VPS Glossary of Terms

It is often confusing for those just learning about the definitions and terms of our VPS hosting comparison. Below, you will find most of the terms we’ve used in our comparison table as well as our independent VPS review of each VPS host provider (see our InMotion Hosting VPS Review as an example).

  • Apache – A web server program. Apache is one of the world’s most popular web server programs, it was built and is maintained by a group of open source programmers and it is often used because of it’s excellent performance, security features and that it is free.
  • Bandwidth – The amount of data that can be transferred at a given moment to or from a server. The larger the bandwidth value the higher amount of traffic your VPS can serve without additional costs.
  • Data Backups – Refers to the VPS provider offering the ability to save your VPS’ data in case of catastrophe such as hard disk failure, data corruption, or other major event. This is a copy of the entire file system for a VPS that is typically stored separately that can be used to completely restore your VPS account.
  • Burstable RAM – Refers to the amount of memory that your virtual machine can use if you run out of your “Guaranteed Memory”. Burstable memory is available only if there is free memory available on the VPS node.
  • Cloud Hosting – The cloud computing article at Wikipedia defines cloud computing as follows: “Cloud computing is the use of computing resources (hardware and software) that are delivered as a service over a network (typically the Internet).”
  • Command Line – This resembles DOS in that it is just a blank screen with a prompt where the administrator/user would type in commands for the system to run. Most users would rather use a web base interface or a graphical interface to administer their system because there is less chance of error.
  • Control Panel – A web based interface, which allows users to administer their server by clicking on different icons instead of having to memorize commands. The commands would be run on the command line and if typed in incorrect they could seriously harm a system and stop it from running forcing the hosting company to have to restore the system from a backup.
  • Custom VPS – Some VPS hosting companies offer you the ability to completely customize your VPS experience specifying disk space, bandwidth, and installed software. The first company to introduce this was MyHosting. To learn more about MyHosting, see our MyHosting VPS review.
  • cPanel – CPanel is a fully featured web-based control panel that allows you to manage your domain through a web interface, provided by cPanel, Inc. The idea is to transfer as much of the control and responsibility of managing your web site to you. You have the ability to manage all aspects of e-mail, files, backup, FTP, CGI scripts, and web site statistics. Be sure to see our research on the differences between cPanel and Plesk.
  • Dedicated IPs – An IP, in our usage, is an Internet Protocol address. A dedicated IP address is not shared by any other website or server and is strictly for your usage only. Most VPS servers offer a limited amount of dedicated IP addresses but you may purchase more for an additional fee.
  • Dedicated Server – This hosting feature allows a web site to have its own server. It is more flexible than shared hosting as webmasters have full control of the server, including choice of operating system. Server administration is still taken care of by the hosting provider.
  • DNS – Stands for Domain Name System; An underlying internet system which provides a mapping between domain names and the IP addresses used for routing.
  • Disk Space – The amount of data that your VPS can hold without requiring additional fees and expenses.
  • Fantastico – An integrated application that allows web hosting clients to automatically install popular free scripts.
  • File System – A system of storing files on the hard drive and in this case the files are stored in such a way that only your account(s) have access to them. This is more secure than shared hosting where everyone is on the same file system and could go look in other areas where they should not be.
  • FTP – File Transfer Protocol. The protocol used on the Internet for exchanging files. FTP uses the Internet’s TCP/IP protocols to enable data transfer. FTP is most commonly used to download a file from a server using the Internet or to upload a file to a server (eg, uploading a Web page file to a server).
  • GB – Gigabyte or 1024 Megabytes
  • GUI – A Graphical User Interface that makes managing your VPS server simple. Without a user-friendly GUI, you’d be required to entire Windows or Linux command prompts to make configuration changes to your VPS.
  • H-Sphere – A web hosting Automation Control Panel for shared web hosting services, provided by Parallels Holdings Ltd. It is currently available for Linux, Unix and Windows environments; and works with MySQL, PostgreSQL and Microsoft SQL Server databases.
  • IMAP – An Internet Message Access Protocol that handles email retrieval (compare to Post Office Protocol (POP)) commonly served on port 143.
  • Linux VPS – A Virtual Private Server with a Linux OS such as CentOS installed.
  • Managed Hosting – A VPS that is supplied with a full suite of technical support, setup, maintenance and monitoring services. Managed VPS hosting differs from dedicated servers where customers are provided with their own server but still have to take care of all the administrative duties related to the server.
  • Network Uptime SLA – The guarantee from your VPS hosting service provider that guarantees uptime via a Service Level Agreement. Some form of compensation is provided if the VPS host doesn’t meet their stated guarantee.
  • Plesk – The Plesk software package is a proprietary commercial web hosting automation solution by Parallels Holdings Ltd. Developed for professional hosting service providers, Plesk is comprehensive server management software designed to install and manage all systems and applications for Web-Hosting on a single server. Be sure to see our research on the differences between cPanel and Plesk.
  • POP3 – In computing, the Post Office Protocol (POP) is an application-layer Internet standard protocol used by local e-mail clients to retrieve e-mail from a remote server over a TCP/IP connection.
  • PPC – Pay per click advertising. Popular platforms include Google Adwords and Microsoft adCenter (currently includes advertising on Bing and Yahoo).
  • Private Name Servers – Refers to the name servers which you are using being branded by you instead of reflecting your host’s domain name or a generic name. Usually a domain name of your choice is used or a generic one picked by the hosting company. For example instead of ns1.yourhost.com and ns2.yourhost.com your VPS hosting account would be allowed to use your ns1.yoursiteliketopfiveawards.com or a generic domain such as ns1.myhosting.com.
  • RAID – Stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks, is a way of storing the same data in different places (thus, redundantly) on multiple hard disks. By placing data on multiple disks, I/O (input/output) operations can overlap in a balanced way, improving performance.
  • RAM – Random Access Memory. This is the memory of your VPS server. With low memory, your VPS will slow to a crawl and leave your visitors frustrated.
  • Root or Root Access – This is the super user, or the user with control over everything, on a computer system. This user can do anything they want on the computer system from installing software to deleting everything on a system.
  • SSH – Secure Shell or SSH is a network protocol that allows data to be exchanged over a secure channel between two computers. Encryption provides confidentiality and integrity of data.
  • Virtuozzo – Virtuozzo creates multiple isolated Virtual Private Servers (VPSs) on a single physical server. Each VPS performs and executes exactly like a stand-alone server for its users and applications as it can be rebooted independently and has its own root access, users, IP addresses, memory, processes, files, applications, system libraries, and configuration files.
  • VPS (Virtual Private Server) – This is one step above shared server hosting, a VPS provides the services offered by a dedicated server but on a server shared with other web hosting customers. See also: VPS Benefits.
  • VPS Node – The physical hardware which runs Virtualization Platform software and hosts one or more Virtual Private Servers (VPS).
  • Windows VPS – A Virtual Private Server with a Microsoft Windows OS such as Windows Server 2012 installed.
About Scott Buehler

Scott is the owner and founder of Top Five Advisor. He specializes in business to business products and services. He offers digital marketing services to any local business that wants to drive traffic and customers from the Internet including search, pay per click and social media marketing. This page is maintained by Scott Buehler.

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