Appendix A: Practical Glossary

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Microsoft Windows 95.


Microsoft Windows 98. Includes both the original and second editions unless otherwise noted.


Microsoft Windows 98 Second Edition.


Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional.


The Windows\System folder in 9x, and the Winnt\System32 folder or Windows\System32 folder in 2000 and XP. The actual folder used can vary. The percent marks indicate that the term is a variable.


The most common internal standard (as of this writing) for computer video. Uses SVGA connectors for monitors.


A mathematical formula designed to solve a problem by accounting for expected occurrences.


A small program within Windows that is used to configure certain aspects of hardware and software. The items in Control Panel are called applets—literally, "small applications."


A computer program.


A discontinued form factor of case, motherboard, and power supply.


ATX and its variations are the most commonly used form factors of case, motherboard, and power supply as of this writing. Variations include MicroATX and others.


ATA Packet Interface. The standard for IDE optical drives.

base video

The minimum video Windows displays, usually 640x480 resolution with 16 colors. A PC can provide base video without any of the video drivers being loaded into memory, such as early in the boot process.


Early version of a program that is not ready to be sold. Users often can obtain a free beta version of a program to test its performance and report bugs to the developer.


Basic Input Output System. A program that works as soon as the computer is powered on to test hardware, locate the operating system (OS) startup files on the hard drive in order to start the OS, and support the transfer of data among hardware devices. The BIOS is usually stored on a CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) flash memory chip.


A format of an image file that stores a map of each pixel along with the color information for each. Because of all this stored information, the files are rather large. In Windows, bitmap files have the extension .bmp. There are color, and black and white bitmaps.

blue screen of death

The nickname of a Windows 2000 or XP stop error. When Windows detects a serious problem with the system, it shuts down the computer and dumps the contents of the memory to a file. It also displays a blue screen with the error data.


High-speed Internet connection such as DSL or cable Internet, or faster business connections.

buffer underrun error

An error that happens when burning an optical disc that causes the media to become useful as a beverage coaster. This error was prevalent with old CD burners.


A design flaw in a program.

burn-in test

A series of individual tests used to make sure a new computer is running properly. A computer that passes the burn-in test is ready to sell to the customer.

cache (pronounced "cash"):

1. High-speed memory that is used on various types of hardware components. It is designed to enhance the performance of these devices by storing data in such a way as to make sure that it is transmitted smoothly to and/or from the device. Generally, the more cache a device has, the better it performs. Disk drives and CPUs are examples of devices with caches. Synonym: buffer. 2. An area in memory or on a disk drive that holds frequently accessed data.


The cabinet that holds all parts of the computer. Most cases come with power supplies.


A standard for Ethernet network cables. Cables that don't meet the standard might not work well in networks, but should be adequate for voice telephone connections.

CEE power cord

A three-conductor power cord used to connect computers, monitors, and many other devices to AC power. These are probably the most standard part of a computer, as almost every non-laptop computer power supply, CRT monitor, and many other devices use these.

check box

A small square box within a dialog box that enables an event when there is a checkmark inside. Add a checkmark by selecting the check box. Remove the checkmark by clearing it. You can normally have any combination of selected and cleared check boxes in a dialog box.


The set of integrated circuits used on a particular device.


A failed optical disc burn resulting in a useless disc.

COM port

See serial port.

composite video

An analog video signal that is carried through one cable. The same signal that is used by all standard VCRs and by many computer video capture and video output devices.

color depth

Number of different shades of color that can be reproduced by a monitor or imaging device. In computers discussed in this book, color depth ranges from 16 to 4,294,967,295 colors.

command-line interface

See text-based interface.

compressed file

A file that has been altered so that it takes up no unnecessary space. For example, a bitmap image file is one in which every picture element in the entire picture contains color or grayscale information. Because there are hundreds of thousands or millions of picture elements in various types of bitmap files, the files take up a lot of disk space. However, if you have a bitmap file containing an image that is mostly solid yellow with only a small drawing in one corner, the compression technique might use an algorithm that sets a range of all the picture elements that should be yellow and assigns yellow to all of them, rather than assigning yellow to each individual element. Such techniques make for a much smaller file. Some compressed files are self-extracting; that is, they open themselves when double-clicked. Others need some type of "unzip" program to open them. Still others are compressed and decompressed by Windows.


