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Web Hosting Glossary: Words to Know

by rigotechnology

Web hosting can be a confusing topic for business owners and managers. To help cut through the confusion, we’ve put together a helpful list of web hosting and email hosting words to be aware of in 2021!

Types of Hosting

There are many types of web hosting solutions to choose from, including shared, VPS, cloud, and dedicated server options. We’ll run through explanations of each in a little more detail.

Shared Hosting

Shared hosting is the most basic of hosting types and is usually the cheapest option. This makes shared hosting perfect for when you’re just starting out and looking for an affordable hosting solution for Laravel, Joomla, WordPress, Magento Open Source or static HTML websites. When using shared hosting, your website is stored on a server that also powers the websites of hundreds of other businesses. A few companies that offer shared hosting at a low price include GoDaddy, HostGator, BlueHost and even WebCitz.

The low cost of shared hosting may seem appealing, but there are downsides to consider as well. Most shared hosting providers overcrowd their servers, leaving your website’s performance and email deliverability at risk of the actions of others on the same server. WebCitz utilizes CloudLinux to help contain each hosting customer on the server to their own resource pools to minimize server-wide issues.

Another consideration to keep in mind with shared hosting is your access to helpful support. While it may seem like a no-brainer at first to pick a $5-10/month hosting service, you’ll likely regret that decision when you spend an hour on a support call explaining a simple issue to multiple support representatives. WebCitz typically has developers that answer support questions, so phone and email support are usually more enjoyable.

Interested in learning what other costs are associated with the creation of a website? Check out our blog post How Much Does It Cost To Host A Website to find out!

VPS Hosting (Virtual Private Server)

VPS hosting is a popular choice when looking to scale up from shared hosting. A physical server is virtually separated into containers, so you are still sharing a server with others but you have complete control over your own container. This allows you to install your own operating system, applications, security rules and more. Because you’re isolated from other businesses sharing other containers, you won’t be as easily affected by their actions.

While VPS typically gives you greater customizability, security, and performance it does come at a higher cost. Hosting companies will offer unmanaged or managed VPS. With the unmanaged plan, you are responsible for everything and is only recommended if you are comfortable managing a web server. The managed plan is a more hands-off approach for you, since a hosting expert would be taking care of managing and backing up the VPS solution.

WebCitz doesn’t offer VPS hosting, but we can recommend VPS providers and provide the management of the server environment for you.

Cloud Hosting

There are many benefits to choosing cloud hosting. The way cloud hosting works is you get your own server environment, like a VPS solution, but it is powered by a network of servers that can lend additional resources to you on-demand. This is popular for ecommerce websites that have intermittent or periodic traffic spikes. For example, if you knew you needed the resources of 5 dedicated servers during the holiday shopping season, but only 1 dedicated server at other high-traffic times of the year, and perhaps just 1/20th of a dedicated server at 3am, you could benefit greatly from a cloud hosting solution.

Management of the cloud hosting service is still something to consider. There are cloud hosting providers like Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure that don’t offer management of the cloud hosting service, which means you’d need a company like WebCitz to help with the initial configuration and ongoing management.

Dedicated Server Hosting

Dedicated hosting provides you complete access to an entire web server. You are able to choose a low-end web server or a high-end web server, and utilize all of its resources for your own purposes. The benefit of a dedicated server over a VPS solution is you typically can get greater amounts of CPU and memory allocations at a better price. The downside of dedicated servers to a cloud hosting solution is you only get a fixed amount of server resources that can’t be easily changed when needed. WebCitz can provide quotes on dedicated server leases and monthly management.

Common Web Hosting Terms

We’ve compiled a list of common hosting phrases and a brief explanation of each for your reference.


Apache is a free and fast web server that many hosting companies use. It’s known for being extremely reliable and has many features. It runs on 67% of all webservers in the world. WebCitz has Apache installed on its dedicated servers used for its shared hosting services, but we actually utilize LiteSpeed instead.

Add-on Domain

When purchasing a hosting plan, your webspace is linked to your root domain name, with an add-on domain, you are able to use another domain name on the same account and share your account’s resources between other websites. This means for every website you build you won’t have to buy separate hosting plans each. however, not all hosting plans will allow you to use add-on domains.

Related Tip: How to Prevent a Cron from Creating Empty files in Root.


