Our clients ask us almost every day to explain the difference between a domain name and web hosting. We understand it can be confusing for a start-up company already overwhelmed with the process of launching their new business.
What is a domain name?
“Internet is basically a giant network of computers connected to each other through cables. To easily identify them, each computer is assigned a series of numbers called IP Address. This IP address is a combination of numbers separated with dots. Typically, IP addresses look like this: 22.214.171.124
Computers have no problem identifying and remembering these numbers. However, it is impossible for humans to remember and use these numbers to connect to websites on the internet. To solve this problem, domain names were invented.
A domain name can have words which makes it easy to remember website addresses.
Now, if you wanted to visit a website on the internet, you don’t need to type a string of numbers. Instead, you can type in an easy to remember domain name, for example, wpbeginner.com.”
Make sure you are the owner of your domain name.
Never let anyone register your domain name for you. When clients ask us to do this for them, we politely refuse and explain why. We were building a website for a great business, and when it came time to release the new website, she did not have access to her account and, worse yet, had difficulty locating the correct party. Always ensure you are the contact and owner of the domain name.
What is web hosting?
Ok, so we now know the domain name is the address visitors will enter to access your website. But where is your website? Web hosting is the physical location where your website files are stored. A website contains data, images, folders, content, and files. These components are stored on servers or in the cloud. These servers are hard workers and run 24/7/365 open for business for all your visitors!
There are many web hosting services available in a variety of price ranges and services. Put Another Way is a WordPress shop and offers hosting services for our clients on WordPress-focused hosting platforms. Always do the research and compare hosting services. The most popular hosting platform used by our clients is GoDaddy, followed by HostGator and SiteGround.
Do I need both to build a website?
Yes, to build and launch a website, you need both a domain name and web hosting service. You cannot create a website without a domain name because that is how people can find you. But you can own a domain name or names and not build a website. It is very common for small businesses and start-ups to secure domain names before building a website.
What is DNS, and what does it do?
The Domain Name System (or Server), or DNS, is a directory of names matched with numbers/IP addresses. A DNS server matches domain names, like mylittlelovenote.com, with its IP address. Every time you are on a device, searching the internet, checking email, or shopping, you are using DNS.
Does my domain need to be with the same company as the hosting provider?
No, they do not. You can purchase your domain name and hosting service from two different providers. Always keep your domain in one place and keep safe and updated records on all usernames and passwords for domain name registration and hosting services.
What is an SSL certificate, and do I need one?
We are frequently asked this question when clients are choosing a hosting service.
Yes, you need an SSL Certificate!
An SSL (Secure Socket Layer) Certificate creates a secure, encrypted bridge between a website and a user’s browser. The encryption protects your visitor’s sensitive information, including credit card information, legal and medical data, and passwords. The SSL prevents hackers from accessing this data or causing harm to your website.
Are you still unsure of the difference between a domain name and web hosting?