Computer / Laptop repairs in Essex | ILL IT Solutions

Computer Jargon Explained

Helpping you understand the tech jargon one word at a time.

Address bar or box
The narrow, rectangular box on the topmost part of a browser window where you can type in a web address.
An antivirus program is a software program that protects your computer against infection by a virus also see ‘Malware’. 
Application (sometimes shortened to ‘app’)
Computer software, also known as a ‘program’ or ‘app’ that performs a
task or set of tasks, such as word processing or drawing. Applications,
apps, or programs can be thought of as electronic ‘tools’ for doing
electronic jobs. For example, if you want to write a book, you will need a
‘word-processing program – a program that allows your computer to be
used like a typewriter (and filing system).
The capacity of a networked connection. Bandwidth determines how
much data can be sent along the networked wires. Bandwidth is
particularly important for an Internet connection, since greater bandwidth
also means faster downloads. Think of bandwidth as being similar to
measuring the capacity of a pipe to deliver water to a tap. A ‘fat’ pipe can
carry more water to a tap than a ‘thin’ pipe. Similarly, a high-bandwidth
connection can deliver more information at a faster rate to a computer.
Bandwidth is measured in Megabits per second (Mbps). A slow
connection might be around 2 or 3 Mbps whilst a fast connection will be
more like 50 or 70 Mbps. Domestic broadband connections vary in
speed depending upon a number of factors such as, in some
circumstances, your geographical location (in relation to the telephone
exchange) as well as what type of connection you have and what
package you’ve signed up for with your ISP.
Bits, Bytes
At a basic level, all computer data is just a series of 0s and 1s. Each of these is referred to as a “binary digit”, for which “bit” is just an abbreviation. A byte is (generally) a collection of eight bits, so called because of the pun with bit and bite. Similarly a collection of four bits – half a byte – is sometimes called a “nybble”.
In order to refer to large numbers of bits and bytes, various prefixes are used, as in :
1 kilobyte = 1024 (or 1000) bytes
1 megabayte = 1024 (or 1000) kilobytes
1 gigabyte = 1024 (or 1000) megabytes
1 terabyte = 1024 (or 1000) gigabytes
1 petabyte = 1024 (or 1000) terabytes
saving a webpage so you can easily go back to your favorite locations on the Web. On Google Chrome, you can bookmark by clicking on the star on the rightmost part of the address bar.
To start up a computer. Cold boot means restarting the computer after the
power is turned off. A warm boot means restarting the computer without
turning off the power.
A software program used to navigate the World Wide Web. Google
Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge are today’s most popular
browsers for accessing the World Wide Web.
A malfunction due to an error in the program or a defect in the
The acronym CAPTCHA actually stands for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart” – a rather contrived way of arriving at an acronym that sounds like the word “capture”.

CAPTCHA checks are the strings of letters and numbers that have to be typed in on some web pages before something can be saved. They exist because, although humans find interpreting these strings relatively easy, computers do not. Setting up these checks, therefore, blocks an automated process – such as one generating spam – from using the page, whereas a human is still able to.
Compact Disc Read-Only Memory, an optically read disc designed to
hold information such as music, reference materials, or computer
software. A single CD-ROM can hold around 640 megabytes of data,
enough for several encyclopedias. Software programs are sometimes
made available delivered on CD-ROMs though increasingly, programs
can be downloaded from the Internet.
CPU (Also known as Processor)
Central Processing Unit. The brain of the computer.
A small data-memory storage area that a computer can use to instantly re-access data instead of re-reading the data from the original source, such as a hard drive or website. Browsers use a cache to store web pages so that the user may view them again without reconnecting to the Web
Typing text into a message box on a screen to engage in dialogue with
one or more people via the Internet or other network
A tiny wafer of silicon-containing miniature electric circuits that can store
millions of bits of information.
Click (see also right click and double click)
Pressing and releasing the left mouse button to initiate an action or
computer command.
The ‘cloud’ is the remote server or network of servers you connect with when using any number of internet services, including your email or social media sites. Free and paid services allow you to work or store data ‘in the cloud’ instead of on your personal computer. 
