Glossery of Terms for Web Masters


Access (Microsoft)
Microsoft Access is a simple database application and format developed by Microsoft, and is commonly included in their Office suite of applications. Although not as commonly used in web environments as MYSQL or MSSQL, Access is used by some in conjunction with smaller database-dependent websites.

It is necessary for networks and networked systems to be constantly managed and maintained, and this is what administrators do. This is an individual responsible for managing, maintaining, troubleshooting, and often times supporting aspects of an infrastructure, such as systems administrators, database administrators, network administrators, etc.

Affiliate Marketing
This is an arrangement whereby individuals, “affiliates,” promote products and services of another company, and are compensated for successes, be they measured in clicks, sales, etc. This is a little different from a reseller, where the individual acts as the front for the products and services. Affiliates simply refer customers.

This is a name that points to resource with a different name. In the context of email, an alias is an email address which, when it receives email, directs that mail to an email account on the same domain with a different address. In the context of domain names, a domain alias is a domain name that points to a website at a different address, such as pulling up would be an alias of

Anonymous FTP
An FTP feature which allows users to download files anonymously, without having to establish or login to an FTP account. This is commonly used to distribute files to a broad base of visitors such as software updates or documents.

A popular, versatile and very stable open source web server application. Apache is the de facto standard in web server software, and is the most widely used today.

ASP (Active Server Pages)
Active Server Pages, a server-side scripting language developed by Microsoft and supported by Microsoft’s IIS web server software, enables the development of dynamic and database-driven websites. The web server processes the ASP pages, and renders the output as HTML which is then sent to the visitor’s browser.

ASP Hosting
Web hosting that supports ASP, a server-side scripting language developed by Microsoft. In essence, this means Windows/IIS hosting, the required platform for hosting ASP pages.

This is an email feature that is commonly used when a recipient will not be available for a period of time, or to confirm to a sender that their email was received by the system. For instance, if you were going to be on vacation for a month, you might setup an autoresponder with a message indicating your absence. When mail is sent to you, the mail is delivered as normal, but in addition, an email is sent back to the sender by the autoresponder, the message being whatever was specified when the autoresponder was setup. Once you return, you would simply turn off the autoresponder.

This is the practice of making a copy of the content of a server’s hard disks to a safe external resource, such as another server or a tape backup system. This is vital for disaster recovery, and should be performed regularly.

This is the “speed limit” of a particular data pipeline, such as the data connections that connect a web server to the internet. Different types of data connections, such as T1s and OC48s, support different amounts of bandwidth. The greater the amount of bandwidth available, the more data can be moved across the connection per time frame, generally measured in seconds.

Billing Cycle
This is the period for which payment of services is made, usually in advance of the services. For instance, if you were to pay for 1 year of hosting, on a recurring basis, then you have a billing cycle of 1 year.

This is common parlance for weblog, a kind of website or component within a website whereby an individual may post journal entries which are then viewable by visitors to the site, ordered from the most recent to the eldest entries.

This is kind of client software with which a user can access resources on the internet, and which renders the markup language as the web page seen by the user. Although all browsers perform the same basic functions, additional capabilities vary widely from browser to browser. The most common browsers in use today are Microsofts Internet Explorer, Netscape, Mozilla’s FireFox, and the much respected Opera. Safari for the Macintosh has also quickly become a favorite amongst Apple users.

Business Hosting
This is hosting that provides for a range of features and a level of performance and reliability that is suitable for commercial websites, such as online stores or corporate sites.

CGI (Common Gateway Interface)
This enables the passage of data between a web server and a CGI program, commonly referred to as a script. This expands the capabilities of a website significantly, permitting HTML pages other applications to interact, and perform functions that HTML is incapable of on its own.

This generally refers to a service on the internet wherein people may communicate in real-time, in virtual chat rooms, using nicknames to identify themselves. These have waned in popularity over the years, but are still commonly used throughout the internet.

