Glossary of Web Hosting Terms

ActiveX A set of properties that define how applications are to share information with each other. These properties are known as controls.

Aliased Nameservers An aliased nameserver is a nameserver that has been labeled as yours (the reseller's) despite the fact it actually belongs to your Web hosting provider. This ensures that domains located on your server are listed as "" instead of "". Also see NAMESERVER below.

Apache One of the world's most popular Web server programs, Apache was built by a group of open-source programmers and is often used because of its outstanding performance, strong security features and the fact that it is free.

Application Service Provider A third party that manages software applications for servers and networks.

Bandwidth The amount of data that can be transmitted at a given moment to a server. The higher your bandwidth, the larger amount of traffic your site can handle at one time.

CGI Short for Common Gateway Interface, a small script that processes data taken from the user (such as from a form application).

Cgi-bin The directory on a Web server where CGI scripts are stored.

Co-located hosting This hosting option gives webmasters complete control over their server. You are responsible for providing the physical hardware and network administration; the hosting company will provide you with the rack space and Internet connection.

Cookie A text file sent to a user's Web browser from a Web server. Cookies are typically exchanged back and forth between the two in order to prepare custom content for users, and to exchange data like registration information.

Dedicated hosting A hosting feature that allows a Web site to have its own server. This is more flexible than shared hosting (see below), as webmasters typically have full control over the back end of the server, including choice of OS. Administration, however, is still handled by the hosting company.

Diesel Generator A diesel-powered generator used by hosting companies as a back-up source to generate electricity in the event of a power outage.

Domain names Domain names are the word sequences users enter in their URL bar to visit your site. They are attached to a DNS, short for Domain Naming System, which is used to translate numeric addresses (known as IP, or Internet Protocol, addresses) into words. Each site you visit on the net has a numeric IP address behind its name.

Firewall A piece of security software designed to protect Web servers. They are typically used to protect sites from hacker attacks/unauthorized access.

Flash A popular piece of animation software developed by Macromedia. Flash is widely used on the Web because it requires little bandwidth, therefore making it friendly to users with low or high-speed connections.

FrontPage A popular site design and management tool developed by Microsoft.

FTP Short for File Transfer Protocol, a method of allowing remote users and Web servers to exchange files.

HTML Short for HyperText Markup Language, the language by which Web servers and client browsers communicate. All server-side functions (such as database processing), although they may be performed in another language, must eventually be output back to the user in HTML.

HTTP Stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol, the protocol by which HTML files move across the Internet. HTTP requires a client browser and an HTTP server (typically a Web server).

IIS Short for Internet Information Server, Microsoft's server software for Windows NT/2000.

Intranet A vast internal network structured in a fashion similar to the Internet. Intranets are usually established by large corporate organizations to improve communication. The main difference between the Internet and an intranet is that access to intranets are restricted to authorized members only.

IP Short for Internet Protocol, which designates the format of "data packets" that are used to exchange information over the Internet.

IRC Short for Internet Relay Chat, a popular text-base multi-user chat network.

ISDN Short for Integrated Services Digital Network, a high-speed solution to moving data over phone lines. It can transfer data at approximately 128,000 bits per second over a standard land line.

Load Balancing Distributing data across a network of servers in order to ensure that a single Web server does not get overloaded with work, thereby affecting performance.

Managed hosting A dedicated server that is accompanied by a full suite of technical support, maintenance and monitoring services. This differs from dedicated Web hosting, where customers are provided with their own servers but are still responsible for virtually all administrative and maintenance duties.

MIME Short for Multipurpose Internet Email Extensions, a protocol that allows users to transfer non-text messages like audio, video and images through e-mail.

Mirror sites A mirror site is an exact copy of another FTP or Web site. These are used to offset/spread traffic load on busy Web sites.

MS Index Server An add-on for Microsoft Internet Information server (see above) that indexes documents on Web or Intranet servers running IIS. The information is then presented to users in a searchable format.

Name server A server responsible for translating domain names and IP addresses.

Newsgroup A USENET discussion group (see below).

NOC Short for Network Operations Center, a hosting company's "home base," so to speak. The NOC is usually where most administration, technical support and physical server storage takes place. For more information, please refer to our article, Inside the NOC, here.

OC Short for Optical Carrier, representing the speed of fiber-optic networks. OC speeds can range anywhere between 1 and 48. Most hosting companies have OC3 connections, which allows for the transfer of data at a rate of up to 155.52 Mbps.

