Web Hosting Glossary [Full List of all Important Hosting Terms]
Everything you need to understand about web hosting and site management is available in this all-inclusive web hosting glossary.
Learn about the terms that you are unfamiliar with and get a better understanding of what features you are getting when you buy a web hosting package.
List of Top Website Hosting Terms You Should Know
Used to define a website hosting solution where you host your website and domain. Web hosting has different types of hosting solutions including cloud, dedicated, and VPS, which are defined separately in the list below.
Shared hosting solution is a hosting package that puts multiple websites on a single server. In a shared hosting package, the user has limited bandwidth, storage, and scalability. A shared hosting package is the cheapest and usually started from $3 per month.
A cloud hosting solution uses cloud servers to host a website. Each website is given a cloud server that is highly scalable, faster and has more storage capacity. Most cloud hosts also support auto-scaling. Cloud hosting solutions usually start from $20 per month.
A dedicated hosting solution provides a single server to the user. The user can host either a single website or multiple websites on the dedicated hosting solution. A dedicated hosting solution is the most secure, fast, and has the highest uptime. However, it requires vertical scaling which takes time. Dedicated hosting solutions are employed by enterprises and a package can start from $100 per month.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting gives a virtual server to the user. This virtual server is created by partitioning a dedicated server. Unlike a shared host where hundreds of websites are hosted on a single server, only a few virtual servers are created on a single server. This makes the VPS host a lot more scalable, faster, and completely secure.
A cache keeps the basic data of the website for faster access. When you visit a website for the first time, it takes a lot more time to load. When you load it the second time, the website loads a lot faster. This is called browser cache. Similar to a browser, a server has its own cache system that creates an image of the most viewed pages. When a user visits the website, this image provides the data to the user. As a result, it takes less time to load the website, increasing retention rate and decreasing bounce rate.
A server is a computer system that serves the user requests of its clients. For example, in a web server, the client or the user of the website requests a website page from the server. As a result, the server searches for the page on its directory of indexed pages and then serves it to the user. This is the most basic definition of a server. Servers are also used for sending emails, storing content, and processing information for applets.
A device where data, information, or database tables are stored. In a website hosting solution, a storage capacity of 5GB to 10GB is enough for a small business website. However, ecommerce stores require a lot more storage capacity because of the CRUD operations performed on the database.
Bandwidth capacity is the amount of data that can be transferred between the server and the client. The bandwidth of the website is measured monthly. Consider this: Your website gets around 100 visitors per day and each user visits 10 pages. Each page has a page size of 1000kbs. That will be 100Mbs per day. So, you would need a capacity of at least 4Gbs per month to cater to all these users.
A database is storage for relational or non-relational data. It is offered by a third-party such as MySQL, MSSQL or MariaDB. A database case be easily updated using a database management system (DBMS). The usual model of a database is a Relational Database also called RDBMS. In this model, data is stored in rows and columns of a table.
MySQL is an open-source database management system that works with any server using phpMyAdmin. It is a component of LAMP and comes configured when you install LAMP on your server. LAMP stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP/Python/Perl. MySQL uses structured query language to fetch and store data. MySQL is now being replaced with MariaDB databases because they are faster, efficient, and lite.
Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is a certificate authenticating encrypted connection between the client and the server. It is now becoming a norm for secure connectivity across all websites available on the internet. Even Google has made SSL mandatory for websites, not having it can hurt SERPs. SSL ensures that no third-party can eavesdrop on the data that you share with an ecommerce website.
WordPress is a content management system that allows users to create a website without writing a single line of code. It offers free themes, plugins, and templates for users to create their websites from scratch. WordPress offers posts, pages, and media as assets for launching a website. WordPress is written in PHP and it can easily be customized. It is paired with MySQL database management system for storing user data.
cPanel is a proprietary website hosting management system that is used by the majority of shared hosting management solution providers. It is based on Linux and allows users to connect and add domains, manage website data and content, organize website files, create and manage email accounts, and backup user data. It is considered the most user-friendly website management panel and is a de-facto WHM in most hosting solutions.