Make changes to device, software, or firmware settings.


1. A small file placed on a computer when the user visits and/or enters data into a Web page. The cookie is used to customize the Web page for the next time the user visits the page, sometimes by identifying the user, sometimes by remembering the information the user entered into a Web form. 2. The magnetic disk inside a floppy disk case.


Central processing unit. The chip that performs all the calculations necessary for the computer to do its job. Intel's Pentium and Celeron, and AMD's Athlon and Duron are names of popular lines of CPUs. Synonym: processor.

CPU family

Set of processors of a similar design made by one company. Pentium 4 and Athlon are examples of CPU families.

CRT monitor

A monitor with a television-type glass picture tube.

current folder

When using a command interpreter such as the MS-DOS prompt or the Windows 2000/XP command prompt, the current folder is the one that most commands will affect unless another folder is specified in the command's syntax.


The small image on the screen of a document that indicates the location where keyboard or other input will go. To illustrate the difference between a cursor and a pointer, note that the cursor in a document doesn't move along with the pointer until the pointing device is clicked, and that moving the cursor with any of the keyboard keys doesn't move the pointer. See also pointer.


The Windows screen that opens when the computer is booted. Contains the Start menu, the Task Bar, the System Tray, and all the icons.

desktop computer

Originally meant to mean a computer in a horizontal case, it has come to mean any personal computer that is not portable.


Company or individual who makes software.

dialog box

A rectangular window containing configuration controls.


Direct Memory Access. A system used by certain hardware devices such as hard drives, floppy drives, and sound cards to interact directly with system memory rather than burden the processor. Enable or disable DMA in a device's system property page.


The wide 5-pin plug/socket used to connect a keyboard to an AT motherboard.

DIP switch

A tiny switch used for configuring some hardware devices, especially older devices.


See folder.


See monitor.


A small cable with a telephone or Ethernet jack on one end, the other end of which plugs into a PC Card network adapter or modem. Dongles are usually fragile, especially at the plug that plugs into the PC Card. Many newer PC Cards have built-in jacks, making dongles unnecessary. See PC Card.

drive cage

An assembly in a computer that holds disk drives.

driver, device

A piece of software that allows the OS and programs to communicate with a hardware device. Hardware devices can't work without some type of driver, even if Windows' Device Manager indicates that no driver is necessary.

driver, generic

A device driver that is designed to work with most or all devices in a general category of hardware devices, such as a video adapter or modem. Generic drivers usually don't allow all of a device's features to work. An example of a generic driver is the video driver that provides minimum video resolution and color depth when a computer first starts to boot.


A computer with two separate OSs that are selectable at the time of boot.


Digital Video Interface. The standard interface for digital video on PCs. Digital monitors and video adapters have DVI connectors.


The digital video header connector on a motherboard for connection of a digital video adapter.

El Torito specification

A standard for CD-ROM drives that allows the computer to boot from a CD-ROM.

environment variable

In Windows and DOS, the setting of the path that enables the system to locate certain Windows program files and commands when entered into the command prompt or Run dialog. Although the term environment variable technically means anything that can be changed in a computer, the aforementioned definition represents the most important and common use of the term. See path.


The most common network system, usually making use of unshielded twisted-pair cables with RJ-45 connectors.

expansion slots

Slot connectors on the motherboard for attaching various components. Motherboards typically have several expansion slots.

extension, filename

Character(s) after the final period in a filename. The extension tells the OS what type of file it is, and Windows associates certain programs with each known file extension so that the file can be opened with minimum delay. For example, in the file chapter1.txt, "txt" is the extension, and it indicates a text file that would normally be opened by a text editor such as Notepad. Most file extensions are hidden by default in Windows; change this setting by going to Control Panel > Folder Options > View tab and clearing the "Hide file extensions for known file types" check box.

file system

System of storing data on a disk. File systems discussed in this book are FAT16, FAT32, NTFS, and various optical drive file systems. Not all versions of Windows can access all file systems.


