Web Hosting: The Glossary
Web hosting and associated technical services have their own set of words and phrases. Here are a few of the more popular ones to become acquainted with so you can better understand plans, know what's on offer, and distinguish between different features, roles, and benefits of different hosting packages and setups.


Access - A well-known database application created by Microsoft to create databases, custom forms, and tables. 

Addt: This application is included in the Microsoft Office Professional suite but can also be purchased separately.   

Addon domain - A fully-functioning domain name stored in its own directory with its content, email accounts, SQL databases, etc. 

Addt: An addon domain is associated with your cPanel and allows you to manage multiple domains from a single account.  

Anonymous FTP - A FTP feature allowing users to upload or download files without creating an FT account. 

Addt: Users using this feature can remain anonymous.  

Apache – The server-side application functioning as a web server. 

Addt: The Apache is responsible for accepting HTTP requests and returning the corresponding webpages, movies, images, etc. 

Applet – An interactive application performing small tasks. 

Addt: The program is executed on the users' side and used to provide interactive features. Java applets can't access system resources on local computers despite being written in Java language and embedded into HTML pages. 

ASP – Abbreviation for Active Server Pages Microsoft™, which is technology used on pages with dynamic or changing information where one or more ASP script is embedded in it. 

Addt: These VB or Jscript codes work like small computer programs when an ASP-based web page is accessed. Before visitors receive results, the webserver processes the required pages. When browsers request ASPs, web servers generate HTML pages and sends them as a response. 

Autoresponder – A program responsible for automatically answering emails with pre-written responses.  

Addt: Autoresponders are used for availability notifications, support tickets, etc. 


Backup – An extra data copy stored separately from the original as a precaution to data loss or un-useability.  

Bandwidth – The number of data that can be transferred through a communication channel within a specific timeframe.  

Bitmapped graphic - see raster graphic.

Blog – An online diary-like website used for regular updates on niche-related content. 

Addt: Blogs are accessible to the public and typically display articles, images, or video links. 

Browser - A software application program allowing users access to the World Wide Web. 

Addt: Browsers work by interpreting HTML codes, scripts, and programs and turning them into text, graphics, music, and video. Common browsers include Opera, Mosaic, Mozilla's Firefox, and Microsoft's Internet Explorer. 

Bug – A hardware or software application error leading to system failure. 

Addt: Code or software incompatibility errors usually cause bugs. 


Cache - A temporary storage of information (data) on a computer.

Addt: When web pages are accessed, the information on them is saved (cached) to allow your PC easy access to this information when the same web pages are viewed again. Caching information helps your PC retrieve it faster than when retrieval is done from the web pages. 

CGI - Abbreviation for The Common Gateway Interface, which is an interface program extending web server capabilities. Its instructions are written in a programming language, and data is processed to return results. 

Cgi-bin – The most common name of the index on a CGI script storing server. 

Chat – A real-time online communication method between two or more users. 

Addt: During a chat, each participant can type what they wish to say, and their message is then transferred to the screen for all participants to see.   

CMS  - Abbreviation for Content Management System, which is a software application that users can use to create or manage a website without technical knowledge.  

Collocated hosting – Also known as co-located, collocated hosting is a web hosting type that allows users to put their own server at a data center's premises. 

Addt: Hosting sites are permanently connected to high-speed Internet and constant power supplies. It's a good option for those owning servers where control over its configuration is needed. 

Control panel (hosting) – Software with a web-based interface that is provided by a web hosting company and used to monitor and maintain hosted sites. 

Addt: Some hosting options include the opportunity to install a control panel of the customer's choice.  

Cookie - A small piece of information automatically stored by a web server on the user's hard drive. 

Addt: Cookies are used to identify users. It can include login, password, shopping cart, and other data. Other web pages on sites can retrieve cookie information indefinitely, while some cookies have expiration dates. 

Cron jobs – An application suite allowing users to produce unique script sets to organize the work of specific applications in a particular time. 


Database - A structured set of easily retrievable data stored on servers.   

Data Transfer - The total number of data transferred through a site in a fixed amount of time. 

Dedicated hosting - A piece of a pre-configured server from a hosting provider. This piece isn't shared with any other users, and software installations are under the owning users' control. 

Addt: The hosting provider can still perform maintenance if decided so. 

Dedicated IP address -  An IP address only assigned to one hosting account.

Disk space - The server disk space amount allotted per hosting account by hosting companies. 

