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Domain and Hosting, what are the differences

When you are starting with the internet, a lot of technical jargon can cause a mayhem in your life, especially if you’ve never created a website on your own. Armatures get confused between domain name and web hosting. Both are different, yet closely connected.

Understanding the thin line of difference between these two technical jargons is essential to get your business going and flourishing.

In simple language,

The domain name of a website is similar to the address of your house and web hosting is the total space inside your house. Both domain name and web hosting is an integral part of running a successful online business.

What is a domain name?

A domain name is your piece of internet real estate. You have the ownership and rights of your website name. No one in the market has access or rights to the actual domain name.

For example,

Facebook.com is owned by Mark Zuckerberg, only he enjoys the rights of the website.

Different type of domain extensions such as .co.in, .com, .net, .biz, .info, .eu.org, .org and .co.uk.

Domain name empowers you to remember the unique set of numbers in an easy way.

Imagine, if your customers had to remember the website address as 145.988.888.874 instead of abc.com, the internet today would have been full of confusing numbers. A domain name makes it easier to remember the website, allowing your business to reach the intended target audience.

What is web hosting?

Buying a domain name does not mean you can serve your website to the world. To properly operate a website, you need a configured web hosting. Web hosting is a web server that holds a large number of files. As the name suggests, it holds the content of your website for the people to access it over the internet.

You may think that when the website is digital, why do need a storage space?

The files of your website are stored in a physical hard drive and is easily accessible over the internet using a particular server.

You need web hosting to publish a website and ensure it runs 24 X 7. Without a web hosting, your domain is a waste because it will not work.

What is the difference?

If the difference is still not clear, consider a scenario wherein you’re building a house. The plot of the land has an address, which is the domain name. It basically tells your friends and the postman about the location of where to find you. But, without the actual house, which is the web hosting, you cannot welcome your guests or the web traffic.

The two always go hand-in-hand with each other because a house having no address is insignificant and an address with no plot is of no use. Similarly, without a domain name, web hosting is useless and vice-versa.

Therefore, in order to have a functioning website, you need both.

Domain registration and website hosts

With a boutique of hosting companies available, making a choice becomes a nightmare, especially for newbies. To lessen your efforts, a majority of the hosting services gives you the provision to perform a search for the domain name and register for it. You’re likely to get the domain name free for one year.

Today, companies registered as domain registrars offer hosting packages and website domain name. However, the choice of a domain name and website host is completely dependent upon your choice. You can choose a different domain name registrar and website host.

Types of web hosting services

Irrespective of the size of your website, you need a web hosting for a successful online business. However, the first step is exploring the need and the future growth of your business before selecting the hosting service provider.

Most of the packages available include a wealth of features and based on your requirement take an informed decision.

Free hosting – Ideal if you want to build a non-critical website just for fun. The services rendered are free of cost because of which several subscribers use a single server, resulting in frequent website down-time. Apart from the high down-time, the connection is slow, advertising banners are automatically added and the features offered are very less. If a company offers a free sub-domain name such as [yourname.wordpress.com], transferring the website to another domain is impossible. Weigh your options and understand your requirement before selecting a hosting service.

Shared hosting – In this hosting environment, the server is shared with other websites. The resources, including the physical server and software application is shared among different website owners, which keeps the cost low. Shared hosting is lucrative for beginners having limited resources and cannot manage a dedicated server.

The downside is that sharing resources between the website hampers the performance. If your website is sharing the server with a high traffic website, it could slow or stop the server, causing financial loss and disruption in your services.

Dedicated hosting – A dedicated server gives you more control as it hosts only your website. The web traffic of other sites is not related to your performance. Though using a dedicated hosting is costly, it’s worth every penny, if your website received huge amount of traffic. Dedicated hosting is ideal, if you want to add an extra layer of security.

Managed hosting – A managed hosting is a form of dedicated hosting wherein the web hosting and the server provider manages the server for you thereby reducing an uphill of a task. The provider is responsible for virus protection, operating system, hardware and virus protection. You still are responsible for the content of your website and you enjoy full control over the website.

How to select the domain name?

The domain name creates the first impression, defines your brand to the customers and enhances the SEO efforts. Choosing the right domain name is an art, which business owners fail to grasp.

Keep it concise – According to Gaelber.com, the top-5 websites have 6 or less characteristics in their domain name. There definitely exists a direct correlation between the length of the domain name and the popularity. Therefore, aim for 6-12 characters, the shorter, the better.

Easy to remember – Think of websites such as Google, Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat – all are easy to remember and spell. The last thing you want is your customers landing on the competitor’s website because of a spelling mistake.

.Com, .org or .Net – If your business caters to the local country, then it is advisable to focus on country specific domain name. For example, a burger delivery business in the U.S. will benefit from a domain name, ‘.us’ instead of ‘.com’ because people residing in India will not order a burger from their parlor. .Org is mainly used by non-profit organizations and .com is ideal if you have an international audience.

Use keywords – Keywords help to improve the SEO of your business, but if you stuff the keyword in the domain name, you’re likely to reap the negative repercussions. Domain names with a keyword at the beginning usually witnesses high traffic and powerful ranking.

Think long-term – When selecting a domain name, think long-term. For example, if you teach mathematics to the students, you could choose a domain like ‘mathstutor.com’, but if you plan to expand the coaching services to other subjects, then you would have to reconsider the domain name. Therefore, select a domain name wisely.

How to select the web hosting?

Hundreds of hosting companies out there are offering 99% uptime, making the task difficult for people looking for a web host. Here are a few key aspects to consider.

Cost – The money you spend is definitely important, but jumping to the cheapest option available is not the best idea. Focus on quality of services and features before making the final call.

Uptime – The reliability of the server is the next big thing. Who wants a website that is down on a regular basis? If customers cannot reach the website during their first try, they will not return again. Select hosting providers offering uptime greater than 99.9%.

Storage and bandwidth – The performance of the website is directly proportional to the storage and bandwidth offered by the hosting company. Therefore, choose a company that is flexible in increasing the storage space as and when necessary.

Add-on domains – Figure out whether the host company will allow you to host multiple domains or not. In the future, you may require another domain for your business. It is important because having a separate hosting account for every domain is a painful and time consuming.

Site backup – The internet is prone to DDoS attacks and small glitch in the system is enough to ruin the site files and databases. There is nothing to worry, if the web host provides backup facility. Without backup, your business is at the risk of losing everything.

Domain name and web hosting are two sides of the same coin, both cannot function properly in solitude. It’s critical to understand the difference between the two terms to take better business decisions.

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