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application programming interface (API)
A block of code in the operating system that software applications need to interact with.
basic input/output system (BIOS)
A program that manages the data between a computer’s operating system and all the input and output devices attached to the computer; also responsible for loading the operating system (OS) from its permanent location on the hard drive to random access memory (RAM).
Software that facilitates the communication between a device and the operating system.
file allocation table (FAT)
An index of all sector numbers that the hard drive stores in a table to keep track of which sectors hold which files.
file compression utility
A program that takes out redundancies in a file to reduce the file size.
kernel (supervisor program)
The essential component of the operating system that is responsible for managing the processor and all other components of the computer system. Because it stays in random access memory (RAM) the entire time the computer is powered on, the kernel is called memory resident.
The process of swapping data or instructions that have been placed in the swap file for later use back into active random access memory (RAM). The contents of the hard drive’s swap file then become less active data or instructions.
The backslash mark (\) used by Microsoft Windows and DOS in file names. Mac files use a colon (:), and UNIX and Linux use the forward slash (/) as the path separator.
swap file (page file)
A temporary storage area on the hard drive where the operating system “swaps out” or moves the data or instructions from random access memory (RAM) that have not recently been used. This process takes place when more RAM space is needed.
A condition of excessive paging in which the operating system becomes sluggish.
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