It’s common for web providers to offer web hosting and domain registration in a single package, but there are usually questions about those kinds of products:
- What is the difference between web hosting and domain registration?
- What services are provided?
- Can you get web hosting without domain registration?
- Can you get domain registration without web hosting?
To help clear things up, we’ll take a look at how the two services differ and why you should never confuse them.
What follows is a basic explanation of the options you have when selecting a hosting platform. We’ll also discuss domain registration, how it differs from web hosting, and why both are essential parts of having a website.
Web hosting is a service that every site owner will need to purchase. It’s needed for a website to run and become accessible over the internet.
But, what does the service involve? What is a company going to do for you when your purchase web hosting services?
It’s all actually quite simple.
A typical web hosting platform consists of a collection of carefully managed web servers that hold your website’s information. As a paying user, you can connect to the hosting platform and administer your site. You have the power to make changes whenever you need to, as well as to upgrade the components that make up your site.
A web hosting company will usually provide the backend tools you need to administer your site, but some hosting companies offer more, including:
- Custom tools that you can use to implement advanced features on the fly,
- Billing that automatically adjusts based on your usage,
- Options for additional storage or websites,
- Webmail, and more.
Sometimes, your website will be more complicated than just a standard HTML page. You may require additional functionality, such as a database to connect to, or additional storage for media, such as pictures and video.
Many web hosting companies will offer these enhancements. If you purchase a package that includes those advanced options, you’ll be able to administer the database yourself, and you’ll have full control to manage and maintain your media storage.
In addition, web hosting companies typically offer services that go beyond just hosting your website. Access to an FTP service and email accounts that are linked to your domain name are two common supplemental offerings. Domain registration is another.
Your domain name can be provided by your web hosting company, or, you can take care of it through another company, bringing your domain name with you when purchasing a web hosting package.
If you don’t have a domain name yet, and your web hosting company offers domain registration, it’s a good idea to get both services from the same company. Not only does it make your site easier to troubleshoot, you usually get a price-break when bundling the two services.
To understand what a domain name is, think of it as two components: a web address, and an IP address.
The web address is the part with letters (i.e., www.websitename.com). Websites are named this way so they’ll be easy for people to recognize and remember.
All the difficult stuff happens in the background, with the domain’s IP address. It is a number-based address (like 126.96.36.199) that computers use to communicate with each other over the internet.
Your domain name is a combination of these two elements. It’s a permanent association between the web address and the IP address.
The IP address is stored with a record that references your website’s name in a service known as Dynamic Name Service or DNS.
Your provider supplies the DNS records with the IP address and the name of your website. That allows your site to be reached from any device that has an internet connection. The web hosting company you use will create that link between your website name and IP address, and then bind it to the location where your website is being hosted.
All of this is done so that people don’t have to remember a long IP address for every website they visit.
Bundling is Usually Best
As you can see, there’s some complicated technology behind web hosting and domain registration.
While it’s definitely possible to use separate providers for these two services, using a single service provider that hosts your website and handles your domain registration is normally much easier. Everything will be managed under one account, and, it’s more convenient to deal with one company than two.