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Web Hosting Terms and Definitions Index

Webhosting Terms and Word Definitions

These are some common web hosting terms and word definition for words and phrases related to free web space hosting services.

A Record (Address Record) - An entry in your DNS table (zone file) that maps each domain name (e.g. or subdomain (e.g. to an IP Address.  In other words, the A record specifies the IP address to which the user would be sent for each domain name.  For example, you can have point to one IP address, and point to a different IP address.

Access [Microsoft] - Microsoft Access (usually abbreviated as MS Access) is an easy-to-use program for creating and maintaining databases.  The Access database driver for online databases is often supported by webhosts using the NT hosting platform.

Anonymous FTP - A method for allowing the public to download files using FTP (File Transfer Protocol) so that they don't have to identify themselves.  Usually the username "anonymous" should be used, and either the password is provided by the FTP server, or anything may be used as the password.

Applet - A small Java program which is cross-platform compatible and can be embedded in the HTML of a webpage.  Web browsers, which are usually equipped with Java virtual machines, can run the applets to perform interactive graphics, games, calculators, etc.  "Applets" differ from "Java applications" in that they are more secure -- they can't access certain resources on the local computer, such as hard drives, modems, and printers; and they can only make an Internet connection to the computer from which the applet was sent.

ASP - Abbreviation for "Active Server Pages".  ASP is a server-side scripting language.  ASP commands are embedded within HTML documents (with .asp extension) to provide dynamic content.  ASP is often supported by webhosts using a NT server.
Here is a list of free hosting with ASP.

Backbone - A "large" transmission line (or series of connections) that forms a major pathway within a network, and carries data gathered from smaller lines that interconnect with it.  The term is relative -- a backbone in a small network can be much smaller than non-backbone lines in a larger network.

Bandwidth - The amount of data passing through a connection over a given time.  It is usually measured in bps (bits-per-second) or Mbps.

Bit - Short for "binary digit".  A bit is a single digit number in base-2, or in other words, either a 0 or a 1.

bps - Abbreviation for "bits per second".  It is a measure of bandwidth.  For example, a 28.8 modem can transfer 28,800 bits per second.

Browser - A client software program which allows the user to view and navigate through websites, and download or upload files.  The most commonly used browsers are Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator.

Byte - A set of bits (normally 8, but sometimes more) that represent data, such as a single text character.

Catch-all Email Account - An email account which allows any email of the form,, to be forwarded or placed into a single email address.  For example,, and, will all be sent to the same email address.  Often hosts allow you to also specify particular email addresses to be forwarded to different email addresses, in addition to the catch-all email which sends any other email address to one designated email address.

CGI - Abbreviation for "Common Gateway Interface". This is an interface standard which provides a method of executing a server-side program (script) from a website to generate a webpage with dynamic content.  Scripts conforming to this standard may be written in any programming language that produces an executable file, but are most often written in Perl, Python, C, C++, or TCL.
Here is a list of Free Webspace with CGI and Perl.

chmod - Abbreviation for "change mode" -- a UNIX command used by a file owner or administrator to change the access permissions of files or directories in order to read, write, or execute files.

CNAME Record (Canonical Name Record) - An entry in your DNS table (zone file) that aliases a FQDN to another FQDN (i.e. ->  In other words, the CNAME record specifies another domain to which the user would be redirected.

Cold Fusion - A scripting language for interfacing databases and advanced web development.  Cold Fusion supports databases such as Microsoft Access, FoxPro, dBASE, and Paradox.

Cron - a Unix command for scheduling one or more commands (collectively called a cron script or cron job) to be automatically executed on the computer at a specified time(s), usually periodically, such as emailing daily reports.  Cron is a daemon process, which means it runs continuously in the background, waiting to run a specified operation at predefined times or when specific events occur.  crontab is a Unix command that creates or modifies a file (called a crontab file) that contains a cron table or list of Unix shell commands, each having a specified time of execution by the operating system.
Here is a list of free web hosting sites allowing cron jobs.

Direct Linking - "Direct Linking" is a term referring to when a web page of one website owner is linking directly to the images or other multimedia files on the web host of another website owner (not just linking to a web page on their server which loads the image).  If this is done without permission, it is stealing bandwidth and is also known as "hotlinking", "hot linking", "leeching", and "bandwidth theft".  Here are a list of free image hosts which allow you to store images on their server at no cost (free) and allow you to direct link the hosted image files on forums (for avatars and signatures) or other websites.

