Web Hosting Glossary

If you come across basic Web hosting terminology that you are unfamiliar with while comparing Web hosting companies or packages, you can browse our Web hosting glossary to find many of those definitions.

Active Server Pages (ASP) – A server-side scripting tool from Microsoft for creating interactive Web pages

Add-on Domain – A second, or subsequent, domain name attached to a single Web hosting account; any domain name on the account that is not the primary domain name

Analytics – The collection and reporting of data about your website’s visitors and traffic; also known as website analytics or website statistics

Anonymous FTP – Public access to files and folders on a server, allowing users to obtain these files, documents, and programs without a unique name and password; the username “anonymous” is common used in conjunction with the user’s email address as the password

Apache – A popular Web server program; open source Web server from Apache.org

Applet – A small application written in the Java programming language which is generally included in an HTML page

ASP – (see “Active Server Pages”)

Autoresponder – A pre-created email message that is automatically sent as a response to anyone who emails you (commonly used when someone is away from their office or on vacation, and they want people who email them to be notified of their return date so they know when to expect a response)

Backups – A copy of either everything on your server or the most important website elements (such as basic site files and databases) which can be used to restore a website if the original files or databases are corrupted, damaged, or lost

Bandwidth – The amount of resources allocated or used in data transfer to and from a Web hosting company’s server; the rate of data transfer

Bit Rate (Bitrate) – The number of bits processed per second; a measurement of how quickly information is transferred from one place to another

Blog – Short for “Web log;” an online journal or website where posts or articles are featured usually in chronological order and where reader interaction is usually allowed through comments

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) – A style sheet language used to control the look or appearance of some websites

CGI – (see “Common Gateway Interface”)

chmod – The change mode command on Unix servers which you can use to change permissions on certain files and folders on your server; permissions can usually be set either within the host’s file manager in the control panel or via FTP programs

Cloud Hosting (Cloud Computing) – Hosting provided on a server cluster rather than a single server, making it dynamically scalable

CMS – (see “Content Management System”)

ColdFusion – A tool that enables Web developers to create database-driven sites which allow databases to be updated through front-end / public forms on the site

Common Gateway Interface (CGI) – A standard protocol that lets your host’s Web server communicate with applications and scripts on that server; allows you to run applications from a Web page (such as processing a Web form)

Content Management System (CMS) – A platform (or software) that allows you to edit content on your website from anywhere with Internet access, rather than saving files on a local machine and uploading changes manually; examples include WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla among others

Control Panel – The back-end interface a Web hosting company provides that allows customers to manage their hosting account, email accounts, domain forwarding, and website files

Cookie – Small bits of data stored as text on your computer by your Web browser when you visit certain sites; often used for tracking, session management, and personalization of site options

Cpanel – A popular control panel option used by some Web hosting companies

Cron Job – Allows you to schedule commands to automatically run on a Unix or related system at certain intervals

CSS – (see “Cascading Style Sheets”)

Database – A collection of organized, related data generally stored on a computer (blogs, for example, use a database to organize posts by category, author, and publish date, and that information is then pulled from the database and served on the public site)

Data Transfer – The total bits of data downloaded or transferred from a website (a total number as opposed to the rate of transfer such as bandwidth)

Dedicated Server / Dedicated Hosting – A server that serves the needs of just one site or a single hosting account (as opposed to shared hosting which features several user’s hosting accounts and websites on a single server)

Disk Space – The amount of storage space used by (or allocated to) your Web hosting account on a server

DNS – (see “Domain Name System”)

Domain Forwarding – Automatically redirecting visitors of one domain name to another domain name or Web page

Domain Name – The name of an organization, company, or website on the Internet; the address typed in to access the home page of a website (ex. YourSite.com or YourSite.net)

Domain Name System (DNS) – An online network that translates domain names into IP addresses

E-commerce Site – electronic commerce; a site that offers products or services for sale on the Internet

E-mail – Electronic mail; a system for sending and receiving messages, images, and other files over the Internet or a computer network

E-mail Storage – The amount of storage space used by (or allocated to) your e-mail accounts on a server; the server space used to store e-mail messages

Encryption – The scrambling or conversion of text or data into a format unauthorized users cannot read, understand, or decipher; a security feature for sending sensitive information to companies or individuals over the Internet

Fantastico – A collection of scripts often included with Cpanel control panels on a Web hosting account (allows the user to easily install scripts such as blog platforms)

File Manager – An area in your Web hosting control panel where you can manage or edit all of your files and folders for your website(s)

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) – A standard Internet protocol enabling users to upload or download files to the Web; a means of uploading your website files to your host’s server

FTP – (see “File Transfer Protocol”)

Hit – Every time a file is accessed on your server or Web page (you can receive multiple hits within a single pageview if the page viewed displays additional files such as images)

Home Page – The front page, or main page, of your website; the page visitors see when they visit your root domain

Host Platform – The platform or operating system used on the Web hosting company’s servers for your hosting account; usually Linux or Windows

htaccess (.htaccess) – A file with a group of commands that that tell the server how to act in certain circumstances such as restricting access to certain files or folders or how to handle a series of redirects

