Domain Name vs. Web Hosting
Do you want to secure a name for your business online? Not sure what exactly a domain name is and confused between the difference between domain name and web hosting? This article will help you.
We will be discussing domain name and web hosting in detail. Then we will do a comparison between them and give you insider tips on what agencies look for when buying website domains and web hosting.
What is a Domain Name?
A domain name is the URL that you type in a web browser when you want to find a particular website. For example, if you were trying to look us up, you would type in www.digitalrefinery.co.nz in your browser. Your domain name is how people find you and your business online. In simple terms, it is your ‘public online address’.
Think of it like a street sign that points your domain, to where your business is located.
Where are domains stored?
All domain names are stored on the international domain name system managed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Domain name registrars are companies that have received permission from ICANN to sell and manage domain names (WPBeginner).
How much does a domain name cost?
Domain name registration usually costs anything from $30 to $1500+ depending on the name of the domain and how popular or in demand it is. Once a domain is purchased by a business and they are the owners, you can’t buy the same domain name.
When you try to ourchase a domain name you will notice that top level domains with .com or .org might be more expensive than the .nz as they are used to reach a global audience and have higher demand. A domain registrar is a service provider that helps you register your domain. Domain name annual renewal fees cost around $30 to $60+ per year depending on which company you have used to buy your domain.
You can register more than one domain name. You can also sell or cancel your domain names, transfer your domain from provider to provider, and move your website from one domain name to another.
You cannot purchase a domain name once-off to own it permanently, but you can continue paying the annual renewal fee and, in this way, the domain name will remain yours permanently.
What is Web Hosting?
A web hosting company hosts your website. They rent you a space on the internet to display your website. Web hosts have web servers. This is where you store your website and all your website files.
Web hosts store and display all the contents of your website such as images, videos, text and more (Squarespace). Think of web hosting like an online marketplace, it is the stall you rent where you advertise your goods or services. It is the place people arrive at once they have found your domain name and clicked on it.
Web hosting usually costs around $300-$1400 per year, or $25 to $120+ per month. Ecommerce website hosting can cost more based on what you need in terms of performance and load balancing during sales or peak season.
What type of website hosting should you get?
You get what you pay for. If you have a big website that has high performance requirements on a cheap server, it will eventually crash, and your website will go offline.
If you only have a static website with information (think like a brochure) and that information does not change often, then you could go in for a web server that has standard performance.
Website hosting also directly affects website loading speed and hence affects SEO performance. So, if you are trying to come up on Google #1 position and your website is resource heavy, you may not be able to because of your website performance.
Some website hosting providers also give additional security and SSL certificates for free. This is an added advantage and a better investment. So never compromise on a website hosting server as it will directly impact your business performance.
Domain Name vs. Web Hosting – What are the differences?
Domain name and hosting, while going hand in hand have their differences. A domain name is the address that allows people on the internet to find your website (the online signpost), while the web hosting service is the place that stores and displays your website online.
Although they are different, they work together to allow your website to function. If you did not have a domain name people would be unable to find your website and if there was no web host, then people would not be able to see any information about your business.
When a website is built, both a domain name and web hosting services are required.
Most companies who offer domain names either partner with or also offer web hosting services. While it may be cheaper to buy them together, you do not have to and can purchase your domain name and web hosting services from different companies.
We often recommend not to buy website hosting and domains from same providers as they are both specialised services.
Where to buy a domain name
You can buy a domain name online through registered ICANN companies such as:
Note: If you are not sure what type of domain name to buy or once you buy the domain name, you are not sure what to do and are worried about competitors, then reach out to us for help. We can either help guide you or setup everything for you.
Domain name providers differ in the services they offer and their price. As all domain name providers must register with ICANN and abide by ICANN regulations, they are all safe to use.
However, you need to look out as some providers try to lock you into their services or charge above normal prices. Also, depending on the domain ending you are looking for, different providers may offer better prices. Hence, it is always good to shop around and look at what each domain registrar offers before choosing one that suits you best. Feel free to get in touch if you need help.
How to choose the right domain name for your business?
First, where are your customers and which countries do you want to service? If you are a local business and you want to serve people within NZ, then you should be buying a domain name ending with either .co.nz or .nz .
If your customers are international but only in specific countries you should buy a country specific domain name like .com.au or .au , i.e., to target only that country (Australia). If you want to service customers in multiple countries outside of NZ while still including NZ then you should buy international domain name endings like .com or .org .
What to check before buying a domain name
1. Check that the price you are paying is reasonable.
Most domain names are priced around $30 to $50+ per year. Premium domain name prices will vary, they can be anything from $50 to $1500+. Watch out for expensive add-ons and hidden fees, besides having a yearly renewal fee, domain name providers may also try to sell you additional services like web hosting and domain name privacy etc.
Many domain name providers offer special prices when registering a domain name for the first time. However, as domain names have an annual renewal fee, providers may try to reel you in with the discount and then catch you out by charging far higher fees when you come back to renew it a year later.
2. Check how far into the future you can register a domain name for and domain name transferability.
As domain names are renewed on an annual basis you do not want to risk losing your domain name if you need it long-term. Some providers offer you options to pre-purchase your domain name for up to 10 years. Furthermore, domain name renewal becomes more expensive the longer you own it, so it might be a good idea to purchase two to three years upfront and save on registration fees.
