When you set up a new website, two main things need to be in place: your domain name — your site’s URL — and web hosting. While some websites use the same company to register and host a domain, you don’t have to.
Learn more about whether you should have your domain name registered with the same company your site is hosted with.
- How domain registration works
- The pros and cons of using one company for hosting and domain registration
- What to do if you want to keep domain registration and hosting separate
How Domain Registration Works
Domain name registration is buying a specific domain for your website. When making the purchase, you specify the website, which is your site name ― Digital, in this case ― and the top-level domain ― .com, in this site’s case.
Once you choose a domain name and confirm it’s available, you can register it to yourself or your company’s name. There are thousands of domain name registration companies. No matter which you choose, they collect your information and the payment to verify that you’re the domain owner.
What Is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers?
Next, the domain name registration company files your ownership with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), responsible for tracking who owns which domains. In most cases, you are buying the domain name for a period of one or more years. This prevents anyone else from using that domain name as long as you own it.
Pros and Cons of Using One Company for Hosting and Domain Registration
Since you need to buy web hosting and a domain at the same time, it can be convenient to buy both from the same company. Many of the best web hosting companies can also help you with domain name registration. You can register multiple domains from one hosting account without a problem.
But to find out whether that’s a good idea for your company, read through the pros and cons of using just one company for registering your domain and hosting your site:
Combining multiple related services with one company can be very beneficial. The following are some reasons why companies often use their web hosting company also as a domain name registrar.
- Cost savings: In many cases, you can get your domain registered for the first year for either free or inexpensive if you also use that company for hosting. This can give you great savings when just starting.
- Convenient billing: All your website bills are in one convenient place when you have these two services combined with one company. This helps to reduce the risk of forgetting to pay your domain name registration renewal fees, which could put your site at risk.
- No need to update nameservers: If you register your domain with the hosting company you’re using, the nameservers are set up correctly by default in most cases.
- Single trusted company: Once you have a hosting company you can trust, it may make sense to let them help you with your domain name registration. Finding trustworthy companies can be difficult, so combining services with one can be a good idea.
While there are some benefits to keeping these two services combined with one company, there are also some downsides. Take a moment to read through some of the most important reasons to keep them separated.
- Single point of failure: If you have both of these services handled by one company, and the company has problems, it’s much more difficult to get your site back online. The problems could include going out of business, getting hacked or infected with malware, and more.
- Difficult to transfer: If you want to transfer your site’s hosting but not the domain name, the company can make it more difficult. They may even charge you extra to keep the domain name in place.
- Specialization locks them to one area: Web hosting companies typically specialize just in web hosting, even though they can provide domain name registration services. A separate company specializing in domain name registration ensures you always have experts in these areas to get the best service possible.
- Security risks: If your website gets hacked and your domain is registered with the same company, your site is more at risk. While you eventually can get control of your site back, it may take longer with the two services combined in some cases.
- Difficult to manage multiple sites: You may want to have more than one hosting provider if you run multiple sites. If that’s the case, it’s easier to keep your domain names registered with a separate company so it’s easy to keep track of everything.
Can You Keep Your Domain Registrar and Web Host Separate?
Keeping your domain name registrar and web hosting provider separate shouldn’t cause any trouble. If you’re starting a new site, find the best domain name registrar and buy the domain you want. Next, look for the best web hosting company that suits your needs and create an account.
After both accounts are set up, update the nameservers — typically provided by your web hosting company in a welcome email — that the domain points to. Update the two nameservers the company provides in your domain’s settings. Every domain name registrar has a different setup, so reach out to customer support to get assistance if you can’t figure it out. Then, your domain points to your new web hosting provider, and you can start building your site like normal.
What Should You Do Next?
The next thing you need to do is decide if you want to keep your domain name registered with your hosting company or keep them separate. In most cases, it won’t make a huge difference which you choose.
Overall, however, there are some important advantages to keeping these two services separate, so if you don’t mind the slight inconvenience, that is typically the best route.
FAQS About Domain Registration and Web Hosting
What is the difference between domain registration and hosting?
A domain is an address used to visit your site. Hosting is where the files are stored.
Does domain registration include hosting?
Domain registration does not always include hosting. Some web hosting services offer domain registration and some domain registrars offer web hosting services so you can use one company for both needs.
Do you need to buy a domain and hosting?
Yes, you’ll need both a domain and web hosting to run a website.