Domain vs. Web Hosting
Websites 101 for Small Business
By JD Hilditch
If someone asks you about your website, what is your answer? Do you know where it is hosted? Where the domain is parked? Domains vs website hosting can seem like a daunting question. However, these two questions are vital to understanding how website and how it works.
Understand Your Website
We’re not just saying it’s a good idea to know about your website because we love building them. These are actually some of the top questions we come across day after day. As a new or current small business, if you are taking on a new website build, these foundational elements should help guide you to success.
Understanding these terms and topics below will allow you to have a better handle on what you are paying for AND why you are paying for them.
Domain Registrar vs. Web Hosting
This is one of the most frequent questions we receive at Voyage Media Works from people who are new to websites.
What is a Domain?
Your domain is the address of your website. The part that you type into your browsers URL bar to actually navigate to the website. Think of it like your house address. No one would be able to find your home if you didn’t give them the directions to get there right?
In order to keep your domain, you need to renew it before it expires with your domain registrar. If you have it with Voyage Media Works, we automatically reach out when it’s about to expire and lay out your renewal options.
Domains renew by annual intervals and can vary by pricing for .com, .org, .net and other variants:
Domain Registrar’s will also try and upsell you on additional items that you may or may not need.
When you go through the checkout process to renew your domain you might see prompts to add-on Privacy Protection. Many Privacy Protection offer the following typical services:
- Redacts name and other personal information from WHOIS lookups
- WHOIS lookups list the name, address, phone and email associated with the domain name on a database for anyone to access.
- Protects against accidental expiration
- Malware scans and spam prevention
Common Domain Registrars
Our team has worked with numerous domain registrars over the years. Having your domain a sub-par registrar can cause you headaches and issues down the road if you ever need support. We like to utilize GoDaddy as our registrar. They provide amazing U.S. based customer support, fantastic security on the accounts and quick and easy transfers.
These are the most common Domain Registrars we’ve come across.
What is Web Hosting?
Web hosting is the actual account on a server that “hosts” your website files. Hosting makes your website available to view and utilize on the website.
Following the analogy above, your hosting is like your actual house. Everything is there inside it that allows you to live comfortably and easily. With that, some hosting plans are better than others in terms of what they offer.
What to know about Web Hosting
It used to be somewhat common for businesses or even IT companies to build a server to host your website for you. Do not do this. Unless you have thousands of dollars to maintain your own server, hire IT staff to manage it, update it, make changes, create backups…you see where I’m going right? Not to mention you are locked into just one server location and security issues on top of all that. We recommend a dedicated website hosting company that fits your needs and budget.
Just like domain registrars, hosting companies will have different services offered within them. Some companies like GoDaddy offer WordPress hosting, cPanel hosting, private server hosting, etc.
We’ll break down the most common types here:
The majority of hosting packages you will find online will be managed. Managed hosting means that the company will provide technical support, updates, security, monitoring and more depending on the package you select from them.
It all comes down to what your business needs. At Voyage Media Works, all or our plans are managed hosting plans.
Our packages our designed to allow you to worry about your business and stop worrying about if your website is performing well, staying updated, or has the latest SSL certificates installed.
Cloud hosting is fast on its way to taking over all other means of website hosting. It uses hundreds or thousands of different servers linked together to run applications and provide resources to your website.
This allows for cost effective scaling and super fast load times for your website because it will use the server that is closest to the user visiting the website. As your website grows, your hosting will easily scale with it.
We’re seeing many companies move to AWS (Amazon Web Services) and Google Cloud as the platform for their Cloud Hosting. Voyage Media Works actually utilizes Cloud Hosting combined with Managed Hosting to provide the best of both worlds to our clients.
Shared hosting is perfect for an entry level website that does not have high-levels of traffic. Your website is stored on the same server as multiple other websites. They all share that servers resources to load, deliver and present your website to viewers. Usually, this means that the cost of hosting is much lower compared to other options.
However, the downside to Shared Hosting is that surges in those other websites on the server could lead to down time for your website, slow loading times and more. We really never recommend this type of hosting to our clients for these reasons.
Shared hosting also comes with some extra bells and whistles to get you locked into the plan. Often times you will see FREE email accounts, website builders, WordPress hosting or other items as an extra incentive. Here’s the issue — those free email account they give you have sending issues, are slow and don’t always integrate in with things like Outlook or Gmail.
If you are a business that relies on emails as a main form of communication within your company a platform such as GSuite or Office 365 is the best way to go. It offers industry leading tools, security, speed and reliability for an affordable price. Our sister company EmB Computing (IT Management) has used Office 365 for several years and it’s what they recommend to all their business clients.
Know What You Pay For
Let’s recap everything.
- Domain: The address of your website – it’s how your phone, PC, laptop and tablet know how to get to your website.
- Hosting: The allocated space on a server that actually holds all your website files and runs the applications. This is the “house” with all the electric, plumbing and water inside.
Each have different price points, features, customer support options that all should be considered. Our team at Voyage Media Works suggests a Managed Hosting plan for businesses that want extra support and don’t have time to worry about updates, security and the numerous other tasks that need handled when it comes to your website.
Need Website Help?
Voyage Media Works offers website hosting and repair services to businesses looking for assistance in routine tasks and consultation.