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Web Hosting Glossary

Please select one of the options below to explore our web hosting glossary. If you don’t see a term here that you feel should be included, please submit the term
and definition in our Contact Us section.

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Microsoft’s advanced database creation and maintenance software. It is very popular among developers who maintain online databases with Windows NT.

Active Channel
An Active Channel is frequently updated information residing on a Web server. Through a CDF (Channel Definition Language) capable browser, users can subscribe to the channel.

A set of properties that define how applications are to share information with each other. These properties are known as controls.

AJAX or Asynchronous JavaScript and XML is a scripting technique for silently loading new data from the server. For more information on AJAX click here.

In HTML anchors are created with the .. construct.
The opening A tag of a source anchor has an HREF (hypertext
reference) attribute giving the destination in the form of a
URL – usually a whole node or “page”.

Anonymous FTP
A method of uploading or downloading files using the File Transfer protocol (FTP). Primarily used to download public files, the user can login using their e-mail as a username, and “anonymous” as a password.

One of the world’s most popular Web server programs, Apache was built by a group of open-source programmers and is often used because of its outstanding performance, strong security features and the fact that it is free.

Short for “Active Server Pages” ASP is a specification developed by Microsoft for developing dynamic Web pages. All pages that use this specification use the .ASP file extension. Click here to visit our ASP.NET Showcase

Auto reply
By activating the auto responder, a sender receives an automatic response of your choice. For example, if the automatic reply is activated on contact@yourdomain.com, all emails sent to this address will be returned to the sender along with a message of your choice. You can then send another response.

Automatic image resizing
The system automatically shrinks images so that an image only has to be uploaded once and is then available in various views (thumbnail, normal, large, etc).


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.

An amount of data which can be transmitted in a time period over a communications channel. Usually expressed in kilobits per second (kbps).

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.


Short for Common Gateway Interface, a CGI program is designed to accept and return data to a Web server. CGI programs can be written in any language, including C, Perl, Java, Visual Basic etc.

A directory on the server where the executable CGI scripts reside.

Co-located Hosting
A method of hosting where client-owned hardware is located at hosting provider’s facility. Co-location facilities offer the customer a secure place to physically house their hardware as opposed to locating it in their offices or warehouses – where the potential for fire, theft, or vandalism is greater. Click here to visit our Colocation Showcase.

Cold Fusion
A web application server, ColdFusion is a server-side scripting language web development tool. It uses HTML-like tags called CFML, which allow back-end ODBC database connectivity, data manipulation and validation within web pages. Read more on Cold Fusion Hosting.

Control Panel
Especially valuable for dedicated or co-located solutions, many web hosts offer control panels that allow hosting clients to fully configure and modify their server from any Web-enabled computer.

A Cookie is a piece of data that is saved in the user’s browser by the web server. It is used to customize user’s browsing experience.

A UNIX command used to schedule jobs to be executed at some time in the future, typically on a periodic or regular basis. When used as a daemon process, the cron runs continuously and executes in response to specified events.

An extension to HTML to allow styles,
e.g. colour, font, size to be specified for certain elements
of a hypertext document. Style information can be included
in-line in the HTML file or in a separate CSS file (which can
then be easily shared by multiple HTML files). Multiple
levels of CSS can be used to allow selective overriding of


Daily Backups
Most hosting organizations employ a system whereby a second copy of a client’s data is created and maintained on a second medium (usually a disk or a tape). This second copy will be deployed on the server if the original is corrupted due to a hardware or software failure.

Data Center
A data center is a facility which houses a large amount of electronic equipment, such as communications equipment, Web servers or power backup systems. A data center is usually maintained by an organization to handle the data necessary for its operations.

Data Transfer
The amount of data which you can transfer with your account in a given month. The data refers to images, text or anything that the server must transfer to a user’s web browser. This data limit is typically calculated in GB with 1 GB amounting to 30, 000 – 50, 000 page views.

