Beginner Friendly

Web Hosting Glossary of Terms

You made the big decision to start a website. Maybe you want to propel your business or share some ideas with everyone out there surfing the web.

Of course, once you start researching website creation, you may encounter language that doesn’t seem quite English. Don’t worry. While some of the terminologies may seem a little overwhelming, once you understand what it means in plain English it isn’t so bad.

The learning curve for creating a website isn’t as hard as you think. Put it this way: there are over one billion sites on the world wide web. Many are created by newbies. With a little time and effort, you can certainly make one you will love to

Understanding this Web Hosting Glossary

To make this glossary a little more user-friendly for rookie website creators, we broke up the terms by subject matter. While many are alphabetical by subject, sometimes the more basic terms are listed first in each category. After all, it’s a lot easier to understand what a Linux server is once you understand how a server helps your website.




Let’s get started understanding all this web hosting lingo:

Web Hosting

Web hosting is a platform that allows your website to be accessed and viewed on the world wide web. There are several types of web hosting services you can purchase depending on your website’s requirements. Web hosting companies often offer packages that take care of a lot of the details of creating a website. They also offer customer support when you’re trying to figure out how to make your website function the way you want.  


Let’s look at a few common web hosting services and other terms you need to know.

Cloud Hosting

Web hosting that stores data virtually in the “cloud”. This makes it accessible to the owner anywhere as opposed to physical data centers. It is often a cluster of services that can scale resources in real-time depending on your site’s requirements. Cloud hosting can be an affordable option for your website.

Dedicated Hosting

Dedicated hosting means you rent a complete server. You have complete control over the server and all its resources. This allows for maximum control of your website and better server performance. On the flipside, it can be expensive and a little overwhelming to those who don’t have IT experience.

Shared Hosting

One of the most affordable options for web hosting. This is because a server hosts multiple websites. Each hosting customer has limits to resources like bandwidth, disc space, and other features. Make sure you check out the shared hosting packages to see if it fits your website’s requirements.

Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting

If you are looking for a happy medium between dedicated hosting and shared hosting, VPS hosting may be a good option. VPS hosting offers more space and functionality than shared hosting. It is essentially a dedicated server with virtual partitions for each client.

Green Hosting

Hosting companies that strive to be eco-friendly. Green hosting uses earth-friendly materials and energy-saving technology that reduces its impact on the environment. Check for companies with a Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) or Carbon Offset Certificate (VER).

More Hosting Terms

Have more questions than answers? Here are some more defined terms that may help you.


Web hosting talks a lot about servers. So what does that actually mean? A server is a computer where your website exists. In many cases, the server is owned by a web hosting company. A server makes the content of your website available to anyone using the world wide web.

Linux Server

Servers powered by the Linux operating system. Most web hosting companies use this type of server.

Windows Server

Servers powered by the Windows operating system. It may cost a little more, but it is ideal for those who prefer certain Windows features or use certain Windows applications like ASP.NET, FrontPage, or Visual Basic.


The total amount of data transferred when someone visits your site. Everytime someone visits your site and accesses texts, images, downloads, etc, you will be charged bandwidth. Check each of your web hosting bandwidth options.

Internet Protocol (IP) address

A unique series of numbers and dots identifying the connection of your individual computer to the internet. An IP address identifies every computer using the internet protocol to communicate over a network.

Dedicated IP

An IP address tied to your website. If you plan on selling products or accepting online payments, you will need a dedicated IP to get an SSL certificate.

Secure Socket Layer (SSL)

A type of encryption allowing people to securely send and receive transactions online. You can get an SSL certificate fairly easily with the help of your web hosting service--usually with a reasonable annual fee. Secured pages also rank higher in search engines. How do you know a page is secured? It’s as easy as observing one simple letter. At the very beginning of a web address, https means the site is secured. Http means it never obtained or has an expired SSL certificate.


The time a server runs without interruption. Why is this important? If your website’s uptime is sporadic, potential readers and customers will quickly jump to another site (didn’t we mention there were more than a billion websites) if your website isn’t working properly. Find a web hosting company with proven uptime ratings of 99 percent or more.


Some web hosting companies sell more services than they can actually deliver. This keeps web hosting costs more affordable. There is, however, a slim chance it can affect your site. In the rare instances where all of the web hosting customers use their fully allocated space or bandwidth at once, your website may not perform optimally.

No Overselling Host

This, of course, is a web host that does not oversell their services to customers. Most of the time, overselling doesn’t cause any issues. If you plan to create a website with lots of data and bandwidth, however, you may get peace of mind using a no overselling host.  

