Computer Terms

Operating System (OS)

An Operating System (OS) is a software program that enables the computer hardware to communicate and operate with the computer software. Your computer would be useless if it didn't have an operating system.

Different OS's:

Windows '98 - (is almost obsolete, but some people still like them)
Windows ME - (is almost obsolete, but some people still like them)
Windows 2000 - (is almost obsolete, but some people still like them)
Windows XP Home - (is almost obsolete, but some people still like them)
Windows XP - is now obsolete!
Windows Vista
Windows 7
Windows 8 (for now the newest edition - as of now april 2013)

What does it mean that the OS is Obsolete?

In general Microsoft will continue the mainstream support (updates) 5 years after a release or 2 years after a new version has become available - whichever comes first.

What does it mean for you?

When your Operating System becomes obsolete - among other things - it will no longer receive updates to security and hard ware drivers. This can effect your online security and the stabilility of the computer.

Bios - (Basic Input/Output System)

The BIOS is a program installed on the computer to start up the operating system.

The BIOS doesn't need any control, it runs by itself. Experienced users may run the BIOS to change certain settings to control the order of the computer is using to call up devices on start-up.


If you are NOT an experienced user DON'T make any changes to your BIOS settings. Leave that to the technicians. Believe me - I DO!

Processor or CPU
(Central Processing Unit)

The processor is the brain of the computer. Unlike the human brain, it doesn't "think, feel or reason" like we do, but it processes data.

Hard drive (HD)

Your storage device.
The bigger your HD is the more room you have for storing data. The size normally vary from a few GIG to hundreds of GIG.
Look at the HD as a huge box or a basement you can store data in.

In order to find specific files again, it's neccesary to divide your box/basement into sections - your drives, folders and sub folders. You can find more details on how you organize your files and folder HERE


The motherboard is the main circuit of your computer. This is where all your hardware - your CPU, your hard drive(s), RAM and all other hardware, is plugged into. The motherboard allows all your hardware to function together.

RAM (Ramdom Access Memory)

RAM is a memory device/unit installed on your Motherboard.

When you work with a program on your computer, the data is loaded into the RAM instead of your Hard disk. You can think of the RAM and Hard disk as your short term memory (the RAM) and the long term Memory (Your hard drive).

The more RAM you have, the more commands your computer can handle at the time.

If you would like to know how much RAM your computer holds

  • right-click "My Computer" (most often found on your desktop)
  • Choose "Properties"


If you would like to know how much RAM your computer holds

  • right-click "My Computer" (most often found on your desktop)
  • Choose "Properties"


All the visible and touchable parts of your computer-monitor, keyboard, cards, printer, scanner, cables, drives etc.


Programs, applications, scripts that you can Install on your computer.


A device that connects the computer to a phone line. A modem allows a computer to talk to other computers through the phone system. You could say that modems do for computers what a telephone does for humans.


- Means Integrated Services Digital Network
The ISDN adapter can replace the telephone modem and can work faster than the Modem.


Means (Asymmetric) Digital Subscriber Line


Network Interface card - also called a Network Adapter is the piece of hardware you need to be able to connect to a network or another computer.

Graphics card / Video card

The plug-in card in a computer that creates the electronic signals required by the monitor. It determines the maximum resolution, refresh rate and number of colors that can be displayed, which the monitor must also be able to support.

Sound Card

Also called a "sound board" or "audio adapter," it is a plug-in card that records and plays back sound. Supporting both digital audio and MIDI, sound cards provide an input port for a microphone or other sound source and output ports to speakers and amplifiers. Sound circuits are typically built into the chipset on the motherboard, but can be disabled if a separate sound card is installed.


A driver is the software needed to run a hardware device, such as a printer, sound card, monitor, or scanner.
New computers usually come with all the drivers already installed. But if you buy a new printer later or upgrade you video card, you will have to install the driver for it from the manufacturer.

Bytes, kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes

The primary specifications of hardware are rated in bytes; for example, an 80-gigabyte (80GB) disk holds 80 billion characters of software and data. A 256-megabyte (256MB) memory allows 256 million characters of instructions and data to be held internally for processing.

USB (Universal Serial Bus)

A widely used hardware interface for attaching devices to the computer. USB ports began to appear on PCs in 1997, and Windows 98 was the first Windows to support it natively. Within a few years, USB became popular for connecting almost every external device - replacing the serial and parallel ports on a PC. Usually todays computer comes with at least four USB ports.

Normally you use the USB for plugging in your headset, (wireless) mouse, External drives etc.


A pathway into and out of the computer or a network device such as a hub, switch or router. There are numerous ports on the back of every desktop computer for hooking up the keyboard, mouse, modem, printer and network. Laptops have many ports as well, because external monitors, keyboards and mice are generally supported. On network devices, the ports are for communications, typically connecting Ethernet cables or telephone lines.

Smart drives / Flash drives

Small handy storage devices used for transferring files from one computer to another. The sizes (or storage capability) varies from 64 MB to several GIGs. You attach them to your computer through a USB port.

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