Dedicated Hosting
Dedicated hosting options allow organizations of any size to rent pre-configured, state-of-the-art equipment and connectivity from the service provider. While a virtual host requires you to share bandwidth and storage space with other clients, dedicated hosting gives you the opportunity to have an entire server for your exclusive use. – and essentially exercise 100% control over your Web presence. Click here to visit our Dedicated Showcase.

Disk Space
The amount of hard drive space on the server, available to your hosted websites.

A simple and secure Domain Name Service (DNS) implementation. It was created by Daniel J. Bernstein because of his frustrations with repeated BIND security holes. A $500 unclaimed prize is still available to the first person to find a security hole in djbdns.

A Domain Name Server is a program running on a server which automatically translates domain names from http://www.xxxxx.com/ into their correct TCP/IP addresses, eg

Domain Name
An Internet address in alphabetic form, also known as a personalized web address. Domain names must have at least two parts: left side which names the organization, and right side which identifies the country. Click here to view domain name articles.

Domain Parking
For every domain name registered, registrars require primary, secondary name servers and IP Numbers to go with it. Domain names must be linked to this information (address) for it to be valid. When registered, some do not yet have Name Server information associated with it, so registrars will offer ‘domain parking’ on their servers for the time being.

To transfer files or data from one computer to another. To download means “to receive, ” to upload means “to send.”


E-mail Alias
An alternate e-mail address under the same domain classification. All mail send to an alias will be sent to the true e-mail account – a process that is completely invisible to the user.

A special kind of gateway, usually software-based, used to block potentially dangerous network traffic. Most Firewalls work as packet filters, which compare passing packets to a set of filter rules.

A software program created by Microsoft that can create and manage Web pages. Click here to visit our Frontpage Showcase.

Frontpage Extensions
The set of files that provide FrontPage-based Web sites with extended functionality, such as multi-user and remote authoring support, search features, forms and usage analysis. In order for you to use all of the features that come with Microsoft® FrontPage®, FrontPage Extensions must be installed for your account.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a common way of transferring files between Internet sites. Through FTP, you can login to another Internet site to retrieve and/or send files. Before the advent of the World Wide Web, FTP was widely used and originally used from a text-only interface.


A Guestbook is a place for your visitors to leave you comments or ideas.

HTML (HyperText Markup Language) – The language used to build hypertext documents on the WWW. They are nothing more than plain ASCII-text documents interpreted (or rendered) by a web browser to display formatted text and fonts, color, graphic images, and links.

Stands for Internet Information Server, Microsoft’s Web server that runs on Windows NT/2000 platforms.

IMAP compatible
Internet Message Access Protocol. An Internet email protocol which allows access to your email from any IMAP compatible mail program. Your mail stays on the server space while working with it, unlike POP mail which is downloaded into your mail program.

IP Address
(Internet Protocol) Address is a unique number made up of 4 parts separated by dots (eg used to represent a computer on the Internet. Every machine on the Internet has a unique IP address. Most machines also have one or more Domain Names that are easier for people to remember.


Java Servlet
While similar to a Java applet, a Java servlet runs on the server instead of the client side. Increasingly popular as an alternative to CGI programs, a Java servlet can stay in the browser’s memory to fulfill multiple requests – unlike a CGI that must be restarted with each new operation and can only fulfill one request at a time.

JavaServer Pages. A server-side technology, JavaServer pages are an extension to the Java servlet technology that was developed by Sun. JSPs have dynamic scripting capability that works in tandem with HTML code, separating the page logic from the static elements — the actual design and display of the page. Embedded in the HTML page, the Java source code and its extensions help make the HTML more functional, being used in dynamic database queries, for example. JSPs are not restricted to any specific platform or server.


A web server known to be fast, secure, standards-compliant, flexible, and optimized for speed-critical environments. Compared to other Web servers, it maintains a low memory footprint and a light CPU load. Lighttpd is open source and its speed makes it suitable for servers suffering from load problems, or for serving static media separately from dynamic content.

Linux is an open source operating system within the Unix family. It was designed to give pc users a free or very low-cost operating system comparable to traditional and usually more expensive UNIX systems. Its robustness and availability has made it popular in the open source community and among commercial application developers.

