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Jargon Busting – Techie Terms Explained

23 July 2019

There are lots of tech based terms when it comes to networks. So, to help you get your head around them, we’ve explained them in plain English.

WiFi

A standard for connecting devices using radio waves. The term Wi-Fi does not stand for anything, but is a trademarked name owned by the Wi-Fi Alliance.The most common usage is when referring to wireless routers.

LAN

A Local Area Network is a small network that’s confined to a local area. For example, your home network or an office network is a LAN.

WAN

A Wide Area Network is a larger network that covers a wider area. Your ISP provides you with a connection to their own WAN, which connects to the Internet.

Firewall

firewall is a piece of software or hardware that blocks certain types of traffic. For example, a firewall could block incoming traffic on a certain port or block all incoming traffic except traffic coming from a specific IP address.

HTTP

The HyperText Transfer Protocol is the standard protocol modern web browsers and the web itself uses.

URL

A Uniform Resource Locator, is also known as a web address. The current URL is displayed in your web browser’s address bar. For example, www.equipment-hq.co.uk/services is a URL that tells your computer to use the hypertext transfer protocol to connect to the server at http://www.equipment-hq.co.uk and ask for the file named article in the root directory.

IP Address

An Internet Protocol address, or IP address, is a numerical address that corresponds to your computer on a network. When a computer wants to connect to another computer, it connects to that computer’s IP address.

Router / Access Point

A router or access point is a device that passes traffic back and forth. Most homes will have a router and it’s that router’s job to pass outgoing traffic from your local devices to the internet, and to pass incoming traffic from the Internet to your devices.

NAT

Network Address Translation, or NAT, is used by routers to share a single IP address among many devices. For example, you probably have a wireless router at home that creates a Wi-Fi network your laptops, smartphones, tablets, and other devices connect to. Your ISP provides you with a single IP address that’s reachable from anywhere on the Internet, sometimes called a public IP address.

DHCP

The dynamic host configuration protocol allows computers to automatically request and be assigned IP addresses and other network settings. For example, when you connect your laptop or smartphone to your Wi-Fi network, your device asks the router for an IP address using DHCP and the router assigns an IP address. This simplifies things — you don’t have to set up static IP addresses manually.

Domain Name

Domain names are the base part of website names. like www.equipment-hq.co.uk or google.com. Note that domain names are just another type of hostname.

DNS

The Domain Name System is how computers convert readable domain names and hostnames to numerical IP addresses. When you type www.equipment-hq.co.uk into your web browser, your computer contacts its DNS server and the DNS server replies with the numerical IP address of Equipment HQs server, which is what your computer connects to.

Ethernet

Ethernet is the standard wired network technology in use almost everywhere today. If your computer is connected to a network via a cable, it’s likely using an Ethernet cable.

MAC Address

Each network interface has a Media Access Control address, or MAC address — also known as a physical address. This is a unique identifier designed to identify different computers on a network. MAC addresses are usually assigned when a manufacturer creates a network device.

Port

When an application wants to send or receive traffic, it has to use a numbered port between 1 to 65535. This is how you can have multiple applications on a computer using the network and each application knows which traffic is for it.

Packet

A packet is a unit of data sent between devices. When you load a web page, your computer sends packets to the server requesting the web page and the server responds with many different packets of its own, which your computer stitches together to form the web page. The packet is the basic unit of data that computers on a network exchange.

These aren’t the only bits of network jargon you’ll come across, but they are some of the most common out there. If there is any advice or information you need about network hardware then get in touch with Equipment HQ today.

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