So you’re wanting to start a new website. You’ve heard you need to buy a domain name and hosting but aren’t quite sure what those even are, what the difference is and what is really necessary. Let me clear it up real quick: hosting and domain names are two completely separate things, and you need both to have a website.
So, what is hosting?
Hosting is basically the server where your website files are stored. The metaphor I like to use most is that building a website is like building a house. The land your house will sit on is like your hosting plan. House = website in this example. There are so many different hosting companies and types of hosting plans to choose from- if you need help choosing a hosting plan, check out last month’s post where I go over what you need and don’t need in a hosting plan.
And a domain name is…?
Going back to the house metaphor, the domain name is like your street address. You type the domain name into your browser like typing an address into Google Maps. (yourdomain.com) Most of the time you can buy your domain name when you buy your hosting, but I don’t recommend it. I always advise my clients to purchase their domain name from a reputable company separate from their hosting, for a few reasons:
- If you ever choose to leave your hosting company, your domain name is still tied up with the old company. It’s not particularly hard to move a domain name, but it can be a pain depending on the company and it can get confusing for non-tech-savvy people.
- It’s more secure to keep them separate. If your hosting account is hacked, the hacker can gain access to your domain name- which is WAY worse than just hacking your website. Your website can be fixed, but it will be very hard to get your domain name back.
- Major domain registrars have more TLD (top level domain) options, so if you ever want to use a cool domain name like .design, .pizza, .lawyer, etc. you have the option!
My favorite domain registrar is Namecheap. All my domains are with Namecheap and a lot of my client’s domains are too. They’re a reputable company and have excellent support.
Where does email fit into all this?
We know having an email address @ your domain name is more professional than having a Gmail address, but it’s a little more complicated to set up! Most hosting companies offer free email addresses with your hosting account, but I highly recommend against using email through your host. If your website is hacked and your email is on your hosting account, your email address could start sending out spam emails. Google will blacklist your domain if there are reports of spamming. If your email is separate, all you have to do is fix the hacked website and you’re good to go. For email, I always recommend G Suite by Google because if you’re already used to using Gmail, it will be an easy transition for you! It allows you to have your @domain email address while having all the benefits of Gmail, plus 30GB of Google Drive storage, all for $5/month.
Not sure if you want to take all this on yourself?
No worries, I can set up your domain name and hosting. 😀 I can handle it all for you! In fact, if you host your website with me, I’ll pay for your domain name for the first year! I’ll also keep up with all the billing and admin details so you don’t have to worry about paying different sources every year. Shoot me an email anytime if you have questions or want to discuss your new website!