Load Balancing
When a single server cannot handle the number of visitors to a site, load balancing divides the work of one server to one or more additional ones. By load balancing, more work can get done in the same amount of time and allows faster processing.


Mac OS
The official name of the Macintosh operating system.

Mailing List
A discussion group that occurs via mass email distributions. Mailing lists are usually maintained by individuals utilizing list server software. List servers maintain a list of email addresses to be used for the mailing list. Subscribing and unsubscribing to the list is accomplished by sending a properly formatted email message to the list server.

Managed Hosting
A form of hosting where the provider monitors and maintains the infrastructure on behalf of the client. A managed host procures, configures, installs, and maintains the necessary servers, firewalls, and other devices that the customer’s architecture requires, including the operating system, and any backend database and server support required to make the site functional (such as Oracle and Apache). Click here to visit our Managed Showcase.

Merchant Account
A merchant account is a relationship with a bank, in which the bank allows you to charge people’s credit cards for goods and/or services you provide. The bank is responsible for debiting customer’s funds and depositing it into your account.


An abbreviation for the Microsoft Open Database Connectivity API, a set of functions that provide access to client-server RDBMSs, desktop database files, text files, and Excel worksheet files through ODBC drivers. Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 95 use 32-bit ODBC 2.5. ODBC most commonly is used to connect to client/server databases, such as Microsoft SQL Server.

A relational database management system by Oracle Corporation, which runs on more than 80 platforms. Oracle’s relational database was the first to support the SQL language, which has since become the industry standard.
Historically, Oracle has targeted high-end workstations and minicomputers as the server platforms to run its database systems.


Abbreviated from Practical Extraction and Reporting Language, an open source server side programming language used for web scripts and to handle informaton passed through the Common Gateway Interface (CGI) from HTML forms etc.

PHP is a server-side, cross-platform, HTML embedded scripting language that lets you create dynamic web pages. PHP-enabled web pages are treated just like regular HTML pages and you can create and edit them the same way you normally c reate regular HTML pages. Click here to visit our PHP Showcase.

A name coined in 2004, combining the words: “iPod” and “broadcasting.” It is a method of publishing files, such as audio programs or music videos, to the Internet. Users subscribe to and receive these files through automatic feeds for playback on mobile devices and personal computers. To read more on Podcasting click here.

Short for Post Office Protocol, POP3 is used to retrieve e-mail from a mail server.

A free, highly secure and standard FTP Server. Running on multiple platforms, it’s easy to use, efficient, stable and can be compiled and can run on GNU/Linux, OpenBSD, NetBSD, FreeBSD, Solaris, Tru64, Darwin, Irix and HP-UX.


Real Audio/Video
A software solution to provide sound and movies on a web page.

Reseller Hosting
Reseller hosting is the provision of web hosting services to third-party companies that in turn act as web hosts for other organizations – acting as the host for the client site and serving its pages to users. Many resellers augment their hosting packages with Web design and management services in order to provide additional value to their clients. Click here to visit our Reseller Showcase.

Root Access
For UNIX- and Linux-based security, system administrators can set up unique security access constraints or “root” accounts. Access to these accounts is known as Root Access, allowing full access to machines, full manipulation of the file system and administration of current running processes.

Short for Really Simple Syndication, RSS is a protocol or an XML application, which provides an open method of syndicating and aggregating Web content. Through RSS files you can produce data feeds that supply headlines, links, and article summaries from your Web site directly to users, via a news aggregator. A news aggregator is software specifically designed to receive RSS feeds.

Ruby on Rails
An open source Web application framework written in Ruby, a dynamically typed programming language similar to Python, Smalltalk, and Perl. Its focus is simplicity, enabling real-world applications to be produced in less code than other frameworks and with a minimum of configuration. For more on Ruby on Rails click here.


Short for Software as a Service, SaaS is a software delivery approach that provides access to software and its functions remotely as a Web-based service. Because the software is hosted remotely, users don’t need to invest in additional hardware. SaaS is sometimes referred to as hosted applications. Click here to read more on SaaS.