WHM means Website Hosting Manager. It is a comprehensive program that allows users to easily manage the settings of their websites and domains. Since WHM is a GUI-based software, users can easily create and launch a website(s), organize files over the server, install third-party scripts with a single click, back up data, and add or remove domains, all without writing a single line of code. WHM software is mostly proprietary like cPanel and Plesk.
Backup is the copy of your website that the hosting manager creates on a regular basis. The backup is then saved on a third-party server or you can download it to your local system. Backups can help you as the user in case your website is hacked or any data from the site gets deleted. You can also use the site backup to easily migrate the data to a new host.
Apache is an open-source and free web server used for delivery web content over the internet. It is also considered an Apache HTTP client but commonly known as Apache only. It is the most popular HTTP client available over the internet, others being IIS, Nginx, Oracle Weblogic.
Nginx is a free and open-source software used for load balancing, media streaming, proxying, caching, and acting as an email server. It was initially designed as a server for maximum performance and stability. It comes with a simple one-line configuration on Linux based systems. It is run by most of the cloud servers available including Google, AWS, and Digital Ocean. It is built to offer high availability and high concurrency while consuming less memory.
Htaccess is a website configuration file that’s used to control the settings of your overall website. It is used on servers that run Apache and it can easily manage and control website configurations through a few lines of code. Changes made to the .htaccess file are permanent and immediate. It is crucial for making server-level changes that can directly impact the organic promotion of the website. It is a secure file and usually found in the public_html folder of the website.
SSH or Secure Shell is a communication protocol that allows two computers to connect with each other usually a client and a server. It is mostly used by web servers to create a secure connection between a client and a server to share data. It is mostly used by system administrators for logging into systems and executing commands. It is secure but a brute force attack on a weaker password can easily crack open the system.
SMTP also called Small Mail Transfer Protocol is used to send and receive emails. SMTP is a protocol on an email server that ensures that all outgoing and incoming emails. When you send an email, the SMTP server decides to which server the email needs to be relayed to and then send the email to it. It is often paired with IMAP or POP3 email protocols to store emails. Without these protocols, SMTP can’t receive or store emails. It is a server communication protocol.
File Transfer Protocol (FTP) consists of a set of rules that the computer has to follow for transferring files to another system. It is usually used by computer systems to connect to website servers and upload or download data. One of the most obvious uses of FTP is to connect to a website and upload web pages built on the local system. FTP software like FileZilla or Free FTP is used to make the connection and upload or download files.
Content Management System (CMS)
A content management system is software that allows users to create, edit, delete, and publish content for a website without requiring any technical knowledge or without writing a single line of code. The CMS handles and offers all the functions that you need to launch and manage a website.
Any type of activity where buying and selling is involved over the internet is considered as ecommerce. Ecommerce has many types including business to business, business to consumer, consumer to consumer, and consumer to business.
A data center stores multiple servers that power our internet. Servers can host websites, data, send/receive emails. Data centers keep all these servers well managed, secure, and connected to the internet.
Data centers can be public like that of Google and Apple with data from the public at large or they can belong to a private entity such as an enterprise data warehouse where all the proprietary application data is stored.
A dedicated IP address is a special IP address assigned to only one person. Hosting companies can assign dedicated IP addresses and you can request them for one. This IP will be assigned to you only and it would lead to faster performance, better security, and your own unique identifying address over the web.
A domain is a string that is used to identify an entity over the internet. The literal meaning of domain means authority or jurisdiction. However, over the internet the meaning of domain has changed. It is an assigned string that masks the IP address of a server. ICANN is the authority that assigns domain names to the users. Domains of websites are called top level domains or TLDs.
High availability is a feature of those systems that are tested to maintain a high level of operational performance for a pre-decided period. These systems are supposed to operate for longer periods without failing and are highly dependent. These systems are often equipped with redundant power supplies, better storage and backup options.
Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is the ‘secure’ HTTP protocol. The purpose of HTTPS protocol is to transfer sensitive data such as credit card numbers, user credentials, banking information, and healthcare data over the internet in a secure manner.
