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USU IT Dictionary


A list of USU-specific and general technology terms

A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z


Access Banner See Self-Service Banner (SSB).
Access Point An access point is a device, such as a wireless router, that allows wireless devices to connect to a network. Most access points have built-in routers, while others must be connected to a router in order to provide network access. (Source)
Adware "Advertisement Software". Software that will display or download (usually unwanted) advertisements when a person is online.
Aggies Exchange A Microsoft Exchange M365 email account for USU employees and students to conduct USU business.
Android A smartphone operating system (OS) and software platform created by Google. 
Antivirus Software that is designed to search for and destroy computer viruses.  To find out what USU recommends for Antivirus software, see Recommended Antivirus Software
A#, Anumber,

ID number used at Utah State University for all students, faculty, and staff.  The A# is used as the username to log into most USU web systems, such as MyUSU, Banner, Canvas, and USU email. To learn more about an A#, see these articles: A# - Private or Public Information, Forgot Username/A#.

App An application, typically a small, specialized program downloaded onto mobile devices. (Source)
Apple Apple is a prominent hardware and software company best known for its series of personal computers, the iPod, iPad, iPhone, etc. (Source)


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Backwards-Compatible Able to be used with an older piece of hardware or software without special adaptation or modification.
Bandwidth The transmission capacity of an electronic communications device or system; the speed of data transfer (Source)
Banner System used at USU for data management. There are two types of Banner, Banner Admin, and Self-Service Banner
BIOS Stands for "Basic Input/Output System." The BIOS is a program pre-installed on Windows-based computers (not on Macs) that the computer uses to start up. (Source)
BlueZone Utah State University is rebranding Bluezone in August 2023 and therefore the name will no longer be used. The name of USU's wired and wireless networks that can be accessed throughout campus.  See USU Network Information.
Boot Startup a computer.  Load an operating system from a disk.
Boot Disk A removable digital data storage medium from which a computer can load and run (boot) an operating system or utility program. (Source)
Browser A program with a graphical user interface for displaying HTML files, used to navigate the World Wide Web. e.g. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari
Buffer A temporary storage for incoming data.  It is usually used for audio or video streams, so that the output is smooth.  Essentially, the device is downloading the data faster than you are using it, so that if there is any interuption in the download, the stream of data won't immediately stop.
Bug An error in a software program.


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Cache An auxiliary memory which allows you to more quickly access data that you have used recently. Clearing your cache can be a troubleshooting option if things are not working correctly on a website. See Clearing your Browser's Cache and Clearing your Java Cache
Canvas A learning management system that is used by USU to help teachers moderate courses at the University
Chrome Short name for the Google-made internet browser. See Google Chrome
Citrix Citrix is an American corporation that produces software designed to facilitate secure access to applications and content. The USU instance of Citrix hosts many programs available to students and staff. See
Command Prompt Command Prompt is a command line interpreter application available in most Windows operating systems. Command Prompt is officially called Windows Command Processor but is also sometimes called the command shell or by its file name cmd.exe.(Source)
Cookie A cookie is a small amount of data generated by a website and saved by your web browser. Its purpose is to remember information about you, similar to a preference file created by a software application. (Source)
CPU Central processing unit. The key component of a computer system, which contains the circuitry necessary to interpret and execute program instructions. (Source)
Cursor A movable indicator on a computer screen identifying the point that will be affected by input from the user, such as showing where typed text will be inserted.


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Database A structured set of data held in a computer, especially one that is accessible in various ways.
Data Jack A wall-mounted or desk-mounted connector (frequently a wide telephone-style 8-pin RJ-45) for connecting to data cabling in a building..
Delegate A Delegate may act on a student's behalf at USU. It is used in conjunction with the SecurityPhrase. For more information, see SecurityPhrase Delegates
Desktop the primary display screen of a graphical user interface, on which various icons represent files, groups of files, programs, or the like, which can be moved, accessed, added to, put away, or thrown away in ways analogous to the handling of file folders, documents, notes, etc., on a real desk. (Source)
DHCP Short for Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, a protocol for assigning dynamic IP addresses to devices on a network. With dynamic addressing, a device can have a different IP address every time it connects to the network. (Source)
DNS Domain Name System. The Internet's system for converting alphabetic names into numeric IP addresses. For example, when a Web address (URL) is typed into a browser, DNS servers return the IP address of the Web server associated with that name. (Source)
Domain A domain contains a group of computers that can be accessed and administered with a common set of rules. For example, a company may require all local computers to be networked within the same domain so that each computer can be seen from other computers within the domain or located from a central server. (Source)
Domain Name Domain names are the base part of website names. like or Note that domain names are just another type of hostname. (Source)
A denial-of-service (DoS) or distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is an attempt to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended users. Often the attackers will send a high number of requests to the target device, so that it cannot respond to legitimate traffic. (Source)
Drive A unit that reads and writes data on magnetic tape, a disk, etc. (Source)
Driver A driver, or device driver, is a software program that enables a specific hardware device to work with a computer's operating system. (Source)
DVI Digital Visual Interface is a video display interface used to connect a video source to a display device, such as a computer monitor. This cable is commonly identified with a white or black connector on both ends.


