The difference between a domain name and web hosting can be a confusing topic. As both domain registration and web hosting are crucial for starting any website, this article will break down the key differences.
Think of a domain name as a street address that helps the user find and access your website’s location.
As well as the digital address of your website, your site will have files and code that will need to be stored somewhere. Web hosting is the actual room on a computer where all of your website files are stored, including HTML, documents, and media.
If you think of your website as a house and your domain name as the address, web hosting would be the actual property.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of web hosting vs domain, we can get into more details.
Common Domain Questions
What Is a Domain Name?
As mentioned previously, a domain name is simply your name on the internet or what is typed in the browser URL bar when someone wants to visit your website. Examples of that would be Google.com, Hotmail.com, or Facebook.com.
The domain name is essentially the address of the storage location of all your site’s files.
Something else to know the difference between is a domain name and an IP address. An IP address is a set of numerical instructions for the computer to use which make no sense to humans. The domain name (the name of the site you type into the browser address bar) acts as a link to the IP address.
You can’t start creating a website without domain name registration. But if you’re wondering how exactly you do that, it’s simple – you purchase one from a domain company. Domain registration is important as it confirms the name of your website.
Once you’ve completed your domain registration, you have the domain ownership – it becomes your property. Nobody else on the internet will have the same domain as yours. This unique string of characters will provide your website with a distinctive identity.
2. How Much Does a Domain Registration Cost to Buy and Renew?
Older domains, especially those that have a single-word name like insurance.com, are expensive, and the process of getting them is complicated. But if you intend to buy domain names that are brand new, it should be around $10-15 for the first year.
Each domain registration company has its own standard subscription or renewal fee. Keep in mind that the renewal of the domain name depends on the company you choose to register with, the TLD (top-level domain) you pick, and the length of time of your renewal.
Usually, the longer your contract is, the cheaper the monthly rate you’ll get, it will be outlined in the payment process.
You can get a free domain name when you buy a hosting plan from several companies but often the free name is only for a year. After that, you have to pay for the subsequent years you keep the domain. If you do this costs can work out higher than if you didn’t go for a free domain in the first place.
3. What Are The Main TLDs for Domains?
The top-level domain (TLD) is simply the last segment of a domain name or the short part that follows the dot. TLDs are also called domain suffixes.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the corporation responsible for managing domain names and IP addresses on the internet. ICANN categorizes TLDs as follows:
- Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLD)
- Country-code Top-Level Domains (ccTLD)
- Sponsored Top-Level Domains (sTLD)
- Infrastructure Top-Level Domains (iTLD)
The most popular TLDs are usually generic domains.
Some of the most popular TLDs are:
- .com – Commercial
- .org – Commercial
- .net – Commercial
- .gov – U.S. government agencies
- .mil – Military
- .edu – Educational facilities like universities
4. What Are The Most Popular Domain Registrars?
Currently, the most trusted domain name companies are:
When choosing which company to register your domain name, be aware of the following:
- Pricing: Each domain name registrar offers different pricing and renewal fees. Some of them also have hidden charges, so be sure to check their terms of service.
- Domain transfers: Domain registration companies usually allow you to transfer your domain names easily without paying an extra fee. However, some domain companies deliberately make this process more complicated or charge an extra fee. Always check the domain transfer policy before you choose your domain registrar.
- Domain expiration policies: Domain names have an expiry date. If you don’t renew your domain name on time, it will expire, which means that anyone can register it as their own. That’s why it’s very important to choose a domain registration company that offers automatic renewals or provides clients with a grace period to renew their domain name even after its expiration.
- Add-ons: Always check what other services your domain name company provides. You may not need these offerings now, but as your business grows you may. These can include products such as an SSL certificate, email hosting, website marketing, email marketing, etc.
5. Can I Buy a Domain Name Without Hosting?
The answer, in short, is “no.”
People will be directed to your website on the internet only if you have web hosting that allows you to store your website’s files.
Getting a domain name without purchasing a web host is basically useless. To cut a long story short, you need both a domain name and a hosting account to set up a website.
But if your question is “Can I purchase a domain name from a company and use it with another web hosting company?”, the answer is “yes.”
You can register your domain name with a certain provider and still get your hosting plans from different hosting providers.
6. Can I Use My Domain Name With Any Host?
Yes, you can. It’s possible to have a domain name from one company and use another company for web hosting. You have two options: you can get a domain name and web hosting as a 2-in-1 package at the same provider or buy the two services separately.
For many who want to create a website, registering domain names and web hosting using a single company is the easiest option.
Some, however, find that keeping their domain name and hosting account separate suits them better. If you’re unsatisfied with your web hosting provider and want to move to another, you’ll probably also want to transfer your domain name, which can be time-consuming.
7. How Do I Connect My Domain to a Web Host?
Connecting your domain name to your web host is easier than you think. Just follow these steps:
- Register a domain name – Remember, you can’t start your website if you don’t own and register a domain name.
- Sign up for web hosting – In order to point your domain name to a hosting server, you’ll first need to set up a web hosting account.
- Find your web host’s DNS (domain name server) settings – Your hosting provider company will send you a welcome email with the DNS addresses, which will look like something like this: ns1.example.com or ns359.example.com.
