How To Host Your Domain
Domain hosting is one of the oldest and most common forms of hosting available on the market. At its core, domain hosting is the service that lets companies choose their domain names (essentially your online address) and makes it easy to register them online.
Many companies offer domain hosting in addition to other services, but regardless of what type of hosting you need or the size of your company, you will always need a domain first. Even so, you should make sure to explore your options before simply choosing a domain.
What is Domain Hosting?
Domain hosting refers to services that let companies and users choose and register domains for their websites. These platforms do not always offer additional hosting services (such as managed, VPS, shared, etc.) but may include them as part of larger packages.
Similarly, many hosting companies include domain hosting as part of their standard deals to facilitate making website creation more convenient.
Why Do You Need Domain Hosting?
No matter what size your company is, why you’re building a website, or even who your audience is, you need a domain for people to find you. A domain is your website’s address on the internet, and the only way people can access your site.
Essentially, without a domain, you don’t have a website, but it goes beyond just an address. Domain hosting gives you not just a URL for your visitors, but usually includes a variety of other tools and hosting services that make it easy to handle all your back-end activities and even website construction in a single location.
More importantly, domain hosting makes it easy for you to register your domain name without having to deal with the backend of the process—something that domain registrars (companies that sell domain names) handle for you.
When selecting your hosting service, ask yourself some basic questions:
- What features and perks does your domain come with?
- How long, and what type of contracts does your domain hosting offer?
- Do they offer additional hosting tools?
- Can I select more than one extension for my domain?
There are always other aspects to think about, but you can get on the right track with these answers.
What is The Domain Name System (DNS)?
The DNS is a distributed, hierarchical database, translating IP addresses, such as 192.0.2.30, into human-friendly domain names such as example.com, making it possible to use the Internet without having to remember numbers.
Many people compare the DNS as the phone book of the Internet. However, it’s not a phone book that you have to leaf through; the DNS usually works so fast that you don’t even notice it’s there.
Learning the basics of DNS will enable you to make better use of your web and email hosting, giving you the power to make changes, and even change hosting services.
Whether you’re just starting out hosting your first domain name or are already using web hosting services, there may come a time when you want to migrate your website to a new hosting service.
Knowing that you’ll need to change the nameservers to the new host after you’ve gotten your website up and running at the new hosting service, will enable you to make this transition. You’ll still want to read the documentation provided for making the transition, but having some DNS knowledge will make it much easier to grasp.
What is a Domain Name Registrar?
The typical Internet user makes hundreds of DNS queries every day without having to memorize a single number. Accordingly, DNS is the unsung hero of the Internet, running quietly behind the scenes.
When you register (i.e., purchase) a domain name you use a Domain Name Registrar, which is an organization that manages the registration of Internet domain names. Most Domain Name Registrars also provide hosting services, but some do not.
Regardless of whether your registrar provides hosting services or not, you can choose to host your domain name at any hosting service that you want. The key is to know enough about the DNS to decide what you want to do and make it happen. The first step in the right direction is to learn about where the information about your domain name’s stored and how you can access it.
What is a DNS Host?
The DNS host is where you manage your DNS zone file records. Frequently, people host their website at the same hosting service as their DNS, but that’s not a requirement.
How Do You Manage Your DNS Using Your Web Hosting Control Panel?
A web hosting control panel is a web-interface that makes it easy to manage your web hosting account without extensive technical skills. Most web hosting accounts come with a control panel enabling you to manage your website, email, domain names, and DNS.
While the control panel makes it possible for you to manage your DNS without in-depth technical knowledge, it’s still important to understand how DNS works.
Hosts: On the Internet, hosts refer to host computers named by combining their local names with their parent domain name. In email.example.com, email is the host.
While they are similar concepts, an Internet host refers to a host computer and a subdomain extends the domain name itself.
Hostnames refer to a computer or resource; a subdomain extends the domain. So www.example.com is a host, while www is a subdomain.
The difference between a hostname and a subdomain is that a host defines a computer or resource, while a subdomain extends its parent domain. Subdomains provide a method of extending the domain name itself.
What Are the Different Web Hosting Options for Domains?
Web hosting services provide the storage and the services needed for you to publish your website to the Web. There are three basic types of web hosting plans:
- Shared Web Hosting Plans – This type of hosting option means that a domain and website will be housed on a server shared with other customers of your web hosting service. Shared hosting works well for many small businesses and hobbyists.
- Dedicated Server Hosting Plans – This type of hosting involves a web hosting service leasing a dedicated server to you, providing you access to all the CPU computing power of the server, access to more bandwidth, and more support. If your website’s traffic is starting to push the limits of your shared hosting, then it’s time to consider managed/dedicated hosting.
- Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting Plans – These plans involve a hybrid model of shared and managed hosting, whereby your website is hosted on its virtual private server with dedicated resources, though it does share hardware and some other resources with other customers. With VPS hosting you often will have close to full control (root access) to your virtual server, so you’re free to customize the configuration to your requirements and install any software packages that you want.
What are the Benefits of Managed Hosting For Your Domain?
- You centralize all your website-related services. There are services that exclusively offer domain names, with no other features (known as domain registrars), but they can be difficult for first time users to deal with. Instead, domain hosting services give you all the services you need (including hosting, control panels, and even business tools like e-mail) in a single, convenient location.
- They make it easy to register a domain. If you’re trying to simply find a domain with no additional help, you may be looking for a while. Domain hosting services streamline the process of finding, verifying, and registering your domain by handling the heavy lifting and ensuring that the domain and extension combinations you like are available.
- They give you tools to add trust to your domain name. Most domain hosting services give you more than just a URL. They include security certificates from trusted sources (such as Norton and McAfee), as well as SSL certificates that indicate your website protects their privacy.
What Factors to Consider for Managed Hosting
- Do they offer domain transfers? While you may not need it when you purchase your domain, or even at all, knowing that your domain host gives you the opportunity to transfer your URL to another hosting service is important. As your website grows, so do your needs, and having to change your domain may undo all your progress. Your domain hosting services should give you the option to take your domain with you wherever you go.
- What pricing options do they offer? When you register a domain, it’s important to remember you’re not actually purchasing it forever, but rather “leasing” it. Most domain hosting services give you different term options ranging from one year to ten years (and in a few cases even longer). Moreover, some give you the option to renew your registration automatically, while others don’t. Finally, you should always see the cost of your preferred domain on several hosting services to see which makes the most sense for you.
- Do they tack on fees to your price? While a $1 a year fee sounds like a steal, you should always read the fine print for domain hosting. In some cases, registrars and hosting services may add on fees for things you assumed were included. For instance, an offer may show $1 a year, but that may not include privacy protection or WHOIS registration, which could add up to $20 a month, making your plan significantly less affordable.
- What additional features do they include? Most domain hosting services do more than simply registering domain names. Find one that can fill most of your checklist, from business emails to SSL certificates and in some cases even web hosting. While you may not need some or any of these, knowing they’re available can help make a better choice.
Choose the Best Domain Hosting
No matter what your business or website idea is, it all starts with having the right domain name. Before you commit to making a purchase that can lock you in for several years, make sure to read all the domain hosting reviews and information you can find, both from experts and users. With the right domain hosting, you can start building the best possible internet presence.