Domain & Hosting: The Same or Separate Services?
Domain registration and hosting are two separate services. Many companies offer both, but they are completely different services. Your domain name is a way for people to access your website. You can create a website today on your computer, but that’s no good if it’s not accessible by anyone but yourself! Similarly you could register a domain name today, but it doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a visible website when you go to that domain name. Imagine remembering a string of numbers for every website you wanted to visit. I’m sure you can understand; it would be a little difficult!
Here’s a metaphor that may help you understand the difference (it confuses a lot of people):
Think of the domain name like your phone number, one that you can transfer (or forward) to a new apartment if you ever needed to do so. Think of a hosting company like an apartment you rent, a place where your web site can live.
Web hosting is the place, typically on a server, where you store all the text, script, images, videos and other information that help create your website. Domains can be likened to Internet signposts that show web browsers where to find that information. The two can be totally independent or completely intertwined. Traditionally though a Website needs a domain name and web hosting. When someone types in the domain name, the website data is located and displayed to the user. Without the domain, the user would find it difficult to locate the data and without the web hosting, there would be no website to display! Once you’ve got a website up and running using web hosting, you can ‘point’ as many domain names as you like to that one website. The .com, .net, .org, .com.ng, or any other Top Level Domains , as well as country code TLD, for example .ng you have can all be pointed to one web host.
Some web hosting services, such as Weebly or Wix provide a very limited hosting service that only lets you use their templates in their system. You could think of that like getting a furnished apartment you’d rent by the week.
A custom web site created with a program like Dreamweaver or WordPress, is far too complex for a web hosting system that restricts you to the templates on their site.
Web hosting varies the way apartments do. When you sign up for web hosting at a new company, you get a cheap apartment, but one it’s still one that you can furnish yourself. When you sign up with companies like Upperlink, Syskay or Smartweb (with over 200,000 domains registered between them) you got a much nicer apartment, but you pay for the view (or in this case, the faster, and more reliable service). These and many other web hosting services let you upload your own web site to their web server or install a WordPress blog, much like you would furnish your own apartment and hang art on the walls.
You can use the same company to register your domain name and host your web site, or you can use two different companies. If you use two different companies, then you then have to essentially transfer your domain from your domain registrar to your web host, much like you might ask the phone company to move your a phone number to your new apartment. In the case of a domain, however, it’s usually called changing DNS. If you ever want to change the company where you registered your domain, that’s kind of like changing phone companies while keeping the same phone number and it’s a bit more complicated than just changing DNS.