What is the difference between a domain name and web hosting?
We are often asked by our clients and readers to explain what the difference is between a domain name and web hosting.
Many people don’t know that these are two separate things.
In this guide, we will explain the difference between a domain name and web hosting and why it is important to know the difference.
What is a domain name?
Domain name is the address of your website that people type in the browser’s URL bar to visit your website.
In other words, if your website was a house, then your domain name will be its address.
Now let’s get into the detailed explanation.
The Internet is basically a giant network of computers connected to each other through cables. To easily identify them, each computer is assigned a series of numbers called IP Addresses.
This IP address is a combination of numbers separated by dots.
Typically, IP addresses look like this:
Computers have no problem identifying and remembering these numbers.
However, it is impossible for humans to remember and use these numbers to connect to websites on the internet.
To solve this problem, domain names were invented.
A domain name can have words that makes it easy to remember website addresses.
Now if you want to visit a website on the internet, you don’t need to type a string of numbers. Instead, you can type in an easy to remember domain name, for example, hbhosting.com
What is Web Hosting
Web hosting is the place where all the files of your website live. It is like the home of your website where it actually lives
A good way to think about this is if the domain name was the address of your house, then web hosting is the actual house that addresses points to. All websites on the internet need web hosting.
When someone enters your domain name in a browser, the domain name is translated into the IP address of your web hosting company’s computer. This computer contains your website’s files, and it sends those files back to the users’ browsers.
Web hosting companies specialise in storing and serving websites. They offer different types of hosting plans to their customers.
How are domain names and web hosting related?
Domain names and web hosting are two different services. However, they work together to make websites possible.
Basically, a domain name system is like a massive address book that is constantly updated. Behind each domain name, there is an address of the web hosting service storing the website’s files.
Without domain names, it will not be possible for people to find your website and without web hosting, you cannot build a website.
This is why we also offer web hosting services.
What do I need to build a website? Domain name or web hosting
To build a website you will need both a domain name and a web hosting account.
Buying a domain name alone only gives you the right to use that particular domain name for a specific period (usually 1 year).
You need web hosting to store your website’s files. After you get hosting, you need to update your domain name settings and point it to your web hosting service provider.
Most hosting companies will offer a domain name and web hosting services together.
Thankfully HB Hosting is one of those companies.
Once you have purchased hosting and registered your domain name, you can start building your website.
Do I have to buy them together? Or can I buy them separately?
You can buy a domain name and web hosting from two different companies. However, in that case, you will have to point your domain name to your web hosting company by editing its DNS settings. This can take up to 24 hours to update. But these days it is on average an hour.
On the other hand, if you purchase your domain name and web hosting from the same company, then you will not have to change domain name settings.
It is also much easier to manage and renew both services under the same dashboard.
Can I move my domain name to a different company?
Yes, you can!
Normally when you register the domain name, you own the right to use it and transfer it anywhere you want.
For example, let’s say you purchased your domain name from domain.com and you bought your hosting from HB Hosting. Now you want to move your domain name to HB Hosting so that it is easier to manage and renew.
You can easily do that. Both companies have detailed step by step instructions that you can follow to transfer your domain name.
Note: We recommend you wait at least 45 days after the registration or renewal to initiate the transfer. ICANN, the international organisation that oversees domain names, requires one-year renewal whenever a transfer is initiated. By transferring your domain name before that period you could lose that year’s renewal fee.
Can I move my website to another web hosting company without changing domain?
Yes, you can do that as well. You own the domain name and can change its settings to point it to any web hosting company.
For example, you purchased your domain name and hosting from another provider, and now you want to move your web hosting to HB Hosting. You can move your site from one host to another by simply transferring files and data. After that, you need to edit your domain name settings and point them to your new web hosting provider.
Another example, you purchased your domain name from WordPress.com. Later you want to move to a self-hosted WordPress.org website.
First, you will need to sign up for a WordPress hosting account. After that, you can move your site from WordPress.com to WordPress.org.
Lastly, you will just edit your domain name settings on WordPress.com and point them to your new WordPress hosting provider HB Hosting.
We hope this article helped you learn the difference between a domain name and web hosting. You may also want to see our comparison of popular website builders for beginners with pros and cons.