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Glossary of Computer Hardware Terms - The Letters E & F

written by: Jesma•edited by: J. F. Amprimoz•updated: 12/30/2008

Definitions and explanations of common computer and network hardware terms beginning with the letters E, and F, like Electro-static discharge, Ethernet, Firmware, and FTP.

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    Ecstatic About E

    Edge Connector

    The part of a circuit board that contains a series of contacts that is then inserted into an expansion slot or connector.

    Electro-Static Discharge

    The grounding of static electricity. A sudden flow of electricity between two objects. The primary cause of integrated circuit damage and failure. Static can be picked up by the technician if he is not using proper protection, then accidentally discharged by touching a metal circuit, damaging the device.


    A hardware or software tool used the imitate the function of another hardware or software device.


    The translation of data into unreadable codes to maintain security. Often requires a key for encoding and decoding, or uses a hash algorithm for encryption.

    Energy Star

    A certification program started by the environmental Protection Agency. Energy Star certified computers and peripherals are designed to draw less power - less than 30 watts from a 110-volt AC outlet during inactivity.

    Error Message

    A word or message that indicates to the user that an error has occurred with a program or device.


    A networking protocol developed in the 1970s at Xerox and then endorsed by the IEEE. One of the older LAN communications protocols. Uses collision-detection protocols to ensure data integrity.

    Expansion Card

    A circuit board that plugs into an expansion slot on the motherboard to provide access to additional peripherals or features that weren't integrated into the motherboard already.

    Expansion Slot

    The slot on the motherboard designed to be filled by expansion cards. See above.

    External Device

    A peripheral or device that is installed outside of the computer system.

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    Fun With F


    A disk formatting system that uses 32-bit values, enabling partition sizes up to 2TB. FAT32 is used in Windows 95, 98, and NT5, as well as for basic formatting of small capacity disks and storage devices.


    A disk partitioning program used by several different operating systems to create the master boot record and set partitions for the operating system. Most commonly used as: FDISK /MBR, which resets the master boot record.


    IEEE standard number 1394. A serial I/O interface boasting transfer rates up to 400MB/sec, 800MB/sec, or 3.2 GB/sec.


    Software burned into read-only memory. A mix between hardware and software.

    Floppy Disk

    A removable disk using a flexible magnetic media in a plastic case. 3.5'' floppy disks are sometimes seen in modern computing, but are quickly being replaced as their predecessors were.


    As displayed in a graphical user interface, simulates a file folder that contains other objects, similar to how one would use a file in a file cabinet.

    Form Factor

    The physical dimensions of a given device. If two devices are said to have the same form factor then they are physically interchangeable. Often used when referring to the form factor of a PC case, motherboard, or power supply, for the purposes of determining compatibility.


    The organizing and allocation of sectors on a disk adhering to the chosen format standard. Formatting must take place before any data can be written to the disk.

    FTP - File Transfer Protocol

    A method of transferring files over the Internet. May or may not require the client to have an account on the server. Operates on port 21.