IT IRL - Acronyms Explained

Srsly, what does that mean IRL? There are so many acronyms within the IT sphere that it can become a little confusing if you’re not sure what you’re reading. What’s perhaps worse is that you encounter most of them every single day and may not know it. So, when something goes wrong, and you start seeing letters that go every which way and don’t seem to point to any recognizable clue, it can make your computer seem perhaps more daunting than it is.

Remember that every acronym is meant to make life easier. Once you begin to recognize them and what they do, the whole picture becomes a little clearer! Take a look at some of the most important acronyms you’ll likely encounter when computing:

1. IT – Information Technology: Information technology describes the discipline that encompasses computers, data, data systems, and networks, to name a few. It's a broad term that is often followed by "support" or "department" when something goes wrong.

2. PC – Personal Computer: This is a really widely-used term that encompasses most, if not all, types of computers people use today. PC generally refers to a computer independently from its operating system or manufacturer, but does often connote a desktop as opposed to a laptop.

3. CPU – Central Processing Unit: The Central Processing Unit (or processor) is often said to be the brain of your computer. No data are stored on the processor; it just moves the data quickly. The computer tower is often falsely called the CPU; these are not interchangeable terms.

4. RAM – Random Access Memory: This is the ultra-high-speed data storage your computer uses to "remember" things that need to be accessed quickly to provide a smoother operating experience, such as a hidden browser window, or even background tasks.

5. LAN – Local Area Network: A local area network is a network of computers (i.e. a number of computers connected together) over a "local" area. This could be throughout your office space, your home, etc.

6. SSD – Solid State Drive: A solid-state drive is so named because unlike its predecessor, the hard-disk drive (HDD), there are no moving parts. Like an old-fashioned hard-disk drive, it stores large amounts of data that your computer needs to run, and other data you choose to store there. SSDs are favored for their relatively incredible read/write speeds and longevity compared to a HDD.

7. WWW – World-Wide Web: On a broad examination, the world wide web is the term used to describe the computers worldwide that are connected to one another and the data that is shared among them. Alternatively, the World Wide Web is the www in front of websites in your browser.

8. VPN – Virtual Private Network: A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is an extension of a private network to a computer outside of that network. This enables a user to work within a closed network (such as networks used at the office) without having to be on-site. All information sent over the internet to reach the private network is encrypted for extra security.

9. RDP – Remote Desktop Protocol: Remote Desktop Protocol is a set of rules that allow a remote computer (or client) to connect to and use another computer (the host). The client then acts like the host, showing you its desktop, giving you access to its documents, etc. This is different from a VPN in that with RDP, the goal is to channel another computer through the one you're using, much like a medium channels a ghost, just without the crystal ball.

10. AP – Access Point: An Access Point is a device on a network that allows a computer, phone, tablet, etc. to connect to the network to which the Access Point is attached.

11. ISP – Internet Service Provider: Your internet service provider is essentially another utility company. They provide you with a connection to the other computers and servers all over the world.

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