Networking Terms Glossary

3G/4G

3G or 4G is the voice and data network your mobile device uses to make calls and connect to the Internet when a Wi-Fi connection isn't available. Access usually requires a usage agreement with a mobile service provider. While 4G provides faster connection speeds than 3G, both are slightly slower than Wi-Fi and can prove unreliable outside densely populated areas.

Anti-Virus

Anti-virus is an application that protects a computer or device against infection from malware and viruses, which are sometimes spread via unprotected wireless networks.

App

App is shorthand for application. These are the little pieces of software designed to help you complete specific tasks with computers, phones or tablets.

Bluetooth®

A short-range wireless technology that transmits data between two devices, Bluetooth is generally used to connect peripherals like a mouse, keyboard or headset to computers or mobile devices that have the Bluetooth interface. Fun fact: The name Bluetooth was inspired by a Viking king, Harald Bluetooth, who is said to have united Denmark in the same way Bluetooth unites devices.

Byte

Byte is a unit of measurement that is eight binary units long. Generally, digital storage is measured in byte multiples. For example, one kilobyte (KB) is equal to approximately 1,000 bytes. There are approximately 1,000 kilobytes in one megabyte (MB), and a gigabyte (GB) is equal to approximately 1,000 megabytes.

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of on a computer hard drive. In this case, the cloud is just a metaphor for the Internet. Cloud computing also refers to off-site backup of data. In this instance, data on a computer is synchronized with a remote server. If data is erased locally, the computer can resynchronize with the remote server and reload the missing information. Many business programs and services can now be run over the cloud, without the need to set up local servers and manually install software.

Ethernet Cable

An Ethernet cable is also referred to as a Cat5 or network cable. This network connection was established in 1985 as the industry standard for network interfacing. High-speed Internet and modern-day routers and switches use the Ethernet cable to connect to devices.

Ethernet Switches

Ethernet switches are devices used to connect devices together on a computer network. They make it easier for your network to handle multiple concurrent users or expand the number of available concurrent connections to other devices in your server setup. Most Ethernet switches, also called network switches, install easily on an existing computer network, requiring only a single cable connection to get started. Efficient switches can handle many different users and multiple devices while still maintaining excellent energy consumption rates.

Firewall

A firewall is a network security system that monitors and controls the flow of data from a networked device to other devices. Firewalls are used to help prevent intrusion from an unwanted user or program that may be trying to gain access remotely. They can block communications both across a local area network and across a wide area network.

GB

GB is a commonly used acronym that stands for gigabyte and refers to the memory capacity of tablets or other devices. A gigabyte is approximately 1,000 megabytes (MB). For comparison's sake, a gigabyte of data is almost twice the amount of data that a CD-ROM can hold, and about 1,000 times the capacity of a 3.5" floppy disk.

GHz

Processor speed is measured by GHz, or gigahertz. One GHz represents 1 billion cycles per second, so a microprocessor that runs at 200-GHz executes 200 billion cycles per second.

Gig-E

Short for Gigabit Ethernet, Gig-E is a term for a transmission technology that provides a data rate of 1 billion bits per second (one gigabit). Gig-E is currently being used as the backbone in many enterprise networks.

GPS

GPS is a satellite navigation system that allows you to accurately establish your position wherever you are in the world. It is particularly beneficial for finding directions from where you are to another destination.

IP Address

An IP address is a unique string of numbers separated by periods that identifies individual computers using the Internet.

LAN

LAN is a commonly used acronym that stands for Local Area Network. A LAN is a network of devices connected to each other within a limited area, such as a home office. It does not involve the use of outside leased communication lines and typically resides within one building or area.

Malware

Malware refers to any malicious software that gains access to a computer. Malware types include Trojans, fake anti-virus programs and spyware, and key loggers. Malware is usually introduced to a computer when a user clicks on a legitimate-looking Web link.

MIMO

Short for multiple-input and multiple-output, MIMO is a term for when multiple antennas at both the transmitter and receiver are used to increase bandwidth, reduce signal fade and improve overall wireless communication performance.

Mbps

Mbps is short for megabits per second. This is how data transfer speed is measured (a megabit is equal to 1 million bits).

NAS

NAS devices, or Network Attached Storage devices, let you create a standing database of your most important business or personal files and share those files with people who have access to your network. A NAS drive gives you everything you need to store large amounts of business or private data quickly and easily. Network storage drives come in disk or diskless varieties, letting you choose the right setup for your needs.

Peripheral

A peripheral is an external device that's used with a computer or mobile device and is either critical for functionality or intended to enhance the user experience. Examples include a mouse, keyboard, joystick, printer, scanner, Webcam, and microphone. Peripherals use a variety of connection types, such as Bluetooth and USB.

Powerline

Powerline adapter kits let you set up a home or office network anywhere you have a power outlet. Powerline ethernet and network adapter kits transmit signals through the electrical system of your building, eliminating the need for an additional home or office telephone line.

Router

A router is a device that's commonly used to split a single Internet connection among multiple networked computers and devices, usually through Wi-Fi. Routers allow simultaneous sharing of a single Internet connection by assigning unique IP addresses to each device, and allowing them to share the connection without creating conflicts. Many homes and businesses use a wireless router to create a Wi-Fi hub and provide wireless connectivity within a specific range. Connectivity is often limited to several rooms or offices; beyond that, a 3G/4G cell data plan is necessary for Internet access.

Thunderbolt

Designed by Apple® and Intel®, Thunderbolt is a way to connect devices to each other or to a computer that promises faster data transfer speeds than USB connectivity can typically offer.

USB

Short for universal serial bus, USB is a standard type of connector that allows external devices and peripheral accessories (e.g., Webcams, printers, mice and external drives) to connect with a computer.

VoIP

VoIP is short for Voice-over Internet Protocol, or most simply, phone service over the Internet. Services such as Skype operate via VoIP.

WAN

WAN is a commonly used acronym that stands for Wide Area Network. A WAN is the network that allows a local computer to connect to the Internet, or anywhere outside of the local area network.

Wi-Fi

Short for Wireless Fidelity and also known as WLAN or Wireless Local Area Network, Wi-Fi enables the connection of computers, phones, tablets or any other device to the Internet. Most homes and workplaces use a router to create a Wi-Fi hub and provide wireless connectivity within a specific range. Most tablets use one of three different Wi-Fi standards — 802.11g, 802.11n and 802.11ac — which differ only in speed (ac is the fastest, g is slowest).

Wireless Adapters

Wireless adapters provide wireless connectivity to a local area network in a home or office. Typically, they are used to add Wi-Fi to desktop computers, but they can also be used to retrofit older laptops that never came with Wi-Fi.

Wifi Extenders

A Wi-Fi extender, also known as a range repeater, increases the distance your router broadcasts its signal, allowing you to connect your smartphone, computer or tablet in remote corners of your home or office. The extender is typically placed between a router and a device that is not close enough to receive service, or one that is on the other side of a barrier. The range extender connects wirelessly to the router, picks up the signal and retransmits it.

Wireless Display Adapters

Wireless Display Adapters, or WiDi Adapters, allows you to wirelessly send movies, videos, games, photos, music, presentations and more from a mobile device or laptop to a TV or some other screen.

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