A hardware- or software-based mechanism for blocking unwanted access to a computer over a network or the Internet.


A high-throughput hardware interface standard that allows many devices to be connected to a single port with only the FireWire controller using any Device Manager resources. Synonym: IEEE 1394.


Flash memory that is used to manage the basic operation of hardware devices. The most well-known example of firmware is a computer's BIOS. Other devices, such as optical drives, have firmware. Firmware can be updated via a process called flashing.

flash memory

Expensive memory that holds its data indefinitely after the power has been disconnected, but the data can be changed in a process called flashing. Flash memory chips are used for devices such as digital cameras, data storage devices on computers, and BIOSs.

flat panel monitor

A physically thin monitor, such as a laptop monitor, that uses light-emitting semiconductors rather than a glass picture tube. Contrast with CRT monitor.

flat screen monitor

A CRT monitor in which the viewable portion of the glass picture tube is flat, not curved. Not to be confused with a flat panel monitor.

floppy disk drives

Devices that store data on removable magnetic disks. Virtually all floppy drives sold since the mid-1990s have been of the 3.5-inch variety. These floppy disks are enclosed in a thin, hard, plastic shell. Because of this, they are sometimes confused with hard drives. Because of their limited capacity, their susceptibility to data loss, and other reasons, floppy disks have become much less useful in recent years. However, floppy disks can be indispensable for certain repairs. Synonyms: floppies, diskette drives, FDDs.


A virtual container used by Windows to organize files. Formerly called directories.

form factor

A standard of shapes, sizes, and mounting designs of hardware devices such as cases, power supplies, motherboards, hard drives, and others.

Front Side Bus (FSB)

The channel that connects the processor with main memory. The faster the FSB, the better the performance. As of this writing, this number will range between 33 and 800 MHz.

graphics adapter

See video card.

graphics card

See video card.

GUI (pronounced "gooey")

Graphical User Interface. The Windows interface that makes use of graphical elements for controls, using such objects as buttons to click and the procedure of clicking and dragging. Contrast to text-based interface.


When a program or OS process gets stuck at a certain point and doesn't continue.

hard drive

A device that stores data on permanently enclosed magnetic disks. The vast majority of computers have at least one hard drive. Data stored on a hard drive remains after the power is disconnected. The OS (such as Windows), along with programs and data, are almost always stored on a hard drive. Synonyms: hard disk drive, HDD.

heat sink

A small metal radiator used to allow heat to dissipate from heat- producing electrical devices, especially processors. Fans are often mounted on heat sinks to facilitate dissipation of heat.

hex number

See hexadecimal number.

hexadecimal number

A base-16 number. With decimal numbers, after 9 comes 0, and the 1 is carried over into the next column. Hex numbers include the following digits: 0123456789ABCDEF. After F comes 0, and the 1 is carried over into the next column. For example, F hex equals 15 in decimal, and 10 hex equals 16 in decimal. The purpose of hex numbers is to shorten what would otherwise be very long decimal numbers when referring to random access memory addresses and input/output addresses on a computer.


Saving the desktop as it is with all open programs and applets the way they are to the hard drive, and then shutting off the power. When power is resumed, the desktop should appear exactly as it was when it was hibernated. Synonym: suspend.


Capable of being connected or disconnected from the computer or peripheral without risk of damage. Synonym: Hot-swappable.


HyperText Markup Language. The language in which most Web pages are written. E-mail messages using anything more than plain text use HTML.

IEEE 1284

A standard for parallel cables. IEEE 1284-certified cables are more likely than noncertified cables to work reliably.

IEEE 1394

See FireWire.


