Website Hosting Glossary of Terms

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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. Our website hosting glossary of terms will help. 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 Website Hosting Glossary of Terms

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 like Bluehost or InterServer 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.