Backbone: High-speed data connection which forms a major path within a network. Sometimes likened to the spinal cord carrying data from the brain (server) to the rest of the body (clients), connections between cities and countries are generally considered the "backbones" of the internet. Internet backbones were once maintained by collaborative groups of government and university researchers, however the cost to maintain them now requires they operate commercially and they are supported almost entirely by major telecommunications companies.
Bandwidth: A radio term meaning the frequency width of a transmission in Hertz, kiloHertz or megaHertz. In common use however, it is how much data can flow through a given point during a given period of time. Usually measured in bits, kilobits, megabits or gigabits per second (bps, kbps, mbps, gbps). Also often incorrectly use to mean "data transfer" (e.g. 200gb of "bandwidth").
Certificate Authority (CA): An issuer of Security Certificates used in SSL connections.
Common Gateway Interface (CGI): A standard for interfacing applications with web servers. A CGI script allows a program to be run on your server which can output dynamic (as opposed to "static HTML") information. Hit counters, mail forms, search pages and guestbooks are all typical CGI scripts. Perl is the predominant CGI language and thus the names Perl and CGI are often incorrectly used interchangeably.
Control Panel (CP): An on-line interface which allows users or administrators to view the status of or edit the content or software on a web site or other internet server.
Data Center (DC): A telecommunications facility which provides web hosts and other companies with the means of connecting server hardware to network backbones. Data centers generally provide facilities, power, networking, air conditioning and security, and may or may not provide any web hosting services.
Domain Name: A unique name which identifies an internet site. Domain names always have 2 or more parts, separated by dots. The part on the left being the most specific and the part on the right the most general. You can look at domain names like this:
.com = "company"
srohosting.com = "SRO Hosting company"
www.srohosting.com = "Web site for SRO Hosting company"
mail.srohosting.com = "Mail server for SRO Hosting company"
A server machine may host many domain names but a complete domain name always points to one machine. For example, the names: 'srohosting.com', 'mail.srosystems.com' and 'tig.srosoftware.com' are all on the same machine, but if we wanted (if we had to handle a hundred thousand emails a day for instance), 'mail.srosystems.com' could be on an entirely different machine.
File Transfer Protocol (FTP): The most common method of moving files between two Internet sites. FTP is a way to login to another Internet site for the purposes of retrieving and/or sending files. Many Internet sites have publicly accessible files which can be obtained using FTP, by logging in using the account name anonymous, thus these sites are called anonymous ftp servers.
Firewall: Hardware or software which separates a LAN into two or more parts for security reasons. Fire Walls are often used by companies which house their public servers on the same network as their private servers. The Fire Wall provides a measure of security that those accessing the company's Web site will not be able to access private data on the same network.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): FAQs are documents which list and answer the most commonly asked questions on a particular subject. They grew from the very logical idea that with a billion people online, any question you have has probably already been answered several times.
Gateway: Hardware or software which translates between dissimilar protocols. For example an online service such as AOL has a gateway that translates between its internal, proprietary e-mail format and Internet e-mail format. The network switch which transfers data from your phone line to an internet backbone is also a gateway.
Hit: A single request from a web browser for a single item on a web server. Hits are often used as a measure of load on a server, however the actual load on a machine from 1 hit is rarely relevant as that hit might be a 2kb page of text, a 50kb image or a 20mb program file.
Host: A computer designated is a provider of services to other computers on a network. A "web host" is usually referred to as the person providing the service, but it originally referred to the machine responsible for this.
HyperText Markup Language (HTML): The language used to create most documents for use on the web. HTML is a lot like old-fashioned typesetting code, where you surround a block of text with codes that indicate how it should appear. Additionally, HTML can specify that a block of text, or a word, is linked to another file somewhere else on the internet. HyperText simply means "text linking to other text".
HyperText Transport Protocol (HTTP): The protocol for moving hypertext files across the Internet. Requires a HTTP client (web browser) on one end and an HTTP server (web server) on the other.
Internet Service Provider (ISP): An institution which provides access to the internet.
