As a project manager at TheeDigital Studio, I am often asked by my clients, “What is a Domain Registrar?” when it’s time to launch a new website. Understandably, many people don’t realize that their domain registration and web hosting are two different entities. This post was written to help you understand the difference between the two.
Domain Registration and Hosting Explained
What is a Domain Name?
A domain name is the URL (web address) of a website, for example, TheeDigital.com. Not to be mistaken with a whole website, a domain name is just the URL itself, which you can buy from a domain registrar such as TheeRegister.com or GoDaddy.com. When you purchase a domain name, you’re officially registering it so no one else can use it during the time period that you own it. Domain names typically cost $20 or less, unless it’s already owned by someone who is reselling it for a profit. Always be careful to renew your domain registration before it expires, or someone else can snatch it up!
What is a Domain Registrar?
A domain registrar houses the domain names and corresponding DNS (domain name system) records. In the DNS records, a name server directs traffic from your domain name to the web server where your website files and database are located.
What is a Web Host?
Your website has many files containing code and images that need to run on a server that has access to the Internet. Your website hosting provider houses your files on their web server and assigns your website an IP address that can be connected to through the Internet. Some hosting providers can also register your domain name as part of their services.
How Do I Launch My New Website?
So, now you know that your domain name and DNS records reside with your domain registrar, and the website files live on your hosting provider’s web server at a specific IP address. To launch a new website, the DNS records need to be updated in the domain registrar control panel to direct traffic from your domain name to the IP address on the web server — that allows people to access your website at www.YourDomainName.com. This is why both owning a domain name and having a web host are needed for people to find your website at your web address.