Technical Computer Terms

Computer Repair and Other Technical Terms

Below is a list of technical computer terms and their meanings.  The technical terms listed below are not specific computer repair terms but are also commonly used within the IT industry.  Many too are now commonplace day to day terms used by the general population.  Some of the technical words and their meanings are pretty obvious but others are less common.

Numerous technical computer terms are also acronyms which often make geek speak seem more complicated than what it actually is.  Whilst this list provided below is by no means a complete dictionary of computer terms, we do hope that the list clears up any confusion you may have had regarding computer terminology.

Technical Computer Terms and Their Meanings

Application or App

An application is most commonly referred to as an app and is now part of everyday language.  An app or application is a software program. (See Software)


The BIOS is firmware that is stored on a memory chip on the motherboard of a computer.  The term BIOS is the shortening of the words ‘basic input-output system’ and it has the very important role of processing data which allows a computer to function once turned on.  The BIOS facilitates the flow of data between the operating system of other devices such as the printer, mouse and keyboard.  Problems with the BIOS often require the flashing or updating of the BIOS as part of many computer repairs.

Boot or Start Up

Boot or start up are the technical computer terms used when a computer is turned on, it refers to the fact that the computer and all the software is loading.  How quickly a computer boots is dependent upon a number of factors including the amount of programs and data on the computer and the components of the computer system.  Start up is another term for basically the same thing.


We all use browsers to surf the net.  Browsers are programs such as Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer (for Windows based machines.  Mac browsers include Safari and Opera.


Whilst not sounding like a technical computer term, the word bug in computer terminology means a glitch or an error in a program.  A fair amount of software these days is sold with bugs still in it and them patches are sent out which rectify the bug in the program.  This is particularly true for games but also applies to professionally used software.  Sometimes updates are really patches that correct the errors (or bugs) that came out with the original software.

Bytecomputer repair terms

(See Megabyte)


You may hear the technical term cache used in the sentence ‘clear your cache’.  This is referring to clearing or removing recently stored data.  For example when you are using your computer, information is cached (stored) in your computers RAM so that you can more quickly access this information.  The downside is that having too much information cached can mean that it does the opposite; it actually slows down your computer… Or it can even provide you with outdated information.


Chat in computer terminology refers to when you communicate through the pop-up options that are now very frequently included on websites.  Basically when chatting you are communicating through typing messages which are relayed across the internet to another party or parties.


A chipset is the way in which a circuit is laid out.  Chipset as a computer term relates to a CPU and the motherboard it powers (nowadays usually Intel or AMD) the card of a modem, a graphics (video) card powered by an AMD or nVidia GPU, hard drive PCB etc.


(See The Cloud)

Data Retrieval

Used as a computer repair term, data retrieval describes the process of recovering data (files, images, music etc) that a customer is not able to access either due to (most often) a faulty or damaged hard drive on their machine or a portable drive.


The computer technical term cursor is simply the place or position that you are currently on a page.  You are able to see the cursor as it is usually a flashing vertical line.


A database used as a technical term relating to computers is simply a collection of (usually) organised data.  The computer term data base is often used colloquially to refer to a person’s collection of information.  There are also specific database programs which are used by businesses that collate and use a great deal of information.  Examples of database programs include Oracle and Microsoft Access.

Defrag or Defragment

A computer repair technician will often use the computer term defrag – what this means is employing a process (defragmentation) to clean up a hard drive to remove files or parts of files and empty space on your hard drive.  The purpose of a defrag is to speed up your computer by ‘tidying’ it up.  This process can however be risky and although many people as a matter of course regularly defrag their computers it is not without risk.

If your system hard drive is actually a solid state drive (SSD) or flash drive a defrag should not be attempted.

DC Connector

(See Power Jack)


A desktop is a computer that we also call a PC or personal computer.  A desktop comprises (among other things) a screen and a ‘box’ which contains the hardware and software of the computer.  Desktops are still the most common form of computer although laptops and notebooks are increasingly replacing desktops for many people, particularly those on the move such as executives and sales people and are also becoming very popular for home use.


