A friend once asked me after a heated argument on the phone with a customer care representative of her hosting company “What is the difference between hosting a site and registering a domain?”.
This is an important question for newbies or clients of web developers that are looking at the option of having their presence online via a website or a blog to recognize that there is a difference between registration and hosting and what that entails.
The domain name is the most important part of your website or blog. The name assist people in finding your business or post online (for example www.nokia.com). Think of it as the postcode number assigned to your house or flat (but subject to annual renewals).
This is the first step in operating a website. Before you can have a site up and running, you must buy a domain name. Typical domain registrars include DreamHost, Godaddy, Network Solutions, and Register. The cost to register a domain is around $10 a year (Google Apps is a very good example). Domain registration is similar to the job of a promoter during the incorporation process of a company. The responsibility of registering the domain name is on you (the promoter).
Please note that you must regularly update any change in your contact and billing information to keep the domain registered in your name. This is to protect you from losing your domain name. If someone else owns your domain name, there is little you can do to get it back. The worst case example is a web master that holds your domain ransom.
Website hosting provides a computer (called a server) that is well-connected to the internet’s backbone and powered by a clean source (meaning that it has battery and generator back-up). This computer stores and serves all your files. Typical monthly hosting fees can vary between $5/month for a discount host to $500/month for dedicated servers while some hosting companies offer hot deals eg. www.siteground.com or via www.google.com/a.
Checking Your Domain (Whois) Information
NetworkSolutions has a decent whois tool. The whois information on a website tells you four critical pieces of information:
1.Who owns the domain.
2.The company that holds the registration account.
3.When the registration expires.
4.Where the domain points (DNS information).