Web Hosting Information and Definitions of Terms

Admin or Administrator

An admin or an administrator is usually the person who controls the server. They handle the day-to-day working of the server, and may also configure items such as email addresses, redirects, databases, and adding a new domain name to the server. 

Bit

The basic unit of data in a computer, which either consists of a 0 (for off) or a 1 (for on). This series of ones and zeros makes up a byte. 

Boot

To start the server from the off position. To restart a server from a running position would be a reboot. Sometimes rebooting a server may clear an error, so many times that is the first thing to try if your server is having an issue of some sort. 

Browser

A computer program that allows a person to view Web pages. The browser gives some means of viewing the content of Web site pages and of navigating from one page to another. 

Bus

The connection that carries information from one part of a computer to another. The faster the bus speed, which is measured in MHz (MegaHertz), the faster your server or computer will be. 

Cache

A temporary storage area in the memory that stores information used to quickly access data. This is sometimes why you will see an old web page until you hit your browsers' refresh button. 

CPU

The Central Processing Unit for your web server or computer. 

DNS

A distributed database of information that is used to translate domain names, which are easy for humans to remember and use, into Internet Protocol (IP) numbers, which are what computers need to find each other on the Internet. People working on computers around the globe maintain their specific portion of this database, and the data held in each portion of the database is made available to all computers and users on the Internet. The DNS is comprised of computers, data files, software, and people working together. 

Domain Name

In short, a domain name is nothing more than an alias for a numeric Web address. Each Web site on the Internet has a numeric address that functions like coordinates on a map. Instead of pointing to a geographic location on Earth, these numeric addresses, called IP addresses, point to a location on the Internet. Computers have no problems with locating and remembering numeric addresses. In contrast, many people have trouble remembering long, complicated sequences of numbers. So, to make navigating the Internet easier, the domain name system was invented. This system allows people to use easy to remember names for Web sites instead of numeric sequences. 

FTP

FTP is File Transfer Protocol. A set of rules that controls the exchange of information between a server and a computer over the Internet. File Transfer Protocol is the Internet standard for transferring files from one computer to another, i.e. from a Web developer's computer to the hosting server for her Web site. Additionally, 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' and an email address as the password. FTP is the most common way to connect to your web server to make changes. The most popular program we would recommend is www.cuteftp.com (which offers a free trial). CuteFTP allows you to double click a file on your computer and send it to your server over an easy to use interface. 

Fully-Qualified Domain Name

A fully-qualified domain name (FQDN) includes all parts of a domain: the hostname or subdomain, the domain name, and the top-level domain. They are often seen in the URLs for Web sites (e.g."http://www.fenclwebdesign.com"). 

Gigabyte or GB

One thousand megabytes equal one gigabyte. 1,000 MB = 1 GB 

HTTP

Documents on the World Wide Web are written in a simple "markup language" called HTML, which stands for HyperText Markup Language. HTML looks a lot like old-fashioned typesetting code, where you surround a block of text with codes that indicate how it should appear. Additionally, in HTML you can specify that a block of text, or a word, is linked to another file on the Internet. HTML files are meant to be viewed using a browser, such as Netscape or Internet Explorer. 

Hypertext

HyperText Transfer Protocol is the protocol for moving hypertext files across the Internet. It requires an HTTP client program on one end and an HTTP server on the other. HTTP is the most important protocol used in the World Wide Web (WWW). 

IANA - Internet Assigned Numbers Authority

The agency that oversees registration for various Internet Protocol parameters, such as port numbers, enterprise numbers, options, codes, and types. The IANA function is currently located at the Information Sciences Institute at the University of Southern California in Marina del Rey, CA. 

ICANN - Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers

ICANN is the non-profit corporation that assumed responsibility from the U.S. Government for coordinating certain Internet technical functions, including the management of Internet domain name system. More information about ICANN can be found at their Web site: www.icann.org. 

InterNIC

The InterNIC is a concept for an integrated network information center that was developed by several companies, including Network Solutions, in cooperation with the U.S. Government. Currently, the term "InterNIC" is being used in conjunction with a neutral, stand alone Web page located at http://www.internic.net that was established for the purpose of providing the public with information regarding Internet domain name registration. InterNIC is a registered service mark of the U.S. Department of Commerce. 

IP Address

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. IP addresses are comprised of four numbers between 0 and 255, separated by periods (e.g. 216.168.224.69). For more information, HowStuffWorks.com has an easy to understand essay on How IP Addresses Work as a part of its larger article on How Domain Name Servers Work. 

ISP

Internet Service Provider - While rather a generic term, ISP generally refers to a person, organization, or company that allows its users access to the Internet. In addition to Internet access, many ISPs provide Web hosting, DNS and other services. 

Name Server

A computer (server) that has both the software and the data (zone files) needed to resolve domain names to Internet Protocol (IP) numbers. Domain names must be programmed into a minimum of two name servers hosted on separate networks. 

Registrant

The individual or organization that registers a specific domain name. This individual or organization holds the right to use that specific domain name for a specified period of time, provided certain conditions are met and the registration (NIC) fees are paid. This person or organization is the "legal entity" bound by the terms of all applicable domain registration Service Agreements. 

Registrar

An entity with a direct contractual relationship with, and special access to, a registry, that inserts records on behalf of others. 

Registry

A database associating DNS information with some person, legal entity, operational entity, or other referent. 

Root

The top level directory on a web server. 

Server

A computer that provides a service to another computer on a network. If I network two identical machines in my house, and use one to retrieve a file from another, I have just used the second machine as a server. One of the more common kinds of servers is a Web server. These computers offer up Web pages when they are requested. So, when I go to microsoft.com, one of Microsoft's Web servers offers up a Web page to my computer. Most servers have special software that enables them to better manage requests. In the case of Web pages, IIS and Apache are two popular Web server platforms. 

URL

Uniform Resource Locator. An Internet "address." A draft standard for specifying the location of an object on the Internet, such as a file or a newsgroup. They are used in HTML documents to specify the target of a hyperlink, which is often another HTML document (possibly stored on another computer). An example of a URL is: http://www.fenclwebdesign.com 

The first part of the URL, before the colon (often http), specifies the protocol. The part of the URL after the colon is interpreted based on the protocol or access method. 

Web Page

Simply, a block of information running on a Worldwide server process, identified by a specific URL. Such pages are most often written in HTML. It is also possible for a server to create a dynamic Web page via special scripts. 

Web Site

A document, usually written in HTML, that displays in a browser such as Internet Explorer or Netscape. 

Whois

A searchable database containing information about the domains managed through a given Registrar. Registrars are required to make the contact information for domains public. 


More Facts on Web Hosting

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