Web Hosting News

Right to Your Inbox

Field is required Incorrect email
Field is required Incorrect email
You have successfully subscribed to the newsletter
You were not subscribed. Please try again
You are already subscribed to this newsletter

Web Hosting



Domain Name

The address that people type into their web browser to find your site. When you create your website, you want to make your domain name as simple as possible but still describes your site. For example, if you have a business named Kelly’s Cupcakes, you may choose a domain like 

Domain Registrar

One you pick your domain name, you will need to register it through a domain registrar. Registering your domain name ensures you are the only person that can access the domain. Simply put: a domain registrar is an entity that has access and accreditation to register domain names to users.  

Domain Aliases

Other domain names leading people to your website. This allows users to access your website from different web addresses. Why do this? Many businesses and organizations purchase domain aliases that resemble their main address. If someone misspells a web address, for example, they may still be lead to the correct website.

Domain Name Server (DNS)

The service that translates internet domain names and hostnames into IP addresses.


The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. The organization coordinates the unique identification factors for all worldwide computers so they can communicate with each other. Without ICANN, the internet wouldn’t work. Also, ICANN handles the distribution of internet naming resources and some DNS management.

Domain Parking

Have a domain name you love, but not ready to create a website? Domain parking allows you to reserve a domain name for future use.


A section of the main website domain often having unique content. For example, if your business has a blog, it may have a sub-domain like

Domain Privacy

Domain privacy can be purchased from a domain registrar as an added security feature. This replaces your personal information in the WHOIS with information for a forwarding service. Why use this? To maintain your anonymity and privacy.

Some web hosting companies sell more services than they can actually deliver. This keeps web hosting costs more affordable. There is, however, a slim chance it can affect your site. In the rare instances where all of the web hosting customers use their fully allocated space or bandwidth at once, your website may not perform optimally.

Website Features

When you first start a website, you may not even know what features you need. Here are some common website features and terms you should know.

Content Management System (CMS)

This allows the content of your website (text, images, videos, etc.) to look professional and function properly. You choose templates, input data, and use other applications allowing your website to work.

Control Panel

Many web hosting companies offer a control panel as part of their package. This is where you can upload files, install web applications, park domains, and add email addresses.

Servers powered by the Linux operating system. Most web hosting companies use this type of server.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP)

A system used to allow site owners to upload and download files to their website. It has many uses including setting up temporary accounts so clients can access a specific folder without getting access to your entire website. In addition, web content you created on your desktop can easily be uploaded to your website.


You want people to come back to your website, right? Of course, a guestbook gives you the opportunity to collect names and contact info to create a mailing list. Plus, the comments in your guestbook can provide valuable insights about how to improve your products or services.

Live Chat Support

As you learn the essentials of creating your website, you will probably hit a couple of snags along the way. Live chat support can help you troubleshoot your issues in real time providing quick solutions.


An open-source database used with various applications you install on your website. MySQL helps you store encrypted information and retrieve it whenever necessary.


An open-source scripting language that embeds code directly into the HTML of the website page.


A control panel for both Linux and Windows hosting services. It efficiently allows you to manage your web hosting account including files, applications, and emails.  

Site Backup

The process of backing up the information of your site to make sure it is safe and maintained. Let’s face it, issues happen with websites--an update doesn’t work properly or your site is cyber attacked. Some hosting companies offer site backup so you can restore your website when the unexpected happens. 

Web Content Applications

There are several content management systems (CMS) to help run your website. Some are excellent for fledgling web creators looking or a basic site. Others offer nearly complete control about how you want your website to look and operate. Here are some options:


A very popular CMS for bloggers and new website creators. At the very basic, it is kind of like a word processor for your website. Of course, there are countless applications, themes, and add-ons helping you completely customize your site so it functions the way you want.


A free and open-source CMS based on PHP.  When using Drupal you have lots of features to choose from. Some newbies benefit from a programmer to customize it to your website for the best performance.


Another basic CMS with lots of room for extensions and add-ons. Getting started is fairly easy, but, unlike Wordpress, you may need to rely more on paid resources to get your website running as you envisioned.

Expression Engine

A flexible, intuitive CMS for just about any type of website. In minutes, you can start creating content and making your website look the way you want. There are lots of features helping you save time and headaches of creating your website. Unlike some of the other CMS mentioned here, however, this is paid software.

We hope this primer of web hosting glossary terms has you feeling more comfortable and knowledgeable.

Of course, if you need any more information about creating a website, you can always access our library of valuable information.