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Common Technological Terms That May be Uncommon to You!

We get it! Keeping up with technological jargon can be tricky and confusing! It can be extremely frustrating to understand what someone is trying to tell you when they begin using these foreign sounding words. To help you become familiar with the terminology of our technological devices, we’ve curated the following cheat sheet!


Desktop

Used to describe two different things. The first is a desktop computer, which we know this as being made up of the following separate components: a monitor (screen), a mouse, keyboard, and the computer hard drive tower. The second is what is commonly known as the screen of your monitor or laptop where you see your screen background photo and all your pinned apps and programs. It acts as your home page where you should be able to easily locate whatever you may be looking for (i.e. files, browser, email, etc.).



Browser

Your browser is what connects to the internet and opens webpages. It often has its own icon on the desktop of your computer and is commonly used to refer to applications like GoogleChrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, Mozilla Firefox, etc. Opening your browser gives you access to a Search Engine.


Search Engine

This term is an umbrella term used to make reference to an application on your device that allows you to access the internet. It can be any form of application, including but not limited to Google, Bing, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Ask.com, Yahoo, MSN, etc. It is here in the search engine that you can type an inquiry and search the web for your answer.


Software

A program or set of instructions that tell your device what to do. These can be any type of web browser, operating system (Microsoft Windows), drivers (allow your operating system to communicate with hardware like printers), and utilities (like anti-virus software). You often have to download these from external websites if they were not already included on your device. Be careful where you download software from and make sure you are downloading from reputable sources, preferably at the source of said software (i.e. if downloading Microsoft Office, make sure you are downloading it from the Microsoft Website, not a third-party website).


Hardware

Any physical component of your device that you require for it to function properly. It can be already be built into your computer like a hard drive for storing files and memory or the CPU – central processing unit, which acts like the brain of your computer. Or it can be an external feature, like keyboards, a mouse, printer, scanner, speakers, or USB thumb drive (memory stick).


Toolbar

Often located at the bottom of your screen, the toolbar is the bar/section on the desktop where you have your pinned icons and applications. For example, this is where you click the icon to access the internet, your email, connect to Wi-Fi, adjust the volume, or access a Microsoft Office application like Excel or Word. An example of one is seen below.

File Explore/Folders

This is an icon often found on your desktop or can be searched for in the search bar feature of your device. This icon allows you to access all documents, images, videos, or files that you have saved or downloaded on your device. You must open this icon to view any downloaded files from the internet as they will appear in the downloads folder for you to access, save, or discard. It is also here that you may view any saved files, like pictures, PDFs, Excel spreadsheets, or Word documents. This icon looks like a yellow file folder and is often located on the toolbar of your desktop or as an icon directly on your desktop screen.

Malware

Short form of saying “malicious software”. This term is used to refer to any software that can cause damage to your device. This may affect your device through the clicking of suspicious links in emails or on the internet. Therefore, it is important to be sure that the link you are clicking is safe or has come from a reliable and real source.


Phishing

Occurring through emails and is a form of email fraud. This is when you receive an email from a source that appears to be trustworthy coming from an individual asking for help or offering you a great deal or new program for your device. Often a link to a website is involved or an attached file for you to save. However, these are not safe emails as their purpose is to gather personal and financial information from you that may be used in identity theft or in an attempt to steal your money.


Uploading

When you move or copy a file from your device onto another platform like social media, a website, or shared drop-box. For example, adding a photo to your Facebook page to share with your friends.


Downloading

When you copy data or a file from another source other than your own device, typically performed over the internet. For example, if you download an instruction manual from an appliance website for you to read, or you download pictures a relative sent you over email or Facebook.


Virus

A type of software capable of causing harm to files and programs on your device either by deleting them completely, stealing your information, or damaging the computer’s hard drive resulting in it no longer working appropriately. A virus can be acquired through clicking suspicious email links from senders, clicking ads on a website, or accessing an unsafe website.


Cookies

Cookies are files that contain small amounts of data, for example, a password to access a website, and they help improve your browsing experience. These are often saved on your computer’s web-browser to ease your access of these same sites in the future. It is important to clear these occasionally to improve the operation of your device as overtime, when cookies accumulate, they can slow down your device. They also open the door for these hackers to steal information about you. Although generally safe to use on notable websites, cookies are a way for these websites to tailor their website to you as they collect information about what else you have viewed so that they may easily show you similar things.


Cache

Is a feature on your device that stores data (i.e. passwords, usernames, frequently access websites) so that in the future you have faster and easier access to them. The purpose of your device’s cache is to make the browsing experience easier for you. It is a handy way to enable your computer to save frequently used passwords so you don’t have to constantly keep entering them when you access a website. However, if your device is running slower than normal, it may be a good idea to check your cached data and delete some of it as this may help speed up your computer. When too much data is accumulated, it runs the risk of slowing down the computer system.


Occasionally clearing your cache and cookies are an important part of practicing proper browser hygiene and ensuring your device and access to the internet runs smoothly.

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