stored in non-volatile flash memory, in other words, memory that isn't lost when the system is turned off.
  • BSOD
    Blue Screen Of Death - a severe Windows crash. The blue screen usually contains an error, or Stop code, and sometimes a brief message.
  • CMOS
    Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor - The technology typically used in making transistors that use very little power and can be run by a single lithium battery for many years such as the one used to keep the time and date of your computer. The word CMOS is now more generically used just to refer to the BIOS settings or computer date and time, rather than referring to the technology itself.
  • COA
    Certificate of Authenticity
  • CPU
    Central Processing Unit - the processor is responsible for running all software programs; its what makes the system run.
  • DRAM
    Dynamic Random Access Memory - this type of memory is used to store and run programs. It is typically very fast, much faster than a hard disk or DVD drive, but the contents of this memory are usually lost when the system is turned off.
  • Firewall
    A firewall is a piece of hardware or software used to protect a network or computer from unwanted or malicious traffic by examining the source and destination of the traffic passing through it. Most routers perform a level of firewalling, giving you some basic protection from internet threats.
  • FTP
    File Transfer Protocol - a way of transferring files over the internet. Usually used in situations where the files are too large to email, or where files need to be uploaded to or downloaded from an internet server (web server).
  • HDD
    Hard Disk Drive - used to store programs and data. The HDD stores your copy of Windows, for example. The contents of the hard drive are preserved even when the system is switched off.
  • ISR
    Interrupt Service Routine
  • LAN
    Local Area Network - A LAN is a computer network limited to a small area such as an office building, university, or house. The computer network allows systems to exchange and share information, or resources such as a printer or internet connection.
  • POST
    Power On Self Test - A series of tests carried out by the BIOS immediately after the computer is turned on.
  • RAID
    Redundant Array of Independant Disks - RAID is a technology to improve performance, capacity and reliability by combining hard drives together to make a single drive entity known as a logical volume. RAID can be provided by software systems such as through Microsoft Windows, Firmware based controllers which usually require the PC or servers host processor to run and have limited management and diagnostic features, to fully fledged Hardware RAID controllers which have their own BIOS code, memory and processor.
  • SAS
    Serial Attached SCSI - An advanced version of SCSI that is faster and enables more devices. SAS uses serial technology to simplify and improve the parallel cabling of SCSI. SAS devices are usually found in servers and high end workstations.
  • SATA
    Serial Advanced Technology Attachment - This is the interface used to connect hard drives (HDD), solid state drives (SSD) and optical drives such as DVD-ROM drives to the motherboard.
     
  • Spyware
    Spyware (or Malware) - usually installed when opening an email attachment or installing software, Spyware can capture information like Web browsing habits, e-mail messages, usernames and passwords, and credit card information. Spyware infections often cause the computer to run much more slowly. Always use anti-virus and anti-spyware software to protect your system.
  • SSD
    Solid State Drive - Similar to a normal mechanical HDD, however the SSD does not contain any moving parts making it faster and more reliable.
  • Trojan
    A Trojan, or Trojan Horse tends to be malicious software posing as legitimate software. The trojan is usually destructive and can interfere with the running of the machine and also destroy data.
  • USB
    Universal Serial Bus - An industry standard that defines cables and connectors used to transfer data and a small amount of power. There are several different standards, with USB 3 being one of the latest. USB 3 connectors are usually blue and can transfer  data around 12 times faster than USB 2.0.
  • VPN
    Virtual Private Network - typically used by businesses to create a secure encrypted connection between two locations or sites, such as a user connecting to their work network from home.
  • WAN
    Wide Area Network - similar to a LAN but usually not restricted to one site or location. WANs can span across long distances using phone lines, fibre optic cables or satelite links.