Hosting Words You Should Know!

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  • Applies to: All Services
    • Difficulty: Easy
    • Time Needed: 5-10
    • Tools Required: N/A


As hosting can have a variety components in order to make a website or application run smoothly, there can be a fair amount of technical jargon involved. This guide can be used as a general reference page, to help familiarize with when dealing with the terminology of web hosting.

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  • Hosting: Service(s) needed to make a website or application accessible on the internet. These services can include domain registrations, servers, email hosting, etc.
  • Hosting Provider: A company that offers hosting services. For example: (mt) Media Temple.
  • Server Administrator: A person who builds or maintains server for hosting.
  • Developer: A person that builds and/or manages the websites/applications. This can vary from writing code, building databases, uploading images, etc.
  • IT Technician: A person who manages/fixes information technology. This can include: computers, internet connection, phone hardware, etc.


  • DNS (Domain Name System): The "phone book" of the internet. Translates a domain name ( into an IP address (01:12:123:1234).
    • Domain name: An alpha/numeric label used to identify an IP address (,,, etc).
    • Zone File: A text file that describes a DNS Zone. Updating your zone files is how you point a domain name and subdomains to the IP address.
    • Name Server: Determines which company hosts your DNS, and where you will go to edit your zone files.
    • IP address: A numeric label assigned to a device, connected to a computer network, that uses the internet for communication (01:12:123:1234).
    • TLD (Top Level Domain): Highest level in the DNS system (.com, .org, .gov,
  • Domain registration: A service used to register a domain name to a particular user, giving them ownership over that domain name.
  • Domain registrar: A company that manages the reservation of domain names.
    • Reseller: A company that works in conjunction with a registrar to manage domain registrations. For example: (mt) Media Temple.
    • Registrant: A user whose name is listed as the "owner" of the domain registration.
    • Admin (for domain registrations): A user whose name is listed as the "administrator" of the domain registration.
  • WHOIS: A search result for a domain registration that includes the listed Registrant, Admin, Company, Registrar, etc.


  • Email Client: A program used to access your email (Apple Mail, Thunderbird, Outlook).
    • Outgoing/Incoming Mail Server: An IP address or domain name used in an email client to locate your email server.
  • Webmail: An email client that is web browser based.


  • Server: A machine used to host websites and applications. This can include databases, emails, images, videos, code, etc.
    • Shared Server: A server that shares resources (CPU, Memory, etc) with multiple users.
    • Dedicated Server: A server with resources (CPU, Memory, etc) dedicated to an individual user.
    • CPU (Central Processing Unit): The "brain" of the computer that interprets and executes programs. For the Grid this is referred to as GPU.
    • Memory: Hardware that is intended to help read data quickly.
    • Disk Space: The amount of storage capacity your server has.
    • Bandwidth: The capacity to transmit data over a network.
  • Overage: Going over your resource allocation.
  • Logs: A record of events that occur within the server. This can include error logs, access logs, email logs, etc.
  • Database: A collection of data, typically organized into "tables," which can be used to run a website or applications.
  • Control Panel: A user interface that is used to run tasks on a server or application. This is similar to how Windows or Mac OS uses icons to run specific computer functions.
    • Grid: (mt) Media Temple's shared server.
    • Plesk / cPanel: Popular control panels used by (mt) Media Temple's managed dedicated severs.

File Management

  • File Manager: A web browser method of accessing files over the internet. This method uses icons to view/edit your files. Although easy to understand, it's not ideal for large file transfers.
  • FTP (File Transfer Protocol): A method of connecting to your server to transfer files over the internet. This requires connecting to your server using an FTP client. Then you can essentially drag/drop multiple files at once.
    • FTP Client: A program used to access your FTP server (FileZilla, CyberDuck, Transmit, etc).
    • FTP Hostname: An IP address or domain used in an FTP client to locate your FTP server.
  • SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol): The same as FTP with the added security of being encrypted.
  • SSH (Secure Shell): A method of connecting to your server to transfer files over the internet. This method uses command-line to view/edit your files. It's often one of the most powerful methods of file editing, but does require command-line knowledge.


  • Firewall: Part of a system or network used to block unauthorized entry.
  • Malware: Software used to disrupt, damage, or gain unauthorized access to a system. These are often referred to as "trojans" or "viruses".
  • Spam: Unsolicited or unwanted emails.
  • Phishing: A form of spam email. This is a message that tries to look like legitimate message in an attempt to acquire personal/company information. For example: "This is from your Security Team! Please type your username and password in this link so we can fix your problem!"
  • Spoofing: When a false user imitates a legitimate email address, usually with the intent to spam or hack.


  • Bug: An error, flaw, or failure that occurs in a system. A bug can be temporary or permanent.
  • Reboot: A restart of the server. May not outright delete data, but can interrupt processes on the server that are in progress.
  • Proxy: A "gateway" that acts between a local network (computer) and a larger network (the internet). Proxy websites can be used to troubleshoot local network or cache related issues.
  • Cache: Data that is stored so if called again can be served much faster. These may need to be cleared if a cache become corrupted or is showing out-of-date information.
  • Traceroute: Shows the route of the gateways "hopped" between a local device (computer) and a destination (server). Used to track any network disruptions that may be occuring.
  • Bad neighbor effect: A symptom of a shared server, where one or more users begins to use more resources than are allocated. These are subject to being "throttled" by administrators.


  • CMS (Content Management System): A software application used to create and manage digital content.
    • Popular CMS: WordPress, Joomla, Drupal.
  • Plugin: An add-on application installed to an existing site or application to perform certain tasks. You may add a plugin to send out automatic emails, tell you the weather, organize your photos, etc.
  • Theme: A template that affects the visual appearance of a website or application.
  • Programming language: A set of written instructions to instruct a computing device to perform a task. CMS, websites, plugins, and themes are all built using programming languages.
    • Popular languages: HTML, PHP, CSS, Javascript.
  • Web browser: An application used to surf the internet. Some popular examples include: Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc.
  • Search Engine: A website used to look up information based on a search query. For example: Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.
  • ISP (Internet Service Provider): A company that provides internet services. For example: Verizon, Specturm, Cox, etc.