Tech Terms

Malware(click to show)

The term "malware" is a shortened version of "malicious software," and is used to refer to any software that is used to cause problems with your computer's normal functions, seek out and steal your personal information, or allow unauthorized access to your system. It's an all-encompassing term, including viruses, spyware, adware, trojan horses (trojans), worms, and several other types of software. Malware is not necessarily something obscure, either. Any program, no matter how legitimate or useful, that gathers a user's information without their knowledge is considered malware. This should also be differentiated from defective, or "buggy," software, which may cause problems or leak information, but is not intended to do so, it is simply the result of poor programming practices or unforeseen security loopholes.

Memory(click to show)

Two sticks of RAM for a PC

Standard PC RAM (laptop RAM is somewhat smaller)

When computer people use the word "memory," they're almost always referring to something known as RAM. RAM stands for Random Access Memory, which is an antiquated term that was used to differentiate this type of memory from tape-based storage, which was widely popular at the time, and always had to be accessed by starting at the beginning of the tape. Memory (RAM) is typically quite fast, and comes in some minor variation of the picture at left. Memory (RAM) is different from Hard Drive space; it's more expensive to produce (and Hard Drives look very different). The other difference between memory (RAM) and Hard Drive space is sheer size: RAM is usually in the 512 Megabyte (MB) to 16 Gigabyte (GB) range, and Hard Drive space tends to start around 30 GB and goes up to several Terabytes (TB).

To find out how much Memory (RAM) your system has, follow the instructions below.

For Windows PCs:
  1. Click on the Start Menu Windows 7 Start Menu Icon icon in your taskbar.
  2. Right-click on "Computer."
  3. Select "Properties" from the pop-up menu.
  4. When your system properties open, under "System," find the line that says "Installed memory (RAM)." This is how much memory (RAM) is installed on your computer.
For Macs:
  1. Click the Apple Icon Apple Menu Icon OSX at the top-left of your screen.
  2. Select "About This Mac."
  3. Find the line that says "Memory." This is how much memory (RAM) is installed on your computer.

Modem(click to show)