CMS (Content Management System)
This is a kind of web application which allows for high-functionality sites with minimal effort needed to set them up. These are also known as “portals” and are database-driven applications usually developed in PHP or ASP. Popular examples of these are Joomla, Drupal, e107, PHPNuke, and Movable Type.

Cold Fusion Hosting
Web hosting that supports the parsing of Cold Fusion code, a server side scripting language originally developed by Allaire, and currently owned by Adobe through their acquisition of Macromedia.

Colocated Hosting
Colocation is the practice of leasing space at a facility which provides connectivity and security, for the placement of ones own equipment, such as a web server or mail server. This is similar to dedicated hosting, except that instead of leasing the server as well as space in the facility, you provide the equipment to be housed at the facility.

This is a tool used to store important information about a client for subsequent reference by a web server. An example of this might be a weather site. If you go to the site, and provide your zip code so as to see the weather in your area, the web server might place a cookie in your browser with this information stored in it, and when you visit the weather site again, the server will attempt to access the cookie, and if it is able, will bypass your having to provide your zip code, and take you straight to the weather for your area.

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)
Cascading style sheets are essentially repositories of directives which, in the absence of explicitly coded html variables, apply the qualities specified in the CSS file to all tags used in the linked-from HTML document. For example, if you have a CSS file that specifies that all H1 tags adopt a particular font, color, size, etc., any use of the H1 tag will adopt these settings from the CSS file, keeping everything clean and centralized. This makes site-wide changes to, say, text color, very simple to implement.

Data Center
These are facilities built and tooled specifically for the purpose of housing equipment that must maintain high-bandwidth connectivity to the internet, and experience a minimum of downtime for such reasons as power failure. Security measures are employed, and network and systems administrators are on hand to attend to any issues that might arise immediately.

Data Transfer
This is the sum total of data transferred through a particular account on a per-month basis. When a web page or a file, or any form of data, is accessed with a browser, that data must be transferred to the visitor’s machine before it can be used or viewed in a browser. The movement of this data constitutes bandwidth usage. Data transfer is currently measured in megabytes or gigabytes, and in some cases terabytes, per month.

This is a structured collection of information, similar in form to a spreadsheet. In the web world, databases are used to drive online stores, search engines, bulletin boards, content management systems, and other dynamic web applications. Databases come in a variety of flavors, such as MySQL, MS SQL, Access, and PostgreSQL.

Dedicated Hosting
A form of hosting whereby a customer leases a server from a dedicated hosting provider, the use of which is exclusively that of the customer. This is the opposite of shared hosting, wherein multiple websites of multiple difference customers, many times numbering in the hundreds, are hosted on a single server. Multiple sites may be hosted on a dedicated server, but the server itself is completely under the control of a single customer, however they choose to use it.

Dedicated IP
An IP address which is assigned to one specific resource, such as a website or home computer, which does not change, and which is not shared amongst multiple resources, such as multiple websites. Dedicated IPs are necessary for certain features, such as SSL, to function properly. Due to the finite number of IP addresses currently available, dedicated IPs in a shared hosting environment is considered a premium feature.

Disk Space
The amount of hard drive space on a server that is allotted to a particular hosting account, and generally includes email storage and database storage as well as web storage.

DNS (Domain Name System)
Analogous to a phone book, which resolves names to phone numbers, DNS is a distributed directory system which allows for the resolution of hostnames/domain names to IP addresses. Correct DNS settings are necessary for services dependant on hostnames on the internet to function.

Domain Name
These are human-friendly alphanumeric addresses that are resolved to the IP address of the resource the domain name serves. Domain names consist of 2 distinct parts: the top level domain and the second level domain. Using as an example, the top level domain would be com, whereas the second level domain is would be domain. Together, these parts are known as a domain name.

