What’s the Difference Between Domain, Hosting, DNS and All That Other Stuff I Don’t Understand…

In one of our recent articles, “The Anatomy of A Website“, we discussed the basic components of what makes a website tick.  The backend is built on the WordPress Core along with Themes and Plugins.  Once you are ready to publish your site, you will need to have a few additional items in order to get your new site online.  Today, we will discuss what those items are and how they all work together.

When you visit a website, you navigate to it via a browser such as Chrome, or Bing, to what is called a Domain, or URL.  In our case, the domain is https://digitalninja.club/.  A website is stored, or served, from a Hosting platform that is made up of networks of servers and other equipment that ‘serves’ the content of your website to your visitors, via the domain name and DNS (Domain Name System).

You can think of it this way, the Domain is the address of your house.  Hosting is the actual location of your house, and DNS are the directions to your house, from literally anywhere in the world.

Now, where it gets a little confusing, is where and how all of these things are managed.  In its most basic sense, a Domain is separate and different than hosting.  A Domain is purchased and managed through a Domain Registrar.  Hosting is provided by a Web Hosting Company, and DNS can be managed within either of those based on the needs of the website, and/or the owner of the domain, for purposes of things like email or other services provided separately from hosting a website.

Companies like GoDaddy, SiteGround and many others can be both a Registrar and Web Host, and the products (Domain & Hosting) are managed separately inside your account.  For example, we use GoDaddy as our Domain Registrar and SiteGround as our Web Host.  Because of this, we need to set the domains that are in GoDaddy to ‘point’ to our servers in SiteGround by setting either the Name Servers or A Record (IP Address).  In some cases, Domains are managed within the same account as your hosting, and in that case, your Domain is usually set up to ‘point’ to your hosting automatically.

When a Domain is pointed via Name Servers, the Domain Registrar is no longer responsible for, or able to manage the DNS, and will now rely on the settings within the Host Zone of where the website is hosted.  If a Domain DNS needs to be managed within the Domain Registrar, we will typically set up the pointing, or redirect via an A Record edit, which will only point to the location of the server, for purposes of serving the website.  The Host Zone will have no effect on any DNS Settings and all DNS will be managed through the Domain Registrar.  This is an effective way to keep all current DNS settings accurate when launching a new website, or if services like email are already in place for the Domain.

There are a few additional components, that we won’t get into just yet.  They are MX Records, which manage and direct how email is routed, CNAME redirects, TXT Records among others.  These are a little more in-depth and deserve a separate article of their own.

Our team at Traffic Builders can help you get your new business or brand online and in front of visitors looking to learn more about what you do.  If you want to learn more about what we do, follow our Blog here at the DigyNinjy, or our Social Media pages on Facebook and Twitter.

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