Computing Basics Overview

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This will cover the basic terminology that will assist in understanding many articles on the wiki. For any further assistance please call the help desk at x7741.


  • Desktop

The "home page" of the computer is called the Desktop. This is the window that will be seen every time someone logs onto the computer. It is from here that you can open applications such as Internet Explorer and iTunes.


An icon on the Desktop.
  • Icon

An icon is a picture on the Desktop and in the Start Menu that when clicked will start up the associated application. After the application is opened the same icon will be put on your Taskbar so that applications can be switched without closing the previous one.


  • Taskbar

Always visible on the bottom of the screen, the Taskbar will display all open windows for easy switching between programs. Both Windows and Macintosh operating systems allow for programs to be "pinned" to the Taskbar, allowing for quick and easy access to applications that are used most frequently.


  • Start Menu

The Start Menu houses links to applications that can be opened by the user. Opened by clicking the Windows icon in the lower left corner, the Start Menu displays the users' frequently used applications, as well as "pinned" ones that the user can choose. If "All Programs" is clicked a list of every application installed on the computer is displayed and can be opened.


The control panel in Windows 7.
  • Control Panel

The Control Panel is where a lot of hardware and software settings are managed. In the Control Panel users have access to many different aspects of the computer such as mouse sensitivity, printers associated to the computer, speech recognition, and programs installed on the computer. To access the control panel on Windows 7 and Vista open the Start Menu and select Control Panel on the right side of the menu.


  • Window

A window is what applications run in. Application windows in most cases can have the sizes adjusted to help cater to the user's desire. They can also be minimized, closed, and resized to not take up the entire screen using the buttons in the upper right hand side of each window.


  • Web Browser

A web browser is used to browse the internet. A few examples of web browsers are Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome.


An Anti-Virus program. The interface will change based on the brand used.
  • Anti-Virus

An Anti-Virus (AV) is what actively runs on a computer to prevent any viruses or malicious software from getting on. These programs run in the background and generally do not bother a user unless something is found. There are a wide variety of different AV programs that users can pick from, and there are free and subscription based Anti-Virus applications. Generally the subscription AV programs have more features such as online backups of documents and firewalls.

  • Do not have more than one Anti-Virus installed at any time. This will cause a lot of conflicting issues and even cause the computer to crash frequently


  • Anti-Malware

Similar to Anti-Virus applications Anti-Malware programs help prevent smaller virus like programs such as Keyloggers and fake Anti-Virus applications from being installed on your computer. Anti-Malware programs also run in the background once scans have been started and some also provide active protection like an Anti-Virus would. The preferred Anti-Malware program of ASU Resnet is Malwarebytes Anti Malware. To learn how to use it please visit the Running Malwarebytes page.


  • Firewall

A firewall controls incoming and outgoing network traffic. This is to help limit malicious software or hackers from accessing the network. Many operating systems as well as subscription based Anti-Virus programs have a firewall to help prevent malicious attacks on a computer.

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