Part of starting a website is to buy a domain name and web hosting. However, many of us don’t know that these two are completely different services.
In layman’s terms: If you think of your website as a house and your domain name as the address, web hosting would be the actual property.
In this guide, we will explain the difference between a domain name and hosting and answer the most common questions asked.
Most Common Questions About Domain Name
Let’s start by explaining what the domain name is.
1. What Is a Domain Name?
As mentioned previously, a domain name is simply your name on the internet or what people type in the browser URL bar when they want to visit your website. Examples of that would be Google.com, Hotmail.com, or Facebook.com.
You can’t set up a website without obtaining a domain name first. But if you’re wondering how exactly you do that, it’s simple – you purchase one from a domain registrar.
Once you’ve purchased a particular domain, it becomes your property and no one 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. 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
3. How Much Does a Domain Name Cost to Buy and Renew?
The cost of a domain name depends on several factors, such as which domain registrar you choose and whether you’re going to use a new domain name or purchase an old one.
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 get a brand new domain name, it should cost around $10-15 annually.
Each registrar has its own standard renewal fee. Keep in mind that the renewal of the domain name depends on the domain registrar you choose, 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.
4. What Are The Most Popular Domain Registrars?
When choosing your domain name registrars, be aware of the following:
- Pricing: Each domain registrar offers different pricing fees and renewal fees. Some of them also have hidden fees, so be sure to check their terms of service.
- Domain transfers: Domain registrars usually allow clients to transfer their domain names easily without paying an extra fee. However, some 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 name registrar that offers automatic renewals or provides clients with a grace period to renew their domain name even after its expiration.
- Add-on services: Always check what other services your domain name registrar provides. You may not need these services now, but things might change as your business grows. These services include email hosting, website marketing, email marketing tools, etc.
Common Questions About Web Hosting
Here are the most frequently asked questions about hosting.
5. What Is Web Hosting And Why Do I Need It?
Without purchasing a web hosting service, you can’t set up your new website fully. Basically, registering a domain name without getting a web hosting service will serve no purpose – your site won’t be complete.
Web hosting companies sell or rent space on their servers where you can store your website files, such as HTML and CSS files, documents, videos, and images. These are all files that take up space and need to be stored.
Anyone can create a website on their computer, but unless they have their website files uploaded on a hosting server, nobody will be able to access their website. When people type your domain name in their browser URL they will be directed to your website. This is possible only if your website files are stored on a web hosting server.
6. What Are the Main Types of Web Hosting?
All web hosting services have one thing in common – they act as a storage place for your website – but they’re not all the same.
They differ in terms of storage capacity, control, server 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 service 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 the same server resources, including RAM (random access memory) and CPU (central processing unit).
- Virtual private server (VPS) hosting: A VPS hosting solution is perfect for advanced users who need dedicated resources, specific software, and package installations. A VPS hosting plan puts multiple websites on the same server, but each website has its own space on the server. VPS hosting 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 lets them control 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 hardware and 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 space in racks and cabinets and the center provides their website with power, bandwidth, and cooling systems.
7. How Much Does Web Hosting Cost to Buy and Renew?
Web hosting prices depend on the type of web hosting service your website needs. Shared web hosting is usually the cheapest option because your site is stored on a server that hosts other websites too. The prices for shared hosting usually range from $3 to $10 per month.
Dedicated servers cost an arm and a leg, 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 VPS hosting range from $4 to $40 per month.
Remember that your initial costs when you first purchase a web hosting service won’t remain the same once you need to renew your contract.
8. What Are the Most Popular Good Web Hosting Services?
The online space 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 web hosting services are 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
9. Are There Any Free Web Hosts?
Well, all that glitters is not gold. Yes, there are free web hosts – the most popular among them being hosts such as 000webhost, InfinityFree, Google Sites, and AwardSpace – but you should definitely think twice before using one.
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 hosts offer limited storage capacity, bandwidth, and server speed. They are unstable and usually lack basic features such as email accounts and website installations.
They give clients unreliable servers which will ruin your website’s chance of succeeding in today’s highly competitive online space. 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 service.
Common Questions About Domain Name and Web Hosting
Now let’s look at what people want to know about hosting and domain name together.
10. Can I Buy a Domain Name Without Hosting?
Yes, you can. But you will not have an accessible website.
People will be directed to your website on the internet only if you have a web hosting service 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.
11. Can I Use My Domain Name With Any Host?
Yes, you can. It’s possible to buy 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 a lot of people, registering a domain name and setting up hosting for their website using the same hosting (for example Bluehost) is the easiest way to go.
Some, however, find that keeping their domain name and hosting separate suits them better. If you’re unsatisfied with your web hosting service and want to move to another, you’ll probably also want to transfer your domain name, which can be time-consuming.
12. 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 a domain name.
- Sign up for a web hosting plan – In order to point your domain name to a hosting server, you’ll first need to purchase a web hosting service.
- Find your web host’s DNS (domain name server) settings – Web hosts will send you a welcome email with the DNS or domain name server 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 DNS settings to update. The process can take 48-72 hours. Once finished, you have successfully connected your domain name to a web host.
Have a question about domain names or web hosting that’s not included here? Leave a comment below. 🙂