Website Hosting - Glossary of Terms

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The following is a glossary of popular words associated with web hosting.

The unique identifier, or location, of a web page, that may be referred to as a Web Address or URL (Uniformed Resource Locator).

Anonymous FTP (Anon FTP)
A method for downloading and uploading files using FTP protocol without having a username or a password. In place of a username, the word "anonymous" is used, and in place of a password, an email address is usually used. If a hosting plan offers this service, your users will be able to download or upload files with FTP without having to have an account.

Refers to a small Java program designed to run in a Web browser. Java applets run in a sandbox, so they can't perform unauthorized functions like file reading, or opening Net connections to other computers from your computer.

To copy files to a long-term storage medium for backup. Large computer systems often have two layers of backup, the first of which is a disk drive. Periodically, the computer operator will archive files on the disk to a second storage device, usually a tape drive. On smaller systems, archiving is synonymous with backing up.

It can also be used as an expression to mean compressing a file.

ASCII stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange, which is a standard for coding text files. Every character has an associated number and any text can be represented by a sequence of numbers.

Active Server Pages, is Microsoft's server-side scripting technology. An Active Server Page has an .asp extension and mixes HTML and scripting code that can be written in VBScript or JavaScript. ASP is distributed with Microsoft's IIS web server, so most hosts using IIS will also offer ASP for dynamic web programming. ASP.NET is the next version of ASP. Other popular server-side scripting languages are Perl, PHP, ColdFusion, TCL, Python, and JSP.

The process of identifying an individual, usually based on a username and password. In security systems, authentication is distinct from authorisation. Authorisation is the process of giving individuals access to system objects based on their identity. Authentication merely ensures that the individual is who he or she claims to be, but says nothing about the access rights of the individual.

The amount of data that can be transferred over a network within a specific time period. On the Net, it is usually expressed in bits per second (bps) or in higher units like Mbps (millions of bits per second). A 28.8 modem can deliver 28,800 bps, a T1 line delivers about 1.5 Mbps.

Bandwidth is also synonymous with the term Data Transfer and is used by many hosting companies to refer to the aggregate total of data (in MB) that is allowed to be downloaded, or uploaded, into your account in a given month

Short for Web browser, a software application used to locate and display Web pages. The two most popular browsers are Google Chrome, Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer. Both of these are graphical browsers, which means that they can display graphics as well as text. In addition, most modern browsers can present multimedia information, including sound and video, though they require plug-ins for some formats.

Browser sniffing
The process in which the web site tries to determine what kind of web browser the user is using. This is done to suit the web site to the particular capabilities of the browser.

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
A feature of HTML that gives both Web site developers and users more control over how pages are displayed. With CSS, designers and users can create style sheets that define how different elements, such as headers and links, appear. These style sheets can then be applied to any Web page.

The term cascading derives from the fact that multiple style sheets can be applied to the same Web page. CSS was developed by the W3C.

SSL Certificate
Digital ID used for SSL transactions. It includes owner's public key, the name of the owner, the issuer, hostname, and the expiration date.

Abbreviation of Common Gateway Interface, a specification for transferring information between a World Wide Web server and a CGI program. A CGI program is any program designed to accept and return data that conforms to the CGI specification. The program could be written in any programming language, including C, Perl, Java, or Visual Basic.

CGI programs are the most common way for Web servers to interact dynamically with users. Many HTML pages that contain forms, for example, use a CGI program to process the form's data once it's submitted. Another increasingly common way to provide dynamic feedback for Web users is to include scripts or programs that run on the user's machine rather than the Web server. These programs can be Java applets, Java scripts, or ActiveX controls. These technologies are known collectively as client-side solutions, while the use of CGI is a server-side solution because the processing occurs on the Web server.

One problem with CGI is that each time a CGI script is executed, a new process is started. For busy Web sites, this can slow down the server noticeably. A more efficient solution, but one that it is also more difficult to implement, is to use the server's API, such as ISAPI or NSAPI. Another increasingly popular solution is to use Java servlets.

