The Computer Jargon Dictionary:

You certainly have noticed that there is lots and lots of strange gibberish associated with computers; and the industry just loves acronyms. Please bear with us for a moment while the table containing the definitions downloads.

The dictionary is divided into four sections, to speed up download and navigation: this is S-Z; click here for A-D (and numbers); E-L; M-R.

It says... It means...
Safe Mode A cut-down version of Windows which you can launch instead of the full version for troubleshooting purposes.
SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) The latest high speed standard for connecting hard disks to your computer, replacing EIDE on most new computers.
Save Copy whatever you are working on from memory, which is lost when you switch off the computer, to permanent storage, usually the hard disk. It is a good idea to save frequently when you are working on something important, in case there is a sudden power cut or you make some awful mistake that trashes your document.
S/B Compatible (SoundBlaster compatible) A common Soundcard format. In practice anything which is described as "S/B compatible" should work with almost all sound cards.
Scanner A device which makes high-resolution copies of printed images and text to use on a computer.
Screensaver A program that blanks the computer screen or displays images if you don't do anything for a few minutes, in Windows for example. Early screens could have images literally burned permanently onto the tube if left displaying the same thing all day. Much less of a problem with modern screens, and these days screensavers are mostly used for security (with a password to return to normal mode), or just for fun.
Scroll, scroll-bar To scroll something is to move it up or down the screen, so you can see what is above or below the current position, for example at a website. A scroll-bar is a bar on the right-hand side (usually) of a window which allows you to move the text etc up and down the screen with a mouse. If the window is too wide to fit the screen there will be a scroll-bar at the bottom, so you can scroll the text left and right too.
SCSI (Small Computer Systems Interface; pr. "scuzzy") A fast system for controlling hard disks, tape drives, and various other add-ons. Sometimes used for a PC's main hard disk, but more often the main hard disk is controlled by an EIDE controller built into the motherboard. A SCSI controller would usually be installed as an expansion board. SCSI is a bit faster than EIDE, but more expensive.
Search engine A website directory which indexes as many websites as it can and allows you to search its database for sites on particular subjects. Because of the immense size and rate of growth of the world wide web, no-one has a complete directory of all sites which exist. The most popular is Google.
Security Suite A set of programs designed to protect a computer from malware and similar threats. Usually consists of a firewall, antivirus program, anti-spyware program, and often an anti-phishing program
Serial ATA See SATA.
Serial Port A socket for plugging devices into the computer (not the same as USB). Most PCs have two, called COM1 and COM2. Most often used to plug in a modem or mouse; however, on many modern computers a modem is built into the computer as an expansion card, and the mouse has its own separate port.
Server A computer at the centre of most networks which provides files and other services to other computers. Also known as a file server.
Shockwave A very impressive technology from Macromedia Inc for making animations, games, sound and all kinds of special effects on a webpage.
shoot-'em-up A computer game in which you control a character, vehicle etc and shoot lots of onscreen enemies. Also called an FPS (First Person Shooter).
Shortcut In Windows (from 95 on), a type of icon which lets you launch a program quickly, without having to search for it. Often placed on the Windows desktop for convenience. Usually has a small arrow in the bottom lefthand corner, to show it is a shortcut rather than the program itself.
SIMM (Single In-line Memory Module; pr."sim") A module of RAM for older PCs. Replaced by DIMMs on newer computers.
SIR (Serial InfraRed). A wireless communication system for PCs and peripherals, especially laptops. Only works when the devices are in line-of-sight of each other.
SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol). The original method of transmitting and receiving email on the internet. Still often used for transmitting, but has been widely replaced by POP3 for receiving.
Smiley :-) or :) A group of symbols used to indicate a smile or laughter in an email or newsgroup message (look at it sideways). There are all sorts of variants including :-( for sadness, ;-) for a smile with a wink, and :-o for astonishment. Collectively they are often called emoticons.
Software The programs that run on a computer. Without software, a computer can't do anything.
SoundBlaster The best known type of Soundcard, made by Creative Labs. Most modern soundcards are described as "SoundBlaster compatible" (or S/B compatible), meaning that they understand the same commands as the popular SoundBlaster range, and should therefore work with almost all programs.
Soundcard An expansion card which enables the PC to make sounds more sophisticated than a simple "beep!". Almost all modern PCs are fitted with soundcards; nowadays they are often built into the motherboard instead of being added as an expansion card.
SP2 (Service Pack 2). A major enhancement to Windows XP, particularly its security vulnerabilites, downloadable as a free patch from Microsoft's website.