Domain name - The unique name which identifies an Internet website.  Domain names have two or more parts, separated by periods (dots). is a domain name.  Also see the definition for FQDN (Fully Qualified Domain Name).
Here is a list of Free Domain Hosting.

Domain Name System (DNS) - The way that nameservers translate Internet domain names to the corresponding IP addresses.

Email Forwarding - An email service in which your email is automatically sent (forwarded) from one or more email address, to another (possibly several) specified email address.  "Unlimited email forwarding" may refer to: (1) a catch-all email account; (2) the ability to specify any number of email aliases (each of which may have a different forwarding address); or (3) a combination of both.
Here is a list of Free Webspace with Free Email Forwarding.

Editor - Most free website providers provide a program (editor) to edit the HTML code of webpages online.  "Basic" means you edit the HTML code directly in the editor.  "Advanced" means the editor will generate the the web page for you after you  make some selections, so you never see the HTML code (good if you don't know HTML).

Encryption - Processing and altering data so only the intended recipient can read or use it.  The recipient of the encrypted data must have the proper decryption key and program to decipher the data back to its original form.

FFA - Abbreviation for "Free For All".  FFA refers to webpage scripts that automatically update a links listing when someone submits their URL to it (usually in hopes either someone will view the page and click on their link, or search engines will index the page with their URL).  These are often submitted to by automated programs which submit to hundreds of FFAs at a time.  Often the FFA service requires the submitter to give an email address, to which they send SPAM.

Fire Wall - A combination of software and hardware which, for security purposes, separates a LAN into two or more parts, or partially isolates a network from the Internet.

Forum - A script on a website with a submission form that allows visitors to post messages on your website for others to read.  These messages are usually sorted within discussion categories, or topics, chosen by the host, or possibly the visitor.  A forum is also called a " web board" or a "message board".

FQDN (Fully Qualified Domain Name) -  A complete domain name consisting of a host, the second-level domain, and the top-level domain.  For example, is a FQDN.  www is the host; free-webhosts is the second-level domain; and .com is the top level domain.

FrontPage [Microsoft] - A commercial, WYSIWYG, HTML editor for creating, editing, managing, and uploading websites.  Some of the special features of the program (such as a graphical counter, forms, database, etc.) require that the website be uploaded to a server which supports Microsoft FrontPage extensions.

FrontPage Extensions - Also called FrontPage server extensions.  These are a set of server-side scripts and programs which enable users of Microsoft FrontPage to use its special components (called Web Bots).  The extensions can be installed for Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) and on other Windows (usually Windows NT) and UNIX web servers.
Here is a list of Free Webspace Hosting with FrontPage Extensions.

FTP - Abbreviation for "File Transfer Protocol".  FTP is an Internet standard for transferring files over the Internet.  FTP programs and utilities are used to upload and download webpages, graphics, and other files from your hard drive to a remote server which allows FTP access.  Two commonly used free FTP programs are WS_FTP and CuteFTP.

Gigabyte (GB) - 1024 Megabytes (MB), which is 2^30 bytes, or 1,073,741,824 bytes.  It is sometimes used to refer to 1000 Megabytes.

GigE (Gigabit Ethernet; GbE) -- "GigE" and "GbE" are both used as abreviations for "Gigabit Ethernet" - a term describing various technologies for transmitting Ethernet data at a nominal speed of one gigabit per second (1 Gbps = 1000 Mbps = one billion bits per second).  That is about 667 times as fast as a T-1 connection.  Gigabit Ethernet is defined in the IEEE 802.3 standard, and is used as an enterprise backbone.  A related term is "1000BASE-T" - the proposed IEEE standard that defines the requirement for sending data at 1000 Mbps on unshielded twisted-pair cabling, or in other words, Gigabit Ethernet over copper cables.

Guestbook -  A "guest book" is a script on a webpage with a form which allows website visitors to "sign in" and leave comments or questions, which optionally may or may not be viewed by other visitors.

Homepage - (1) The home page is the first web page that is displayed after starting a web browser (such as Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator).  (2) The home page also refers to the intended beginning page of a website on the Internet, usually given by default if the root domain is given without specifying the file name (for example, the URL will load the home page for, in this case a file named index.php).

