The process of creating a website and getting it online can be a tricky one, especially for the non-technical community. And this surely isn’t helped by the common misconception that domain registration and web hosting is one and the same thing.
So let’s clear things up. Domain registration and web hosting are two separate processes, both of which need to be completed in order to create a website and make it live on the internet.
Put simply the process is as follows: a domain must be registered by a domain registration company and then that domain name must be hosted on the internet through a web hosting company.
And here’s where the confusion comes in. Many companies will offer both domain registration and web hosting, whereas others will only offer either web hosting or domain registration. Therefore you can choose to register your domain and host your website with the same company or register your domain with one company and host your site with another.
It really as simple as that, but is something that causes a great deal of confusion and unnecessary stress to many people wanting to set up a website.
To use the Internet to communicate with others or to look up information, you have to type an address into your computer. These addresses are a name or a number and are more commonly known as domain names. Every domain name has to be completely unique so that the internet knows the correct website to bring up for the user.
If you wish to create your own website, you need to devise a name you wish your website to be known as. This name then needs to be registered with a domain registration company to ensure that it is unique and that you become the legal owner of that domain name.
You also need to pick a domain extension to attribute to your domain name. By this we mean.com,.co.uk,.org,.net etc. You should give careful consideration to the domain extension you choose to ensure that your full domain name best represents that of your business or project. For example if you are a UK business and are only selling to the UK, it would be most effective to choose a.co.uk domain extension – especially for achieving good UK search engine rankings.
It is imperative that before registering a domain name with a domain registrar that you check that they are a credible domain registration company. One method of doing this is to check that the domain registrar’s website is featured on the ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) Accredited Registrars list
Once you have registered your unique domain name with an accredited domain registrar, you need to get your website live on the internet. To do this, you need to buy a web hosting package from a hosting company.
The process of putting your website on the internet is completed by the web hosting company you sign up with and will involve placing your website on a web server which is then linked to the internet. The type of web server your site is hosted on will depend on the requirements of your website. The most common web hosting plans are Shared Web Hosting and Dedicated Server Web Hosting.
Shared Web Hosting
If you have a simple website which requires a regular amount of web space and bandwidth, then it is likely that your hosting company recommend you choose a shared web hosting plan.
With this plan your website will be placed on one of the web hosting company’s shared web servers. Here your website will reside alongside a number of other similar sized websites where it will share all the server’s resources and features.
Each hosting company differs in the hosting features they offer with their shared hosting plans. With many companies you will receive as standard:
o A specified amount of web space depending on your chosen package
o Easy to use web site control panel
o Online account management facility
o Full 24/7 ftp access to upload your web files
o Free domain transfer
o Unlimited domain aliases
o Send and receive emails using Microsoft Outlook or other email programs
Dedicated Server Web Hosting
If your website has grown to a size which cannot be accommodated on a shared server or if you require the flexibility to add software or other features to your site, then your web hosting company may recommend that you purchase a dedicated server.
With a dedicated server, you own the rights to the whole server; thus giving you complete control over what is installed and run on your server. Space and bandwidth usage will also no longer be a problem as there will only be your site (or sites) using the servers resources.
With a dedicated server you also have peace of mind that your site(s) won’t be at the mercy of other websites and their potentially corrupt code – which could cause downtime and other problems to your site.
When choosing a dedicated server you can opt to have your server managed or unmanaged by the web hosting company. With a managed server, you may receive services such as site administration, certain software installation, maintenance and upgrades. The major plus of having your dedicated server managed is that you have an expert on hand should your server suffer any failure – guaranteeing your site a high uptime percentage. Although significantly cheaper, unmanaged server hosting is only really recommended for those with a high degree of technical knowledge in server administration and management.