Secure Server
Any web server that supports a major security protocol – like SSL – to encrypt messages to protect them against intrusion. Click here to visit our SSL Showcase.

Shadow Nameservers
A shadow nameserver is a nameserver that has been labeled as yours (the reseller’s) despite the fact it actually belongs to your Web hosting provider. This ensures that domains located on your server are listed as “ns.yourservername.com” instead of “ns.yourprovidersname.com”. Also see NAMESERVER below.

Shared Hosting
Sometimes called “Virtual Hosting” this service provides a customer with a limited amount of server space to create their web site. Bandwidth and storage space is distributed among many clients, who all “share” the same physical server.

The outermost layer of a program. Operating systems and applications typically provide an easy-to-use shell program to make interaction with the system easier. A shell may be a GUI system that translates user selections into the appropriate command-line prompts. A number of web hosting solutions provide the user with shell access to the server, which reduces the technical knowledge required to configuring critical systems and applications.

A technology developed by Macromedia, Inc. that enables Web pages to include multimedia elements. Shockwave supports audio, animation, video, and even user actions such as mouse clicks and roll-overs. It runs on all Windows and Macintosh platforms.

Simple Mail Transfer Protocol . A protocol used to send e-mail on the Internet. SMTP is a set of rules regarding the interaction between a program sending e-mail and a program receiving e-mail.

Structured Query Language – SQL is a standard interactive and programming language for getting information from and updating a database. Although SQL is both an ANSI and an ISO standard, many database products support SQL with proprietary extensions to the standard language.

Developed by SSH Communications Security Ltd, Secure Shell protects a network from attacks such as IP spoofing, IP source routing, and DNS spoofing. Any login session or transmission of passwords to the web server is encrypted, making it almost impossible for an outsider to collect this information.

The Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a commonly used protocol which protects transmissions on the Internet by encrypting data in a user’s web browser. The data is then transferred from the browser to the website in this encrypted format, unencrypted by the web server software, and then used by the website.

Store Builder
An online application that allows a hosting client to quickly create an online storefront and catalog – without advanced programming knowledge.

A subdomain is a subdivision of a larger domain. For example, “mail.tophosts.com” is a subdomain of “tophosts.com.”


Top-level Domain TLDs are the names at the top of the DNS naming hierarchy. They appear in domain names as the string of letters following the last (rightmost) “.”, such as “net” in “www.example.net”. The administrator for a TLD controls what second-level names are recognized in that TLD. The administrators of the “root domain” or “root zone” control what TLDs are recognized by the DNS. Commonly used TLDs include .com, .net, .edu, .jp, .de, etc.

Transport Layer Security (TLS) ensures privacy between communicating applications and users on the Internet, ensuring no third party can eavesdrop or tamper with messages. TLS enables a server and client to authenticate each other and negotiates an encryption algorithm and cryptographic keys before data is exchanged.


A multi-user, multitasking operating system designed in the early 1970s by Bell Labs. Unix is a popular OS for web servers, due to its stability and flexibility. Click here to visit our Unix Showcase.

Uptime Guarantee
A percentage of time that the host can guarantee that a client’s web site will operate problem-free.


Virtual Domain
An alias for an IP address or server operated by an ISP or web host. A virtual domain allows hosting clients to have a domain name without the effort and cost of maintaining a server.

Virtual Private Server
A technology platform that allows a hosting provider to partition a single server into multiple “virtual” machines. Like a shared solution, the cost of hardware and software is distributed across many clients, which enables small businesses to take advantage of dedicated functionality for about the same monthly cost as a high-end shared solution. Click here to visit our VPS Showcase.


Web Hosting
A business providing hardware and services to store, maintain, and present Web sites and provide Internet connection to those sites.

Web Traffic Reporting
Software utilities provided by the web host to monitor the number of visitors to a web site in a given period of time.

Windows NT
An advanced version of the Windows operating system, designed to act as a server in a network. Click here to visit our Windows Showcase.


A flexible way to create common information formats and share both the format and the data on the World Wide Web, intranets, and elsewhere. XML is a formal recommendation from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) similar to the language of today’s Web pages, the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML).