Technical jargon can often be confusing and overwhelming, especially for those who are not familiar with the IT industry.
As a company with tech staff, we know that one concern businesses have with dealing with IT support is that they might not answer your questions in a way you completely understand. They may seem as though they are talking down to you with their complicated technical jargon, but in reality, they are terms they are using with each other on a daily basis and sometimes they forget that others donâ€™t know what on Earth theyâ€™re talking about.
While you donâ€™t need a comprehensive education in technical jargon â€” you simply donâ€™t have the time and possibly cannot be bothered learning about it, especially if technology is not an industry youâ€™re interested in â€” having a brief understanding of these terms can be extremely helpful in communicating with IT professionals and making informed decisions about your IT infrastructure.
In this guide, I’ll break down some common technical jargon you might encounter in the IT world.
- Bandwidth: This refers to the amount of data that can be transferred over a network connection in a given amount of time. It’s often measured in bits per second (bps), kilobits per second (Kbps), megabits per second (Mbps) or gigabits per second (Gbps).
- Firewall: A firewall is a piece of software or hardware that monitors and controls the flow of data between a computer or network and the internet. It acts as a barrier, blocking unwanted traffic while allowing authorised traffic to pass through
- VPN: A virtual private network (VPN) is a secure connection between two or more devices that allows them to communicate over the internet as if they were on the same physical network. They allow users to use a public network to securely and remotely access a different network, such as a company intranet.
- Cloud computing: Cloud computing is a way for businesses to store and manage their data, and run software applications on a data centre. Specifically, itâ€™s a way for employees to access their work files, databases, software and analytics via the internet remotely, no matter where they are located or whichever device they use. It allows for greater flexibility, scalability and cost-effectiveness than traditional on-premises IT infrastructure.
- SSL/TLS: SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and TLS (Transport Layer Security) are protocols used to establish secure connections between web browsers and servers. They encrypt the data that is transmitted over the internet, making it more difficult for hackers to intercept and steal sensitive information.
- API: An application programming interface (API) is a set of protocols and tools that allows different software applications to communicate with each other. APIs are commonly used to integrate different software systems and automate tasks.
- DNS: The domain name system (DNS) is a hierarchical naming system that translates domain names into IP addresses. It’s essentially a phone book for the internet that allows users to access websites by entering domain names rather than hard-to-remember IP addresses.
- RAID: RAID (redundant array of independent disks) is a storage technology that combines multiple hard drives into a single logical unit for greater performance, reliability and capacity. There are several different RAID levels, each with its strengths and weaknesses.
- LAN/WAN: LAN (local area network) refers to a network of devices that are connected within a relatively small area, such as a home or office. WAN (wide area network) refers to a network that spans a larger geographic area, such as multiple offices or cities.
- Patch: A patch is a piece of software that is designed to fix a specific issue or vulnerability in an operating system, application or other software system. Patches are released periodically by software vendors to address security concerns and improve performance.
- Cache: A way to store frequently-accessed information is through a data cache. For example, web browsers use caches to store and load previously visited web pages more quickly. For a cache to be efficient, it must be quite small, so as they take up space over time and store more data, it can grow too large and slow your computer down rather than speed up processes. When this happens, you will need to clear the cache.
- Cookies: HTTP cookies are small files sent by a website and stored in your browser to help the website remember information about the user, like usernames and passwords, billing addresses and browser history. While convenient, they also raise privacy concerns as they can be a security vulnerability.
These are just a few examples of the technical jargon you might encounter in the IT industry. While it may seem daunting at first, taking the time to understand these terms can go a long way in improving your communication with IT professionals and making informed decisions about your IT infrastructure. Since IT is very technical, it has more jargon than most other fields but these words help IT professionals communicate very specific information to each other, especially since the industry is so complex. If you’re ever unsure about a term or concept, don’t hesitate to ask your IT provider for clarification.
Make sure to follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook as we post explanations of technical concepts once or twice a week. These are in digestible snippets and are in laymanâ€™s terms to help you understand a bit more about the technological and Cyber Security world.