Meaning of some common Internet terms.
Call it glossary.

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Directory (Search Directory): These are databases, compiled by human beings, and arranged by categories, which let you search the Internet for any information. The directories do not try to include as many web sites as possible in their databases. Their emphasis is on quality. A human editor evaluates a web site that is submitted for inclusion in a particular category, and decides whether to include it or to reject it. As a result you may not find what you are looking for in the Internet when you use a directory to perform a search. Yahoo and Open Directory Project (also known as DMOZ) are examples of two leading directories.

Search Engines: These are sites (actually programs) that keep a database of huge number of Internet sites that you can search using keywords or keyphrases. These databases are created and maintained by robotic means, i.e., using automated programs. No human editor is involved in generating these databases. Since these are machine generated, search engine databases are usually much larger in size than the databases maintained by directories. Hence there is a better chance for you to find what you are looking for when you search for something using a search engine, and not a directory. Google, Alltheweb, and HotBot are some examples of search engines.

Cache: When you look at a web page, your browser makes a copy of it and saves it in a special folder in your computer's hard drive so that the next time you want to visit the same page, it can make it available to you quickly. These copies of web pages or temporary Internet files are called cache.

Cookie: This culinary term when used in reference to computers means a way that gives a web site (web server) the ability to recognize you (your computer) when you re-visit the site. Read more about cookies here.

URL: It stands for Uniform Resource Locator. In layman's language, it simply means the address of a web page. Each different web page has a unique address. This is what you need to type in the address field of your browser, when you want to visit the page.

Refresh: When you look at a web page through your browser, you may be looking at a cached (copy of a previously viewed) page. To make sure you are looking at the latest version of the page (some web pages, such as newspaper pages, change often), you hit the Refresh button (or F5 button on your keyboard), and your browser will display a freshly downloaded (latest) copy of the web page for you. This process is called Refreshing the browser. Internet Explorer and AOL use this term.

Reload: Exactly same as above. Netscape uses this term for the same process as described under Refresh.

Browser: The software or application used to view a web page or surf the Net. Internet Explorer, Netscape, and America Online (AOL) are typical examples of browsers. Other examples are Mozilla, Firefox, Opera, and Safari (for Mac or Apple computers).

Home Page: This term is used in various ways, often to describe slightly different things. The home page of your browser is the first page that you see when you open the browser (and this home page can be changed very easily). You can come back to this page anytime just by clicking on the Home button of your browser. The home page of a web site is the first page or opening page of that site. Sometimes personal web sites are referred to as somebody's home page.

Link: Links are used to jump from one place to another on the same web page, or jump from one web page to a different web page. They can be in the form of text or graphics. When you place your mouse pointer on a link, it will change into a hand. At this point, if you look at the bottom left corner of your screen, you will see the URL (Web address) of the destination point. The text links generally have a different color, and they are usually underlined. You click on the link with your left mouse button once to jump to a different place.

Example of text link
The mouse pointer is resting on a text link. Note it
has changed into a hand, the link color is different
from the rest of the text, the link is underlined,
and the destination URL (address) is visible
on the lower left corner of the screen.

Hyperlink: Another word for link.

Surfing: Moving from one web site to another following links.

Web site: A site in the web containing specific information about something. For example, a company may have a web site which gives all the information about that company. A web site usually is made up of several web pages.

Web page: A part of a web site having its own URL or address. A web site is usually made up of different pages (web pages), each giving information about specific things which the web site covers. For example, if you go to the web site of Hilton hotel at a specific location, its first page may contain a welcome message and a general description of the hotel, another page may talk about its location and how to reach it, another page may contain description of its rooms and their rates, another page may talk about the different facilities that is available at the hotel, another page may contain a form which you may use to make a reservation, and so forth. When viewing each of these pages, if you look at the address field of your browser, you will notice that each page has an address the first part of which is common to all, only the last part is different in each. (Each of these pages is actually a different html file having a common domain name).

Blog: An online diary. The word is derived from Web log.

Encryption: A method used to code the information you exchange with a web site, so that no third party can read whatever information you are exchanging. For example, if you buy something from an Internet site and pay by credit card, good sites always offer a way so that you can submit your credit card details to them without the risk of somebody else on the way stealing your credit card details. Your credit card details are encrypted (coded) before they are transferred over the wire so that nobody else can read them.

Secure server: Sites that use a method of encryption before transferring information over the wire. To verify if you are in a secure web server, look at the bottom right corner of your monitor. You will see the picture of a closed padlock. Additionally, look at the URL (address) of the page. You will observe that the http part of the address has become https. (The last 's' stands for secure).

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http or HTTP: Hyper Text Transfer Protocol. Simply speaking all URLs begin with http:// and this tells the server computer what to send to your computer (client).

ftp or FTP: File Transfer Protocol. This is the standard method of uploading and downloading files over the Internet.

html or HTML: Hyper Text Markup Language. When a web page is made it is written in HTML. This is the language your browser understands. Using this language, instructions are written for the browser to tell it how to display the web page. What is the background color, what is the color and size of the fonts, what is the layout of the page, line spacing, paragraphs, position of the graphics (pictures), which are links (hyperlinks), color of the links, where goes a table, and so forth. To get a sense of what HTML looks like, go to any web site. Find an empty spot on the page, and right click your mouse on that spot. A menu will appear. Click on 'View Source' on that menu. A white page will appear with strange writings which may look like Latin or Greek to you. That's HTML. To close that white page, click on the X button on its upper right corner. (In an attempt to prevent piracy, I have disabled right-clicking on this page. You cannot view source of this page unless you are a computer guru.)