IP Address : A unique number consisting of 4 parts separated by dots (e.g. 192.168.0.1) which is used to uniquely identify a machine (not necessarily a server) on a network.
Local Area Network (LAN): A computer network limited to the immediate area, usually the same building.
Login: The account name used to gain access to a computer system or the act of entering that system.
Mirror: To maintain an exact copy of something. Mirror sites or mirror servers maintain exact copies of material originated at another location, usually to provide either faster access or failsafe protection.
Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME): The standard for attaching non-text files to email messages. Non-text files include graphics, spreadsheets, formatted word-processor documents, sound files, etc. Generally, the MIME standard is a way of specifying both the type of file being sent and the method that should be used to turn it back into its original form. MIME is also used by web servers to identify the files they are sending to web clients. The client (your browser) can in turn determine how your system should handle each type of file.
Network: 2 or more computers connected to share resources with each other.
Packet: A self-contained bundle of data sent over a switching network. Packets are small, with files broken into multiple packets for transmission and reassembled at the other end. A packet includes a header with to and from addresses, relation to other packets (sequencing), and error checking information. See TCP/IP.
Post Office Protocol (POP3): A protocol used to retrieve e-mail from a mail server. Most e-mail applications (e-mail "clients") use the POP protocol, although some can also use the newer IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol).
Router: Hardware and software which manages the connection between multiple networks. Routers look at the destination addresses of the packets passing through them and decide which path to send them on.
Secure Shell (SSH): Secure replacement for Telnet which allows login and "command access" to a remote machine.
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL): A protocol designed by Netscape to enable encrypted communication over the internet. SSL is used mostly in communications between web browsers and servers and URLs that begin with “https” are a general indication that an SSL connection is being used. In an SSL connection, each side sends a security certificate to the other to verify who they're talking to and all information between them is encrypted using information from both security certificates to ensure that only the intended recipient can decode it.
Server: Computer hardware or software which provides a service to clients on other computers. The term can refer to a particular piece of software, such as a "web server" or to the machine on which it is running. While it was common in the past to use separate hardware for each server, modern server hardware is capable of running many different "servers" (web server, mail server, ftp server) at once.
Server Side Includes (SSI): Commands which may be included in web pages and processed by the web server when a user requests a file. The command takes the form . For example, a common use for SSI commands is to insert the date or last modified date on a file.
Simple Mail Transport Protocol (SMTP): The main protocol used to send email over the internet. SMTP is of a set of rules for how programs sending and receiving email should interact. Though changing slowly for security and spam prevention, almost all internet email is still sent and received by clients and servers using SMTP.
Spam: Colloquial term for inappropriate use of a mailing list or network communications facility by sending the same message to a large number of people who didn't ask for it. The term is assumed to come from a Monty Python skit featuring the word spam repeated over and over. Also a registered trademark of Hormel Corporation, for its processed meat product.
Structured Query Language (SQL): A specialized programming language for sending queries to databases. Most database applications can be addressed using SQL. Each application will have its own version of SQL implementing features unique to that application, but all SQL-capable databases support a common subset of SQL.
Transmission Control Protocol(TCP): The protocols which define how internet communications work. Originally designed for UNIX, TCP/IP software is now available for every major operating system. Your computer must have TCP/IP software to be on the Internet.
Telnet: A command and program used to connect from one computer to another. The telnet program simply allows you to run commands on another computer. Telnet alone is not secure (transmits everything as plain text) and is thus very rarely used any more.
Uniform Resource Locator (URL): The standard way to give the address of any web site. A URL looks like this: http://www.sitename.com/directory/pagename.htm. The most common way to use a URL is to enter into a Web browser program, such as Internet Explorer.
Unix/Linux: A computer operating system designed to be used by many people at the same time. Linux is the most common operating system for internet servers.
Unlimited (bandwidth/disk space): Marketing term used by unscrupulous hosts to attract unwary customers. Outright lie. Everything has a limit.
Wide Area Network (WAN): Any internet or network that covers an area larger than a single building or location.