A directory on the server where the executable CGI scripts reside.

A computer program that requests a service from a server program, usually over the network.

Connecting many computers or servers and making them appear as one machine. This is done to increase reliability and performance.

Control Panel
A utility, provided by Web Hosting companies to their clients, that allows a client to log in to their account and perform a number of account maintenance functions (billing information, e-mail accounts, ftp accounts, etc.)

A message given to a Web browser by a Web server. The browser stores the message in a text file. The message is then sent back to the server each time the browser requests a page from the server. The main purpose of cookies is to identify users and possibly prepare customized Web pages for them. When you enter a Web site using cookies, you may be asked to fill out a form providing such information as your name and interests. This information is packaged into a cookie and sent to your Web browser which stores it for later use. The next time you go to the same Web site, your browser will send the cookie to the Web server. The server can use this information to present you with custom Web pages. So, for example, instead of seeing just a generic welcome page you might see a welcome page with your name on it.

Also known as spider, an automated software that retrieves web pages and follows the hyperlinks contained in them. Used to generate indexes used by search engines.

Data transfer (aka Transfer)
In Web Hosting parlance, data transfer (also called Bandwidth) typically refers to the amount of data that is permitted to be downloaded per month, usually expressed in MB. A web hosting account with 1000 MB transfer will allow users to stream or download any number of files provided the aggregate data does not exceed 1000 MB for the month.

Data in a structured format stored on a server. Most popular type is a relational database. The most common query (information retrieval) language for relational databases is SQL. Linux-based hosts most commonly include MySQL database.

Dedicated Server
In the Web hosting business, a dedicated server is typically a rented service. The user rents the server, software and an Internet connection from the Web host.

Short for Domain Name System (or Service or Server), an Internet service that translates domain names into IP addresses. Because domain names are alphabetic, they're easier to remember. The Internet however, is really based on IP addresses. Every time you use a domain name, therefore, a DNS service must translate the name into the corresponding IP address.

The DNS system is, in fact, its own network. If one DNS server doesn't know how to translate a particular domain name, it asks another one, and so on, until the correct IP address is returned.

Domain name
Domain name is an easy-to-remember address that can be translated by DNS into server's IP address. Domain names are hierarchical. Domain's suffix indicates which TLD (top level domain) it belongs to, for example .com, .gov, .org, .net, or .jp. Recently ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) added several new TLDs, like .biz, .pro., and .museum.

Using web and Internet technologies in conducting the business activities. Also expanding end enhancing traditional business practices by means of the Internet.

Screening network packets for certain properties, such as the source or destination address, protocol used or even a pattern in the data. It is used in firewalls in order to decide if the traffic is to be forwarded or rejected. Provides the basis for network security.

A system designed to prevent unauthorized access to or from a private network. Firewalls can be implemented in both hardware and software, or a combination of both. Firewalls are frequently used to prevent unauthorized Internet users from accessing private networks connected to the Internet, especially intranets. All messages entering or leaving the intranet pass through the firewall, which examines each message and blocks those that do not meet the specified security criteria.

Short for File Transfer Protocol, the protocol for exchanging files over the Internet. FTP works in the same way as HTTP for transferring Web pages from a server to a user's browser and SMTP for transferring electronic mail across the Internet in that, like these technologies, FTP uses the Internet's TCP/IP protocols to enable data transfer.

FTP is most commonly used to download a file from a server using the Internet or to upload a file to a server (e.g., uploading a Web page file to a server). Major browser also have FTP capability.

(Graphics Interchange Format) A graphic file format invented by Compuserve. One of the most widely used formats for internet and web. Uses a lossless compression method but is limited to 256 colors.

Gigabyte (GB)
2 to the 30th power (1,073,741,824) bytes. One gigabyte is equal to 1,024 megabytes.

In the WWW world "hit" is used to describe a single request made by a web browser. The data transmitted by the web server in response to the request is a text file or a binary file (images, audio, video, executable and other data).

