Windows 10 Terminology Survival Kit

By Andy Rathbone

Are you new to Windows 10 or just not sure about all things technology? You’re not alone. There’s so much to remember and keep track of. However, when dealing with computers and technology, some terms pop up so frequently that you’ll find it worthwhile to memorize them or at least understand where they come from.

Here are some of the more common terms that it would be good to be familiar with:

  • Windows is the operating system.

  • Programs are computer games. For example, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Word, Google Chrome, Xbox Video, and those nasty viruses you’ve heard about.

  • Software is programs and apps.

  • Install means to add an app or program on your computer or to set it up so that it works.

  • Started/Ran/Executed are all terms for cranking up or opening a program on your computer.

  • Stopped/Finished/Exited all mean you closed the program in the manner in which it was to be done.

  • Crashed means a program stopped running with a weird error message.

  • Froze/Stopped Responding means the program just sits there, and you can’t get it to do anything, no matter how you click your mouse or poke the screen.

  • A bug is something that doesn’t work right. (A bug is not a virus! Viruses work as intended far too often.)

  • Uploading something means you’re sending something from your computer to the Internet.

  • Downloading something means taking it off the Internet and putting it on your computer.

  • The cloud is just a marketing term for the Internet. Saying that you put your data “in the cloud” means you copied it to storage on the Internet.

  • Network means linking computers together.

  • A Wi-Fi network, then, doesn’t use wires when you network computers together.

  • Hub/Router are terms for the box that sits at the heart of a network that computers can plug into. If the hub has rabbit ears on top for wireless connections, it’s usually called a Wi-Fi router. (Some Wi-Fi routers may not have antennae outside.)

  • Wired means that to look up information on the Internet you must plug into a wall.

  • Wireless means you don’t have to plug into a wall and falls into two categories: Wi-Fi connections, as you’ll find in many homes, coffee shops, airports, and some exceptionally enlightened cities’ common areas; and cellular (mobile phone) wireless connections.

  • Broadband is what you have if you plug your Internet connection into the wall.

  • Viruses/Worm/Trojans, in general, are programs that replicate and can be harmful.

  • Spyware gathers information about you and then phones home with all the juicy details.

  • Adware gets in your face, all too frequently installing itself on your computer without your knowledge or consent.

  • Botnet means a bad guy manages to take over your computer without your knowledge, turning it into a zombie that spews spam by remote control.

  • Rootkits are programs that run “underneath” Windows, evading detection because normal programs can’t see them. They’re employed by the most successful botnets.

Some of these terms may sound scary now, but the more you get to know your computer and how it works, the easier you’ll feel using these terms and learning others. These will come in handy not only for your own purposes, but if you ever have to talk to someone in tech support, you’ll have more of an idea of what’s going on.