Explanation of Domain Registrations vs. Web Hosting – what’s the difference?

I recently post a short article on how to connect your domain name to your web hosting and was happy to receive a few more questions on this subject — so in the interest of making sure that the explanation is user-frienldly, I’m taking a second pass at this topic —

What’s the difference between Domain Name Registrations and Web Site Hosting?

Domain Name Explained

Your Domain Name is like a mailing address which allows the post office to send you mail. If you want to know how to get somewhere, you need an address and your domain name is basically an address for people to find you online: www.YourName.com

Many clients ask if they should purchase a country-centric domain extension (where applicable). For instance, Canadians can purchase www.YourName.ca and this registry is only available to people/businesses in Canada. Similarly, a person living in the UK could purchaes www.YourName.co.uk. I think important to start with the user-friendliness of your domain name. And here are a few points to consider when choosing your domain name:

  • Keep it Simple – you may not be Coca Cola (yet!) and need to think about branding yoru business. If you ever plan to place this name on more than business cards (i.e. screened on a vehicle, etc.) the name should be short enough and catchy enough to read–
    • Memorable – would your domain name be memorable enough to recall if it were mentioned in a verbal conversation? if it’s a mouthful to say, it might be difficult to remember
    • Spelling – try to keep in mind that you might have a clever name because you’re an exceptional wordsmith… but if your visitor is not, it may be difficult for them to type you in by memory

So with your name chosen, you essentially have an address in which you can send visitors to view your site. Next, you need a place to store the site itself!

Web Site Hosting Explained

The best way to explain a web host is this – it’s a publicly accessible computer. You may hear the term “server” — another word for a type of computer. Basically, it’s a computer server set-up to allow people to see the files stored on it. And once the Domain Name has been connected to the server, a visitor can type in your domain name and view the files (your web page) online.

There are codes, or name server records, which are provided by the domain name registrar. Sometimes these are called DNS records. In order for the web host to be connected to your name, you must enter those records at the web host. The domain name company will email you these records or you can login to the domain name registrar to retrieve them. Once you have them (copy them your clipboard) you can login to your web hosting company and paste them inot the field provided for NameServers / DNS.

It will then take up to 48hours (approximately) for the connection between the web host and domain name to be completed.




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