Almost all ecommerce websites where transactions are done in real-time use HTTPS protocol. It is recognized through a green padlock icon on the browser search bar. Websites that don’t have the HTTPS protocol available are often marked ‘Not Secure’ or ‘Not Trusted’ by user browsers.
ICANN stands for Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. It is an international non-profit organization responsible for designating internet protocols, allocation of domain addresses also called TLDs. It assigns, maintains, and manages country level, government level, and generic top-level domains. It keeps a record of all the assigned domains in the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) database. For all domains that are registered, the money is paid to ICANN.
Load balancing is the act of balancing the load over a single or multiple processes within a system. In load balancing, the network load is distributed among server resources. The load balancer usually sits in between the server and client devices and manages requests. It distributes incoming requests to servers that have the capacity to fulfill them. It improves service availability, reduces downtime, and increases server and application performance.
Malware is a malicious code or script designed to damage or sabotage a computer system. Malware software can be of many types including trojan, spyware, ransomware, or virus. Each malicious software has a different intent. A spyware spies on the system and sends important information through a backdoor to its creator. Similarly, a trojan creates a backdoor entry for rogue scripts to enter and execute further malicious code. Ransomware can lock the system until a payment is made to the creator. A virus can infect the system resources making them slow so that the processes take more time to execute.
A managed hosting is a type of hosting solution that manages, maintains, and secures the server and application of the user. Managed hosting offers a dedicated server to launch the user’s website. The user delegates the management such as updating the website resources, taking care of the application installed, and securing the website to the managed hosting solution. Each managed hosting solution charges separately for the level of management it offers to the user.
phpMyAdmin is a tool used to manage MySQL and MariaDB databases. Consider it as web-based application software for database management. It is available on all PHP frameworks used by website hosting solutions. With a phpMyAdmin framework, users can easily create, delete, and modify database tables without writing code.
A reseller hosting solution allows the buyer to resell hosting to his/her customers. Reseller hosting is given at a discounted price to the user. The purpose of the reseller hosting solution is to let anyone start a hosting company without having the infrastructure needed. In some cases, the reseller hosting solution also offers constant support for the hosting sold to the third-party.
TLDs are the Top-Level Domains that are offered by ICANN to internet users. TLDs can be country-specific, government-specific, or generic. Each top-level domain is unique and masks an IP address of a server. Some TLDs are offered by ICANN at a premium rate because of their high demand in the market such as brand names.
Vertical scaling is the ability to increase the capacity of existing hardware or software by adding additional resources. Consider a server in which additional storage capacity is added to increase its overall storage volume. This type of scaling is called as vertical scaling.
Autoscaling is the ability of the system to auto-scale resources when needed. The term is mostly used in website hosting where scalability is a crucial issue. In auto scaling, the resources are auto-scaled up or down depending on the need of the user. If the traffic to a website increases drastically, the server will auto-scale its resources to adjust to the surge in traffic and vice versa.
Horizontal scaling is the process of increasing server resources by connecting more machines or units to the system. Consider a server that is hosting multiple websites. The resources are scaled horizontally by adding multiple other units with the server. This way the load is balanced among other machines.
Customer Relationship Management or CRM is a software that maintains a database of all potential and current customers of a company. The purpose is to track the customer journey through the marketing funnel and know their status along the way. The CRM can help companies optimize their marketing funnel, improve customer engagement, and directly enhance their business profits.
Website pages that show any type of server or website error are called as error pages. Each error page on the website will show an error message either starting from 3XX, 4XX, or 5XX.
A page building software usually available as a plugin with a CMS. They can help users create a web page without writing a single line of code. Most page builders come with pre-built templates that can be used to easily create a page on a website from scratch. Users can then fill the templates with their desired content such as text, image, and video assets.
Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a content distribution software for website pages. Websites that have subscribed to a CDN server can distribute their cached versions on multiple servers across the globe – usually, those servers that are part of the CDN service. The purpose is easier access to users, faster delivery, decreased load time, and enhanced site efficiency.
A firewall is a network security layer that monitors incoming and outgoing traffic from the server. The firewall can also add security barriers such as IP whitelisting, encryption, geo-specific IP, and many other security rules.