Glossary of Terms


A name that points to another name. Aliases are used to make the original name easier to remember or to protect the site’s identity.


An applet is an embedded program on a web site. Applets are usually written in the coding language called Java. They are normally used for creating a virtual object that may move or interact with the web site. An applet is like a small piece of executable code that needs a full application to run it.

Active Server Pages (ASP)

Active Server Pages allow web developers to make their sites dynamic with database driven content. The code is mainly written in VB Script, and it is produced on the server of the web site instead of the browser of your web site visitors. The server reads the ASP code and then translates it to HTML.

Audio Streaming

The process of providing audio content on a web site. This takes up a large amount of bandwidth, especially if you get a lot of visitors at your site. Some hosts do not allow audio or video streaming because of this.

Auto Responder

An automated program that acknowledges receipt of an e-mail message, and then sends back a previously prepared email to the sender, letting them know it was received. Once you configure your autoresponder, it sends e-mail with no further action required on your part, making your web site interactive around the clock. Most hosting companies let you set this up through their control panel.

Availability (Uptime)

Refers to the amount of time within a 24 hour period a system is active or available for servicing requests. For example, if a hosting company says it is available 99.9% of the time, they are claiming that your web site will up all the time except for about 8 seconds each day. Over the course of a year, in this example, the hosting company is claiming that your site will only be unavailable (couldn’t surf to it) for 48 hours. The uptime search criteria in is to allow you to select hosting companies that commit to at least 99% uptime on their servers.


A high-speed line or series of connections that forms a major pathway within a network. The term is relative as a backbone in a small network will likely be much smaller than many non-backbone lines in a large network. In general, the better the backbone of the hosting company, the better the availability of the web sites that run on their computers.


Web hosts back up data on their servers. Many host packages offer backups every 24 hours. This is supposed to prevent the loss of data should something happen to the server. . If you think you may need to restore old data in case of a disaster, it may make sense to choose a hosting company that performs regular backups.


This is the client software that displays (interprets) the HTML code it receives from the server. All browsers work slightly different and one may not display the pages correctly if the code was developed exclusively for another browser. Today the two main browsers are Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape.


C+ and C++ are programming languages. Some hosting companies provide access to C+ and C++ class libraries if your web site contains these types of program modules. Once your web site has been constructed, you will know whether access to C+ or C++ will be required.

CGI (Common Gateway Interface)

A CGI is a program that translates data from a web server and then displays that data on a web page or in an email. CGI involves the transfer of data between a server and a CGI program (called a script). This allows HTML pages to interact with other programming applications. These scripts make web pages interactive. Page counters, forms, guest books, random text/images and other features can be driven by CGI scripts. Some servers have pre-installed/pre-defined CGI scripts, meaning that the scripts are already installed on the server for you to use on your site. Some servers permit user-defined or custom CGI scripts, which means the site owner creates his/her own CGI script and runs this custom made script on the web site. Not all servers allow user-defined (custom) scripts for security reasons. Almost all hosting companies offer CGI today. If you think you will need forms on your web site, CGI could be a key requirement.

Chat Server / Software

Some hosting companies allow you to develop a chat room or other type of chat service for your visitors. Be sure to check with the web host company about the details of the chat services offered. Some servers permit you to configure the service, and others pre-configure everything for you while others do not allow chat rooms at all.


This term is used to describe the ratio of clicks to impressions on an advertisement, usually a banner ad. If a banner has been shown 100 times and 3 people click on it, it will have a 3% click through ratio.


Co-location means housing a web server that you own in the facilities of a hosting provider. This option is perfect if you want to own your own server, but do not want the hassle or security risk of maintaining that server.

Control Panel

An online package of tools permitting easy site management and editing. Almost all hosting companies provide this option today. It is a very important feature to have. By having your own control panel, you can maintain basic information about your site, mail boxes, etc. without having to send emails to the hosting company or call them on the phone.


A message given to a Web browser by a Web server. The browser stores the message in a text file called cookie.txt. The message is then sent back to the server each time the browser requests a page from the server. The main purpose of cookies is to identify users and possibly prepare customized Web pages for them. When you enter a Web site using cookies, you may be asked to fill out a form providing such information as your name and interests. This information is packaged into a cookie and sent to your Web browser which stores it for later use. The next time you go to the same Web site, your browser will send the cookie to the Web server. The server can use this information to present you with custom Web pages. So, for example, instead of seeing just a generic welcome page you might see a welcome page with your name on it.

Credit Card Billing

What is a merchant account? Why do I need one? A merchant account gives a business the ability to accept credit cards as payment for the company’s goods and services. It provides your customers with an extremely popular payment option, beyond cash and checks. This is usually done via a 3rd party provider.

