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Typically a Terminal will have only a screen and keyboard and can only operate by communicating with a host/server, having no processing power of its own. This type of terminal is often known as a 'Dumb Terminal' to differentiate it from PCs which are also used as terminals to communicate with a host, but can, and do, operate on a stand-alone basis without being connected to a host.

Terminals can have speed advantages over PCs since they work directly with the main system. For security conscious companies, dumb terminals are often a better choice than PCs. Users cannot introduce unauthorised software, or make 'inappropriate' use of the equipment since there are no facilities to do so. Most companies however, prefer the flexibility and power advantages that desktop PCs offer over terminals.

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