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Domain vs Hosting: Understanding the Difference

As you prepare to build a website, you’ll come across two terms: domain and hosting. Often used interchangeably, these services play distinct roles in getting your website infrastructure up and running. Understanding the definitions and differences between a domain and web hosting is crucial for anyone looking to build and maintain a website. This article will compare domain vs hosting to demystify these concepts, helping you make informed decisions in your website development journey.

Domain vs Hosting: You need both for a fully functioning website

Hosting and domains are separate but interconnected tools:

  • Hosting (Web hosting) gives you space on a server that can be accessed by the internet. This space will be connected to your domain so users can find it.
  • A domain is the name of a website. This is connected to your site’s IP address and your website’s nameservers so users can find it without needing the site’s technical details.

You’ll need both to run a website, and you’ll likely buy both from one company to simplify managing your site, domain, and finances. However, you can sometimes save money by buying one service at a time, especially if you’re registering a domain before you’re ready to build a website.

domain vs hosting

What is a Domain (Domain Name)?

A domain name is the address of your website and helps visitors find you. Examples of domain names are Google.com, Yahoo.com, greencloudvps.com,… Domain names make it easy for users to recall the name of the website. That’s one of the reasons why it’s important to pick a suitable name for your website. To own a domain, you’ll need to register it using a service called a domain registrar.

How do Domain Names work?

Computers don’t understand words, they only understand numbers.

So if you need to access a website, you have to tell the computer the numerical web address, or “IP address”, of that site. For example, the IP address for our website is 67.202.92.16. As you can see, this is not a very user-friendly approach, which is why domain names were created.

Domain names act as an alias for an IP address, so you can use a word or phrase that is easy to remember instead of a string of random numbers. This is done using a “Domain Name System” or “DNS”, which is basically a giant phone book that matches domain names to IP addresses.

So when you type a domain name into your browser, the DNS will look up the corresponding IP address and take you to the right website. In other words, it translates the domain name into the IP address that the computer can understand.

What is a Hosting (Web Hosting)?

Your website consists of files, folders, and data. To let visitors see your site, this info must move from your computer to a web server they can access. Web hosting servers step in here. They hold your website files for a fee and grant visitor access. When someone enters your domain name, your web hosting provider sends the content. Without this service, your files are homeless, making your domain like a disconnected phone number in a directory. Your site lacks online availability without web hosting.

Think of hosting a website like the space you rent for your business—it’s just the space itself, no frills. Just as it doesn’t come with shelves for your products, a web hosting account doesn’t automatically give you a site to sell your products.

How does a Hosting work?

The server that hosts your website is a physical computer that runs continuously to make the site available for visitors all the time. Buying servers for web hosting will allow you to store all the data of your website in the servers of your provider.

Once a user enters your domain name into their browser’s address bar, the web host’s server will transfer all the files necessary to load your website.

You can host a website yourself, but it requires extensive technical skills. Self-hosting entails setting up and configuring a web server from scratch, including the equipment, infrastructure, hardware, and software. Furthermore, you will also have to handle all the ongoing maintenance.

A web hosting service provider ensures that your website performs optimally and with better security protocols. In addition, it simplifies the many complex aspects of hosting a website – from software installation to technical support.

domain vs hosting

Domain vs Hosting – The Difference

Domain vs hosting are two different things; however, they’re closely connected. You need both a domain name and a web hosting account to create a website. This means that you can’t build a website without either one of them.

To get started, you can choose a domain name and register it with a domain registrar company. With most domain companies, you can register a domain name for a minimum period of 1 year. You’ll then need to renew your domain before it expires to continue using it.

Next, you can buy a hosting plan and link it with your domain name. After that, you can install website software (like WordPress), install tools and plugins, and add content to your website.

How do domain and hosting work together?

Knowing the difference between domain vs hosting is where many people get confused, but it isn’t complicated.

  • Think of your domain as a street address, guiding people to where your website lives online.
  • Hosting is like the lot where the building they’re looking for sits.

Hosting allows you to store the files that make up your site at that location (aka your domain name), so visitors have something to see.

You can purchase both from the same company or separately from different providers. If you buy them individually, you’ll just need to be sure to point your domain name to your selected web host — you or your web company can do this by editing the Domain Name System (DNS) settings.

Ready to set up your website?

That’s everything you need to know about domain vs hosting! If you’re just starting out, we recommend buying the domain name and web host from the same hosting company. There are many amazing web hosting providers out there that offer great discounts when you buy them together.

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