Where You Host Your Domain Name And Where You Host Your Website…What’s The Difference?
What is the difference between where you host your domain name and where you host your website? Many people don’t necessarily realize that these are two separate and distinct services, and while sometimes offered by one company that offers multiple solutions, they are generally kept separate for good reason. Let’s take a look at what exactly a domain registrar is, what a web host is, and the important nuances that fit between.
What Is A Domain Registrar?
This is where you register and keep your domain name. Best known as companies such as GoDaddy, or Hetzner in South Africa, the concept is that you pay somewhere from $10 to $20 per year in order for them to “own” your domain name (i.e. yourcompany.com). In return, they process requests when a web user enters your address and forward that traffic to the correct place – your web host.
What Is A Web Host?
This is the actual server space that holds the files that make your website work. Essentially, you need a place with ultra-reliable servers and redundant internet connections in order to serve your website to the masses. This is where your web host comes in.
What Is The Difference?
The domain registrar and the web host really are two totally separate services. One is a place for your domain name; the other is the place for your website’s files themselves. Also very important to understand is the fact that you can have two totally different companies handling these different entities—just because you want to move your website hosting to a different company doesn’t mean that you have to move your domain name to a new domain registrar at all. In fact, we usually recommend that our clients simply keep their domain name with the service that it is currently at (unless there are ongoing issues with that company).
In fact, there are benefits to keeping your domain name and web host totally separate. One instance would be if you want to move your website away from your current website host, then you are in complete control. As long as you still have your domain name hosted separately, that account can be accessed and the settings changed in just minutes to point the domain to a new web host ASAP. Some high traffic sites actually rely on a variation of this tactic, having the site replicated on multiple web hosts and managing the domain name settings to direct traffic to the best hosting option at the time according to server loads, etc.
Once again, the most important part to remember is that your domain name and your web hosting do not need to be at the same place—in fact, there are more pros than cons to keeping them completely separate. If you’re thinking about switching your web hosting service, it’s usually best to keep your domain name service in the same place, at least for the time being. This keeps things stable and usually helps to ensure a smooth transfer to the new web host.