This document was prepared as a supplement, to be used in conjunction with the Tutorial/Help function(s) included with your system.  The underlined phrases are links to online references to the information here. In order to access the underlined links, your pc must be connected to the Internet.  Open this document in your Browser and link to the referenced term or statement.

Because PC’s contain a Tutorial to their particular Operating System this will not, in most cases, duplicate the F1/Help feature of your PC.

Try clicking on these three above, you’ll see how it works and you will realize that these topics only cover the tip of the Iceberg….but you need to be the pilot of your own Titanic !

Again, repeating terms/topics covered in your PC Help Section is [I feel] a waste of space, so let’s see some of the things good ol’ Microsoft’s Help doesn’t cover.

What is the difference between an Operating System, and an Application ?

An Operating System (sometimes abbreviated as "OS") is the program that, after being initially loaded into the computer by a boot program, manages all the other programs in a computer. The other programs are called Applications or Application Programs. The application programs make use of the operating system by making requests for services through a defined Application Program Interface (API). In addition, users can interact directly with the operating system through a user interface such as a command language or a graphical user interface (GUI).

An operating system performs these services for applications:

Where is all this magic stuff kept ? :

            What is a Hard Drive ?

In a personal computer, a hard disk drive (HDD) is the mechanism that controls the positioning, reading, and writing of the hard disk, which furnishes the largest amount of data storage for the PC. Although the hard disk drive (often shortened to "hard drive") and the hard disk are not the same thing, they are packaged as a unit and so either term is sometimes used to refer to the whole unit.

            How is the Hard Drive different from Memory ?

Memory is the electronic holding place for instructions and data that your computer's microprocessor can reach quickly. When your computer is in normal operation, its memory usually contains the main parts of the operating system and some or all of the application programs and related data that are being used. Memory is often used as a shorter synonym for random access memory (RAM). This kind of memory is located on one or more microchips that are physically close to the microprocessor in your computer. Most desktop and notebook computers sold today include at least 128 megabytes of RAM, and are upgradeable to include more. The more RAM you have, the less frequently the computer has to access instructions and data from the more slowly accessed hard disk form of storage

What are all there abbeviations KB, MB, GB ?

In most computer systems, a byte is a unit of data that is eight binary digits long. A byte is the unit most computers use to represent a character such as a letter, number, or typographic symbol (for example, "g", "5", or "?"). A byte can also hold a string of bits that need to be used in some larger unit for application purposes (for example, the stream of bits that constitute a visual image for a program that displays images or the string of bits that constitutes the machine code of a computer program).  In some computer systems, four bytes constitute a word, a unit that a computer processor can be designed to handle efficiently as it reads and processes each instruction. Some computer processors can handle two-byte or single-byte instructions.  A byte is abbreviated with a "B". (A bit is abbreviated with a small "b".) Computer storage is usually measured in byte multiples. For example, an 820 MB hard drive holds a nominal 820 million bytes - or megabytes - of data.  Byte multiples are based on powers of 2 and commonly expressed as a "rounded off" decimal number.

 A KiloByte is:

1,000 Bytes, but commonly refers to 1,024 Bytes which is actually called a KibiByte. However, this distinction has not been adopted in practice; with very near certainty, the term KiloByte is always used to refer to 1,024 Bytes. In speech, it's often cut down to "K", ie pronounced "kay".

A MegaByte is:

1)      As a measure of computer processor storage and real and virtual memory, a megabyte (abbreviated MB) is 2 to the 20th power bytes, or 1,048,576 bytes in decimal notation.

2)      2) According to the IBM Dictionary of Computing, when used to describe disk storage capacity and transmission rates, a megabyte is 1,000,000 bytes in decimal notation.

A GigaByte is:

A gigabyte (pronounced GIG-a-bite with hard G's) is a measure of computer data storage capacity and is "roughly" a billion bytes. A gigabyte is two to the 30th power, or 1,073,741,824 in decimal notation.

And as computers do, it gets more and more confusing with TeraBytes

A TeraByte is a measure of computer storage capacity and is 2 to the 40th power or approximately a thousand billion bytes (that is, a thousand gigabytes).  I wouldn’t worry about anything above the ‘G’ level in the PC world for right now……

Scandisk & Defrag usage are both included in your Help area, but are included here for further explanation.