To start a hardware device.

I/O address

A location of a hardware device communication channel in a motherboard. Expressed in a hex number. I/O address ranges must be different for each hardware device installed in a computer.


Interrupt ReQuest Line. A channel from a hardware device to the processor used to get the processor to respond to the device's request for attention. There are a limited number of IRQs on a computer, and two devices cannot use the same IRQ at the same time.


Industry Standard Architecture. An expansion slot interface no longer included in new computers.


A small connector used to connect two pins together on a circuit board for the purpose of configuration.


1. A notch or other physical feature that prevents a devices from being inserted into a slot the wrong way 2. The top level portions of the Windows registry.

knowledge base

A collection of all technical information about a manufacturer's or developer's products. Almost always searchable on the Web.


A small portable computer. Although laptops are generally considered larger than notebooks, the two terms are often used interchangeably, including in this book.


Of or pertaining to any hardware using standards older than the computer on which they are to run. Also refers to versions of software that has been replaced by a newer version and data files created on such software.


Automatically copy files from disk into memory. When Windows or a program starts, it's actually loading into memory.


Situation in which the computer stops responding. The screen image and pointer freeze, keyboard lights get stuck, and hard drive activity stops.


Programs that can cause various problems on a computer or can steal your personal data.

map a network drive

Assigning a drive letter to a folder or drive partition on a remote computer on the network.


Master boot record. The MBR is the first sector on a hard drive. A small program on the MBR contains information about the partitions, indicating which one is bootable, in case there are more than one.


Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition. Microsoft uses the lower-case "e," so we do too.


Disks, flash memory, or other materials used for data storage.


Chip assemblies that store data for very quick recall. The main memory in a computer requires constant power to be able to hold data. Every task performed by a computer requires the program and data to be loaded into memory. Synonym: random access memory (RAM).


A small, commonly used (as of this writing) form factor of case, motherboard, and power supply. Based on ATX.


Musical Instrument Digital Interface. A system of connecting electronic musical instruments to computers.


A device that allows the computer to access a telephone line for the purpose of faxing, Internet access, data transfer between computers, or other tele-communications-related uses. Internal modems plug into expansion slots, while an external modem connects to a port on the computer.


A device resembling a television that displays the computer's video images. Synonyms: screen, display.


The large printed-circuit board to which all other parts are connected. Synonyms: system board, main board, desktop board.


The combination of sound and various forms of graphics including video and animation. Although the prefix "multi" indicates more than one, many people incorrectly use the term to refer to sound only.


A computer with three or more OSs that can be selected when booting.


A device used to test various properties of electrical currents and circuits such as voltage, continuity, and resistance. Most commonly used in computer repair for testing power supplies.


A collection of two or more computers and other devices that can communicate with each other so that the users and computers can share information and hardware devices such as printers.

network card

A device that connects the computer to the network. Network cards come in the form of a separate card or are built in to the motherboard. Synonyms: network adapter, network interface card, NIC.


A group of subscribers who can post and reply to messages over the Internet using a newsreader program such as Outlook Express. Microsoft and other companies make use of newsgroups for professional and peer technical support. See Usenet.


network interface card. See network adapter.


A small portable computer. Although notebooks are supposed to be smaller than laptops, the two terms are often used interchangeably, including in this book.


Original Equipment Manufacturer. Refers to any product that is designed for manufacturers and retail computer builders to supply with their equipment. For example, Microsoft requires end users of OEM versions of Windows to get technical support from the manufacturer or computer builder rather than from Microsoft.

optical drives

Includes CD-ROM, CD-RW, DVD-ROM, and various writable DVD drives. Optical drives are devices that read, or read and write data from or onto discs using laser beams.

option button

One of at least two small round circles within a dialog box that can be selected (a dot placed inside) or cleared (the dot removed). With option buttons, normally only one in a group can be selected at a time. Originally referred to as "radio buttons," which came from old car radios with mechanical station preset buttons, in which only one button could be pushed in at a time.

page file

The file used by Windows for virtual memory. Synonym: swap file.


