40 Common Web Hosting Terms Defined - Domains and Hosting

40 Common Web Hosting Terms Defined

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Getting started with hosting your own website can be intimidating and confusing. It is overwhelming when you’re just getting started (and even when you’re a seasoned website owner).

We’re here to break down some of those standard terms you see when you are just getting started with web hosting.

A – D | F – L | M – S | T – Z

Add-on domain

An add-on domain is an additional domain that you can host om` your web hosting account. Depending on your plan, you can have multiple add-on domains in your account. The domain(s) share all the resources (bandwidth, storage, etc.) allocated to your account, meaning you don’t have to purchase a new web hosting plan for every domain that you own.

Related: Domain Name, Parked Domain and Subdomain


A backup is an extra copy of files from your web hosting server stored in a different location. You can use this backup copy to restore your server in case the files get corrupted or deleted. You can also use a backup to go back in time when changes you’ve made to your website aren’t working the way you would like them to. While many web hosts offer backups as part of their web hosting plans, Canadian Web Hosting included, it’s essential to also have your own backup copy.


Bandwidth in web hosting terms refers to the capacity of the connection between your website and your users. It is the amount of data your website can transfer to your visitors at a given time. More available bandwidth means more website data can be transmitted.

Think of bandwidth as the lanes on a multilane highway and cars as the traffic to your website. Your bandwidth determines how quickly your website can deliver content during peak traffic times. Much like real life, if there is lots of traffic (cars on the road) using the bandwidth (highway lanes), it can lead to delays.


A CDN, or Content Delivery Network, caches versions of your website in multiple geographical locations so that it is easier to load. This caching can help act as a buffer in times of increased traffic. A CDN can improve your overall page load, as well as protect your page from spammers, bots, and DDoS attacks.

Control Panel

A control panel allows you to manage your web hosting services in one single, easy-to-use interface. Through the control panel, you can complete tasks like account administration, add domains, create email accounts, backups, and so much more. Here at Canadian Web Hosting, all of our shared web hosting plans include either the cPanel control panel or the Plesk control panel depending on your plan’s operating system. Users of our VPS and Dedicated Hosting plans can add a control panel to their setup for an additional fee.

See cPanel for an example control panel.


cPanel is a control panel used to manage a web hosting server. It simplifies your website’s management and provides the user tools to manage your web hosting services easily. See a demo of cPanel here.

See Control Panel for more information.

Data Transfer

Data transfer is the amount of data that is moved to and from your server. This includes visits to your website, views, and downloads of photos, graphics or other files.

DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service)

A DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service attack is a malicious cyberattack to disrupt a specific server or website’s typical traffic pattern. It works by overwhelming the target with a flood of requests, causing systems to overload and stop working, preventing legitimate users from accessing the website or server.

Dedicated Hosting

Dedicated hosting is a web hosting option where a whole server is provided to a single customer. You have complete control over the server and can customize it to fit your website’s unique requirements. Dedicated hosting is the most expensive option and is ideal for customers who have high-traffic websites.

Related: Shared Web Hosting & VPS Hosting

Disk Space

Disk space is the amount of storage available to you according to your web hosting plan. Everything you require for your website or server needs to fit within this storage space. This can include things like backups, website files, and databases.

Disk Usage

Disk usage is the amount of storage you have used from the total disk space allocated to you. If you are using cPanel, you can see a quick overview of your total disk usage in your sidebar when you log in.

Domain Name

A domain name is the address that visitors type into their web browser to access your website. The domain name is separate from your web hosting plan. Domain names make it easier for visitors to access websites without having to memorize long IP addresses.

Related: Add-on Domain, Parked Domain and Subdomain

Domain Name System (DNS) 

The Domain Name System (DNS) translates domain names to IP addresses so that web browsers know which website to load. Domain names are the addresses that visitors type into the browser. Web browsers use IP addresses. DNS allows the two systems to communicate effectively. DNS servers eliminate the need for humans to memorize IP addresses.

Domain Registrar

A domain registrar is a business that sells domain names and manages the process of registering them. Registrars must be accredited by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). When a domain registrar sells a domain to a customer, they need to register it by updating a record with your information.  

Domain Registry

A domain registry is an organization responsible for the administration of a particular top-level domain (TLD). They maintain large databases about which domain names have been claimed and by who. A domain registry does not sell domain names – that is the job of a domain registrar. Verisign, one of the largest domain registries, manages the databases for several of the most common TLDs, including .com and .net.


A firewall is a piece of hardware or software used to block unauthorized access to a server or internal system. Based on predetermined rules, the firewall analyzes the network traffic and filters traffic from unsecured or suspicious sources to prevent hackers, viruses and other malicious attacks.


File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is the primary way of transferring files from one computer or server to another. In the case of website owners, an FTP connection offers a convenient way of moving files from your computer to your web server.


.htaccess is a file found in a WordPress installation. It is a basic configuration file used by an Apache webserver. It allows you to make changes to your website’s configuration without having to make changes to your server’s configuration. This file is typically hidden

The .htaccess file is found in the root folder of your WordPress installation. However, the dot in the file name indicates that it is a hidden file. By default, when connecting to your WordPress installation via FTP client or control panel file directory, this file cannot be seen. You will need to modify your settings in order for the file to become visible.

The most common uses for modifying the .htaccess file are to add redirections for URLs and to force your website to use HTTPS instead of HTTP.


HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is a markup language used to create pages on the Internet. HTML defines the structure of a web page and its contents. Much like a word processor, HTML allows you to create sections, paragraphs, headings, links, and other elements of a document. HTML is used in conjunction with frontend languages like CSS and JavaScript to achieve a richer user experience. 


HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) is the protocol for data transfer on the Internet. It gives users a way to interact with HTML files by transferring hypertext between your machine and the server. 


