Joomla Hosting Terms & Definitions

This is our dictionary of hosting and Joomla terms. Learn what the most commonly used words and phrases mean.

Steven Johnson
by | Posted: November 17, 2009 | Updated: June 11, 2013
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Not sure what the different Joomla terms and definitions are?

This Joomla hosting glossary will help you to understand suitable terms and definitions important to getting you Joomla website up and running.

General Hosting Terms

Hosting Server Operating Systems

There are two server choices to run your joomla site.  Linux (or a Unix Variation) running Apache or Windows running IIS (Internet Information Server). 

You want to host you site on Linux / Apache unless you have some specific technical requirements. Joomla was built on Linux / Apache and that is where it runs best. 

Linux -- The Linux operating system is a Unix-like operating system dependant on the Linux Kernel. It is really important to remember that this is of a free and open software partnership; as a basic rule source code can be used, modified and redistributed at both a commercial and non-commercial level with such licenses as GNI GPL.

It is important to remember that although Linux can be installed on various computers, it is most commonly used on servers.

Windows Server -- The windows operating system is sold by Microsoft.  They have lots of versions and can be very expensive.

Web Server Software

Apache -- Commonly known as Apache, the Apache HTTP Server is a vital player in the growth of the Web. Apache has already hit a milestone by becoming the first web server software installed on over 100 million sites. After the Netscape Communications Corporation web server (Sun Java System Web Server), Apache became the next alternative and has continually evolved to surpass others in function and performance. Apache is normally run on Linux operating system.

When considering Joomla, Apache 1.3 or higher is needed however Apache 2 is recommended.

IIS (Microsoft's Web Server for Windows) -- The majority of Joomla installs are run on Apache servers but that doesn't mean that it can't run on IIS (Microsoft's web server for Windows). Joomla installs on IIS often run into problems with it's configuration especially Joomla extensions. Apache can run on both Unix/Linux and Windows system with Linux taking the popularity vote due ti it's cheaper price.

PHP -- The very widely used PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor or what it commonly referred to as PHP is a scripting language originally for web construction to create dynamic and structured pages. It's flexibility can be accounted to the fact that it can be embedded into HTML. PHP for the most part runs on a web server.  Joomla is built using php and must be present on you hosting server for it to run.

Joomla will run with using PHP4, but it is strongly recommended that you use PHP5.

MySQL -- MySQL has over 11 million installations and is known as a RDBMS (relational database management system). MySQL is fully fledged database management system and is therefore used by many free software solutions such as Joomla, Wordpress, phpBB and the list goes on. It is also important to know that it plays a role for many large web projects such as Facebook and Google. When considering your Joomla install, it is important to know that MySQL 3.23 or higher is needed although MySQL 5 is highly recommended. You will need at least one MySQL database depending on your joomla install.


Once the above technical details have been Identified for your ideal hosting account, the next issue to consider would be the quality, speed and support service of your host. This is important as we all hit issues at one time or the other with our servers and unless you are server savvy, support is one of those important lifelines.


Hackers and crackers can be a huge problem for servers and your server configuration along with scripts and software uploaded to your account are important. Make sure your scripts and Installations are kept up-to-date.

Joomla Security Settings

There are some simple configuration settings that will greatly improve the security of a hosting account, such as ensuring PHP is configured with register_globals and allow_url_fopen turned or switched off. You should also check to make sure that your hosting company will automatically upgrade the server software (operating system, control panel, PHP, etc.) as soon as security patches are published.

Server Performance and Hardware

Server load policies are important! The more sites hosted on a  single server the higher the load and some companies cram as many sites as they can onto a single server thus causing overloads. Remember this tip when looking for hosts - A single processor can handle up to 200 average small business websites so asking your host about this before signing up would be recommended.

Hosting Company Features

Hosting companies all say they offer the best plans.  Here are some of the key feature to look for

Disk Space

Data Transfer


Good Joomla Hosting Features

Control panels

One of the best control panels available is cpanel and comes with loads of features. The interface is user friendly and easy to navigate. The second most widely used control panel would be Plesk, however although it looks nice and also has a great interface it can become slow. cPanel is a little more expensive then Plesk.

Cpanel  Most common and the easiest to use.  If you are not familiar with control panels look for a hosting company that has cpanel.  It will be better when you need assistance or learning from tutorials.  Run by Hostgator, Rochen, BlueHost, LunarPages, etc

Plesk  is run by some of the smaller hosting companies.  Joomla will run on Plesk control panels but you may have to open the permissions for different folders.

Custom are generally to be avoided.  They can have some really cool features but it may take a while to learn your way around or how it is set up.  If you ever switch hosting companies the entire hosting control panel interface will need to be relearned.



A Apache module that allows URLs to be re-written which is very useful for Search Engine Friendly (SEF) URLs.


Very useful tool for allowing PHP scripts to run under the username of the hosting account. This stops the huge issue with file and folder permissions and will save you loads of headaches and thus making it easier to administer a Joomla site.


Another Apache module which acts as a firewall to stop common hacking efforts and denies access to such people.

Disk Space

Disk space is needed to install basic Joomla. It is also needed to store anything else you may add like text, images, videos, text, templates and the list goes on. Around 15 - 20 mb of space should be enough for a default installation.

Data Transfer

Data Transfer is commonly referred to as Bandwidth and is a measure of available or consumed data transferred through your site on your server. depending on the amount of traffic, popularity, and file size of you Joomla template bandwidth becomes very important. It may be best to start with a lower bandwidth but to keep a eye on it's use. Bandwidth on almost all servers can be increased if needed.


A very important part of the Joomla core download is the htaccess.txt file which can be located in the root of your Joomla Install. Once in the root it can be renamed to .htaccess and will become a important Apache file. It is important to understand the point of the .htaccess file and that point is rewriting difficult URL's with various symbols to a more readable and search friendly URL. For Apache to be able to do this it needs to understand how Joomla writes and determines URL's. This information can be located in the .htaccess file. 

Steven Johnson

Steven is a Joomla web developer and worked with Joomla since the Mambo days. He has built websites for startup businesses all the way to for Fortune 500 companies. A graduate of Georgia Tech in Chemical Engineering, he now happily spends his time building websites and reviewing all types of technology.