Computer Terminology

This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
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By Marilyn Gard

If you’re using a computer in your office, you can never know too much about its operation. For that reason, this article is devoted to information about computer networks.

Network — Before we start, let’s first define network. When you have two or more computers who work together, you have a network. Usually those two computers have a cable connecting them. They have the capability of sharing information. That’s what makes them a "network" instead of two stand-alone systems.

Server — The server is the main computer in a network. It is the computer that stores your data on the hard drive. You might think of the hard drive as a massive storage unit. As it spins, it writes information to various sectors and keeps track of the location of every bit of information. When any of the computers in the network change information, the changes are stored on the hard drive in the server.

Workstation — A workstation is just what it sounds like — a place to enter and process information. A workstation consists of a computer, monitor and keyboard. The main difference between the workstation and the server is that the server is the designated place to store data.

Hard drive — We’ve been talking about a hard drive, but haven’t really defined it. The hard drive sits inside the server. It is a disk on which data is stored. The capacity (or storage capability) of the hard drive is measured in gigabytes.  The size of hard drive needed depends entirely on the number of different programs that you intend to run since each different program requires hard drive space.

Network software — You can’t just hook two computers together and expect them to work together. You have to use network software which tells the computers how to interact. Windows 98 and Windows NT are software packages control the operation of the network.

This information is a basic introduction to computer networks. The advantage of a network system is obvious. When one C.A. is processing patients at the front desk, another C.A. can be posting insurance payments or running insurance billing. A network allows for a variety of tasks to be performed simultaneously.

Thanks to Marilyn Gard for the use of her files!


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