There are lots of terminology, services, and platforms on the world wide web, and they can be hard to keep track of. Let’s talk about URLs, domains, hosting, and the services that regulate them.
What Is A Domain?
A domain is a unique address that users type into their web browsers to access your website on the internet. A domain or domain name is an important element in a web address or URL, which has many different components — protocols, domains, paths, etc. — but here are the basics:
Subdomain: the prefix to your site (blog, www, shop)
Secondary-level domain (SLD): the name of your website
Top-level domain (TLD): the suffix that follows directly after your website name (.com, .org, .uk)
Domain name: the combined SLD and TLDPath: the directory site information that follows the TLD; text, dashes, slashes, numbers, etc.
URL (Uniform Resource Locator): the full text in the address bar that routes to your content; also called the web address or link
Domains provide a memorable and human-readable way to identify and locate websites. They are registered and managed through domain registrars, like GoDaddy, which are organizations authorized to manage and distribute web addresses.
Key details about domains and registrars:
- Domains are unique and can be registered for specific periods (usually annually).
- Domains can be customized to represent your brand, organization, or purpose.
- Registrars offer tools and interfaces for managing your domain settings. This includes updating contact information, modifying DNS (Domain Name System) records, setting up domain forwarding, and managing domain privacy settings.
- You will use your registrar to connect to your web host, but changes to your DNS will need to be made with your registrar.
- Once you find an available domain, the registrar facilitates the registration process. This involves providing your contact and ownership information, selecting the registration period, and paying the registration fee.
What Is Web Hosting?
When you create a website, you need a hosting service to make it accessible to visitors. Web hosting refers to storing and safeguarding website files, data, and content on a server connected to the internet. A web host, like Pressable, is an entity that rents disk space to you on their computers (servers) to install your website. Creating and maintaining a working site can take a large amount of data, which is why a functional server is vital to keeping it active. When someone visits your website, they are accessing it via your web host’s high-powered designated servers, rather than, say, your computer.
When you use a web hosting service, they provide you with a unique domain name server (or DNS) which is essentially digital office space that holds all the necessary info for your website: files, databases, visual content, tools, etc. You take that unique DNS provided by your web host, and you give it to your domain registrar and the registrar will connect your site address with your website servers, and presto! You have a functioning website!
Key details about hosting:
- Hosting providers maintain servers that are connected to the internet 24/7, allowing your website to be accessible at all times.
- There are different types of hosting, such as shared hosting (multiple websites hosted on a single server), virtual private server (VPS) hosting (virtualized server environment), dedicated hosting (entire server dedicated to a single website), and cloud hosting (using resources from multiple servers).
- Hosting providers offer different hosting plans with varying levels of resources like disk space, bandwidth, and CPU power. You can choose a plan based on your website’s needs and expected traffic.
- Web hosts often provide additional services like email hosting, domain-based email accounts, SSL certificates for secure connections, website builders, and technical support.
- Hosts manage the server configuration, ensuring that it meets the technical requirements of your website.
Domain Hosting vs. Web Hosting; What’s The Difference?
Domains are more like street addresses; it’s a specific series that makes you identifiable and tells people where you — i.e. your site — are located. A domain registrar grants you exclusive access to a web address or domain where your site can be accessed by users online.
Hosting is like your office or home; it’s where your website lives and operates. Web hosting ensures your site is safe and secure, and keeps it running smoothly even when you’re not online to manage it. A web host manages your site’s files, data, and content on their servers, (which you rent space on) to keep your site online and accessible 24/7.
People frequently think domain registration and web hosting are the same, but they are two different services. A primary point of confusion is some businesses provide both web hosting and domain registration (though it’s not recommended). Even if a service provides both hosting and domain registration, you will still need both to create a functional and live website.
Lastly, there are many components and skill sets needed to operate a functioning website, and entrusting a professional admin to shoulder those responsibilities can make or break your website. Literally! Big Red Jelly is a leading expert in web administration, supplementing our services setting up, designing, constructing, and maintaining websites for hundreds of different organizations.
If you are looking into securing a domain, getting set up with a secure web host, or would like a web administrator to do it all for you, check out our web services here!
Written by Abigail Marks