Home Page
Main web page on a web site, usually with an introduction and links to other sections of the site. This is the page that is initially displayed when user makes a request for a particular domain name.

A networked computer dedicated to providing a certain kind of service. Most hosts on the internet are web servers (a type of host).

Short for HyperText Markup Language, the authoring language used to create documents on the World Wide Web.

HTML defines the structure and layout of a Web document by using a variety of tags and attributes. The correct structure for an HTML document starts with (enter here what document is about) and ends with . All the information you'd like to include in your Web page fits in between the and tags.

There are hundreds of other tags used to format and layout the information in a Web page. Tags are also used to specify hypertext links. These allow Web developers to direct users to other Web pages with only a click of the mouse on either an image or word(s).

Short for HyperText Transfer Protocol, the underlying protocol used by the World Wide Web. HTTP defines how messages are formatted and transmitted, and what actions Web servers and browsers should take in response to various commands. For example, when you enter a URL in your browser, this actually sends an HTTP command to the Web server directing it to fetch and transmit the requested Web page. Hyperlink (or link)

A special type of database system, invented by Ted Nelson in the 1960s, in which objects (text, pictures, music, programs, and so on) can be creatively linked to each other. When you select an object, you can see all the other objects that are linked to it. You can move from one object to another even though they might have very different forms.

A special type of database system, invented by Ted Nelson in the 1960s, in which objects (text, pictures, music, programs, and so on) can be creatively linked to each other. When you select an object, you can see all the other objects that are linked to it. You can move from one object to another even though they might have very different forms.

Image Map
An image displayed on a web page that has different areas that are hyperlinks. By clicking on different parts of the image browser can be redirected to another web page, or can display modified version of the current one.

Internet Message Access Protocol. A method allowing a client email program to access remote messages stored on a mail server. The protocol includes operations for creating, deleting, and renaming mailboxes, checking for new messages, message parsing, searching, and setting and clearing flags.

A global network connecting millions of computers. More than 100 countries are linked into exchanges of data, news and opinions.

Unlike online services, which are centrally controlled, the Internet is decentralized by design. Each Internet computer, called a host, is independent. Its operators can choose which Internet services to use and which local services to make available to the global Internet community.

A part of an organization's network that is private. Only authorized individuals have access to the intranet.

Abbreviation of Internet Protocol, pronounced as two separate letters. IP specifies the format of packets, also called datagrams, and the addressing scheme.

Internet Service Provider. A company that provides its subscribers with Internet access. Customers have a username and a password and can dial-up or use a cable or DSL line to connect to ISP's network which is connected to the Internet. The biggest ISP is AOL.

Simple, client-side programming language created by Sun and Netscape. JavaScript can be embedded in HTML pages to create interactive effects and do tasks like validate form data. JavaScript is a separate language from Java. All popular modern browsers support JavaScript. A few hosts support server-side JavaScript.

Short for Joint Photographic Experts Group, and pronounced jay-peg. JPEG is a lossy compression technique for colour images. Although it can reduce files sizes to about 5% of their normal size, some detail is lost in the compression.

Kilobits per second. 1Kbps = 1024bps.

Kilobyte (KB)
In decimal systems, kilo stands for 1,000, but in binary systems, a kilo is 1,024 (2 to the 10th power). Technically, therefore, a kilobyte is 1,024 bytes, but it is often used loosely as a synonym for 1,000 bytes

Local Area Network. A network of devices (computers, printers, hubs) occupying a small area. Usually LANs do not span more than one building. LANs are very fast compared to WANs.

(1) Another name for a connection. Sometimes refers to a physical line.

(2) Abbreviated form of the term hyperlink.

A public-domain UNIX-like operating system first developed by Linus Torvalds. Linux and FreeBSD are very often used by hosting companies as their operating systems for web servers as it is an inexpensive and highly stable/secure OS.

To make a computer system or network recognize you so that you can begin a computer session.

The Internet host (together with the appropriate software) that is used to send, receive and forward email messages.

