Most Important Web Hosting Terms You Should Know

Every successful business should have a Web site; that’s where web hosting comes in. Getting your own site set up and running smoothly is often confusing enough. Add in all the technical terms and jargon when you’re still trying to determine which hosting company to choose and what quality hosting package to get makes the task that much more of a challenge.

To help you get a better grasp of the terminologies you need to know, we’ve compiled a basic glossary of the most important and more common web hosting terms.

Add-on Domain: An add-on domain is simply a secondary domain that you can add to your control panel. Just like your main domain, your add-on domain can be assigned to a Web site or used to create email addresses.

Bandwidth: Internet bandwidth is the measure of how much data can be transferred within a certain period. Data transfer happens when the site visitor performs an action, such as browsing, or file upload or download. Basically, it is the rate at which data is received from or sent to the Internet.

Central Processing Unit (CPU): CPU is the electronic circuitry that is embedded within a computer and which is responsible for carrying out specific instructions.

Cloud Hosting: Cloud hosting is a type of hosting that combines a cluster of interconnected servers into one virtual server which is specifically intended to store data. With cloud hosting, the provider can add more servers when resources start running low, so this kind of hosting can be scaled to handle a surge in traffic and is also resistant to Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, which is an attempt by individuals to overwhelm a specific system with traffic effectively rendering the online service unavailable. Examples of cloud hosting vendors include Hostinger and Amazon Web Services.

Colocation Hosting: With colocation hosting, the user actually owns the server and just rents space in a data center and pays for the bandwidth used. The hosting company only provides power, cooling, physical security, and the Internet uplink. Because the user does have full control over the server and other IT equipment, the user should be tech savvy and prepared for the hassle and expenses related to server issues.

Content Management System (CMS): A CMS is a software tool for producing and managing website content. By using a CMS, the user can easily post content to the site at any time, edit existing content, or add/change the site’s theme without having to write code. Popular examples of CMS include Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress.

Control Panel: The control panel is a web-based interface that enables the user to manage his hosting account. Through it, the user can perform actions such as add new domains, install applications, add email accounts, manage databases, and upload files.

cPanel: cPanel is a user-friendly control panel for quick and easy configuration of the settings of web hosting accounts. Its graphic user interface and automation tools allow for a simplified way to manage databases and website files, create email addresses, manage domains, etc.

Database: A database is a collection of stored information organized in columns, rows, and tables, which makes the data easy to access, manage, and update. A database can be used to store information such as sales transactions, user profiles, and product catalogs, to name just a few.

Dedicated Hosting: With dedicated hosting, the user rents the entire server instead of sharing it with others. The client gets full control of the server and exclusive access to all of the server’s resources. The user can change the settings and install whatever software he desires, as and when needed.

Dedicated hosting is usually the most expensive kind of hosting and, because of the level of resources it offers, it is ideal for medium or large websites that receive huge volumes of traffic and thus have a need for high availability and performance. Notable hosting providers include InMotion, iPage, Bluehost, and Hostgator.

Dedicated IP: A dedicated Internet Protocol (IP) is an IP address that is for the exclusive use of a single website. Essentially, each computer has assigned to it a unique set of numbers that can identify it. A dedicated IP address is required if the site uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to accept payments. SSL is a computing rule that ensures that data sent over the Internet is sent promptly and securely.

Disk Space: Disk space is the amount of Web server space allocated to a user to store files, email messages, and other data.

Distributed Denial of Service (DDos) Attack: A DDoS attack is a kind of cyber attack wherein many computers flood the target system with network traffic, with a goal to overwhelm the system’s resources and cause its performance to suffer.

Domain Alias: A domain alias is a domain name that points to another domain. The use of domain aliases allows a site to be accessible using different Internet addresses.

Domain Name: The domain name is the unique, human-readable address for a Web site, such as or

Domain Name Server (DNS): A DNS is a directory that translates your domain name to its corresponding IP address. You can think of it akin to the way a phone book links a person’s name to his telephone number.

Domain Parking: Domain parking is the practice of registering a domain name that is not associated with a Web site. This is typically done to reserve the domain name for future use or to prevent others from using it.

Domain Privacy: Domain privacy is a service offered by domain registrars to protect the privacy of the account owner. When a user purchases domain privacy, his details won’t appear in the WHOIS records. Instead, the registrar will replace the information with something else (such as the registrar’s details).

Domain Transfer: A domain transfer is the process of moving a domain to a different domain registrar. This is usually done to obtain better pricing, services or features.

Downtime: Downtime refers to how much time a Web site is offline due to maintenance, updates or server problems.

Ecommerce Hosting: Ecommerce hosting is a platform for hosting online stores. It enables users to quickly set up and manage their stores. This service includes tools such as shopping carts, database support, and payment processors. Notable providers include Hostpapa and Bluehost.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP): FTP is a service for transferring files between network computers or over the Internet. The user can upload or download files from a remote server by using an FTP client such as FileZilla.

Firewall: A firewall is a software that blocks out malicious Web site traffic based on pre-established guidelines.

Green Hosting: Green hosting is an environment-friendly hosting service that uses green technologies, such as eco-friendly materials, to optimize resource usage and reduce emissions.

HyperText Markup Language (HTML): HTML is the standard language used to create Web pages. The browser receives raw HTML from the server then formats it to display a human-readable page.

HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP): HTTP is the protocol used for transferring hypermedia files (e.g. text, images, and videos) online.

Internet Protocol (IP) Address: An IP address is a unique string of numbers separated by dots (such as that identifies a website’s digital location.

JavaScript: JavaScript is a scripting language for adding dynamic content to a site. It is a client-side language, i.e., it runs in the user’s browser and not on the Web server.

Linux Server: A Linux server is a server powered by Linux, a widely-used free and open source operating system.

Managed Hosting: Managed hosting is the type of hosting where the provider manages the server and as such, the user does not have to worry about server repairs, maintenance, upgrades, and other related tasks. The user also gets an easy-to-use control panel and access to one-click installations of CMS and other modules.

MySQL: MySQL is an open source database management system that is widely used by different CMSs to store and manage data. It is often used together with PHP to create different kinds of Web applications.

PHP: PHP is a free, open source scripting language for creating dynamic content by embedding code into a Web page’s HTML.

Random Access Memory (RAM): RAM is temporary storage that stores data when a website runs multiple processes at the same time. Data that is stored on RAM is much quicker to access, so RAM is the most efficient place to store critical information. Large, high-traffic, and dynamic websites typically need more RAM.

Reseller Hosting: With reseller hosting, the user can resell hosting services to other people to earn a profit. The hosting company provides the reseller tools such as billing software, private name servers, and technical support. Providers that offer reseller hosting include Hostpapa and Hostgator.

Server: A server is a system that delivers content to other computers. It is where websites reside.

Service Level Agreement (SLA): SLA is the contract between the user and the hosting provider. It sets out what the client can expect in terms of reliability and lays out the agreed upon terms and conditions, such as the duration of service, quality of service, scope, and availability of customer support.

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL): SSL is an encryption protocol to secure sensitive information transmitted between a Web site and a browser, such as login details and credit card information. A website’s SSL certificate makes sure that the site is the only one that can access the sensitive information. Websites that have SSL start with https:// in the address bar.

Secure Sockets Shell (SSH): SSH is a protocol for secure file transfer and provides administrators a way to securely access a remote computer.

Shared Hosting: Shared hosting is the cheapest and simplest type of web hosting. Hundreds or thousands of Web sites share the resources (e.g. RAM, CPU speed, and storage space) of a single server, which makes it ideal for small and low-traffic Web sites. Some hosting companies that provide shared hosting are BlueHost and InMotion.

Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP): SMTP is the Internet standard for sending and receiving emails.

Sitelock: Sitelock provides website security. It performs regular malware checks and security scans of Web pages. It also identifies thefts, guards websites against hacking, and provides trust seals.

Solid-State Drive (SSD): An SSD is a type of computer hard drive that uses integrated circuits to store data. Compared to a hard disk drive (HDD), SSD offers better performance and faster loading and information processing. It also has fewer physical parts that can malfunction. Many hosting companies offer SSD hosting packages.

Subdomain: A subdomain is a domain that is part of a larger domain. For example, a website with the domain name may have a blog on the subdomain or an online store on

Top Level Domain (TLD): A TLD is the last part of a domain name. There are generic TLDs (such as .com, .net, .gov, and .edu) and country-specific ones (such as .us and .uk).

Transport Layer Security (TLS): The updated version of SSL is called the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol. Online stores need an SSL/TLS certificate to securely accept payments online. Without one, there are serious security risks, which will turn off potential customers. Google also considers SSL certificates when ranking websites.

Unmanaged Hosting: Unmanaged hosting is a type of hosting where the user is given server space but not much else. The user is the one in charge of managing the server and fixing any problem that comes up. This kind of hosting is only advisable for users who have both the time and the know-how to manage their Web site and the server.

Uptime: Uptime is the amount of time that a website is up and accessible to visitors without any site issues. It is important for you to choose a Web host that provides good uptime. If your site is offline frequently, you will lose visitors and/or customers, which could negatively affect your SEO rank.

Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting: VPS hosting is a combination of some of the traits of shared hosting and some traits of dedicated hosting. While the data is stored on a shared server, only 10 to 20 websites share that server and the data is stored on virtual machines. That means the resources are divided equally among the different sites. Examples of providers that sell VPS hosting include InMotion, Hostpapa, Hostinger, and Hostgator.

Webmail: Webmail is a way to send and receive email messages without the need for a third-party email software.

Website Migration: Website migration is the transfer of a website from one hosting provider to another. This process involves migrating all important files (such as content, email messages, and database data) to the new host and should be scheduled at a time that is least disruptive to the site’s visitors.

Windows Server: A Windows server is a server that uses the Windows OS. While usually more expensive than a Linux server, it is necessary when using Windows-specific technologies, such as ASP, MSSQL, and .NET.

WordPress Hosting: WordPress hosting is a specialized type of hosting introduced by Web host companies due to the extreme popularity of WordPress as a CMS and blogging platform. This service usually includes automated backups and management of plugins and themes. Some companies that offer WordPress hosting are iPage, Hostgator, Hostpapa, and Bluehost.

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