It’s important to understand the differences between choosing a web hosting provider and domain name registrar. They can be one in the same or two entirely different companies. In the physical world when you want to go to a specific place you need to know the physical address, such as the house number, street and city. It is just the same with the internet, if you want to go to a specific website you need to know the address of the site – this is the domain name.
A domain name also plays an important role in marketing; the easier for people to recall it the better for your business. To better guide you in choosing the right domain, you may want to read an earlier article which offers advice on domain name selection.
Buying a domain name only provides you with the right to use that name, it does not give you any where to put your website. For this you need to purchase a web hosting account. A web hosting account gives you access to a computer where you store the pages, content, pictures and other files that relate to your site. Think of web hosting like renting storage space on the internet, you pay a monthly or annual fee and a hosting company gives you space on their computers to keep your website. While it is possible for you to store your website files on your own computer, this takes a great deal of technical knowledge and time commitment.
Register Your Domain
Your web hosting provider will sometimes reserve the name for you, or you can purchase it through a registrar. Each computer is given a number, IP (Internet Protocol) address but the domain name system gives you an address easier to remember.
Domain names are managed by ICANN (The Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers). The registrars you sign up with are accredited by ICANN. Domain names are normally identified by their extensions, .com, .net, .org, etc. This is their identifying code. Some websites may offer different extensions that are not approved by ICANN. These extensions rely on software, but if you do not have the correct software you cannot use them.
Registering with Your Web Hosting Provider
Basically, the web hosting provider allows you to post your web page on the Internet and make it available to all users. Their job is to put your page in a place to be easily found by anyone interested. You rent their technology to use space on the World Wide Web. They help you set up your website according to your needs. They will help you with a basic HTML page, or more dynamic pages that use PHP hosting and MySQL hosting.
Some web hosting providers will allow you to register your domain through them as well. If you are doing it for a hobby, you may just want a small site with cheap hosting so it might be easier and less costly to use their service to register your domain name.
Costs and Contracts
Registrars will need contact and technical information for the registration. They will keep a record of the contact information and then submit the technical information to a central directory. This registry gives other computers access to your information in order to find your website or send you email. Also, there are many registrars in a variety of price ranges that provide this service. Sometimes they offer free registration services in connection with web hosting. Each registrar sets the price for registering your name and prices vary widely, from a few dollars a month to hundreds per year. There is affordable web hosting and registration available on many websites.
There are differing lengths of contracts with registrars. Most offer terms in one-year increments with a total registration period of ten years. You have the ability to change registrars when you want 60 days after you sign up. In some ways, there are advantages to using an independent registrar. If you decide to change web hosting providers, you would not have to change your registration.
This whole domain name registration and hosting may seem daunting but it’s very simple once you’ve done it once or twice. If you’re setting up a brand new site, choosing one of the hosting companies to purchase both domain name and hosting will make it simpler. If you’ve already purchased the domain name somewhere else, just make sure that you keep your login details to both domain registrar and hosting provider and pass this info to your web developer.