Web Hosting for Beginners: Some Common Terms and Definitions

In the hosting world it's important to know the key hosting jargon! We discuss all of this and more

If you’ve ever wondered what most of the terms related to web hosting mean, then here is a list of definitions that should make things a little clearer. It can be a complicated business finding a web hosting service that meets your needs and doing the right amount of research beforehand can increase your chances of developing a successful and profitable partnership.

That also means knowing what you are talking about.


  • IP Address: This is different from your web address and stands for Internet Protocol. It’s a unique sequence of numbers that identifies your location – essentially when someone types in your url, it goes to this address. You need a dedicated IP address if you are going to take orders and have financial transactions on your site.


  • Server: This is the central computer that manages your website, sending all your information to other computers. This is where your host operates from.


  • Shared Hosting: This is when your site is hosted with everyone else on a centralised server and everyone shares the resources. It’s usually the cheapest option but has limitations.


  • Dedicated Hosting: This is where you have a dedicated server for your website and is the more expensive but flexible option, ideally suited to popular ecommerce sites.


  • VPS Hosting: Somewhere in between shared and dedicated, this provides a virtual space on a server that acts more like a dedicated server.


  • Bandwidth: This is the amount of data that can be transferred for your site – an important component if you have a busy website that gets lots of visitors. Limited bandwidth can affect uptime and access to your site.


  • Disk Space: The amount of files and data that you can have on your site is determined by the amount of disk space you have – less of a problem now than it used to be.


  • Domain Name: The url for your main site that sends people to your home page prefixed by https://…


  • Parked Domain Name: Many businesses will have a number of additional domain registrations, for instance .com and .net extensions that will lead back to their main site if someone types in the url.


  • Secure Socket Layer: SSL is the ecryption method that covers transactions over the web and applies to all ecommerce sites. You’ll notice it is there when the url starts https://…


  • Uptime: One of the important things to look out for, uptime is the amount of time that your server is operating without interruption (for example, downtime can occur during scheduled maintenance which means your site is not available for users).


  • Add on Domain: These are any other domains that have been added to your plan with the hosting company and can be related to your main site or separate.


  • Content Management System: This is a system for organising your web content so that it is easy for you to understand and modify when needed.


  • Control Panel: This is where you do all your work on your website and allows you to add new domains and upload new pages.

The good news is that the web hosting terminology is constant across all suppliers and learning a few simple terms and what they mean can help you make a more informed choice when it comes to selecting the right service.

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