Domain registration and web hosting - what's the difference?
Posted on 26th November 2021
This is a question that’s often asked by people who are new to the world of business websites. And whilst it can cause confusion, there is a clear and simple difference between domain registration and web hosting, and what they’re used for. In this article, we’ll define the two terms before explaining how you can get maximum value, in terms of both quality and costs, for your business website.
First, let’s define the term ‘domain’. This is nice and easy! It’s just your web address, or URL, that people type into a web browser to access your website. For example, www.itseeze-nottingham.co.uk for it’seeze Nottingham. Entering your domain into a browser will almost always take you to the home page of the website in question.
Domain registration is the process by which you register the web address you want to use for your business website and email accounts. The first thing you need to do is to find out whether your preferred domain name and suffix (.co.uk, .org.uk, .biz etc.) are available.
You can do this by typing the address into any web browser. If a page comes up with a message saying the site can’t be reached or doesn’t exist, or you’re redirected to a registration site, the domain should be available for purchase. If not, you’ll have to come up with some alternatives – try using different suffixes or versions of your business name as a starting point.
Once you’ve found a domain that’s available, you’ll need to register it. The domain may already have been purchased and put up for sale by a registration service or other third party, in which case you’ll need to liaise with them to buy it. Be aware, however, that you could end up paying over the odds and end up with poor service and technical support. It may be easier to find a domain that’s not been snapped up yet.
Your options for such domains include registering them directly with the official registry for the domain type in question. For example, all domains ending .uk are managed by Nominet. Or, you can choose a domain name provider to register the domain on your behalf. Some well-known larger providers include GoDaddy, Fasthosts, and 123-reg.co.uk. Most providers can also take care of your web hosting (see below).
Another word of warning – don’t be sucked in by mega-cheap domain registration that looks too good to be true. It will be. The provider is likely to offer a low price on the first 12 months and then whack up the price for renewals. If this happens, it’s not always straightforward to change providers, especially if they manage your hosting as well. It’s better to pay a reasonable price for a quality domain name from a reputable supplier.
A further thing to look out for is built-in SSL certificates. These indicate that your site is secure, with a URL starting https:// instead of http://. Any information entered into enquiry or payment forms will be encrypted and secure, and your search engine rankings will be boosted, too. Whilst some domain registration providers (including it’seeze Nottingham) include SSL certificates as standard, others don’t so it’s worth checking in advance.
Your web hosting is essentially your website’s online home. All the files that make up your website are kept on servers managed by your chosen hosting company. These could be located anywhere in the world. Without a hosting service, your site can’t exist. When a user types your URL into a browser, your website’s files are sent to the user’s browser from the hosting company’s servers, so they can view your web pages.
Whilst web hosting is a different service from domain registration, the two are inextricably linked. Without hosting, you can’t create your web pages and content, and without a domain name, you can’t publish your site online so people can find it. Once you have both these services in place, you’re good to go.
You don’t have to use the same company for domain registration and web hosting, although many businesses do as it can make setting up and managing the site easier. Whichever option you choose, you should select your chosen provider(s) carefully as noted above.
In terms of web hosting, you need a provider that can provide reliability and security, including regular backups of your site hosted in different locations in case one server fails. Site loading speed is also an important factor both for usability and for boosting your search engine rankings (slow-loading websites will be penalised by Google).
Let it’seeze Nottingham take care of it all
Our ‘zero to hero’ web design service includes free registration of a .co.uk or .com domain for your business as well as ongoing hosting once your unique site has been created. You’ll have the reassurance of a secure website with a built-in SSL certificate, GDPR compliancy, fast and reliable hosting, spam filtering, and regular back-ups and security updates.
Tagged as: Domains
Share this post: