Web hosting glossary

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  • Apache: Apache is an open-source (source code is freely available and can be shared) HTTP Web server software. It is currently the most popular web server on the Net. It is usually run on Unix operating system versions such as Linux or BSD, but it can also be run on Windows. It is a full-featured server with many powerful add-ons freely available. Apache's major competitor is Microsoft's IIS. 

  • 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, word "anonymous" is used, and in place of a password, 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 their own account. 
  • * as a Service (*aaS): Common term used to complete several IT industry acronyms, such as Software as a Service [SaaS], Integration as a Service [IaaS], Data as a Service [DaaS], Hardware as a Service [HaaS], Communication as a Service [CaaS], Desktop as a Service [DaaS], IT as a Service [ITaaS], Ethernet as a Service [EaaS] etc.

  • ASP: Active Server Pages. ASP is Microsoft's server-side scripting technology. An Active Server Page has an .asp extension and it mixes HTML and scripting code that can be written in VBScript or JScript. ASP is distributed with Microsoft's IIS web server, so most host using IIS will also offer ASP for dynamic web programming. 

  • Attachment: A part of an email message. Usually a file (a data or multimedia file) or a webpage. It is not a part of the text of the message, instead it is attached to the message. 

  • Authentication: Authentication is used to confirm the identity of the other party involved in the data transmission.

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  • Bandwidth: Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be transferred over the network in a fixed amount of time. On the internet, it is usually expressed in bits per second (bps) or in higher units like Mbps (millions of bits per second). 

  • Binary mode: FTP client mode used to transfer binary files (multimedia files, executables and other data files). Not suitable for transferring normal text files.

  • Bit: (Binary DigIT) the smallest unit of information, comprising of either a 1 or 0.

  • Bit rate: The speed at which bits are transmitted over a communication link. Expressed in bits per second (bps).

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  • 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.
  • Certificate Authority: A company trusted by a browser maker that issues digital certificates that guarantee the company is what it claims to be for use in encrypted digital transactions though SSL. 
  • CGI: Common Gateway Interface. A standard for interfacing web servers with an executable application. A CGI program can be written in any language like Perl or C/C++ and it is often stored in a special directory like /cgi-bin. CGI is often used to process data from HTML forms.

  • cgi-bin : A directory on the server where the executable CGI scripts reside.
  • Cloud computing:  Internet-based computing offering the convenience of centralized, accessible data, services or resources.
  • Cluster: A group of servers and/or other nodes that act as a single system.
  • Content Delivery Network (CDN): A multiple-computer system containing accessible data from multiple, convenient locations.

  • Control Panel: Control panel included in web hosting packages is an online web-based application that allows you to easily manage different aspects of your account. Most control panels will let you upload files, add email accounts, change contact information, set up shopping carts or databases, view usage statistics, etc. 

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

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  • Database: Data in a structured format stored on a web 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 and Windows NT-based hosts usually include Access or MS SQL databases.
  • Defrag: To compress fragmented files or folders on a hard drive in order to optimize performance. 

  • DOS/DDOS: Denial of Service/Distributed Denial of Service

  • DHCP: (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol). An automated way of obtaining an IP address in the Local Area Network.
  • DMCA: Digital Millennium Copyright Act

  • DNS: Domain Name System. Internet service that maps Internet domains into corresponding IP addresses. DNS database is distributed and replicated among many DNS servers, so when you change your domain's IP address, the changes take a while to propagate.

  • 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, .... etc

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  • Email: Electronic mail. A method of sending messages, mail, pictures and information from one Internet user to another.

  • *Email Client: A software application used to compose, send, receive and view e-mails. Some common examples include Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird and Apple Mail.

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  • Firewall: Firewall refers to either software-only or separate software and hardware combination that serves to protect an internal network or a computer from attacks and unauthorized access by sitting between the Internet and the internal network. 

  • FTP: File Transfer Protocol. The Internet protocol defining how to download and upload files between a client and an FTP server. Popular client FTP programs are CuteFTP and WS_FTP. Major browser also have FTP capability.

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  • Gateway: A network device used to translate between two different protocols. Used to interconnect two networks that use incompatible protocols.

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  • HTML: (Hypertext Markup Language). It is the language in which web pages are written. It allows the images to be combined with text and offers wide range of formatting capabilities. One of the most important features of HTML is hypertext, that allows web pages to be liked one to each other.

  • HTTP: Hyper Text Transfer Protocol. The main protocol used to transfer and receive data over the World Wide Web. The latest version of HTTP is 1.1. Basic HTTP transaction involves a WWW browser connecting to a server, browser sending a request to the server specifying its capabilities and which document is requested, server responding with the required data, and closing of the connection. 
  • HTTPS: Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, or HTTPS, is the secured version of the web page protocol HTTP. Using HTTPS will help to ensure privacy for your transactions.

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  • IIS: Microsoft Internet Information Server. Microsoft's Web server that comes built-in with Windows 2000, Windows 2003 and Windows 2008 server. 

  • IMAP: 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.

  • IP Address: Internet Protocol Address. A unique number identifying all devices connected to the Internet. This number is usually shown in groups of numbers from 0 to 255, separated by periods, for example
  • IRC: Internet Relay Chat

  • ISP: 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.

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  • Java: Sun's popular programming language. Java is a platform-independent (at least in theory), crash-protected, object-oriented language that can be used to write applets that run in a browser, servlets that run server-side, or independent programs. Java's syntax is similar to that of C++.

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  • LAMP: LAMP refers to a common server setup, consisting of Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP.
  • LAN: Local Area Network

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  • Mailing List: A way of having a group discussion with list subscribers by email. Emails are sent to all list subscribers. Popular mailing list programs, like Listserv and Majordomo, allow for automated subscription and un-subscription from a mailing list.

  • Mailserver: The Internet host (together with the appropriate software) that is used to send, receive and forward email messages.
  • Malware: Short for malicious software, malware refers to software programs that damage or do other unwanted actions on a computer system.
  • Microsoft SQL Server: Microsoft's high-end SQL database running on Windows systems. 

  • MIME: (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) a method of including binary data and other multimedia content within email messages.
  • Mirror: Web or FTP server with the same files on it as another server. Its purpose is to provide an alternate way to access files when the main server is overwhelmed. 

  • MySQL: Most popular open-source relational database.

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  • NIC: Network Interface Card - a part of the computer hardware responsible for connecting a particular machine to the local area network.

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  • ODBC: (Open Database Connectivity) A standard allowing applications to access different databases in an uniform way.

  • Operating system: A software heart of the computer. It is a set of programs that manage the hardware resources of a computer, provide the environment for application programs to run and provide the user interface. Most known operating systems are: different flavors of Unix (SunOs, HP-UX, Irix, FreeBSD, Linux,...), MacOS and Windows.

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  • Perl: Open source CGI scripting programming language.One of the most popular web programming languages mostly due to its powerful text-manipulation facilities. 
  • Phishing a type of fraudulent activity that scammers use to collect personal information from unsuspecting users through email.

  • PHP: PHP is a 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.

  • POP: Post Office Protocol. Popular but inflexible email retrieval standard. All messages are downloaded at the name time and can only be manipulated on a client machine. Current version is POP3.
  • PTR: Please see rDNS.

  • Port: A socket on the computer or other network device used to connect it to the network.

  • Python: Interpreted programming language, sometimes offered by hosts for server-side scripting. 

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  • RAID: Redundant Array of Independent (or Inexpensive) Disks. Type of disk, often used on servers, where several physical disks are combined into an array for better speed and fault tolerance. There are different levels for raids.
        Level 0 implements data striping where file blocks are written to separate drives. Does not provide fault tolerance, because failure of one drive will result in data loss.

