If you have a website or web application, you have probably heard the terms domain and hosting. And if you are looking to start a website or application for your business, you may be wondering what the difference between domain and hosting is.
Often these terms are paired together, and while they do work in tandem, they are not one and the same.
In short, a domain name is your website’s address, and web hosting allows your content to be accessed via the internet.
Still confused? Well, don’t worry. This guide will explain the key differences between domain and hosting.
What is a Domain Name?
A domain name is what a user types into the browser navigation bar to find a website. It maps the IP address of your website to a name that’s used to easily find your website.
For example, our domain name is redswitches.com.
A domain name is broken up into segments. The segment to the right of the last dot is known as the top-level domain (e.g. “.com”), while the segment to the left of the last dot is known as the second-level domain (e.g. “redswitches”).
In addition to domain names, there are also subdomains.
Subdomains are extensions of your main domain name that help organize your site or application. This makes navigating your content a lot easier.
The subdomain is located to the left of your second-level domain. For example, in blog.yourwebsite.com, the blog segment is the subdomain.
All in all, for users to be able to find your content you will need to have a domain name.
What is Web Hosting?
If the domain name is your address, then web hosting is the house itself.
Web hosting is used to store your website’s or application’s files and data and make them available over the internet. When a user types in your domain name, they will be directed to the web host and be able to access your content.
There are a few different ways to host your web services. Let’s take a look at 4 of the most popular types of web hosting:
#1. Shared Hosting
Shared hosting is the cheapest and most basic form of web hosting. As the name hints at, your content will be stored on a web server that is shared with tens to hundreds of other tenants.
All of the server’s resources such as hardware will be shared between users. This can cause a slow hosting experience for medium to large sized websites.
Shared hosting is best for small websites that have low traffic.
#2. VPS Hosting
VPS stands for virtual private server. It is a step up from shared hosting because you will not be sharing your hosting space with other tenants.
Your content will be stored on the same server as other tenants, but it will be isolated from other hosting spaces.
This hosting solution will result in better performance for your hosted services in comparison to shared hosting.
#3. Dedicated Hosting
Dedicated hosting is typically regarded as the best type of web hosting. With this hosting plan you are the only tenant using the server. A team of administrators can also manage the server for you, which is known as managed hosting.
#4. Cloud Hosting
Cloud hosting charges by the hour. This means if there is an uptick in traffic to your content, you will be billed accordingly. The same goes for when there is low traffic.
What is the Difference Between Domain and Hosting?
Without domain names users will not be able to find your web content, and without hosting you will not be able to host web services online.
Domain names are the addresses that make your content easy to find. Without domain names users would have to rely on IP addresses which are long, complicated strings of numbers (e.g. 77.358.21.3).
Instead of typing in an IP address, a user can simply search a domain name (e.g. redswitches.com) and will be directed to the content they want to access.
On the other hand, hosting is where the heart and soul of your website or application are actually stored. Web hosting makes your website or application available on the internet for users around the world.
What Do I Need For Hosting a Website?
To host a website you will need both a domain name and web hosting. The domain and web hosting work in tandem to make your content accessible.
Having a domain name without hosting would be like having an address but no house, and having hosting without a domain name would be like having a house with no address.
Hosting and domain names are not the same thing, but they cannot really be separated.
Once you have purchased and connected your domain name and hosting plan, users will be able to find and access your website hosted on your web server.
Does Web Hosting Come With a Domain Name?
It is not necessary to buy a domain name and hosting solution together.
Some hosting providers may offer packages that include a domain name, but generally it is better to purchase them separately.
By purchasing your domain name and hosting solution separately, you will have flexibility in the event you want to change one of them. For example, if you want to change your hosting provider, you will not have to re-register your domain name at a domain registrar.
This way you will be able to keep your hosting plan from interfering with your domain name, or vice-versa.
Domain Name and Web Hosting Pricing
The price of a domain name depends on a few factors such as the top-level domain you choose (e.g. .com, .net, .org), availability of the second-level domain, and the registrar you purchase from.
In general, both your top-level and second-level domain should cost around $9 to $15 per year.
When it comes to hosting prices, they vary depending on the hosting solution you choose. Shared hosting typically starts at $2-5/month.
However, with a more reliable hosting service such as managed dedicated hosting, the cost will range from $100/month to $500/month or more. If you have a medium to large size website that gets lots of traffic, the cheaper web hosting options are not going to meet your needs.
So, now that you know the differences between domain and hosting, you are all set to get your website or application up and running!
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