Host - A computer located on a network that provides file storage or services to other computers on the network.

Hosting - Every webpage, email, file, or online service is stored ("hosted") on a computer (called a "server") that is connected to the Internet.

Hotlinking (hot linking) - "Hotlinking" (also called "hot linking", "leeching", and "bandwidth theft") is a term referring to when a web page of one website owner is direct linking to the images or other multimedia files on the web host of another website owner (usually without permission, thus stealing bandwidth).  This not only causes the other person to pay for the bandwidth of the hotlinked file, but often is intellectual property theft.  The term is also used loosely (a misnomer) by free image hosts which allow you to store images on their server and allow you to direct link the hosted image files on forums or other websites (sometimes altering the image to have a watermark).  One of the most common occurrences of "hot linking" is when people are forum posting and they hotlink pictures from another website to use as avatars or signature images on the messageboards (forums).  Some disadvantages of hot linking worth considering are that the webpage generally loads slower when you link to images stored on a different web hosting server than the webpage is hosted on, and the owner of the image has full control to disable hotlinking, or delete, rename, or worse yet, do a "switcheroo" (i.e., switching the file name to be another image which is sure to cause the hotlinker embarrassment) of the hot-linked image.  Common methods of preventing hotlinking are by using an .htaccess file, using the "Hotlink Protection" offered in control panels such as Cpanel, or simply renaming image files periodically.

.htaccess - This is the default name of a configuration file that contains "server directives" (commands known by the server) that tell the server how to behave.  One common use for an .htaccess file is to restrict access (password-protection) to specific files or directories on the Internet or intranet, or to specify a particular webpage to be accessed when there the file requested by the browser is not found (error 404).

HTML - Abbreviation for "HyperText Markup Language".  HTML is the coding language used to create Hypertext documents (webpages) for use on the Internet.  HTML files are intended to be viewed using a browser such as Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator.

HTTP - Abbreviation for "HyperText Transport Protocol".  HTTP is the Internet protocol for transferring hypertext files.  It requires the host to use an HTTP server program, and the viewer to use a HTTP client program (see definition for "browser").

iHTML - Abbreviation for "inline html".  iHTML is a server-side programming language for developing dynamic Internet content.  For more info, see

IP Number - Short for Internet Protocol Number.  This is a unique number consisting of 4 numbers, each between 0 and 255, separated by periods (e.g.  Every computer that is connected to the Internet has a unique IP number to identify it.  The IP number is also called a "IP address" or "dotted quad".

ISML - Short for InterShop Markup Language. ISML is a set of scripting tags to generate dynamic web pages. ISML tags are extensions of any tag-based language that conforms to SGML standards. On servers which support this server-side scripting language, such as all Community Architect cobranded webhosts, you can use these tags to automatically include the contents of another file, the current date and time, or a visitor counter on a web page.

ISP - Abbreviation for "Internet Service Provider".  An ISP is an institution that provides access to the Internet.

Java - A network-oriented programming language developed by Sun Microsystems.  It was specifically designed for writing scripts, or programs, that can be safely downloaded to any type of computer through the Internet and immediately run without the fear of viruses or other damage to your computer.  By making use of small Java programs (called "Applets"), webpages can include functions such as calculators, animations, and interactive games.

JavaScript - A programming language for use in webpages that allows the use of dynamic content.  In spite of the similarity in name to Java, it is not closely related to Java.

Kbps - Abbreviation for "Kilobits per second", which is 1000 bits per second.  It is a measure of bandwidth.

Kilobyte (KB) -1024 bytes (1024 is 2^10), but sometimes used to refer to 1000 bytes.

Mbps - Abbreviation for "Millions of Bits Per Second", or "MegaBits Per Second".  It is a measure of bandwidth.

Megabyte (MB) - 1024 kilobytes (KB).  1024 is 2^20 bytes, which is 1,048,576 bytes.  A megabyte usually refers to 1,000,000 bytes when used to describe disk storage capacity and transmission rates.

Message Board - A script on a website with a submission form that allows visitors to post messages on your website for others to read.  These messages are usually sorted within discussion categories, or topics, chosen by the host, or possibly the visitor.  A message board is also called a "web board" or a "forum".