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Eduroam Allows a secure wireless connection to USU's network.  Eduroam allows students and employees to gain quick internet access when visiting other participating universities. See for more information.
Email Alias An email alias is a "virtual" email address that is pointed to a different email address where your email actually is stored. email addresses are aliases that point to your Aggies Exchange account.
Encrypt Encryption Encryption is the coding or scrambling of information so that it can only be decoded and read by someone who has the correct decoding key. Encryption is used in secure Web sites as well as other mediums of data transfer. (Source)
e~Print e~Print is used for viewing Banner reports.
Ethernet A system for connecting a number of computer systems to form a local area network, with protocols to control the passing of information and to avoid simultaneous transmission by two or more systems.
Ethernet Cable An Ethernet cable is used on wired networks. Ethernet cables connect devices on local area networks such as VOIP Telephones, PCs, routers and switches. (Source)
Excel A commonly used spreadsheet program, which is part of the Microsoft Office Suite.
exe (or .exe) An executable binary file.
EZ-Buy EZ-Buy is used for obtaining goods, services and to send payments. If you use this, you no longer need to create a requisition in Banner.


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Firefox Firefox is a free, open source Web browser for Windows, Linux and MacOS. To download Firefox, go to
Firewall Part of a computer system or network that is designed to block unauthorized access while permitting outward communication.


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GUI A GUI or Graphical User Interface provides a way for humans to interact with computers that uses windows, icons and menus to make the user experience more intuitive.
Google Chrome A very popular Web browser from Google that was introduced for Windows in 2008 and the Mac and Linux in 2009.
Guest Network The bluezone guest network allows USU visitors to gain limited access to the Internet


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Hard Disk A disk of rigid magnetizable material that is used to store data for computers. (Source)
Hard Drive The hard drive is what stores all your data. It houses the hard disk, where all your files and folders are physically located. he term "hard drive" is actually short for "hard disk drive." The term "hard disk" refers to the actual disks inside the drive. However, all three of these terms are usually seen as referring to the same thing -- the place where your data is stored. (Source)
Hardware The physical parts of a computer and related devices. Internal hardware devices include motherboards, hard drives, and RAM. External hardware devices include monitors, keyboards, mice, printers, and scanners. (Source)
Hostname A hostname is a human-readable label that points to a device connected to a network. For example, on your home network, your Windows computer’s hostname may be WINDOWSPC. Your other devices can connect to WINDOWSPC and will be pointed at that computer’s local IP address. (Source)
HTML Hypertext Markup Language, a standardized system for tagging text files to achieve font, color, graphic, and hyperlink effects on World Wide Web pages.
HTTP Hypertext transfer protocol. the standard protocol for transferring hypertext documents on the World Wide Web.


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iClicker iClicker is a course response system used at USU. It allows for instantaneous assessment of students in class. Each student has a remote in which they are able to give their answers to poll questions. The data from the whole class is then received by a receiver connected by USB to a computer. (Source)
Icon A computer icon is a pictogram displayed on a computer screen in order to help user navigate a computer system or mobile device in a similar way traffic signs are used to help a driver navigate traffic. (Source)
IP Address A numeric code that identifies all computers that are connected to the internet (Source: It consists of four number seperated by periods (e.g.  For information on IP addresses that you will see at USU, see IP Address Types at USU
IPv4/IPv6 There are two types of IP address in common use. Older IPv4 (IP version 4) addresses are the most common, followed by newer IPv6 (IP version 6) addresses. IPv6 is necessary because we just don’t have enough IPv4 addresses for all the people and devices in the world. (Source)
ISP our Internet service provider is the company that provides you with your Internet connection. (Source)


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Jack Port on wall to connect telephone or data device. AKA Network Jack.
Java Java is a programming language and computing platform first released by Sun Microsystems in 1995. There are lots of applications and websites that will not work unless you have Java installed, and more are created every day. (Source)
JPEG (or .jpg) A file format used for compressing image files


