I find that many people are confused about the various entities involved in their web hosting. In fact many people don’t know and don’t even have access to their own accounts.
Too keep it simple there are two major players in making your online presence visible to the world. and they don’t necessarily have to be the same party. they are your Registrar and your Web Host.
Te Registrar is the organization from which you obtain your domain name. Your Web Host is the company that provides space on a computer that holds the files that makeup your website. Here you are literally renting space (a folder) on a computer that is directly connected to the Internet
First you need a domain name…that’s the name people use to find you on the web. For example our domain is webguyswhogetbusiness.com (that’s a mouthful, we did this for a reason that I’ll explain in a later post).
You buy (sort of ) your domain name from your registrar. There are many registrars, with the larges in the US being Godaddy. But there are many more and it’s worth looking around before making a commitment.
In addition to providing you with a unique domain name he registrar often performs the very important service called DNS (domain name server). The DNS translates your human readable domain name into and Internet (IP) address which are the not-so-human-readable numbers that computers and routers use to locate another computer on the Internet. The DNS tells all the routers on the Internet that your domain name is located at a specific IP address.
For example when you type our address, webguyswhogetbusiness.com, into your browser the request goes to a router at your Internet service provider (your cable company, phone company or some datacenter at your company) the router has a list of domain names (the routing table) with their associated IP addresses. It looks up your domain name finds your IP address and sends the message on its way to the address. In our case our IP address is 50. 28.28.96 This address is a server which is physically located in our hosting company’s (LiquidWeb) data center in Lansing, Michigan.
The Web Host
The next important piece of the puzzle is your Web Host. The host rents you space (usually along with lots of other users) on a computer (called a server) that is connected directly to the Internet. Your web hosttml
like your landlord. Inexpensive web hosting ($7.00 – $12.00 per month) is almost always on a shared server…meaning your files are on a computer along with lots of other people. More on this in another post.
Your registrar does not have to be your web host. Because shared hosting is a very profitable business many registrars are very happy to convince you to host with them as well. Godaddy is notorious for this. Unfortunately the quality of their hosting is not very good and is not recommended for running a business.
When you deal with us we always ask for the name of your registrar and your host. Normally we won’t build web sites on bad hosting environments (Godaddy in particular) and recommend that you use a quality host (the cost can be the same or less). I’ll explain the reasons in the next post.
Changing Web Hosts
If you don’t like your web host (even if they are your registrar too) you can always get another one. In fact we often move clients to new web hosting environments that are more suitable for their business.
When you change hosts we log into your registrar account and instruct their domain name server (DNS) to point your domain name to your host. When this happens every router on the Internet must update their routing table (or list) that contains your domain name and IP address. This can take up to 2 or 3 days, we we don’t do this lightly.
Often web services like your registrar and/or host were set up by somebody else like your web developer. Don’t take this for granted. Your domain name is a valuable asset…after all it’s your name. Make certain that you know who your registrar and host are. Then you be the keeper of the access codes to both of these. Don’t rust anybody else to maintain these…not even us.