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There are a number of different types of web hosting and servers. Understanding what each has to offer can make it easier to come up with a decision on which type you need at different points in your business’ lifespan.
Bandwidth (or, data transfer)
The amount of data transferred on your portion of the server. For example, if someone visits your site, you’ll be charged bandwidth for each image they view, text, and if they download or upload anything.
A type of hosting that stores data virtually in the cloud where it is accessible to the owner anywhere, rather than at physical data centers.
Central processing unit, or the brains of the computer where all of the calculations take place.
A document or system that archives and records sets of data and information
An IP address that is tied to your website. If you wish to obtain an SSL certificate for a shopping cart and accept payments online, you’ll need a dedicated IP.
Hosting where all the resources of the server are allocated to one account and a single web host controls the server. One of the most expensive hosting solutions.
The amount of storage you have in your hosting plan. You’ll need enough to store your html pages, databases, images, files, emails, and so on.
A way to secure email for your organization. Email hosting is facilitated by a hosting service that operates email servers. Additional fees are required to have your organization’s email addresses associated with your proper domain (ie; email@example.com)
Eco-friendly hosting that involves using green technologies to facilitate the hosting services. For example, the technologies are often made from eco-friendly materials and / or work to reduce emissions and resource usage (such as energy) while running.
A unique string of numbers and dots that identifies each individual computer connected to the internet
A server platform based on the open source operating system Linux. It is used by a majority of shared web hosting companies.
A hosting package that offers a block of server space so the person can host more than one domain under the same package or resell space.
Basically a computer where your website lives and typically owned by a web hosting company. The computer delivers the content of your website to the World Wide Web.
One of the least expensive hosting solutions. A server allocates so much space to each account and they all share the resources.
SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer and is a type of encryption that allows people to send secure transactions online. If you run an ecommerce website, you need SSL to securely accept payments online. When a secure page is browsed, the address will show as https://mydomain.com instead of http://mydomain.com.
A term that is intended to imply that the hosting fees cover unlimited data, disk usage, etc. However, this term is a misnomer as there are always limits to hosting; if there weren’t, hosting companies would lose money, not to mention run out of space.
The amount of time a server is up and running without interruption. You want a web hosting with a high uptime rating of 99% or above. This means that when visitors try to visit your site, they’ll be able to access it.
A Virtual Private Server is a little less expensive than a dedicated hosting solution, but offers a bit more space and function than a shared hosting plan. The server has partitions so that each client has a separate amount of space that is not shared.
Another operating system for web servers based on Windows operating system. Might cost a bit more but allows the website owner to use specific features other servers don’t allow for.
Country code top level domain
These are the two letter codes that signify content and websites in other countries, such as domains that end in .us or .uk.
The domain name is how people will find your site – it’s the URL. Make your domain name simple and intuitive – for example, if your business is “Bob’s Pets,” your best domain name would be www.bobspets.com. Don’t deviate from your business name whenever possible – doing so will only hurt your chances of securing business.
If your main domain name is www.mydomain.com, you might also purchase the same name with different extensions, such as www.mydomain.net and www.mydomain.name. With domain parking, you can have your main website of www.mydomain.com and then park the other extensions (or a different name) on top of that main site.
This service is provided by numerous domain name registrars. As the site owner, you would purchase privacy from the domain registrar who in turn would replace your info in the WHOIS with information for a forwarding service to main your privacy and anonymity.
This refers to the entity registering your domain. When you register your domain, you will go through the process of registering your domain name / URL to associate it with your IP address. Doing so ensures that you own your site and are the only one able to access your domain. The actual domain registrar is an entity that has the access and accreditation to register domain names, including the extension, such as .com, .net, .us, etc.
Domain name system – translates Internet domain names and host names to IP addresses.
ICANN stands for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. This organization coordinates the unique identifiers assigned to each computer across the globe so that each can communicate with the others; this coordination enables the internet to function. It also administers the allocation of Internet naming resources and certain responsibilities related to DNS management.
Top level domain (TLD)
The Internet has a hierarchal domain name system which places some domains at a higher priority than others. There are several types of TLDs
Set specific parameters on a file, such as permissions, blocking specific websites, setting up whether people can hot link to your images and improve your site’s functionality.
A blog is a form of content management. One or more authors can post entries, photos and other content.
CMS stands for Content Management System. It allows for a backend organization of content so that the finished look the visitor sees is professional. It also allows the site owner to create an overall look and simply add new content to that overall design. Some examples include WordPress and Joomla.
Most web hosting companies provide a control panel for your website hosting package. This is the location where you can control the backend of your hosting package. You can park domains, add email address, upload files, and install features, such as WordPress from this panel.
Dedicated IP address
In general, most organizations are fine with a standard IP address, however, if your site deals with particularly sensitive / secure information – or if you have a need to access files and your site via FTP, you may need a dedicated IP address.