Domain name service providers may attempt to lock you in to their services and make it difficult for you to transfer your domain name to a competitor or charge you extra to do this. Therefore, it’s a good idea to check that the provider you choose will allow you to easily transfer to another provider.
Hint: Check out their customer reviews to find out how their name transferal system works.
3. Check Domain name security & customer service
Your domain name can be hacked and stolen by hackers through your domain provider account. Trusted domain name registrars are a better choice as they usually have stronger account security measures in place to stop domain name theft from happening. Please refer to the recommended list above for a few good options.
If you are worried about your personal information, you might also want to consider purchasing Domain Whois privacy. Domain Whois privacy services allow you to protect your personal information. Domain name owners’ information is publicly stored and viewable in the Whois Database unless protected.
You can also lose your domain name by forgetting to re-register it. To help stop this from happening make sure to set up domain name auto-renewals in advance.
Also, you want to make sure the domain name provider you choose offers good customer service. If you have any issues with your domain name not working and customers being unable to locate your website, then you will need good domain name support to help you sort out the problem quickly and avoid losing valuable customers and money.
When you purchase domain names with Business Refinery, we take care of all your domain issues and resolve them for you.
Where to get web hosting
You can buy web hosting services online through web hosting companies such as:
- WP engine
Website Hosting plans will differ from company to company. Most basic plans should include:
- Website Storage place for your files and photos and webpages
- Website builder
- Ability to add themes to the websites
- File Transfer Protocol (FTP) (What you use to move your website files from your computer to the web host’s server)
- Migration from another provider
- Support & Security
These are the basic features of web hosting, and most web hosting providers should offer you this in their web hosting plans at competitive prices. You can also usually purchase additional add-ons such as:
- SSL Certificates
An SSL certificate is the little green padlock next to your domain name that helps users know they can trust your website.
- Virtual Private Server hosting (VPS)
VPS hosting is a web hosting service that gives you more stability and security through dedicated private resources on a web host’s server. It helps guarantee that your website will run smoothly and fast.
VPS hosting usually also comes with its own dedicated Internet Protocol (IP) address. An IP address is a unique number that identifies your device on the internet. Think of it like this, we identify people by their names, the internet identifies devices by their IP address.
- GoMobi Mobile Websites
This service creates a mobile version of your website that is optimised for mobile browsing to allow your visitors to browse your site quickly and easily on mobile devices.
- Ecommerce accounts
Web host providers should offer a provision to host your e-commerce websites. It is better to choose a dedicated e-commerce provider like WP Engine if you are planning to use WooCommerce or you could go with Shopify which manages everything for you.
- Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant hosting
To be able to accept credit card payments through your website your website needs to comply with certain security requirements. This web hosting service ensures your website is secure enough to handle credit card payments and complies with all regulations.
What to Check before buying web hosting services
1. Check the web hosting service you are looking at has good customer service and a competitive price.
You want to make sure that the provider you choose offers good support because it is critical to be able to get in touch with someone asap if your website goes down as this can cause financial loss for your business.
Furthermore, you want to check that the web host has a 1-click migration option for moving websites. If you want to switch to another provider you don’t want to be locked into any long-term conditions, pay extra fees to move or struggle to move your website. You also don’t want to be paying top dollar, so doing some research and finding a web hosting provider that offers good service at a decent price is probably your best bet.
2. Check that they offer good site uptime and speed.
You want a host that offers good website uptime to ensure your website is always online.
You also want to make sure the web hosting service you choose is fast. Visitors to your website will be annoyed if it takes long to load and a slow website can affect every part of your business.
3. Check that you are buying the right type of web hosting for your business’s needs.
There are five different types of web hosting:
- Shared Web Hosting
Shared hosting is when multiple websites are stored on the same server. You and the other users of the server share the server resources such as Random Access Memory (RAM), Central Processing Unit (CPU), storage and bandwidth. This is usually the cheapest web hosting service available. The drawbacks are that your websites speed and performance may sometimes be slower due to sharing resources. Think what will happen when one of the big websites has a sale. All the resources from the shared server will be utilised by that website.
- VPS/Dedicated Web Hosting
VPS/Dedicated website hosting is where you ‘own’ dedicated resources like RAM, CPU, and bandwidth. This means that you don’t share these resources with other people and your website will most likely be faster. You also usually receive an IP address with VPS hosting. This type of hosting is good, but it can be very expensive.
- Cloud Web Hosting
Cloud Web Hosting stores your data on ‘the cloud’, multiple servers at a web hosting data centre instead of just one. This means that it is more stable and secure as if one server goes down your website will still be hosted by all the other servers.
- Managed Web Hosting
Managed Web Hosting is where the web hosting provider helps you manage your website and other applications. They provide support with items like maintenance, security monitoring, technical support and data backups. Beware that in a managed web hosting plan if something breaks on your website while it is being auto-updated (managed) you will still need to fix the issue yourself.
Is your head spinning from how such a seemingly simple task became complicated? We understand and you are not alone. We have helped a lot of businesses by building them creative websites that stand out and take care of their website hosting problems, so they don’t have to deal with it.
We provide honest and unbiased advice and focus on helping your business succeed. Get in touch with us today to have a free chat and see how we can help solve your problems.
Have a look at what our customers say about us – Digital Refinery Case Studies.