HTTPS is the secure form of HTTP. It provides a secure and encrypted way of transferring data between a website and your web browser. Websites must have an SSL certificate to be routed through HTTPS. It is imperative when transmitting sensitive information like credit card numbers or personal data.

See SSL and SSL certificate.


ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is the organization responsible for managing how we find websites online and assist with keeping the Internet open and secure for everyone. It maintains a central database of IP addresses and helps coordinates the supply of those IPs. It also manages the domain name system.

IP Address

An IP (Internet Protocol) address is a unique string of numbers that identifies a specific computer or server using the Internet protocol on a network. A device connected to the Internet uses its IP address to send and receive data on the Internet.

Linux Server

A Linux server is a popular operating system used on servers.  Linux is open-sourced, allowing anyone to contribute and improve it. It is also free, resulting in Linux-based web hosting often being lower in cost compared to its Windows-based web hosting counterpart.

Load Balancing

Load balancing is the process of distributing traffic across a network of computers or servers to improve efficiency. It ensures that no single server is overloaded with too much demand by spreading the work around. High traffic websites can use a load balancer to route traffic to maximize website speed and improve user experience. Load balancing can aid with increased uptime as well – if a single server experiences downtime, the load balancer can reroute traffic to other online servers to keep services online.


MySQL is an open-sourced relational database management system (RDMS) that uses Structured Query Language (SQL). SQL is a popular language for accessing, adding, and managing content in a database due to its ease of use, flexibility and reliability. MySQL adds the relational element to it by giving you the ability to manipulate and link SQL data tables together as needed. MySQL works in conjunction with PHP to run WordPress. Each installation of WordPress requires its own MySQL database.


Nameservers help connect website URLs to their IP address counterpart as a part of the Domain Name System (DNS). Most websites will have at least two nameservers. You use these nameservers to point your domain name to where you are hosting your website. Your domain registrar is where you can edit your domain’s nameservers.

Parked Domain

A parked domain is a different domain that also points to your main domain. Sometimes called an alias, parked domains are useful when you have one website but wish to have multiple domains point to it. For example, you may want to purchase common misspellings of your domain or to purchase a different top-level domain (ie. example.com vs example.ca) and have them all go to the same website content.

A parked domain can also be used to reference a domain name that has been purchased but not in use. Instead, the domain name is “parked” for use later or to be sold.

Related: Add-on Domain, Domain Name and Subdomain


PHP is an open-source scripting language. It embeds into HTML, which makes it a good choice for web development. HTML determines the general structure and content of a web page, while PHP provides dynamic content through scripts. PHP can be used to manage dynamic content, databases, and build entire e-commerce sites. It is the language behind WordPress and Facebook.

Shared Web Hosting

Shared web hosting is one of the most popular options for web hosting. Shared hosting allows multiple websites to be hosted on one server. Each customer on the server is allocated their own portion of the server’s resources for them to use. This web hosting option is an easy and economical way of getting started with a website.

See Dedicated Hosting and VPS


Softaculous is a script library that allows users to automate the installation of apps onto their web server. Applications like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla can be installed in just a couple of clicks using Softaculous.


Secure Socket Shell (SSH) allows users to connect to another website or server securely. It enables system administrators to manage systems and issue commands remotely as if they were there in person.

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer)

A Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is the technology used to secure and encrypt an Internet connection. Any information sent through this connection is encrypted and kept private. It prevents outsiders, often with malicious intent, from reading and modifying any confidential or sensitive information sent.

See HTTPS and SSL certificate.

SSL certificate 

An SSL certificate is a digital certificate that authenticates a website’s identity while providing a secure and encrypted connection between you and the website. It is commonly found on websites where personal or credit card information is submitted, but SSL certificates are becoming universal across the Internet. If a website has an SSL certificate, the URL will say HTTPS (vs HTTP for an unsecured connection), and you will find a padlock to the left of the website URL in your web browser as well.


A subdomain is an additional part of your main domain name. It is used to organize and separate the different parts of your website. For example, if yourwebsite.com is your main domain, you could potentially have a subdomain of shop.yourwebsite.com to sell your products or blog.yourwebsite.com for a blog or even both of them.

Related: Add-on Domain, Domain Name and Parked Domain

TLD (Top-Level Domain)

A TLD or Top-Level Domain is the rightmost part of the domain name that comes after the dot. Examples of TLDs include .com, .ca, .org, and .travel. There are three main types of TLDs:

  • gTLD (Generic Top-Level Domains) contains the most well-known TLDs like .com, .org and .net. Anyone can register these TLDs.
  • sTLD (Sponsored Top-Level Domains) are sponsored by specific entities. For example, .gov is used by the US government or .edu for post-secondary institutions in the US. There are only 14 sTLDs available.
  • ccTLD (Country Code Top-Level Domains) are TLDs that represent countries and territories around the world. These include TLDs like .ca for Canada, .uk for the United Kingdom, and .jp for Japan.


Uptime is the time a server is working and available to be accessed. It is calculated by the ratio of time available divided by the total time.


A VPS or virtual private server uses software to divide a server into multiple virtual servers with dedicated resources. This allows a VPS user to experience similar capabilities and performance to a dedicated server, but on a much smaller and affordable scale. A VPS is an excellent solution for those who have outgrown the limits of shared hosting but do not require a single server on their own.

Related: Shared Web Hosting and Dedicated Hosting

Website Builder

A website builder is a tool for users to create a website easily without requiring any website coding knowledge.


WordPress is a popular open-sourced platform to create a website easily. There are lots of plugins and themes available to help you customize how your website looks and functions.

Looking to get started with your website? At Canadian Web Hosting we are here to help you get online. From shared web hosting plans to backup options, we have a web hosting solution for you. Get in touch!

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