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IT Glossary of Acronyms

Confusion of IT words solved



LAN – Local Area Network

LAN is a computer network that spans a relatively small area. Most often, a LAN is confined to a single room, building or group of buildings. Most LANS connect workstations and personal computers. Each computer in a LAN has its own processor that executes programs, but it can also access data and devices anywhere on the LAN. This means that many users can share expensive devices such as printers, as well as data. LANS can transmit data at very fast rates, much faster than it can be transmitted over a telephone line, but the distances are limited and there is also a limit to the number computers that can be attached to a single LAN.

WAN – Wide Area Network

A WAN is computer network that spans a relatively large geographical area. Typically, a WAN consists of two or more local-area networks (LANs).

Computers connected to a wide-area network are often connected through public networks, such as the telephone system. They can also be connected through leased lines or satellites. The largest WAN in existence is the Internet.

VLAN – Virtual Local Area Network

A VLAN is a network of computers that behave as if they are connected to the same wire even though they may actually be physically located on different segments of a LAN. VLANs are configured through software rather than hardware, which makes them extremely flexible. One of the biggest advantages of VLANs is that when a computer is physically moved to another location, it can stay on the same VLAN without any hardware reconfiguration.

SAN – Storage Area Network

A SAN is a high-speed network of storage devices that also connects those storage devices with servers. It provides a storage system that can be accessed by the applications running on any networked servers. SAN storage uses networking rules to span bigger geographical distances and are particularly helpful in backup and disaster recovery. SAN storage devices can include tape libraries and disk-based devices, like RAID hardware.

RAID – Redundant Array of Independent Disks

RAID storage uses multiple disks in order to provide fault tolerance, to improve overall performance, and to increase storage capacity in a system. This is in contrast with older storage devices that used only a single disk drive to store data.

RAID allows you to store the same data redundantly (in multiple paces) in a balanced way to improve overall performance. RAID disk drives are used frequently on servers but aren't generally necessary for personal computers. 

RAM – Random Access Memory

RAM is a computers data storage which stores frequently used program instructions to increase the general speed of a system.

ROM – Read Only Memory

ROM is the computer memory on which data has been pre-recorded. Once data has been written onto a ROM chip, it cannot be removed and can only be read. Unlike main memory (RAM), ROM retains its contents even when the computer is turned off. Most personal computers contain a small amount of ROM that stores critical programs such as the program that boots the computer.

BYOD – Bring Your Own Device

BYOD is the trend for employees utilizing their own devices in a work environment for work purposes. Smartphones, laptops, tablets, USB drives are the most common examples of this. The belief is that employees want to work with devices and technology that they like and understand and this in turn increases productivity. The challenge for IT departments is how to enforce policies, procedures and security, and how to manage costs.

GUI – Graphical User Interface 

GUI is a program interface that takes advantage of the computer's graphics capabilities to make the program easier to use. Well-designed graphical user interfaces can free the user from learning complex command languages.

IP – Internet Protocol

IP is the method or protocol by which data is sent from one computer to another on the Internet. Each computer (known as a host) on the Internet has at least one IP address that uniquely identifies it from all other computers on the Internet. 

IP by itself is something like the postal system. It allows you to address a package and drop it in the system, but there's no direct link between you and the recipient.

DNS – Domain Name System (or Server or Service)

DNS is a service that translates domain names into IP addresses. Because domain names are alphabetic, they're easier to remember. The Internet however, is really based on IP addresses. Every time you use a domain name, therefore, a DNS service must translate the name into the corresponding IP address. For example, the domain name might translate to

HDMI – High Definition Multimedia Interface

HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is a proprietary audio/video interface for transmitting uncompressed video data and compressed or uncompressed digital audio data from a HDMI-compliant source device, such as a display controller, to a compatible computer monitor, video projector, digital television, or digital audio device.  HDMI is a digital replacement for analogue video standards.

BIOS – Basic Input Output System

BIOS is the program a personal computer's microprocessor uses to get the computer system started after you turn it on. It also manages data flow between the computer's operating system and attached devices such as the hard disk, video adapter, keyboard, mouse and printer.

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