Domain Name vs Web Hosting: What’s the Difference?

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Confused by the difference between a domain name vs web hosting?

You need both to create a website – your domain name is your website’s permanent address on the Internet and your web hosting is the engine that powers your website.

In this post, we’ll explain the difference in greater detail and give you some tips to get started with both domain names and web hosting.

📚 Table of contents:

What is web hosting?

Your website is made up of a number of files, folders and data. For visitors to be able to view your website, that information needs to be put on a server (a computer) that visitors can access. That’s where web hosting servers play a part. They store your website files for a small fee and allow visitors access to it.

In order to understand how to host a website, you should know that a web server is somewhat similar to a home computer, but it’s built specifically to store websites. It’s always on and connected to the internet continuously.

Note: You can use this to see what host a website uses.

What is a domain name?

A domain name is the address of your website on the web and helps visitors find you. Examples of domain names are Google.com, Yahoo.com, Themeisle.com. In a previous post, we explain more about what domain names are and how they work.

Domain names make it easy for users to recall the name of the website. That’s one of the reasons why it’s important to pick a suitable name for your website.

To own a domain, you’ll need to register it using a service called a domain registrar.

The difference between a domain name vs web hosting

Though domain names and web hosting are often purchased together, they are actually two different things.

Main differences between domain name and web hosting:

  • Web hosting is where your website files are physically stored, a domain name is the address of that storage location.
  • You cannot create a website without first purchasing a domain name, though you can have a domain name without creating a website.

Where to get a domain name and/or hosting

Now that you know the difference, let’s talk about where you can buy both domain names and web hosting.

Easiest option – buy domain name and web hosting from the same provider

One reason why people get confused between domain name and web hosting is that often they are both offered by the same service provider. And that’s good practice because:

  • That’s the easiest approach, especially when you’re just getting started online
  • You can conveniently manage domain and hosting from the same provider when your website is up and running
  • Connecting the domain name to your host server is easier if it’s handled by the same company

Bluehost is one such company that offers a one-stop solution for all your web hosing requirements. For a special intro offer at $2.59/mo, you’ll get a free domain for one year, free SSL certificate and one-click WordPress install.

Bluehost

Some people prefer to keep their domain name registration and web hosting separate. This may be on account of:

  • No intention to create a website, but merely to reserve a domain name
  • Already in possession of domain name and just need web hosting
  • Hold the view that it may be easier to shift to a new hosting company when you register your domain with a third party

Where to buy just a domain name

You can buy a domain name from a domain name registrar for as little as $10, and use it with any hosting company. Once you purchase and register a domain name, it’s yours for the duration of the registration (one year by default). Just take care to renew the registration before expiry of the validity period.

Some of the best domain name registrars are:

  • Namecheap -with rates starting at about $9 and many deals on offer, Namecheap adds WhoIs protection for free. With a simple and intuitive domain management panel, it’s one of the most trusted Registrars.
  • GoDaddy – pricier with a “.com” domain starting at $18. It allows you to buy domains in bulk as well as existing domains.
  • Hover – is a more recent player and focuses mainly on selling domain names. Rates start at $13, and they offer email addresses with their domain names
  • Google Domains – fair prices and free add-ons like automatic WhoIs privacy.
Domain name vs web hosting: Namecheap provides both

While selecting a registrar, do check out their add-on services like WhoIs privacy, support and reminder services before you make your choice. If you’re choosing any specific country level extension like “.uk” or “.ca”, you may need to contact a registrar in that country.

If you still struggle to find a suitable name check out our instant Blog Name Generator Tool.

Where to buy just web hosting

Nowadays, there are many hosting service providers who rent out server space for reasonable monthly/annual subscriptions. When it comes to shared hosting, a few of the popular web hosts are:

  • Bluehost – rates starting as low as $2.99/mo. You’ll also get a free domain name as part of your purchase.
  • A2 Hosting – hosting plans start at less than $3/mo. In exchange you get 100 GB storage, unlimited bandwidth and free site migration.
  • Hostinger – competitively priced starting from just $0.99 per month, it packs in 100GB bandwidth and 2 subdomains. The higher plans (starting at less than $3/mo) add a free domain, unlimited websites, email and bandwidth.

For more options, you can check out the following collections:

Get your domain name and web hosting today

Domain names and web hosting are not the same. However, you need both to create a website and put it up on the internet for visitors to access. To recap:

  • Your web hosting is the engine that powers your website and stores its files.
  • Your domain name is your website’s permanent address on the Internet.

For the easiest way to get started with both, you can use Bluehost. Bluehost is a popular web host that also lets you buy a domain name (and even gives you a free domain name for your first year).

To get started, you can follow our tutorial on how to make a WordPress website with Bluehost.

Do you still have any questions about a domain name vs web hosting? Ask us in the comments!

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* This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and then purchase the product, we’ll receive a commission. No worries though, you’ll still pay the standard amount so there’s no cost on your part.

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