Many beginners in website design may often wonder about the differences between web hosting and domain name. Fundamentally, your domain name is your website’s permanent address, and your web hosting is the engine that powers your website by providing space and resources. While these two factors are required together to build a website, they are separate services.
These elements work alongside each other, but what are the differences between web hosting and domain name? Why is it important to understand each before making your website?
Let this guide help you learn more about domain names and hosting — specifically how they work and how they differ.
What is Web Hosting?
Web hosting is a storage location for multiple website content files, folders, and data — all of which are stored in a server or a computer specifically built for storing websites. These computer files include videos, images, documents, and HTML.
When a user tries to access your content using your domain name (i.e., website address), the domain name directs them to the stored files in the web server, where they can see your website online.
How Does Web Hosting Work?
A typical web hosting company goes beyond simply storing your website. Some of their value-added services and features include:
- Domain registration – used for managing and purchasing web hosting and domain from the same provider
- Website builder – a drag-and-drop tool for web editing used for website creation
- Email hosting – used to send and receive emails from [email protected]
- Basic hardware and software support – includes server set-up and support for CMS, server OS, etc.
What Is Domain Name?
Domain name refers to your website’s internet address. Internet users type the domain name on the browser’s URL bar to gain access and visit your website. This approach is a convenient way for users to access your website without the need to type an IP address — or the numerical label allotted to each website and server on the internet.
Domain names usually have two main parts divided by a dot. Any letter and number combinations comprise the first part of your second-level domain (SLD), also called a brand name. The second part involves the top-level domain (TLD) — a domain extension that consists of a predetermined extension such as .com, .com.uk, .org, and .net.
Note that every domain comes with a unique web address, so there are no similar domain names worldwide.
What is Domain Name Registration?
Registration is the first step to getting a domain name for your website. Domain registration is the process of registering a name to reserve it for a period. Users usually renew their license once a year. Some prefer to pay up to a decade to secure the domain under their name for a longer time.
The organizations and companies responsible for selling and managing domain names are known as domain registrars. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), an authority that organizes domain databases, compiles a list of domain registrars.
Note, however, that you need to check your domain’s availability with a domain checker before proceeding with a domain registrar. Apart from your domain’s availability, a domain checker also checks the availability of various extensions, along with their prices.
If other companies have reserved your preferred domain name, you may pick an alternative from the domain checker or form a unique name using a domain name generator.
How Are Domain Name and Hosting Related?
Domain name and hosting work together to make websites possible. One needs to keep the domain name system updated. Behind every domain name is an address of the corresponding web hosting service storing the website’s files. Without web hosting, you cannot create a website, and without domain names, potential clients won’t be able to find your website.
Although you can buy hosting and domain names from different companies, purchasing both services from the same company is recommended. The purchase avoids the hassle of having your web hosting company edit the domain name system (DNS) settings arranged by your domain name company.
Purchasing these two services also means easy management and renewal since they’ll be under the same dashboard.
Domain Name Registration vs. Web Hosting: What’s the Difference?
Picture the relationship between website hosting and domain name: a domain name is likened to a home address, while web hosting is the house where the address leads.
A computer memory and computer hard disk physically store the set of words and numbers and website files used for the domain name. Interestingly, the main difference between domain name and hosting is this: You cannot create a website using web hosting without a domain name, but you can have a domain name without a website built.
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