Domain Name Registration
In order for a domain to be functional, it must first be registered. Domain name registration occurs through what is called a registrar. Many hosting companies have the capacity to register domain names, often through a reseller account with a registrar, sometimes the host themselves are a registrar, although this is quite rare. Registration is paid for in 1 year increments, in advance. Registration must be kept current by renewing the domain names prior to their expiration in order that the domain remains functional.

Domain Parking
Registered domain names must have at least 2 name servers provided for it at the time of registration. Often times, the domain is registered prior to hosting being setup for it. In these instances an individual will park the domain on a par of temporary nameservers, which serve as placeholders until real nameserver information is available to replace them with.

DoS (Denial of Service) Attack
This is the act of preventing access to a service by congesting, through whatever means, the data connections involved, usually on the hosting company’s network. These actions are considered computer crime, and are illegal.

This is the web development product created by MacroMedia, and now owned by Adobe. DreamWeaver is considered one of the best html editors on the market, and has become a popular development environment amongst webmasters. Nothing special is needed to use DreamWeaver to build and publish websites.

Ecommerce Hosting
A hosting account that provides for those functionalities required for commercial websites, such as SSL support, database access, and often times even the shopping cart software is included in the hosting account’s feature set. It also implies escalated levels of performance and reliability.

Email Client
This is an application which is specifically designed to access remote mail servers (and often news servers as well), retrieve mail from them, and manipulate that mail. Popular examples of these are Microsoft Outlook, Thunderbird, and Eudora. Mail clients must be configured to access particular email accounts.

Email Forwarding
This is an email address that points to an email address elsewhere, usually on a different domain name altogether. For example, a forward setup as [email protected] might forward all mail sent to it to [email protected]. The forward will not store any mail, but will only forward received mail to the remote address.

Email Hosting
In its purest form, this refers to a form of hosting specifically geared towards email. Although there are many companies who provide email hosting, independent of web hosting, the vast majority of users on the internet use email accounts provided by their ISP or web host provider. Given that virtually all web hosts provide email capabilities within their web hosting accounts, email hosting is usually referred to in the sense of a subsidiary function of web hosting.

A security measure whereby all IP traffic can be managed in as much detail as is necessary. This is used to disallow unauthorized kinds of traffic, traffic from specific IP addresses, or any other such form of traffic. This can be thought of as a virtual security gate that controls all traffic into, and even out of, a network.

This is a multimedia format and application created by MacroMedia, now owned by Adobe. Flash allows a person to create highly functional and visually appealing web content, and has become the standard format for such content. It is known to be rather difficult to learn, but its capabilities are impressive. It provides capabilities for audio, video, streaming, and vector animations, and is able to communicate with PHP and with databases, allowing for dynamic content.

This is a web design and development application developed by Microsoft, and distributed as both a standalone application and as a component in Microsofts Office suite of applications. Although FrontPage can work just fine on its own as an HTML editor, many of its functions require the presence of FrontPage Server Extensions on the web server.

FrontPage Hosting
A web hosting account which has FrontPage server extensions installed, allowing for the functionality of many of FrontPage’s advanced features. It is an extension of standard hosting, rather than a completely different kind of hosting in and of itself.

FrontPage Server Extensions
A suite of server add-ons which allow FrontPage to communicate with the web server in a manner necessary for the proprietary features of FrontPage to function. These are not necessary in order to use FrontPage, but many of FrontPage’s features rely on them, such as FrontPage forms.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol)
An acronym for File Transfer Protocol, this is the standard protocol used to transfer files to and from machines on the internet. This is distinct from, say HTTP, which is another protocol altogether. Although some browsers, such as Microsoft Internet Explorer, have built in FTP capabilities, the most common, and most functional, way to use FTP is by way of an FTP client, such as WS_FTP, CuteFTP, or even a command line.

This is a small web application with which visitors to a site have the option to leave small notes, including some form of identification, letting other visitors know that they had been there.

The provision of infrastructure necessary to make services available to remote users. This includes web hosting for websites, email hosting for email, database hosting for databases, and so forth. The term hosting does not solely refer to web hosting, although the term is commonly used this way. You can think of a mall, for instance, as a store host.