MP3 - Short for Mpeg Layer 3.  MP3 is an audio compression standard for encoding music.  MP3 files have a file extension ".mp3".

MX record (eMail eXchanger) - An MX record is an entry in your DNS table (zone file) that controls where email is sent for the domain name.

MySQL - An Open Source Software relational database management system which uses a subset of ANSI SQL (Structured Query Language).  For more information, see
Here is a list of Free Webhosting with free MySQL Database.

Name Server (Nameserver) - A program or computer that translates names from one form into another.  For example, a Domain Name Server (also called a "host server") performs the mapping of domain names to IP numbers.

Newsgroups - The name for discussion groups (forums) on USENET.  A newsgroup is a discussion about a particular subject consisting of messages submitted by many users.  Newsgroups may be "moderated" by a designated person who decides which postings to allow or delete, but most newsgroups are unmoderated.

OCx - Optical Carrier levels - Used to specify the speed of fiber optic networks.  The base rate (OC-1) is 51.84 Mbps.  OC-2 runs at twice the base rate, OC-3 at three times the base rate (155.52 Mbps), etc.  Common rates are: OC-1, OC-3, OC-12, OC-24, and OC-48.  Below is a table of theoretical throughput (approximate) for various OC levels.

OC-1 = 51.84 Mbps
OC-3 = 155.52 Mbps
OC-9 = 466.56 Mbps
OC-12 = 622.08 Mbps
OC-24 = 1.244 Gbps
OC-36 = 1.866 Gbps
OC-48 = 2.488 Gbps
OC-96 = 4.976 Gbps
OC-192 = 9.953 Gbps
OC-255 = 13.219 Gbps

OC-3 - A network line which transmits 155.52 Mbps. This is the size of the largest Internet backbone providers networks.  See OCx - Optical Carrier levels.

Perl - A server-side scripting language which is commonly used to write CGI programs.  Perl programs, or "scripts", are text files which are parsed (run through and executed) by a program called an "interpreter" on the server.

PHP - A server-side scripting language. The PHP commands, which are embedded in the web page's HTML, are executed on the web server to generate dynamic HTML pages.  See
Here is a list of Free PHP Webhosting.

POP3 - Short for Post Office Protocol, Version 3 - A set of rules (protocol) by which a client machine can retrieve electronic mail from a mail server. The POP server("post office") holds the e-mail until the user can retrieve it on their computer. POP3 does not provide for sending email, which can be done via SMTP or other method. POP3 can be used with or without SMTP, whereas the older POP2 standard requires SMTP to send messages.
Here is a list of Free Webspace with Free POP3 Email Service.

Python - An interpreted, object-oriented programming language.  Python is copyrighted, but the source code is freely available and open for modification and reuse.

RealAudio / RealVideo - A client-server software system and file format by Real Networks that allows Internet users to play audio and/or video-based multimedia content in real-time as they are being downloaded (called "streaming media"), instead of the user having to download the complete file before being able to play it.

RealMedia - RealAudio and RealVideo formats are collectively called RealMedia.

SMTP - Abbreviation for Simple Mail Transport Protocol.  SMTP is the main Internet protocol used to send email.

Spam - An inappropriate attempt to use email, USENET, or another networked communications facility as if it was a broadcast medium (which it isn't) by sending the same message to numerous people who didn't ask for it.  Many email services have "spam filters" to help reduce the amount of spam emails.

SSI - Abbreviation for "Server-Side Includes".  A server-side scripting language.  SSI scripting commands are embedded within a webpage and are parsed and executed on the web server to generate dynamic HTML pages.  Common uses of SSI are to include files (e.g. a header or footer file) that are used on multiple pages, or to show the current date and time.

SSL - Abbreviation for Secure Sockets Layer.  SSL is a transaction security standard that provides data encryption, server authentication, and message integrity.  SSL is usually used on sites that accept credit card numbers or other private information.

Subdomain - Sub-domains are domain names with the form,  By definition, a subdomain should not have the prefix of "www".
In order to access this domain with the "www" prefix (i.e., you would have to create a "sub-third-level domain" with the prefix "www.anything".

