What is all this crazy language we all pretend to understand?! We think it's about time people stopped inventing new terms for things we could already explain another way, but until that day we will gradually add to this glossary of common terms and expressions. Send us a few more in if they cross you mind! We are even thinking about a comedy version, we have a few already... watch this space!
*b = bit or bits. The smallest piece of digital information. Either a ‘1’ or a ‘0’. Used in bandwidth speeds.
*B = byte or bytes. This is eight bits together. Used with multipliers to describe memory, file or storage size.
*ftp = ‘file transfer protocol’, the standard used to upload and download files to and from servers that can host webites and more.
*k = kilo - 1000 of e.g. kB (pronounced kilo-byte)= 1000 bytes, well actually 1024 bytes
*M = mega - 1 million of e.g. MB (pronounced mega-byte) = 1 million bytes, actually 1024x1024 bytes
*G = giga - a thousand-million of e.g. GB (pronounced giga-byte) = 1000 mega-bytes. This is used by hard drive manufacturers, but computers use 1024 mega-bytes. Hence hard drives look smaller on your system than on the label.
*ps = per second e.g. Mbps = mega bits per second.
*USB = universal serial bus. This is connection used for printers and other outside devices to connect to your computer.
This number represents a standard of wireless networking. A letter placed at the end will tell you the maximum speed of the device. Here are a few....
802.11b - 11Mbps (11 megabits per second)
802.11g - 56Mbps (56 megabits per second)
802.11n - over 200Mbps (200 megabits per second)
When 2 devices communicate with each other, they will do so at the speed of the slower device. This speed can drop further if the signals are weak.
Bandwidth refers to the available speed of data transfer. This is used when describing how fast internet connections, wired networks, wireless networks, hard drives and other connections are. It is usually measured in bits per second, or more accurately multiples of that i.e. Mbps - megabits per second, Gbps - gigabits per second.
This will possibly be more familiar when talking about mobile phones, but some computing devices support it too. Bluetooth mice and keyboards are available, and some wireless routers support it too. It is not as fast as the 802.11 standards. It is used when lower power consumption is more important than bandwidth (e.g. mice).
A small device to connected to a computer. Some ‘dongles’ are used as software piracy protection, i.e. the software will not run without the dongle being connected. Sometimes dongle is used to refer to USB memory sticks and also to refer to the receiver you plug into a computer for a wireless mouse or keyboard.
Downloading refers to the transferring (copying) of a file from a server or the internet to your local computer or device. The speed of this part of your internet connection is what is usually quoted by your service provider.
A firewall is a software barrier stopping people hacking into your computer or network, and they can stop programs sending contact out of the computer too.
Firewire is a fast connection from a computer to something like a hard drive or digital video camera.
Ethernet refers to wired networking. E.g. an ethernet cable - a cable to connect two points in a network.
HUB or SWITCH
These are devices to network machines together using wires. They have four or more ‘ethernet’ networking ports. Their maximum speed or ‘bandwidth’ is usually 100 megabits per second or 1000 megabits (1 gigabit) per second. For hubs this is shared out amongst all active connections going through the hub. Switches can handle multiple full speed paths, as long as two active paths are not going to 1 machine, then the ‘bandwidth’ of that machine is shared.
A modem is a device your computer uses to connect to the internet. ‘Dial-up’ modems use normal telephone lines and have connection speeds up to 56kbps. When in use, your telephone line is taken up. Broadband modems connect through a filter to a telephone line that has been upgraded at the exchange to carry broadband data aswell as a telephone signal. The speed of connection depends on the service provided, and can easily be 8Mbps or even higher. Your telephone line is not taken up when the broadband is in use.
This term simply refers to a place to connect something. ‘2 USB ports’ means 2 places to plug in USB compatible devices.
ROUTERS AND WIRELESS ROUTERS
Routers have a modem built in, and the processing power to connect to the internet themselves. They then have the ability to connect to a network through an ethernet port, or even contain a hub and several ethernet networking ports to create the network.
Wireless routers add to that the ability to connect wirelessly with additional devices, extending your network quickly. Most use the 802.11 standard. Some have bluetooth too, but this is much slower.
A networking connection hub that can support multiple paths at full bandwidth. See ‘HUB’ for more details.
This refers to transferring (copying) a file from your local computer or device, to the internet or a server. Most internet connections support slower upload speeds than download speeds. Ftp (file transfer protocol) uploads are particularly slow.
Wi-Fi comes from the Wi-Fi Alliance which is a non profit international organisation with the goal of keeping wireless networking compatibility based on the IEEE 802.11 standard.