HTML – (see “Hypertext Markup Language”)

Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) – The standard markup language used to publish text, images, and other information to a website; standard language for coding websites

Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) – A server-side scripting language used to create Web applications which are embedded in a site’s html

Inode – Includes every individual file on a Web server (some hosts allow large amounts of storage space, but limit the number of inodes a user can have in their account, which means you reach your inode limit with very small files even if you don’t exceed the advertised storage space)

Internet Protocol Address – The numerical address for a website (or for any device connected to a TCP / IP network)

IP Address – (See “Internet Protocol Address”)

Javascript – A scripting language that enables Web developers to create interactive features for their websites

Mod Rewrite – An Apache module generally included in a .htaccess file to convert dynamic URL formats into something more reader-friendly and search engine friendly

Monthly Service Fee –  The monthly cost of Web hosting services; the amount of money you pay to a Web hosting company for one month’s service (this is sometimes billed monthly, and sometimes you must pay the monthly service fee for several months in advance)

MySQL – A popular open source database management system included in many Web hosting accounts

Offshore Hosting – Hosting a website in a country other than where you are located (sometimes done in an attempt to circumvent laws or common hosting rules in a site owner’s home country)

Overselling – When a Web hosting company sells access to more resources than they can technically supply (for example, offering “unlimited” storage space to shared hosting customers even though there is a physical limit on space, because the hosting company has other types of limits in place that ensure the resources advertised won’t actually be used by most customers)

Pageview – The loading, or view, of a single page on a website (different Web analytics software may calculate pageviews differently, sometimes in an attempt to emphasize only human traffic)

Permissions – Who can read, write, and execute a file or directory on a Web server or hosting account

PHP – (see “Hypertext Preprocessor”)

POP – (see “Post Office Protocol”)

Post Office Protocol – The Internet standard protocol which allows an e-mail client to retrieve e-mail messages from a server

Private Domain Registration – Domain registration where your personal or business contact details are not made publicly available in a Whois database (there is often an extra fee for private registrations)

Raw Access Logs – Raw, or barebones, data about visitors and traffic to your website (statistical data outside of analytics programs, before they put it into charts and graphs or separate different types of traffic such as human visitors versus spiders)

Redirects – Having a website or single Web page automatically forward a visitor to another Web address (often used when a website changes domain names so traffic isn’t lost)

Registrar – A company through which you can register a domain name for your business, organization, or website

Reseller Hosting – A hosting account where the customer can turn around and sell customized portions of their allotted resources in hosting accounts to other end users (reseller accounts are generally used as a business model, but can also be used to manage the original customer’s multiple sites on one account but with different control panel access for each site)

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) – A top security protocol used to create an encrypted connection on websites requesting the submission of personal user information (such as addresses or credit card numbers for purchases)

Server – The computer used to serve up Web pages, databases, or other website elements

Setup Fee – A one-time fee charged by a Web hosting company when you initially setup your account (not all Web hosting companies charge a setup fee)

Shared Hosting – A hosting account located on a server with (often many) other hosting accounts and their resulting websites

Shopping Cart – Software that enables an e-commerce site’s customers to save and then purchase multiple items from the online catalog at once

SiteBuilder – A tool offered by many Web hosting companies which assists the user in building their own websites

SMTP – (see “Simple Mail Transfer Protocol”)

SQL – (see “Structured Query Language”)

SSI – (see “Server Side Includes”)

SSL – (see “Secure Sockets Layer”)

Static Website – A website that exists in a constant, relatively-unchanging state; Web pages are not dynamically generated or updated

Statistics – (see “Analytics”)

Structured Query Language (SQL) – A common query language used to request data from a website’s database

Subdomain – A domain located in a hierarchy under the primary domain name (ex. YourSite.com is a primary domain whereas blog.YourSite.com contains the subdomain “blog” where your site’s blog might be located)

Support – The methods by which a Web hosting company makes itself available to address customer questions and problems (online tickets, email support, 24/7 phone support, etc.)

Traffic – The influx of visitors to and from your website

Unique Visitor – In website analytics, an individual visitor to a website (every time a person visits within a set timeframe, it counts as a visit to the site, but will still only count as a single unique visitor for the day, month, or other timeframe tracked by the statistics program)

URL – (see “Uniform Resource Location”)

Virtual Private Server (VPS) – Dedicated resources on a server which act like a dedicated server, even though the server itself is still shared with more than one user (more expensive than shared hosting, but less expensive than dedicated hosting)

Visit – An instance of someone visiting or viewing a website (there can be multiple pageviews in a single visit, and there can be multiple visits over the course of a day if the person leaves the site for a long enough period of time before coming back — even with multiple visits, the user would be counted as a single unique visitor)

VPS – (see “Virtual Private Server”)

Web Host – A company offering server resources to host websites and other applications

Whois – A database of contact information of domain name registrants (private domain registrations avoid having personal details included in a Whois database)

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