HTML (HyperText Markup Language)
This is the standard markup language used in web pages. HTML contains the text of a web page, as well as an extensive range of code which instructs the browser as to how the web page should be displayed, such as the color of the text, the background image to be used, tables, hyperlinks, and the like.

HTTP (HyperText Transport Protocol)
HTTP is the standard protocol used to transfer documents, particularly HTML documents, on the world-wide-web. This is the protocol used to access and, thus view, web pages in your browser, for instance.

IIS (Internet Information Services)
IIS is Microsofts proprietary web server software, and is included with their Windows NT-based operating systems. It is free, and is required for the use of ASP code in a website. It also provides FTP functionality, and an easy-to-use management console for administrators.

IMAP (currently Internet Message Access Protocol)
This is a remote mail box protocol, which is much more advanced than the much more common POP method of retrieving email. It provides advanced capabilities and a wealth of functions not supported by POP, but has not caught on yet with most internet users.

IP Address
This is a numeric address which identifies a particular resource on an IP network such as the internet. The format of an IP address is, with each xxx representing a number between 1 and 254, the decimal representations of the underlying 8-bit octets For a resource to be accessible on the internet, it must have an IP address assigned to it, and no 2 devices can have the same publicly accessible IP address.

ISP (Internet Service Provider)
ISPs are entities who provide points of access to the internet. These may be universities, corporations, or any other entity. The means of connecting to an ISP include dial-up through a modem, broadband access via cable or DSL, or corporate networks with internet connectivity. Web hosting companies are entirely different from ISPs.

Created by Sun Microsystems, this is a programming language similar to C and C++. It is platform-independent, and is used to build “applets,” small mini-programs that run within a web page client-side, or servlets, applications that run server-side and pass information to the browser through the web site.

This is a scripting language that draws influence from C programming language, and is commonly used to incorporate advanced client-side functionality into web pages, such as animations, forms, and roll-over effects.

Linux Hosting
This is web hosting that is hosted on a Linux-based server. Linux is an open-source operating system which is based on Unix, and is available in a wide variety of flavors commonly referred to as distributions or distros.

Log Analyzer
An application which reviews the contents of log files, and arranges that data in a way that can be easily read and understood by humans. This usually involves graphs and charts to assist in making the information accusable, and covers everything from when visitors came to a website, what they did while they were there, what kind of browser they were using, the IP address they visited from, and so forth.

Log File
A text file in which entries are placed whenever any web server activity, such as a visitor to a web page, occurs, including information about the visit and the visitor.

MSSQL (MicroSoft Structured Query Language)
This is Microsofts SQL database system, and is commonly used in conjunction with ASP and Cold Fusion sites. It is a proprietary system, and must be run on a Windows platform. MS SQL is more commonly used in business and enterprise environments than on the internet, but its footprint on the web is respectable.

Multi-Domain Hosting
A kind of hosting which allows multiple independent domains, pointing to separate web sites with completely separate file structures, to be hosted in one single hosting account. With better hosting companies, each of these domains is provided its own dedicated IP address as well, which is considered a prerequisite for true multi-domain hosting.

This is a database management system, and is arguably the most commonly used database model on the internet. It is free, and has earned a reputation for performance, reliability, and ease of use.

.NET Hosting (“dot net”)
Hosting in which sites build on .NET, an application framework developed by Microsoft, can function. This generally means Windows hosting with IIS, which is necessary for ASP and .NET code to be processed.

ODBC (Open Database Connectivity)
This is an API that allows the usage of SQL queries with data sources such as Access. It uses drivers for particular data sources to communicate and interact with them. It is necessary, for instance, to use an ODBC connection to communicate with an Access database from a website hosted on a Windows platform.