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You can use the Kaltura CaptureSpace tool to record a presentation on your computer (computer requirements) and make it available in your Canvas course.
Kernal The base layer, or the foundation of the operating system, is called the kernel. The kernel provides the most basic "low-level" services, such as the hardware-software interaction and memory management. (Source)
Keylogger A keylogger is a program that records the keystrokes on a computer. It does this by monitoring a user's input and keeping a log of all keys that are pressed. The log may saved to a file or even sent to another machine over a network or the Internet. (Source)


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LAN Local Area Network. A computer network that interconnects computers within a limited area such as a home, school, computer laboratory, or office building, using network media. (Source)
LastPass A password management software used to store the passwords you use on different websites. It allows you to save sites login information on your computer, so that when you go to that site, you are able to log in quickly without having to wonder what your password is (Source). For information on using LastPass, see Getting Started with LastPass.
Linux An open-source operating system modelled on UNIX.
Lucidchart Lucidchart is a visual collaboration tool that allows you to easily create flowcharts, mockups, UML diagrams, mind maps and more directly from Google Apps and Drive. See the KB article Lucidchart for more information.


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Mac (macbook, imac)
A family of desktop and laptop computers from Apple and the first computer to popularize the graphical user interface(Source)
MAC Address Media Access Control Address. A MAC address is a hardware identification number that uniquely identifies each device on a network (Source). It is not specifically related to Mac (Apple) computers. To learn how to find your MAC address, on several different devices, see Find MAC (Physical) Address. Also known as a Physical Address, Wifi Address, and Ethernet Address.
Malware Short for malicious software. It is any software used to disrupt computer operation, gather sensitive information, or gain access to private computer systems. It is a general term used to refer to a variety of forms of hostile or intrusive software. Malware includes computer viruses, worms, trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, adware, scareware, and other malicious programs. (Source)
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
An authentication system that requires more than one distinct authentication factor for successful authentication. Multifactor authentication can be performed using a multifactor authenticator or by a combination of authenticators that provide different factors. The three authentication factors are something you know, something you have, and something you are.
Microsoft A leading software producer behind the Windows operating systems and Microsoft Office
Multi-Platform Software program that is built to be used with multiple operating systems.
Motherboard A printed circuit board that is the foundation of a computer and allows the CPU, RAM, and all other computer hardware components to function and communicate with each other. (Source)
MyUSU A web portal used at USU as a means to provide access to a variety of USU sites while only having to sign in once.  Visit MyUSU.


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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. Your router creates a LAN and assigns local IP addresses to your devices. The router then functions as a gateway. To devices outside your LAN, it appears as if you have one device (the router) using a single IP address. (Source)
Network When you have two or more computers connected to each other, you have a network. The purpose of a network is to enable the sharing of files and information between multiple systems. The Internet is a global network. (Source)
Network Interface Card (NIC) The card that physically makes the connection between the computer and the network cable. (Source)


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Open Source Pertaining to or denoting a product or system whose origins, formula, design, etc., are freely accessible to the public. (Source)
Operating System The software that manages computer hardware resources and provides common services for computer programs. Examples of operating systems include Android, Linux, OS X, iOS, and Windows. (Source)


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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. (Source)
Passpack A password management software used to store passwords for the websites that you log into. Passpack is a secure means of keeping track of all your passwords.  It maintains a list of the sites you use, the usernames, and the passwords for those sites.  The passwords are encrypted by a Packing Key that you create, so even if Passpack's servers are hacked, your passwords are still protected(Source). For information on using Passpack, see Getting Started with Passpack
Password Manager A password manager is a piece of software, or sometimes a service, that helps one keep track of passwords and other login information. Suggested Password Managers: Bitwarden, LastPass, and Passpack
Patch A small program that fixes problems with other computer programs.
PC A personal computer (PC) is a general-purpose computer, whose size, capabilities and original sale price makes it useful for individuals. (Source)
Peer-to-peer (P2P) Computer systems are connected to each other via the Internet. Files can be shared directly between systems on the network without the need of a central server. (Source)
Personal Email
A personal email is used to send USU related information after Staff or Student relationships end. Update your personal email address.
Personally-owned Computer Computers that were purchased using personal (private) funds and the systems primary purpose is for personal use.
Phish(ing) To “fish” for passwords and personal information by trickery, on internet. Sometimes this is done by setting up a phony URL which people sign in to and give away their passwords or credit card numbers. (Source)
Plug-in In computing, a plug-in (or plugin, extension, or add-on / addon) is a software component that adds a specific feature to an existing software application. When an application supports plug-ins, it enables customization. The common examples are the plug-ins used in web browsers to add new features such as search-engines, virus scanners, or the ability to utilize a new file type such as a new video format. (Source)

1. A place or input on your computer that information goes into and out of. Examples of this are USB Ports and Parallel Ports.