MegaBytes (MB) per second, 1 MB = 1,048,576 bytes or 1024 kilobytes.

Megabits (Mb) per second, 1Mb = 1,048,576 bits

Megabyte (MB)
1MB = 1024 KiloBytes = 1,048,576 (2 to the 20th power) bytes

(Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) a method of including binary data and other multimedia content within email messages.

Mirror site
A site that stores the exact content of some other site. Mirroring is done in order to minimize the load on a particular server and also to increase reliability.

MOdulator-DEModulator. A device used to transform digital data sent by a computer to analogue format suitable for transmission over a transmission line. It also transforms analogue signals back to the digital form.

An extremely popular lossy audio compression format for audio files.

(Motion Picture Experts Group) video compression format for movies or animations.

Pronounced "my ess cue el" (each letter separately) and not "my SEE kwill." MySQL is an open source RDBMS that relies on SQL for processing the data in the database. MySQL provides APIs for the languages C, C++, Eiffel, Java, Perl, PHP and Python. In addition, OLE DB and ODBC providers exist for MySQL data connection in the Microsoft environment. A MySQL .NET Native Provider is also available, which allows native MySQL to .NET access without the need for OLE DB.

MySQL is most commonly used for Web applications and for embedded applications and has become a popular alternative to proprietary database systems because of its speed and reliability. MySQL can run on UNIX, Windows and Mac OS.

MySQL is developed, supported and marketed by MySQL AB. The database is available for free under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL) or for a fee to those who do not wish to be bound by the terms of the GPL.

The state of a computer or any other device when it is not connected to the network (i.e. it is not online).

The state of a computer when it is connected to the network and communicate with other machines.

Name for a basic web document. web sites usually consist of many (web) pages.

Open source CGI scripting programming language. Written in 1987. Still one of the most popular web programming languages mostly due to its powerful text-manipulation facilities. A huge number of Perl scripts are available for download.

PHP is an free, open-source server-side scripting language. PHP code can be embedded in HTML. PHP files usually have extensions like .php or .php3. PHP language style is similar to C and Java. Other popular server-side scripting languages are ASP, Perl, ColdFusion, TCL, Python, and JSP.

An add-on piece of software that can extend the features of an existing application. For example Netscape browser plug-ins allow displaying of new types of web content, that the browser can't display on its own.

Post Office Protocol. Popular and simple email retrieval standard. All messages are downloaded at the name time and can only be manipulated on a client machine. Current version is POP3.

(1) An interface on a computer to which you can connect a device. Personal computers have various types of ports. Internally, there are several ports for connecting disk drives, display screens, and keyboards. Externally, personal computers have ports for connecting modems, printers, mice, and other peripheral devices.

(2) In TCP/IP and UDP networks, an endpoint to a logical connection. The port number identifies what type of port it is. For example, port 80 is used for HTTP traffic. Routers and firewalls typically block traffic over most ports allowing only those applications to run across a network that are "safe" to allow the outside world.

A set of rules by following which two parties can communicate. The TCP/IP protocol suite is the basis of todays Internet.

Resellers are usually smaller companies that still try to build their customers base. They don't own the server with user accounts but can perform most administrative functions.

A network device (can be a dedicated computer) that is used to connect two or more networks together and route packets between them.

Secure Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions- a way of making email messages more secure. S/MIME uses digital certificates to attest the message origin and encryption to ensure that message could not be read while in transit.

Scripting Language
A programming language in which programs are the series of commands that are interpreted and then executed one by one. Doesn't require the compilation phase, for the price of lower performance.

Search engine
A program that searches documents for specified keywords and returns a list of the documents where the keywords were found. Although search engine is really a general class of programs, the term is often used to specifically describe systems like Google and Yahoo that enable users to search for documents on the World Wide Web and ###USENET newsgroups.

Typically, a search engine works by sending out a spider to fetch as many documents as possible. Another program, called an indexer, then reads these documents and creates an index based on the words contained in each document. Each search engine uses a proprietary algorithm to create its indices such that, ideally, only meaningful results are returned for each query.

