All you need to know about web hosting and domain registration

If you are thinking of building your website, or if you are already working with a web designer or web developer, you may have already heard the words web hosting and domain name, and you may be wondering ‘What is a domain name?’, ‘what is web hosting?’, ‘why do I need them?’ This is a short guide that will steer you in the right direction to getting started with your new website. 

What is a Domain name and why do I need one?

A domain is a string of words without any spaces or uppercase letters that identifies a network or internet protocol (IP) resource, this is a unique string of numbers that identify your site from all the other sites on the web, whilst it is easy for a computer to memorise these numbers, us humans will have some problems with this, this is why we use domain names as a ‘shortcut’ to each sites’ IP address. Domain names are also used to establish a unique identity, which means that you can choose a domain name that corresponds to your brand, company name, or organisation which helps internet users reach you easily. Without a domain name, you can not have a website.

What is Web Hosting and why do I need it?

A domain is your address on the web, and each website is just a collection of files and databases. All these files, folders and data must be stored on a server, doing this allows people to access the information on your website and is known as web hosting. Web hosting providers maintain the servers required to power your website and provide storage for your website’s files, folders and data. So when a site visitor enters your domain name into Google, your hosting server sends the necessary files to their device so they can see and interact with your site. Without a web host provider, people will not be able to see or interact with your website.

To put it simply, you can think of a domain name as an address where your site lives and your web hosting as your website’s house.

Where can I get a Domain and Web Hosting?

Domain names and web hosting are two very different things, however, the two are still very connected in the fact that your site can’t operate without either. No one could find your site without a domain name (your website’s home address) Without web hosting your site wouldn’t have a place to store all its information (your website’s home)

There are two ways to go about getting your domain name and your web hosting. You can buy each separately or bundle them together. 

If you are going to register multiple domain names then I would recommend that you use domain.com They are a world-class domain registrar with excellent customer service. Getting your domain here is fast, easy and affordable (prices start from $11.99 per year) They can also register your domain for 5 years, which means that you don’t have to worry about yearly renewals.

If you are just starting out or only have one domain and one website then you can bundle your domain registry and web hosting together. My personal favourites for these options are either Bluehost or Host Pinnacle. 

Bluehost

I used Bluehost for my very first website, they were fantastic, easy to set up, flexible web hosting and domain registration packages, a big bonus is they are highly recommended by WordPress. Web hosting packages start from $11.99 per year and include a free SSL and domain registration (for the first year) plus managed WordPress, free CDN and 24-hour chat support on their basic plan.

Host Pinnacle

My current favourite, as I am based in Kenya, I love the fact that I can pay via mpesa and call them anytime. Plus Host Pinnacle offer a free .co.ke domain registration with all of their web hosting packages. Host Pinnacle’s web hosting packages start from KSH 3,500/- (Exc VAT) and include 24-hour support, free set-up, SSL certificates and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Once you have registered your domain and set up your web hosting you can start building and designing your website.

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