Cron (Cron Jobs)

Cron is the ability to run programs based on the server clock. A cron job is a scheduled task that you want to automatically run at a scheduled time, e.g. run my backup at 7:30pm everyday. You need to create a cron table or “crontab”, a file of dates and commands that you want to run. A crontab file instructs the server to run specific commands at a given time.

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)

Used to add more functionality to simple HTML pages. Internet Explorer 3.0 and up support a good portion of CSS, while Netscape 4.0 and up supports a small amount of CSS – a fully compliant browser does not exist yet.

Database Support

If your web site will leverage a database to store information, database support by the hosting company will be required. After you have developed your web site, you will know which database will be required. Some commonly used database programs are SQL Server, MySQL, Access, Oracle, and FoxPro. Databases can be difficult to configure properly. Before you sign up with a web host, first inquire if the host can support your database needs.

Data Transfer

This is the amount of data that is transferred from an account as visitors view the pages of the web site. If you have a web site with lots of video, audio, and images that gets many visitors per day, you would have to make sure that you choose a host that will allow large amounts of data to be transferred. If you choose a host that only allows 200 MB of data transfer per month, and your site transferred 500 MB per month, then the host may stop half of your visitors from viewing your site and you could lose potential customers. Your best bet is to try to find a host that offers unlimited data transfer or at least a Gig of transfer. A gig is more than enough for most web sites. As a general rule, 500 MB of data transfer is equivalent to 20,000 page views.

Dedicated Server

A more expensive type of account in which the web hosting company provides you with an entire hosting setup including your own server hardware that only you can use. This usually means a much faster loading time for your site because the entire computer is “dedicated” to running the server software. This is different from most other hosting accounts in which your web site will share space on a server with many other web sites, called a virtual server. A dedicated server makes sense for web sites that require higher availability and higher data transfer rates.


This indicates the amount of disk space that will be available to you on the hosts server to hold your web site files. Normally because HTML files are small, a web site (unless it has extensive graphics or database functionality) will be small, as low as 1 or 2 MB in most cases. When you do a search on and select disk space as a factor in the search you are indicating a minimum level that you want a plan to offer. As an example, the site, not including the database (i.e the web pages and graphics only) is about 3MB.
Use windows explorer to check the total MB of your site while it is still on your development machine. Then perhaps double your sites current size so that you have room to grow. When you check the total MB of your site don’t forget to include the total MB of your graphics files.

A good rule of thumb is to assume approx. 50 KB per page (1 MB = 1000 KB, 1 GB = 1000 MB). 50 KB per page is on the high side so it’s a conservative estimate for the average size of a web page.

Number of Pages / Description Approx Size of Your Site in MB
Very simple site, not much graphics, approximately 10 pages of text Your site will probably be well under half a MB. Choosing 5MB as a minimum (the lowest disk space search level in will be more than you would ever need.
Some pictures and graphics, approximately 25 pages. Your site will be approximately 1.5 MB, probably much less. So again, choosing “at least 5MB” in the disk space search option will be more than enough
Complex site with lots of text and graphics, javascript functions on most pages, approximately 100 pages. Your site would be around 3 – 5MB in size, so you would probably be wise to select 20MB as the minimum level. This will give you lots of room to expand the site further
Complex site, lots of graphics and a database – You have about 1000 products in your database. You would probably want to select at least 50MB, but you could select a higher level. You may find that its really not much more expensive to jump to say 500MB. A database can eat up disk space and obviously the more data you have in it, the more space it will take
Often hosting companies will charge an extra fee if disk space exceeds the plan limits. If you think this could happen then either go with a higher MB limit from the start or check with the hosting provider to understand their policies on Disk Space. Remember, the addition of a database can significantly increase your requirements for disk space.

Domain Parking

Many hosting companies give you the option to ‘park’ your domain name without actually having your web site up and running. This is a nice option if you want to acquire a domain name for your web site well ahead of having the web site itself designed and constructed.

Domain Name

The unique name that identifies an Internet site. Domain Names always have 2 or more parts, separated by dots. The part on the left is the most specific, and the part on the right is the most general ( Technically, the domain name is a name that identifies an IP address. To most of us, it simply means Because the Internet is based on IP addresses, not domain names, web servers depend on a Domain Name System (DNS) to translate domain names into IP addresses. Simply stated, domain names allow people to find your web site by name rather than by its numerical (IP) address.

Domain Name Registration

Often a hosting company will offer to register your domain name at the time you sign up for a hosting plan. This normally incurs an additional charge but may be cheaper and more convenient than using a separate domain name registration service. We recommend that you go ahead and register your domain name as soon as possible, especially if you think it will take some time to develop the site itself. Click here for a list of domain name registration companies.

