To quote a line from Rush Hour, "Can you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?" When many technicians speak about the Internet, the majority of people answer that question with no. This article shall help you understand what the technician is trying to say.
This can be a confusing term for many folks because it is actually used in two ways. First, it is used to describe the speed of your network, most often your Internet connection speed. For example, the local cable company offers Internet service at various levels of Internet speed such as 30, 50, and 110 megabits per second (abbreviated as Mbps). This is referred to as the bandwidth of the connection. Next, the term may also be used to denote how much data has been transferred. For example, to download a set of Windows updates, one may use 1 gigabyte (abbreviated as GB) of data. So, that transfer could be described as using 1GB of bandwidth. In either case, Bandwidth is referring to your Internet connection and how you can use it. Suffice it to say that more speed is good and, unless you are on a limited amount of data usage per month (such as a common restriction of 5GB per month used by many of the national cellular service providers), you don't need to worry too much about how much you have actually transferred.
The software used to view websites. Examples are Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera. For the most part, one browser works just as well as another. The only warning is that Internet Explorer has many security issues, so it is highly recommended you use something other than Internet Explorer. As all the others are also free, it is simple to avoid the issues associated with Internet Explorer. Click on the name of the browser that you would like to download to your computer: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera.
This is simply a "fancy" term for saying that something is not encrypted. Cleartext is anything that can be read without having to be run through some sort of decryption algorithm. This sentence, for example, is cleartext.
Coax is the thick, very stubborn cable that runs from the wall to the back of your cable box or cable modem. It is a multi-layer cable that is made inflexible not only by its size but also because of the thick, solid copper conductor in the center. The modern cable standard used by the cable and satellite companies is RG-6. This is much thicker than the old standard of RG-59, which is necessary for the greater amount of data (aka bandwidth) that must be carried by this cable.
As I discuss in the Cookies article here, these are just harmless text files that are written to your computer by various websites to help them remember who you are, what products interest you, and what you have in your shopping cart at their sites. Please read the article to learn more and understand why, despite popular belief, they are nothing about which to be worried.
While this is more of a computer maintenance term rather than an Internet term, it's commonly misunderstood enough that I'll explain it here. Defragmentation is the process of taking the various parts of a file and putting them together for faster access on the hard drive. This can often lead to a huge performance increase. You can read more about this in my Defragmentation article.
This is the speed at which the Internet can send files to you. For example, when you get a new song from iTunes, you are using the downstream side of your Internet link. This is also commonly referred to as download speed.
The software that is used to check for new email messages, download them to your computer, allow you to view them, write new emails, and much more. This is a separate program from your web browser. Examples are Mozilla Thunderbird, Pegasus Mail, Eudora, Live Mail, and Outlook.
Ethernet is the almost-exclusive networking standard used today. Previous standards used include AppleTalk, Arcnet, LocalTalk, and Token Ring among others. Ethernet is what the computers, printers, and other devices use to speak to each other either through the wires with their oversized telephone-like plugs or when speaking through the air by means of wireless networking.
FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. This is the method most often used to transfer files to and from a website when it is being built by the website administrator. Most people will not use FTP since there are other methods to get the files that they require.
Gigabyte refers to an amount of data that is equivalent to 1,073,741,824 bytes, though most people round that number down to simply 1 billion bytes. This is the most commonly referenced "massive quantity" of data nowadays as the more common terms of years past (kilobytes and megabytes) have become too small for most of what we do today. For example, a movie that one streams in DVD quality will quite often use as much as 8 gigabytes of bandwidth. If one were to convert that to megabytes, that would be 8,192 megabytes. It is simpler just to refer to the "less wordy" expression of 8 gigabytes. The way that these numbers for megabytes, gigabytes, terabytes, etc. are determined is by multiplication of 210 successively. In other words, one kilobyte is 210 or 1024 bytes. Megabytes are 220 or 1,048,576 bytes. Gigabytes are 230 or 1,073,741,824 bytes. Terabytes are 240 or 1,099,511,627,776 bytes. The pattern continues for the upcoming petabyte, exabyte, zettabyte, and yottabyte.
This term is kind of slippery. Most people use it to mean a broadband connection to the Internet. However, even that is slippery because what is broadband? The most accurate way to describe its general use is "anything that is not dialup." Thus, if you still have to double-click some icon, wait about 30 seconds (during which time you may hear various squeaks, whistles, bongs, and other sounds from your computer), and then finally get a message that you are connected (and, what's more, you are not able to make or receive phone calls while on the Internet), you are not on a high-speed/broadband connection.
This acronym stands for HypterText Transfer Protocol and is usually abbreviated in lowercase: http. This is the protocol used to send the files needed to display a website in your web browser. When you view a website, you are not actually viewing it on the company's web server. In actuality, all the files to view it are sent to you by the web server, stored in your Internet cache, and then your web browser software shows you the results of those files.
Similar to http in purpose, it also transfers files but it is the secure (encrypted) version of the protocol, as indicated by its name and the acronym: HyperText Transfer Protocol--Secure. https is used when you are submitting anything critical that must be protected, such as identity information, credit card numbers, passwords, and so forth. Online banking websites and reputable retail websites are examples of places that will use https when necessary. The next time you go to Amazon.com, look at the address line. You will notice that it starts with https:// and (in the case of some browsers) a message may indicate that the connection is secure by the word "Secure" or by having a closed padlock symbol.