A backup is a copy of the files, databases, and emails from your website. If something were to go wrong, files get corrupted, or a hacking attempt, you can restore your website easily. Also if you decide you want to change your website back to a previous state you are able to do so with the backup.


Bandwidth is a term used a lot with webhosting and is also referred to as data transfers. These two terms get confused with each other but are not the same.

Bandwidth is the amount of data transmitted over the internet connection in a given amount of time. which then impacts the speed of the data transfer. Data is transferred from your server to the visitor’s computer every time someone views your website. Larger files, like pictures and videos, tend to take more bandwidth.

Bare Metal Server

A bare metal server is a physical server that only hosts one tenant. This term is used to differentiate this type of server from virtual and cloud servers.


Caching is a storage for data so the server doesn’t have to recreate and transfer them every time your page loads. This will make your website load faster when someone visits it. Caching is becoming very popular because page loading speeds are so important.

An example is, if you have a Homepage, an About page, a Contact page, and other pages on your website that tell visitors what you can do with them, then many of these pages will not change very often or at all. So these pages could be cached so that when someone visits your website, they will load “instantly.”

CDN (Content Delivery Network)

CDN refers to a group of servers spread all over the world. A server won’t host all of your site’s content but will use caching to ensure that as much of your website data is transferred from the closest possible server to your visitors. Therefore, your website will load faster. It’s important to choose servers close to your target market so that your website will load quickly for these visitors.

CGI (Common Gateway Interface)

Common Gateway Interface is what allows your website with additional scripts and applications. Usually, interactive elements like online contact forms rely on CGI programs to work properly.

CMS (Content Management System)

CMS is used to help manage your website. The backend of your website is where you build content such as your pages, blog posts, menus, and so on. The front end is what your visitors will see like all the finished products. The most popular CMS is WordPress.

Control Panel

A control panel helps you manage your account and website and is usually hosting companies will provide you with one. There is a wide range of options within the control panel, like installing a CMS, adding email addresses, and managing your domain names. Certain hosting companies have their own custom-build control panels, but there are different types of them. The most common ones are cPanel and Plesk.


cPanel is one of the most common hosting control panels because of how easy it’s to manage all aspects of your website. Also because of its large number of options for managing your webspace. cPanel offers file management, mail management, database management, domain management, and security features.

Data Transfer

Data transfer is the total amount of data that is transferred from your server to your website visitors. The amount of data is that transferred depends on what your visitor click on and what’s on each page.

Web hosting companies will tell you how much data transfer they allow you each month, some companies even will give you unlimited data transfer. The amount of data transfer you need depends on the size of your web pages and the number of visitors you receive.

DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service)

DDoS is a cyberattack that has become more frequent. The goal of this attack is to make a host network or computer unavailable to its intended users by having large amounts of traffic from multiple computers flood the targeted system. The most common victims are banks and other large corporations and anyone can be attacked in this way. Avoid this disaster by following our 25 WHM security tips!

Disk Space

Disk space is the amount of storage space allowed for each account on the server. The amount of space you have depends on the number of files and assets you’re able to store on your server. Some host plans offer “unlimited” disk space but don’t usually mean it’s “unlimited” because space is limited by their fail use policies. If you use too much disk space some host will shut down your website without any warning if you exceed what they think is reasonable usage.

Domain Name

A domain name is part of the website address that you type into your browser’s address bar. It’s a readable, easy to remember format that means you have to remember the string of numbers, like the IP address. This allows your browser to access the server where your website is stored.

First thing when setting up your web hosting, you’ll need to buy a unique domain name, that no one else already has. This allows people to be able to access your website. The domain name comes after the ‘www’, the domain name in www.webcitz.com is ‘webcitz.com’.

Domain Registrar

A domain registrar is a business that registers your domain name. These companies approve your domain name and follow the legal procedures that vary by country. Most but not all hosting companies offer domain registration services, you can purchase your domain name from any registrar if you find it cheaper somewhere else.

DNS (Domain Name System)

The Domain Name System is one of the many things that help make the internet a user-friendly place. It helps connect you to websites on the internet by allowing you to type easy-to-remember domain names into the browser’s address bar, which routes you to more complicated IP Addresses to servers throughout the world.


A software-based firewall is an essential part of protecting the server from unwanted traffic. The firewall can be configured to restrict access to specific ports, block repeated login failures, monitor for email abuse, and much more.

