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Technology Measurements and Jargon Explained

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This article explains some computer terms in plain language with real-world examples.

Measures of Internet Connection Speed

Bandwidth - The base speed your Internet connection is capable of. A connection with low speed/bandwidth may not be able to keep up with videos you are viewing, or video and audio in a Zoom session.

Broadband - This is any form of high-speed Internet connection. Cable broadband is typically faster and more capable than broadband connections based on the phone wiring to your home. 4G and 5G cellular connections are another form of broadband.

Kbps (kilobits per second) - this is low-speed measure for connection speed. This connection transmits approximately 125 characters of data per second. So a 10Kbps Internet connection would transmit 1,250 characters per second. These are both very low speeds. Too slow to do much more than send and receive email or text messages.

Gbps (gigabits per second) - This scale is one thousand times faster than Kbps. 1Gbps transmits approximately 125,000 characters of data per second. This speed allows you to browse the web efficiently and to participate in online meetings.

Measures of Computer Capability

RAM (random access memory) - RAM is your computer's "workbench." Anything you see on the screen is taking place in RAM. For basic computing, 8GB of RAM is good enough. To run sophisticated apps for tasks such as photo or video editing your computer runs more efficiently if it has 16GB or more of RAM.

GB (gigabytes) - Roughly 1 million characters of data. GBs are used to measure the capacity of hard drives on computers, and their RAM. The least expensive computers available today (2023) normally have at least 8GB. The smallest hard drives normally can hold at least 500 GB of data.

SSD (solid state drive) - A hard drive that uses technology similar to USB flash drives (aka thumb drives). SSDs are very fast, and have no moving parts to wear out. SSDs used to be quite expensive, but now are relatively affordable and reliable. Older computers often use mechanical hard drives, which are much slower and less reliable than SSDs.



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