Used as a technical computer term, the word ‘directory’ most often a collection of folders which in turn contain a number of files.  A directory on a typical computer will have folders for system files, personal documents and different software programs.

Disk (including Hard Disk Drive)

A computer disk is a physical object that is used for storing information or data.  Examples include portable or external disks drives or storage devices, and also include 3.5 inch removable disks or floppy disks (now rarely used).  Nowadays the word disk is often used interchangeably with drive.  Thus people may say they have saved data on their hard disk or hard drive or portable hard drive.  The correct term is really hard disk rather than drive as the drive is in fact where the disk itself lives, but as said nowadays they are used to mean the same thing more often than not.  Not to be confused with an optical drive, which includes CD ROM, DVD and Blu-Ray drives.


Ethernet is a technical term used to describe a type of computer connection to the internet or a local area network (LAN).


Firmware refers to modifiable programs that are embedded in hardware.  Updates of firmware must be actioned as if they are not it could result in the relevant hardware being destroyed.

Flash Drive or USB

Flash drive and USB are technical computer terms used to mean the same thing.  Flash drives (or USBs) replace three quarter inch discs which replaced floppy disks and are a mechanism for storing information such that it can be loaded onto another computer or kept as a backup.

Full System Reinstallation

This is often a last resort in computer repairs.  If a machine can only be fixed by erasing the hard drive (after files and data have been backed up is possible) then a full system reinstallation will be required.  A system reinstallation is the process whereby all software has to be reloaded onto the computer.  This includes all device drivers, the operating system, and other software.  Once a full system reinstallation has been completed the files and data can be reloaded.  A full system reinstallation is a very time consuming process, hence at Affordable Computer Repairs and Service we do whenever possible avoid having to take such action and will always advise the client prior to undertaking this expensive repair job.

Function Keys

Located towards the top of your keyboard function keys each performs a specific task.  Function keys start with the letter F such as F1, F2 etc.

Hard Reboot

(See reboot)


Hardware when used in computer terminology refers to the physical components of your computer such as the mother board, fan, hard drive etc.  In older machines, Macs, laptops and desktops it is often the failure of one or more hardware components that lead customers to contact us for repair.  As honest and reputable computer repairers there are instances when the failure of one or more hardware components in an older machine leads us to recommend to the customer that they consider the purchase of a new computer rather than replacement of faulty hardware components.  There are many reasons for this and we can assure you that this recommendation is only made in the interests of the customer and not us as a repair business!

Heat Sink

In computer repair a faulty heat sink may cause a computer to refuse to boot and cause all manner of problems.  Basically a heat sink is a component of the central processing unit which prevents it (The CPU that is) from overheating.

IP Address

A computer repair technician may want to know your IP address if you have a connection problem with the internet.  IP is an acronym in computer terminology for ‘internet protocol’.  Made up of numbers separated by dots, your IP address is specific only to your internet connection.


(See Megabyte)

Logic Board

The term for a motherboard on Apple Mac notebooks and desktops.

Mac OS

Mac OS is the operating system of Macintosh computers.  OS is simply an acronym for the words Operating System.  Examples of different versions of Mac OS include Snow Leopard, Lion, Mavericks and Sierra to name but a few.

Malware Removal

Malware is a form of malicious software which is written to cause harm or damage to a computer or network.  There are many different forms of malware including viruses, Trojan horses, etc.  As a computer repair business one of our major services is malware removal which is the process (sometimes an art!) of removing these malicious programs from a PC or Mac, laptop/ notebook or desktop or external hard drive.  As far as technical terms go, many people refer to a virus when in actual fact the technical term malware is correct as virus is just one form of malware whilst the term is used often to cover all forms of malware.


A megabyte is a unit of measurement of storage capacity or usable memory, long since superseded   The lowest form of measurement is a byte or 8 bits, followed by a kilobyte, then the megabyte and finally a gigabyte and terabyte.  A kilobyte is 1,024 bytes.  A megabyte is 1,024 kilobytes and finally a gigabyte is 1,024 megabytes.