A text file sent by a Web server that is stored on the hard drive of a
computer and relays back to the Web server information about the user,
his or her computer, and/or his or her computer activities and
preferences. Cookies are a normal part of using the Internet and,
generally, are not a cause for concern!
Cookies are small amounts of text websites often store in your internet browser to identify you when you return to their sites. 
A moving position-indicator displayed on a computer monitor that shows
a computer operator where the next action or operation will take place
Slang for the internet i.e. An international conglomeration of interconnected
computer networks. Begun in the late 1960s, it was developed in the
The 1970s to allow government and university researchers to share
information. The Internet is not controlled by any single group or
organization. Its original focus was research and communications, but it
continues to expand, offering a wide array of resources for business and
home users
A hardware or software problem that causes information to be lost or the
computer to malfunction. All computers crash occasionally but it is rare
for a crash to cause serious problems.
Digital Video Disc. Similar to a CD-ROM, it stores and plays both audio
and video.
Slang. To find and correct equipment defects or program malfunctions
The pre-defined configuration of a system or application. In most
programs, the defaults can be changed to reflect personal preferences.
Essentially, default means how a program will work unless the user
changes the settings.
Defrag is short for ‘defragment’. Over time, information on your computer becomes ‘fragmented’ or moved, which slows your computer down. When you use the defrag tool in your computer, it moves them back into more easily accessed clusters. 
The first screen displayed on a computer once it has started up. It is
where you begin and end your computing session
Directory (also referred to as a ‘folder’)
A repository where all files are kept on a computer.
Disk (also referred to as a hard disk or hard drive (HDD))
A hard disc stores vast amounts of data. It is usually inside the computer
but can be a separate peripheral on the outside. Hard disks are made up
of several rigid coated metal discs. Hard disks in modern laptops vary in
size from 80 Gigabytes (Gb) and upwards.
A new type of storage device, known as an SSD – Solid State Drive – is
gradually replacing hard disks in computers. An SSD is better than a
traditional hard drive because it has no moving parts and so is likely to
be more durable. It’s also faster than a standard hard disk.
‘Floppy discs’, popular to store information until a few years ago, are no
longer used.
Flash Drives, more commonly known as ‘memory sticks’ are really
portable SSDs!
Disk Drive
The equipment that you load a CD or DVD into to play it.
Domains can be thought of as ‘electronic places’. For example the BBC
has a domain – it is called ‘’
Pressing the left mouse button twice, in quick succession. This is to
initiate an action represented by an icon.
When you copy information that is located on another computer to your
own computer, you are ‘downloading’ it.
Drop-down Menu
A menu window that opens vertically on-screen to display context-related options. Also called pop-up menu or the pull-down menu.
E-book reader (For example, a ‘Kindle’)
An electronic (usually hand-held) reading device that allows a person to
view digitally stored reading materials.
Electronic mail; messages, including memos or letters, sent
electronically between networked computers that may be across the
office or around the world.
A small digital image or icon used to express an idea or emotion in
electronic communication. Similar to an emoticon but more detailed and
often in color.
Emoticon (sometimes called a ‘smiley’)
A text-based expression of emotion created that mimics a facial
expression. Here are a couple of examples:
Smiling 🙂
Frowning 🙁
The process of transmitting scrambled data so that only authorized
recipients can unscramble it. For instance, encryption is used to
scramble credit card information when purchases are made over the
A type of network, using wires.
A set of data or information that is stored in the computer.
A set of security programs that protect a computer from outside
interference or access via the Internet.
Flash drive (also known as Flash Memory stick)
computer hardware you plug in to your computer to save (and transfer) files.
An electronic ‘container’ for storing electronic files and other folders. In
some operating systems, it is called a directory
Sets of typefaces (or characters) that come in different styles and sizes.
Similar to a ‘typeface’.
Software programs created by people who are willing to give it away for
the satisfaction of sharing or knowing they helped to simplify other
people’s lives. It may be free-standing software, or it may add
functionality to existing software.
GUI (Graphical User Interface)
A system that simplifies selecting computer
commands by enabling the user to point to symbols or illustrations
(called icons) on the computer screen with a mouse. Windows is the
best-known GUI.