Sometimes when my PC locks up and just won’t do anything, I just turn if off.  When I turn it back on, it says it wasn’t shut down correctly and runs a ScanDisk…..what is that?

ScanDisk is a Windows utility used to check your hard disk for errors and to correct problems that are found. These errors often occur when Windows locks up and must be restarted.

A ScanDisk is available in your Operating System, see your Help function for this utility.


Hard Drives store your Operating system, Applications, Data Files….

Defragmentation is the process of locating the noncontiguous fragments of data into which a computer file may be divided as it is stored on a hard disk, and rearranging the fragments and restoring them into fewer fragments or into the whole file. Defragmentation reduces data access time and allows storage to be used more efficiently. Some operating systems automatically defragment storage periodically; others require that the user occasionally use a special utility for this purpose.

Is there a difference between the Internet & The World Wide Web (www) ?

The Internet, sometimes called simply "the Net," is a worldwide system of computer networks - a network of networks in which users at any one computer can, if they have permission, get information from any other computer (and sometimes talk directly to users at other computers). It was conceived by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) of the U.S. government in 1969 and was first known as the ARPANET. The original aim was to create a network that would allow users of a research computer at one university to be able to "talk to" research computers at other universities. A side benefit of ARPANet's design was that, because messages could be routed or rerouted in more than one direction, the network could continue to function even if parts of it were destroyed in the event of a military attack or other disaster.  Today, the Internet is a public, cooperative, and self-sustaining facility accessible to hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Physically, the Internet uses a portion of the total resources of the currently existing public telecommunication networks. Technically, what distinguishes the Internet is its use of a set of protocols called TCP/IP (for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol). Two recent adaptations of Internet technology, the intranet and the extranet, also make use of the TCP/IP protocol.

The World Wide Web, [a technical definition of the World Wide Web] all the resources and users on the Internet that are using the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) to view and share information, images, sounds.  A broader definition comes from the organization that Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee helped found, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C):

"The World Wide Web is the universe of network-accessible information, an embodiment of human knowledge."

I send and Receive e-Mail and look at Web sites…

How does this work ?

E-mail (electronic mail) is the exchange of computer-stored messages by telecommunication. (Some publications spell it email; I prefer the currently more established spelling of e-mail.)  You can send non-text files, such as graphic images and sound files, as attachments sent in binary streams. E-mail was one of the first uses of the Internet and is still the most popular use. A large percentage of the total traffic over the Internet is e-mail. E-mail can also be exchanged between online service provider users and in networks other than the Internet, both public and private.  E-mail can be distributed to lists of people as well as to individuals. A shared distribution list can be managed by using an e-mail reflector. Some mailing lists allow you to subscribe by sending a request to the mailing list administrator. A mailing list that is administered automatically is called a list server.  E-mail is one of the protocols included with the Transport Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) suite of protocols. A popular protocol for sending e-mail is Simple Mail Transfer Protocol and a popular protocol for receiving it is POP3. Both Netscape and Microsoft include an e-mail utility with their Web browsers.

This could be a good spot to discuss spam, how it can be “detected” and why using some more, um… interesting components of email may result in your messages being discarded or blocked by the recipient.  Not because you’re “bad”, but because some of those same components are commonly used in spam.


And virus warnings?  Don’t open any attachments or click on any links in e-mail that comes from unknown or suspicious sources.  Even if you think you know the source, don’t open any attachments that are different than what the person normally sends you; explain how the sender can be “spoofed”, to trick the recipient into opening a virus file.

A Browser is an application program that provides a way to look at and interact with all the information on the World Wide Web. The word "browser" seems to have originated prior to the Web as a generic term for user interfaces that let you browse (navigate through and read) text files online. By the time the first Web browser with a graphical user interface was generally available (Mosaic, in 1993), the term seemed to apply to Web content, too. Technically, a Web browser is a client program that uses the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) to make requests of Web servers throughout the Internet on behalf of the browser user.

So a Web site is what ?

A Web site is a related collection of World Wide Web (WWW) files that includes a beginning file called a home page. A company or an individual tells you how to get to their Web site by giving you the address (URL) of their home page. From the home page, you can get to all the other pages on their site. For example, my Web site has the home page address of (The home page address actually includes a specific file name like index.html but, as in my case, when a standard default name is set up, users don't have to enter the file name.) My home page address leads to thousands of pages. (But a Web site can also be just a few pages.)

