ISP, DNS, domain, server, host, IP address. These all can become a jumble of network jargon, and it’s valuable knowledge to possess if you ever want to create or manage a website on your own.
If you have no intention of creating a web presence, it’s still good to understand how this part of the Internet works. Even if it’s to be able to speak intelligently about it at parties.
One of the most common sources of confusion is the difference between domain vs hosting. Please stay with us to find out these differences and how they pertain to you and your website.
Here find the definitions of the terms we mentioned in the opening:
Internet Service Provider. An ISP is a company from which you purchase your Internet access. The seven companies in Ireland that provide broadband internet access: BigBlu, Virgin Media, Digiweb, eir, Vodafone, Pure Telecom, and Sky Ireland.
These companies sell you the ability to send data back and forth over the Internet.
A domain is the name of a website. Simple as that. Not to be confused with “top-level domain” which is the last segment of the domain name such as .ie, or .com.
A server is a computer that contains storage and memory. Unlike a workstation, it’s not usually used with a monitor and its own keyboard, but lives in a rack containing many more machines like it. We’ll explain a bit more about servers further along in the article.
Domain Name Server. Imagine a notepad file that contains a list of domains. These files exist because computers do not understand domain names. Only humans understand them. So how are domains identified on the Internet?
Domains are identified on the Internet by using a series of numbers called an IP address, or Internet Protocol address. You may have seen one—they look like this: 188.8.131.52. They designate the size of the network and give other computers a map to your computer.
They also give you a map to wherever you visit on the web: Amazon, YouTube, Wikipedia, and the like. That notepad file we mentioned pairs the domain name with the IP address.
For instance, when you type in “twitter.com”, your request goes to a server at your ISP that returns a number like 184.108.40.206. Then your computer uses that address to find Twitter.
A host is a computer that holds the files that websites are made of. When a person makes a website, they create an HTML file, they use images and typefaces, and sometimes they create databases for their site to refer to.
All these files reside together in a directory with your domain name on it.
Now we can explain the whole process from your browser to a hypothetical site you’d like to visit. The first part goes like this:
A few years back, the Plassey Shipwreck Corporation decided they needed a website. They checked with a domain registrar to see if their domain “plasseyshipwreck.com” was available.
It was. The company leased that domain from an accredited registrar who handled reserving the name that they wanted and assigned it an IP address.
Yes, leased. Registrars own domain names and lessees pay to use them. This process is domain hosting. Now that the domain has a name and IP address, users can find the site on the internet.
This action marks the end of the primary responsibilities of a domain hosting service.
Plassey Shipwreck Corporation then hired a designer to put a website together for them. They liked the look of it and then decided which host company to hire to serve their website to the public
The designer put a copy of the files on a server at the host company to be indexed and published on the Internet. Then the site then became available online for people to visit.
This access marks the end of the primary responsibilities of a web hosting service.
You open your browser and type in the domain “https://plasseyshipwreck.com”. Your request goes out to your ISP.
Your ISP looks at the Domain Name Server (DNS) file that lives at the domain host and replaces plasseyshipwreck.com with an IP address such as 220.127.116.11.
The web host that houses the files for “plasseyshipwreck.com” lets your browser access the HTML file, and the website is displayed for you.
You now understand more than most people about how the Internet works. Domain hosting has expanded since 1999 when one company owned all the top-level domains.
It should be mentioned that companies can only register domains for ten years at once. The registration can be renewed in perpetuity, but ten years is the maximum single allotment. Domain hosting is usually very inexpensive with first-year rates about €19.99EUR or less.
Many web hosting services also offer domain hosting so you can choose a single vendor to begin creating your online presence. Web content managers can help you edit your website without you needing to know how to code. They can also count your visitors and report usage statistics.
If you want to start a business, a reliable online presence is a must. No longer are brochures and business cards the leading way to market your products and services. Knowing the difference between domain vs hosting is a good start to make intelligent choices about your website management.
Your website is your business persona, and it is vastly important to choose a good design, a competent host, and a proper domain name. Feel free to contact us to begin your internet presence and see how we can best help you build your site.