Domain name and web hosting, what’s the difference?

When setting up your first website it’s not uncommon to get confused between domain name registration and web hosting.

Your domain name is the name of your site or your url (www.mynewcompany.com) and can be purchased by going to a domain name registrar. Domain names usually range from about $10 to $50/year depending on the extension. (.ca are more expensive than .com.)

In order for your website to appear on the Internet, the files need to be uploaded to a server. These can be “hosted” at a hosting company. Hosting is usually billed monthly or annually at a rate of $10 to $50/month depending on how the type of server you need and how much space and bandwidth you are using.

Domain names can be purchased anywhere, but it’s convenient to buy the domain and set up hosting in the same location.

When setting up WordPress sites, I recommend the following hosting providers:

All of these hosting companies provide domain name registration as well as hosting making it very convenient.

You can however, purchase a domain name and then host it somewhere else.

The following domain name registrars are quite popular:

Once you’ve purchased a domain name, you will be provided with login details to access your account. It’s important to keep this info on hand and pass it on to your web developer.

If you’ve purchased a domain name at one company and decide to host it somewhere else, then you’ll need to login to your domain registrar and modify the dns. This dns change just tells your domain registrar that the url you are using is now being hosted by someone else.

Before modifying the dns, be mindful of your email addresses. If you’ve set up email addresses with your domain registrar, you will need to set these up again with your hosting provider. Before making any changes, it’s best to contact your web developer or IT department and make sure that any changes won’t incur email loss.

This whole domain name registration and hosting may seem daunting but it’s very simple once you’ve done it once or twice. If you’re setting up a brand new site, choosing one of the hosting companies to purchase both domain name and hosting will make it simpler. If you’ve already purchased the domain name somewhere else, just make sure that you keep your login details to both domain registrar and hosting provider and pass this info to your web developer.