Understanding Technology Terminology

Understanding Technology Terminology

Understanding technology terminology is important to utilizing your technology in the most successful ways possible. So much so that it often drives a wedge between end-users and their IT department. But it doesn’t have to be this way! Let’s break down some commonly confused IT terms in this Technology Terminology Showdown:


Modem vs Router

These are both pieces of hardware that allow you to connect to the internet. A Modem is the device that connects to your internet service provider (like Comcast or Century Link) and brings an internet connection into the building. A Router connects to the modem and distributes the internet to multiple devices, either through wired or wireless (wifi) connections. These two pieces of hardware come in many shapes and sizes and can even be combined into a single device.



VPN and RDS are both methods of remotely connecting to a network. A VPN is a private connection established between your computer and a device inside the network you want to gain access to. Data is then passed back and forth over this connection. An RDS is a connection established between your computer and a “virtual” computer installed on your network. Instead of passing data back and forth, you remotely control this virtual machine that is located inside your network and the results of those actions are displayed on your computer screen.


Server vs The Cloud

A Server is a machine used to store data. In a traditional environment, data is passed from the server to local computers using wired connections located in the same physical space (inside an office for example). When data is stored in the Cloud, it means that the data is stored on a server that is in another location and the user accesses it via an internet connection rather than a local, wired connection. Contrary to the belief of many, the data is not floating around above you, it’s still in a server somewhere, just not one located at your office.


Firewall vs Antivirus

A Firewall is a piece of hardware and its associated software systems that is used to monitor and protect a network. It can be thought of as the gatekeeper to a network, deciding who and what gets to come and go. Anti-Virus is a software program downloaded onto a computer or server meant to monitor and eliminate malicious content on that specific device.


These eight terms won’t make you an IT expert, but hopefully a basic understanding of some common terminology will help make you feel more confident while working within your network or when collaborating with your IT team.


By Joe Couillard, Client Relationship Manager



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