Internet Mail Access Protocol, a competing standard to POP. The current update is version 4 revision 1. This is another mail retrieval protocol that can be used by most email servers and is very commonly used with Microsoft Exchange servers. (MS Exchange is the server software used in conjunction with corporate Microsoft Outlook installations such as the University of Kansas Outlook Web Access email service.) The most common difference between IMAP and POP is that IMAP leaves the email messages on the server until the user explicitly deletes them, making them available from any computer at anytime, a handy feature for travelling workers. POP, on the other hand, is most often configured to download the messages to the computer and delete the from the server, making them available only on the computer to which they were downloaded. However, to confuse things, the two protocols can be configured to do the opposite of their common configurations, so there is no practical difference between them for most users.
This stands for Local Area Network, the smallest and most well-known type of network to most people. If you have two or more computers in your home and they are able to transfer files to and from each other or the computers are able to use the same printer, you have a LAN. Offices that have multiple computers that use a common printer or file server also have LANs.
Metropolitan Area Network is what it means. This can be something such as a university campus with each of the college's internal networks tied together so that the entire university is able to communicate or it could be the various facilities of a local hospital. For example, if the hospital has its main office complex in one part of town, it may have an out-patient office in another part of town and a free clinic in a third part of town. To communicate and access all the same records and resources, they would be connected into a MAN.
This is actually a concatenation of two words: Modulator and Demodulator. This is the device that translates the information between your computer's Ethernet connection and the Internet's coax, telephone, or wireless connection. Other terms that you may hear if you speak with technicians at the work place are Codec (for Coder and Decoder) and CSU/DSU (for Channel Service Unit/Data Service Unit). Both of these devices tend to be used for WAN links used in office environments (such as T-1 leased lines).
This is the most common protocol used for retrieving email. The full abbreviation is POP3 (for Post Office Protocol version 3), but is often abbreviated to POP, especially when speaking about the "POP Server." This is a setting that is used when configuring an email client (see Email Client above). If you use a webmail interface, such as Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, or Gmail, then you do not need to worry about this. An alternate mail retrieval protocol is IMAP (also discussed above).
To put it simply, it is essentially a standard address through which various protocols used on the Internet communicate. For example, http communicates through port 80. This allows others to know where to find the resources offered by that server. Without knowing the port numbers, it would be kind of like going to a high-rise office building that has no directory. You might be at the right place but not know which office to enter.
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. This is the protocol used to send out email from your email client. All ISPs have an SMTP server to allow you to send email from their network. If you use an email client on your computer, ask your Internet Service Provider for their SMTP Server address (such as smtp.someispname.com) and configure that into the software you use.
This abbeviation stands for Transmission Control Protocol. It is a method by which data is exchanged. When one uses http to browse websites, he is using TCP port 80. This protocol has the ability to know when the data has been successfully transmitted because the sending computer waits for an acknowledgement from the receiving computer before sending more data. If it does not receive it in an appropriate amount of time, it resends the unconfirmed data again. Because of this, TCP can be slower on links that are reliable but if you wish to make sure that your data arrives intact and free of errors, TCP is the protocol of choice.
This term is used to describe the wiring used for network cable. Inside that Ethernet cable that runs from your router to your cable modem, for example, is a set of four pairs of wires. Each of the pairs is twisted a certain number of times per foot around its companion in the pair so as to provide it with some protection against interference. You may also hear the term Unshielded Twisted Pair (frequently abbreviated UTP), which means only that the four pairs of wires are contained within the outer insulation. This is the most common type of cable used for Ethernet. Another term that you may hear is Shielded Twisted Pair (frequently abbreviated STP). This means that besides the various pairs of twisted wires within the cable, there is also a thin foil shield surrounding the four pairs in an effort to provide more isolation from interference. This is rarely used in today's networks.
UDP, User Datagram Protocol, is the other protocol option for sending data. It sends out the data that is requested but it does so without any concern as to whether the data is received on the other end or not. This is most often used by time-sensitive applications such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) communications and online games.
This is the speed at which you can send things from your computer to the Internet. The more common term used is upload speed. Uploading is used when, for example, you send an email.
Voice over Internet Protocol. This is a method of making telephone calls over the Internet rather than through the regular telephone system owned by the Ma Bell companies. The advantages of this service are that phone calls to anywhere in the country are free (just like with most cellular phone services), the service costs less than a regular telephone line, it is easily portable (you can take your VoIP adapter with you no matter where you travel in the world, plug it into your Internet connection, and you start getting your calls as if you were sitting at home), and you can have a phone number for someplace other than where you are physically located (for example, you can have a phone number local to South Bend, Indiana, even if you are living in Mesquite, Nevada, and those in South Bend dial only the local 7-digit phone number just like you were right next door). The disadvantage is that if your Internet connection goes out, you may not have any telephone service. (Some services provide a backup service by forwarding your calls to your cellular phone if you configure that option.)
WAN stands for Wide-Area Network, the largest classification of network. This is essentially all the various smaller networks combined together. An example is an insurance company that has offices throughout the entire country. Each office has a LAN. The various offices within the city may be combined into a MAN. Each city can then be combined into the corporate WAN so as to communicate with all other cities throughout the country. Also, the Internet itself is a WAN.
This is an email service that is accessed through your web browser. Examples are Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, and Gmail.
This is the computer you access when you go to a website. For example, as you are reading this, you have accessed the web server put in place by Best Deal Computers.
Wireless-Fidelity is what it stands for and some pronounce it as Wie-Fie (as in rhyming with the old term for home stereos "Hi-Fi") while others, such as I, pronounce it wiffee. This is another name for wireless networking of the various standards: 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, and 802.11ac.
A method of networking computers together without the use of common Ethernet cables. This method of networking requires a wireless access point (which may or may not be a router) and wireless network adapters of some sort on each computer that is expected to attach wirelessly. Also, there are many printers that have wireless networking capabilities built into them for ease in sharing them over a wireless home or office network.