Spam Originally a name for mass postings to Usenet newsgroups advertising products or services, regardless of their relevance to the newsgroup. (The name comes from a famous Monty Python sketch in which every conversation is interrupted every few seconds by people shouting "spam spam spam" at the top of their voices). Now generally used to describe bulk commercial advertising emails (UCE). Sending spam is a violation of most ISPs' AUP.
Spreadsheet A program used for doing calculations and setting up financial balance sheets, indispensable for accountants and managers. The best known are Microsoft Excel and Lotus 1-2-3.
Spyware Programs, typically installed by stealth, which record what you do on your PC and send reports to criminals, allowing them to steal your bank details, passwords and so on. See also Malware.
Standalone A computer not connected to any kind of network.
Start Button A button on the lefthand end (usually) of the Taskbar in most versions of Windows, which you click on to display the Start Menu.
Start Menu A set of menus which appear when you click on the Start Button in Windows, which you can customise to suit your own preferences. Most programs will automatically add themselves to the Start Menu when you install them.
StartUp Folder An area under Programs in the Windows Start Menu. Any programs placed in this folder will launch themselves automatically whenever you start up Windows.
Storage The generic term for any method of storing information which is not lost when the computer is switched off; the most common types are hard disks, CD ROMs, and floppy disks.
Stream, streaming Video or audio that plays while still downloading, rather than you having to wait till the download has finished.
Suite A group of programs which carry out different tasks but are intended to work together, such as Microsoft Office.
Surfing In a computer context, wandering around the World Wide Web (which really annoys the guys with the boards and the big waves). Also called websurfing.
System Tray An area on the righthand end of the Windows Taskbar which displays icons representing TSRs presently running, usually at least a loudspeaker which represents the volume control for the soundcard, and a clock. Programs in the Sytem Tray are often but not always launched from the StartUp folder.
System unit (or box) The unit with the disk drives which the keyboard, monitor etc are plugged into. In other words, the actual computer.
Taskbar In Windows, a bar across the bottom of the screen (usually - you can move it to the top or side if you want to) which contains the Start Button, the System Tray, and icons which represent all the applications currently running. You can switch between applications by calling up the taskbar and clicking on the relevant icon. The taskbar can be set to remain visible all the time (the default), or only to appear when you press the Windows key.
TBH (To Be Honest) Internet slang.
TCP/IP (Transfer Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) A common protocol (language) which a computer can use to communicate with other computers, particularly on the internet.
Terabyte Unit of measurement for pieces of information : approximately 1 trillion bytes, 1 billion kilobytes, 1 million megabytes or 1000 gigabytes. That's a lot of data.
Terminal Adaptor A piece of hardware similar to a modem, required to operate an ISDN internet connection.
Thumb drive A computer storage device about the size of a man's thumb, often carried on a keyring, which plugs into a PC USB port and is seen by the PC as an extra drive - a very convenient way to carry large amounts of data around.
TIFF, Tif (Tagged Image File Format) A type of graphics (picture) file, often used for photographs. The files are usually huge, as the data is not significantly compressed. Files in this format usually have names ending .tif .
TFT (Thin Film Transistor) A technology used mainly in laptop screens for giving a sharp and vibrant colour display. Much less bulky than the CRT system used in most desktop monitors, which it is now slowly beginning to replace, but also more expensive.
TLD (Top Level Domain). The part of an internet address between the last . and the end of the address, excluding the path/address of a specific page if present. TLDs include .com, .org, .net, and all the national domains such as .uk for the UK and .fr for France. See also domain, registrar, How web addresses work.
Toolbar An extra set of controls that can be added to many programs to provide extra functionality not present in the standard version, such as the Google toolbar, which lets you do Google searches from your browser without having to go to the website.
Torrent A method of making data available for download over the internet, where the recipient of data is expected to make the data available to others for download from their PC, rather than all users downloading from a central server. Typically much of the data is bootleg software, audio and video. Because the data is distributed from multiple computers all over the place rather than a central point, it is extremely hard to police.
Touchpad A pressure-sensitive pad which replaces the mouse on most laptop computers.
Trojan A program similar to a virus which is disguised as something harmless like a game, but when launched actually sabotages the computer on which it is running.
TSR (Terminate and Stay Resident) A program, usually loaded automatically on startup, which remains in memory to provide particular functions such as connection to a network or protection against viruses. In Windows 95/98 TSRs presently running are usually represented by icons in the System tray, such as the small loudspeaker which represents the volume control for the soundcard. A few TSRs are essential, but many are installed automatically by a particular application just to improve its own performance, with no thought for anything else you may be doing, and may actually have a negative impact on everything else. Usually (but not always) launched from the StartUp folder in the Windows Start Menu.
