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Web Hosting and Domain Name, What’s the Difference?

Web hosting is a necessary part or building your online presence. You may be technically inclined, but as a business person, your expertise is usually in your business or specialty. You may even know marketing and advertising, but marketing your business online requires another field of technical expertise.

Hosting How-to Quick Steps:

  • Have an email address
  • Buy a Domain Name from a Registrar
  • Buy Hosting from a Hosting Provider
  • Set up email with an email provider
  • Build a website on the hosting servers

Analogy Between a Physical World Business and a Digital Business

Physical World

In the physical world, you register your business name, then hire a sign company to build a sign for your business.HostingYou have chosen your location. You lease your land, and that is where you have your sign installed. Maybe you start with a small one room building. As your business grows, with either more products or more visitors, you expand, constructing a bigger building. Inside your building, you bring in furniture that you already have, or buy some. You set your products out for sale. Over time, you remodel, repaint, redecorate as you grow and times change. The postal service delivers mail and so does UPS or FedEx and other couriers.

Digital World


In the digital world, you buy a domain name (sign / and find a hosting provider (land). A hosting provider has servers, sort of like room after room of hard drives like terabytes, only larger. You rent space on a server, where your website is hosted. In this electronic storage space, a web developer builds a structure using code like WordPress among many possibilities. That code is like the building in the physical world. It says how big your site is, what capabilities it has, the structure of the design elements. Everything is blank until you move your content (furniture) into the code.

  • hostingYour domain name is bought for one year and renews annually. This tells visitors where to find your website. You can buy a domain name and never host it.
  • Hosting is paid annually or monthly.
  • Hosting Plans can include email hosting from that provider (postal) or another company (UPS or Fedex)
  • Website files are purchased from the web development company who built it. This includes content you provide or was created for your site. They are yours.

You can always move your files (once they are paid for) to any hosting provider.

People who type your domain name into a web browser on their laptops or phones, are directed over the internet, to where your domain was bought, which acts like a traffic cop pointing them (via DNS or Domain Name Server) to your hosting provider, whose servers serve the files/content up to the visitor in a structure called a website.

Website Hosting and My Business Name

Your business has a name, which usually has to be registered with your state and perhaps also your city. Sometimes a business has an official ‘name’ with the state corporation commission, but it is ‘doing business as’ (DBA) a much simpler name. These business license registrations usually have to be renewed annually.

Now you want a website. You have made signs for your building and told all your friends the name of your business. And that’s what you want for your website.

A Little Simplified History of Domain Names for Hosting

You want your business name for your URL. It may or may not be available. Just like state and national registrations of business names have rules to prevent confusion between companies, ICANN does the same thing for the world wide web. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is a nonprofit organization and is the group that sets the rules so there is only ONE of each URL in the whole world.

In the beginning, only a few generic Top Level Domains (gTLD’s) were needed to Hostingbring clarity to website hosting. The .com was for business, .net for Internet service providers and infrastructure, .org for non-profit organizations, .edu for educational institutions, .gov for government.

After the easy names were taken, people had to get creative in naming. Some people recognized an opportunity and bought up domain names of businesses, before the business did, so they could be resold to the business for a profit. As internet usage and websites grew, ICANN realized they could run out of names, so more TLD’s have been added. Now we have ones like .biz, .me, .name.

Is My Business Name Available for Hosting my Website?

Since there isn’t an international registration for business names, your business name already could be in use by a company in your industry, in another state or country. They may have purchased the only domain name before you did. So, you may need to choose an alternative to your business name. Fortunately, registrars that sell domain names, have easy search bars that let you know if you name is available for purchase and suggest alternative.

How to Buy a Domain Name for My Website Hosting

Domain names are purchased from a Registrar. And many registrars also provide hosting. It’s usually most convenient to buy the domain and set up hosting in the same location. That means you will have less logins and passwords for record keeping.

When you are getting a website design built for you, your web development company can handle the process for you from the beginning. Most registrars and hosting require an email address in order to handle password resets. You can set things up with your personal email and give your web development company access, but it’s easier to have a separate email just for this.