Design & Development

eCommerce Dictionary: Hosting Terms

Affiliate Program An affiliate program is any type of revenue sharing program where a webmaster or website receives a portion of income for generating leads, traffic or sales through a graphic or text link to a merchant website.

Alias A name that points to another name. Aliases are used to make the original name easier to remember or to protect the site’s identity.

Applet An applet is an embedded program on a website.Applets are usually written in the coding language called Java. They are normally used for creating a virtual object that may move or interact with the website. An applet is like a small piece of executable code that needs a full application to run it.

Active Server Pages (ASP) Active Server Pages allow web developers to make their sites dynamic with database driven content. The code is mainly written in Visual Basic Script, and it is produced on the server of the website instead of the browser of your website visitors. The server reads the ASP code and then translates it to HTML.

Audio Streaming The process of providing audio content on a website. Some hosts do not allow audio or video streaming because it can take up a significant amount of space.

Auto Responder An automated program that acknowledges receipt of an email message, and then sends back a previously prepared email to the sender, letting them know it was received.

Backbone A high-speed line or series of connections that forms a major pathway within a network. In general, the better the backbone of the hosting company, the better the availability of the websites that run on their computers.

Backups Web hosts back up data that’s stored 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.

Browser 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. Common browsers include Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Safari and Netscape.

CGI forms vs. CGI access Sometimes, rather than provide full CGI access, the hosting service provides the most popular CGI forms, such as a boilerplate form for name and address submissions. With full CGI access, you can upload and customize your own CGI scripts. A working knowledge of CGI is needed.

Chat Software One of the many different programs available to have real-time discussions. To use Chat software, there must be at least two users connected at the same time ready to exchange messages. This is different than Message Board software, which is not a real-time program.

Click-Through This term is used to describe the ratio of clicks to impressions on an advertisement, usually a banner ad. If a banner has been shown 100 times and 3 people click on it, it will have a 3 percent click-through ratio.

Co-LocationCo-location means housing a web server that you own in the facilities of a hosting provider. This is an option if you want to own your own server, but do not want the hassle or security risk of maintaining that server.

Common Gateway Interface (CGI) The Common Gateway Interface, CGI, permits interactivity between a browser and web host. Using CGI, a web page can allow visitors to run a program on the server that performs a specified task. One of the simplest CGI tasks is to submit a form collecting information that the visitor supplies. Some servers have pre-installed/predefined CGI scripts, meaning that the scripts are already installed on the server for you to use on your site. Some servers permit user-defined or custom CGI scripts, which means the site owner creates his/her own CGI script and runs this custom made script on the website. CGI scripts are basically programs (software) that run on the computer where the web pages of a website are stored. They do things that a simple document like a web page cannot.

Control Panel An online package of tools permitting easy site management and editing. Almost all hosting companies provide this option today. By having your own control panel, you can maintain basic information about your site, mailboxes, etc. without having to send emails to the hosting company or call them on the phone.

Cookie A message given to a web browser by a web server. The browser stores the message in a text file called cookie.txt. The message is then sent back to the server each time the browser requests a page from the server. The main purpose of cookies is to identify users and possibly prepare customized web pages for them. So, for example, instead of seeing just a generic welcome page you might see a welcome page with your name on it.

Data Transfer This is the amount of data that is transferred from an account as visitors view the pages of the website. If you have a website with lots of video, audio, and images that gets many visitors per day, you would have to make sure that you choose a host that will allow large amounts of data to be transferred.

Dedicated Hosting A dedicated host means the service provider will setup a computer solely for your website; it will not be shared with other clients. A dedicated communications line or minimum bandwidth allotment may also be provided, subject to contract negotiation. Having a dedicated server usually means a much faster loading time for your site because the entire computer is “dedicated” to running the server software. This is different from most other hosting accounts in which your website will share space on a server with many other websites.

Disk Space This indicates the amount of disk space that will be available to you on the host’s server to hold your website files.

Domain Name The unique name that identifies an Internet site (

Domain Name Server Domain Name Server (DNS) is the global system web browsers use to find websites. The DNS entry lists the IP address for every domain name. A website cannot be found unless its domain name is properly registered in the DNS system. When DNS is hosted, it indicates that the domain name is pointing to the correct website. When DNS is parked, it is considered a temporary spot to point the domain name until the finished website is ready.

Domain Parking Many hosting companies give you the option to ‘park’ your domain name ( without actually having your website up and running. Great option if you want to acquire a domain name well ahead of having the website itself designed and constructed.

Downloading When you download a file from the Internet, you transfer it from some computer on the Internet to your own computer.

Email POP Account POP (Post Office Protocol) is an actual email account on your web host’s email server. Think of each POP account as a unique email address (bob@practicalecommerce. com, contact@yourdomain. com, etc.) Different hosting plans will allow for different quantities of email addresses.

Email Auto Responder A message is sent in reply to an incoming message. You would use this if you want to give an acknowledgment to visitors of your site that their email was received.

Email Forwarding The automatic transfer of email sent to an address you specify. A webmaster uses this, for example, so his or her personal email address is not revealed to the public. For example, you would have email addressed to forwarded to

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) A way of transferring files (uploading and downloading) across the Internet. Most websites are uploaded to the Internet by means of an FTP program. This is how the website you create on your computer at home is transferred (uploaded) to the Internet.

Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) This is the code that web pages are written in and the browser interprets to turn into the web page you view on the screen.

Internet Service Provider (ISP) A company or institution that provides access to the Internet in some form, usually for money. They will usually allow users to dial up through a modem, DSL or cable connection.

IP Address A unique number used to specify hosts and networks. Internet Protocol (IP) numbers are used for identifying machines that are connected to the Internet. They consist of four parts separated by dots. They would look something like this Every machine that is on the Internet has a unique IP number.

Message Board Software A program that allows visitors to post messages that are displayed so others who visit at a later time can respond.

Meta Tag Meta tags are commands in the HTML code, residing in the header, that instruct the browser or search engines to perform specific tasks, identify keywords, site definitions, page authors, plug-in requirements, etc. These tags are not visible to site visitors. They are only visible in the code. Simply, Meta tags describe the content of the document in which they’re written.

Multi-Homing When the same website can be the home for more than one domain name.

Reseller Web Host A reseller operates components of a web hosting operation using services, infrastructure and equipment provided by another web hosting service. Some resellers operate full-fledged businesses using the hardware, software, network and logistical support of another web hosting firm, while others simply operate as sales agents for other web hosting companies, offering discounts and providing low-level technical support.

Shared Hosting In shared hosting, multiple sites are hosted on a single server, so each account ends up “sharing” server space with other accounts. This is an economic solution for smaller and personal websites. For sites anticipating minimal traffic, a shared plan could provide a less costly option compared with a dedicated server.

Uniform Resource Locator (URL) The standard way to give the address of any resource on the Internet that is part of the World Wide Web (WWW). is an example URL.

Uploading Uploading refers to the act of transferring a file from a person’s computer to another computer on the Internet.

Web Host A web host is a company that has a computer (or many computers) that is permanently connected to the Internet. Documents (web pages) that are located on those computers can be read by anyone connected to the Internet.

Video Streaming The process of providing video data or content via a web page.

Virtual Private Network A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is used by corporations to provide access to their servers that are limited to only approved users.

Kerry Murdock
Kerry Murdock
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