Domain Names and Website Hosting – a Little Analogy

Dec 11, 2011 | General News, Tips and Insights

Just a quick note on a concept that the novice often struggles with and I get asked about. What is the relation between the domain name and the hosting of the actual website? This can be especially important as they are not always offered together as a package.

The Analogous Relationship

This relationship can be described as being analogous to an individual’s relationship to their home. The domain name [eg.] is equivalent to your birth name. The difference is that domain names are leased per year rather than given for life.

If you consider the contents of your website as your furniture or personal possessions then the web hosting server is equivalent to the physical house/flat that contains them. This ‘building’ has a unique address [similar to a postal address / postcode] which is listed on a series of worldwide directories. When someone enters your domain in their browser, the browser checks the name with the address held in the directory and connects to the appropriate hosting server.

Should you decide to ‘move house’ [change hosting provider], all that is required is that you copy your website files* to the new hosting server and then inform the directories of the new address. This process is called changing [ or updating ] the nameservers.

*in the case of WordPress based websites there are backup and migration tools available which can carry out this seamlessly & painlessly.