It’s easy for small business owners to get confused by the difference in their domain registrar and their hosting company. What makes it even more confusing sometimes this can be the same vendor, but a lot of times not. While often used in tandem, they serve distinct functions in bringing a website to life. Understanding their roles and the terminology they employ can be a game-changer for anyone diving into the digital domain.
Domain Registrars: Claiming Your Digital Address
What’s a Domain Registrar? A domain registrar is your gateway to claiming a unique digital address, your website’s home on the internet. It’s where you purchase and manage domain names, such as “YourWebsiteName.com.” Registrars work with accredited bodies to reserve these names and assign them to specific IP addresses, ensuring that users can find your site easily.
- Domain Name: The unique address used to access a website.
- TLD (Top-Level Domain): The suffix in a domain name, such as .com, .org, .net, etc.
- DNS (Domain Name System): A system translating domain names into IP addresses, allowing users to access websites by name.
Website Hosting Providers: Where Your Website Lives
What’s a Website Hosting Provider? Once you’ve secured your domain, you’ll need a hosting provider to store your website’s files and make it accessible on the internet. Hosting providers offer servers and infrastructure where your site’s data, files, and content are stored, ensuring it’s available to visitors 24/7.
- Server: A computer or system storing website data and delivering it to users upon request.
- Bandwidth: The amount of data transferred between your website and its visitors.
- Uptime: The duration your website is accessible and operational.
Common Ground and Their Interplay
While domain registrars and hosting providers fulfill distinct roles, they work in tandem to bring your website to life. Your domain name, purchased through a registrar, is connected to your website’s hosting space provided by a hosting service. Think of the domain as your home address and hosting as the land where your house sits or another good example is the old style phone book. The phone company would provide a listing of names and what phone numbers go to each name. They were acting as a registrar. Your actual phone was located (i.e hosted) at a specific location.
For example, at Think Different Designs, we reply on the vendor GoDaddy to be our vendor of choice as a domain registrar. This makes it easy, especially since they have delegate access functionality that allows clients to just add us as delegate to be able to quickly gain access to manage their domain, while the control and billing are retained by the client. Our cloud hosting servers are held with a completely different vendor that we connect to the client’s domain(s) to host their website(s).