What is Web Hosting vs. Domain and DNS Hosting?

You might be thinking about launching an online business or website. But, the technical details may feel daunting. It can be hard to determine whether to host your own website, or use a service that has everything you need. It can also be confusing to understand the different types of hosting that exist, and which ones you should consider. In this article, we’ll cover the basics of getting your website up, Web Hosting and running.

What is Domain Hosting?

Before you launch your website, you need to acquire a domain name. Domain hosting and website hosting are two different things. To host your domain name, you would use a service like GoDaddy or Network Solutions. You would research different domain names by typing them into the interface to see what’s available. Once you do find something, you would pay an annual fee for the rights to use that domain name. Keep in mind, this is just the name. In the interface, you will be able to adjust settings to then point that name at the server that holds your website files and software.

Often, you can lease the domain name, and the web hosting services in the same place. Although they are two separate things, many vendors simplify the process by offering both. This will make it easier to set everything up, so if you are a newbie it might be the right decision. However, if you have some technical skills, then it might be worth it to keep them separate. This is because it can be a hassle to transfer your domain name to another service if you choose a new website hosting provider.

What is Web Hosting?

Where domain name hosting is necessary to pick a name for your website, web hosting is necessary to store your files and website software. Think of your website hosting server as a computer that exists in a remote location. On it, you will have the software that runs your website. If it’s an e-commerce website where you sell products, you might have software like Magento. If instead you have a content website where you post articles and collect leads, you might use software like WordPress. In either case, you’ll want to choose the right web hosting company.

There are many types of web hosting accounts to consider. If you’re just starting out, then try something with a small budget. For example, take a look at the Siteground price for web hosting. You’ll see that they have plans starting at around $4 per month. This is a small amount, where you can afford to make some mistakes while you’re getting your website put together. By contrast, you could spend thousands of dollars per month on a dedicated server or a robust cloud hosting service. This makes sense for websites with lots of traffic and revenue. But it’s not the best decision for most companies that are just starting.

Generally, if you are launching a brand new website, then go with a small shared hosting service or a small cloud instance. You can get started for less than $10 per month with one of these options. Then, when you have more traffic, you can try a more robust hosting account with more processing power, disk space, bandwidth, and other amenities.

What is DNS Hosting?

DNS stands for Domain Name System. Where a web hosting account stores your files, and a domain name holds the name of your website, DNS hosting tells the domain name where the files are located. You can set your DNS settings in your domain hosting account easily, and that may be enough. However, you can have better security and flexibility if you use a dedicated DNS hosting service. For example, Cloudflare offers a free DNS hosting plan for basic service. This is great when you work with a lot of vendors who build and maintain your website. Instead of making changes to your domain name hosting account, you can point it at Cloudflare and make changes there. That makes it easy to move your website between different servers, without giving developers access to your domain name directly.

Additionally, DNS hosting can speed up your website. Many of these services will cache your webpages. This means that when a user loads a page, instead of rendering it on your server and using valuable processing speed and bandwidth, the DNS provider will render the page for you. This is great for content that doesn’t change much, and frees up resources for more complicated tasks.

What Other Options Exist?

There is a simpler way to launch a website. Rather than leasing web hosting, a domain name, and a DNS service you could instead choose a cookie cutter service. One great option for ecommerce websites is Shopify. Another is Big Commerce. Most of what you need is available right on their platforms, and you don’t have to worry about all of the configuration issues that come with hosting your own website.

For a content website, you could use WordPress.com, which hosts your files. Keep in mind that this is very different from downloading the WordPress software from WordPress.org and then hosting those files on your own server. You could also use a visual website builder like WebFlow or Wix to get a website online quickly.

Generally, using a cookie cutter solution is a much easier way to get your website live. However it is not as flexible as hosting your website on your own server. This may not matter when you first start out, but it could matter a lot when you want to customize your website or expand your search engine optimization strategy.

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