Jargon buster, part 1
Domain names and web hosting
There's a lot of jargon that gets thrown around in this industry. And a lot of it is nonsense, just words that have been made up to somehow make things seem more important than they perhaps are. Here I'll explain some of the terms you might encounter when we look at domain names and web hosting.
Simply put, they are the name used to identify a website. Domain names are registered through a domain name registrar for a period of a year or more. Examples: fluxcms.com.au, google.com, facebook.com are all domain names.
URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator. It's the string of characters that is used to name a website. Although technically ever so slightly different to a domain name, it's more or less the same thing.
Domain name registrar
A domain name registrar is a company that is authorised by Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to register and maintain lists of domain names for clients or registrants.
Domain name registrant
The registrant is the person or company in whose name or on whose behalf a domain has been registered.
IP, or Internet protocol, addresses provide a way for computers to locate a server. They are comprised of 4 sets of numbers, each set separated by a dot. Examples: 184.108.40.206, 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168. IP addresses are rarely used by humans as long chains of numbers are hard to remember - that's where domain names come in.
Nameservers are servers whose single job is to decide where traffic for particular domains should go. They are set when a domain name is registered, and point to a location that holds all the domain name settings (DNS) records for that domain. Examples: ns1.2amhost.com, ns2.2amhost.com. A minimum of 2 nameserver should be set, preferably 3.
Domain name servers
Domain name servers (DNS) hold different snippets of information about what should happen to information regarding a particular domain name. The 2 most common DNS settings are those for web and for email. Here's a great expanation: How Domain Name Servers Work.
Web hosting is a computer (server) that has been setup in such a way that it can host websites and display webpages to site visitors. There are many kinds of web hosting servers, all of which have particular uses and/or requirements.
- Windows ASP hosting - runs on Microsoft's Windows platform and allow the use of a specific kind of technology known as Active Server Pages (ASP) and ASP.NET.
- Linux hosting - runs on the Linux platform.
As well as different platforms, there's also the kind of environment the hosting runs in:
- shared hosting is cheaper, and means that many sites live on a single server.
- dedicated hosting is vastly more expensive, and means that a single site has an entire server all to itself.
Which of these options you use depends on your developer and their preferred environment, the technology that underpins your site, and the bandwidth/traffic requirements of your site. Which brings me to...
Bandwidth is used to refer to 2 different things.
- It can be the speed or rate at which data can be transferred out of your server (think of it like a pipe carrying water - the fatter the pipe, the faster the water can move from place to place)
- It can refer to limits placed on the total amount of data transferred within a given period (usually a month).
If your site exceeds its bandwidth, it may "go down" or be unavailable, or you may incur excess transfer charges from your web host.
Posted by Kate Finch on 12 April 2011