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At NetNation, we appreciate that navigating through the amazing alphabet soup of acronyms, abbreviations and just plain unfamiliar-sounding words can be a challenge. So we've compiled a glossary of web, Internet and general tech terms. It's by no means exhaustive, but we've tried to select terms we think are important to a well-rounded understanding of the field.

Acrobat Reader
Address, email
Address, web page
Address, web site
Application Service Provider (ASP)
Auto Responder
Browser, web
Digital cash
Disk space
Domain name
email Aliasing
Fire wall
Flash (Macromedia)
FTP (File Transfer Protocol)
Graphical Usage Statistics
Hosting, web
Hosting, dedicated
Hosting, shared
Hosting, web
Http Streaming
Internet Service Provider
IP (Internet Protocol)
IP Number (Internet Protocol Number)
ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network)
Leased line
Merchant banks
Microsoft NT
MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions)
Modem (MOdulator, DEModulator)
NAP (Network Access Point)
NT, Microsoft
Packet Switching
Personal CGI directory
POP (Point of Presence, also Post Office Protocol)
PPP (Point to Point Protocol)
PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network)
Push media
Real Audio and Real Video
Search Engine
Secure transactions
Shopping cart
Shell account
Sig or signature file
SMDS (Switched Multimegabit Data Service)
SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol)
Spam (or Spamming)
Sysop (System Operator)
TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol)
URL (Uniform Resource Locator)
WAIS (Wide Area Information Servers)
WAN (Wide Area Network)
Web Developer
Web Publishing Software
World Wide Web

Acrobat Reader: A stand-alone program or web browser plug-in from Adobe that lets users view a PDF file in its original format and appearance.

Address, email: The specific location of an electronic mailbox on the Internet.

Address, web page: The specific location of a single web page on the Internet.

Address, web site: The specific location of a web site on the Internet.

ADSL (Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line): An ADSL circuit connects two specific locations (similar to a leased line) but at much greater speed than a regular phone connection. Theoretically, ADSL should allow download speeds of up to 9 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 640 Kbps.

ANSI (American National Standards Institute): The American body responsible for setting telecommunications standards in the U.S.

Application Service Provider (ASP): Application Service Providers in essence rent access to the latest and most popular software programs over the Internet.

ARPANet (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network): This precursor to the Internet was created in the late '60s and early '70s by the U.S. Defense Department as an experiment in wide-area networking that would survive a nuclear war.

ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange): The world-wide standard for code numbers used by computers to represent all upper and lowercase Latin letters, numbers, punctuation, etc. There are 128 standard ASCII codes, each of which can be represented by a seven-digit binary number

ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode): A common Internet protocol for transferring data across the Internet.

Auto Responder: Automatically sends a text file reply when an email is received.

Backbone: A high-speed line or series of connections forming a major pathway within a network, which carries data gathered from smaller connections that interconnect with it.

Bandwidth: Measures the amount of information that can be transmitted over a network, normally measured in megabytes (MB) or gigabytes (GB). Simple HTML web pages do not require a large amount of bandwidth, but full-motion video does.

Baud: The baud rate of a modem measures how many bits it can send or receive per second. Technically, baud is the number of times per second the carrier signal shifts value.

BBS (Bulletin Board System): A computerized meeting and announcement system that allows people to carry on discussions, upload and download files, and make announcements.

Binhex (BINary HEXadecimal): A method for converting non-text files (non-ASCII) into ASCII.

Bit (Binary DigIT): The smallest unit of computerized data.

BITNET (Because It's Time NETwork or Because It's There NETwork): A network of educational sites separate from the Internet.

Bps (Bits-Per-Second): A measurement of how fast data is moved from one place to another.

Browser, web: A computer program that opens and displays web pages. Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Netscape's Netscape are common web browsers.

Byte: A set of bits that represent a single character. Usually there are eight bits in a byte, sometimes more, depending on how the measurement is made.

CGI (Common Gateway Interface): The method of passing data back and forth between the web server and the application program is called the common gateway interface (CGI). CGI "scripts" are used for tasks such as submitting forms to a web server.

Client: A software program used to contact and obtain data from a server software program on another computer. Each client program is designed to work with one or more specific kinds of server programs, and each server requires a specific kind of client. A web browser is a specific kind of client.

Colocation: A basic service offered by web hosts for customers who own their own web servers. Colocation includes the rental of space in the data centre as well as the connection of the web server to the Internet.

Conferencing: A group-wide online communication process, conducted either via the Internet or an organizational intranet. Conference participants can view online presentations, communicate with each other via chat software or interact one-on-one with audio software and microphones.

