What Is Hosting and Domain?
Web Hosting is an account on a computer, that can store and serve website files via the Internet.
Domain Registration is leasing a human-readable word (e.g., amazon.com) that directs people to specific website files via a browser.
As an analogy, a domain is an “address” on the Internet. Hosting is the “land” or space where your website files live.
That’s the short version. But there’s more to web hosting vs. domain registration than their definition.
How Hosting & Domains WorkWeb hosting and domain registration are frequently paired together. But it’s important to understand exactly what they do.
Domain RegistrationInternet addresses are technically “IP Addresses.” IP addresses are a long series of numbers that make no sense to humans.
So instead of typing in 192.168.0.1.1 to access a website, the website owner can register a domain that will route to that specific IP address.
When you register a custom domain name, you are leasing it from the Internet Corporation for Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN provides domains via approved registrars. Your registrar will be your domain host, but not your web host, in one way of saying it.
A domain does not do anything on its own. Registration provides you the right to “point” your domain wherever you want with nameservers.
You can tell it to redirect to another website – But usually, you’ll want it to direct browsers to your website…on your hosting account.
Web HostingWeb hosting is an account on a web server that “hosts” your website files.
If you do not have a domain “pointed” to your hosting account, you can access it with a string of numbers in an IP address.
While you can technically build your own server at home, most people buy a hosting plan from a web hosting service.
A hosting company is a company that owns a bunch of pre-configured servers that they lease out according to different hosting plans.
They will usually include instructions on how to “point” your domain to your hosting account. They’ll also provide instructions for software to build & manage your website.
But there are usually a few other terms that confuse issues.
Related TopicsThere are a few terms that you’ll see in the process that need clarification.
DNS (Domain Name System)DNS is a system that does the actual work for translating your domain name into an IP address. The shorthand term is “nameservers.” It will also store records to send other requests, such as email addresses to the right server (known as an MX record). It can be separate from your domain registration and your hosting account. Usually, the domain registrar or your hosting company will provide you with a DNS.
Content Management SystemYou can technically write and upload plain HTML files to your hosting account. Most website owners want to edit and manage their website directly.
A content management system (CMS) is software that allows you to build, edit, and manage all your website files from a single dashboard. A CMS must be installed on your hosting account.
WordPress is the Internet’s most common content management system.