DNS (Domain Name System)

A model for tracking other machines (that contain web sites) and their numeric IP addresses. Translates domain names (for example, into a numerical IP address such as When a computer is referred to by name, a domain name server puts that name into the numeric IP address assigned to that computer. So when you buy a domain, say, it does not become accessible until it gets assigned an IP address from a hosting company. Once the IP address is assigned, a cross-reference record (DNS record) is created that points your domain name to the numeric IP address.

Email Pop Account

POP (Post Office Protocol) is an actual e-mail account on your web host’s e-mail server. Think of each POP account as a unique email address (,, etc.) Before you choose a specific hosting plan, you should know exactly how many email accounts are required to meet your specific needs.

Microsoft Frontpage

Front Page is an HTML editor made by Microsoft. It is commonly used to create web sites

Frontpage Extensions

Frontpage extensions can be thought of as “mini programs” that allow features of a web site created with MS Front Page to operate smoothly. It is possible to use MS Front Page to create a web site and host that site on a server that doesn’t offer FP extensions, however some of the powerful features of the program cannot be used in these web sites. See Microsoft’s Front Page site for more information. After you design your web site, you will know whether Frontpage extensions will be a requirement.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP)

A way of transferring files (uploading and downloading) across the Internet. Most web sites are uploaded to the Internet by means of an FTP program. This is how the web site you create on your computer at home is transferred (uploaded) to the Internet. Some software, such as Microsoft Front Page, does not require use of an FTP program but the use of most any other HTML editor requites the use of and FTP Program. There is a free FTP program called WS_FTP and you can download it at There are many Internet sites that have established publicly accessible repositories of material that can be obtained using FTP, by logging in using the account name anonymous, thus these sites are called anonymous FTP servers.

Host Name Server

When you hear the term “host” in the Internet world, it is referring to an Internet company that has the required servers and software to connect domain names to (IP) Internet Protocol numbers so that your site can be viewed by the public when they type your domain in their browser window. Basically this is where you house your site, and you usually have to pay a monthly or annual fee for this service. The purpose of is to help you find the Host that is right for you!!

Host Country

Specifies which country the hosting company resides. The internet is a very complex web of server computers connected through telecommunications devices. In general, it is best to host your web site in a location closest to the users that access it. For example, if you plan to deploy a web site that will attract mostly German visitors, it may makes sense to choose a hosting company located in Germany.

Host Platform

This is the platform of the hosting providers servers. Hosting companies will typically having a hosting platform based upon Windows 2000 (Win2K), Windows NT or Linux. If you have a basic web site that does not make use of server side applications such as a database then you do not need to worry which platform is used.

Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)

Stands for Hyper Text Markup Language. This is the code that web pages are written in and the browser interprets to turn into the web page you view on the screen.

Hypertext transfer Protocol (HTTP)

The protocol for transferring hypertext files across the Internet. Requires a HTTP client program on one end, and an HTTP server program on the other end. HTTP is the most important protocol used in the World Wide Web (WWW). You see it every time you type a web site in your browser http://…

IP Address

A unique number used to specify hosts and networks. Internet Protocol (IP) numbers are used for identifying machines that are connected to the Internet. They are sometimes called a dotted quad and are unique numbers consisting of 4 parts separated by dots, They would look something like this Every machine that is on the Internet has a unique IP number – if a machine does not have an IP number, it is not really on the Internet. Most machines also have one or more Domain Names that are easier for people to remember.

Internet Service Provider (ISP)

A company or institution that provides access to the Internet in some form, usually for money. They will usually allow users to dial up through a modem, DSL, or cable connection to view the information on the Internet Access is via SLIP, PPP, or TCP/IP. Picking your ISP is an important decision but has more to do with how you access the Internet rather than which host you choose.


A scripting language which enables web designers to add dynamic, interactive elements to a web site.

Java Servlet

A servlet is an application or a script that is written in Java and executed on a server, as opposed to on a client. It is analogous to CGI, although servlets are more than simply CGI scripts written in Java.

Mailing List Software

A mailing list is a discussion group based on the e-mail system. You may want to set one up – they’re very useful promotional tools. Even if you don’t want to host a discussion group, you can use a mailing-list program to distribute a newsletter. Many companies have mailing-list software available for their clients to use — if so, ask whether there’s an additional cost, how many mailing lists you are allowed to have, and how many members per list


Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) is a generic way for applications to speak to a database. ODBC acts as an interpreter between an application (say a Cold Fusion or ASP application) and a database (like Microsoft Access). By using ODBC, a connector can be created that will allow a web application that you create to read data from and insert data into an Access database that you’ve created. An ODBC source is a directory entry that specifies database information. This ODBC source (or DSN Source) allows your site to point to the correct database located on the web server.
It is possible to connect to a db without ODBC, but it is a safe bet to assume you need 1 ODBC connection per individual database you will have.

