Glossary of Internet Terms Print

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Econs Interactive Help Glossary

Hello, we have written this glossary to help you with any technical terms that you are having problems with. Please select a letter from the list below to view the corresponding entries.



Alias - the term used for specific names attached to an email account. Once set up, that account will accept all email addressed to the (or one of) alias(es) set up for that email account.

API - Application Programming Interface, a group of functions that allow other programs to communicate with each other.

Appletalk - A network communication protocol for Mac computers (and pc's that need to communicate with Macs on a network).

Archive - A file which other smaller files are backed up into. Archives are usually compressed, see TAR and Zip.

ARP - Address Resolution Protocol, this protocol converts IP addresses and MAC layer addresses on a network. See this page for further details.

ASCII - American Standard Code for Information Exchange. Defines the characters used everyday by computers. The standard 7 bit character set.

Authentication - A procedure that is used by computer programs to ensure the user is who they say they are. This is usually done with a username and password.


Bandwidth - A measurement for the rate at which data can be transferred from a computer or the maximum amount of information (bits/second) that can be transmitted along a channel.

BBS - Bulletin Board System, an internet service which enables people to read and post messages on the internet regarding a particular subject.

Binary - Any file format for digital data encoded as a sequence of bits but not consisting of a sequence of printable characters (text). The term is often used for executable computer code.

BIOS - Basic Input/Output System, a chip on the motherboard of your computer that detects and controls the hardware.

Bit - Binary digIT, the smallest unit of data in computers. A bit holds only one binary value.

BPS - Bits Per Second, unit for measurement of bandwidth.

Boot - To switch on a computer to load the operating system eg Windows.

Browser - A program used for looking at web sites (amongst other things), eg Internet Explorer, Netscape, Opera etc.

Byte - Eight bits.


Cache - A space where frequently needed information is stored for faster access. Some servers on the internet will cache web files once they have been accessed once, the cache is usually cleared regularly.

Catchall - the name given to a generic email account. A catchall email address will accept all emails addressed to anyone or anything at that domain, except where other accounts are set up with special aliases which will divert email for those specific names to the names account.

CGI - The Common Gateway Interface (CGI) is a standard for interfacing external applications with information servers, such as HTTP or Web servers. A plain HTML document that the Web daemon retrieves is static, which means it exists in a constant state: a text file that doesn't change. A CGI program, on the other hand, is executed in real-time, so that it can output dynamic information.

Client - A computer that connects to a server.

Cookie - Information from a web site that is stored by your browser so when you visit the web site it already knows certain details (eg Your name, shopping basket) that have been stored.

Compress - To make a file smaller, usually for archiving or to save on storage space. See ZIPand TAR.

CPU - Central Processing Unit, a part of your computer that executes programs.

Cryptography - The study of codes, used for encrypting information see PGP.

Cyber - A term sometimes used to describe areas of computing or the internet eg cyber café, cyberspace etc.


Delete - To remove a file or directory.

Daemon - A process that constantly runs on your computer processing data or waiting for connections over the Network.

DHCP - Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, a system in which IP addresses are assigned to computers on a network by a DHCP server.

Dialup - To connect to the internet using your telephone line and an account with your ISP.

Directory - The Unix equivalent of a 'folder' in Windows. On our Linux web servers directories can be created with your FTP software using the mkdir command and removed using the rmdir command.

DNS - Domain Name Service, the service which converts domain names to IP addresses on the internet. Implemented with Domain Name Servers.

Domain - An area of the internet. Controlled by Internic.

Domain Name Servers - Most domain names are required to have 2 domain name servers.

DOS - Disk Operating System.

DOS - Denial Of Service, an attack on a computer or service which renders the service unusable to the normal users.

DSL - Digital Subscriber Line, a method of connecting to the internet.


E-Mail - Electronic Mail, a method of exchanging messages across networks. E-Mail is delivered between mail servers and Email software such as Microsoft Outlook is used to download and to create messages.

Encryption - Using cryptography to encrypt data.

Error Pages - The pages displayed by a web server when it encounters a problem displaying a web page, see below for a full list:

100 Continue 101 Switching Protocols 200 OK 201 Created 202 Accepted 203 Non-Authoritative Information 204 No Content 205 Reset Content 206 Partial Content 300 Multiple Choices 301 Moved Permanently 302 Moved Temporarily 303 See Other 304 Not Modified 305 Use Proxy 400 Bad Request 401 Unauthorized 402 Payment Required 403 Forbidden 404 Not Found 405 Method Not Allowed 406 Not Acceptable 407 Proxy Authentication Required 408 Request Time-Out 409 Conflict 410 Gone 411 Length Required 412 Precondition Failed 413 Request Entity Too Large 414 Request-URI Too Large 415 Unsupported Media Type 500 Server Error 501 Not Implemented 502 Bad Gateway 503 Out of Resources 504 Gateway Time-Out 505 HTTP Version not supported

Ethernet - A standard for network communication.


FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions.

Finger - A Unix command that is used to gain information about users logged into a machine.

Firewall - A firewall is a security measure to block data flow through certain services on a computer or network. It can also be used to block specific IP addresses or computers from certain services. Eg Zone Alarm.

FQDN - Fully Qualified Domain Name, an address which specifies a specific machine and it's internet domain, eg

FTP - File Transfer Protocol, a protocol designed for transferring files to and from computers over a network or the internet.


GIF - Graphic Interchange Format, this is a very popular format for exchanging pictures, it is being replaced by the JPG image format.

Giga - Meaning billion, eg gigabyte.

GNU - GNU's not Unix. The GNU project's goal is to provide freely redistributable Unix-compatible software.

GPG - GNU's version of PGP. See this site for further info.

GUI - Acronym for Graphical User Interface.

GZip - A free file compression program commonly available as a Unix command for file compression, gzip, which is also available for MS-DOS, compresses files and appends either '.z' or '.gz' to the filename.


Host - Any machine can be a host. The server you collect your E-mail from is your mail host, the server with your web site on is your web host.

Hosting - Space on a web server where you can put your web site so it will be available to the internet.

HTML - HyperText Transport Protocol. The language used to create web pages.

HTTP - HyperText Transport Protocol the protocol for transporting web files across the internet.

HTTPS - HyperText Transport Protocol Secure. HTTP secured with SSL.

Home - A directory or WWW page that is 'owned' by a user. On Econs systems this is the directory you see when you log in with your FTP software.


ICANN - Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the non-profit organization that is responsible for domain name registration.

ICMP - Internet Control Message Protocol, the standard error and control message protocol for Internet systems.

IMAP - Internet Mail Access Protocol, the Internet standard for the reading and manipulation of E-mail messages stored on a server

Internic - A repository of information about the Internet. See this page.

IP - Internet Protocol, the standard communications scheme used for internet connected hosts.

IPS Tag - A tag associated with uk domain names (,, etc). Indicates the company that is in control of your internet services.

IRC - Internet Relay Chat, a world-wide distributed live chat system.

ISDN - Integrated Services Digital Network, a high-speed digital phone system for network or internet connectivity.

ISP - Internet Service Provider, these are the companies that provide a connection to the internet, usually through a dialup connection or broadband.


JPG - An variable-compression image format, JPeG supports true color images and compression and is ideal for web sites. The name comes from Joint Pictures Expert Group.


Kernel - The Kernel is the set of functions that make up the operating system, used to provide an interface between software and the underlying hardware.

kilobyte - A Kilobyte consists of 1,024 bytes.


LAN - Local Area Network, a network contained in the same geographical area (one or more buildings).

Lag - The delay in information coming across the network through telnet or other types of connections.

Leased-line - A leased-line is a dedicated connection linking two or more points without going through any switching equipment.

Linux - Linux is a free Unix-type operating system originally created by Linus Torvalds with the assistance of developers around the world. Econs recomend Linux as the OS for all the web site and mail servers due to its excellent reliability and high speed.

Ls - The Unix command to list all files in a directory.

Lynx - A popular text-only web browser.


Man - The Unix command for viewing the online manual pages on a Unix system.

Mail - See Email.

Mkdir - The Unix command to create a new directory.

Modem - Shorthand for MODulator/DEModulator, a modem allows the transmission of digital information over an analog phone line.

Mosaic(tm) - A graphical browser available for Unix, MS-Windows(tm) and Macintosh.

mv - A Unix command, 'mv' can be used to rename a single file, or to move multiple files to a different directory.

MX - Acronym for Mail eXchange. MX is a DNS record used to define the host(s) willing to accept mail for a given machine.


Netiquette - The informal set of rules for using the Internet. Details are available here.

Netscape(tm) - A commercial internet browser for X-Windows, MS-Windows and Macintosh.

Newsgroup - A message area in the Usenet News, each newsgroup can be either 'moderated' with only postings approved by a moderator publicly posted, or 'unmoderated' where all messages are distributed to the newsgroup immediately.

NFS - Network File System, this is a method of sharing files across a LAN or through the internet.

NIC - Network Interface Card or Network Information Center, such as the Internic. Not to be confused with NOC.

NOC - Network Operations Center, a site used by a business or other operation for controlling and monitoring a LAN and/or WAN.

Nybble - A "nybble" is four bits (one-half of a byte).


