Wondering what all this SMTP, Domain Mumbo Jumbo means? Below please find some short explanations of the most commonly used IT terms.

HOSTING

Hosting is what enables you or your company to have an online presence. Hosting comprises of various services – the most common types relating to your website and e-mail.  These services do not need to be with one provider, although this is usually the case.  It is recommended to register your domain names via your IT provider.

DOMAIN REGISTRATION

  • Domain Registration is the registration of a domain name (e.g. www.company.com – note the domain is the part without the www and is usually also the part after the @ sign in an e-mail address). This enables other computers/people to find your domain name on the Internet.  A domain registration only reserves your name and does not yet provide you with related services such as a website or e-mail
  • Synonymous with DNS registration
  • You register the naked domain

MAILBOX

Think of a mailbox as your post office box or ‘in’ tray on your desk. Mailboxes vary in size and feature depending on the service(s) selected.

E-MAIL ADDRESS

This is an unique address in the form of <user>@<domain> (e.g. [email protected]).  Messages (e-mail) sent to your e-mail address lands in your mailbox.

E-MAIL ALIAS (NICKNAME)

An e-mail alias or nickname is a secondary e-mail address that also lands in your mailbox (e.g. [email protected]). An alias can be on a separate domain (e.g. [email protected]).

GROUP E-MAIL ADDRESS

A generic e-mail address such as [email protected] lands in multiple mailboxes. For example, an e-mail sent to [email protected] should go to [email protected], [email protected], etc.  This is not limited to one domain and can also go to [email protected]  This is sometimes referred to as a distribution group.

WEB HOSTING

Once a domain has been registered, you can set up a website.  It is not required for your registration provider to be your web-hosting provider, but it is generally the case.  You could, for example, ask your IT guy to register your domain, but your web designer/developer can host your website.

E-MAIL HOSTING

This coupled with a domain registration enables you to send/receive e-mail messages.  It is not required for your web-hosting provider to be your e-mail provider.  Some companies have their own e-mail systems, such as Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Domino / Notes or even Linux servers.

JUNK MAIL / SPAM

This is defined by law (South Africa, ACT 25 of 2002 – ECT Act) as “unsolicited commercial communications”.  In other words, messages which are sent to you and not necessarily relevant to your line of business or even message which you did not sign up to receive.  Over time SPAM has the tendency to increase and can cause massive amounts of e-mail to flood your inbox.

VIRUS

A virus or computer virus is a program which can harm your computer or steal sensitive data for malicious purposes.

MYSQL / PHP

  • This is web hosting technology required when you have a dynamic website.  Examples of dynamic websites are websites built with Joomla or WordPress.  Your web developer/designer will know if you need this.
  • MySQL is a database system

PERL

Programming language, similar to PHP

ON PREMISE E-MAIL SERVER

Typically only SME to large organisations have this.  If you have Microsoft Exchange or similar, then you have an on-premise e-mail server.

TRAFFIC

  • Traffic is measured in megabytes and is generated as a result of sending and/or receiving email and also a number of visitors to your website.  Traffic is further also generated when you upload files to your website (FTP)
  • It is tough to predict traffic usage as there are multiple aspects to how traffic gets generated.  For example, when you send a 1 Mb file via e-mail, the total traffic will be much higher than 1 Mb, depending on the number of recipients and the type of file sent.

PUSH E-MAIL

This is when e-mail is delivered directly to you.  A real world example of this is direct to door or hand delivery where you receive something directly. (Another example is text messages / SMS which get delivered directly to your phone.)

PULL E-MAIL

This is when e-mail is delivered to a mail server.  A real world example of this is when you have a post office box and you have to fetch your e-mail from your post box.

FTP

File transfer protocol, used when you create (upload) your website or make changes to it.

POP

Post Office Protocol and used with pull e-mail.  This is when your computer fetches e-mail from another mail server.  It can be used by one mail server to fetch e-mail from another e-mail server.  For instance, when you have an on-premise server and your e-mail gets delivered to your provider, and your on-premise mail server periodically collects e-mail from your provider.  (This is ancient technology and was required years back when companies did not have "always-on-internet".  Although it is outdated, it is still widely used today.)

SMTP

Simple Mail Transfer Protocol – this is used when you send e-mail.  This is also used when e-mail is transferred (pushed) from one mail server to another.

WWW

World Wide Web – this relates to web hosting

IMAP

Internet Message Access Protocol.  This is an e-mail protocol, used to access e-mail on a mail server and it is better than POP in the sense that with POP e-mail is downloaded from the server to your computer and removed from the server.  With IMAP the e-mail remains on the server and you can create folders on the server.  This means that if your computer breaks or gets stolen, your e-mail will be safe on the server and the folder structure will stay intact.  It can be considered a form of hosted e-mail.

