Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Domain Names And Web Hosting

We get emails from a lot of people that are contemplating building or hosting their own website and are confused about web hosting and domain names. I will try to help clear up that confusion in this article.

When you purchase a domain name, you are securing just the name used to point to your website; there are no additional features. A domain name from Go-Daddy is around $8.95 a year (depending if you want .com, .org, .net or many of the other new extensions) and usually can be used with both free and paid hosting. Domain nameservers are used to "point" your domain name to your hosting account. Nameservers are found within your domain name administration account DNS settings, and normally if you purchase your domain name and web hosting at the same place, (Go-Daddy for example) you do not have to make any changes to your nameservers. Your domain name will automatically point to your hosted website. You only need to change your nameservers in your domain name account if your actual hosting account is with a different company, such as a free web hosting account. The new nameservers will be provided by your web host. Changes may take around 24 hours to take affect.

Free web hosting is generally supported by a banner ad or text link somewhere on your website pages. If you choose not to purchase a domain name, you are provided with a free sub-domain name. It will usually be like something.something.com and is considered a 2nd level domain name. Sub-domains are not favored as highly by search engines and you have no control over the name if the free web hosting company goes out of business. You also cannot move your sub-domain to a different web host. Paid web hosting will remove ads and links, increase your bandwidth and web traffic limits and usually entitles you to a variety of other features.

Paid web hosting may be bought in 3 month increments or by the year - the more you buy at a time the more you save. You can view recommended hosting plans HERE. Often people use domain names and professional (paid) hosting together, and this is where it gets confusing. They are two separate services that compliment each other, but don't necessarily need each other to work. Renewing your hosting does not renew a domain name and vice versa. The two don't always expire at the same time either. It is important to note the expiry date for both of these features to make sure they are renewed on time. Forgetting to renew a domain name can result in losing that domain name forever. Make sure to pay attention to your email reminders, such as, domain expiry notifications.

I hope these helps clear things up for everyone. Happy site building!

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