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Networking Jargon at a Glance

Part of the Home Networking For Dummies Cheat Sheet

This list of frequently used networking terms may seem like a foreign language to you now, but they are terms you'll need to know as you set up your home network.

administrator: The person in charge of maintaining the network — probably you.

backup: A copy of the files on your computer (stored on a removable device) that can be used to restore data in the event that a computer in your network meets with disaster.

CAT-5 cable (Category 5): Ethernet network cable. Also called twisted pair cable.

client: A computer that uses hardware and services on another computer (called the server).

client/server network: A network model in which one computer (the server) provides services for the other computers (the clients).

concentrator: The home base of an Ethernet network to which all lengths of cable from the network computers are attached. The concentrator can be a hub or a switch (including a switch that is built into a router).

dial-up networking: A feature in Windows that enables your modem to connect to the Internet through an Internet Service Provider.

driver: Software that enables the operating system to communicate with the hardware in your computer.

IP address: A number that identifies a computer’s location on the Internet.

IRQ (Interrupt Request): A communication channel assigned to a device so that it can communicate with the PC’s processor.

ISP (Internet service provider): A company that provides Internet access to individuals and businesses.

LAN (Local Area Network): Multiple computers connected as a network in one general location.

Mbps (Megabits per second): One million bits per second. A measurement of the speed at which data can be transmitted.

NetBIOS (Network Basic Input/Output System): A network communication system that enables the various applications running on computers in the network to communicate with other computers on a network.

network: Two or more computers connected to each other with hardware (network adapters) and networking software to communicate and exchange data.

NIC (network interface card): A hardware device, also called a network adapter, that enables networking by providing the features necessary for cable (or wireless) communication.

peer-to-peer network: A network model in which each computer has the same capabilities as the others, and each computer can communicate with all the other computers.

protocol: A set of rules (sometimes referred to as a language) that computers use to communicate with each other across networks.

RJ-45: The connector at the end of Ethernet cable. It looks like the connector at the end of telephone cable, but it’s slightly fatter.

router: A hardware device that lets network computers connect to a single DSL/cable modem.

server: A computer that provides services for other computers (called workstations or clients) on a network. Also called a host.

shared Internet connection: A system that permits all the computers on a network to be connected to the Internet at the same time using a modem attached to one of the computers.

shared resources: Resources such as files, folders, printers, and other peripherals that are attached to one computer and configured for access by users on other network computers.

TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol): The basic suite of communication languages (protocols) of the Internet. TCP/IP can also be used as the primary protocol for home networks.

workstation: A network computer that uses the resources of one or more servers. Also called a client.

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