To operate a website, you must have domain hosting and web hosting. But what’s domain hosting and how is it different from web hosting? Aren’t they exactly the same thing?
Well, no. Although you can often get both from the same provider, and they may even be bundled together, they are two completely different things. Here’s what you need to know:
What is Website Hosting?
A web host is a special computer, called a server, where people keep their websites. You can think of it like your website’s house, only instead of being filled with furniture and knick-knacks, it’s filled with files and data.
Usually, when someone talks about “web hosting,” though, they’re not referring to the actual physical server that holds their website, but the company that provides those services. A hosting service owns and operates many different servers and rents them out to individuals so they can store their websites and the public can access them via the Internet. In most cases, these hosting companies will also provide any needed upgrades, maintenance, or repairs on the physical machines.
What is Domain Hosting?
A domain name is the address of your website that people type into the browser’s URL bar. For instance, ours is www.inmotionhosting.com. If you think of your web host as your website’s house, then the domain host would be the address that people use to find it.
When choosing a domain name, your goal should be to make it as easy as possible for people to find your website. Most business owners choose to use the name of their company, like we did, to avoid any sort of confusion.
You may find, however, that when you try to register your domain name, someone else already owns it. That’s why we recommend having a list of backups just in case!
Note: When you register your domain name, it secures that address for your website alone, and no one else can use it. Usually, domain names are reserved for a year at a time – and once that period is over, you have to renew, or the domain becomes available for others to purchase.
Do I Need Both?
Yes. Domain hosting and web hosting are two different services, both of which are needed to create a new website. Without a domain name, no one would be able to find your website, and without website hosting, you would have no way to build your website.
The first step in creating any website is to secure your domain name. Once you add a hosting service, you need to update that domain name so it “points” to your web hosting provider. Often, you can purchase hosting service and a domain name from the same company, which greatly simplifies matters: you not only avoid the need to link the two accounts together but when it’s time to renew, you can handle everything through the same dashboard.
Have a great idea for a domain name, but you’re not quite ready to get started on design? That’s okay. You can reserve the name at any time, whether or not you have a hosting service lined up, and create your site at a later date.
Can I Change Hosting Companies Later?
Yes. For both website hosting and domain hosting, you can change providers at any time you like. For example, if you purchased web hosting from InMotion but got your domain name elsewhere, you could easily move your domain name over to make things easier to both manage and renew.
Likewise, you own your domain name and you can change its settings to point to any hosting provider if you decide to switch to a new company. Moving your files and data should be a seamless process if you are working with a reputable service, and once complete, you just need to update your domain name so it points to the correct location.
We hope this article clears things up a bit! If you’d like to learn more about domain hosting or website hosting through InMotion, please reach out to our knowledgeable customer service team.