MHz or Megahertz

The speed of the processor’s clock is measured in megahertz.  Whilst many people believe that this is an indication of how quickly a computer works it is more often than not this is not really the case as there are many, many other factors that influence how quickly a laptop or desktop actually performs. So whilst the megahertz tells us how quickly the processor clock cycles per second other factors are more important such as the amount of memory, the capabilities of other hardware components and the amount of free or otherwise space on the hard drive.  These days, this term usually refers to the speed of memory or RAM, whilst the latest generation of CPU are now measured in Gigahertz (GHz).


A modem (also known as a router) is the device that transmits data over the phone line.  The location of your modem in your home plays an important part in the speed of which you are able to access and relay information.  There are also a variety of different modems available on the market some of which are better performers than others.  In computer repair we often have customers who come to us with internet access difficulties.  This can be due to the poor performance of a modem but is more often than not a problem with the service provider.


A monitor is just another term for a computer screen; nowadays the more commonly referred to term is computer screen rather than monitor.

Motherboard or Logic Board

The motherboard is probably the most important part of a computer.  It contains all the main hardware such as the CPU, the memory and the BIOS.


In computer terms partition refers to one or more sections of a hard disk.  If you have a fault with the hard drive of your PC you are lucky it may be with just the one partition rather than both.

Power Jack or DC Connector

On laptops or notebooks the power jack is the electrical connection port where the laptop’s power supply is connected.  Faulty or broken power jacks are a common laptop repair job.  The fixing of power jacks is not an easy repair and involves dismantling the laptop or notebook and then soldering the power jack to fix the problem.  Fixing or repairing damaged power jacks is one of the many services that we offer at Affordable Computer Repairs and Service.


In computer repairs a machine will often be rebooted for a variety of reasons.  Basically to reboot (or re-boot) just means to start up the computer once again.  On occasion a hard reboot is done.  In computer repair terms a hard reboot means rebooting the computer without having properly closed all the files and applications.  This is always avoided if possible.


(See Modem)

Run or Execute

Run or execute is just the technical computer term used when a software program is started up and then performs its task.  Thus a computer repairer may ‘run’ or ‘execute’ a malware removal program whose role is to find malicious software.

Safe Mode (or Safe Boot)

Safe mode or safe boot are the technical terms used in computer repairs when a PC or Mac computer (laptop or desktop) cannot boot fully or is not fully operational.  Safe mode (or Safe Boot if it’s a Mac) refers to when a computer is booted without using the full functionality of the operating system.  Booting with safe mode means that the computer runs with just the very basic system files allowing a computer repair technician to then progress with a repair of the machine.


Software is a computer term for programs – that is code that has been written for a particular purpose and is able to perform due to the hardware on the computer.  Examples of software are commonly known programs such as Microsoft Office or computer games.  Viruses too are a form of software.


Spyware are programs written that once on your machine watch your keyboard strokes and other use of your computer.  The information is collected for many reasons, none of which are of value to you.  Often spyware is used to try and obtain logins and passwords or banking information, credit card details or email addresses in your email account.  This information is then used to the benefit of the spyware initiators to access your bank account, send spam or whatever devious plans they may have.

System Reinstallation

(See Full System Reinstallation)

USB or Universal Serial Bus

A USB is a type of computer port which has multi functions such as being used to connect printers, keyboards, mice etc.  People often say USB when they actually mean a USB stick, they will thus say that they have put the information on a USB when in actual fact they have stored the data on a USB stick, not the port.  However this is not an issue as everyone knows what this means and it is now really just part of geek speak.

Web Search Engine

The web search engine that everyone knows is Google and is an information retrieval system.  Other search engines include Bing and Yahoo but there are plenty of others.

technical computer terms

Brisbane Computer Repairs and IT Services

If you are looking for computer repairs in Brisbane please give us at Affordable Computer Repairs and Service a call on 3397 1215.

Affordable Computer Repairs and Service Brisbane