Domain Names vs. Hosting: Understanding the Difference

Understanding the Difference Between a Domain Name and Web Hosting

question bubbleThis info may seem like a no-brainer for savvy Internet users and business owners with their own websites. However, it is not as obvious to others who may be unfamiliar which such a distinction.

Currently statistics reflect that anywhere from 40%-50% of small- mid-sized business owners remain without a website. The intimidation aspect of technology is thought to be a contributing factor to this number.

So while this info may appear to be basic, experience has shown me time and again that when sitting down and explaining the fundamentals of a new website to a client for the first time, the topic of a Domain name vs. Hosting needs to be addressed and clarified. And I’m more than happy to educate folks on the matter.

A Little Computer History First

I recall when I purchased my first computer how confused I was with Ram or Memory vs. Hard Drive disk space. Actually it confused the hell out of me!  Sometimes the most basic analogy can bring clarification that sticks. In the Ram vs. Disk Space it came down to Ram was like food that fueled your computer and Disk Space is where everything (like your files, images, photos, etc.) lived.  Suffice to say I didn’t always know off the top of my head how much Memory or actual disk space I had, but I DID know the difference. Now I know more Ram or Memory usually means a faster more powerful computer and more Disk Space (or a larger Hard Drive) means more room to store stuff. Easy-peezy!

An Easy Analogy for Domain Name vs. Web Hosting

Working with a variety of clients, I learned that not everyone enjoys tech speak. In fact it can quickly make people’s eyes glaze over. So being an incredibly visual person myself, I opted to come up with a little visual solution that enabled folks to easily understand the Domain Name and Web Hosting distinction and it continues to work beautifully – AND it’s incredibly simple. NO tech speak involved 🙂

So here you go:
• A Domain Name (your web address such as is like a car.
• Your Web Hosting is like a garage (where you park your car).

And you MUST have both for your website to be visible and active online!

domain vs, hosting graphic


Generally speaking, when you purchase/register your Domain Name it is good for one year – but it is advised to buy it for several years. Google likes to see a commitment (so I’ve been told). Web Hosting can be paid monthly or can be yearly as well. There are MANY different providers such as GoDaddy or HostGator and you can have your Domain Name and Web Hosting with the same provider if you choose to do so.


Avoid Cancellation of Your Domain Name & Hosting

domains and hosting avoid cancellationAllowing your business website domain name to expire and web hosting could find you in some deep doo-doo!

Sadly, nefarious people lay in wait to buy your domain – especially if it is deemed valuable. Getting it back could cost hundreds if not thousands of $$$. That is if you can get it back at all!

Furthermore, allowing your website hosting to expire could cause you to lose all of your site content. This is especially true if your database is not backed-up! Talk to your webmaster or web admin. Website maintenance is your friend 🙂

In a nutshell, make sure to avoid cancellation of both your domain name and hosting!


If Your Credit Card is Hacked, Update Your Info!!

Unfortunately the Credit Card you may have associated with your Website Hosting or Domain account may get hacked. If you are on “auto-renew” and forget to update your account with new info – this can cause you to lose your site too!

Don’t let this happen to you. Just like updating other accounts you may have associated with your CC, make sure you site hosting and domain name stays on your radar too.


Don’t ignore those Renewal Notices…
Don’t ignore those renewal notices. Keep tabs on things. Set-up “Auto-renew” if you know you can be kinda flakey. But be sure the CC you may use for payment is not expired.


So there you have it. Hopefully this helps clarify matters on Domain Name vs. Web Hosting. Or feel free to contact me if you have any questions.


eco-conscious graphic designer barbara rogersWritten by Barbara Rogers of Future Primitive Graphics. Helping businesses grow through better design and search visibility solutions. From creating your business identity, designing and maintaining your print/digital assets to the importance of SEO for your website.

Creatively collaborating with those who genuinely want to make the world a better place with their products or services.