Glossary of IT and MSP Terms

We believe in plain spoken IT.

Complex terminology and jargon run rampant in the IT industry. We believe that as a business you can make better decisions when you are fully informed. Our goal is to make what we do and what we talk about as transparent as possible by sharing our expertise. You will find no “techsplaining” here.

Find An IT Term


A device that creates a wireless local area network (WLAN), usually in an office or large building. It connects to a wired router, switch or hub via an Ethernet cable, and projects a Wi-Fi signal to a designated area.
Active Directory allows administrators to manage permissions and access network resources. It stores data such as users, groups, applications or devices such as printers.
Active monitoring takes a proactive approach to network troubleshooting by highlighting potential problems before they impact end-users. The technology simulates end-user behaviour rather than examining actual users and data. This helps to assess the impact of newly-integrated hardware devices on network performance and eliminates blind spots.
Services and solutions that focus on blocking and mitigating the effects of spam or unsolicited emails on email users.
Software used to prevent, scan, detect and remove viruses from a computer to prevent malware from causing damage to your device.
A computer software package that performs a specific function directly for an end-user or, in some cases, for another application.

Some examples are Microsoft Excel, Quickbooks, Sage, and AutoCAD.
The process of verifying the identity of a person or device by checking to see if a user's credentials match the credentials in a database of authorized users. This enables organizations to keep their networks secure by permitting only authenticated users or processes to gain access to their protected resources.
A collection of various cloud computing services, including remotely hosted and managed versions of Microsoft technologies that are operated through a global network of Microsoft managed data centers.


A server responsible for date, file, application and/ or database backups. It has the capability to manage and recover the backups whether it is a locally-based or a remote backup server.
A process to copy computer files, databases, or information to create a second version that is taken and stored in a secondary location for preservation. It is used to protect your files in the event of data loss.
The maximum amount of data that can be transmitted over an internet connection in a given amount of time. This is different from internet speed which measures the maximum rate at which data can be transmitted.

Bandwidth is measured in megabits per second (Mbps) or gigabytes per second (Gbps).
Technology that uses radio signals to enable the wireless exchange of data between devices within a short amount of distance.

Bluetooth can be used in many applications including to connect devices to play music, transfer photos or use peripherals such as keyboards and mice.
An application that provides a way to look at and interact with the World Wide Web including web pages, videos and images.

Common browsers include Google Chrome, Firefox and Microsoft Edge.
The advanced planning and preparation to ensure that an organization will have the capability to operate its critical business functions during emergency events. A critical piece of this plan is a disaster recovery plan.


A device that connects a computer or local network to broadband internet service.
A server that stores frequently requested web pages or other internet content. This speeds access to data and reduces demand on an enterprise's bandwidth.
The primary component of a computer that processes instructions. It runs the operating system and applications, constantly receiving input from the user or active software programs. It processes the data and produces output, which may be stored by an application or displayed on the screen.
A general term used to describe a global network of servers. The cloud is a network of remote servers around the world.
A service available through cloud computing resources that enable a business' servers to be backed up and stored on a remote server.
The practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer. This provides scalable access to computing resources.
The collection of hardware and software elements needed to utilize cloud computing. This can include computing power, networking and storage, as well as an interface for users to access their virtualized resources.
Remote storage that is accessed over the internet and is often used for backups. This storage can be accessed at any time from anywhere.
A centralized server resource that is hosted and delivered over a network and accessed on demand by multiple users. Cloud servers can perform all the same functions of a traditional physical server, delivering processing power, storage and applications.
A type of infrastructure in which an organization's network capabilities are hosted within a cloud platform. It provides network interconnectivity between cloud based applications, services and solutions.
The language understood by a computer that provides instructions or a system of rules. This language is used in building computer programs, mobile applications and artificial intelligence.
The technology, processes and practices designed to protect networks, devices, programs and data from attack, damage or unauthorized access.
An insurance policy that aids in covering your business' liability and financial loss in the event of a data breach and other cyber security issues.