And where is this Web site ?

The files for Web sites are usually stored [Hosted] on computers that are in the business of housing, serving, and maintaining files for one or more Web sites.  More important than the computer space that is provided for Web site files is the fast connection to the Internet.  Most hosting services offer connections on T-carrier system lines. Typically, an individual business hosting its own site would require a similar connection and it would be expensive. Using a hosting service lets many companies share the cost of a fast Internet connection for serving files.  A domain name locates an organization or other entity on the Internet. For example, the domain name locates an Internet address for "" at an address provided by registering the domain with one of several registration companies. is registered with Network Solutions [who is].  The "com" part of the domain name reflects the purpose of the organization or entity (in this example, "commercial") and is called the top-level domain name. The "Clyatt" part of the domain name defines the organization or entity and together with the top-level is called the second-level domain name. The second-level domain name maps to and can be thought of as the "readable" version of the Internet address.

For this example, is Hosted by WestHost in Providence, UT, and since it is the Internet, physical location is of no consequence in accessibility.

How does my PC access the Internet and the World Wide Web Sites ?

Dial Up Modem

A modem modulates outgoing digital signals from a computer or other digital device to analog signals for a conventional copper twisted pair telephone line and demodulates the incoming analog signal and converts it to a digital signal for the digital device.  In recent years, the 2400 bits per second modem that could carry e-mail has become obsolete. 14.4 Kbps and 28.8 Kbps modems were temporary landing places on the way to the much higher bandwidth devices and carriers of tomorrow. From early 1998, most new personal computers came with 56 Kbps modems.

DSL (Digital Subscriber Line)

DSL is a technology for bringing high-bandwidth information to homes and small businesses over ordinary copper telephone lines.  Using a digital Integrated Services Digital Network adapter instead of a conventional modem, the same telephone wire can now carry up to 128 Kbps. With Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) systems, now being deployed in a number of communities, bandwidth on twisted-pair can be in the megabit range.  Digital data is transmitted to your computer directly as digital data and this allows the phone company to use a much wider bandwidth for transmitting it to you. Meanwhile, if you choose, the signal can be separated so that some of the bandwidth is used to transmit an analog signal so that you can use your telephone and computer on the same line and at the same time.

Cable Modem

A cable modem is a device that enables you to hook up your PC to a local cable TV line and receive data at about 1.5 Mbps.  A cable modem has two connections: one to the cable wall outlet and the other to a PC or to a set-top box for a TV set. Although a cable modem does modulation between analog and digital signals, it is a much more complex device than a telephone modem. It can be an external device or it can be integrated within a computer or set-top box. Typically, the cable modem attaches to a standard 10BASE-T Ethernet card in the computer.


Folders, Organizing, Moving, Saving….a lot of useful information is available in your Operating System Help area concerning files.  All that information and not one word about what the File Extension or Suffix is!  While this may be a little technical it is very helpful in understanding the [most common] file types and their application.  In computer operating systems, a file name extension is an optional addition to the file name in a suffix of the form ".xxx" where "xxx" represents a limited number of alphanumeric characters depending on the operating system.  The file name extension allows a file's format to be described as part of its name so that users can quickly understand the type of file it is without having to "open" or try to use it. The file name extension also helps an application program recognize whether a file is a type that it can work with.  A complete file suffix/extension list is available on-line.


This topic is briefly covered in the Help area, but more detail can prove very helpful in Optimization of your system.  Using this function, you can view the programs currently running on your PC, and end any you do not want to run-care should be taken doing this, however.  Viewing the Programs running like this shows programs started at boot-up or executable modules not removed from “memory” when closed normally. Although you might end unwanted programs during this session of Windows, they will restart when you restart your PC.  Using the Systems Configuration Utility will allow you to start your PC with selective programs (you will get a pop-up window to that effect), but will disable any unwanted programs that automatically start, and there is no way to cancel their startup.

Start|Programs|Accessories|System Tools|System Information|Tools|System Configuration Utility

Remember the fewer programs running that aren’t absolutely necessary, the fewer your system resources are used, and the better your system will perform.