Graphics Card
The graphics card is the piece of hardware directly responsible for the quality of your visual display, or graphics. Say, if I wanted my computer to provide better aesthetics (this is most common with gamers or designers), I’d first think to upgrade the graphics card.
Hypertext Markup Language. HTML is the computer coding that is used
to create websites.
HTTP or Hypertext Transfer Protocol.
The set of rules – also known as protocols –
that allow the World Wide Web to operate as it does. Many website
addresses begin with ‘HTTP. For example, the address of the BBC
website is generally thought to be ‘’. However part of the
address is hidden – the ‘HTTP bit! The full address of the BBC website is The web browser assumes the HTTP part so that
you don’t have to type it in.
HTTPS or Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure
These websites are ‘secure’. This means that any information you type in or
information that the site sends to your computer is ‘encrypted’
(scrambled) so that it can’t be read or intercepted by a third party.
Banking, shopping, and email sites are generally encrypted. You should
definitely NOT type any sensitive information (such as credit card
details) into a webpage unless it’s secure. There is normally a padlock
symbol on the left of the address bar on secure websites.
A person with technical expertise who experiments with computer
systems to determine how to develop additional features. Hackers are
occasionally requested by system administrators to try and break into
systems via a network to test security. The term hacker is sometimes
incorrectly used interchangeably with cracker. A hacker is called a white
hat and a cracker a black hat – essentially the good guys and the bad
Hard Copy
A paper printout of what you have prepared on the computer.
Hard Drive or HDD
Another name for the hard disc that stores information in a computer.
The physical and mechanical components of a computer system, such
as the electronic circuitry, chips, monitor, disks, disk drives, keyboard,
router and printer.
The main or ‘front’ page of a Web site used to greet visitors, provide
information about the site, or to direct the viewer to other pages on the
Hot Spot or Hotspot
A hot spot or hotspot is a physical location – like a café – that offers a WiFi connection to visitors. To keep outsiders from intruding on the connection, you usually need to obtain a password to connect your mobile device to the WiFi service.
Hyperlink (or ‘link’ for short)
A piece of text or an image that is connected by hypertext coding to a
different location. By selecting the text or image with a mouse, the
computer jumps to (or displays) the linked information.
IP (Internet Protocol) address
is a unique set of numbers used to locate another computer on a network. This makes it possible to deliver the correct information to a particular computer. The IP address of a computer plays a similar role to the address of a house or business – it ensures the right information is delivered to the right person. Here’s an
example of an IP address: This address uniquely identifies my computer on the Internet.
ISP or Internet Service Provider
The company that provides you with a connection to the Internet either
via your telephone line (broadband), a fibre optic cable (fibre broadband)
or via a cable service (Sky or Virgin Media)
Symbols or illustrations appearing on the computer screen that indicates
program files or other computer functions. To initiate them, they usually
have to be double-clicked.
Input Device
A device, such as a keyboard, stylus, mouse, trackpad, or microphone,
that allows input of information (letters, numbers, sound, and video) to a
Instant messaging (IM)
A chat application that allows two or more people to communicate over
the Internet via real-time keyed-in messages.
An international conglomeration of interconnected computer networks.
Begun in the late 1960s, was developed in the 1970s to allow
government and university researchers to share information. The
Internet is not controlled by any single group or organization. Its original
focus was research and communications, but it continues to expand,
offering a wide array of resources for business and home users.
Laptop (Sometimes called a notebook computer)
Small, lightweight, portable battery-powered computers that can fit onto your lap.
A free operating system – similar to Windows, but free! Installing Linux on a laptop, replacing Windows, is possible but not a job for non-technicial users!
Log-on or Sign-in
to gain access to a computer system or a page on a website by entering a password or user ID.
The operating system that runs on Apple computers.
Compact audio and video file format. The small size of the files makes them easy to download and e-mail. It’s a format used in portable playback devices. When people listen to music on an ‘iPod’, Smartphone, or similar device, the music is usually in the form of an MP3 file.
An early operating system developed by Microsoft Corporation (Microsoft Disc Operating System).
An early operating system developed by Microsoft Corporation (Microsoft Disc Operating System).
