Article by Jerry Low
Geek dad, SEO data junkie, investor, and founder of Web Hosting Secret Revealed. Jerry has been building Internet assets and making money online since 2004. He loves mindless doodling and trying new food.
To make a website you must own a domain name and web hosting. But what’s a domain name? What’s a web hosting? Aren’t them the same?
It’s important that you are crystal clear on their differences before you move on to create your first website.
A web hosting is a place where people store their websites. Think of it as a house where you store all your stuffs; but instead of storing your clothes and furniture, you store computer files (HTML, documents, images, videos, etc) in a web host.
More often than not, the term “web hosting” refers to the company that rent out their computer/servers to store your website and provide Internet connectivity so that other users can access to the files on your website.
For most cases, these hosting companies will handle server maintenance work, such as backup, root configuration, maintenance, disaster recoveries, and so on.
To see some examples, here’s the list of hosting companies we have tested and reviewed in the past.
A domain is the address of your website. Before you can setup a website, you will need a domain.
To own a domain name, you need to register it with a domain registrar.
Domain name is not something physical that you can touch or see. It is a string of characters that give your website an identity (yes, a name, like human and businesses). Examples of domain name: Google.com, Alexa.com, Linux.org, eLearningEuropa.info, as well as Yahoo.co.uk.
All domain names are unique. This means there can be only one alexa.com in the world. You cannot register a name once it is registered by others (governed by ICANN).
To simplify: A domain name, is like the address of your home; web hosting on the other hand, is the space of your house where you place your furniture.
Instead of street name and area code, set of words or/and numbers are used for the website’s naming’. Computer hard disk and computer memory are used instead of instead of wood and steel for storing and processing data files. The idea is presented clearer with the diagram below.
One reason why newbies are confused is because domain registration and web hosting services are often offered by the same provider.
Most domain registrars nowadays also offer web hosting services.
Most hosting companies have the facility to register a domain name for their users. Some companies, such as Hostgator and InMotion Hosting, even offer a free domain with the purchase of hosting package.
Should you get these two items at the same place?
My personal recommendation: No.
I usually register my domains with Name Cheap but host them with a different provider.
Doing so ensures that my domain remains in my hands in case anything go awry with my hosting provider.
It is much easier to move to a new hosting company when you register your domain with a third party. Otherwise, you wind up having to wait for your hosting company to release your domain. This can get tricky since they are also losing your hosting business.
We have covered A-to-Z in how to buy a domain name and the technical details of how web hosting work. These tutorials should be useful for those who are creating and hosting their website for the first time.