What is website hosting?
One of the most common questions we get is “what is website hosting?”. It is usually followed by “what is the difference between domain name and hosting?”. In this article we will try to clarify these two concepts.
What is a domain name?
A domain name essentially is the address of your website that people type on the address bar of a web browser. In our case “okanagancreative.ca” is our domain name. This is the simple explanation. If you want to learn more, read on.
Internet is basically a gigantic network of computers connected to each other. To make the identification of each computer easier, each machine is assigned a series of numbers, also known as IP addresses. For computers, it is not a problem to remember these numbers to talk to each other. For us humans, however, it is not very practical to remember numbers that look like 22.214.171.124. You can imagine how impossible this would be in practice if every single website in the world was identified with random numbers like this. Enter domain names. In essence, domain names were invented so that we can associate words with these numbers so that they are a lot easier to remember and a lot more human-friendly.
What is website hosting?
Website hosting is the space where all your website files live. Much like photos or documents that you save on to the hard disk of your computer, your website has lots of files that need to live somewhere. When somebody wants to view your website, these files are pulled up and displayed on their screen. The reason you can’t simply have these files live on your personal computer is that they need to be available 24/7 and served up on demand every time someone types in your website address. In the early days of the Internet, a lot of heavy users set up their own servers. This was fine for a while but in the last decade Internet became a lot more sophisticated, larger and more global than ever. Right now a website that you set up in North America will likely be accessed all around the world at some point. This requires a much more complex network of servers that can pass information to one another in lightning speeds. This is why we have professional hosting companies doing the heavy lifting.
To give you a quick idea of how intricate these systems are, when you have a website published on the Internet using a professional hosting company, your website files actually saved in multiple different server hubs around the world. This helps speed up the delivery of your website to the end user. If your user is located somewhere in Europe, then the hosting company will use its closest server hubs to that location to display your website.
Do I have to have domain name and hosting?
Yes. All websites on the Internet need hosting to store their files. From a technical perspective, you don’t actually have to have a domain name in order to create a presence on the web. However, you probably don’t want your website to be called 126.96.36.199. So in practical terms, you also have to have a domain name in order to create a cohesive brand experience on the Internet.
Can I buy them separately?
Yes. If you have a particular preference for your hosting company and domain name provider, you can certainly purchase them from different providers. Although, it is usually easier to manage them if they are registered under the same provider. And you can always move your hosting or domain to a different provider later on if that is what you want.
We hope that this article helped to clarify the confusion around the concepts of domain name and hosting. If you have more questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.