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A Glossary of Website Hosting Terms

So you're ready to set up shop on the web, are you? Terrific! The Internet is the fastest growing form of media in existence, boasting some 700 million users and almost 50 million websites. You should be there, taking your place on the side of the information superhighway.

However, website hosting can be a complicated affair. There are hundreds of companies out there offering web hosting services, and trying to figure out which one is right for you can be a daunting task. Website hosting involves a lot of concepts and words you may not be familiar with.

Don't be scared!

When you are ready to enter the world of website hosting, be sure to take a look at this glossary of terms. It can help you figure out what's what with web hosting.

* Alias

Aliases can be used to identify different e-mail accounts and can redirect mail to other POP3 accounts or to another folder within the same address. A catch-all alias can be used to process e-mail from unknown senders, and is often known as a "junk-mail" sorter.

* Auto responder

Auto responders are not true email accounts, but they do have an e-mail address and reply to anyone who sends them an e-mail. This is a handy tool if you want to send out the same information to anyone who asks for it. The pre-formatted e-mail is automatically sent as a reply, guaranteeing that every response is identical.

* Bandwidth

Bandwidth is a term used to describe the amount of data that can pass through a communications channel (such as an Internet connection) in a given period of time. Bandwidth is often measured monthly.

* Browser

A browser is a program that allows access to the web visually by allowing requests from special files known as HyperText Markup Language, The language of websites. There are many web browsers out there to choose from. Microsoft's Internet Explorer program is one of the most popular.

* Client

A client is a computer program that can download files for editing, run applications, or request application based services from a file server. An FTP client is a common software package used for uploading and maintaining websites.

* Dedicated Hosting

Dedicated Hosting is a service that Web hosting companies provide to their customers whose websites generate a lot of traffic. Essentially, and entire server is used for a single customer, ensuring that all of the server's resources are used to that customer's needs. This is important for companies that do business online, as heavy traffic tends to eat up bandwidth and make sluggish websites.

* DNS

DNS stands for "Domain Name System", and it is a way for institutions differentiate themselves from each other. The most famous domain is the "dot com" (.com) domain, which denotes a commercial website. Other domains include the name of the host country (.us, .ca) or a specific sector of society (.mil for military).

* Domain Parking

Domain Parking refers to when individuals or companies by up domain names before they are ready to use them. A simple web page describing the future content or advertising the new owners of the website is then "parked" on the address in order to generate interest before the website actually goes online.

* Download

Simply put, when you download data or programs you are transferring data from a server or host computer to your own computer.

* E-mail

Created by Roy Tomlinson for ARPANET in 1971, e-mail is a system for sending and receiving messages electronically over a computer network. E-mail has revolutionized personal communications in the 21st century.

* Forwarding Account

Forwarding accounts are special e-mail accounts that allow e-mail to be redirected to another account as soon as they come in. This can be helpful when you have several accounts running at once and would like to consolidate your email to a single address.

* FTP

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It is a communications protocol that governs the transfer of files from one computer to another over a network.

* Gigabyte

A gigabyte is a unit of computer memory or data storage capacity equal to 1,024 megabytes. One Gigabyte (Gb) is equal to about one billion bytes (230 bytes).

* HTML

HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language. HTML is a special computer language used to structure the text and multimedia documents of a website. It also is used to create hypertext links between electronic documents. HTML was invented in 1991 by Tim Berner-Lee, and makes use of specifications made by URLs (Uniform Resource Locators).

* HTTP

HTTP stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol. HTTP is mostly used to request and transmit web pages and web page components over the Internet or other computer networks.

* Internet

The Internet is an interconnected system of networks that connects computers around the world. The Internet was developed by many different minds, but most agree that the real birth of the modern Internet was the ARPANET program in the 1960's. The Internet connects networks together using the TCP/IP protocol.

* ISP

ISP stands for Internet Service Provider.

* Managed Hosting

Managed hosting is when a web hosting company provides services for their dedicated servers. Managed hosting can be thought of as having the space and freedom of a dedicated server, but with the perks and services that are provided to shared-server packages. As businesses continue to grow online, so has the need for managed security, storage, and database monitoring.

