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Hosting Glossary

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Website Hosting Glossary

Apache - Popular Web server software which MySite uses to provide access to web pages on it's shared hosting platform. Apache is an example of open-source programming and is highly respected and popular due to its great features, performance, and security. MySite shared hosting runs Apache.

Bandwidth - Technically, bandwidth is a measure of how much data can be handled at one time. However, as it pertains to web hosting, this is usually the allotment of the data that your web hosting account is permitted on a monthly basis. This permits your web hosting provider a means of anticipating how much "pipe" they will need in order to service your visitors for purposes of allocation. Overages frequently result in overage charges, so it's in your interest to determine your bandwidth needs and choose a package with sufficient allotment. If you later find you need more (or less for that matter), you can switch your hosting package to one which better accommodates your needs.

CGI - An acronym meaning Common Gateway Interface. These are scripts (programs) that are executed on the server side of the connection. They are for processing form input and tasks related to user data that must be performed on the server's side of the connection (as opposed to activities that happen in the user's browser or on their computer).

Cookie - A text file used primarily to overcome problems associated with the Web's stateless environment. We use cookies primarily to help speed up a user's experience and reduce the amount of data that gets passed back and forth between the user and the server during a connection. MySite utilities require browser cookie support in order to create an account or use member area utilities.

Domain names - These are the "friendly" addresses you give to your family, friends, and others that you wish to have visit your web site in lieu of an IP address which is decidedly less user friendly. Imagine having to tell your friends to visit your site at http://64.136.24.162:80 instead of me.mysite.com. Domain names are resolved through a service called DNS which translates the friendly name into the IP address where it "lives".

Flash - A popular web technology famous for it's vectored animation and user interactivity traits. Many games and multimedia presentations that include animation and music which appear on the Web were written in Adobe's Flash program. These are downloaded from the web page and played (aka "executed") on a visitors machine via a flash plugin which runs through the visitor's browser.

FrontPage - A popular website design tool developed by Microsoft. It's been discontinued and replaced with SharePoint Designer and Expression Web, however many webmasters that developed pages using it still utilize it. MySite continues to offer support for FrontPage extensions.

FTP - An acronym for File Transfer Protocol. FTP is used primarily as a means to upload files and directories enmasse to a website. It's often used as a means of downloading as well. Uniquely designed to cater to file transfer, FTP is more useful for serious developers than HTTP alternatives which utilize HTML form inputs. MySite supports FTP in many of the hosting packages it offers.

HTML - An acronym for HyperText Markup Language. This is the primary language of web pages. It's the language which Web servers speak to browsers in order to have your web page displayed to your visitors.

HTTP - An acronym for HyperText Transfer Protocol. This is the protocol that is used to permit HTML and other files to move across the Internet.

Load Balancing - This is a process involving machines or server software which distributes traffic requests across multiple servers. This is a great benefit of shared hosting in that it incorporates a level of redundancy into a process that can otherwise become bogged down with fluxuating traffic levels.

MIME - An acronym for Multipurpose Internet Email Extensions. This is a protocol which facilitates the transfer of files to users requesting them. A popular MIME type is text/html which is what tells the web server how to transfer an HTML request back to the visitor's browser as well as telling the browser how to render the page, or to pass the data along to another application such as an audio or video player.

Name server - A server that takes a domain name as input and returns an IP address to the computer or network where that domain is being serviced. All web requests involving a domain name go through a name server at least to cache the results for some period of time.

POP - Is an acronym for Post Office Protocol, a protocol that client-side email software uses to communicate with a mail server and "pop" messages off of it, downloading them to the client computer for offline consumption. This is an alternative to webmail and IMAP.

Propagation - This is the process by which DNS changes are spread across the Internet. This is applicable for domain names particularly because when a change is made to change where the primary and secondary name servers are hosted, it can take some time for those changes to spread across the Internet. As this happens, anyone requesting the domain will get routed to the old location of the primary and secondary name servers until the changes are automatically updated in time on that server. This process can take anywhere from minutes to days depending on a collection of factors.

Shared hosting - This is an inexpensive alternative to dedicated hosting and virtual private servers. This is the primary hosting service that MySite offers. It's an arrangement in which many web sites share system resources, defraying the costs across the collective.

SMTP - An acronym for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. This is a protocol that mail servers use to send messages.

Subdomain - This is a type of address popularized by Freeservers in the late 90's. It's basically a domain within a domain. For example mysite.com is a domain, and members.mysite.com is a subdomain of mysite.com.

TLD - An acronym for Top Level Domain referring to a suffix such as .com, .net, .org, .ws, etc.

Virtual host - A shared web hosting solution. This is the most basic and least expensive type of web hosting. It implies a configuration in which many sites share a server.

Virtual Private Server - Also known as "VPS", a virtual private server provides the features of a shared web host, but on a machine which has more of its resources dedicated to the specific accounts. Essentially this is the next step up when a shared hosting customer outgrows the functionality often associated with those services. VPS is an inexpensive alternative to a dedicated server.

WHOIS - A central database which tracks all domain name/IP registrations. This is a service used to determine if a domain has been registered, where it's hosted, and who has registered it. Some services obscure the registering entity's information to prevent people from being able to ascertain that information directly.