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A Basic Glossary of Web Hosting Terms

Taína CuevasApr 3, 2018

Choosing a web host is a complex undertaking, especially when trying to make sense of the technical jargon involved. To go along with our comprehensive reviews, we’ve put together this guide to the terms most often cited by our featured companies. 

Bandwidth

Bandwidth refers to the rate or speed at which data can be transferred from a website or server to a computer. The bandwidth strength determines the speed at which a user can download files, open web pages, etc.

Domain Name

A domain name is the unique identifier, or the address, of a website. Much like using a phone number to reach an acquaintance, computers contact each other through a series of numbers called IP addresses. Each website has a unique sequence of numbers through which they can be accessed; however, since a string of numbers would be very difficult to remember, a domain name–or website address, for example, www.consumersadvocate.org–is matched to the IP address and allows users to access that website in a way they can easily remember.

Anyone can rent a domain name license if it is not in use; however, this does not mean they instantly have a website. As an often-used metaphor goes, the domain name is simply the address for the house, while the website is the house itself.

SSL Certificate

An SSL Certificate (Secure Sockets Layer), also called a Digital Certificate, creates an encrypted, secure link between a server or website and the user’s computer. SSL encryption can help keep private data like social security numbers or credit card information safe from hackers. Websites selling services or products that require credit card or banking information will need an SSL Certificate.

Web Hosting

Web hosting is a service that allows users to publish their website on the internet by providing them with space on a server. In addition to space, the web host manages different functions of the website, including access from other users, technical maintenance, and security. The space the web host provides can be shared with other users or solely dedicated to one user’s website, among other options.

WordPress

WordPress is an online website creation tool and one of the most popular website content management systems. Known for its user-friendliness, this is often the option for those who are contemplating building their own website for the first time.

WordPress.com can host websites for free, but the free version has certain limitations. The full features of WordPress are available through another option: the WordPress.org program. To use the program, the user must find a web hosting firm and install the program themselves, but it does give them full control over their website.