Cookie: Refers to a piece of information sent by a web server to a web browser that the browser software saves and sends back to the server. Cookies might contain information such as login or registration information, online "shopping cart" information, user preferences, etc. Cookies can not read hard drives but can gather information about a user's on-line habits.

CyberCashT: A commercial provider of digital cash services that allows users to securely process credit card transactions 24 hours a day, seven days a week. CyberCash works with all popular browsers, as well as the majority of Internet hardware, software, servers, communication protocols and web store applications.

Cyberpunk: Originally a subgenre of science fiction taking place in a dystopian society, the term grew out of the work of William Gibson and Bruce Sterling and is now a cultural label.

Cyberspace: This term, originated by author William Gibson in his novel Neuromancer, is now used to describe the wide range of information resources available through computer networks.

Digital cash: A system of purchasing cash credits in relatively small amounts, storing the credits in your computer, and then spending them when making electronic purchases over the Internet.

Disk space: A measure of hard drive storage, normally measured in megabytes (MB).

Domain name: An individual's or company's unique address ( on the Internet. A domain name is made up of an identifying name followed by a period and a multiple-letter extension such as .com, .org, .net, .edu or a country code such as .ca or .uk

DSL (Digital Subscriber Line): A method of moving data over regular phone lines. A DSL circuit is much faster than a regular phone connection but the wires coming into the subscriber's premises are the same as those used for regular phone service. A DSL circuit must be configured to connect two specific locations, similar to a leased line.

EDI (Electronic Data Interchange): Also referred to as electronic commerce or e-commerce.

E-commerce (Electronic Commerce): The transacting of business electronically via the Internet.

email (Electronic Mail): Messages, usually text, sent from one person to another via the Internet.

email Aliasing: Allows users to have multiple addresses for one POP mailbox.

Ethernet: A common method of networking computers in a LAN (Local Area Network). An Ethernet can handle about 10,000,000 bits-per-second and can be used with almost any kind of computer.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions): FAQs are web site documents that list and answer the most common questions on a particular subject.

FDDI (Fibre Distributed Data Interface): A standard for transmitting data on optical fibre cables at a rate of around 100,000,000 bits-per-second (10 times as fast as an Ethernet, about twice as fast as T-3).

Fire wall: A combination of hardware and software located at the gateway server of a network that protects information contained within the network from users outside the network (on the Internet).

Flash (Macromedia): A standard for interactive vector graphics and animation for the web. web designers use Flash to create beautiful, resizable and compact navigation interfaces, technical illustrations, long-form animations and other effects. Graphics and animation will anti-alias and scale based on the viewer's screen size, providing high-quality viewing.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol): A common method of moving files between two Internet sites for the purposes of retrieving and/or sending files.

Gateway: A hardware or software set-up that translates between two dissimilar protocols.

GIF (Graphic Interchange Format): A common format for image files, especially suitable for images containing large areas of the same colour.

Gigabyte: 1,000 or 1,024 megabytes, depending on the method of measurement used.

Gopher: A widely successful method of making menus of material available over the Internet.

Graphical Usage Statistics: Creates graphs that depict the amount of traffic to a given site, what documents are being accessed, and who is accessing them.

Hit: When used in reference to the World Wide web, "hit" means a single request from a web browser for a single item from a web server. For a web browser to display a page that contains three graphics, four "hits" would occur at the server-one for the HTML page and one for each of the three graphics.

Host, web: A company that hosts web sites.

Hosting, dedicated: A web server that is dedicated to hosting the web sites of a single customer.

Hosting, shared: A web server that hosts web sites for multiple customers.

Hosting, web: The storage of a web site and delivery of that web site to the Internet.

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language): The coding language used to create Hypertext documents for use on the World Wide web. HTML looks a lot like old-fashioned typesetting code, where blocks of text are surrounded with codes that indicate how it should appear. Information is encased in special markers (called tags) that tell the WWW applications how the text is to be interpreted. HTML is a universal language that allows computers with different operating systems to understand one another.

HTML+: This proposed new standard is a superset of HTML, designed to extend the capabilities of the language and incorporate better support for multimedia objects in documents.

Http (HyperText Transfer Protocol): The protocol for moving hypertext files across the Internet. Requires an http client program on one end and an http server program on the other. Http is the most important protocol used on the World Wide web.

