Web Basics Series: Do you really know the difference between your website’s hosting and domain?

Many of my clients don’t know the difference between web hosting and their domain, some even think it is the same thing. Are you in the same boat? Both hosting and a domain are important for your website and you need both to have a website.

Domain & Hosting

Many of my clients come to me in a state of confusion about their domain and hosting and sometimes they don’t even know they are missing one of these pieces and that is why their website isn’t working. I know it is confusing. A lot of people who offer web services gloss over the fact that these are different things or even talk about them at all.

Your website needs both a domain and hosting to work. Some hosting companies also allow you to purchase a domain but you can go to a different domain name provider if you choose.

What is my domain again??

A domain for your website is like your home’s address. It is the URL that people type in to be taken to your website.

Every website has what is called an IP address, and is a string of numbers. But it is really hard to remember the string of numbers when you’re trying to pull up a website so domain names were used instead. It’s the same thing as typing in a physical address on Google maps. It tells your browser where it is you want to go.

Ok, got it so what is my hosting?

If your domain is the address hosting is the lot you build your website on the internet. Without this virtual home for your website files, nothing will show up when you go to that address.

There are many different hosting companies out there catering to everything from a completely custom experience to doing it all for you behind the scenes, like Squarespace.

How do I get a domain name?

Many hosting companies provide you the option to get a free domain name while signing up. However, keep in mind two things. One, it is probably only free for certain period of time and then you have to pay for it.

Two, if you have your domain with your hosting provider and you have trouble with them and decide to take your business elsewhere it is a very complicated process. One that your hosting provider has no motivation to support you through the process because they are losing business.

And, as an additional tip, if your domain names are held the process is much easier you change your host and then update the DNS record with your domain registrar.

Which host is right for you?

If you are using a service to make your website for you then you don’t need to worry about it unless you make the transfer to a self-hosted site. There are a lot of advantages to both sides which I’ll talk about in next week’s section of the series.

But if you are self-hosting your website I’ve got some tips for finding the right hosting for you…

  • Review the different options that each host provides, then look for reviews about them online
  • What do their support rates look like what do they handle
  • Do they do backups? Can you upgrade to have them do backups for you?

Picking your domain name and getting your hosting setup is the first step in getting your website up and running.

Now you!

Got questions about your domain or hosting? Ask me below!


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