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Computer Terms

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Introduction

RAM, hard drives, virtual memory; what do all of these mean?

This How-To Article is a mini computer dictionary. It helps you understand some of the most common computer terms.


Computer Terms

RAM - This stands for Random Access Memory. RAM is very fast and is used to store currently opened programs, as well as any files needed by these programs.

CPU - Your CPU (Central Processing Unit) controls everything that goes through your PC.

CD-ROM - This stands for Compact Disk - Read-Only Memory. Your CD-ROM is where you place CDs into your computer.

Hard drive - Also called a hard disk, this is a physical device in your computer which stores data. When you save files on your computer, you are saving them on a hard drive. Hard drives also store software and other system files.

Virtual memory - When you run out of RAM to store currently used files, then Windows will use something called a swap file, or virtual memory. The swap file is stored on your hard drive, and therefore it not as fast as RAM.

Browser - A browser (also called a web browser) interprets HTML, and lets you view the Internet. You are using a web browser right now to view this document.

Cookie - A cookie is a small data file that is written to your computer from a web site. They are harmless and are usually used to enhance your web experience.

CD-R - A CD-R drive is another physical drive on your computer which allows you to write (save and edit) files on a CD.

CD-RW - CD-R disks only let you write (save and edit) on them once. A CD-RW disk lets you write multiple times on the CD.

HTML - This web standard stands for Hypertext Markup Language. It is the code that web pages are written in so that they can be interpreted by web browsers.

DHTML - DHTML is not actually a web technology, but instead a way of integrating web pages with scripts to enhance them.

Database - A database can range from a simple text file to an extensive solution like Microsoft SQL Server. Databases can store anything from shopping data to media clips.

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