2. An Internet port. Every service that you connect to on the Internet listen on a particular port. For example, the World Wide Web Service listens on port 80. Whenever you go to a website, your browser is actually connecting to the particular computer on its port 80. Other services use other ports. As another example, when you send mail, you connect to your ISP's mail server on its port 25, which is the SMTP port. Once your computer is connected to the port it sends data to the server over it. If you are still confused you can use the following analogy. Look at a computer on the Internet as a mall and the ports on the computer as the stores in the mall. In order to buy something at the mall you need to enter a store. It is the same way with the Internet; in order to use a particular services at a computer, you need to connect to its port.

3. The translation of a piece of software from one operating system to another. For example a piece of software that was designed to be used on a Macintosh, would have to be ported over to the Windows Operating System before Windows users could use it. (Source)

Portal A web portal refers to a website or servie that offers a broad array of resources and services.  For example, the MyUSU portal offers access to USU email, Access Banner, Canvas, etc. (Source)
Powerpoint Microsoft software designed to create electronic presentations consisting of a series of slides. Part of the Microsoft Office Suite.
Processor A processor, or "microprocessor," is a small chip that resides in computers and other electronic devices. Its basic job is to receive input and provide the appropriate output. (Source)
Program An organized list of instructions that, when executed, causes the computer to behave in a predetermined manner. Without programs, computers are useless. (Source)
Protocol When computers communicate with each other, there needs to be a common set of rules and instructions that each computer follows. A specific set of communication rules is called a protocol. (Source)
Proxy Server A server that acts as an intermediary for requests from clients seeking resources from other servers. (Source)


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Qualtrics A survey tool for use at USU. See Qualtrics Survey Suite for more information.
Quicktime Quicktime is a multimedia development, storage, and playback technology from Apple.  (Source)


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RAM Random Access Memory. RAM is made up of small memory chips that form a memory module. Every time you open a program, it gets loaded from the hard drive into the RAM. This is because reading data from the RAM is much faster than reading data from the hard drive. Running programs from the RAM of the computer allows them to function without any lag time. The more RAM your computer has, the more data can be loaded from the hard drive into the RAM, which can effectively speed up your computer. (Source)
Ransomware A form of malware that restricts access to a computer system or file, and then requests a fee to give the user access back. This form of malware has been growing in popularity in recent years. One example of ransomware is Cryptowall which encrypts the files on your computer and offers to sell you the encryption for a price.
Read-only Capable of being displayed, but not modified or deleted. All operating systems allow you to protect objects (disks, files, directories) with a read-only attribute that prevents other users from modifying the object. (Source
Reboot To turn off a device, such as your computer, and turn it back on again.
Registry This is a database used by Microsoft Windows to store configuration information about the software installed on a computer. This information includes things like the desktop background, program settings, and file extension associations.
Resolution The number of horizontal and vertical pixels on a display screen. The more pixels, the more information is visible without scrolling. Screen resolutions have a pixel count such as 1024x768, which means 1,024 horizontal pixels and 768 vertical pixels. (Source)
Rewritable Supports overwriting of previously recorded data. For example, a CD-RW (rewritable) allows your to re-record over the data that is already on the disk.
ROM Computer memory on which data has been prerecorded. Once data has been written onto a ROM chip, it cannot be removed and can only be read. (Source)
Router A router is a device that forwards data packets between computer networks.


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Safari Safari is a web browser developed by Apple Inc. and included with the OS X and iOS operating systems. (Source)
Safe Mode An operating system's troubleshooting mode. It allows the system to start with only the essential components that allow your computer to run. All applications that would normally start when the computer is turned on are bypassed. This allows one to troubleshoot the OS to find out what is causing problems with a computer.
SecurityPhrase A SecurityPhrase will allow you or one of your delegates to request or have conversations about your personal information over the telephone.
Self-Service Banner (SSB) Also call Access Banner. It is a system used by students, faculty, and staff to manage their personal information.  For more information see the KB article Self-Service Banner (SSB).
Server A server is a system (software and suitable computer hardware) that responds to requests across a computer network to provide, or help to provide, a network service. (Source)
ShoreTel/Mitel The company that provides the phone system and services used at USU.
Slack Slack is a team communication tool used by USU. For information on how you can join, see Slack at USU
Software The programs and other operating information used by a computer.
SPAM Irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the Internet to a large number of recipients.
Spyware Computer software that obtains information from a user's computer without the user's knowledge or consent (Source)
SSL VPN A secure socket layer virtual private network (SSL VPN) allows remote users to access Web applications, client-server applications and internal network connections without having to install specialized client software on their computers. (Source)
Static IP Address In some cases, a network administrator may implement dynamically assigned static IP addresses. In this case, a DHCP server is used, but it is specifically configured to always assign the same IP address to a particular computer. To request a static IP at USU see Static IP Request
System Tray An area on the right side of the Taskbar on the Windows interface used to display the status of various functions, such as speaker volume and modem transmission. (Source)


