When you try to get a website online, there will be a lot of technical terms that most people are not familiar with, such as domain and hosting. What exactly are these things anyway? The domain simply refers to the web address of your site. It’s the “www.mysite.com” part of your page that’s formally referred to as the domain name. Web hosting, of course, is not the same as the domain. So the shortest answer to the above question is “yes, there is a difference”. Read ahead to understand what these terms mean and what you should know about the features before taking your website online.
Modern websites are made up of three basic parts: the domain name, web host, and site files. When a user types in your site’s address to a browser, it sends a message to the web server, which translates your text address to a numeric IP address. The server looks up the IP address and sends sites files to your browser. The browser then shows these sites files to you in the manner it was designed for people to see.
When you hear terms like domain hosting services, these refer to web hosting servers or companies that maintain server space and rent it to websites. When you buy a hosting package, you are buying space for your website to connect to the internet. It’s much like renting space for an office. The server space you get depends on the type of hosting package you buy. For example, if you get a dedicated hosting plan, you will have an entire server dedicated to host your website on the internet. On the other hand, if you buy a shared hosting plan, your site will share space on a server along with many other websites.
The hosting server contains all the site files for your website, which are sent to browsers when users look up the site’s domain name. You can have a domain name without a web host. However, then your site will not be available on the internet. It’s like having a number listed in the phone directory without a landline connection.
The hosting server space is empty like an office space when you first rent it out. Offices need essential furniture like desks for people to work on. Similarly, server space requires framework application that you will have to install to host your site. In addition, servers have to be maintained, configured and kept updated to stay in line with latest technology. The hosting provider will take care of all these unless you have a plan to maintain the server yourself.
The address you come up with for your site has to be registered, like listing your number in a phone directory. It tells people and computers where to reach your site. When you do Domain name registration, this secures the particular address you use. No one else will be able to use the same address for a different site. This uniqueness it important for accessing the right site files.
Domain registration is technically separate from server hosting. However, most people nowadays register their domain along with purchasing hosting server space. It’s the more convenient method because it allows the web host to provide additional features like email for your domain. You can register a domain name separately as well. However, there will then be more work to get the domain connected to the hosting plan you will eventually have to purchase.