15 Basic Internet Terms You Should Know

How many are you familiar with?

Abstract image of the illustration search box and blurred image of typing hands is backdrop

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The internet is a large, well-organized network of smaller computer networks in every country all over the world. These networks are connected to each other, and share vast amounts of data quickly and efficiently, using a protocol called TCP/IP​. During your time surfing the internet, you'll encounter common terms like TCP/IP, but you might not know what they mean. Here are the top 15 basic internet terms you'll encounter.

For more information on the history of the Web, who created it, what the internet is, and what the difference is between them, learn how the web got started

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Web Server

Man looking at wall of servers

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A web server is a generalized term referring to software or hardware that is dedicated to storing, processing, and delivering web pages to clients. It typically consists of a physical server, an operating system, and HTTP communication software.

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Photo of the password field on a computer screen

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A password is a set of letters, numbers, and special characters combined into one word or phrase used to authenticate a user's entry, registration, or membership on a website. The most useful passwords are hard to guess, kept secret, and intentionally unique.

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A screenshot of the address bar of a web browser.

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A domain name is the unique, alphabetically-based part of a URL. It is officially registered with a domain registrar by a person, business, or non-profit organization, and it consists of two parts:

  1. The actual alphabetical word or phrase; for example, widget.
  2. The top-level domain name that designates what kind of site it is; for example, .com (for commercial domains), .org (for organizations), and .edu (for educational institutions).

Put these two parts together and you have a domain name: widget.com.

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Web Crawler

House spider

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A web crawler is also called a spider, spiderbot, web spider, or web robot. It is a software program that crawls the web and indexes site information for search engine databases like Google. The databases use crawlers to keep content up-to-date.

Crawlers are also used for maintenance tasks such as validating HTML code, checking hyperlinks, and gathering specific types of information from websites.

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Blog URL
You Tube

URL is an acronym for Uniform Resource Locator. It's used to identify the location of files on the internet, including websites, images, videos, and more. Each website or file URL is unique.

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Temporary Internet Files

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Every website you visit stores data (such as pages, videos, and audio) in a specific file folder on your computer. This data is cached so that the next time you visit a website it loads quickly and efficiently since much of the data has been loaded from the temporary internet files rather than from the site's server.

Temporary internet files take up memory on your computer. It's important to clear them out once in a while to manage your internet history and free up storage space on your computer.

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Proxy Server

A computer keyboard with the word

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A proxy server acts as an intermediary between a client and a web server. It shields people on the internet by hiding relevant information (such as their network address, location, and more) from websites and other networked users.

Proxy servers are also used for anonymous surfing. They act as a buffer between the searcher and a website, allowing users to view information without being tracked. They can also go the other way and block certain content from the searchers. For example, schools use proxy servers to ensure internet usage conforms to their acceptable use policies.

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Beautiful Landscape with a Sign saying No Internet

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To be offline means you are disconnected from the internet. Many people also use it to refer to doing something outside of the internet as well. For example, a conversation started on Twitter could be continued offline at a local coffee shop.

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basic Internet terms

WHOIS is an internet utility used to search the DNS database of domain namesIP addresses, and Web servers. It tells whether or not a particular domain name is registered to a person, organization, or business. It also finds a domain name owner's contact information, technical information about the registered domain, date of purchase, and email addresses.

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Graphic of computer code and a lock

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A firewall is a security measure designed to keep unauthorized computers, users, and networks from accessing data on another computer or network. They are especially important to web searchers since they potentially protect the user from malicious spyware and hackers encountered online.

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Screenshot of a hyperlink

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A hyperlink — the most basic building block of the web — is a link from one document, image, word, or web page to another. They are how you can browse pages and information quickly and easily.

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business technology securities concept,Security key lock icon digital display over the world map and Hexagon shape on matrix digital number technology and dark blue background

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The acronym SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It's a secure encryption web protocol used to safeguard data that is transmitted over the Internet. It's commonly used by shopping sites to keep financial data secure, but it's also used on any site that requests sensitive data (such as a password). When SSL is used on a website, "https://" appears in the site's URL.

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Graphic of the computer networking terms TCP/IP

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The acronym TCP/IP stands for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. While they are two separate protocols, they're commonly used together to send data over the internet. Web browsers use them to communicate with web servers.

In computer terms, a protocol is an agreed-upon set of procedures and rules that govern the exchange of data between devices.

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IP Address


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An IP address is the signature address, or number, of your computer when it's connected to the internet. IP addresses are given out in country-based blocks, so (for the most part) an IP address can identify where in the world the computer is located.

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Web Hosting

Cables connected to an internet server

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A web host is an organization that offers space, storage, and connectivity for a website. A web hosting service provides space on a web server, as well as a direct internet connection, so the site can be viewed and interacted with by anyone on the internet.

There are many kinds of web hosting and the sites they host range from basic one-page sites that need a small amount of space to enterprise-class customers who require entire data centers for their services.

Many web hosting companies provide a dashboard for customers so they can control different aspects of their web hosting services, including FTP, different content management system installs, and service package extensions.