What is a plug-in and whats it good for?


I've seen the term PLUG-INS mentioned from time to time. What is a PLUG-IN used for? Should I be using them?


This question was answered on March 31, 2001. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

Simply put, a PLUG-IN is a modular application that performs a specific function, generally to provide or enhance a service that a particular piece of software might not handle natively Many of these PLUG-INS will also put an icon in your systray when active and can also usually be shut off from there A lot of PLUG-INS are specifically for Internet Explorer.

A couple of examples of PLUG-INS would be Real Player This plug-in is design specifically to interface between its parent application, in this case Real Player and the rest of the system by monitoring the CPU instructions and program calls for code that it uses and redirects it In our case, MIDI and wav files would most likely be played by realplayer instead of the default Windows Media Player.

My 2 favorites are Download Accelerator Plus (can get at ZDNet)which handles file downloads up to 6 times as fast as Windows download Manager, and NetStat Live from AnalogX that you can get athttp://www.analogx.com/contents/download/network/nsl.htm) NSL monitors your exact throughput on both incoming and outgoing data - whether you're using a modem, cable modem, DSL, or even local network! It also lets you see how quickly your data goes from your computer to another computer on the internet; and how many other computers your data must go through to get there This can be especially useful in identifying if your computer is what's slowing things down, or if it's your internet connection.

Finally, use caution with unknown PLUG-INS, they can cause system instability Don't clog up systray!

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Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on March 31, 2001