“What is hosting” has got to be one of the most frequent questions I get asked, especially when dealing with new domain name owners. In a time when a lot of businesses host their websites and email at different locations, it gets even more confusing. It’s a difficult concept to think that your domain name, email, and website can live in entirely different places or entirely different continents.
What are the different levels involved in a domain?
- Registrar: This is the company who you purchase the domain name from (URL). A unique address (Uniform Resource Locator) that can be tied to other online services. Some registrars also offer website hosting, as well as email hosting, but you don’t have to use them. The registrar allows you to “point” your domain’s website and email to any Website Host and or Email Host. Imagine Registrars as the old-time 411 telephone operators who take the call, and send people in the right direction from there.
- Website Host: These are the companies that offer you a physical server/computer that holds your physical website files. When people are looking for your website, the registrar points them to the exact host and server that the files sit on. This is the equivalent of your online physical residence.
- Email Host: With the emergence of cloud-based email (Software as a Service), more and more people are hosting their email somewhere other than their website host. Similar to having a postal box, when people make a request to send you mail, the registrar (operator) points them to the right place to deliver the mail. Your Email Host then stores it until you pick it up.