Posted on Jun 16, 2014

Hosting Terms Dictionary: Geek Speak Translated

The language used in IT is often confusing: you have to click “Start” when finished working and want to shut down your computer; websites make you take cookies but you can’t eat any of them; desktop computers sit on the floor; and your firewall is completely useless during a fire. The words, phrases and acronyms used in the hosting industry are similarly confusing. So here is a hosting terms dictionary of some common terms and phrases.



Think of bandwidth as being like a pipe that data flows through. A bigger pipe can handle more data, which in practice means more traffic. If you have a website that gets lots of visitors or gets large spikes in traffic you will need to consider bandwidth carefully.



A blog is an article or information website used to post text, videos, images or audio. Posts are displayed in date order with the most recent first. Blogs are typically on specific topics and are popular with individuals, large corporate teams, and everything between.



CGI stands for Common Gateway Interface although knowing that does not make it any easier to understand the term. It is essentially a program called a script, which takes data from a server and displays it on a web page. Its most common use is on forms.


Cloud Hosting

The cloud is a collection of servers. If your website it hosted using cloud technology it does not reside on a single server. Instead all of the servers work together to deliver your pages to the end-user as quickly as possible.


Control Panel

The control panel is the tool provided by your hosting company that you use to manage your website. It is web-based and allows you to do things like manage email accounts, access log files, and monitor server disk space and bandwidth.



A cookie is a tool used by websites to track and record the behavior of website users. Cookies are left in your browser by websites and send information back. This allows websites to do everything from remembering your interests to analyzing the performance of their pages.



CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets. They determine how your website looks as opposed to the HTML content of your website. Without CSS you would have to tell every webpage individually through HTML code the font, color and size of your text plus many other things. With CSS you set this once and all of your pages use that setting.



Many websites are built using a database. The opposite of this is to create a static webpage which never changes. A dynamic website displays its pages by getting information from the database which means it changes without anyone telling it to.


Data Transfer

This refers to the amount of data transferred to and from your server. It is usually measured monthly in MBs.


Dedicated Server

Most websites are hosted on shared servers. This means there are several (sometimes hundreds) of websites on a single server all sharing the same processor speed and memory resources. A dedicated server contains just your website. They are more expensive but they are faster.


Domain Name

This is the unique name of your website. You buy a domain name from a domain registrar.



Computers do not look at your website domain name the same way that you do. Instead they look at your website’s IP address which is a series of numbers. DNS translates your domain name into the IP address so computers can work with it. It stands for Domain Name System.



FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It simply allows you to access your website’s server to send and receive files.



HTML, or Hyper Text Markup Language, is the programming language that websites are written in. Your browser then reads that HTML to display the website.



This is the amount of space that you have on your server for hosting your website and all of its files. HTML pages and files are usually small so your space is primarily taken up by things like images and videos.


Virtual Private Server

A virtual private server is a website hosting solution that sits between shared and dedicated hosting. It is known as VPS and is set up with its own operating system, which means it has its own unique space. But it still shares the server’s physical resources with other websites.


Website Hosting

A website host is a place where you store your website so that users can access it over the internet.


So, the next time you need a fire wall, fire away with your new vocabulary. Win your new website over with knowing these wonderful words.