A networked computer that handles client requests for resources. Most servers on the Internet are web servers.

All the data exchange between two terminals, starting when the connection is established and ending when connection terminates.

Secure HTTP. A version of HTTP protocol that uses encryption to assure that the traffic between the server and the browser cannot be eavesdropped on. Should be considered mandatory for all e-commerce applications.

Characters used in text-only communications to convey emotions. Example :O

Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. The predominant protocol used to transfer email messages across the Internet mail servers.

Unsolicited email sent in mass quantities to multiple recipients, most often for marketing purposes.

An automated software that retrieves web pages and follows the hyperlinks contained in them. Used to generate indexes used by search engines.

Structured Query Language. Limited programming language used for updating and performing queries on relational databases. All databases share a common subset of SQL. Most popular SQL databases available with hosting plans are MySQL and MS SQL.

Secure Shell. Developed by SSH Communications Security, it is a standard for encrypted terminal Internet connections. SSH programs provide strong authentication and encrypted communications, replacing less secure access methods like telnet.

Server-Side Includes. Instructs the server to include some dynamic information in a Web page before it is sent to a client. This dynamic information could be current date, an opinion poll, etc. Many hosts require that SSI pages have .shtml extension to reduce the load on servers by not having to parse non-SSI pages.
Short for Secure Sockets Layer, a protocol developed by Netscape for transmitting private documents via the Internet. SSL works by using a private key to encrypt data that's transferred over the SSL connection. Both Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer support SSL, and many Web sites use the protocol to obtain confidential user information, such as credit card numbers. By convention, URLs that require an SSL connection start with https: instead of http:

Static (or dedicated) IP
If a host offers a static IP, it means that your site will be assigned a unique and unchanging IP address.

Playing multimedia files (audio and video) from an online file without requiring a full download. Audio and video are compressed but they still may require a lot of bandwidth. Popular streaming formats include Real Media, Quicktime, and Windows Media.

Subdomain is a way to divide your domain name and site into sections with short and easy to remember names. For example, a section of this site for new users could be at Other use of subdomains might be to let somebody else use your account (but this may not be allowed by your host's terms of use). Large web sites might make their subdomains point to another server to reduce load on the main www site.

Using world wide web is often referred to as "surfing the web".

Short for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, the suite of communications protocols used to connect hosts on the Internet. TCP/IP uses several protocols, the two main ones being TCP and IP. TCP/IP is built into the UNIX operating system and is used by the Internet, making it the de facto standard for transmitting data over networks.

Terabyte (TB)
1024 gigabytes = (2 raised to the 40th power bytes!)

Short for top-level domain, and refers to the suffix attached to Internet domain names. There are a limited number of predefined suffixes, and each one represent a top-level domain. .com, .net, .gov, and .org are examples of TLD's.

A computer program that lists network hosts visited by a packed on the way to its destination. Very useful for network debugging.

Data packets being transmitted over a network.

(Uniform Resource Locator) is a way of addressing used for world wide web. An URL consist of the type of service (protocol), then the host name and then the file on the host.

A stand-alone application used to display files of different formats. For example a QuickTime move viewer or a JPG file viewer.

A malicious program written to disrupt computer systems.

(Virtual Private Network). A virtual private network is a method of accessing the private network in a secure way over public communication lines and networks.

World Wide Web Consortium. An international industry consortium that develops standards for the world wide web.

An audio file format. Very accurate, but offers no compression, thus resulting in very large files.

An Internet service allowing to obtain the information about a domain name.

Wide Area Network (WAN)
A group of LAN's interconnected across a campus or region.

World Wide Web

Extensible Markup Language. A meta-language, abbreviated version of SGML, used to specify other document types used on the Web. Accepted as a format in 1998 to replace dependence on HTML extensions. MSIE 5.5 and Netscape 6 both support XML.

A popular compression format that allows files to be compressed (or shrunk) to allow for easier file sharing

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