Every now and again, there is a client of mine that gets confused about hosting and domains – don’t they renew at the same time? Aren’t they the same thing? Truth is, most of the time these are separate companies that are taking care of your website functions.
So let’s get a simple definition going:
This is the registered website name of your company. For example, LyricalBiz.com. A domain name can be a dot com, a dot org, a dot biz, etc. When you buy a domain name, it is usually registered though the company you purchased it though, like GoDaddy. You have an option at the point of purchase to decide the term which can be anywhere from 1 year to 10 years before you have to renew the name again. Think of a domain name like you would a piece of real estate. It’s the foundation. You can’t build a website without one.
Once you purchase your domain name, you should be given access to your account by the company in which you purchased it from. If someone has purchased your domain for you, make sure you are provided with this information. It is your right and you will have no control over your domain without this information. So many times I have seen websites go down because a domain expired. The hosting may still be current, but without the domain, your web presence is gone – and maybe your email as well.
Buying a new hosting plan is all said and good, but can cause you major headaches if you don’t have access to your domain. I’ll explain this in the Hosting section.
What exactly is hosting? Hosting is where your website files reside. Think of it as a remote computer. When you buy a hosting plan, you are buying space on a company’s computer where all of your website files, databases, images and email accounts will reside. In addition, the company will create website reports, give you access to your email through a remote webmail portal. This is the framing for your house.
When you set up your hosting, you will need to link your domain name. Back to the real estate analogy. You already know you can’t build a website without a domain. In order to get the domain to show up on the world wide web, you need to tell your hosting company how to access it. That’s where nameservers come into play.
Your nameserver is very similar to a street address. The post office can’t deliver mail to you unless you notify them as to where you live. Same thing with your hosting company. Your hosting company will give you a set of letters and numbers that you will need to assign to your domain name. Once these are linked together, your website will become active. This is again why it is very important you have access to your domain management. Unless you can change your nameservers, you won’t be able to activate your new hosting account and your time and money is down the drain, not to mention a great deal of frustration, and guess what? The house falls down.
My recommendations for maintaining your website would be to use a separate company for your domain management from your hosting. That way, if you should ever develop an issue with your web host, or if you just decide you would like to change companies, you will be able to manage the transition quickly. I personally use GoDaddy.com for all of my domains. They are reputable and inexpensive. The only complaint I have with them is their website. It can look very complicated when you first access it and they have a tendancy to up-sell you on their products. However, they are reliable and I can choose to have them automatically renew my domains, which can save me from disaster should a domain expire. I can also choose to have my domains registered for anywhere from 1 year to 5 years at a time. If you are really confused, they do offer live chat and one of their representatives can walk you through the process. Or contact Lyrical Biz. I can buy your domain and purchase your hosting plan and set up your new WordPress website for you, all in your name.
I look forward to reading your questions and comments!