11 of the Most Common Tech Terms You Need to Know

Technology is part of our everyday lives, and that isn't going to change. With the technological devices comes a whole new vocabulary. Some of the phrases are clear and obvious; others are not.

Let's breakdown the most often used phrases and their meanings. This knowledge empowers you to know what your kids and grandkids are talking about when they are troubleshooting your phone!


Wi-Fi is rapidly becoming one of the most popular forms of a network. Using wireless transmission equipment, Wi-Fi transmits data within a determined area wirelessly. There are limitations such as the location of the equipment, distance between devices, structure type (concrete walls), or stories.

VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol)

Phone service using the internet. Rather than using a phone line to your home or business, phone service can be done over the internet using a VOIP service.


A network is a system of devices connected and communicating with each other. The size of the network depends upon the need. For example, some may have a few devices (home users), while others have millions of devices (corporations).

Networks include wired (cabled), wireless, or both.

There are 2 types of networks: LAN and WAN.

LAN (Local Area Network)

A LAN is a local, specific area network. Typically these are home or office. This network consists of wired and wireless devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops, routers, computers). All devices on this network connect to the same router.

A larger LAN (such as an office building) consists of multiple connected devices (bridge, switch, routers, servers, computers).

WAN (Wide Area Network)

This network spans across multiple locations. Think large companies with various locations that need connectivity.


The router connects the internet to the devices. Similar to a modem, the router is responsible for receiving and sending data from your network.


A modem is a device that connects a computer (or device) to the internet. It works similarly to a router, except it does not connect devices. Its purpose is to connect the device to the internet. A router performs that function as well as connecting devices to one another.

VPN (Virtual Private Network VPN)

VPNs provide additional security to networks. Corporations typically use these.

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing allows users to access products, services, and platforms from different locations via the internet. These products and services are stored on a cloud service provider rather than the traditional hard drive. The benefit is access while on the move, no longer tied to one device, but accessibility at any time or place.


Wearables are wearable tech, such as a smartwatch. The device is linked to a smartphone or other device to access the internet. Some devices can connect without a parent device.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Some people are excited about AI, while others are nervous. AI is machine intelligence. Today AI looks like machines that are human-like in their actions. Intelligence can include learning, speech, planning, problem-solving, skills, and work.


Going hand-in-hand with AI, biometrics include facial recognition (on some of our smartphones, government computers), fingerprints, and voice recognition. These tools verify identity, allowing access. We are seeing biometrics growing with smart devices.

Net Neutrality

Net neutrality is a prominent topic. It is of interest because the concept is that the government or an ISP can control how data is treated. Rather than all data is equal, without Net Neutrality, some data would be valued more, making it more prominent. The concern is that a government can suppress freedom of speech, use its control for political purposes, and infringe on consumer access. For ISPs, the concern lies in a corporation's ability to buy data making its product or service more valuable data-wise than organically. The fear is, without Net Neutrality, competition and the free-market may suffer.


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