A domain name and web hosting are two elements necessary for a website to be available. However, some people might confuse these terms and their role in running a website.
It might seem like you can choose one or the other, but both are necessary for launching your website.
In this article, we will discuss what is a domain name, what is web hosting, how they work, and how to choose the best domain name and web hosting for your site. Let’s get started.
What Is a Domain Name?
To visit your website, users need to type in its URL on their browser’s address bar.
An URL typically contains a protocol, a domain name, and a path.
For example, let’s take a look at this Web Hosting Offer’s URL structure – https://webhostingoffer.org/benefits-of-wireless-technology:
- https:// it shows that the website has an SSL certificate, indicating a secure connection.
- webhostingoffer is the second-level domain (SLD).
- .org is the domain extension or top-level domain (TLD).
- benefits-of-wireless-technology is the URL’s path, which directs visitors to a specific web page within the site.
In this case, webhostingoffer.org is the domain name.
How Domain Names Work
The domain name works as a link to an Internet Protocol (IP) address. When users enter a domain name into their browsers, it tells the server to search for the IP address associated with the domain name through the Domain Name System (DNS).
The DNS server has information about the IP address will send it back to the web browser. Then, the browser will ask the domain’s hosting server to send the website’s content, and will finally convert it into a web page that visitors can access.
Types of Top-Level-Domains (TLDs)
When you look for a domain name on a domain registrar, you will find a list of domain extensions available.
Domain extensions are classified by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) according to the website’s features, like its purpose, owner, and location.
Some of the main TLD categories are:
Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs)
gTLDs are mult-purpose extensions. This category includes the most commonly used TLDs, such as .com and .net, as well as .biz, .xyz, and .tech.
Sponsored Top-Level Domains (sTLDs)
Some TLDs are restricted to certain groups and organizations. For example, .gov is for governmental agencies while .edu is for educational institutions.
Country Code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs)
TLDs are also categorized based on country or location. Country code TLDs include .us for the USA, .in for India, and .uk for the United Kingdom.
Tips for Choosing a Domain Name
Picking a good domain name is a challenging task. You need to consider many aspects before purchasing a domain name.
Choose a Concise Domain Name
A short domain name is easier to spell, remember, and type. Therefore, consider using a name with up to 14 characters.
Make the Domain Name Easy to Read and Pronounce
Another tip for picking a good domain name is making it easy to read and pronounce. Therefore, it is recommended not to use hyphens, numbers, and repeated letters.
Consider your Niche
If you build a website for an online business, the domain name can boost your business’s credibility and increase your marketing strategies. Thus, research keywords related to your niche and stay clear from domain names too similar to competitors’.
What Is Web Hosting?
If a domain name is the address of your website, web hosting is a place that contains your website files. Basically, you rent space on their server to store your website’s data.
Web hosting companies provide various features that allow you to create, modify, and publish your website. You can usually choose your preferred Content Management System (CMS), set up a custom email, configure your domain name, and access other website management tools.
Additionally, web hosting providers offer different web hosting services, allowing you to choose the most suitable hosting plan for your website.
Types of Web Hosting
It is important to know the types of web hosting services before purchasing one, as each comes with its own set of features and benefits. The following are the most common web hosting services available:
Shared hosting is the most commonly used hosting service due to its low-cost and beginner-friendly plans. As its name suggests, shared hosting means sharing a server and its resources with other users.
It is a great pick for users who want to start a small business or blog. All the server management tasks will be taken care of by the host.
With Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting, you will be sharing the same server with other users, but you will get a virtual partition with dedicated resources to manage the website.
Most hosting providers give VPS users root access to the server, meaning users are responsible for setting and maintaining it.
Dedicated hosting is popular among big-scale businesses or companies as you rent the entire physical server for your website. Thus, this hosting service is the most expensive of all web hosting types.
With dedicated hosting, your website can handle high-level traffic, and you also have more control over the server due to the root access. However, dedicated server hosting requires a high level of technical expertise to maintain the server.
Cloud hosting uses cloud servers to balance the website’s traffic load and uptime. When a server fails, other servers will cover it to keep your site running. Therefore, cloud hosting is known for its reliable uptime.
Due to its high availability, cloud hosting is a wise solution for large-scale businesses, such as eCommerce sites, search engines, and other high-traffic websites.
Tips for Choosing a Web Hosting Provider
Now that you learned the differences among the hosting service types, it’s time to know what to consider when deciding on a hosting provider:
Conduct research to find a web hosting provider that fits your needs. You can compare each hosting company by reading articles and customer reviews.
Make sure to check if there are any extra, such as renewal fees and add-ons. Also, check if the web hosting services include free SSL certificates, business email addresses, and other features you would normally have to pay extra for.
Check if the web hosting company offers reliable customer support. It will help you solve any technical issues on the website, whether it’s through live chats, tutorials, or emails.
Reliable server uptime is important to keep your website running at all times. Additionally, ensure that the web host has a great server speed – check its Time to first byte (TTFB) and component loading time – and performs frequent server maintenance.
Should You Separate Domain Registration from Web Hosting?
Yes, you can separate your domain registration from web hosting. However, if you purchase a domain name and web hosting service independently, it will be necessary to point the domain name to your website. If you don’t, the website will be inaccessible.
Also, some hosting providers act as domain registrars, so you can purchase a domain and web hosting together. It is a more efficient alternative as you don’t need to worry about configuring the DNS or transferring your domain name.
Moreover, you can save up some money as many web hosting providers offer a free domain name with their hosting plans.
Getting a domain name and web hosting will be your first steps to starting a website.
A domain name is essentially your website’s address – it’s what users type on their browser to access it. On the other hand, web hosting is the service that stores your site’s files and data, making it accessible on the internet.
While you can separate domain registration from web hosting, purchasing them together helps you save time and money. Thus, we recommend looking for a hosting provider that acts as a domain registrar.
Now that you know the differences between the two terms, you can choose the right domain name and web hosting service to start building your dream website. Good luck!