Malware is short for malicious software that can damage your computer. Different types of malware include:
• Viruses, which can delete information on your computer
• Spyware that gathers information from your computer and passes it on to another computer
• Ghostware is a stealthy piece of code that’s been cloaked, and so is used by criminals to sneak undetected on to your computer where it then hides other malicious code

• Blastware is designed to automatically destroy or disable a system if you find it on your computer
• Ransomware could lock your computer or hide important information to you until you give the criminals a fee to return it
A set of options, or choices, that appears on screen.
Menu Bar
The horizontal strip across the top of an application’s window. Each word
on the strip has a context-sensitive drop-down menu containing features
and actions that are available for the application in use.
Menu Bar
The horizontal strip across the top of an application’s window. Each word
on the strip has a context-sensitive drop-down menu containing features
and actions that are available for the application in use.
To combine two or more files into a single file.
A video display terminal.
A small hand-held device used to control the position of the cursor on the video display; movements of the mouse on a desktop correspond to movements of the cursor on the screen. Laptops have a built-in mouselike device called a trackpad.
Software programs that combine text and graphics with sound, video, and animation. A multimedia PC contains the hardware to support these capabilities.
A system of interconnected computers.
Operating System ( also known as OS)
All computers (desktop, laptop, tablet, or Smartphone) need an operating system to function. A computer’s operating system can be thought of as the ‘master’ program on a computer. It keeps track of what the user is doing, where things are stored etc. It is the ‘electronic housekeeper’ keeping everything organized. Well-known operating systems include Windows and Mac OS on desktops and laptops and Android and iOS on tablets and smartphones.
Data that come out of a computer device. For example, information displayed on the monitor, sound from the speakers, or videos displayed on the screen.
A personal computer with Windows as its operating system.
An electronic version of a written document, in many ways similar to a document written in Microsoft Word. Portable Document Format is a format that allows documents to be shared over a variety of Operating systems. Documents can contain words and pictures and be formatted to have electronic links to other parts of the document or to places on the web
a secret set of characters or words used to gain access to a computer, web page, network, or file. You can use a combination of letters (upper case and lower case), numbers, and other characters. A strong password should be hard to guess.
Any external device attached to a computer to enhance operation.
Examples include external hard drives, scanners, printers and speakers,
Phishing is the practice of sending emails that look as though they’re sent from a reputable company to trick you into revealing personal information like passwords or credit card numbers.
• Spear-phishing is like phishing but targeted to trick you personally. Spear-phishing might be even harder to spot, as the email could even be one you’re expecting to receive.
• Whaling is like spear-fishing, but targets a high-profile mark, like a CEO of a company, in order to get hold of the company’s financial details.
The operating system, such as UNIX, Macintosh, or Windows, on which
a computer is based.
Plug and play (sometimes sarcastically referred to as ‘plug and pray as it doesn’t always work!)
Computer hardware or peripherals that come set up with necessary software so that when attached to a computer, they are recognized by the computer and are ready to use
Pop-up Menu
A menu window that opens vertically or horizontally on-screen to display
options which the operator can choose from.
A mechanical device for printing a computer’s output on paper. Inkjet
printers are the most common type but in offices, where large volumes of printing are required, laser printers are often used.
A precise series of instructions written in a computer language that tells the computer what to do and how to do it. Programs are also called software, applications, or apps.
Programming language
A language that allows a computer programmer to tell the computer
what to do in a variety of circumstances.
RAM (Random Access Memory)
chips are the computers ‘thinking space’. Computer memory can be thought of as
similar to human short-term memory. It is very much a temporary storage
area – to store a file permanently, it needs to be ‘saved’ to a hard drive,
memory stick, or other storage devices. A laptop or desktop computer will
typically have between 2 and 8 Gigabytes (Gb) of memory.
To switch a computer off and on again, allowing its operating system and programs to be reloaded. Note that this is not the same as placing a computer into standby/hibernate and then resuming. A reboot requires that all software is completely reloaded.

The term derives from “bootstrap”, as in the phrase “to pull oneself up by one’s bootstraps”, because of the similarity to that seemingly impossible act (as a computer can’t run without first loading some software but must be running before any software can be loaded).
