In the most general terms, a web application is a piece of software that runs on a web server. A web server is a just a specialized computer designed to host webpages.

Most web applications are comprised of two components: files and a database. When you install a web application, you need to make sure all of the files are copied over into the appropriate location AND that a database (and database user) has been set up to connect to those files. Often, you will have to do some configuration to make sure the application knows how to access the database.

The system we use for domains.stanford.edu uses a special script installer called Installatron (available in the cPanel) that allows you to automatically install dozens of opensource applications. When you use Installatron, you don’t need to worry about moving files, creating databases, or doing an initial configuration. It’s all taken care of for you. Find out more about Installatron.