OC - Optical Carrier. Used for major connections to the internet and high speed data transmission. The transmission speeds defined in the SONET specification.

OS - Operating System, the basic instruction set used to provide a computer with the routines necessary to communicate with the user and hardware devices.


PGP - Pretty Good Privacy, the world's most widely used encryption software package. Also seeGPG

PHP - PHP is a tool that lets you create dynamic web pages. PHP-enabled web pages are treated just like regular HTML pages and you can create and edit them the same way you normally create regular HTML pages.

Ping - A network program which sends UDP packets to a host, and listens for responses. Used to check if a machine on the Internet is up and running.

POP - Post Office Protocol, a protocol for retrieving mail from a remote server.

PPP - Point-to-Point-Protocol, an advanced serial packet protocol.

Protocol - Any standard for the exchange of information, a protocol defines the specific wording and control flow for communications between two or more programs, devices, or systems.



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RAM - Acronym for Random Access Memory.

RARP - Reverse ARP.

Redirection - Redirection is a service offered by Econs which redirects a domain name to an alternative web site.

RFC - Request For Comment, these are a set of notes regarding a variety of topics related to the Internet. RFCs are handled by the IETF and are archived at several sites.

Rm - The Unix command to delete a file from a directory.

Rmdir - The Unix command to delete a directory.

Root - 1: The 'base' or bottom of a system. e.g. the 'root directory' is the lowest possible directory in a file system, and in X11 the 'root window' is the background on which all other windows are drawn. 2: In Unix, the user 'root' is the user that owns the system and has full super user power.

Router - A router is a special type of internet host that routes (transfers) packets between two or more networks.


Sendmail - A popular Mail Transport Agent, sendmail is a popular mail processing package used primarily on Unix systems.

Server - A server provides information or other services to it's client computers. Most network protocols are client-server based. While a server usually refers to an entire machine, it's can also be used to refer to a particular service on that machine.

Shell - One of several command line interfaces available on Unix machines.

SMTP - Simple Mail Transport Protocol, which defines a common mechanism for exchanging E-mail across a network.

Snail Mail - The transitional postal service or other form of ground mail.

Spam - Bulk, mass, or repeated posting or mailing of Email messages. The emphasis is on the multiple sending, either many copies to one destination, or one copy to many destinations. The name comes from a famous Monty Python Spam sketch.

SQL - Structured Query Language. A standard programming language for accessing database systems.

SSH - A standard for encrypted (secure) connections over a TCP connection.

SSI - An HTML comment that allows the server to dynamically generate documents and data when requested by the browser.

SSL - Secured Sockets Layer, communications between the web server and clients browser are encrypted when using SSL.

Surfing - The term used to describe exploring the Internet through a browser.


T1 - A leased-line providing bandwidth of up to 1.544Mbps.

T3 - A leased-line providing bandwidth of up to 44.746Mbps.

Tar - A Unix file archiving and compression program.

Terminal - Any display unit or host used interactively.

TCP/IP - Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, a networking standard used commonly on the Internet. Click here for more information.

Telnet - A communications program for connecting to other computers locally or across the Internet.

Traceroute - Similar to ping, traceroute shows the route to a selected host. In Windows the command can be called from the DOS command prompt as: tracert hostname.


UCE - Unsolicited Commercial Email, see spam.

UDP - User Datagram Protocol, a simple TCP service.

UNIX - A popular multi-user operating system. Linux is a form of UNIX that Econs use for web and E-mail servers.

URL - Uniform Resource Locator (eg., URL's are a standardized format for giving a pointer to information available from ithe internet, gopher, finger and other servers.

Usenet News - A network of systems that exchange articles using NNTP, UUCP, and other protocols to establish public message conferences on some or all of over 10,000 topics or newsgroups.

USB - Universal Serial Bus. A serial communications standard available on Macintosh and PC systems, provides a 12Mbps bus.

UUCP - An acronym for Unix to Unix CoPy, UUCP is a protocol used for the store-and-forward exchange of mail, Usenet News and other files, usually over a modem.


Virtual - Virtual items have no direct corresponding physical equivalent, for example most computers have one or more physical hard drives, on which can be defined a number of virtual storage areas called partitions.

VPN - Virtual Private Network, using the internet as transit for private network traffic, usually in encrypted form.


WAN - Wide Area Network, a network connecting several geographically distant locations. The Internet is an example of a worldwide WAN.

Warez - A term for pirated computer software, generally distributed via BBS systems, Usenet News and other electronic means.

World-Wide-Web - A distributed hypertext information system that uses HTTP to retrieve text and graphics.


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Zip - A compression and archiving format made popular on the MS-DOS/PC platform with the PKzip software. see the WinZip web site.


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