Payment Gateway
This is an application service provider which is comparable to a point of sale system, only virtual. These involve the encryption of sensitive information like credit card information, the authorization of payments, and the handling of transactions between the issuing and acquiring banks involved. A payment gateway is essential to processing credit card payments through an online store.

PHP (Hypertext PreProcessor)
PHP is a server-side scripting language. Like ASP and Cold Fusion, its instructions are interpreted by the web server, which renders the output as HTML which is then sent to the visitor’s browser for rendering. PHP allows for dynamic sites capable of communicating with databases, and extended capabilities not possible with HTML alone.

PHP Hosting
Web hosting capable of parsing PHP code. Virtually all hosting these days provides this capability.

POP (Post Office Protocol)
This is the standard protocol used by mail clients to connect to and retrieve mail from mail servers. The current version is 3, and is sometimes referred to as POP3.

This is a very powerful, but still rather obscure, database system which is free, and which is considered a free alternative to larger relational database systems like Oracle.

Raw Logs
Also known as server logs, these are records of web server activity which can be used for such purposes as troubleshooting or analyzing traffic.

This is an entity which to sells, renews, and manages domain name registrations. These are the ultimate agencies for domain registration, and are often assisted in their efforts by resellers, who are not, in and of themselves, registrars, and who lack many of the capabilities of the registrar itself.

Reseller Hosting
This is a scenario whereby one entity sells hosting that resides in the infrastructure of another. This often involves rebranding, and relates more to the reseller/resold relationship than to the customer/reseller relationship. Customers are usually unaware that they are hosting through a reseller.

A computer or piece of software which provides some sort of service to other computers, referred to as clients. For example, a DHCP server is a server which provides dynamic IP addresses to client machines on request. The term server can be used to describe a wide range of functions, but the core idea is that the server provides a central go-to point for a service, or services, that other machines depend on, even other servers.

Setup Fee
A one-time fee, usually charged in conjunction with the initial hosting fees, which is intended to cover the overhead involved in the establishment of a hosting account.

Shared Hosting
A form of hosting wherein multiple clients, and thus multiple websites, are all hosted on a single server. This is distinct from dedicated hosting, where multiple websites may be present, but where the server itself is under the control and authority of a single client. If dedicated hosting is like buying a mansion, shared hosting is like renting an apartment.

Shared IP
An IP address which is assigned to multiple resources (domain names). Where an IP address is shared, the web server is responsible for determining which resource (web site) assigned to that IP is being requested, and serving that resource to the visitor. Resources on a shared IP must be requested by URL, as this is what tells the web server which of the resources at that IP is being requested.

Shell Accounts
These are accounts which allow an individual to connect to a remote machine, such as a server, by way of a Unix shell, a command line interface with which a user can run commands on the remote machine.

Shopping Cart
This is a kind of software which, in conjunction with a database, allows products to be browsed and ordered online, and usually involves the implementation of a 3rd party payment gateway to complete credit card transactions. If you intend to sell products online, you will most likely use a shopping cart to facilitate this.

Site Monitoring
A service that monitors a web server on a regular basis, usually a cycle of a few minutes, and alerts specified individuals of any problems that are encountered.

SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol)
This is the protocol used to distribute electronic mail on the Internet. SMTP provides a standard for how the sending and receiving computers should interact.

This is slang for junk email, also known as unsolicited email. These are emails that are sent to large numbers of recipients trying to sell them on everything from weight loss products to loans, and are often associated with scams. Spam has become a big problem on the internet, and most ISPs and web hosts are constantly taking measures to reduce the amount of spam that is received by their customers, or passed through their network.

SSH (Secure SHell)
This is secure shell access, a secure way of connecting a client machine and a server. It incorporates, authentication, encryption, and message authentication, and can be used for more than just shell access.

SSI (Server Side Includes)
These are blocks of code, usually HTML, which are stored in independent files, and which can be called into a document, allowing for the centralization of commonly used code, such as for the header and footer used in all pages on a website. This is very convenient, especially for sites which reuse the came code amongst a number of different pages.

