What’s the difference between a domain name and web hosting? A question we get asked regularly across our different channels (comments/social/email) here eASEAN. And to be honest, it is rather simple, the difference between domain and hosting is:
- A domain is your website name,
- Hosting is where your website is stored,
- You need both to put a website online and be found on the likes of Google.
And it is a really important question that every new Singaporean entrepreneur should be asking… as both domains and web hosting services are intrinsically linked, interrelated propositions that won’t function without each other.
As you can’t have a live website that you can access from your computer without a domain name and you can’t have a website live on the internet that you can search for without hosting.
To give it a simple physical world analogy… website hosting is the location, the building, the garden, and everything inside the house. The domain name is the address on the front door. But that only goes so far, let’s dig a lot deeper.
What Will I Learn?
What is a Domain Name?
Let’s start with the technical definition of what a domain is… it’s a string of text that maps to a numeric IP address used to access a website or to put into a language that is easier to understand; a domain name is a text your potential customers will type into their browser window to reach your site.
For example, the domain name for our site here is https://www.ecommerceasean.com.
Quite simply it’s your address on the web, and like addresses in the physical world… your domain name helps people find your business.
- In fact, the actual address for websites is a set of complex numbers like this: 198.102. 434.8.
- Obviously, this is not going to help your customers when they’re surfing the web, they would never remember addresses like this.
- So this is where the Domain Name System (DNS) comes in.
- DNS lets people on the internet access or connect with websites via domain names rather than IP addresses.
- DNS translates IP addresses into domain names,
- It works very much like an old phonebook (do you remember those things?) where you look up a person’s name you want to call, likewise you type in the domain name and you’ll land on the desired site.
What about domain names and URL’s?
A uniform resource locator (URL) is the path to a specific page on a site. It will always contain the domain name, and it will also contain the page name too (and page name’s can be as simple or as complex as you decide to make them).
The URL for this article here is: https://www.ecommerceasean.com/sg/web-hosting-singapore/domain-vs-host/
As you can see both the domain name and the page location are in the link. But what you might also notice is:
- The domain name is in it: https://www.ecommerceasean.com/
- The category is in it: https://www.ecommerceasean.com/sg/
- The parent page is in it: https://www.ecommerceasean.com/sg/web-hosting-singapore/
- The actual article page is in it: https://www.ecommerceasean.com/sg/web-hosting-singapore/domain-vs-host/
Now, while this way of making links might be a bit complicated, this is how we structure that article for our own business purpose. You can manage domain names any way you like, once you have purchased them.
If you are purchasing a domain name in Singapore you have the option to choose domain name endings from a domain registration company like:
The .com.sg and the .sg are domain TLDs that are only available to people who live within Singapore and who are most importantly targeting the Singaporean market. You most likely will not get them as a free domain, and cost a lot more than the likes of a .com domain name.
What is Web Hosting?
Again let’s start with a more technical explanation. A web hosting service is storage and technical features that are provided to a user/company/entrepreneur enabling the accommodation and maintenance of a website (or group of websites).
So a hosting web server is an actual location where your site is housed. It is the place where all the software and files which make the website run live. If your hosting is in Singapore, then all your files and software will live on a server in Singapore.
Website Hosting occurs when a provider leases space on one of their servers (or multiple servers).
Depending on the size and requirement of your site you can lease more or less space on a server, or, use another analogy…
It’s similar to buying a property in the physical world, where you can buy different sized properties (if your budget allows) to suit your physical requirements (e.g if you have a lot of furniture) likewise you can buy different hosting account plans to suit your site's requirements, and providers have plans for every price range.
Three Main Categories Of Hosting
1. Shared Hosting
This is a hosting service where multiple sites or users are hosted on one server. And as a result, all the websites share (hence calling it shared hosting) the resources of that server.
Each website is given a web hosting account and is assigned a certain amount of server space as agreed in their plan. However, load time and uptime can be affected by traffic going to other sites.
We always recommend shared hosting to entrepreneurs new to the online space because it is by far the most economical option, but as you grow, you will need to consider other options.
2. Cloud Hosting
Unlike the more traditional shared web hosting companies, cloud hosting solutions are not deployed from one server but from multiple servers.
And as such cloud hosting eliminates a lot of the problems which have been identified with shared hosting services i.e. the sharing of resources.
As well as that, one of the main benefits of your web host being provided by multiple servers is safety, if there is an issue with one server your data is simply moved to another server which eliminates the possibility of downtime.
Ideal for a scaling site that has outgrown the limitations of shared hosting.
3. VPS Hosting
VPS stands for Virtual Private Server, the hosting company uses software (HYPERVIZOR) to place a virtual management layer over the server’s operating system which enables the provider to virtually segment the server.
This then means customers (site owners) can buy a virtual private server, which won’t be shared with other sites, as each server segment is totally separated.
So you’re no longer sharing storage and bandwidth, which means you have the freedom to build your site to your spec, which delivers optimum performance. Ideal for an enterprise-type business that could use the benefits of a private server.
Because they are so intrinsically linked it’s easy to see how they can get confused, but as you have read they are two very different services albeit very interrelated.
To go back to an earlier property analogy, think of hosting as the property/location and the domain name as the address on the door, they both need each other to function.
So the real difference between domain and hosting is?
So there you have it, and as you can see there is quite a big difference between a domain name and a hosting plan, but as we also have seen they are intrinsically linked. One needs the other, and one can’t function without the other… you can’t have a live website without a domain name and you can’t have a website live without hosting.
What do I need to Build a Website? Domain Name or Web Hosting?
In short, you need both a domain name and hosting from a web hosting provider. You cannot have a website live on the internet without both of them. In fact, you’ll need quite a bit more than a domain name and hosting to build your site. We have an excellent article here covering the essentials for setting up your online business.
Do I have to buy a domain and hosting together?
No, you don’t need to buy a domain and hosting together, and yes you can buy them separately.
For both domain name purchasing and hosting plan purchasing, there are so many players in the marketplace, there is always a great offer to be had (sometimes with the two of them on offer together).
A lot of times at the start, new online business owners will know the name of the business they want to run online, so they will go ahead and buy the domain name, holding back on purchasing the hosting plan until they are ready to build their site.
Can I Move My Domain Name to a Different Company?
Yes, you can move your domain name to a different company.
Rather than using the word “company”, you should use the words “domain registrar”. A domain name registrar is a company that manages domain name reservations. They operate in accordance with the guidelines laid out by domain name registries. A company like GoDaddy is classed as a domain name registrar.
It is your right to transfer your domain name registration between registrars. and it’s really easy to do… To initiate the change first you must contact your current registrar.
Your current registrar will then seek confirmation (via email usually within 60 days). Once the registrar receives confirmation they will commence the transfer. They will notify you and the new registrar once the transfer is complete.
Can I Move My Website to Another Web Hosting Company Without Changing Domain?
Yes again, this is something that can be done very easily, in fact, a lot of the time your new hosting company will walk you through the process. In total, the process should take you less than 10 minutes.