I recently received a question regarding the difference between web sites and domains. I replied the best I could without including too much information as to make the answer confusing.
The person asking the question was new to web site management. As there are probably many more out there that would like to start a web site and are new to this online world, I decided to create this post to explain a few things.
Most people have an idea of what a web site is. They know that when they type in a URL in a web browser a web page will be displayed on the screen.
In a nutshell, if you were to create a directory on your local computer, add some HTML pages, images and other files, then you would have a web site.
Running a web site on your local machine isn’t a good idea. You would need to keep your computer running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you do get high traffic, your computer may not be able to handle the traffic which can cause your computer to crash or become unresponsive. Then there is also the security factor of keeping your site secure. The alternative is to use a host.
A host is a company that maintains a group of web servers specifically designed for managing web sites. There two types of hosts: free and paid.
With free hosts you don’t pay the company anything to host your web site. The downside to this is that your site may be slow, contain unwanted ads, or may not be online some of the time. For those with blogs, Blogger and WordPress are free but I don’t group them in this category.
The other, and better, option is to go with a paid host. With a paid host you pay a small monthly fee to a company that will host your web site. You usually get faster speeds, no unwanted ads, better uptime and support. You generally can pay under $10 a month for a shared plan and much more for a dedicated plan.
With a shared plan you share servers with many other web sites. If a web site does use too much CPU or memory, it could potentially impact your web site. The other option is dedicated hosting, where a server is dedicated to your Web site, so you aren’t impacted by other web sites. Of course dedicated hosting is usually much more expensive at over $100 a month.
When you do move your web site to a host, you will generally get a complex URL such as: http://www.yourhost/userid. This can be changed with your own domain name.
Your host may assign you a generic URL that can be complex and difficult to remember. The alternative is to buy your own and use it in place of your host’s name. The domain name is the URL entered into a visitor’s browser that will retrieve a page from your web site. For Technically Easy the domain name is technicallyeasy.net.
Domain names aren’t expensive, anywhere from $5 to $20 a year depending on where you buy the name. You can buy a domain name by yearly periods so you can buy one for the next five years if you choose. A domain name that you purchase is your property and cannot be bought by anyone else until the purchase period has expired.
I recommend you buy a domain name if you setup a web site. It is worth the few dollars a year.
A domain name is the URL that is entered into a web browser. It is worthwhile to buy a domain name for your web site instead of using the generic name from your host.