* Megabyte

A megabyte is a unit of computer memory or data storage capacity equal to 1,048,576 bytes of information. A single keystroke is equal to a single byte of information.

* Packet Switching

Packet Switching is essentially a method of data transmission where small blocks of data are transmitted rapidly over a channel (such as a phone line) that is dedicated to the connection only for the duration of the packet's transmission. Packet switching is one of the fundamental concepts responsible for computer networking and the Internet. It was developed in the 1960's by Paul Baran, and was designed to help the military build a communications network capable of withstanding a nuclear attack.

* POP3 Account

A POP3 account is a standard e-mail inbox, a place on the server used for storing incoming e-mail messages. E-mail accounts usually come as "POP3" accounts. A specific amount of space is often allotted to a POP3 account, and going over can cause incoming mail to "bounce", or return to sender.

* Server

A server is a computer that processes requests for HTML and other documents that are components of a webpage. All a website hosting takes place on a server of some type. A server can be as small as a personal computer or span thousands of Gigabytes in the case of large telecommunication companies.

* Shared Hosting

Shared hosting refers to the practice of splitting up server resources among many customers in order to defer the cost to many different customers. This means that the shared host accounts are more affordable. Additionally, shared servers are often run by the ISP itself, meaning that they handle security issues and technical operations as they arise in a "managed" environment.

* Storage

Storage on a server is simply the memory space available to hold files. Web hosting companies often tailor the amount of storage based on the needs of their customers.

* TCP/IP

TCP/IP stands for Transmissions Control Protocol and Internet Protocol. TCP is the host to host connection used by computers to govern networking and IP passes the individual packets of information between computers. TCP/IP is responsible for the interconnecting of all the smaller networks that make up the entire Internet.

* Traffic

Traffic on a website refers to the amount of people who visit the site on a given moment. Traffic also describes all of the interaction that visitors take part in, such as surfing or using e-mail while on that site. Companies pay particular attention to the amount of traffic on their sites because it gives them an indicator of how successful their website is.

* Transfer Rate

Transfer rate and bandwidth is essentially the same thing, referring to the amount of data that can flow through a communications channel over a given time.

* Upload

Uploading refers to transferring files from a client, such as your home computer, to a host, such as your web hosting company. Uploading is usually accomplished with the help of an FTP client. Think of it as the opposite of downloading.

* URL

URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator. A URL is an Internet address (for example, http//:www.domainname.com/example).In this instance, the URL consists of an access protocol (HTTP), the domain name (www.domainname.com) and optionally the path of a file or resource residing on the server (/example). Traditionally, the domain portion (.com) of the URL denotes what sector of society the website belongs to. (.com) denotes a commercial site.

* Web Server

A web server is a computer that stores websites and their related files for viewing on the Internet. Visitors wishing to access the sites and files simply type in the corresponding URL to the site they wish to view. Web hosting is big business in the age of electronic commerce.

* "WWW"

"WWW" stands for World Wide Web. The World Wide Web is the collection of networks that make up the Internet. The World Wide Web incorporates HTML files that can be viewed by any web browser connected to the Internet. The World Wide Web was created by the folks at CERN in 1991 in order to create a global network out of the many networks operating in various parts around the world.

Now you're ready to take a road trip on the World Wide Web. Excited? A little scared? These are all natural feelings. Having your own personal website can be a deeply rewarding experience, and it can give you a sense of accomplishment when you see yourself on the 'net, available to millions of visitors every day.

If you own a business, how can you honestly expect to survive without a web presence in an age where Internet commerce generates between four and five billion dollars annually? Your rivals are almost certainly on the Internet already, soaking up those online sales.

Why aren't you?

About The Author

Bill Schnarr is a successful freelance writer providing valuable tips and advice for consumers purchasing a affordable web hosting companies, cellular phone service and managed hosting services. His numerous articles offer moneysaving tips and valuable insight on typically confusing topics.

This "Glossary of Hosting Terms and Definitions" reprinted with permission.

2004 - Net Guides Publishing, Inc.

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