I’m often asked by my clients to explain the terms domain name and web hosting. In this blog post, I’ll explain what a domain name is and what web hosting does and why you need both for your website. Part of my job is to help my clients choose the right domain name and hosting service for their website, and I’ll be there to assist you in making sure the appropriate solutions are selected based on your specific website requirements.
What is a Domain Name?
A domain name is the address of your website that people type in the browser’s URL bar when they want to visit your website. In simple terms, if your website were a house, then your domain name would be its address.
The internet is basically a giant network of computers. To easily identify them, each computer is assigned a series of numbers called an IP Address. An IP address is a combination of numbers separated by dots, and a typical IP addresses looks something like this: 126.96.36.199.
Computers have no problem identifying and remembering these numbers. However, it is much more difficult for humans to remember and use numbers to connect to websites on the internet. To solve the problem, domain names were invented and those names are automatically translated to the website’s IP address. The IP address is typically that of the web hosting server storing the website’s files.
A domain name can have words which makes it easy to remember the website address. 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 in your browser’s address bar. For example, my domain name is webdevelopmentartistry.com.
What is Web Hosting?
Web hosting is the place where all the files needed for your website reside. A good way to think about this is if the domain name was the address of your house, then web hosting is the actual house that address points to.
All websites on the internet need web hosting. When someone enters your domain name in a browser, the domain name is translated into the IP address of your web hosting company’s server. This computer contains your website’s files and sends those files back to the visitor’s browser.
Web hosting companies specialize in storing and serving websites, and web hosting is one of the key components of every successful website. That’s why it is very important to choose the right hosting company. Some of the most popular web hosting companies are SiteGround, Bluehost, and HostGater, to name a few.
Building Your Website
To build a website you will need to purchase both a domain name and a web hosting account. They can be purchased from the same company or two different companies. If you want to buy domain names separately from your hosting service, then you can do so from top providers like: Domain.com, Network Solutions, or Godaddy.
After you have a domain name and hosting account, you need to update your domain name settings and point the domain to your web hosting service provider. You can also buy both the domain and hosting from the same company, and in that case you will not have to change the domain name settings.
To give you a rough idea of the cost, a domain name runs about $15 per year, and web hosting normally costs approximately $25 per month. Many hosting companies offer substantially discounted rates for the first year.
Once you have purchased your hosting service and registered your domain name, you are ready start building your website!
Hopefully this article helped to explain the basics about domain names and web hosting services. As always, these are technicalities that I’ll be happy to set up for you when we work together on your website design project.