PARKING

Domain registered, but no e-mail/web hosting services activated.

MULTIPLE DOMAINS / DOMAIN ALIAS

  • When you have more than one domain pointing to the same website – this is an alias.
  • No monthly fee, setup fee applicable.

SUB-DOMAIN

  • For example blog.company.com
  • Sub-domains are not subject to registration fees, provided that the naked domain has already been registered.
  • We do not charge for hosting of sub-domains when used as a domain alias
  • Unless a sub-domain is a domain alias or redirected, the sub-domain will need a hosting package assigned to it before it is activated.

NAKED DOMAIN

  • When your domain name is company.com then your website will usually be www.company.com the “company.com” part (i.e. without the prefixed www) is referred to as the naked domain.
  • In most instances, the naked domain will be an exact copy of the www – in terms of web hosting.  In other words, when you browse to http://www.company.com and http://company.com the content will be exactly the same.

REDIRECT

  • There are various types of redirects, but a redirect redirects you from one site to another.
  • For instance, when you change your company’s name you might want to redirect visitors to your old site to your new site.
  • After your computer has processed the redirect, the address displayed in the address bar in your browser will the address of the target to which you have been redirected.

ENCRYPTION CERTIFICATE

  • An encryption certificate is also called a digital certificate or an SSL certificate.
  • This is used to prove the identity of a site.
  • This is also used to encrypt (secure) a connection so that the data stays secret.  Think of internet banking.
  • Mostly used for e-commerce (Think of eBay or other online shops).
  • Certificates are issued by trusted certification authorities (CA) such as Thawte, Versign on similar.

SSL

Secure Socket Layer – Used with secure websites (prefixed with https:// instead of http://)  An Encryption certificate is required.

IP ADDRESS

  • Internet Protocol Address
  • Every computing device (servers, workstations, routers, mobile phones, tablets and the like) on the Internet has a unique address.  This address is in the format of xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx e.g. 8.8.8.8 or 208.67.222.222.  (xxx is a number from 0 to 255)  Think of this as a telephone number.

DNS LOOKUP

This is the process of looking up an IP Address from a Domain Name (e.g. www.company.com)  This process is automatically done by your computer using DNS Servers.

DNS RECORD

  • DNS = Domain Name System.  DNS Lookups return DNS Records, which in return returns an IP address
  • MX record
    • Mail Exchange – this handles e-mail for a domain.  An MX Record will never be an IP Address.  An MX record returns either a CNAME or an A record.
  • A record
  • Address record – this always returns an A record
  • Canonical Name Record – this returns either another CNAME or an A record.
  • CNAME

DOMAIN POINTING / DNS POINTING

This is when your domain is registered with Provider A and your e-mail and or website is hosted with providers B and/or C.  So if we host your e-mail on a mail-only package, you can still have your web-site with another provider, we will setup the DNS records to point to the other provider, by way of an A record.

WEB SERVER

This is the server where your website data is stored.

SEO

  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • This relates to how your website is seen by Google or other search engines and has a direct effect on your ranking on said search engine.  Particularly in terms of keywords when searching.

RANKING

This is the position in which your website will be displayed by a search engine when searching for your company either by name or keyword.  The higher the ranking, the more exposure your website will receive.  For example, if you search for Microsoft, the first result (highest ranking possible) should be a link to Microsoft’s website.

LOCATION

  • The country where the web server hosting your website is located.  Location plays a role in terms of SEO.  If your website is hosted (i.e. the physical server containing your website) in the USA and your target market is located in South Africa this can have a negative effect on your ranking.  The degree to which this play a role is unknown as the search engine companies (such as Google) do not make public the algorithms (methods) used to determine ranking.
  • Location does not play a major role in terms of e-mail hosting.  It is worth noting that whilst this does play a role in terms of speed the impact is very small and almost unnoticeable.

TLD

  • Top Level Domain
    • This is the right-most portion of your domain name, where portions are separated by a full stop.  E.g. the TLD in www.company.com is COM or www.company.co.za is ZA
    • Each country has their own TLD (E.g. ZA = South Africa, UK = United Kingdom etc.)
    • There are also special TLD’s not related to a country such as .biz or .travel
    • .ORG is usually used for non-profit organisations
    • .COM is usually used for businesses with an international target market
    • .GOV is reserved for government organisations
    • Some countries use sub-domains under the TLD.  For example, you can’t have www.company.za but you can have www.company.co.za or www.company.org.za etc.  This differs from country to country.
    • We can register any TLD for you depending on availability and registrar requirements.  (For example – Countries in the EU require proof of residence).

REGISTRAR

This is the company that does the domain registration. We deal with them on your behalf and you do not need to worry about registrars. Whilst most registrars deal directly with the public, due to the technical nature of this, most people prefer not to deal directly with registrars.