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Glossary of Computer Hardware Terms - The Letter B

written by: Jesma•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 12/26/2008

In the B section of this computer hardware glossary, we discuss the meanings of terms such as Bit, Byte, Boot, Broadband, Bandwidth, and Batch File.

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    Big Bad B

    Backbone

    The portion of the Internet or Wide Area Network (WAN) transmission cabling that connects the main servers and routers and is responsible for carrying the bulk of the data.

    Backup

    The process of duplicating files and folders for the purpose of storage, safe keeping, loss prevention, and redundancy.

    Backward Compatibility

    The purposeful design of software and hardware to work with previous versions of the same application or device.

    Bad Sector

    A sector on a disk or disk drive that cannot reliably store data because of a flaw in the media or damaged format markings.

    Bandwidth

    1) The measure of the range of frequencies within a band required to transmit a particular signal. The wider the bandwidth, the more information it can carry.

    2) Used to describe the data-carrying capacity of any given circuit or pathway. The measure of the rate at which information can be passed.

    Base-2

    The computer numbering system that consists of two numerals: 0 and 1. Also known as binary.

    Baseband Transmission

    The transmission of digital signals over a limited distance. ARCnet and Ethernet LAN's use baseband. It is the opposite of broadband, which refers to the transmission of analog signals over greater distances.

    BASIC - Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code

    A popular computer programing languge developed in the mid 1960s. Each statement is translated and executed as encountered; however, it can be compiled.

    Batch File

    A set of commands stored in a file for execution by the operating system. Uses the .bat file extension.

    Bay

    An opening in a computer case (chassis) for the purpose of holding disk drives or other externally mounted devices.

    Bezel

    A panel for cosmetic purposes that covers the face of an electronic device.

    BIOS - Basic Input/Output System

    A program burned onto ROM (read-only memory) that controls the interfacing of devices and software without the use of the installed operating system.

    Bit - Binary Digit

    The smallest part of binary code, represented logically by 0 and 1 and electrically by 0 and 5 volts. On a large scale, refers to the state of on and off.

    Boot

    The process of turning on the computer and beginning the process of loading the programs and operating system into memory to be processed into tangible data.

    Boot Sector Virus

    A virus that infects the boot sector of a disk. Booting the system then loads the virus into the hard disk every time the system is started. This is a very common form of computer virus.

    BPS - Bits Per Second

    The number of binary digits that can be transmitted per second.

    Broadband Transmission

    A term used to describe analog data transmission. Requires the use of modems. Many different sets of of data can be transmitted simultaneously.

    Buffer

    A block of memory used as something of a holding tank for the temporary storage of data, usually existing between a peripheral device and a computer. The buffer allows the data to be read from or wrtten to the peripheral in large chunks, improving performance. It is not the same as a cache, which is a more intelligent form of a similar technology.

    Bug

    A flaw, error, or defect in a program.

    Byte

    A collection of 8 bits that make up a character. When referring to RAM (random access memory), it includes a 9th bit used for error checking.