If you have an existing website, you will already be familiar with the terms ‘domain name’ and ‘web hosting’. When you embark on a new website to replace your existing one, there is the possibility that you will change where your domain and website are hosted so that you can take advantage of better-quality hosting for an enhanced website performance.
It may have been some time ago that you set up your original domain name and web hosting so let’s explore them each in more detail to understand the differences.
What’s the Difference? Domain Name v Web Hosting
What is a Domain Name?
The domain name is just like the street where you live. It’s your address. On the internet, your domain name is the URL that you type into your browser. It’s your website name. The URL on my website is http://www.umbrelladigitalmedia.co.uk My domain is umbrelladigitalmedia.co.uk and this is where my website lives.
When computers speak to each other on the internet, it does so using an IP address, which is a numerical version of your domain name. An IP address will look something like this:-
Domain names are a much easier way for us to remember a website rather than the IP address. Domain names cannot be shared and can only belong to one website.
What Does a Domain Name Do?
A domain name identifies a website. When you type in a URL into a browser, the domain name information will recognise the street where it lives and then will find the website that it belongs to, just like finding the right house on the street. Once it matches with the right website, it will then show you all the information relating to that website.
What is Web Hosting?
Web hosting is where the website itself lives. The website is the actual house on the street.
The house that the website lives in could have been built by a different building company than the one next to it. That is exactly the same with web hosting. Each website can be managed by a different hosting company.
A website is where you build the bricks and mortar of a website with the Content Management System (CMS) of your choice, such as WordPress. In this case, WordPress makes the foundations and framework of the website (like the bricks and foundations of a house) and the code used to create a website, such as HTML and CSS, give the website the content and images that we read and see.
For a website to work you need to have both a Domain Name and Web Hosting. Just as you have a house, you need to have a street to have the house built in.
Do you need to have a domain name and web hosting from the same company?
No, you don’t. You can buy your domain name and host your website with different companies. This is my recommended approach. By having them separate you retain more control and flexibility, especially if you have a number of domain names they can be managed all in one place. It also allows you to change web hosts more easily in the future and you don’t have all your eggs in one basket.
If I have an existing website, will I have to change my domain and web hosting providers for my new website?
That will depend on who you work with on your website. Some web designers and developers have their own in-house arrangements and will manage everything for you. For my clients, I only use my recommended providers Namecheap (for domain management) and Siteground (for web hosting). This is because I believe that each company provides a great value for their support and service. I work a lot on each of the platforms so I know both systems well to provide an optimal service.
I help clients with the set-up and migration requirements. I manage both systems on their behalf at the time of development of the new website and then on a regular basis through website maintenance after the website has been launched.
It also means that if I were to part ways with a client, then they have full control over both their domain and hosting and can self-manage with no disruption by having to migrate their website away to new hosting.
Can you help me to transfer my domain and web hosting for my existing website even if I am not having a new one built by you?
Yes. I can help clients who have an existing WordPress site they are happy with but it would be subject to a full site audit first to see if your website is suitable for me to manage. To find out more about how I can help with this, you can read about ‘Maintaining your Website Services’ here.
If you have any questions about your domain or your web host, please ask me a question!