TWAIN (Technology Without An Interesting Name, according to legend) A standard "language" or protocol which computers use to communicate with scanners.
UBE, UCE (Unsolicited Bulk Email, Unsolicited Commercial Email) Email sent out in bulk to addresses harvested from web pages, newsgroups etc, advertising products or services - mostly scams or pornography. Also known as spam. Sending UCE is a violation of most ISP's Acceptable Use Policies, and will often get your account terminated immediately.
Ultra DMA, UDMA (Direct Memory Access) A standard for EIDE disk controllers relating to how fast they can transfer data. Often followed by a number representing the transfer rate in Mbps, eg UDMA100 operates at up to 100 Mbps.
Uninstall Remove a program from your system. You can't just delete its folder, because almost all programs make changes to various parts of Windows. Many programs come with a special uninstaller, which you should use if it exists. Otherwise, you can uninstall programs (in Windows) from the Control Panel.
Upload To transfer information (files) from a user PC to a network or the Internet. See also download.
URL (Universal Resource Locator) An address used to locate something on the internet, most often a web page. All web addresses are URLs.
USB (Universal Serial Bus) A type of serial port (or connector), used to attach extra devices such as a scanner to a PC. Standard on new PCs from around 1998. USB 2.0 is a faster version of the same thing. Many PCs now use USB to connect the mouse and keyboard.
Usenet An enormous collection of public newsgroups on the Internet, well over 25,000 at last count, which allow users to post messages discussing particular issues.
User interface A program's controls, with which the user "interfaces" with the program.
Vaporware Derogatory term for software which is announced but fails to materialise.
VGA (Video Graphics Array) An early colour graphics standard for PCs, now used as a sort of lowest common denominator which all monitors and graphics cards understand.
Virus A program that has been deliberately created to cause computer problems, usually minor ones as a prank, but occasionally very nasty ones indeed, such as erasing your entire hard disk. Viruses were originally designed to attach themselves to programs on a disk, and then "hide" in the computer's memory once the host program is executed, and "infect" every disk they come across. Some types of virus (such as the famous "I love you") propagate by email, disguised as an attachment, which is why you should never open an attachment you are unsure of.
Virus protector A program which guards against computer viruses, either by lurking in memory as a TSR and checking everything you run for viruses as you go along, or by scanning some or all of the files on either hard or floppy disk at a time you specify. Virus protectors need to be updated frequently to guard against new types of virus.
Virtual, virtual reality A simulated environment on the internet or a computer.
Vista See Windows Vista.
Voicemail A voice message recorded on a computer and sent to a specific person by the computer or telephone system. In effect a more sophisticated telephone answering machine.
VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) A system for making cheap phonecalls over the internet instead of via the telephone system.
W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) An influential group of interested parties who agree what is and isn't official HTML. Originally WWWC, but W3C is a lot easier to say.
Wallpaper A picture or motif on your Windows desktop. To change the Windows wallpaper right-click anywhere on the desktop, select Properties from the pop-up menu, choose the Desktop tab and select a new entry from the list under Background. To add pictures of your own to the list, save them as .bmp(bitmap) files and put them in your Windows folder.
WAN (Wide Area Network) A sort of group of networks, or more properly LANs, connected together.
WAP (Wireless Application Protocol; pr. "wapp" or "wopp") A system to enable mobile phones to browse the World Wide Web. In practise the site has to be specially designed and text only, and only a very few sites have bothered to set up a WAP version.
WAV file, Wave A computer sound recording. WAV files tend to be very large, so sound recordings are often compressed into MP3s on the internet, giving a slightly lower quality but much smaller files.
Webcam (WEB CAMera) a kind of cheap TV camera which you can use for videoconferencing over the internet, or just showing off. The picture quality usually isn't all that great but it doesn't need to be, because high quality real time video won't fit down an ordinary internet connection anyway.
Webhost A company which makes webpages available on the World Wide Web, usually as a commercial venture.
Weblog A website documenting someone's life and/or thoughts, also known as a blog.
Webmail Email controlled from a website such as Hotmail or Yahoo instead of with a dedicated mail program like Outlook Express or Eudora. Many ISPs allow you to access your email both with a mail program and via the Web, so that you can access your email while travelling.
Webmaster The person prinicipally responsible for maintaining a website.
Webserver A computer which fetches or stores World Wide Web pages and provides them over the internet on request.
Website A page or group of pages on the World Wide Web.
Webspace The storage on an internet server where websites are kept. Webspace can be hired from a commercial provider, or is sometimes provided free with an internet dialup account.
Websurfing Looking at pages on the World Wide Web. Often just called surfing.
