What is the difference between web hosting and a domain name? This is a very common question for anyone who’s thinking of launching their own website. Every website needs both web hosting and domain hosting. They just go together! Both are critical elements of running a website. It’s important to understand the difference between the two.
What Are The Differences Between Web Hosting and Domain Name
Here’s the short version.
An account on a computer (aka server) that can store and serve website files via the Internet.
A domain name often referred to as “web address”, is the address that people type into a browser address bar to find your website. A registered domain name is unique to you and can’t be used by anyone else, as it functions on the Internet in a similar way to a street address in the physical world.
In layman’s terms: a domain is an “address” on the Internet. Hosting is the “land” or space where your website files live. If you think of your website as a house and your domain name as the address, web hosting would be the actual Land.
How Web Hosting Works
When you purchase a web hosting service you’re essentially buying yourself space to store your website’s files. These files can then be accessed by a web browser, in order for your website to be live on the internet.
Web hosting is offered by various service providers who have the necessary technology to properly store your site’s files. By signing up for a hosting service you’re essentially renting space on a server that their web hosting companies own and manage.
Since most people or even businesses don’t have servers of their own, they rent out server space from a third-party web hosting company.
A server is a physical computer that runs 24/7, so your site’s files can always be accessed without interruption in service. These servers are loaded with the necessary hardware and software that your website needs to function.
Your web host is responsible for things like server maintenance, security, and running the right software, so the files on the server can be readily accessed by a website browser, like Google Chrome or Firefox.
How Domain Names Work
Internet addresses are technically “IP Addresses.” IP addresses are a long series of numbers that make no sense to humans. In fact, the very first places on the internet were accessible only by IP address.
So instead of typing in 192.168.1.1 to access a website, the website owner can register a domain that will route to that specific IP address.
When you register a domain name, you are leasing it from the Internet Corporation for Names and Numbers or ICANN for short. ICANN provides domains via approved registrars. Your registrar will be your domain host, but not your web host, in one way of saying it.
Though a domain name does not do anything on its own. It is like a phone number without a phone.
You can read more in What Is A Domain Name.
Where Can You Buy a Domain Name?
You will need to pay an annual fee to register a domain name. When the registration period expires, you will be given the option to renew. If you don’t, the domain name will be made available to others.
There are quite a few domain name registrars out there, Godaddy.com, Hover.com and NameCheap are probably among the most popular ones. Shopify also offers an option to buy a domain name through them for those opening a new e-store.