When Windows moves data between memory and the page file for the use of virtual memory.


An interface used for external devices such as printers and scanners. Parallel devices communicate with the system by sending as many as eight electrical pulses simultaneously.


Software designed to fix problems in other software.


1. The hierarchy of drives, folders, and subfolders that indicates the location of a file, folder, printer, or other element. For example, the path to this appendix could be C:\Documents and Settings\Rojo\My Documents\PCRepair\AppendixA.doc. In a network, the path can include the computer, usually in the form of the computer name preceded by two backslashes. Using the previous example on the computer named CRM, the network path could be \\CRM\C:\Documents and Settings\Rojo\My Documents\PCRepair\AppendixA.doc. 2. The indication of the location of commands in a command prompt or Run dialog. Usually called the path. When you change an environment variable related to the path to commands or Windows program files, you change the path to those commands or files.

PC Card

A credit card-sized hardware device that plugs into a slot in a laptop or the occasional desktop with a PC Card slot. The most common PC Card devices are modems and network adapters. The term PC Card replaced the term PCMCIA because nobody wanted to pronounce a six-syllable term.


Peripheral Component Interconnect. The most commonly used expansion card slot. New versions of PCI have been introduced that will be incompatible with current versions.


See PC Card.


Portable Document Format. A type of text and image file that can be made only by programs developed by Adobe Software, Inc. The file extension is .pdf.


Conductive metal pieces that are part of electrical connectors.


The smallest picture element in a video display or an image file.


The image on a computer screen that indicates the location of the pointing device control.

pointing device

A device that is used to move the on-screen pointer and choose or select screen elements. A mouse is the most common pointing device.


Connector on the outside of a computer to which peripheral devices can be connected. Examples are parallel, serial, PS/2, VGA, USB, and FireWire. Not to be confused with the networking term.

POST card

A card that can be plugged into an expansion slot and contains a small display to a show a problem code. A POST card is ideal for diagnosing computers that won't boot. It can be a great timesaver.

power supply

A box-shaped device that converts wall-outlet AC power to low-voltage DC used to power the devices in the computer.


See CPU.

properties, property page

A dialog box that presents information about a device, folder, or file, usually allowing one or more configuration options.

protocol, network

A piece of software containing rules for a particular networking purpose. Every network connection requires all parties to be using the same protocol in order to communicate.


Interface for keyboards and pointing devices on most ATX-based motherboards.


See memory.


Detect data from storage media. Technically, transfer data from a file into memory.

readme file

File that comes with software or hardware that contains useful information to the user.


An optical disc that can be written to, erased, and written to again. Includes CD-RWs and recordable DVDs.


A modular one-line telephone connector with two wires: red and green. An RJ11 connector has the same plastic shell as an RJ14 connector.


A modular two-line telephone connector with four wires: red and green for line 1, and black and yellow for line 2. An RJ14 connector has the same plastic shell as an RJ11 connector.


A modular telephone or network connector with eight wires. In order to be used with Ethernet networks, RJ45 connectors must adhere to the Cat5 or Cat5e standard.

root folder

The highest-level folder in a disk partition. If you open My Computer, and then any drive, you are looking at the root folder. For example, C:\ is the root directory of the C drive. Any files or folders you see with C:\ open are said to be in the root folder. Often called root directory.


Small Computer System Interface. An interface known primarily for hard drives and optical drives (but is actually used with many other devices) that is used mostly for servers and other mission-critical systems.

serial port

A port through which electrical pulses are sent one at a time. Used for external modems and other devices. Original IBM PCs had four serial ports, with each assigned a logical address called a COM port.


A computer that provides services to other computers on a network, called clients or workstations. Servers tend to be high-powered machines.


A small program or part of a program whose purpose is supporting larger programs or OS components. In 2000 and XP, access Services in Administrative Tools from Control Panel, Start menu, or Manage.


