Glossary of terms

This is a glossary of technical terms aimed at our hosting clients. It is written for non-technical users, and may in some instances sacrifice technical accuracy for the sake of clarity.

Term Explanation
URL (Uniform Resource Locator) The address of a particular page on the world-wide web. Each page on the web has a unique address, which will look something like this: May also be referred to as a URI.
Domain Name The domain name is the most important part of a URL, and is the portion that directs the browser to your site. In the example above, the domain name is In order to put a website on-line, you need to register a unique domain name for your site. This involves choosing a meaningful word (or words) that describe your site, and a suffix which in the UK are most likely to be one of .com, .org, or (although others are available). Note that the www. part of the web address is not actually part of the domain name, and alternative prefixes may be used (though this is usually discouraged). The domain name is completely separate from the physical space on the web server. Once you have registered a domain you need to supply the server details so it can find the files. This means that you can have several domains pointing to one server, but a single domain cannot point to multiple servers.
Web Server (or simply server) The physical computer that holds the files and resources (e.g. a database) for your website. This is a special type of computer that is always switched on and connected to the internet, ensuring that your site is always ‘live’.
Disk Space The amount of space on the server for your files. As well as your site files, this space will normally be used to hold e-mails, log files, your relational database and any other data required for your site to function. Disk space is normally measured in Megabytes (MB) or Gigabytes (GB). 1 Gigabyte = 1000 Megabytes.
FTP (File Transfer Protocol) The standard method of uploading files to a web server. A dedicated FTP program will allow you to copy files to the web server in much the same way as you copy a file on your computer. In addition, web-design packages (such as Dreamweaver or Front Page) will often have some kind of FTP functionality built into them.
Bandwidth The ‘traffic’ for your site, i.e. the amount of data transferred to or from the server over a specified time (usually a month). This includes every visit to your website, plus any data you transfer by FTP. A rough approximation of the figures would be 1,000 page views = 100MB, 10,000 page views = 1GB.
SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) The communication method that computers use to send e-mails. The SMTP Server is the machine which e-mails are initially sent to in order to begin their journey round the world – a bit like the pillar box at the end of the road.
POP (Post Office Protocol) The communication method that computers use to receive e-mails. The POP Server is the machine that holds your e-mails for you until you are ready to read them (on-line via a web interface) or collect them (using a program on your own computer, e.g. Microsoft Outlook). It is possible to setup several mailboxes for different addresses. May also be referred to as POP3, referring to version 3 of the protocol.
MySQL Database software.
PHPMyAdmin A web-based interface for managing MySQL databases.
PHP (PHP Hypertext Processor) A programming language that allows you to create dynamic web pages.
Perl Another programming language for creating dynamic web pages, an alternative to PHP.
SSH (Secure Shell) A method of accessing the server for more detailed server management. For advanced users only!