Perl (Practical Extraction and Report Language)

Perl is an interpreted language optimized for scanning arbitrary text files, extracting information from those text files, and printing reports based on that information. It’s also a good language for many system management tasks.


PHP is another scripting language. Like ASP, it’s commands are embedded within the HTML of a web page. The commands are executed on the web server, making it browser independent. The web browser only sees the resulting HTML output of the PHP code.

Post Office Protocol (POP)

This is a method of retrieving e-mail from an e-mail server. Most e-mail applications (sometimes called an e-mail client) use the POP protocol, although some can use the newer IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol). There are two versions of POP. The first, called POP2, became a standard in the mid-80’s and requires SMTP to send messages. The newer version, POP3, can be used with or without SMTP. The newest and most widely used version of POP email is POP3 email. You will see the term POP3 in most of the web hosting plans available today.


Many hosting providers allow you to be a reseller of hosting space earning a commission off of each sale. If you intend to be a provider of hosting services, you should investigate this option as you decide where to host your web site. Many hosting companies offer discounts (in addition to revenue opportunities) to companies that wish to remarket their web hosting services.

Root Server

A machine that has the software and data needed to locate name servers that contain authoritative data for the top-level domains.

Setup Free

Some hosting companies charge a one time setup fee to set up your hosting account. It is worth to also take this into account when looking at the monthly fee. If you select the ‘No Setup Fee’ checkbox in the search then any plans that involve a setup fee will not be found.


A computer, or software package, that provides a specific kind of service to client software running on other computers. The term can refer to a particular piece of software, such as a WWW or HTTP server, or to the machine on which the software is running. A single server machine could have several different server software packages running on it, thus providing many different servers to clients on the network. More specifically, a server is a computer that manages and shares network resources.

Shell Account

Something experienced computer users often request. Permits you to edit your files online in real-time, rather than making changes to your site offline and then uploading the changes. Unless you intend to manage the web server your site runs on, a shell account should not be needed.


The main protocol used to send electronic mail on the Internet. Most Internet email is sent and received using SMTP. SMTP consists of a set of rules for how a program sending mail and a program receiving mail should interact.

Server Side Includes (SSI)

Commands that can be included in web pages that are processed by the web server when a user requests a file. The command takes the form . A common use for SSI commands is to insert a universal menu into all of the pages of the web site so that the menu only has to be changed once and inserted with SSI instead of changing the menu on every page.


A protocol designed by Netscape Communications to enable encrypted, authenticated communications across the Internet. It is used mostly (but not exclusively) in communications between web browsers and web servers. URL’s that begin with “https” indicate that an SSL connection will be used. SSL provides 3 important things: Privacy, Authentication, and Message Integrity. In an SSL connection each side of the connection must have a Security Certificate, which each side’s software sends to the other. Each side then encrypts what it sends using information from both its own and the other side’s Certificate, ensuring that only the intended recipient can decrypt it, and that the other side can be sure the data came from the place it claims to have come from, and that the message has not been tampered with.

Shopping Cart Software

A software program which acts as a “virtual store front”. Such software typically allows a web site user to create and manage a virtual shopping cart to which items can be added or removed. Once a customer is ready to “check out”, this same Shopping Cart Software typically includes interfaces to allow customers to pay with their credit card directly on the site. Shopping Cart Software is critical for those web sites that intend to sell products and services directly over the Internet without human intervention.


Many hosting companies run software on their web servers that collect usage information about your web site and compile it in a user-friendly, easy-to-read format for you to analyze trends about your web site. Having access to statistics is critical if you need to know how many visitors are coming to your site, which web pages receive the most attention, and how much time people actually spend browsing your site.


Telephone or e-mail technical support provided to a web hosting company’s customers. When there’s a problem with your site or your e-mail, you want to be able to get an answer promptly by e-mail or on the phone. Some hosting companies offer email only support, telephone support, or a combination of both. Some hosting companies provide 24hr 7 days a week support (24/7). This is important if your site is an e-commerce site with a lot of daily visitors.


This is a set of communications protocols to connect hosts on the Internet.


A computer operating system designed to be used by many people at the same time (it is multi-user) and has TCP/IP built-in. It is the most common operating system for servers on the Internet.
Uniform Resource Location
The standard way to give the address of any resource on the Internet that is part of the World Wide Web (WWW). is an example URL.

Unique IP Address

In many hosting plans, you share an IP address and you will be able to view your site through your domain name only. Obtaining a unique IP address (see IP Address) provides a one-to-one relationship between your domain name ( and an IP address.

Video Streaming

The process of providing video data or content via a web page.

Virtual Server

A web server which shares its resources with multiple users. It’s another way of saying that multiple web sites share the resources of one server. If you do not need your own web server (i.e. your own server class computer), you will use a virtual server to host your web site.