Many people who are just starting their website or online business are overwhelmed by the different terminologies related to their website.
Without fully understanding the difference between domain registrar, DNS hosting and web hosting, it is hard to make a choice on what service providers to choose and how to manage your website securely.
In this blog, we will try to explain to you what those terms mean and give you some tips on how to optimize your choices.
When you think of a website, the first thing that comes into your mind must be thewebsitename.com. This is what we call a domain name.
The domain name is a crucial element, and it defines your identity online.
A domain registrar is an organization that provides with domain names with a yearly cost.
If you register a domain name for a year and after one year, you stop paying for it, the domain name could be acquired by someone else.
Apart from providing you with a domain name, the one and only service that the domain registrar has to provide is to tell the rest of the internet which DNS server to query for your domain.
Our computers and web servers are identified online by a set of numbers called IP addresses.
In order to simplify the IP addresses, domain names are invented to map to the IP addresses, so instead of accessing your website on the web server at 188.8.131.52, you can use youdomainname.com.
What DNS hosting service does is to make sure that the mapping happens.
Apart from mapping the domain name to an IP address, DNS hosting providers will also keep many other DNS records about your domain names like where the emails for your domain name should go to.
Many domain registrars also offer to host your DNS.
Web hosting service provides you with server storage space to put your website files.
An IP address is also provided to you indicating the location of your website, which will be associated with your domain name so that your website could be accessed using the easy-to-remember domain name.
Basically, what happens is you put your website files at a web host, register domain name at a domain registrar and assign the domain name to the IP address of your website at your DNS hosting provider.
What to look for?
There are mainly two things to look for in a domain registrar: the price and the flexibility.
You need to pay a certain fee every year to keep your domain name.
The fee varies from 8 to more than 100 dollars a year depending on the domain extension you choose.
You can compare the price differences at different domain registrars.
However, what is most important is the ability to transfer your domain name easily.
You should be able to have full control over your domain name.
When choosing a DNS hosting provider, you should look at all the DNS record types supported by them.
You may think that I only need a simple website so as long as my domain name is mapped to my IP address then everything is fine.
However, you may decide to have your professional email service one day and MX records and SPF records are essential for that.
Another thing is the DNS server uptime.
The rest of the internet will query the DNS servers of the hosting provider to get the information required to access your website, send emails for your domain name and more.
If the DNS server uptime is not guaranteed, your website and emails will be lost on the internet.
Similar to DNS hosting provider, the web host should also guarantee the web server uptime.
Another thing to look at is how easy it is for you to manage your website using the tools provided by the web host.
Should I keep everything in one place?
You have the option of choosing different combinations, but it is wise to keep them separate when it comes to web hosting and DNS hosting.
If you ever get unsatisfied with your web host and want to change into a new host, you’ll also probably want to transfer your domain if it’s registered with them.
Domain transfers can be hard with certain web hosts.
Many website owners have experienced obstacles created by web hosting companies when transferring domain names away.
They do this because the difficulty of transferring the domain name may make you decide to stick to the old hosting plan.
But if you’ve registered the domain elsewhere, you only need to update your DNS setting to point to the new host.
Depending on the feature set of the registrar you're using, it may be advantageous to host your DNS elsewhere.
For example, if you host your website on a dynamic IP and require Dynamic DNS services which keep your domain name mapped to its most current IP address,
or wildcard DNS which points *.yourdomain.com to a certain IP address, many registrars do not offer these services.
We hope this blog helps you understand the basic components involved in a website and domain names.
However, if you still have doubts, feel free to ask us in the comments below.