Web Hosting Jargon Explained

When you are new to web hosting, the terminology that many web hosting companies use can make the setup process daunting. Often, web hosts don’t explain what individual terms mean, and you can quickly end up feeling lost.

I have seen many people flounder, confused by difficult web hosting jargon, so I’ve created a list of the most common web hosting terms to help you out. The list below is categorized by topic. You can use it to transform your hosting knowledge, and to get the most out of your web hosting package. You can also make use of these new gain knowledge to find a better web hosting provider!

Web hosting jargon

Hosting Features

Backups

A service offered by many web hosting companies that creates a copy of your website’s data. If anything goes wrong, you can then restore your website to where it was from the backup.

Bandwidth (Data transfer)

The amount of data that can be transferred between your website and visiting computers and users. The bandwidth for a basic website should be between 10 and 20GB. The more website visitors you have, the more bandwidth you will need. Hosting video and audio clips also takes up more bandwidth than plain text.

These days, most popular web hosts offer unlimited bandwidth.

Cloud

An online data storage system. When data is saved to the Cloud, it is stored across in several places, rather than on just one server. Hosting data in the cloud provides a more reliable service and makes it easier to share and install updates and programs.

Co-Location

A type of hosting where you keep your own web server in facilities owned by the hosting provider. You can run your website on your own server, but your hosting company takes charge of making sure the server is in good shape. Sometimes, they can help you in maintaining the server too.

Control panel

A web interface offered by some web hosting companies that makes it easier for you to manage your website. Popular web hosting control panels include cPanel and vDeck.

Database

A database is an optional feature designed to store, manage and retrieve information in an organized manner. If you are familiar with spreadsheets like Microsoft Excel, then you are most likely already accustomed to storing data in tabular form. Database is much more powerful compared to spreadsheets.

You can use a database to store information you get from your website visitors. Software like WordPress requires a database to work.

Dedicated server

A type of hosting where the hosting company gives your website a server of its own. Websites hosted on a dedicated server usually load faster, but hosting costs are higher.

Disk space

The amount of space you get to store your website files on your host’s server. How much space you need depends on how many HTML pages (and PHP files) you have, whether you’re also hosting video or audio files, and whether your website has a database. These features take up more disk space than plain HTML pages.

Domain name

A unique name that people use to go to your website, for example 100webhosting.com. Domain names can also end in other domain name extensions, such as .net, .org, .biz, .co.uk, .com.my, and .com.sg.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol)

FTP is a program that enables you to upload and download files to and from the internet. FTP clients are useful for uploading files from your computer to your web hosting provider.

Gigabytes (GB)

A large measure of data, equal to 1000 MB.

Host

A type of computer that acts as your website’s home. When users type in your website’s URL or click on a link to your site, the host sends your website’s information to the user’s computer.

.htaccess

A file that allows you to control permissions on your website, including password-protecting certain areas and blocking certain IP addresses.

Linux server

A server that runs on Linux, a free, open source operating system. Web hosting services that use this operating system are called Linux web hosting. This is the most common type of web hosting, especially in shared web hosting environment.

MySQL

A common database system.

Reseller hosting

When a certain amount of server resources is sold to an individual so they can host multiple domains under their own name, or they can resell the web hosting services to other users.

Server

A computer, or software package, that controls network resources, delivering information to other computers.

Upload

A term that describes transferring files from your computer to a server or website.

Uptime

A figure that indicates how often a company’s hosted websites are fully functional vs. not working. If your hosting company has 99% uptime, this means your website will be functional 99% of the time. The closer this figure is to 100%, the better. It’s advisable to choose a web host with good uptime!

Shared web hosting

A type of hosting service, where websites for multiple users are hosted on the same server and system resources are shared between all websites on that server. If you don’t have your own dedicated server nor VPS, this is usually how your website will be hosted.

VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosting

A VPS is a server that is split into sections, with each section acting as its own server. This kind of hosting is usually less expensive than a dedicated server but has more flexibility and functionality than shared hosting.

Email

IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol)

A type of mail retrieval that retains a copy of the email on your server until it is deleted.

Post Office Protocol (POP)

A method of retrieving email from an e-mail server. Most web hosts use POP 3.

SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol)

The main and most widely used method for sending and receiving email.

Webmail

A web interface which allows you to send, receive and reply emails. This simply means you can have access to your email account by using a web browser. Popular webmail software are SquirrelMail, Horde and RoundCube.

Websites

Web browser

Software on a visitor’s computer that displays HTML code as a website. Popular browsers include Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera and Firefox.

ASP, PHP, ASP.net

These are all programming languages used to create websites. PHP is regarded as the most common one these days.

CMS (Content Management System)

A software that allows you to manage your website content more easily. CMS usually comes with user friendly and easy to use interface.

Cookie

Cookies are portions of code that gather information about individual web users and their browsing habits.

Crawler/Bot/Spider

Software used by search engines to identify and index websites.

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)

A type of code that adds more detail and style options to web pages.

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)

The code used for web pages, which is displayed as a website through your browser.

HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol)

The most important way to request websites from the Internet. Each web address begins with “http://”.

IP Address

A unique nine-digit number assigned to each machine that connects to the Internet. An IP address can also be used to identify the location of the user.

Internet Service Provider (ISP)

An company that provides users with internet access, usually through a modem, DSL, or cable connection.

Javascript

A coding language that lets developers create interactive and/or dynamic web pages.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

SEO refers to techniques and actions that can help raise the ranking of your website in search engine results. The better is your SEO (other criterias aside), the more visibility your website will have in the search engines, and the more traffic you will get!

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer)

SSL is a type of connection that enables you to send encrypted information securely across the Internet. SSL is usually used for securing online payment transactions as well as protecting member login areas/accounts.

Uniform Resource Location (URL)

The website address, or sometimes also refers to the format of the web address. Example: www.100webhosting.com.


As you can see, these web hosting terms make a lot more sense when you know what they mean. Now, you can use your new-found knowledge to utilize different features in your hosting package and maximize your website’s potential!

When it comes to dealing with your web hosting company, remember that you’re the client. If a customer service representative starts using jargon you don’t understand, you’re fully within your rights to ask them to explain their terminology to you. After all, you’re going to be signing a contract so it’s important to know what you’re getting!