Web Hosting Glossary – Common Terms and Definitions


Web hosting terms can be a bit confusing especially when you are shopping around for a new web host. Sometimes definitions can be overly technical. However, in order to dispel some of the confusion, you can use this handy web hosting glossary:

Types of Hosting

  • Dedicated hosting – A hosting account where only one web host has control of the entire server. All resources are allocated to one account.

  • Linux Server – A server that uses Linux, a free, open source operating system used by most shared and free web hosts

  • Reseller Hosting – Where a block of server resources is sold to an individual for purposes of using it to host multiple domains under their own name

  • Server – A computer that delivers information to other computers. Your website will likely reside on a server that is owned by your web host

  • Shared hosting – Where a website account resides on a server that is shared with other accounts. System resources are shared between all accounts. Most personal and business sites can use shared hosting without exceeding system specifications.

  • VPS Hosting – Virtual Private Server, is a server that is partitioned with each section acting as its own server. Typically this is less expensive than a dedicated server but has more flexibility and functionality than a shared plan

  • Windows Server – A server that uses Windows as the operating system. This type of plan is typically more expensive but necessary to accommodate specific applications

Choosing a Plan

  • Add on Domain – A separate web site that is included in your account sharing the resources of whatever plan you are on.

  • Bandwidth – The amount of data transfer that is used on your account. This occurs every time someone visits or uses your site, an email is sent or received or files are uploaded and downloaded.

  • Dedicated IP – An IP address that is used solely by your website. This is necessary if using SSL to accept payment via the website

  • Disk Space – The amount of space allocated to you on the server to store files, pages, emails, and more.

  • Parked Domain – A separate domain that points to your existing account. Often people purchase the .com and .net versions of their domain. If you use either one the same information will be displayed

  • SSL – Secure Socket Layer, a means of encryption commonly used for Ecommerce sites so accepting credit cards is secure. You will see “https://” in the address bar when you are using a secure page

  • Uptime – The amount of time the server is uninterrupted and your website is accessible. This is typically shown as a percentage. You want a high uptime (99% and above) so as not to disrupt access to your site

Setting up your Site

  • .htaccess – Allows you to set parameters on specific files. It is most often used for permissions to determine what access is allowed to a particular file

  • FTP – File Transfer Protocol, a means of uploading and downloading files. Most hosts allow this with some having added feature availability such as anonymous FTP and the ability to assign accounts so others can transfer files

  • SSH – Secure Shell, a means of file transfer. Many shared hosts will not allow this type of file transfer

Email Terms

  • Auto Responder – A way to automatically send an email in response to one received. Often used for “away” messages such as when on vacation and typical response times may be delayed

  • Catch All – An email address that will receive any email that is sent to your account without an already assigned email address

  • IMAP – Internet Message Access Protocol is a way to retrieve mail. It leaves a copy on the server until deleted permanently. Convenient for people who use multiple computers and email clients such as at work and home

  • Mailing List – Allows you to mail a group of people at once. Often used by businesses for news updates to clients

  • Pop 3 – An email protocol that allows you to retrieve emails from the server

  • SMTP – An email protocol allowing you to send emails. Most web hosts allow you to use the server to send email. However, some ISP’s require you to use their servers to send email when using their service as opposed to your web host

  • Spam – Unsolicited bulk mail typically used to attempt to sell services or products. Many hosts will provide a way to control spam automatically

  • Webmail – A way to send and receive email via the Internet without the need for a separate email software

Features

  • Blog – A web site or portion of a web site that has individual entries of various types. Typical blog posts include links, news about one’s site, commentary on the world, pictures, video and more. Blogs are also used as a tool to drive business to one’s site as blog posts are given greater weight by search engines.

  • CMS – Short for Content Management System. CMS is a way of organizing and managing the content of a website easier so it is displayed professionally but easy to modify

  • Control Panel – The control panel is the central hub for a web hosting account. This is where the user modifies and controls all aspects of their web hosting such as adding new domains and sub domains, uploading web pages and installing server applications

  • Error Pages – What comes up when a person attempts to access a web page that is either unavailable due to a server issue or attempting to access an unregistered domain.

  • Fantastico – A commercial script library available to automate web application installation

  • Forum – A web based message board where users can post questions or problems and receive answers from other users or the host of the board

  • Guestbook – A web page where a person can leave their contact information and comments about the site or request more information. Web page designers include these to get feedback from the visitors to the site

  • Language Support – The types of programming languages that will work with your hosting account. You should make sure you have (and most do) PHP and Perl at a minimum

  • MySQL – A database system that is often included in hosting packages. It is commonly used with a variety of applications

  • WordPress – The most popular blogging software available. It is free, open source software that is extremely customizable and is often used as a CMS. Many hosts provide this as a one click installation

Want to learn more? Check out all of our great web hosting guides!