Term of the Moment

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Redirected from: you shouldn't say

Definition: never say


People misuse terminology constantly in this field, but if you want to sound professional, the following terms should be used correctly. Also, to have some fun with your nerdy colleagues, see how to spoof your techie friends and buffer flush. See also naming fiascos.

Storage, Not Memory
Do not mix up storage and memory. The contents in storage are permanent until erased, which includes hard drives, solid state drives (SSDs) and flash drives. Everything in memory (RAM), where instructions are executed and data are processed, vanishes when the device is turned off. Any new data not saved to storage are lost. See storage vs. memory and non-volatile memory.

Stream vs. Download
Streaming is live or on-demand broadcast of audio or video content. Although you may be able to pause and continue, streaming is one and done. Downloading stores the file for playback any number of times. Be aware that there is software that captures streamed content and thus turns it into a download. The one thing both have in common is that the A/V content comes from a remote server over the Internet. See streaming and download.

Bits and Bytes - Pints and Gallons
There are eight bits to a byte and eight pints to a gallon, so saying bits when you mean bytes is like asking for "10 pints" at a gas station.

A simple rule. Storage is always bytes, but moving bytes from one place to another can be measured in bytes per second or bits per second. Easy to forget which is right. To be safe, say "gigs" for gigabits (or bytes) and "megs" for megabits (or bytes). For the correct metrics, see space/time.

Run, Launch, Load, Start, But Don't Boot!
Booting only happens when you turn the computer on or select Restart. When you want to run an app in your computer, tablet or phone, say "start," "run," "load" or "launch," but not "boot." See load and boot.

Installing or Running?
A common mistake is to tell support people you cannot run your application, when in fact, you never ran it in the first place. Applications are delivered to you wrapped up within an install program, and the first time the CD-ROM or downloaded file is run, it is the install program being run, not the application. Be sure to clarify whether your trouble is installing or running the application you just installed. See install program.