One of the most common questions we get is about domain names and web hosting and what the difference is. Business people starting out in the online world can’t be expected to know everything so hopefully this guide helps with getting a basic understanding.
1 What is a Domain Name?
A domain name is the address of your website that someone will type in their browser’s URL bar. Once a valid domain name is entered they will be taken to that particular website.
Think of it this way – if your website was a physical house, then your domain name will be its street address.
The internet at its core is a massive network of connected computers. In order to identify them individually, each is assigned an IP (Internet Protocol) address which is made up of a series of numbers separated by full stops.
Asking people to remember long numerical sequences is too much (although in the early days of the internet we had to). Thankfully, domain names were introduced to convert the numerical strings into meaningful names that can be remembered and easily entered.
2. What is Web Hosting?
Web hosting is where all the components that make up your website are saved to. Text, images, documents as well as the software that enables your website to display correctly in web browsers.
Think of it this way – if the domain name is the street address of your house, then web hosting is the actual house that the address points to. To have a website on the internet you need both domain name and web hosting.
3. How are Domain Names and Web Hosting related?
Domain names and web hosting are two distinct and separate things. They connect and work together to make websites accessible on the internet.
A domain name system (DNS) is a huge virtual address book that is always being updated with new addresses added each time someone buys a new domain name. Tied to each domain name, there is an IP address of the web hosting service that is storing the files and software required for the websites.
So, if we didn’t have domain names, people wouldn’t be able to find your website and we didn’t have web hosting you wouldn’t have a place to create and operate your website.
4. What do you need to do to get started?
Get a Domain Name.
The first thing should always be to secure the best domain name for your business. Sometimes you might find that your ideal name is already taken so you’ll need to look for the best alternative. There are a range of specialist domain name registrars that allow you to search for names and purchase directly if available. We recommend you start with NetRegistry.
Get Web Hosting.
Next, it’s time to purchase a web hosting plan. There are a wide range of hosting providers who offer sets of plans according to budget and specialist services required. Most small businesses can start out on a basic plan and upgrade in the future if needed. However, if your new website will include an online store then you’ll need to make sure your plan is optimised for e-Commerce and has SSL certificate included.
We recommend SiteGround who have a great range of plans to choose from. You can even get your Domain Name from SiteGround if you’d prefer to have both domain name and web hosting in the one place.
Although it’s not difficult to purchase a domain name and web hosting plan it can be confusing about what to do next. We’d love to hear from you if you need help establishing your website by connecting everything up for you.