SSL (Secured Sockets Layer)
This is a protocol that provides for encryption and authentication of traffic between a web server and a client machine. This requires the use of an SSL certificate, which is issued by a SSL authority, such as Verisign or Thawte. This is a necessary tool whenever sensitive information, such as credit card information, is to be transmitted across the internet.

Streaming (Media)
Media streaming is a technique whereby a media file, be it audio or video, is played back on a client machine while the file is being downloaded. Advanced streaming services offer options such as providing a media stream that is appropriate for the visitor’s bandwidth, providing a media stream to a large number of visitors at the same time, real-time content, and the like.

TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol)
This is a suite of protocols used to facilitate services on an IP-based network, such as the internet.

A server-oriented multitasking and multi-user operating system, with a reputation for stability and versatility. It is the most common operating system for servers on the Internet, and is available in a vast range of flavors, from the Linux family of operating systems to FreeBSD.

UNIX Hosting
Web hosting that is housed on a UNIX-based server, such as Linux or FreeBSD, and is usually facilitated by the Apache web server software. This is easily the most popular and commonplace platform for web servers and web hosting, the primary alternative being Windows based hosting.

URL (Uniform Resource Locator)
The standard addressing format used for HTTP requests. URLs resolve the protocol to be used for the request, the IP address of the host to which the request is to be made, and the location on that host where the resource is located.

Unlimited Bandwidth
This is a policy wherein additional charges are not incurred on account of “excessive” bandwidth usage. Technically, there is no such thing as “unlimited” bandwidth, and in practical terms simply indicates that there is not a hard limit on bandwidth usage, rather an understanding that reasonable bandwidth usage is always permitted.

Uptime Guarantee
A guarantee that provides for compensation in the event that the uptime of a server does not meet a predefined percentage of time in a set timeframe, usually on a per month basis. Uptime guarantees of 99.9% per month have become common.

This is a scripting language based loosely on Visual Basic, and is developed by Microsoft. Its functionality in a web environment is dependant upon either an ASP engine or the Windows Scripting Host, and must be used on a Windows hosting platform.

Web Hosting
This is the service whereby the infrastructure and connectivity necessary for a website to be available on the internet is leased to customers by a hosting company.

Web Hosting Control Panel
A web interface that enables the management and control of one’s web hosting account. These control panels have become an indispensable tool for hosting customers, and are now offered by the vast majority of web hosts.

Also known informally as a “blog,” this is a kind of website or component within a website whereby an individual may post journal entries which are then viewable by visitors to the site, ordered from the most recent to the eldest entries.

This is an individual who builds, publishes, maintains, and updates websites. Webmasters can be thought of as website administrators, as opposed to network and systems administrators, who handle the infrastructure behind the website. Webmasters do not necessarily handle all of the processes involved in the creation and maintenance of a website, and may act more along the lines of a manager than a developer or designer.

Web Mail
This is a manner of accessing your POP mail by way of a web-based interface. This is commonly used to access mail when not at a computer setup to retrieve their email through an email client.

Web Server
This is a server which is setup to serve documents, usually built in HTML or server side scripting languages, over HTTP connections. This may refer either to the machine itself, or to the web server software, such as IIS or Apache, that is running on the machine for this purpose.

Web Site
This is a structured collection of documents and associated files which contain everything necessary to instruct a web browser on how to render a site and what content it contains. These are usually written in HTML, but commonly also use CSS, scripts, Flash, and other components that expand the capabilities of the site beyond that provided by HTML alone. Web sites are hosted with web hosts on web servers, usually housed in a data center.

Windows Hosting
Web hosting that is based on IIS, operating atop a Microsoft Windows operating system, usually Windows NT or Advanced Server. Windows hosting is necessary for the functionality of ASP-based websites, and usually Cold Fusion-based sites as well. Windows hosting is generally more expensive than UNIX-based hosting on account of licensing costs associated with Windows.