A facility that houses networked computers, storage systems and computing infrastructure that businesses utilize to organize, process and store large amount of data. They often have resources used for cloud computing.
The practice of collecting, keeping and maintaining the data created and collected by an organization in a secure, efficient and cost-effective manner.
All the processes involved in getting new software or hardware up and running properly in its environment, including installation, configuration, running and testing.
The process of scrambling data into illegible code and making it indecipherable to anyone without a password or a recovery key. The data is encoded using an encryption algorithm to turn it into an unreadable format.
A recorded policy or process that is designed to assist an organization in executing recovery processes in response to a disaster such as power outages, natural disasters, cyber attacks and other disruptive events to protect business IT infrastructure and aid in recovery. The goal is to minimize downtime, lost revenue, brand damage and dissatisfied customers.
A network of computers and devices that are controlled by one set authority and have specific guidelines. Within the internet, a domain is controlled by one particular organization that has its own internet presence and IP address.
A decentralized naming system used to identify computers reachable through the internet. This converts human-friendly domain names (website addresses) into numerical IP addresses computers need to locate services and devices.


A computer file sent within an email message as a simple method to transfer files. These files can be images, videos, MP3s, documents or zipped folders.
A process that scrambles plain text into an unreadable format so it can only be read by the person who has the decryption key. It is a critical piece of data security that helps protect the confidentiality of digital data that is stored on a computer system or transmitted through a network such as the internet.
A system for network security management that focuses on endpoints, or individual devices such as workstations and mobile devices from which a network is accessed to protect against malicious threats and cyberattacks. This system has evolved from traditional antivirus software to providing comprehensive protection from sophisticated malware and evolving zero-day threats.


A network security device that monitors incoming and outgoing network traffic and permits or blocks data based on a set of security rules. It establishes a barrier between your internal network and incoming traffic from external sources in order to block malicious traffic such as viruses and hackers.
A software program or set of instructions programmed on a hardware device. It provides the instructions for how the device communicates with other computer hardware and software.



Allows businesses to lease technical assets from a service provider, such as an MSP instead of purchasing the hardware outright. This can allow an organization to alleviate budgetary concerns while utilizing the latest technology.
The physical elements that make up a computer or electronic system and everything else involved that is physically tangible. This can include both internal and external components including a monitor, keyboard, hard drive, memory or CPU.
Centralized technical help provided to users within an organization. Helpdesks typically provide IT support for hardware, software and networking products in use within the organization.
Any piece of software that is running on another provider's infrastructure rather than on-premise. They are accessed over the internet and typically have a web-based user interface.
The housing, serving, and maintaining of files remotely making them available to computers via the Internet.
A mix of computing, storage and services comprised of on-premises infrastructure, private cloud services and public cloud services such as Microsoft Azure. This creates a flexible environment for running an organization's computing workloads.


The documentation of a predetermined set of instructions to detect, respond to, and limit the consequences of a malicious cyber attach against an organization's information systems.
The use of any computers, storage, networking and other physical devices, infrastructure and processes by a commercial organization to create, process, store, secure and exchange all forms of electronic data. This can encompass both computer technology and telecommunications.
Practice of delivering a full computing system including servers, storage, networking and operating software as a virtualized service. This is a type of cloud computing that is on a pay-as-you-go basis.
A unique address that identifies a device on the internet or a local network. They contain location information and allow devices to be accessible for communication while differentiating between different computers, routers and websites.
A company that provides access to the internet to both personal and business customers. They serve as the access point or gateway that providers users access to everything available on the internet.

Some examples of ISPs in Saskatchewan include SaskTel and Shaw Communications.
A system that monitors network traffic for suspicious activity and alerts if any is discovered. This system aims at catching hackers before that are able to do any real damage to a network.
Software and systems used to replace repeatable processes and reduce manual inputs. This can improve the efficiency, reliability and speed of many tasks when compared to manual performance.
Allows analysts to determine whether IT equipment is online and performing to expected service levels, while resolving and detecting problems. This is performed through device operation checks, average response times, number of application instances, error and request rates, CPU usage and application availability.




A collection of devices connected together in one physical location, such as a building, office, or home. This enables users to communicate with each other and access internal servers and websites.


A computer system that collects and distributes emails to their intended destination. It can also encrypt the transfer of emails and provide additional security against cybersecurity attacks.
Any intrusive program or file that is intentionally harmful to a computer, network or server. This can include computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware and spyware.
A type of communication network that is built for an organization by an outsourced managed service provider to be remotely operated, monitored and maintained. This can provide some or all of the network solutions required by an organization.
Provides outsourced monitoring and management of security devices and systems for an organization. This can include managed firewall, intrusion detection, virtual private network, vulnerability scanning and anti-virus services. This ensures that organizations are always up-to-date with security issues, audits and maintenance.
A managed service provider (MSP) is an outsourced IT team that provides technical services and technology strategy. An MSP, offers a wide range of technical services including IT support, network monitoring, cyber security, asset management, and disaster recovery.
A leading global vendor of computer software, hardware, gaming systems and cloud services.

Some of their most well known offerings included Windows operating systems, Windows Server and Microsoft Office/ Microsoft 365.
A mail server and calendaring server developed by Microsoft. It is a foundational component of Office 365 that allows collaboration through calendar and document sharing.
A process which coverts data or software from one system to another or to a different technology.

Some examples of this include upgrading an application or operating system, or moving from on-premise infrastructure to cloud infrastructure.
Software that allows IT administrators to control, secure and enforce policies on smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. This allows for optimal functionality while providing security and protecting the organization's network.
An authentication method that requires the user to provide two or more verification factors to gain access to an account or application. This improves the security of an organization's network and IT infrastructure.

Some examples of MFA include a combination of password, PIN, security questions and access badges.


The connection of at least two computer systems with either a cable or wireless connection. A network has many functions including allowing users to share data, share resources, access central storage of data and easy management of authorizations and responsibilities.
A model for organizations to consume network infrastructure without needing to own, build or maintain their own infrastructure. Organizations also gain the advantage by being able to scale up and down as their demand changes.
Process of monitoring and controlling a computer network to ensure all of its resources - both hardware and software are reliable and secure.
A subset of network management that attempts to identify slow or failing components before they cause problems. This allows the network administrator to proactively solved problems before they affect users.
The use of backup network resources to minimize or prevent downtime and keep data flowing in the event of failure or network outage.
A broad term for the strategic defensive protection of your network and data from breaches, intrusions and other threats. .
A network security device that provides advanced protection for physical or virtual networks. It moves beyond port/protocol inspection and blocking to add application-level inspection, intrusion prevention, and bringing intelligence from outside the firewall.


A type of data protection that makes a duplicate copy of an organization's files and applications to be stored at a different geographical location than the primary server. This data can be reloaded in the event of a disaster, accidental error or system crash.
An online version of the traditional installed versions of Microsoft Office software including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote and others. This allows for more flexibility with working remotely and collaboration across an organization.
Technical assistance that is offered at the physical location of an organization. This is utilized when off-site support is not a viable option such as in the case of hardware repair or replacement.
The program that, after being initially loaded into the computer by a boot program, manages all of the other resources and application programs in a computer. These resources include central processing unit (CPU), computer memory, file storage, input/ output (I/O) devices, and network connections.

Some examples of operating systems include: Windows, Mac OS and Linux.


A word, phrase or string of characters used to prove one's identity and authorize access to a resource. A password is usually paired with a username or other mechanism used to provide authentication.
A computer program that allows users to securely store, generate and manage their passwords for local applications and other online services. This assists users in generating and retrieving complex passwords without the need to memorize them or store them in an unsecure manner.
A set of rules designed to enhance computer security by requiring users to employ strong passwords. This can also include lockout policies for different sets of users in an organization.