The installation of software, including Windows. Synonym: installation (only of software).

setup program

The BIOS configuration program.


The system that gives the user control of the OS. In the case of Windows, the shell is the GUI.


A horizontal multi-pin electrical connector that accepts a card-type connector. Expansion cards such as PCI, AGP, and ISA are slots. In addition, some processors, including many Pentium IIIs, plug into slots.

S.M.A.R.T. drive

Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology drive. Technology incorporated into most modern IDE hard drives that can alert the user of possible impending hard drive failure and most likely allow for data backup before this happens. S.M.A.R.T. drive support should always be enabled in the setup program.


A flat electrical connector with holes. A device such as a socket processor has pins that plug into the holes.

sound card

A device whose primary function is to allow a computer to play and record sound. A sound card can either be a separate card that plugs into an expansion slot, or a component built into the motherboard. Sometimes called a multimedia device.


Saving the desktop as it is with all open programs and applets the way they are to memory, and then operating on low power. In most cases, you can resume from standby by moving or clicking the pointing device, or by pressing any keyboard key.

stop error

See blue screen of death.

surge suppressor

A device designed to absorb increases in voltage that can damage computers, peripherals, or other devices. Most very inexpensive models provide little or no protection.


See hibernate.


Super Video Graphics Array. The standard for analog video on personal computers. Based on its predecessor, VGA, which uses the same connectors.

swap file

See page file.


The proper way to type commands with their parameters and switches.


A graphical depiction of the tab on a paper file folder. Click a tab to select a different page in a dialog box or property sheet. Sometimes used to represent the entire page that a tab is on.


The network protocol used on the Internet and in many other networks.

text-based interface

Interface that involves typing commands rather than using graphical elements. Contrast with GUI. Synonym: command-line interface.


Measurement of the speed of data transfer.


Turn a software or hardware element on or off. For example, pressing the <Caps Lock> key on the keyboard toggles uppercase letters on or off.


A flat pointing device that works by sliding a fingertip across its surface. Software can provide additional features such as tapping to click. Synonym: trackpad.


See touchpad.


A pointing device that has a partially enclosed ball that the user rolls to move the pointer.


Uninterruptible Power Supply. A UPS provides continuous power to a computer when there is a power failure. A UPS can protect the computer from the potentially harmful effects of power failures. It is indispensable when making changes to a computer's BIOS, because a power failure during a BIOS update will render a computer useless unless a replacement BIOS chip is obtained and installed, which isn't always possible. UPSs almost always include surge suppression. Synonym: battery backup.


Universal Serial Bus. A hardware device interface that allows for up to 127 devices to be connected to a single USB port, given that the appropriate expansion hardware is used. Only the USB controller uses IRQs or other Device Manager resources; the connected devices don't.


A system of communication on the Internet in which subscribers to newsgroups can post and reply to messages that all subscribers can see.


Video Graphics Array. See SVGA.

video card

A device whose primary function is to generate a video signal ("picture") to be shown on the monitor. A video card can either be a separate card that plugs into a slot on the motherboard, or a device built into the motherboard. Synonyms: video adapter, graphics adapter, display adapter.

virtual memory

System used by Windows that uses hard disk space to as additional memory in a process called paging. The file where Windows stores virtual memory data is called the page file or the swap file.


A device that tests only the voltage of a circuit.


Record data to a storage medium.


Refers to a disc that can have data recorded on it.


Microsoft Windows XP Home and Professional editions.

XP Home

Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition.

XP Pro

Microsoft Windows XP Professional Edition.


Zero Insertion Force CPU socket. Allows a CPU to be inserted into a socket without applying much pressure. Uses a locking lever to hold the processor in place.

Zip file

A file compressed with the algorithm developed by the inventor of the Zip file. The file's extension is .zip. See compressed file.

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PC Repair and Maintenance(c) A Practical Guide
PC Repair and Maintenance: A Practical Guide (Charles River Media Networking/Security)
ISBN: 1584502665
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2004
Pages: 175

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