Many who may be new to websites or are considering spinning up a website for their home business, small business, or personal interest may be intimidated at the array of choices and wording of the services that are provided and that must be obtained in order to have their own domain name and actually host a website there. In this post, we will break the pieces down and hopefully help any who may be confused at what each of the pieces do and mean.
Many have mistakenly thought that once they buy a “domain name,” they can then setup their website. While buying your domain name is a VERY important step, this is not the only step that needs to be taken to have a website. We will look at the rest of the pieces in just a bit. However, buying a domain name is the starting point that one will need to take in order to have a website that is accessible via the Internet. Buying your domain name means that you own the name of the address that people type in to navigate to your webpage. So for instance, let’s say that I went to a hosting provider and bought the name joesfrozenpizzas. That would mean that potentially once I get the other pieces in place, I own the webspace joesfrozenpizzas and will have the ability to direct traffic to this name since I own it now.
Understand also, that domain names are a first come first serve basis typically. So before you get set on any domain name, go to a hosting site such as Godaddy.com and check to make sure the domain name you have in mind is available. There would be nothing worse than spending tons of time on an offline website before you upload it and already have settled on a certain domain name only to find that it isn’t available. Save yourself the time and stress by checking on this before going any further.
Ok, so your domain name is available and you purchase a certain domain name. What do you need to do next? If you simply want to buy a certain domain name to “own” that space, you can simply do that and not do anything further. However, if you plan on actually using this domain name and hosting a website on that domain name space, you will need to have a couple of other pieces in place.
Typically, most people do not have their own set of servers or their own datacenter to “house” their website. So more often than not, most people need to purchase Domain hosting along with their domain name. When you purchase domain hosting, you are purchasing a spot on the hosting provider’s server to actually store your files and content. These days, most hosting providers utilize virtualized instances of web servers to house your domain hosting. However, the beauty of having someone host your website is that in a relative sense, you don’t have to worry about that server going down and maintaining that piece of hardware, etc. That is the responsibility of the Hosting company to do that. Now, does that mean that you leave your “life” in the hands of the hosting provider to make sure that your website never goes down? No. You will also want to make sure you have copies of files and content. Most hosting companies have disclaimers about backups and so forth.
To a reasonable degree though, you don’t have to worry about the physical aspects of the hardware used to host your website. Many providers such as Godaddy offer bundled services. So when you step through buying a domain name, you can quickly and easily add on the hosting piece to have everything ready to go once you get ready to actually make your website live. So your domain name and your hosting are married together into one seamless piece.
DNS is a critical piece of your website environment. Domain Name Servers are the phonebooks of the Internet and translate IP Addresses into names that we can easily understand. Of course we don’t want to have to remember 4 sets of numbers to browse to our favorite website. DNS servers do this for us. The DNS piece usually is already included into a hosting plan that you buy from a hosting provider. However, this isn’t always the case. Each hosting provider will have their own way of doing things and configurations that need to be followed so always read, read, read the fine print and instructions from any hosting provider.
Potentially with any of the above pieces, you can have them split up between multiple locations. You can buy your domain from one place, host your domain using another provider, and have a separate set of DNS servers sitting somewhere else that actually points to your website.
Typically, for most users, this is not what you want to do. The ease of having everything in one location pays for itself simply in the amount of time and headache that is saved having everything consolidated.
These days, hosting providers have made things easier than ever when it comes to getting a website live on the Internet in no time. However, the above terms and plans confuse many and create problems when users don’t understand what they need or why they need it. A good rule of thumb is to read user reviews of hosting providers and see what they have to say about the quality of service they have received by hosting their websites with a certain hosting company. You may find reasons to quickly move on to another hosting provider in your search for the best price/service value.