All types of web hosting solutions can support firewall solutions. In a shared hosting environment, you will not be able to configure the firewall, but in most VPS solutions and all other solutions, you’ll be able to fine-tune your own settings.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol)

File transfer protocol is a way of transferring files online. You are able to easily upload tons of files to your webspace with FTP. Also, you are can manually install a content management system like WordPress. To have access to FTP, you will need an FTP client application and an FTP account (which will give you access to your webspace).


The .htaccess file (found in your web space) allows you to enable or disable functionality offered by the Apache Web Server. Some functions that are available are, protecting your content with a password, setting default pages, and creating redirects.

Messing around with your .htaccess file can cause problems with your website, so you shouldn’t make changes to your account yourself (unless you have tons of technical experience). If you want things changed you should contact your hosting provider’s customer support.

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)

HTML is an important “language” used to code web pages. It’s used worldwide and is what your server will use to transmit your website content. First, your browser will receive the raw HTML files, then processes them to use them on the webpage on your screen. This process all happens in a fraction of a second.

HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol)

HTTP is the standard protocol used to transfer digital media such as, written text, videos and images over the internet. There is billions of interconnected hypertext documents through the World Wide Web.

You’ll often see displayed HTTP status codes when your browser is unable to load the page you clicked on. The most common codes are:

404 File Not Found – Displayed when the requested file couldn’t be found by the server.

403 Forbidden – Displayed when you don’t have permission to access a page but you are trying to access it.

301 Moved Permanently – This will redirect your browser to the new, permanent location.

500 Internal Server Error – Displayed when there’s an unexpected server error. Refreshing the page could fix the issue.

503 Service Unavailable – Displayed when there’s a temporary problem, usually when the website went over its bandwidth limits and when the server has a traffic overload.


HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure is the secure version of HTTP. It means the communication between your browser and the website is encrypted. To be routed through HTTPS you must have a valid SSL certificate for your website.


The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers are mostly referred to as ICANN. It is a small fee whenever you register your domain name. This corporation’s responsibility is coordinating the different IP addresses and domain names across the World Wide Web.

IP Address

An IP address is a string of numbers that identifies a device on the internet ( The computer you uses and the websites you visit all have IP addresses. The IP address from your computer is able to communicate with the servers where websites are stored, allowing the website to be displayed on your computer.


JavaScript is a scripting language that allows web designers to make websites more interactive. Most websites have at least a few JavaScript elements, but you don’t want too many because it can make your website slow down.

Linux Server

Linux Server is free and is open-source, so anyone can contribute to it. Which makes it one of the most common and popular operating systems used. Also, it’s known for being stable and reliable. Linux-based hosting is often cheaper than Windows-based hosting and considered more secure than Windows servers.

Load Balancing

Load balancing is the process of distributing the workload across multiple servers so that HTTP traffic can be balanced. To prevent the website from becoming unavailable from a lot of traffic going to a single IP address, hosting companies will use load balancing to increase reliability.


MySQL is a term that is used in web hosting, it a database system that hosting companies offer. Along with PHP, MySQL allows applications like WordPress to be installed on your webspace. Each application you have on your website will need its own MySQL database. Not all hosting companies offer MySQL databases and some only offer one, so you will have to only host one WordPress website on your account.

PaaS (Platform as a Service)

Platform as a Service is a type of cloud computing that allows developers to develop, run, and manage applications on the cloud platform. PaaS is a cost-effective and fast way of developing web applications. It’s cloud-based, so it’s easy to scale.

Parked Domain

“Parking a domain” is when a domain name isn’t actively being used and not linked to a web or email hosting service. It’s “parked” for later use when hosting a website or being sold by someone else. There are many ways you can use a “parked” domain like displaying a message that the website is under construction, displaying a message that the domain is for sale, or displaying clickable ads to create income.


PHP is a server-side, scripting language that is used to build your website. It’s a popular scripting language because it’s easy to learn and loads fast on websites. Also it’s free, flexible, and stable, which is why PHP is used on most websites.


Scalable hosting is important if you want your business to grow and your website traffic to increase. So, when your website receives increased traffic, you are able to access the additional storage easily, along with bandwidth and computing power to ensure that your website is available to visitors. The most scalable type of hosting is cloud hosting.

