Wednesday, December 6, 2023

10 computer terms you should know

How many times have you surfed the Internet and seen computer terms that you don’t know what they mean? It is essential in the digital society to have some basic knowledge about these terms, as we find them in our daily lives in many everyday situations. Understanding them will help you to be more fluent in the online world, which is necessary to communicate in the current context of digital technologies.

Today we, together with Nellie Burges, a writing helper and a computer lover, want to help you better understand the peculiarities of computer language. Take note of these terms!

There are thousands of computer terms and expressions used in the online world to refer to computer processes. We have selected the ten most basic ones that everyone should know to interact smoothly in the digital world. Let’s take a look at them.

Software. These are the different programs that allow a computer to perform specific tasks you install on it. Without software, computers would be useless. For example, there is Internet browser software (such as Chrome or Mozilla Firefox), operating system software (Windows, Mac, Android), etc. The apps you download on your cell phone are also software.

Hardware. If the software is all the internal part that we cannot touch, hardware is the physical support of the computer, i.e., that which is tangible: keyboard, screen, hard disk, etc. Software and hardware together form the computer system. Both are essential for a computer to work.

Cookies. A term that we see every day, every time we enter a website. When we visit a certain page on the Internet, it stores and sends information to our browser to improve and optimize the user experience. For example, when you enter a clothing store’s website and you have created an account by entering a username and password, cookies store that information so that, when you enter it again, you do not have to log in again because the page will remember your login information.

Cookies are also used to display information of interest during navigation. Continuing with the online clothing store example, if you have made a purchase when you access that web page again, you will see a list of “products recommended for you” based on your preferences or on the searches you have previously made in that store. 

Cache memory. This is a memory to which the computer’s processor has direct access, in which the most frequently used data is stored, so that it can be accessed more quickly.  For example, let’s open a file or program on our computer. A record is created in the cache memory so that the next time we want to open it, the computer processor will search there before it searches the hard disk, making the search more immediate.

RAM memory. This is the main memory of a device that stores the data of the programs being used at any given moment. Therefore, the data is stored temporarily, only while you are using a particular program. It is one of the most important aspects to take into account when buying a computer or cell phone. The speed and performance of the programs or applications that you can manage at the same time will depend on the RAM memory capacity. For example: surfing several web pages, watching a YouTube video, having a video editing program open…

Computer viruses. The generic term to refer to them is malware, although there are a multitude of words to designate each of them, depending on their type: adware, spam, phishing, spyware or ransomware, etc. Computer viruses are malicious programs that are installed on our technological devices (computer or mobile) without consent, and can affect them in different ways: preventing them from working properly, deleting files and information, stealing data, etc. It is important to know how to detect them in order to protect our devices from possible attacks. The best way to avoid them is to install an antivirus on the computer and avoid opening e-mails with attachments if we do not know the sender or downloading programs from unofficial websites.

IP address. There are two types of IP:

Public IP. This is a unique address assigned to you by the company with which you have contracted your Internet access. That is to say, it is like a kind of identity card that serves to know who is who within the Internet. Without it, you cannot surf the net. 

Private IPs. The ones we use at home are created every time you connect a device to your Wi-Fi network. Each of the connected devices (mobile, printer, computer, etc.) has its own IP.

Router. That device that we have at home and that allows us to connect to the Internet. It is a device that allows technological devices to be connected within a network. It projects a Wi-Fi signal, allowing different devices to connect to the Internet.

USB flash drive. This device allows data to be stored inside it and can be connected to any technological device with a USB port (specific space to insert it). USB flash drives, also known as pen drives, allow you to carry heavy files and transfer them from one device to another. For example, you can save photos from your computer and transfer them to someone else’s computer.

HDMI. A form of connection that allows (via a cable) to transmit audio and video from one device to another. To do this, both must have a connection input suitable for that specific type of cable. In this way you can, for example, play a movie on a laptop and watch it on TV, plugging both sides of the cable, each into one of the devices.

Now that you know a little more about basic computer language, your Internet experience will be much more satisfying. If you want to expand your knowledge on this topic, we invite you to read more of our articles!

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.