Packet switching The method by which most data is exchanged throughout the Internet. Most data is broken down in to smaller "packets" prior to transfer, and then reassembled at the destination.

Parking All domain names have to be stored on a server in order to be purchased. Most domain registration services will therefore temporarily place a newly purchased name on their servers until a hosting plan is purchased or the owner points the DNS to a different site. This is known as parking.

POP Short for Post Office Protocol. An e-mail protocol that mail software such as Eudora use to communicate with mail servers.

Propagation The process where name servers throughout the Internet add new domains and remove expired ones from their records. This can be a lengthy process, which is why connecting to a new domain name can often take three or four days.

RAID Short for Redundant Array of Independent Disks, a method of data protection/backup. Data is stored over a number of servers so that information will still be accessible if a piece of hardware/software crashes.

Reseller A reseller operates components of a Web hosting operation using services, infrastructure and equipment provided by another Web hosting service. Some resellers operate full-fledged businesses using the hardware, software, network and logistical support of another Web hosting firm, while others simply operate as sales agents for other Web hosting companies, offering discounts and providing low-level technical support.

Scalability The ability of a piece of software or hardware to expand/grow as if necessary.

Shared hosting The most basic of Web hosting types. With shared hosting, numerous Web sites are shared on one server. While an economic solution, they typically cannot handle large amounts of storage or traffic.

Shopping cart A program designed to handle the e-commerce section of a Web site. Shopping cart software lets users browse for and purchase products online.

SMTP Short for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, a protocol used by mail servers to exchange messages with each other.

SQL Short for Standard Query Language. A standard protocol used to request information from databases. Servers which can handle SQL are known as SQL servers.

SSL Short for Secure Sockets Layer, a protocol developed by Netscape to handle and protect confidential/sensitive information required for e-commerce transactions (like credit card numbers). SSL address usually begin with 'https'.

Subdomain Typically known as a "domain within a domain", subdomains are individual Web addresses built upon a pre-existing domain name (such as As a reseller, you will have the option of assigning subdomains to clients if they do not choose to have a domain name.

T1 Connection A phone or data connection that can support the transfer of up to 1.544Mbits of data per second. T1 connections are popular among businesses and ISPs. Most T1s are connected to T3, which can handle up to 43Mbits per second and are actual Internet backbone connections.

Tape back-up A popular and inexpensive way to back up Web sites. Contents of a site are periodically stored that looks similar to a cassette. Some cassettes can store several gigabytes.

Telnet A command-line interface that allows remote users and Web servers to communicate.

TCP Short for Transmission Control Protocol, an important network protocol. TCP allows two hosts to connect and exchange data, and ensures that "data packets" are delivered exactly as sent.

TLD Shot for Top Level Domain, the suffix for major domain names like .com, .net and .org.

UNIX A text-based, multitasking Operating System suitable for Web and network administration. Unix has spawned numerous popular spinoffs, including Linux and FreeBSD. Most Unix-based Operating Systems are open source, meaning the source code to the Operating System has been made freely available to the public for modification. Most Web hosting companies and resellers offer Unix-based hosting in some capacity or other.

USENET A network of thousands of discussion groups (known as newsgroups; see above) on the Internet.

UUENCODE Short for Unix to Unix Encoding, a method of converting images to ASCII (see above) text in order to be transferred over the Internet.

Virtual host A shared hosting solution, the most basic of hosting types. Numerous Web sites are shared on one server.

Virtualization A process/software designed to reduce server management costs through automation, while providing more control over service levels.

Virtual Private Server (VPS) A virtual private server provides the features of a dedicated server on a machine that is shared by other Web hosting customers. Customers therefore get hosting services that are similar to that of dedicated Web hosting without sacrificing privacy or performance.

WHOIS A central database which tracks all domain name/IP registrations.

Windows NT/2000 These are graphic-based, multitasking Operating Systems developed over the past few years by Microsoft. Both can act as standalone OS for personal computers/workstations, or can serve as an OS for a Web site/network. Most Web hosting companies and resellers offer Windows-based hosting in some capacity or other.

XML Short for Extensible Markup Language. XML is a language allowing developers to create their own markup tags. All XML tags are defined by the programmer, and can be interpreted differently in different applications. For example, the "" tag in HTML means Italics, but could mean anything in XML, depending on the function the developer assigns to it.