Your website’s hosting service and domain name work together to serve up your website to customers. While they’re closely related — and in fact, websites won’t function properly without both items in place — hosting and domains are two separate sides of a similar coin. Keep reading to learn more about hosting vs. a domain, including what each item does, how they work together, and how you can secure these services for your website.
A domain is the address people use to access your website. It’s often an easy-to-remember word or phrase connected to your business, if not the name of your business itself. For example, namecheap.com is the domain name of our website.
A domain functions similarly to a street address. Just like your home number and street name guide visitors to your door, a domain name helps internet users get to the information they need.
When you type in your domain name, a request goes out to a domain name server (DNS), which forwards your request to the specific server where the website content lives. (We’ll get into this part a little bit later.) Once the connection is made, the data — the words, images, and other content on the website — appear in the visitor’s browser.
A domain name stands in place of an IP address, which is a series of numbers, separated by periods, that computers use to identify one another and recall information from a network. It’s impractical to expect people to remember these numbers. A domain name is much more memorable, easier to market, and simpler to type into an address bar than an IP address. To continue the analogy above, an IP address would be like identifying your home by tax block and lot instead of by its street address.
Registering a domain name takes only a few steps — and a few dollars. First, you’ll visit a domain name registrar to check the availability of your desired name. Have an idea? Give Namecheap’s Domain Name Search a try!
Once you’ve made your selections, you’ll be sent to a page to complete your purchase. Many domains only cost a few dollars a year, and you can register them for one year or for several years at a time. Choose whichever is best for your budget.
Some registrars offer additional options, including enhanced security, a secure sockets layer (SSL), or a virtual private network (VPN), along with your domain purchase. These items cost a little bit extra, but can serve as significant enhancements for your site.
Website hosting is the service that powers your website. It’s where your site content is stored. All the text, photos, video, and other information on a website can be displayed because it “lives” in a hosting environment. When you visit a website, that information is delivered from the website host to the visitor.
Websites are hosted on servers, which can either be cloud-based or physical. It’s a mix of software and hardware (in the case of physical servers) that’s used to deliver your site content to viewers. To secure hosting space on a server, you’ll use a web hosting company. Some companies offer just website hosting, while others, like Namecheap, offer a whole host of other tools that make running your website possible in addition to hosting.
Website hosting and domain names are essential for any site to work correctly. If a domain name is your address, then your website hosting is your home, and your website files are the furniture you place in your home. Your content can’t sit in an empty lot — it needs a home so it can be interacted with and enjoyed. In this analogy, without a hosting service, a domain name points to an empty lot.
Your domain name purchase doesn’t always come with website hosting, or your hosting package may not come with a domain name. The company you use for website hosting may offer domain name registration and vice versa. It’s perfectly fine to buy your domain from one place and hosting from another if that’s what you choose.
However, keep in mind that connecting the two is not always a one-step process. If you haven’t made the connection before, the convenience of an all-in-one service like Namecheap’s can make this process much easier for you.
Namecheap offers everything you need to get your website live and in front of visitors, including hosting services and domain registrars. You can search for a new domain, transfer an existing domain from another service to Namecheap, and even explore domains whose ownership is verified by blockchain technology. There are also premium DNS services that offer extra speed and security.
You can choose from many types of hosting packages through Namecheap. Shared hosting is the most affordable and is great for smaller businesses or solopreneurs who are first starting out. Dedicated hosting is more powerful, offering more space and accommodating more website traffic. At Namecheap, we also offer Wordpress hosting if you plan to use Wordpress, and virtual private servers (VPS) that offer many of the advantages of a dedicated hosting service.
Domain name selection and website hosting are essential building blocks for your internet presence. They’re necessary components for every aspect of your business’s online presence, from making your website easily accessible to ensuring visitors have a frictionless, smooth experience navigating your site. But it’s not just about buying these two essential services — it’s about making sure they work together properly and seamlessly.
If you’re new to building websites for your ventures, there’s an easier way to get the services you need: Namecheap Site Maker. Our intuitive site builder includes everything you need to launch — including domain name registration and hosting — alongside tools that make it simple to add your content and design your pages in minutes. Get started today with a 14-day free trial!