    • Level 1 implements data mirroring. Data is duplicated on two drives either through software or hardware. Provides faster read performance than a single drive.
    • Level 2 - not used in practice. Data is split at bit level at written to multiple drives.
    • Level 3 - requires at least 3 drives. Data block is striped at byte level across drives and error correction codes (parity info) is recorder on another drive. Provides fault tolerance but slower writing performance.
    • Level 4 - Similar to Level 3 but provides faster performance because it uses blocks for striping.
    • Level 5 - Similar to Level 4 but improves performance but also striping parity info across multiple drives.
    • Level 6 - Similar to Level 5 but also uses second parity scheme for better fault tolerance.
    • Level 7 - Proprietary RAID design by Storage Computer Corporation. Faster than other levels because it uses multiple levels of cache and asynchronous I/O transfers.

    In addition multiple RAID levels can be combined to improve performance or reliability.

  • Raw Logs: Raw access data updated in real-time that can be downloaded and used by any statistics program. Typically each line show the user's IP, date and time of the access, what kind of request was done, which document was requested, HTTP status code, bytes transferred, referrer, and user agent info. If a host doesn't have statistics, you'll need access to raw logs to identify who your site's visitors are. Analyzing raw logs can also provide more detailed look at site accesses than stats.
  • Redundancy: Strategic use of duplicate technology to prevent or recover from system failures. 

  • Registrant: The individual or organization that registers a specific domain name with a registrar. This individual or organization holds the right to use that specific domain name for a specified period of time, provided certain conditions are met and the registration fees are paid. This person or organization is the "legal entity" bound by the terms of the Domain Name Registration Agreement with the registrar.

  • Registrar: A company in the business of registering domain names which is authorized to receive domain name registration requests, approves registrations, and initiates propagation of registration information throughout the Internet. An accredited registrar is also permitted to update the global domain name database directly. (Example: Names4ever.Com is an accredited domain name registrar)

  • Reseller: 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.
  • rDNS: rDNS, or PTR, is a reverse DNS system. It allows IP addresses to be pointed to domains. This is mainly used to prevent spam.
  • Ruby on Rails: also known as Rails, is an open source full-stack, web application framework for the Ruby programming language.

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  • SEO: Search Engine Optimization is a collection of content management techniques to improve the ranking of web pages in search engines such as Google or Bing.

  • SMTP: Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. Very popular protocol used to transfer email messages across the Internet mail servers.

  • Spam: Unsolicited email sent in mass quantities to multiple receipents, most often for marketing purposes. Highly annoying and constituting one of the most serious netiquette violations.

  • SQL: 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.

  • SSL: 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.

  • SSI: 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.

  • SSL: Secure Sockets Layer. Protocol developed by Netscape to provide encryption for commercial transactions data that should be protected while traveling over the Internet, like credit card numbers. SSL uses https protocol. Before using SSL in commerce, you'll also need to get is a certificate from a Certificate Authority.

  • 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. 

  • Subdomain: Subdomain is a way to divide your 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 websites might make their subdomains point to another server to reduce load on the main www site.

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  • TLD: Top Level Domain. The domain name elements at the right, such as .com, .org or .gov. Recently, new TLDs like .pro or .museum were added to supplement older TLDs. ccTLDs (country code TLDs), like .uk or .fr are used per-country.

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

  • URL: (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.

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  • Virus: A virus is a malicious program written to do as much harm as possible. Viruses can spread themselves over the network.

  • VPN: (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.

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  • WAN: Wide Area Network
  • WHM: Web Host Manager

  • whois: An Internet service allowing to obtain the information about the domain name owner.

  • WWW: World Wide Web (or Web) is the most popular Internet service. It allows access to the information and services from the web servers. A web browser is needed to use the Web.

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  • XML: Extensible Markup Language. A meta-language, abbreviated version of SGML, used to specify other document types used on the Web.

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