T-1 - A leased-line connection to the Internet which can transfer data at 1.544 Mbps.  A T-1 line could transfer a megabyte in less than 10 seconds if at maximum theoretical capacity.  A T-1 line contains 24 individual channels, each of which can transfer data at 64 Kbps.  Each of these 24 channels can transfer voice or data traffic.  Many telephone companies will allow you to buy a portion of these individual channels, called "fractional T-1 access".  T-1 lines are also called DS1 lines.

T-3 - A leased-line connection to the Internet which can transfer data at 44.736 Mbps.  It is used mainly by ISPs (Internet Service Providers) connecting to the Internet backbone.  A T-3 line contains 672 individual channels, each of which can transfer data at 64 Kbps.  T-3 lines are also called DS3 lines.

Telnet - An Internet protocol  for accessing a remote server on the Internet.  When you log into the remote server using a Telnet program, you receive a command line prompt for the server that you can give commands to.  Telnet is also known as "remote login".

Terabyte - 1024 gigabytes (GB), but sometimes used to refer to 1000 gigabytes.

Unlimited Webspace - Webspace refers to data storage space accessed via the Internet, usually used to host websites and data files. "Unlimited webspace" means just that, no limits, and therefore is impossible -- all hard drives have a maximum amount of storage space. Unfortanately many hosts claim to offer this, although it is often qualified in their terms of service (TOS) to be less.
Here is a list of free webspace hosting companies claiming to offer Unlimited Webspace.

URI - Abbreviation for "Uniform Resource Identifier", which is a formatted text string that is an identifier for a resource, most generally on the Internet. URIs are used in HTML to identify the anchors of hyperlinks. URIs include URLs and "relative URLs".

URL - Abbreviation for "Uniform Resource Locator" - The web address (location) of a website, file, or resource on the Internet.  For example, is a URL.

USENET - A worldwide system of discussion groups, only part of which can be accessed through the Internet.  USENET contains well over 10,000 discussion areas, or forums, called "newsgroups".

WAP - Short for Wireless Application Protocol - A specification for a set of communication protocols that standardizes the manner in which wireless devices (such as mobile phones, pagers, two-way radios, radio transceivers, smartphones, and communicators) are used for Internet access.

Web address - The location, or URL, of a website, file, or resource on the Internet.  For example, is a web address.

Web page - An HTML document which has its own web address, or URL.  The first page usually requested at a web site is called the "home page".   Using frames, multiple pages (HTML files) can be viewed in a browser and arranged in designated sections of the display screen at the same time -- these can also collectively be called a "web page".  "Web page" is sometimes written as "webpage".

Web server - (1) A computer program that serves the requested files which form web pages to the client's browser.  (2) A web server can also refer to the computer that runs the server software and holds the files for one or more websites.

Web site (or website) - A collection of interlinked web pages with a related topic, usually under a single domain name, which includes an intended starting file called a "home page".  From the home page, you can get to all the other pages on the website.  Also called a "web presence".

Webspace (or web space) - Data storage space accessed via the Internet, usually used to host websites and data files.  Also see the definition of Unlimited Webspace.

Whois - An Internet utility program that obtains information (such as owner and contact info) about a Domain name or IP number from the database of a domain name registry. If the search result returns "No match", the domain name is probably available, and you can apply to register it. To search for a domain name across all registrars at once, you can use BetterWhois.

WYSIWYG - An acronym for "What You See Is What You Get".  A WYSIWYG program is one that allows you to create and edit a web page, text, or graphical user interface so that you can see what the end result will look like while the document  is being created.  WYSIWYG web page editors conceal the markup language (HTML) so as to allow the user to think entirely in terms of how the page should appear.  Microsoft FrontPage and Adobe PageMill are two common WYSIWYG editors.

XML (Extensible Markup Language) - a specification, similar to HTML, developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) for Web documents.  XML contains markup symbols (tags) to describe the contents of a page or file, but unlike HTML, the markup symbols are unlimited and self-defining (i.e. designers can create their own customized tags and tag definitions).  XML is a subset of SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language).

Zone file - A file on a nameserver that designates a domain name with all of its associated subdomains, IP addresses, and mail server.  Parts of the zone file include the A record, CNAME, and MX records.  A zone file is also called a "DNS table".

Can't find what you are looking for?  Also try WhatIs or Webopedia's online dictionary.


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