Some examples of password policies include minimum password length, must contain both uppercase and lowercase characters and an account will be locked after six failed login attempts within 30 minutes.
Software and operating system updates that address security vulnerabilities or functionality issues within a program or product. The software creator develops and distributes the patch as a fix for the problem.
A simulated cyber attack against your computer system and its applications to check for vulnerabilities. The results of this testing are used to fine-tune security policies and patch detected vulnerabilities.
A type of social engineering where a cyber attacker sends fraudulent emails that are designed to trick a person into revealing sensitive information such as passwords or credit card numbers or to deploy malicious software onto the user's device. A phishing email can include malicious web links, malicious attachments or fraudulent data entry forms.
A type of cloud offering that delivers application infrastructure capabilities as a service. This allows organziations to provision, run and manage one or more applications without the complexity of building and maintaining the infrastructure typically associated with developing and launching the application and to allow developers to create, develop, and package such software bundles.



A type of data storage used in computers that is generally located on the motherboard. It is a short-term access memory that is used to rapidly perform tasks, but it is limited. Each time the computer needs to work on an application or program, the RAM is used to complete that operation.
A type of malicious software designed to block or limit access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid. This often happens when users mistakenly download malware through email attachments or links from unknown sources.
Allows for access to an off-site computer and allows for the control of other computers online through a single computer or device. It also aids in securing intellectual private property by removing specific applications, files and data from the desktop.


An outsourced service delivered via cloud services where an outside company handles and manages an organization's cyber security. This allows an organization to work with the latest and most updated security tools available.
An incident that results in unauthorized access to computer data, applications, networks or devices. Security breaches are typically monitored, identified and mitigated by a software or hardware firewall.
A set of tools and services offering a holistic view of an organization's information security. It provides real-time visibility across an organization's information security systems by efficiently collecting and analyzing log data from all digital assets.
A type of software testing that uncovers vulnerabilities of a system and determines if the data and resources are protected from potential intruders.
A computer that provides data to other computers. It may serve systems on a local area network (LAN) or a wide area network (WAN) over the internet. There are various types of servers including web servers, mail servers, and file servers. Any computer can be configured as a server however most large organizations use rack-mountable hardware designed specifically for an organization's server functionality.
A contract between a service provider and a client. It outlines what services will be provided and defines the service standards that are required to be meet.
A management tool that tracks, manages and organizes customer service requests. It stores relevant user information and allows tickets to be distributed and assigned to the right IT staff member.
A web-based collaborative platform that integrates with Microsoft Office. It is primarily sold as a document management and storage system but, it is highly configurable and its usage varies substantially among organizations.
Used to deliver email messages over the internet. It is used by most email clients to deliver messages to the server, and is also used by servers to forward messages to their final destination.
A manipulation technique that exploits human error to gain private information, access or valuables. This can be used online, in-person or via other interactions. An example of social engineering is the use of a phishing scam.
A programming code executed on a computer processor. It is a collection of instructions that tell a computer to execute specific tasks and how to function. Software can refer to applications, scripts and programs that run on devices such as PCs, mobile phones and other smart devices.
A method of software delivery and licensing in which software is accessed online via a subscription rather than bought and installed onto individual computers.
Digital junk mail in the form of unsolicited communications sent generally in bulk over the internet or through any electronic messaging system.
A high speed network that provides access to data storage at the block level. It allows multiple storage devices to be available across a network, including different locations within a data center. As more storage devices are added to a SAN, they too will be accessible from any server in the larger network.
A hardware or software-based virtual device that centralizes communications among several connected devices in one local area network (LAN). They provide the wired connections to desktop computers, wireless access points, industrial machinery and some internet of things (IoT) devices such as card entry systems.
The process of integrating all the physical and virtual components of an organization's system. This can combine hardware, software, networking and storage products from multiple vendors into an integrated offering suited to an organization.


A computer that runs from resources stored on a central server instead of a localized hard drive. They connect to a physical or virtual server that hosts the majority of applications, memory and data the user needs.


