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We get it. Setting up a website can be intimidating. And for many people, one of the biggest hurdles to getting online is simply learning to speak the language of the internet. That’s why we created a visual glossary, defining 35 common web hosting terms, acronyms, and phrases (we’ve also included a text-only version at the bottom of this post). That’s right, you’ve just unlocked the “techspeak achievement.” Time to level up or, in this case, start a website.

The Most Common Hosting Terms Infographic

Web hosting glossary, the text version

Bandwidth: The amount of data that can be transferred to or from your website each second.

Blog: A regularly updated website, web page, or section of a website. New entries are called posts; posts can be used to drive traffic to your site and help with SEO.

Cloud hostingCloud hosting mirrors your data across multiple storage devices instead of having it reside on just one machine. This redundancy ensures reliability for your site.

CDNA content delivery network (CDN) is a network of servers distributed across multiple data centers around the world. It delivers web content, specifically static files like your website’s images and page styles, to end users. Because of this, using a CDN is a great way to speed up your website’s loading time for users who are far away from your original web server.

Control panel: The control panel is the nerve center of your Bluehost account. This is where you can add new domains, manage your website, create email addresses, install applications, and manage behind-the-scenes settings.

CMS: A content management system (CMS) is a software application with a user-friendly interface that you install on a hosting server to make managing a website easier. A CMS is particularly great for people without a coding background to get started with a website.

CPU: The central processing unit (CPU) is the brain of your server or computer. It executes commands, makes decisions, and does the input/output calculations.

Data center: A data center is a specialized facility that houses thousands of servers that are connected via a network to the Internet.

Dedicated hostingDedicated hosting allows you to lease an entire server for your use rather than sharing it with other users or organizations.

DNS: The Domain Name System (DNS) translates easy-to-remember domain names to numerical IP addresses.

Domain name: A domain name, like, is used to identify the location of a particular web page.

Domain registrar: A domain registrar is a company accredited by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to register and manage domain names.

Ecommerce: Ecommerce is the practice of buying and selling products or services online.

FTP and SFTP: File Transfer Protocol (FTP) and Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) are used to transfer files between a computer and a server. FTP is especially useful for bulk transfers, so you don’t have to move hundreds of files individually.

HTML: HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is a computer language that tells your web browser how to display a web page.

HTTP: HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is an application protocol for transferring files on the web. Think of it as the foundation of the internet.

HTTPS: HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is the use of HTTP over a secure connection, most commonly in conjunction with Transport Layer Security (TLS).

IP address: Each internet-connected computer has at least one IP address, a unique sequence of numbers and/or letters, that serves two purposes: host or network interface identification (who it is) and location addressing (where it is).

Malware: Harmful software that aims to damage, disable, or take control of your computer, mobile device, website, or network. Malware is often used to steal information or hold data for ransom.

Parked DomainFor Bluehost customers, a parked domain is a special feature that allows you to have a new domain display the same content as one of your other domains. So you can have multiple domains pointing to the same website. Outside of cPanel hosting, a parked domain is a domain name that has been registered but isn’t currently pointing to a website. Organizations often park domains for future use or to ensure they aren’t registered by other buyers.

Payment Gateway: A payment gateway is a service that allows users to authorize credit card payments for e-commerce. Payment gateways often have specific compliance requirements based on your business type and transaction volume.

PHP: PHP (a backronym for Hypertext Preprocessor) is a scripting language designed for web development. It combines dynamic content (like prices, comments, or shopping cart content) with static content (like page styles and images) into HTML so your browser can display it.

Plugin: In WordPress, a plugin is a software component that allows you to add a specific feature or function to an existing website.

RAM: Random access memory (RAM) is where your server or computer stores the short-term data it needs to access regularly or quickly.

Server: A server is a powerful computer designed for a specific task. For example, hosting servers are programmed to serve up web content. To ensure reliability and performance, unneeded components are removed, so most servers don’t have video cards, monitors, or even a keyboard.

Shared hosting: Shared hosting is when your website resides on a server alongside other people’s sites. The server’s available resources are shared by all the sites.

Site Backup: Site backup is the practice of copying and archiving data so that you can restore your site in the event of a system failure, cyber attack, or human error.

SSL and TLS: Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is the predecessor of Transport Layer Security (TLS). They are both encryption protocols designed to secure connections between computer systems. For convenience and legacy reasons, both protocols are often referred to as SSL.

SSL certificate: An SSL certificate is used to provide third-party validation of your encryption key, so someone else can’t pretend to be your website. Bluehost customers get a free SSL certificate in their control panel.

SubdomainsSubdomains allow you to add a prefix to your domain name (for example, to create an easy-to-remember URL for specific content without having to register additional domains.

TLDs: Top-level domains (TLDs) are the suffixes, such as .com, .space, and .website, at the end of every web address.

Uptime: The amount of time the server is uninterrupted and your website is accessible. This can be measured linearly (154 days uptime) or as a percentage (99 percent uptime over the last year).

Virus: A virus is malware that self-replicates by infecting other programs, servers, or home computers. Viruses are commonly transmitted through email.

VPSA virtual private server (VPS) is a web hosting server that is partitioned into sections that act as virtual dedicated servers, with each being assigned to only one user at a time.

Web hosting service: A web hosting service provides server space so individuals and businesses can make websites accessible on the internet.

  • Tiffani Anderson

    Tiffani is a Content and SEO Manager for the Bluehost brand. With over 10 years experience across all facets of content and brand marketing, she strives to combine concepts from brand marketing with engaging content through the lens of SEO.

    University of North Texas
    Previous Experience
    Content Marketing, SEO, Social Media
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