Http Streaming: An alternative approach to serving Real Audio files on the web. Although this technique is not well-suited for high-volume sites serving numerous simultaneous streams, many smaller web sites can benefit from this simple, inexpensive approach. Relies on http used by all web servers to store and transmit ordinary text and graphics files on the web.

Hypertext: Text that contains links to other documents. Words or phrases in the document can be chosen by a reader, which cause another document to be retrieved and displayed.

internet (lower case i): Any time two or more networks are connected together, you have an internet.

Internet (upper case I): The vast collection of interconnected networks that all use the TCP/IP protocols and that grew out of the U.S. Defense Department's ARPANet of the late '60s and early '70s.

Internet Service Provider: A single computer network, connected to the Internet, that provides access for individual computers to the Internet.

Intranet: A network of linked computers maintained by a company or other organization. Employees can access information specific to their company via the intranet.

IP (Internet Protocol): The protocol that allows computers and networks on the Internet to communicate with one another.

IP Number (Internet Protocol Number): Sometimes called a dotted quad. A unique number consisting of four parts separated by dots. Every machine on the Internet has an IP number.

ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network): A way to move more data over existing regular phone lines and can provide speeds of roughly 128,000 bits-per-second over regular phone lines.

ISVs: Independent Software Vendors.

Java: A network-oriented programming language invented by Sun Microsystems specifically designed for writing programs that can be safely downloaded to computers through the Internet. Using small Java programs (called "applets"), web pages can include functions such as animations, calculators, etc.

JavaScript: A programming language used most often in web pages to add features that make web page more interactive. JavaScript was invented by Netscape. JavaScript and Java are two different programming languages.

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group): A format for transmitting photographic image files.

Keyword: Words and phrases used by search engines to categorize web site content.

Kilobyte: A thousand bytes or, more accurately, 1,024 bytes.

LAN (Local Area Network): A computer network limited to the immediate area, usually the same building or floor of a building.

Leased line: Refers to a phone line that is rented for exclusive, 24-hour, 7-days-a-week use from one location to another. Highest speed data connections require a leased line.

MAN: Metropolitan Area Network.

Megabyte: A million bytes or, more accurately, 1024 kilobytes.

Merchant banks: Companies that establish bank accounts enabling other companies to accept credit card payments.

Microsoft NT: A popular operating system for higher-end computers called workstations as well as web servers and other types of servers.

MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions): The standard for attaching non-text files to standard Internet mail messages. Non-text files include graphics, spreadsheets, formatted word-processor documents, sound files, etc. Something is considered MIME compliant if it can both send and receive files using the MIME standard.

Modem (MOdulator, DEModulator): A device that connects a computer to a phone line, and allows the computer to talk to other computers through the phone system.

NAP (Network Access Point): One of several major Internet interconnection points in the United States that tie all Internet access providers together. NAPs were created and supported by the National Science Foundation as part of the transition from the original U.S. government-financed Internet to a commercially operated Internet.

Netiquette: The etiquette on the Internet.

Netizen: Refers to a citizen of the Internet, someone who uses networked resources. The term suggests participation and civic responsibility.

Newsgroup: The name for discussion groups on USENET.

Node: Any single computer connected to a network.

NT, Microsoft: A computer operating system by Microsoft Corporation.

Packet Switching: The method used to move data around on the Internet. In packet switching, all data from a machine is broken into packets; each packet has the address of where it came from and where it is going. This enables data from many different sources to co-mingle on the same lines and be sorted and directed to different routes by special machines along the way.

Personal CGI directory: A feature that allows users to run any CGI script from a directory located inside their home directory, provided the script conforms to the terms and conditions of usage agreement.

Plug-in: A (usually small) piece of software that adds features to a larger piece of software.

POP (Point of Presence, also Post Office Protocol): A Point of Presence usually means a city or location where a network can be connected to, often with dial-up phone lines. A second meaning, Post Office Protocol, refers to the way email software such as Eudora gets mail from a mail server. A POP account means the same as an email account.

Port: That part of a web server that handles requests for particular services (FTP, TELNET, WWW). Each of those has its own port number, where it "listens" for requests.

Portal: Used to described a web site that is or is intended to be the first place people see when using the web. Typically a "portal site" has a catalogue of web sites, a search engine, or both. A portal site may also offer email and other service to entice people to use that site as their main point of entry to the web.

Posting: A single message entered into a network communications system.

PPP (Point to Point Protocol): A protocol that allows a computer to use a regular telephone line and a modem to make TCP/IP connections and be on the Internet.

PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network): The old-fashioned telephone system.