Today, more commonly referred to as a Next-Generation Firewall. It provides multiple security features and services in a single device or service on the network including anti-virus, anti-spam, content filtering and web filtering.
A device also known as a battery backup, that allows a computer and other hardware to continue running for at least a short time when incoming power is interrupted. In many cases, they also regulate voltage so that when regular power services do come back on, computers and other hardware won't be damaged by power surges.
The way a person interacts and commands a computer, tablet, smartphone or other electronic device. A user interface can include the onscreen menus and icons, keyboard shortcuts, mouse and gesture movements, command language and online help.
A name that uniquely identifies a user on a computer system and allows access to the system, network or online account. They are generally used together with a password in order to keep your accounts secure.


A dedicated resource who serves as Chief Information Officer on a flexible basis. The main function of their role is to formulate and manage strategic IT goals for your company. It is a cost-effective way to provide smaller companies with the experience of a senior technical advisor.
A virtual extension of a local area network (LAN) that allows a group of computer and peripheral devices which are connected in a limited area such as an office, school or home. It allows a group of devices to be combined into one logical network in order to share resources like files, printers and other applications.
A computer system using software on one physical computer in order to emulate the functionality of another separate physical computer. A virtual machine is able to run multiple operating system environments on one physical computer, support legacy applications and can provide disaster recovery which can save physical space, time and management costs.
An encrypted connection over the internet from a device to a network. VPNs encrypt your internet traffic and disguise your online identity. It provides secure and encrypted connections to provide greater privacy and security for the data you send and receive.
A server that is located at an offsite data center that recreates the functionality of a dedicated physical server. Virtual servers allow organizations to stay up-to-date with changing technology while saving cost on equipment and managing hardware.
A malicious code or program that is written to alter the way a computer operates. It is designed to spread from one computer to another by inserting or attaching itself to a legitimate program or document. A virus can cause damage to the computer system including corrupting software or destroying data.


An application that is stored on a remote server and delivered over the internet through a browser interface. This allows users to use online forms, shopping carts, word processors, spreadsheets, video, file conversion and email programs.
A piece of data from a website that is stored within a web browser that the website can retrieve at a later time. They are used to tell a server that a user has returned to a particular site and allows the site to display selected settings and targeted content.
A technology that stops users from viewing certain URLs or websites by preventing the user's browsers from loading pages from these sites. Organizations can use this to prevent employees from accessing website that do not pertain to their job. It can also assist in preventing some malware infection.
A Wi-Fi security standard for computing devices with wireless internet connections developed in response to the weaknesses of Wired Equivalency Privacy (WEP) standards. It provides stronger data encryption and user authentication to prevent unauthorized access or damage to computers or data using wireless networks.
A large computer network that connects groups of computers over large distances. WANs are often used by organizations to connect their office networks using leased lines, VPNs or IP tunnels.
A Microsoft operating system for computers, tablets, embedded devices and internet of things (IoT) devices. It is the successor to Windows 8.1 and was released in 2015.
Technology that provides the ability to communicate between two or more entities over distances without the use of wires or cables of any sort. This can refer many types of technologies and mediums including cellular networks, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi networks.
A computer intended for an individual user in a business or professional context that is faster and more capable than a personal computer. They are commonly networked together using a local area network (LAN) to allow files to be sent back and forth.
An interconnected system of public webpages accessible through the internet. It is a system of interlinked hypertext documents that with a web browser, one can view web pages that may contain text, images, videos, and other multimedia and navigate between them by using hyperlinks.
A type of malicious software that replicates while moving across computers, leaving copies of itself in the memory of each computer in its path. It locates a computer's vulnerability and spreads within its connected network to affect the functionality of software and hardware programs.




A cyber attack targeting a software vulnerability which is unknown to the software or anti-virus vendors. The term refers to the fact that the vendor has only just learned of the flaw - which means they have "zero days" to fix it. They pose a higher risk to users and organizations as cybercriminals race to exploit these vulnerabilities before a patch can be issued.