Domain name – A unique site identifier that's converted into an IP address by DNS. 

Addt: Domain names are human-friendly, consist of different levels, and are registered by companies.

DoS attack - Abbreviation for Denial of Service Attack, which is a type of attack that disables network systems. 

Addt: These attacks usually work by flooding network systems with many requests at once to slow them down. 

DNS – Abbreviation for Domain Name System, which refers to a system converting domain names into IP addresses. 


Email client - A program running on a user's computer that is used for managing, sending, and receiving emails.

Addt: Popular email client examples include Mozilla Thunderbird, Opera Mail, Microsoft Outlook, and Entourage. 

Email forwarding - An email redirecting option.


Firewall - Hardware and software used to control access to specific IP addresses, ports, or network protocols. 

Flash – Bandwidth-friendly, browser-independent vector-graphic technology from Adobe allowing the delivery of animations through the Internet. 

FrontPage - A well-known website administration tool and WYSIWYG HTML editor from Microsoft used to create web pages. 

FTP – Abbreviation for File Transfer Protocol, which is one of the oldest application layer protocols used for data transfer


Guestbook – A small app used to leave comments on websites. 


Hosting – A service providing disk space on a server that's permanently connected to the Internet.  

HTML - Abbreviation for Hypertext Markup Language, which is the scripting language used for web page creation.

HTML Editor – Software designed to create and edit web pages.  

HTTP – Abbreviation for Hypertext Transfer Protocol, which is an application layer protocol of data transmission. 


IIS - Abbreviation for Internet Information Server, which is software from Microsoft that works as a web server. It is integrated into most Windows NT operating systems and managed through the administration console.

IMAP – Abbreviation for Internet Message Access Protocol, which is an app layer protocol allowing the retrieval of emails. 

Addt: IMAP allows the retrieval of emails without download, viewing thereof, and the creation, removal, and renaming of mailboxes.

Intranet - A restricted communications network within a company/organization that only they can access. 

Addt: The intranet is used for internal communications within a group of people. 

IP address - Abbreviation for Internet Protocol Address, which is a numeric code used to identify unique particulars of a computer connected to the Internet.

IRC - Abbreviation for Internet Relay Chat, which is a real-time Internet chat system allowing users from around the world to communicate with one another in real-time. The system consists of primarily public channels devoted to specific topics and private channels for file transfers. 

Addt: IRC discussions can only be joined if you have an IRC client. 

ISP – Abbreviation of Internet Service Provider, which is a company providing Internet access dial-up or other data exchange methods. 


Java - A programming language developed by Sun Microsystems used to create animations and applets that can be integrated into web pages. 

JavaScript - A scripting language developed by Netscape used to create interactive web pages. 


Load balancing – A technique used to spread requests between two or more devices in the network eliminating overloading of a device.  

Addt: Where it's difficult to predict the number of simultaneous connections or requests, web servers need to implement load balance for a more efficient network. 

Logfile -  A file created by web servers that contain records of computers,  activities of applications, and requests sent to servers. 


MIME – Abbreviation for Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions, which is a communications protocol allowing the transfer of multiple data types over the Internet.

Mirror Site – A site duplicating another, used to reduce the server load at the original hosting location when site traffic becomes too heavy.  

MySQL -  An open-source database management system running on servers and using SQL to manage data.  


Nameserver – A record pointing the domain name to the server where site content is stored. 

Network protocol – Rules allowing the establishment of connections and data exchanges between two or more connected to the network.

NOC - Abbreviation for Network Operations Center, which is a physical space storing and managing networking equipment and servers. 


OS Virtualization - An operating system-level virtualization technology used to divide and isolate server resources on the same system level.  


Parked domain – A domain associated with a site owners' cPanel account. 

Addt: A parked domain doesn't have its own content and merely points to the primary domain.   

PHP – Abbreviation for Hypertext Preprocessor, which is an open-source scripting language on the server-side used for general purposes such as the creation of webpages. 

POP – Abbreviation for Post Office Protocol, which is an application layer protocol used to accept or retrieve messages from a mail server in a TCP/IP network.

Addt: There are two POP versions. 

POP3 - Abbreviation for Post Office Protocol 3, which is the 2nd version of POP and is used to retrieve emails for clients from the POP3 server. 

Proxy Server – A service in computer networks allowing users to perform indirect requests to other networks. 


RAID - Abbreviation for Redundant Array of Independent Devices, which is a data-storing method on more than one disk.

Raster graphic – A program storing digital images in pixels. 

