A NAS, or Network Attached Storage device, is a specialized file server that connects to your local network. NAS devices are, compared to full server installations, running bare bones operating systems that serve to facilitate file sharing using common networked file sharing protocols (such as SMB, CIFS, and NFS).
File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a standard network protocol that enables file transfer between two TCP/IP-based computers. FTP is built on a client-server model wherein one computer functions as the file host (server) and one computer functions as the file retriever (the client). The original FTP standards were established in 1980 and FTP servers are still in use today as repositories for software updates, academic files and more.
Network File System (NFS) is a Unix-based file sharing protocol originally developed by Sun Microsystems in the early 1980s. The protocol is not a local disk system but instead allows computers to view the files on other computers over the network as if the remote files were local. NFS is used on Unix-based systems such as Solaris and AIX, Unix-like systems like Linux and FreeBSD, and has been ported to other operating systems like Windows and NetWare.
Server Message Block (SMB) is a network protocol most commonly used by Windows machines to share access to files, printers, and other peripherals. Although SMB has enjoyed widespread use because of its inclusion in Windows, the protocol is regarded by many as inefficient. SMB has a high overhead which makes it unsuitable for streaming video over less-than-ideal network conditions (especially when streaming to low-end hardware) and it has high-latency when used over wide-area networks.
File synchronization is the process of updating files in two different locations via a set of rules. Two common forms of file synchronization are mirroring, where files are copied from a source to secondary locations, (as in the case of mirroring heavily-downloaded files across servers to decrease load) and bi-directional file syncing, where the contents of one directory are matched against the contents of another directory so that both have the same number and version of files.
Browser Extensions are small computer programs that extend the functionality of web browsers. Extensions are used for everything from the practical (such as changing the user-interface of popular websites to improve them) to the frivolous (replacing all embedded video with Rick Roll videos).
A password manager is a software-based tool that helps users manage passwords, pin codes, and other authentication methods. The user selects a very strong password to serve as a master key to decrypt the passwords stored in the password manager. The password manager typically takes care of everything else, including generating strong passwords for individual applications and services and organizing generated passwords.
Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a type of access control technique used by copyright holders, publishers, and hardware manufacturers to limit the use, manipulation, and distribution of digital content after the initial sale of that content.
Encryption, a sub-set of cryptography, is the process of encoding data so that it is accessible only to authorized parties. Modern computer users enjoy the benefits of encryption in many different forms including encrypted browsing connections (via SSL) while accessing financial data or submitting credit card payments, the ability to encrypt entire hard disks with modern operating systems and tools (such as BitLocker in Windows 7), and email/message encryption (via tools like Pretty Good Privacy).
A botnet is a collection of computers (or devices like smartphones) connected to the internet that are controlled by a third party for malicious purposes. This control is usually gained when the end user executes malicious software on their system and, in doing so, grants access to the botnet’s operator.
Spam is unsolicited commercial communication, most commonly in the form of email contact with the recipient. Spamming is a distinctly electronic phenomenon as it is would be be prohibitively expensive to send out mass mailings via physical mail in the same fashion. In the case of electronic spamming the cost is almost entirely borne by internet service providers and end users with next to zero cost for the spammers themselves–thus it remains profitable to send tens of thousands of spam emails and receive only one or two replies.
Netcat is a Unix networking tool (since ported to every major operating system) that is commonly referred to as a “Swiss Army Knife for TCP/IP”. It was designed to be a reliable back-end tool that can be either directly accessed by the user or called by other applications.
The Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) is one of the core networking protocols used to run the Internet. ICMP differs from other transport protocols such as UDP and TCP in that it is not usually used to exchange data between systems but instead used as a diagnostic mechanism.
Routers are a vital component of home and business network connectivity. While a simple hub or a network switch can do the job of linking your computers together into a local network (to share files, play LAN-enabled games, or share a printer), you need a router for the critical task of linking two networks together.
If you need to connect multiple wired devices to your network–such as a laser printer, computer, DVR, and so on–you need a switch. A network switch is a telecommunication device that relays messages from devices connected to it and then transmits them only to the specified receiving device on the network. Switches are more advanced than hubs–hubs are “dumb” network devices in that they simply repeat every message sent to them to every other device on the network. Switches also include mechanisms for avoiding and detecting message collision.
RAID, or Redundant Array of Independent Disks, is a form of storage technology that combines multiple disk drives into one logical storage unit. RAID can be implemented at the hardware or software level, and comes in a variety of RAID schemes based on the needs of the end user. The RAID hardware or software is what distinguishes the arrangement of disks from simply being a Jumble of Hard Disks (JOHD) arrangement. RAID specifically links each hard drive in the array together into some sort of scheme that either increases performance, data redundancy, or both in a manner that could not be achieved by simply adding more hard drives to a static system.
The Power Supply Unit (PSU) is one of the most critical components of a computer system. The PSU is responsible for converting the mains AC (the power from the outlet) into low-voltage and properly regulated DC power for the hardware components of the computer can safely utilize. Manufacturing defects in a Power Supply Unit can have catastrophic consequences for the attached hardware.
Bluetooth is a widely adopted wireless standard designed to replace cables for low-power data transmission over short spaces. The standard was developed by Swedish technology and telecommunications giant Ericsson in the early 1990s. Early versions of Bluetooth were not widely adopted thanks to poor cross-device implementation and security issues. Later upgrades to the standard increased security and manufacturers more closely adhered to design guidelines.