Domain Registration vs. Web Hosting Explained
By Brad Stitgen
A common misunderstanding that I have heard from clients over the years is the confusion over domain registration and web hosting. The fact that most domain registrars offer web hosting and most web hosting companies offer domain registration doesn’t help things either. So in this blog post I’ll go ahead and describe the differences. You’ll then know what you are paying for when that yearly hosting or domain registration bill arrives!
First I’ll start with domain registration. Domain registration is like it say’s, the registration of a particular domain name with a domain register. By registering a domain you are simply renting the right to use a particular domain for one or more years. Nearing the end of the registration period you should receive a notice from your registrar that it’s time to renew. If you don’t renew your domain it can be registered by someone else. This can be a real big problem if you have built a site for your business using that particular domain.
The problem can get bigger if not only does your business use the domain for your website but the same domain is used for your email addresses. Not only would you lose the ability to locate your website at yoursite.com, you would also lose the ability to send and receive emails @yoursite.com!
In order to prevent your valuable domain name from being registered by someone else, it’s important to keep your registration paid-up. Registrars typically have a short grace period followed by a redemption period where you’ll be required to cough-up a redemption fee. In short, you never want to depend on grace periods or redemption periods if your domain is important to you. If either a grace period or redemption period is not offered by your domain registrar your domain could get registered by someone else! At that point you could easily end up spending a considerable amount of time and money without any guarantee you’ll get your domain back.
Tips on Making Sure Your Registration Gets Paid
– Make sure your domain registrar has your current email address and make sure their emails are not being blocked by any spam blocker you may have. In the past domain registrars used to send bills in the mail, today this seems to be no longer the case. If you receive a “bill” in the mail for registration make sure the name of the registrar matches who you are currently doing business with. Better yet, login to your registrar to make sure your payments are all up to date.
– Periodically login to your domain registrars website and make sure there are no upcoming registration expiration notices. This is especially true if you have more than one domain.
– Finally, if you are concerned about losing a domain I recommend registering for multiple years and then topping it off each year with an additional year of registration. That way you’ll be sure it’s always paid-up.
By registering a domain you now have the right to use yoursite.com. In the physical world, this would be like owning a street address that is unique to the entire world and that no-one else could use as long as you paid your yearly fee. I know this is actually not the case but let’s pretend. Now, let’s also pretend that street address is simply that, just a street name and number. The land that is located at that address is not included and needs to be rented year by year. That “land” would be your web hosting. In short web hosting is electronic “space” that you pay a web host for on a yearly (or monthly) basis.
Like domain registration, it’s important to pay your bills on time. Late payments can result in your site getting shut down and your files deleted. If you don’t have an offline complete back-up of your site you risk losing your actual website. That said, while losing a website is bad, losing a valued domain is typically worse.
Domain registration and web hosting are separate components required for every website. For domain registration, it is vital that all bills are paid on time. One should never rely on grace or redemption periods. For businesses that have built up a following on a particular domain not paying on time can be a costly mistake.
Web hosting is also very important. It’s the electronic “plot of land” that your site is built on. Late payments can result in the removal of your website by your hosting provider. Not something any business wants to happen!