Wi-Fi (WIreless FIdelity) A method of connecting computers together in a network without cables, using small transmitter/receivers connected to ordinary PCs, printers, broadband modems etc. See 80211 etc.
Wiki A website where the users create and edit the content collaboratively, the best known being Wikipedia, a huge online encyclopedia. Entries on controversial subjects should be viewed with caution, as they may have been edited by persons with strong but not necessarily correct views.
Win95 Windows 95. See Windows.
Win98 Windows 98. See Windows.
Win9x Compatible with or pertaining to both Windows 95 and Windows 98.
Windows A family of operating systems from the Microsoft Corporation, standard on most PCs. Windows 95, 98 and ME (Millenium Edition) are three generations of the version intended mainly for home use; Windows NT and 2000, developed and released in parallel with the 9x family, were intended more for use in office and network environments, supposedly more robust but usually requiring a more powerful computer. The latest version is Windows XP, intended to bring the two different "flavours" together in a unified whole.
Windows 2000 A version of Windows intended for business users, the successor to Windows NT. Now theoretically superseded by Windows XP, but many businesses are still using it.
Windows 3.1 / 3.11 Microsoft's standard PC operating environment before the release of Windows 95. Not strictly speaking an operating system in its own right, more an add-on which provides DOS with a GUI. Windows 3.11 was officially called "Windows for Workgroups" because it was purportedly designed for use with networks, but in practice is no different to 3.1.
Windows 98SE (Second Edition) An upgrade to Microsoft's Windows 98. Generally agreed to be the best of the Win9x bunch.
Windows Key An extra key on keyboards made after 1995, located between Ctrl and Alt and bearing the Microsoft Windows logo. Pressing this key in any Win95/98 application should immediately call up the Taskbar with the Start Menu open. (If your keyboard doesn't have a Windows key you can perform the same task by pressing Ctrl-Esc).
Windows ME (Millenium Edition) The successor to Windows 98, but not widely taken up and now replaced by Windows XP. See Windows.
Windows NT A version of Windows intended for business use, more stable for networking but less game-friendly than its Win9x cousins. Superseded first by Windows 2000 and now by Windows XP.
Windows Vista Microsoft's latest version of its popular Windows operating system, released in 2007, intended to replace XP. It has been released in no less than six different versions, with varying capabilities and prices.
Windows XP The latest version of Windows and generally agreed to be the most stable. Intended to bring together and replace the different 9x and NT versions of Windows (see Windows) - but Microsoft released two versions, "Home" and "Professional".
Winsock A program required by Windows to communicate with the internet, usually installed automatically along with internet connection software.
Winzip The most popular program for compressing files, either for storage or transmission via the internet, widely available as a free download. The compressed files it creates have the extension .zip. See also zip.
Wireless network A computer network which uses radio transmitters (usually) to move information between computers without the need for physical cables. See Wi-Fi.
Wizard A Windows feature which presents a user with simple menus or options for what would otherwise be a complex task, and carries them out automatically. Almost all Windows programs are installed via Wizards, and they are also widely used inside Windows programs.
Word Processor A program used for creating documents, letters etc. The best known is Microsoft Word.
World Wide Web (WWW or just "the Web") The easiest part of the Internet to understand and use, the World Wide Web consists of many millions of pages of text and images published by anyone and everyone, from governments and large corporations down to the humblest home user, in a standardised hypertext format. A particular person or company's area is called a website. Viewed with a program called a browser. Wandering around the World Wide Web is often called Websurfing or just surfing.
Worm A malicious program introduced into computers by stealth, similar to a virus.
Write-protected A write-protected file has been set so that it cannot be altered or deleted without first removing the write protection. Also called read-only. You can write-protect a file in windows by right-clicking on it and checking the "read-only" box under attributes. Floppy disks can be write-protected by moving the small plastic square in the top right corner.

WTF (What The F***) Internet slang, not suitable for polite company.
WWW See World Wide Web.
WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get; pr. "whizzy-wig") A computer interface, usually for creating documents, that reproduces the end-product as accurately as possible on screen. Standard on all modern software, so you don't often hear it mentioned these days.
YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary) Internet slang, meaning "your experience may be different". Derives from a disclaimer in US car ads.
Zip A popular standard for file compression developed by the PKWare corporation. Files thus compressed usually have the extension .zip. See Winzip.
Zip drive A special drive for removable data cartridges, often used for making backups as the cartridges can hold a lot more data than a floppy disk. Now pretty much obsolete, as almost all PCs have CD or DVD writers fitted as standard.
The Computer Jargon Dictionar

That was S-Z; click here for A-D (+ numbers); E-L; M-R.

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