Addt: Also known as a bitmapped graphic and identified as .JPG, .GIF, .BMP, .BMP formats. 

Raw logs -  Files automatically created on servers containing information about site visitors such as their IP addresses, bytes transferred, files requested, etc. 

Addt: Also known as server logs and used for troubleshooting or analyzing purposes.

Reseller hosting - A webhosting service where people sell resources to individuals on their hosting plans.


Server – Server 1 provides an uninterrupted connection to a network running software, while Server 2 is a software program handling requests and providing access to different facilities.  

Shared hosting - A webhosting type where multiple users share one server. 

Addt: Also known as virtual hosting, shared hosting requires users to share resources. However, each user still has their own private residence, making this an excellent option for businesses on a budget that doesn't need many resources. 

Shared IP – A budget-friendly IP address shared by multiple users.

Addt: If one of the users on the shared IP spams the server, all accounts are affected. 

Shopping cart – Software allowing users to choose and add/remove desired products from a web catalog where pricing will be reviewed before a purchase can be made. 

Site - A place on the Internet determined by a URL address and name. It has an owner and consists of web pages. 

SMTP – Abbreviation for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, which is an application layer protocol used for transferring messages between servers.

Spam – Refers to junk emails.

Addt: Junk mail is unsolicited bulk mails usually sent by automated systems. 

Spamming – A large amount of unnecessary commercial messages sent to a large group of users, usually through electronic messages. 

SQL – The abbreviation for Structured Query Language, which is a programming language used when requesting, retrieving, or modifying database information. 

Addt: Can be pronounced as separate letters or as see-kwell.

SSH - An application layer network protocol enabling secure and remote control of an operating system. 

SSI – Abbreviation for Server Side Include, which is a scripting language on the server-side used for the creation of webpages through the insertion of one content file into another. 

SSL – Abbreviation for Secure Sockets Layer, which is a secure protocol created by the Netscape Communications Corporation and is used for sending data over the Internet in a safe manner.  

Addt: A public or private encryption key encrypts data sent over an SSL. 

Streaming Media - A method of immediately delivering video or audio files to users without downloading. 

Subdomain - A domain part of a larger domain name used to assign names to specific departments or divide a site into sections. 

Addt: Also known as a third-level domain.


TCP/IP - Abbreviation for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, which is a communication language used to transmit data across networks.

Addt: TCP deals with verifying delivery of data while IP deals with transferring data. 

Telnet – A terminal emulation program allowing a user to log in and use programs and data on a remote owners' computer after it has been made available to them. 

TLD – The extension following a domain name. 

Addt: There are two main top-level TLD's of which one is based on a country and reserved for users within that territory, and the other is generic and commonly used by many.    


UNIX – A multi-user operating system priding itself as a multitasking operating system. 

Addt: UNIX is the most common operating system used on many platforms, and it's written in a high-level programming language

URL – Abbreviation for Uniform Resource Locator, which is an address used to access Internet resources. 


Vector-graphics – Also known as an object-oriented graphic, a vector-graphic represents digital images as points, lines, and other geometric entities. 

Addt: Vector graphics store images as mathematical representations. These can be resized without corruption and serve as one of the fundamental structures for digital images alongside raster graphics. Computer algorithms are used to interpret animation, shapes, lines, etc. 

VPS - The abbreviation of Virtual Private Server, which is a splitting method where single servers are divided into multiples. 

Addt: These multiple servers are known as virtual environments, each with its own OS copy.


Webmail - A web-based interface where users can directly send or receive electronic messages. 

Webmaster – The individual in charge of designing, maintaining, and updating a website. 

Addt: Also known as a web developer or site administrator.

Webpage – An information source accessed through a browser. 

Web server – A software application responsible for returning web pages as clients request them. 

Addt: Two popular web servers are Microsoft Internet Information and Apache.  

WHOIS – A network protocol and client/server system used to obtain information about a domain owner.

Addt: Information obtained usually includes contact details, administrative details, technical and billing contacts, domain name registrars, statuses, nameserver information, relevant dates, etc. 

Windows hosting – A webhosting type where all hosted sites run on a Windows server 2003 or higher and where IIS is installed as the webserver. 

Addt: Windows hosting is an excellent solution for those developing websites in Windows Frontpage, the .NET environment, or other Windows-based tools. 

WYSIWYG - The abbreviation of What You See Is What You Get, which means the content displayed during the editing process is identical to the content of the final result.