Push media: This new method of collecting information on the Internet allows users to subscribe to a push agency that delivers all the information one might need on a specific subject.

Real Audio and Real Video: Real Networks' RealAudio and RealVideo system is a client-server-based streaming media delivery system for the Internet. Providers of news, entertainment, sports and business content can create and deliver audio-based streaming multimedia content through the Internet to audiences worldwide.

Redundancy: Refers to protection against system failures. In data centres, for instance, to ensure servers always have power supply, two power supplies are used so that one takes over if the other one fails

Router: A special-purpose computer (or software package) that handles the connection between two or more networks. Routers look at the destination addresses of the packets of information passing through them and deciding which route to send them to.

Search Engine: A computer program that searches the web to find web pages on a given subject. Some well-known search engines are Alta Vista, Excite, HotBot, Lycos, Infoseek, web Crawler and Yahoo!.

Secure transactions: In e-commerce transactions, Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption technology provides for site authentication and peer-to-peer secure communication. This allows for the safe transmittal and receiving of sensitive information such as credit card numbers or passwords.

Server: A computer, or a software package, that provides a specific kind of service to client software running on other computers. The term can refer to a particular piece of software, such as a WWW server, or to the machine on which the software is running,

Shopping cart: Software that allows customers on an e-commerce web site to select items they wish to purchase and store them in their virtual shopping cart. Customers can view, add or delete items in their shopping cart before making their electronic purchase.

Shell account: An account that gives access to a UNIX-based host computer. The user can enter UNIX commands to operate this computer.

Sig or signature file: A small ASCII text file automatically attached to the end of an email message that includes additional information about the sender.

SMDS (Switched Multimegabit Data Service): A new standard for very high-speed data transfer.

SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol): The main protocol used to send electronic mail on the Internet. SMTP consists of a set of rules for how a program sending mail and a program receiving mail should interact.

Spam (or Spamming): An inappropriate attempt to use a mailing list, USENET or other networked communications facility as if it was a broadcast medium (which it is not) by sending the same message to a large number of people who didn't request it.

Sysop (System Operator): Anyone responsible for the physical operations of a computer system or network resource. A system administrator decides how often backups and maintenance should be performed and the system operator carries out those tasks.

T-1: A leased-line connection capable of carrying data at 1,544,000 bits-per-second.

T-3: A leased-line connection capable of carrying data at 44,736,000 bits-per-second.

TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol): The suite of protocols that defines the Internet. Originally designed for the UNIX operating system, TCP/IP software is now available for every major kind of computer operating system.

Telnet: The command and program used to login from one Internet site to another. The telnet command/program gets you to the login: prompt of another host.

Terabyte: 1,000 gigabytes.

Traffic: The amount of data transferred from one computer to another computer per unit of time. Normally measured in megabytes (MB). For billing purposes, traffic is normally quotes in MB per month. Traffic is one of the variables by which most web hosting companies charge their customers.

Truespeech: A high-quality speech compression software that compresses speech down to as much as 1/40th its original size. Since regular speech files are normally large, compression using TrueSpeech enables them to be transferred faster and more easily.

UNIX: Developed at Bell Labs in 1969 as an interactive time-sharing system, UNIX has evolved into a type of freeware. Various versions of UNIX are available from a number of companies.

URL (Uniform Resource Locator): The standard address of any resource on the Internet that is part of the World Wide web (WWW). One uses a URL by entering it into a WWW browser program.

USENET: A world-wide system of discussion groups operating among hundreds of thousands of machines. Only about half of USENET machines are on the Internet. USENET is decentralized and supports thousands of discussion areas called newsgroups.

UUENCODE (Unix to Unix Encoding): A method for converting files from Binary to ASCII (text) so that they can be sent across the Internet via email.

WAIS (Wide Area Information Servers): A commercial software package that allows the indexing of huge quantities of information, and then makes them searchable across networks such as the Internet.

WAN (Wide Area Network): Any internet or network that covers an area larger than a single building or campus.

web Developer: An individual or company that specializes in the development of web sites. web developers handle all the programming aspects of creating a web site such as HTML programming, creating graphics, adding pictures, creating links, etc.

web Publishing Software: Software that allows a user to write HTML and create a web site without having HTML programming experience.

Wizard: Interactive help screens that assist users in installing new software or performing a complex operation such as publishing a web page.

World Wide web: An Internet client-server system to distribute information, based upon the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). Also known as WWW, W3 or the web and not synonymous with the Internet. Created at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1991 by Dr. Tim Berners-Lee.

WYSIWYG: What You See Is What You Get