The Jargon: Understanding A Few Basic Terms

Description: If you are new to the world of web hosting all the terms and phrases used can make it difficult to understand what you are being offered. The following guide should help you to clarify things.

It's extremely important that you understand what is being offered to you when you step into the world of web hosting. If you don't at least have a basic knowledge of what it's all about it is very difficult to know whether you are buying the right package for your needs.

Here is a breakdown of the most common terms used in web hosting.


Whenever you buy a hosting plan you will be allocated a certain amount of bandwidth. This is what makes it possible for a number of people to visit your site and view the pages it contains.

If you think of the word ?width' in its normal sense it can be easier to understand. Let's say there is a corridor between your website and the web host you have chosen. If that corridor that is wide enough to let two people walk down it shoulder to shoulder, then that is the number of visitors you can have going to your website at any one time. Your web host won't allow you any more than that because you are only renting a small corridor (bandwidth).

But if you buy a much wider corridor (more bandwidth) you can have plenty more visitors at a time, and over the course of a month there is much more potential to receive more traffic. That's why it's important to consider how much bandwidth you need and rent enough to serve your purposes.

Disk space

This is the amount of space you can store your website on. Every website is made up from a number of files, and you need to make sure you rent enough disk space from the web host to be able to hold everything you have.

As a general rule the more disk space you need the more bandwidth you will need too. This is because bandwidth isn't only used according to how many visitors you get - it's used up according to the size of the web pages they visit as well.


FTP is short for file transfer protocol, and it is the process by which you transfer each web page (or file) from your own computer and upload it onto the server which houses your website.

When you perform this action you will go into a different web address than you would normally. Instead of typing http://www before the address you need, you would simply type ftp.

Secure server

The only difference between a normal server and a secure server is that the secure version will allow people to send credit card and other sensitive information via that server in a protected manner. An SSL - secure socket layer - is used to make this a reality.

When you enter a website which is secure in this way, the http:// which appears before the domain name will change to https:// to denote the security factor. A secure server is a necessary tool if you are running an ecommerce site.

Web stats

You will get access to these with virtually every web hosting plan you take out. These basically tell you how many people are visiting your site, where they are coming from and what they are doing when they get there.

Web stats are extremely useful to webmasters because they can help them to work out how to improve their website.

Shopping cart

An essential part of any ecommerce site. Many web hosts offer ecommerce packages that provide a shopping cart as part of the deal. It basically allows the website's visitors to place orders on the website and pay for their goods online.

Customizable error pages

Sometimes you will try and visit a website or a particular page within that site and not be able to access it. This can happen for a number of reasons. When it does happen you will receive an error page in return.

But some web hosts offer the possibility of customizing your error pages so you can redirect people back to wherever you want them to go - your home page for example.

By customizing these pages you can also make special offers or reveal information that will help to make up for the fact that your visitor didn't reach the page they wanted to, and so they can be useful in the context of your overall website.

Shared hosting

Every website is hosted on a web server, which in turn connects to the internet and makes it possible for people to see that site.

Shared web hosting is where your site is sharing the same web server with a number of other websites. This makes it possible for the web host to offer shared hosting at a lower price.

Dedicated hosting

As might be obvious from the concept of shared hosting described above, dedicated web hosting simply means that your website will have its own web server and won't be sharing it with any other sites.

This is a good idea if your site receives a lot of traffic and runs the risk of being down a lot on a shared server. Dedicated hosting is much more reliable for larger, more popular websites.

Email accounts

The majority of web hosts will offer a number of free email accounts with your web hosting package. It's a good idea to make sure you get a package which offers this as it means you can have dedicated email addresses which relate to your domain name.

This is particularly important for ecommerce sites, where professionalism is of the utmost importance.

Once you start exploring web hosting in some depth, you'll find that it isn't too difficult to understand. While some of the terms may sound confusing to begin with, they have a logic behind them which makes the world of web hosting much more accessible to the vast majority of people - even if you are a newbie.

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