Computer Basics

Glossary of Terms

D - E
default A predefined setting. For example, most programs use an 8" x 11" piece of paper as the default paper size setting.
The process of rewriting a file to adjacent sections of a hard disk. 
Meaning: Over time, parts of the same file can become fragmented--that is, spread over different areas on a hard disk. Fragmented files causes slower disk speed and can contribute to crashes. Windows (all versions) includes the Disk Defragmenter, which may help improve disk performance. See also file allocation table.
desktop Your workspace on the computer screen. See also Active Desktop.
dialog box A window in which you provide information to a program.
A feature that allows you to use a phone line and modem to connect to other computers.
Old terminology for a location where you store files and other directories. Currently we refer to these areas as folder(s).
disk drive A physical piece of hardware on which you store files. Drives are assigned a letter. For example, most users store their files on their hard disk, which is typically labeled "C".

If you have an exceptionally big hard drive (300+ Gbs, which believe it or not is big at the time of this writting), you can split it up into different sections.  Each section would then be assigned a drive letter.

document A file you create when you save your work in a program. Examples of documents include word-processing files, spreadsheets, and bitmaps.
domain A group of networked computers that share information and resources.
DOS Initial operating system for pc's.  Rarely used in today's technology.  Operating systems are loaded in DOS mode. Windows was based on DOS.

Some games still run in DOS mode.  Windows has included a DOS mode feature, which allows you to open DOS sessions.

DNS  Domain Name Server address.  A series of 12 numbers assigned to internet service providers.  Similar to any street address, except they are represented with just numbers.  

For example, our web site's server's DNS address is   

download To copy files from one computer to your own by using a modem or a network connection. For example, you download files from the Web to your hard disk.
Once a file has been downloaded, if it is a program, it must be setup.   Click here to learn more about downloads
DPI Dots Per Inch.  The term used to describe a computer screen resolution.  The higher the DPI, the more surface area you have to work with.
driver Software that the operating system uses to control a specific piece of hardware.  For example, before you can use a printer, you must first tell the computer it has the printer by loading the printer's drivers.
drop down lists/menus Drop down lists are extremely useful.  They allow a user to type less.  This feature stores either, choice lists, or your past entries 

Although the example above is using the Internet Explorer address bar as a base, the philosophy is the same in all programs.

Drop down lists/menus are represented by any of the following icons.

DVD  A high-capacity compact disc. This disc can store enough data for a full-length movie. You must have a DVD disc drive or player to use DVD discs.
e-mail Electronic messages sent from one person to another over the Internet or a network. E-mail can contain both text and files.
EDI Electronic Data Interchange.  A method of doing business where companies send Purchase orders, Invoices, etc. across the internet to their Trading Partner (customer). 
Explorer Bar A pane that opens on the left side of windows, such as when you click the Search button or Favorites button.
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