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Taskbar A bar at the edge of the display of a graphical user interface that allows quick access to current or favorite applications.
TCP/IP TCP/IP is the suite of communications protocols used to connect hosts on the Internet. (Source)
Terabyte One terabyte (abbreviated "TB") is equal to 1,000 gigabytes. Terabytes are most often used to measure the storage capacity of large storage devices. (Source)
Toolbar A row or rows of buttons on a display screen that are clicked on to select various functions in a software application or web browser(Source)
Touchnet The fee payment system used at USU
Trojan A program that appears legitimate, but performs some illicit activity when it is run. A Trojan is similar to a virus, except that it does not replicate itself. It stays in the computer doing its damage or allowing somebody from a remote site to take control of the computer. Trojans often sneak in attached to a free game or other utility. (Source)


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Uninstall Remove an application or file from a computer.
University-owned Systems Computers and devices purchased by Utah State University or personal devices purchased for the primary purpose of conducting University business.
Upload The process of transferring data to a computer system.
URL Uniform resource locator; a standardized address of a location on the internet, a web address. (Source)
USB Abbreviated as USB, Universal Serial Bus is a standard type of connection for many different kinds of devices. Generally, USB refers to the types of cables and connectors used to connect these many types of external devices to computers. (Source)
User Interface The means by which the user and a computer system interact, in particular the use of input devices and software.


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VGA Video Graphics Array. For compatibility with earlier monitors and data projectors, laptop computers often include a VGA port, which was widely used on PCs (Source)
Virus Computer viruses are small programs or scripts that can negatively affect the health of your computer. These malicious little programs can create files, move files, erase files, consume your computer's memory, and cause your computer not to function correctly. Some viruses can duplicate themselves, attach themselves to programs, and travel across networks. In fact opening an infected e-mail attachment is the most common way to get a virus. (Source)
Voice Over IP (VOIP) Stands for "Voice Over Internet Protocol," and is often pronounced "voip." It is basically a telephone connection over the Internet. (Source)
VPN VPN gives extremely secure connections between private networks linked through the Internet. It allows remote computers to act as though they were on the same secure, local network. (Source)


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WAN A wide area network (WAN) is a network that links across broad areas, such as metropolitan, regional, national or international boundaries (Source)
Webserver A computer that runs a Web site. Using the HTTP protocol, the Web server delivers Web pages to browsers as well as other data files to Web-based applications. (Source)
Wi-Fi Wireless Fidelity. A wireless networking technology that allows computers and other devices to communicate over a wireless signal. (Source)
Windows Name for the series of Microsoft's computer operating systems.
Wireless Card A wireless adapter that plugs into a PC Card or PCI slot. (Source)
Word Processor A program or machine for storing, manipulating, and formatting text entered from a keyboard and providing a printout. Microsoft Word is a well-known word processor.
World Wide Web (www) An information system on the Internet that allows documents to be connected to other documents by hypertext links, enabling the user to search for information by moving from one document to another.
Worm A worm is a standalone malware computer program that replicates itself in order to spread to other computers. (Source)


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XML Extensible Markup Language. XML is used to define documents with a standard format that can be read by any XML-compatible application. The language can be used with HTML pages, but XML itself is not a markup language. Instead, it is a "metalanguage" that can be used to create markup languages for specific applications.
Xtender Xtender is the document management system integrated with Banner.


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Youtube The largest video sharing site on the Web. YouTube lets anyone upload short videos for private or public viewing (Source). See USU's Youtube page


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Zip (or .zip) A zip file (.zip) is a "zipped" or compressed file. (Source)


Information Technology Users: How to add entries

Update this dictionary with any terms that you feel like you would need to explain to customers, or others.

To Create an Entry

  1. Insert the code, found in the comments at the end of the main article, into the table where it belongs in alphabetical order:

  2. Enter the tag, word, and definition in on your own.  

  3. The id is usually just the word.  If the entry is multiple words, put an underscore between them in the id.


Link other articles to their definitions in the IT Jargon Dictionary

  1. In a KB article, highlight the word that you would like to link.

  2. Link the word to

  3. At the end of the URL, include #(the id of the word in the dictionary).


  4. Click OK


For further assistance, please contact the IT Service Desk