SLA (Service Level Agreement)

An SLA is the written agreement from your hosting company. It outlines the level of service you can expect to receive from your provider. These agreements will usually include an overview of the agreement, goals from other parties, what’s needed in order to reach the goals, point of contact, and what happens if the goals aren’t met.


A subdomain is an additional part of the main domain. These subdomains are mostly used to separate a website into different areas like you can have a membership area (membership.yoursite.com), customer support (support.yoursite.com), or your own blog (blog.yoursite.com).


A secure shell is a way of transferring files to and from a website. Most shared hosting providers don’t allow you to use SSH because giving SSH access to users carries security risks, such as unauthorized access, pivoting (jumping from system to system), and unauthorized use of the server.

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer)

Secure Sockets Layer allows secure communications through encryption and authentication, between the web servers and web browsers, also between mail servers and mail clients. Encryption is when data is secure and cannot be read by anyone else. The authentication side is when your website visitors haven’t been redirected to an imposter’s website, so they can trust that your website is genuine.

SSL Certificate

An SSL certificate let your visitors’ web browsers know that your website is secure and encrypted. Browsers will warn users if they are visiting a website with an invalid SSL certificate. Additionally, search engines may penalize websites without an SSL certificate. If you see a padlock icon in the address bar that means a website has a valid SSL certificate. A valid SSL certificate will allow your website’s URL to start with https://.

When planning to sell services or products online, you will need to have an SSL certificate. Also, you will need to have an SSL certificate if you plan to collect personal data or provide login forms on your website. Visitors are looking for a secure website before giving their personal information.

WebCitz offers a free SSL certificate through Let’s Encrypt on its shared hosting solutions.

TLD (Top-Level Domain)

A TLD is the last segment of the domain name, after the final dot. Some examples are “.info”, “.biz”, and the most popular “.com”. The TLD is also referred to as a domain extension.


Uptime is the amount of time a website or server is up and running. When you have an interruption of service, such as an event that makes your website unavailable, that is referred to as downtime. Hosting providers typically provide a 99.9% guarantee on network uptime, but that doesn’t cover website issues that can take the website offline. It is also interesting to note that 99.9% uptime still allows for 8 hours, 45 minutes, and 36 seconds of downtime throughout an entire calendar year.

Windows Server

Windows Server is a Microsoft operating system used on web servers. It’s an alternative to Linux-based servers but is generally more expensive. Businesses tend to use Windows Server with a Microsoft-based IT infrastructure.

Email Hosting Terms

We’ve compiled a list of common email hosting phrases and a brief explanation of each for your reference.


An autoresponder allows automatic responses that you’re able to set up for various reasons. Some examples of autoresponders that can be used are out-of-office messages, letting visitors know you received their email and will get back to them ASAP, and send someone a free resource when someone signs up for your mailing list.


A catch-all email address collects all the messages sent to your domain name not sent to the other email address known to the server. This means you won’t lose the email message even if someone types in the wrong prefix.

DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail)

DomainKeys Identified Mail is used to make sure that the emails coming into your inbox are actually from who they claim to be. During the sending process, DKIM checks to make sure the message had no alteration make in any way.


IMAP stands for Internet Message Access Protocol. With IMAP, you can access, read, and sort your emails without downloading them. This means you are able to access your email messages wherever you are. The message stays on the server making it fast and efficient, so you can access it from another device.

MX Record

Mail Exchanger (MX) records are used to tell others which mail server is used to receive emails for your domain. MX Records are located within the DNS system, which is essential for delivering email addresses. You won’t receive emails if your MX Records don’t point to the correct location.

Mailing List

A mailing list is a collection of user’s email addresses and other personal details from your website. This list can be used for sending newsletters or automated messages, making it easier instead of writing dozens of individual emails.

POP3 (Post Office Protocol 3)

POP3 is another email protocol that allows you to retrieve emails from your email server in an application. There’s no syncing between your mail client account and your mail server, so when downloading messages to your computer through POP3 the changes that are made won’t be shown in your webmail account.

SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol)

Simple Mail Transfer Protocol is an email standard used to send emails. SMTP servers are like a postal service, directing your message to the intended recipient, but the email address has to be verified. Undeliverable messages are returned by the SMTP server and you are given a delivery failure notification.


Webmail is a way of sending and receiving emails without having to use an email client. You are able to use webmail directly from any web browser, which means wherever you are you can access your email.


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