Understanding the Basics

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The tech world is a fast-paced force to be reckoned with. It constantly evolves and sprouts new phrases, terms, and many other things to learn about.

Sometimes navigating the online world can be intimidating. It’s often overwhelming to try and understand which websites are safe and secure, which ones you should avoid, and how to ensure your website is performing the best it can.

We find that to understand how it's easiest to start with the why. If you can understand the fundamentals of something, it will make it easier to grasp the more complex pieces later on.

To be online-savvy, you must first understand what's what. There are so many words, terms, and applications in the online world that are frequently used but are hardly ever explained. So let’s break some of them down.

Let's go over common online terminology!

What are cookies?

The purpose of a computer cookie is to help websites keep track of your visits and activity. Though this may sound alarming at first, it isn’t always bad. For example, many online retailers use cookies to keep track of the items in a user’s shopping cart as they explore the site. Without cookies, your shopping cart would reset and become empty every time you click a new link on the site. That would make it difficult to buy anything online!

What is cache?

Cache is a dedicated location that collects and temporarily holds onto data that helps websites and browsers load faster.

Cache makes it easier for data, such as cookies, to be retrieved instead of reloading each time you visit a website/app, which keeps your experience browsing the internet as efficient and smooth as possible.

More about cookies & cache

While these tools can be helpful, it is a good practice to occasionally clear the cache and cookies from your browser. This will help your browser stay up-to-date and ensure no old or outdated information (that may be preserved by cookies & cache) is interfering or causing issues with your online experience.

Clearing the cache and cookies from a web browser is an essential first step for almost any troubleshooting for internet browsing.

To clear cache and cookies (which will also clear/delete your internet history) on Windows, press Ctrl-Shift-Delete while in your browser or Command-Shift-Delete for Mac users.

What are WordPress plugins? How is it different from a WordPress theme?

Plugins are add-ons to your site that add or enable different features and services on your site. There are free and paid plugins that can allow your site to do almost anything.

Most anyone can make and share/sell plugins, so be careful when adding certain plugins to your website.

Plugins will be modified and improved occasionally, so be sure to update the plugins on your site when available.

For those of you who have a Cullen Web Services Security or Updates packages, we take care of the upkeep of plugins for you.

Why do some emails go to the junk folder?

When new or unfamiliar emails come into your email inbox, the automated system that filters the emails can sometimes inaccurately interpret the unknown and foreign message as junk.

So when looking for emails (even professional ones that should not be classified as junk), be sure to always check the junk/spam folders so nothing slips through the cracks.

What's the difference between the frontend & backend of your website?

While both are important to keep maintained and up-to-date, the purposes and functions differ greatly.

Many times, the term 'frontend' refers to the public face of your website. It is what people see when they type in your site's URL and the page loads. While 'backend' refers to the behind-the-scenes of your site, where editing and other admin functions occur.

Anyone with the site's URL can view the front end of your site, but only those with confidential credentials will be able to access the back end.

In the programming world, the ‘frontend’ is the part of the site that runs in your browser, while the ‘backend’ is the part of your site that runs on the server at your hosting provider.

Hopefully, this blog post will demystify some of the often-used yet never explained lingo you hear throughout the corners of the internet.

If there are any other terms, phrases, or words you would like explained, check out our other blog posts, as we may have already covered the topic, or leave a comment below!

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