I am often asked what is the difference between a domain name and web hosting? In short, they are two separate things.
What is a domain?
A domain name is the address that people got to to see your website. If your website were a house, then your domain name would be its address. The internet is essentially a network of computers connected to each other and each one is assigned a number called the IP address. For example, Longbow’s website is on a computer at this address: 184.108.40.206; but you’re not going to remember that are you? A domain name, however, can have words, which makes it easy to remember website addresses. Longbow.design is easier than 220.127.116.11 isn’t it?
What is web hosting?
Web hosting is the computer, or ‘server’, where the files that comprise a website are stored. If the domain name were the address of a house, then web hosting is the bricks-and-mortar house itself. It can be changed, extended, redesigned and rebuilt, but the address stays the same.
When you enter the domain name of a website in a web browser, the domain name gets translated into the IP address of the web hosting company’s computer, although you don’t see that happening. The browser then has access to the website’s files, and downloads them to compose the view that you see.
How are domain names and web hosting are related?
To use a domain name you have to buy it from a domain host, and many of these companies offer a web hosting service too. So it’s not surprising that people tend to think of it as one thing. However, it is perfectly possible to have domain hosting handled by Company A and web hosting provided by Company B. You just have to tell Company A to direct your domain to Company B.
Do you have to have both?
If you want to run a website, you need both services, but in the event that you don’t need a website, for example if you just want an email address, you can just use domain hosting. A common situation is that you might have a few domain names such as mycompany.com, mycompany.co.uk, my-company.com. These could all be directed to the one web host where your website resides.
Hope that helps!