Hosting vs. Domain Names
How it all fits together
The Internet is a complicated system - whenever you surf a website, a lot is happening in the background. Here's why hosting and domain names are needed to make your website work.
On this page, we'll explain:
- Website hosting
- Domain names
- Web browsers
- How everything is linked
Let's start by looking at what happens when you surf to a website:
In the Beginning: Your Computer
To start, you type a website address (properly called a domain name) into a web browser on your computer, such as www.vetinternet.com. The domain name doesn't link to the website directly; it's simply a way of finding the website hosting server. This is done by a central organization called a domain name authority.
Once the website is found, the website hosting server sends the website to your computer's web browser so your can view it. Clear as mud? We'll explain.
Websites are nothing more that a bunch of computer files. Like any other computer files, they need software to open them.The software to open website files is called a web browser. Examples of web browsers are Internet Explorer and FireFox.
What makes web browsers unique is that they are not opening files on your computer's hard drive, but files stored in the Internet on website hosting servers.
Websites are stored on servers. Servers are simply computers that are setup to store (or host) websites so people can visit them. They are not very different from your computer at home, other than they are designed to run continuously and usually have features that help prevent failures and downtime (such as redundant hard drives, backup power, multiple Internet connections, etc.).
Unlike your home computer, a server also has a unique fixed address on the Internet consisting of numbers (called an IP address), such as 188.8.131.52, that allows it to be found easily.
Domain names are how your computer can find a website hosted on a server. Since remembering an IP address for every website would be difficult, domain names were created (vetinternet.com is much more memorable than 184.108.40.206!). This also means that if a website moves to a different server, it can still keep the same domain name.
Your website's domain name simply "points" to your website's hosting server's numeric (IP) address.
Domain Name Authority
The domain name authority is an international group that keeps a list of what server IP address each domain points to. This is the heart of the Internet.
The domain name authority is what makes it possible to access, for example, vetinternet.com from anywhere in the world.
Putting It All Together
Whenever a computer requests a website using a domain name, it's sent to the domain name authority, which "looks up" the domain name to find the hosting server's IP address. The request is then directed to the hosting server. The hosting server then "serves" (sends) the website to your computer.
Learn more about hosting, domain names and more, or any of the services we offer.
We Take Care of it For You
Don't worry, you don't have to know this by heart (there's no pop-quiz coming!).
We will help you through all stages of your website's hosting and domain name setup - it's simply part of what we do.
Questions about your website, its hosting or your domain name? We're here to help.