Hacker: An unscrupulous person, who by using special software and his misguided brain, gains access to your computer from a remote location and steals your personal information such as your social security number, credit card number, bank account number etc.

Firewall: A kind of software that prevents hackers to gain access to your computer when you are online, and also prevents the programs in your computer to gain access to the Internet without your permission. A firewall is a good investment to protect your computer from attacks by hackers and to safeguard your personal information.

Modem: This word has been derived from modulator-demodulator. A modem transfers signals from one computer to another over the phone or cable lines. In other words, it is essential to have a modem to surf the Net or to send/receive e-mail. Computer signals are digital, whereas the signals travel through the phone or cable lines in analog form. A modem converts the signals from one form to another. A modem can be internal (built inside the computer), which is the case in most modern computers, or it can be external, which means an extra piece of hardware (external modem) needs to be fitted with the computer. The latter means more clutter on the computer desk or on the floor - not nice. The speed of the modem is responsible to a great extent how fast you can download or upload a file. Modem speeds are measured in bauds or kilo bauds (1000 bauds) per second. These days any speed less than 56 kilo bauds per second (56 Kbps or just 56K) are considered almost obsolete.

Internet Service Provider (ISP): A company that provides you access to the Internet. When you sign-up with such a company, for a service fee (usually monthly fee) they will let you connect to the Internet. You will need a modem and a telephone line. The ISP will provide you with the necessary software and a phone number to connect to the Internet via your modem. Normally, you will have to establish an username and a password for yourself. You can look for Internet Service Providers in your area in the Yellow Pages or do a search in Google (if you can access the Internet from somebody else's computer). Before signing up, make sure you understand their terms (such as hourly fees or unlimited access to the Internet) and be certain that the phone number they give you is a local number (so that you are not billed by the telephone company for toll fees).

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The following terms are being heard more and more these days. They relate to the nuisance / dark sides of the Internet and to your personal safety. Although I do not want to scare you with too many terms, I felt obligated to add these additional terms in this section and acquaint you with them as without any knowledge of them your personal safety in the Internet may be at risk. So please read on.

Malware: This word is short for malicious software. Malware is a general term that includes viruses, Trojan Horses, adware, spyware etc.

Adware: It is a malware that collects information about your browsing patterns and relays back the information to the author of the adware (somebody had to write the program which we are referring to as the adware) so that either he or parties who pay him to collect this information about you can display appropriate advertisements in your browser.

Spyware: This term is being used more and more these days as these are being covertly put in the Web surfers' computers by unscrupulous businesses more and more these days. Spyware can be really bad for the Internet users in more than one way. In short, just like the adware they collect information about you and relay them back to the owner of the spyware usually for advertising purposes but they can be used for other more damaging purposes too. The terms adware and spyware overlap to certain extent, but spyware got a separate name as they can do a lot more than adware. Spyware are programs that can read your keystrokes, read cookies, install other spyware in your computer, scan your computer files on the hard drive and steal your credit card number, bank account number, social security number, e-mail addresses from your address book, and so forth. That is why they are called spyware. They can really "spy" on you and steal all your information for illegal purposes, not just for advertising purposes. Spyware are more harmful than adware.

Aside from unethically gathering your information and not respecting your privacy, spyware (which are programs by themselves) steals your computer's memory resources to run and uses up bandwidth to send back information about you to its home base via your Internet connection! And since these are additional programs that run in the background, they may cause computer crashes and/or general instability in the system.

To learn more about spyware, how do they enter your computer without your knowledge, how to prevent getting infected by spyware, and how to remove spyware if you are already infected, click here.

Browser Hijacking: This is another growing term we are hearing. Thanks to Web sites that do not get enough traffic on their own. They are using malicious software to hijack peoples' browsers so that their homepage settings are forcibly changed and they are taken to these Web sites whose owners are trying to get more revenue from their advertisers by artificially increasing traffic to their sites. Sometimes, your Favorites list may be altered and these unknown sites may be added to the Favorites. Your default search pages may also be altered. Sometimes, wherever you click to go, you will be forcibly taken to the hijacker's site.

Browser Hijackers are a kind of malware, and they may not be easy to remove. To learn more about browser hijacking, how to prevent browser hijacking, and how to remove browser hijackers click here.

Phishing: It is a term for a relatively new Internet scam in which an e-mail is sent to an individual asking him/her to click on a link to go a legitimate business's (such as a bank's) site to update account information such as password, account number, social security number, credit card number, and so forth. The link actually takes the victim of the scam to a bogus site which looks like the organization's genuine site (it is easy to make look-alike sites by copying the HTML codes of the actual site). When the victim gives his personal and confidential information at this bogus site, those informations are used for identity theft which can cause great distress to the victim. Don't fall a victim to "phishing". Never click on a link in an e-mail asking you to go to their site to give your personal information (which the real organization already has). Genuine organizations will never send you e-mail to give your information. If in doubt, call the organization to verify if they had sent you such an e-mail. Furthermore, an Web site may look-alike, but the address field of the browser can tell an experienced surfer if it is indeed the genuine site. For example, the address of the genuine Citibank site is likely to be rather than You can also go to, say, actual Citibank's site, by searching for Citibank in Google (the only search engine you really need!) and when Google provides you with the link, click on it and you will arrive at the genuine Citibank site.

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