- Save your name server with your registrars – Log in to your registrar admin panel, find the “DNS Settings” or “Domain Name Setup Area” and copy-paste the domain name server addresses into the DNS Settings (usually NS1 and NS2)
- Wait for the DNS propagation – You’ll need to wait for your Domain Name Server settings to update. The process can take 48-72 hours. Once finished, you have successfully connected your domain name to a web host.
Common Web Hosting Questions
1. What Is Web Hosting And Why Do I Need It?
Without purchasing web hosting, you can’t set up your new website fully. Basically, registering a domain name without setting up hosting with a hosting company will serve no purpose – your site won’t be complete.
Web hosting companies sell or rent storage on their web servers where you can keep your website files, such as HTML and CSS files, documents, videos, and images. These are all files that need to be stored.
Anyone can create a website on their computer, but unless they have their website files uploaded on a host, nobody will be able to access that site.
When someone types your domain name into their URL name field they will be directed to your website. This is possible only if your website files are stored by a web hosting service provider.
Another important aspect to remember about web hosting is that it is different from the content management system for your site. A content management system (CMS) is the website software (or website builder) you typically log in to manage the content on your site.
Some content management systems such as Shopify or WordPress also offer hosting services which is why the two different functions can sometimes get mixed up.
2. How Much Does Web Hosting Cost to Buy and Renew?
Web hosting rates depend on the type of hosting service your website needs. Shared web hosting is usually the cheapest option because your site is stored on web server space that hosts other websites too. The prices for shared hosting usually range from $3 to $10 per month.
Dedicated servers are expensive, but they do provide clients with enhanced security and ensure effective load distribution.
If you want more flexibility and greater control over your website but you’re not ready to pay for a dedicated server, consider virtual private server (VPS) hosting. Prices for this sort of hosting provider range from $29 to $69 per month.
Remember that price you pay when you first purchase web hosting will change once you need to renew your contract.
3. What Are the Main Types of Web Hosting?
The thing all hosting services have in common is they act as a storage place for your website – but they’re not all the same.
They differ in terms of capacity, control, speed, and reliability, as well as the level of technical knowledge they require to set them up. It’s important that you learn the ropes and figure out what type of web hosting your website needs.
- Shared hosting: This is the perfect solution for entry-level website hosting. Shared hosting comes at a low cost because your website will be stored on the same server as many other websites. All websites share things such as RAM (random access memory) and CPU (central processing unit).
- VPS hosting: A VPS hosting solution is perfect for advanced users who need specific software, and package installations. This type of hosting puts multiple websites on the same server, but each website has its own space. Hosting on a private server vs hosting on a non-private one provides website owners with better performance and stability.
- Dedicated server hosting: Dedicated hosting means that your website will be the only domain hosted on the server.
Dedicated server hosting provides website owners with root and domain access and allows them to take charge of everything, from security to operating systems. This is the most expensive website hosting solution and is suitable for complex sites that receive a lot of traffic.
- Cloud hosting: Cloud hosting enables many computers to work together, run applications, and use combined computing resources. Cloud hosting is able to handle large amounts of traffic and it provides improved security and protection.
- Managed hosting: Managed hosting provides users with the day-to-day management of operating systems. Companies that provide managed to host offer services such as maintenance, configuration, monitoring, hardware replacement, updates, and technical support.
- Colocation: Colocation gives clients the chance to rent space in a colocation center. In these types of centers, users rent an area in racks and cabinets and the center provides their website with power, bandwidth, and cooling systems.
4. Are There Free Web Hosting Providers?
Well, all that glitters is not gold. Yes, there are sites you can get free web hosting accounts – the most popular among them being hosts such as 000webhost, InfinityFree, SitesGoogle, and AwardSpace – but you should definitely think twice before using free web hosting.
If you are on a budget, you may find it tempting to try free web hosts. However, we can’t recommend going down this road. Free web hosting services offer limited capacity, bandwidth, and server speed. They are unstable and usually lack basic features such as email accounts, email addresses, and website installations.
They give clients unreliable servers which will ruin your website’s chance of succeeding in today’s highly competitive online environment. Aside from that, free web hosts are likely to experience massive security breaches. So instead of opting for a free host, do yourself a favor and put your website in safe hands.
Always keep in mind that the most vital element of any successful website is a reliable web hosting provider.
5. What Are the Most Popular Web Hosting Plans?
The internet is packed with different web hosting solutions and choosing the right one can be an intimidating task.
What we can recommend is to be careful, and always check a host’s terms of service, because a web hosting provider is often all show and no go. So check everything twice. A reliable web host should be able to tick all of these boxes:
- Amount of storage provided
- Bandwidth/data transfer
- Customer support
- Control panel features
- Building tools
- Transparent pricing
- SQL database
- Statistics and monitoring tools
- Pre-installed apps
- Email features
- Privacy and security
- Free bonuses
In our experience, these are the most popular good web hosting solutions that manage to provide customers with all the most important necessities:
- A2 Hosting
Have a question about domain names vs web hosting that’s not included in our guide? Leave a comment below. 🙂