If you’re in the market for a web host, you’re likely to find yourself face-to-face with a lot of lingo. In order to make a solid decision about hosting, it’s important to do a bit of research to figure out what these terms mean and how they’ll affect your website. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of the key terms:


Types of Hosting: There are four main kinds of hosting servers: shared, virtual private server (VPS), dedicated and cloud. Their difference lies in storage capacity, speed, control, reliability and the amount of technical knowledge needed. We’ll look at the details about each of these servers below:


Shared hosting: How does it work? Several website accounts are housed in one centralized server and share the available resources. Shared hosting is typically the lowest-cost, entry-level hosting option. It can handle moderate traffic and is user-friendly (requires less tech know-how than other servers) - but also practical for small businesses and personal sites that don’t expect traffic overflows.


Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting: A VPS still technically exists in a shared server, but within that shared server it’s divided into virtual servers, creating the effect of a dedicated server. VPS hosting is a good choice for users who want to have root access (to gain greater control and flexibility) and a more secure hosting system. If a shared server isn’t sufficient, but you don’t want to pay for a dedicated server, a VPS is a good option.


Dedicated Server Hosting: A dedicated server is essentially a private server, where just one webmaster has control of the whole server and its resources - so your website only inhabits the space of the server. Dedicated hosting is a bit pricier than the previous options.


Cloud Hosting: Cloud hosting uses a group of servers, known as a cloud, to host several sites. It doesn’t rely on any one server, but collectively on the whole group, which allows for more flexibility and scalability. Cloud hosting is one of the best for handling traffic spikes, as the whole group of servers works together to manage increased traffic.


Bandwidth (or, data transfer): Bandwidth is the amount of data that is transferred through interactions in your website. For example, to visit your site, load images or text, upload or download files, viewers use bandwidth.


cPanel: cPanel is a Linux-based control panel that provides a standard, image-based interface with tools to manage your hosting accounts.


Domain Name: A domain name is what defines a realm of administrative control on the Internet - it represents either an IP resource, a server computer that hosts a site, or a website itself. Concretely, it’s a URL, what people type in to find your site. In order to obtain a domain name, you’ll need to purchase one from a domain registrar. Make sure to choose a name that’s easy to remember and that’s related to the content of your website.


MySQL: It’s an open source relational database management system (RDBMS). This is a kind of database that’s commonly included in hosting packages, since it’s an important part of many of the applications you’re likely to install to house and retrieve information (like Drupal, Joomla and WordPress). MySQL is named after My, the software co-founder’s daughter, and Structured Query Language (SQL).


SQL Server: Refers to any database that uses structured query language (SQL), or a relationship database management system developed by Microsoft. It serves to store and retrieve data as requested by other applications.


Uptime: Uptime is a percentage that measures how much of the time hardware/an IT system or device is operational - when it’s working. You’ll want to see hosting services with 99% and above to make sure that your site won’t have downtime (and be nonfunctional), that way visitors’ experiences on your page aren’t disrupted.


URL: A URL, or Uniform Resource Locator, is a web address. It signals a particular web resource, its location on a network and the mechanism used to retrieve it.


Website builder: Website builders are services that facilitate the creation of websites, without the need to know about site design or coding. They allow users to customize and launch a professional site quickly that’s mobile-responsive, has social media and eCommerce integration, and is secure. Website builders allow for varying levels of customization, so they are attractive tools for both beginners and advanced users alike. But certainly for novices, website builders can help put together a high quality product with little effort and at a low cost.


WordPress: WordPress is a free, open-source content management system (CMS) that’s based on PHP and MySQL. It is used to create websites and general digital content, and offers many plugins and applications for site customization and utilities. To use, just install - typically web hosts offer WordPress as a 1-click installation.