Get Your Terms Right! By Josh Blagden | JB - Mac Help | JBlagden

Get Your Terms Right! By Josh Blagden

Something I’ve noticed is that some people use incorrect terms which can be rather misleading and/or inaccurate, which is especially irritating when someone is asking for advice, particularly because it makes communication difficult.

Hard Drive

 Sometimes when people are talking about Solid State Drives, they’ll refer to them as hard drives, or Solid State hard drives. The former is misleading and the latter is inaccurate. A hard drive uses spinning magnetic platters. The terms “hard drive” and “Solid State Drive” are not interchangeable because they refer to completely different storage technologies. Hard drives have spinning disks while Solid State Drives don’t. 


Often, people will refer to storage as memory. It’s an easy mistake to make. However, in the world of IT, RAM is called “memory”. This makes it very confusing when people are talking about storage and memory.


I’ve noticed that some people will call a desktop a PC, thinking only desktops are PCs and laptops aren’t. This is rather inaccurate. PC stands for Personal Computer. Laptops and desktops are both Personal Computers. If tablets and smartphones had the ability to have different user logins, they might also qualify as Personal Computers.

USB Drive

A lot of people will call a flash drive a “USB drive”. This doesn’t specifically describe a flash drive. Sure, flash drives use USB, but so do external hard drives and portable Solid State Drives, not to mention external optical drives. You can call it a flash drive or a thumb drive, but not “USB drive”. The term “USB drive” is just too nebulous for anyone to know what you’re talking about, as there are a number of different types of external drives which utilize the Universal Serial Bus (USB).

© Joshua Blagden & Justin Barczak 2013-2015