Domain registration vs web hosting: What’s the difference?
Two things are vital when setting up a website: a domain name and hosting. As they often come as a package deal, it can be difficult to tell the difference between the two, but they are quite separate things.
What is domain registration?
A domain name is the URL or address you register that people will use to access your site. Australian websites tend to end in .com.au or .com (although hundreds of variations exist), and although you buy it you have to pay to renew it regularly in order to keep it (some registrars allow you to register for two years at a time). Depending on where you register your domain and which extension you choose, it should cost less than $20 per year.
What is website hosting?
Website hosting is where you store the files that make up your website. So while people will visit your URL, the domain needs to locate the images, the text and the site design you’re hosting to let people see your site in all its glory. Hosting prices vary dramatically, depending on the features offered, the reliability of the service and how many extras you want. As with domain name registration, hosting is generally renewed on an annual basis.
What's the difference?
If you're still confused about the difference between the two, think of building a house. Your plot of land has an address – this is your domain – that tells the postman and your friends where to find you. However, without an actual house on the property – this is the web hosting – you have nowhere to welcome your guests or open your mail when it arrives.
The two go together and alone they're not much use – like an address with an empty plot or a house with no address. The same goes for domains and hosting – one is a pointer for web browsers while the other stores all your important data – so to have a functioning website it's vital that you get both organised.
Making it easy
With both elements required to put your site online, it makes sense to simplify the registration. Getting both elements from one provider not only makes registration easier, it also speeds things up as you'll be able to start work on your website sooner.