A warning page to let the user know there is an error in getting to a page within the website. These warnings can include things like a 500 internal server error (typically an issue with a database or the server is down) or a 404 not found error (the web page address does not exist).
A platform that allows the customer to access a set of scripts and automatically install applications such as WordPress.
Files can be set to grant access to only assigned users or groups. Permissions may include entire access to the file, access to editing, read-only, etc.
If you’d like to add a community feature to your website, you’ll likely want to add an online bulletin board, or a forum. Most web hosting companies allow you to add a forum from your control panel. You can then customize it to suit your needs.
FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol and allows site owners to upload and download files via a specific protocol standard. Allows site owners to set up a temporary account so clients can upload or download files to a specific folder without granting access to the entire site.
If you’d like your customers to have a way to leave comments and input on your site, you will want to add a web page that serves as a portal to collect name, contact info, and their thoughts.
Live chat support
A customer service feature that allows you to reach company customer service over the Internet on-demand. Most frequently, this service is via typed chat.
Money back guarantee
A guarantee from the hosting company that if you are not satisfied with their service, they will return your funds (and stop service).
An open source database that works with various applications you’ll install on you site to store information, often encrypted, and pull it up as needed.
Service level agreement (SLA)
A written agreement with a hosting provider or other organization that establishes the terms of the agreement, such as length of service, delivery schedule, specific scope, etc.
SFTP stands for SSH File Transfer Protocol or Secure File Transfer Protocol. It’s a network protocol that allows data transfer via single connection using a secure shell protocol.
The process of backing up your site to ensure that your data is safe and maintained in case of system failure or cyber attack. Some, but not all, hosting companies include back-up services as part of their hosting provisions.
SSH, also called Secure Shell, is another way to transfer files into and out of a website. Some shared hosting plans do not allow you to use SSH protocol as it can present some security risks.
Some hosting companies provide a free trial which does allow you to better understand their services. However, hosting typically requires set-up and configuration, so moving your site if you choose not to stick with the service following the trial may cause site downtime or other growing pains.
If you’re planning to design your own pages and set up a private email on your server, then you’ll want to brush up on these terms:
Automated email responses based on a specific email address. Notify people you are on vacation or send potential leads a free book or message to encourage them to purchase your product.
A main email address for your domain name that will gather all the email sent to your accounts.
The MX record (mail exchanger record) specifies the mail server that is responsible for and allocated to receiving email messages for a particular domain. This resource record resides within the DNS system
IMAP stands for Internet Message Access Protocol. IMAP allows you retrieve email through software such as Outlook but still leave a copy on the server for the time being.
A list of emails so you can send news and info to the entire list at one time.
This email protocol is a way for you to gather emails from your server via an outside source, such as Gmail.
Another email protocol that allows you to send mail out you’re your web host.
Bulk emails sent without being asked for. Usually these are to try to sell something to the receiver. Most reputable hosts from on spam and you could lose your hosting plan if you participate in spamming others.
If you want to access your email directly, you can log in via your control panel to view it without having to use a third party software.
A content and community management system that integrates various popular components and features of CMS (content management systems), blogs, galleries, email and marketing tools, and forums into a single open source program.
A free online open source content management framework system that is based in PHP. It typically requires a programmer to customize it, but makes content editable for marketers and others who might update website content, but do not know HTML or programming languages
A free open source content management framework system for building and publishing Web content.
An e-commerce and store management software program that can be installed on any Web server that runs MySQL or PHP. This software is available for free under the GNU General Public License.
A free blogging and website building tool that uses a content management system (CMS) and is based on PHP and MySQL. There are countless plug-ins available so that users can customize their sites and run various add-on programs and utilities
A PHP-based online store management system that uses a MySQL database and HTML components. Previously united with OSCommerce, Zen Cart split in 2003 and is, like OSCommerce, available for free under the GNU General Public License
Bad hosting neighbor
This term can mean several things – it can refer to a less than honorable website to which you link from your site or it can refer to another party in your shared hosting environment affecting your site performance by using excess CPU or RAM for their own site.
This acronym stands for denial-of-service attack or distributed denial-of-service attack. It is a type of cyber attack that attempts to make a computer or network resource unavailable against the wishes of its owner.
Harmful software that aims to damage or disable your computer, website, or network.
Selling more of a good or service than the organization can actually deliver. In web hosting, this often means selling hosted space to more customers than the provider could actually host if each customer were to use all of their allocated space. For example, if a hosting company sells to 12 customers assuming that they will only use 80 percent of their space and bandwidth – even though it could not deliver if those same 12 customers used 100 percent, that provider would be overselling. In truth, the likelihood of all customers using all available or purchased assets is very slim, so Web hosting overselling typically has very few repercussions.