Web Terms: Part 2 (setup)

Web Terms: Part 2 (setup)
in: The Basics

Abbreviations abound, the world of website setup can be a confusing place. FTP, URL, DNS, IP… what does it mean? How does it all work together? Let’s break it down.

IP, Domain Name, DNS, URL

Every website (and device that connects to the internet, for that matter) has an IP (Internet Protocol) address. Since IP addresses are hard to remember 10 digit numeric values, to access specific websites we use domain names instead. www.facebook.com, www.google.com, www.sundaramdesign.com… all domain names. This works with the help of Domain Name Systems (DNS), whose job is to translate domain names into IP addresses and save us countless hours of trying to remember seemingly random sequences of numbers.

Possibly helpful analogy: Ever hear some advertising jingle try to be catchy and replace part of a phone number with a word? ‘Need a loan? Call GET-CASH now!’ What’s easier to remember: GET CASH or 438-2274? The phrase, of course. An IP address could be compared to the original phone number, with the domain name being the easy to remember label that, when dialed, gets you the same result.

A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is the full address at which a website can be found.
https://www.facebook.com/SundaramDesign?fref=ts … all URL’s.

Possibly helpful analogy: If a URL is akin to a full mailing address, the domain would be the street name.

Web Hosting and FTP

A web hosting server is the virtual space in which your website exists. It’s where the files and images that make up a site are stored, and they are uploaded there from the developers computer via a process known as FTP, or File Transfer Protocol. The company you buy that hosting package (and often domain name) from is a web hosting company; popular examples of which include Godaddy, Bluehost and HostGator.

Possibly helpful analogy: Let’s compare a web hosting company to an office supply store, and the server itself to a filing drawer you purchase there. It’s empty when you buy it but has lots of room to store things. Actually placing your items inside? FTP. The label on the outside of the drawer would be the domain name, and individual folder labels within would represent the URLs of various pages. If you buy a domain name without a hosting server, you’ve written out a label but don’t have a drawer to put it on. If you buy a hosting account but no domain name, you have a full drawer of files but no way for anyone else to find them.

What do you want from me?

Sometimes the developer working on a site isn’t the one who set things up and will ask for various access credentials. The hosting account or control panel login is referring to the username and password for the web hosting company. FTP login, which provides access to the site’s file structure, can be found within the hosting control panel and consists of a server url, username and password.

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