The Web design industry is growing fast and people are keen to showcase their work and do business online. If you are thinking of launching your own website, you’ll require a domain name and web hosting in order to create one.
While setting up your first website, it’s common for anyone to get confused between a domain name and a web hosting, they would rather not able to differentiate between them. So it’s important that you are apparent on their differences before starting.
This blog is everything you should know about a domain and web hosting. Before introducing the difference between them, let’s get a bit overview with the help of an example:
If a domain name is the address of your website. Then web hosting is the home where your site lives.
Thus, to create your website. You need both domain name as well as web hosting. It is important to remember that they are two separate services. And you can buy them from two different companies for your WordPress Website.
Meanwhile, to say, Domain name and Web hosting both are different services. Whereas, both work together to make sites possible on the internet.
Fast forward – a domain name is like a big address book which is constantly updated. Behind every domain name, there is an address of web hosting service storing the site’s files. It is not possible to find any website without any domain name and you can not create a website without web hosting.
Go through the entire article to get detailed information about their relationship and differences.
Since this is a long article to go through, the contents covered in this article are mentioned here pointwise for your ease to find the relevant piece of information:
- What is a domain name
- Structure of a domain name
- DNS and its origin
- Domain registration
- Redirecting, adding, and parking domains
- How to track domain name
- How to buy a domain name
- Change a domain name
- What is Web hosting
- WordPress hosting requirements
- Migrating a domain name
Simply, millions and millions of people all over the world browse the web every second. They do it by typing in something called a domain name. They type in the address bar of the web browser which they run on their PC.
Furthermore, a domain name is an address of your site which user type in the browser to visit your website. It’s a string of characters that gives your website a unique identity. Or you can say that, if your site is a house then the domain name is the house address.
In other words, domain names are connected to a specific IP (Internet Protocol) address of a server where the web page is being hosted.
However, here is an example:
https://mom.me is the domain name of a website.
Now let’s have a look at the structure of the domain through the image illustrated below.
If you wonder what happens when you enter a domain name in your browser? Let’s have a look at it.
The Internet is a huge network of computers which are connected with each other. These computers use IP (Internet Protocol) address to identify each other on the network. Computers and other network devices use a unique IP address to route your request to the site you’re trying to reach on the internet.
Here, you don’t need an own IP address book, instead of it, your browser sends a request to a global network of servers. That form is the Domain Name System (DNS) for your site. DNS is a set of servers which manages the database that maps domain names to IP address. Have a look below we mentioned some more information about DNS in detail.
Further, these servers then look up for the name servers. Which are associated with a domain? And forward the request to those servers name. Like: if your site is hosted on Bluehost. Then its name server information will be like:
However, these names are managed by your hosting company by computer. After that, your hosting company forwards your request to the computer. Where exactly your WordPress website is stored on your PC.
Here, this computer is called a web server and it has special software installed in it (Apache, Nginx are two popular web server software). Thereafter, the web server fetches the requested website. And sends it back to the browser of your PC from where you are looking for the same query.
Now let’s get the detailed information about DNS:
DNS stands for “Domain Name System”. And they consist of a domain name, and TLDs such as “.ME or.COM.” Now, the problem is, the servers are not actually recognized by domain names. However, they are recognized by IP addresses.
Very often, it is a set of specialized DNS servers. That has only one purpose: they serve as a database or they may serve as a phone book for connecting IP addresses. Thus, we came to the conclusion that these servers are called name servers here.
Now, the question is where do they come from and how to register them?
The DNS is overseen by the Internet Corporation. For Assigned Names and Numbers or ICANN. However, this organization was formed in 1998. And has been coordinating the maintenance and management of the DNS ever since.
But ICANN does not do all the work by itself. So, it transfers control over the various top level domains illustrated above like .com, .net, .org. To the various entities known as Registries. However, this infographic from ICANN should help you to better understand the registry process.
First of all, before you can carry out domain management is to register a domain with a domain registrar.
A domain name is a system used by browsers for accessing a specific IP address. Your site will be hosted at an IP address. However by buying a domain name and then pointing it at that IP address anyone typing your domain name into a browser will be taken to that address. It will be done automatically by your provider.
Whatever you keep your domains and hosting together or separate is up to you. In case you are managing one site, I suggest doing both with the one provider as it’ll be cheaper and simpler.
Manage domains with your registrar
After you have bought a domain you’ll have access to DNS using your provider’s website.
Before you buy a domain name just check out that your registrar gives you full DNS access. Every website owner should have full access to all the tools they require to manage their domain hosting and website.
While accessing your provider’s DNS management interface you’ll have a few options. These are the ones you’re most likely to use:
Nameservers – Use Nameservers to point your domain at another provider. As this redirects everything website, email, FTP.
A record – By editing the A record you can direct your domain to an IP address. Just use this if you wish to direct your domain to an IP address other than the one provided by your domain registrar. It affects the site not any email accounts on that domain.
MX record – This specifies the server where you have your email hosted.
CNAME – It usually works in a similar way to the record but instead of typing in an IP address you use a domain name. You would use this for directing your domain to another domain.
All of these can be edited using your registrar’s system and some can also be edited using cPanel. And I suggest using cPanel where possible as it gives you more flexibility.
For many website owners, you’ll keep your domain on the servers provided by your registrar and hosting company and won’t require making any changes. However, if you have multiple domains pointing to the same website you’re using a different hosting provider and registrar or you’re using WordPress Multisite with Domain Mapping. You’ll need to know how to redirect your domain.
Changing the nameservers
You’ll need to set custom nameservers if your website isn’t hosted by your domain registrar. Each domain registrar will have a various interface for doing this. Your hosting provider will give you the information about the nameservers you should use when you create your account with them and there will be at least two.