Using the right mouse button to open the context-sensitive drop-down menus
An electronic device that uses light-sensing equipment to scan paper images such as text, photos, and illustrations and translate the images into signals that the computer can then store, modify, or distribute.
A scanner is like a printer in reverse! It turns a paper copy into an electronic copy of a document or photograph.
to move text or other information on a computer screen up, down, or sideways.
Search Engine
A website that helps the user find the information they require. The best known is ‘Google’ but there are others such as ‘Bing’ or ‘Yahoo’.
A computer that shares its resources and information with other computers, called clients, on a network. Servers are large computers where all the websites in the world are stored.
Software created by people who are willing to sell it at low cost or no cost for the gratification of sharing. It may be freestanding software, or it may add functionality to existing software.
Computer programs; also called applications or apps.
Spam (also know as Junk)
this is electronic junk mail or any unsolicited email. It usually contains advertising or product/service promotions.
A process search engines use to investigate new pages on a website and collect the information that needs to be put in their indices.
Software that allows one to calculate numbers in a format that is similar to pages in a conventional ledger.
Devices used to store massive amounts of information so that it can be readily retrieved. Devices include hard disks (HDD), solid-state drives (SSDs), memory sticks, CD-ROMs, DVDs as well as ‘SD’ or ‘micro SD’ cards, typically found in digital cameras, smartphones, and tablets.
Watching videos, films, or listening to music that is stored on the World Wide Web. It is the modern-day equivalent of listening to the radio or watching TV. You are not ‘downloading’ a file when you stream – You do not end up with a copy of the video or piece of music on your computer. Popular streaming services include the BBC Iplayer (to catch up with BBC programs you may have missed and ‘Spotify’, a music streaming service that works like a massive jukebox
An input device that you can use on a tablet or Smartphone. It looks similar to a pen and can make it easier to use a touchscreen device like a smartphone or tablet.
Exploring the Internet.
The taskbar is the strip at the bottom of a Windows computer screen that shows what programs are running on the PC. It also has the ‘Start button and the ‘notification area’ in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen.
Trojan horse
See “Virus”
URL (Uniform Resource Locator.)
Another way of saying ‘website address’
A way of connecting many types of peripheral devices (a mouse, printer, etc) to a computer. A typical computer will have several ‘USB’ ports (connections).
The opposite of ‘download’! The process of transferring information from a computer to a web site (or
other remote location on a network).
User friendly
A program or device whose use is intuitive to people with a nontechnical background. (Allegedly!)
A remote “face-to-face chat,” when two or more people using a webcam and an Internet telephone connection chat online. The webcam enables both live voice and video. The best-known examples are ‘Skype’. or ‘Zoom’
Virtual reality (VR)
A technology that allows one to experience and interact with images in a simulated three-dimensional environment.
An unauthorized piece of computer code attached to a computer program or portions of a computer system that secretly copies itself from one computer to another by shared discs and over telephone and cable lines. It can destroy information stored on the computer, and in extreme cases, can destroy operability. It is wise to have an ‘anti-virus’ program installed on your computer. Such a program is built-in to Windows and is called ‘Windows Defender’. Alternatively, you can buy a commercial program such as Norton, McAfee ESET, or Bullguard or download a free alternative such as Avira, Avast, or AVG. There are many different types of computer viruses including Boot viruses, File viruses, Macro viruses, Trojan Horses, and Worms.
‘What You See Is What You Get’. When using most word processors, page layout programs (See desktop publishing), and web page design programs, words, and images will be displayed on the monitor as they
will look on the printed page or web page.
A video camera that takes live images and sends them to a Web browser
WiFi is an acronym used for ‘wireless internet.’ It refers to the internet that is generated and broadcast using a wireless signal rather than a hardline.
A portion of a computer display used in a graphical interface that enables users to select commands by pointing to illustrations or symbols with a mouse. “Windows” is also the name Microsoft adopted for its popular operating system.
Word processor
A computer program that you can use that turns your computer into a sophisticated typewriter and filing system.
World Wide Web (“WWW” or “the Web”)
A network of servers on the Internet that use hypertext-linked databases and files. It was developed in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee, a British computer scientist, and is now the primary platform of the Internet.
See virus.