The domain is your street address. The host is your house and all of the stuff inside.
Domains and hosting and IP addresses and websites and URLS, ack! What does it all mean!? In this post I aim to cover the very basic fundamentals of the blips and bleeps that come together to form your website–and every website you use every day.
Domains and Hosting
The easiest way for me to think about domains and hosting is to compare it to your very own house or apartment that you live in. The domain is your address, while the hosting service is your house and everything in it.
Domains are human-readable names that are used to identify websites on the internet. Without a domain name, we would have to remember a lot of numbers–the IP Address–to get to any website. A domain name is made up of two parts, the domain name itself (e.g., the “polymathus” part of polymathus.com) and a top-level domain (TLD) like .com, .net, .org, etc. Domain names are registered with domain registrars and are unique.
When you register a domain name, you’re essentially buying the right to use that name on the internet. You can register a domain name through a domain registrar like GoDaddy or Google Domains. It’s important to choose a domain name that’s easy to remember and relevant to your website’s content.
So, the domain is where a visitor goes to see your website, and the hosting provider holds all the files, folders–and structure–that make up your unique website.
URLs and IP Addresses
An IP address is a unique numerical identifier assigned to every device that is connected to the internet. IP addresses are used to locate and communicate with other devices on the internet. When a user types a website’s domain name into their web browser, the browser uses a DNS (Domain Name System) server to look up the website’s IP address. Once the IP address is found, the browser can communicate with the web server that hosts the website and request the web page.
So what is a URL? Getting back to our house & street address example again, we can think of the URL as your full mailing address. While you may know that you live at 123 Main Street, the post office still needs a little bit more detail to ensure you get your mail from anywhaere in the world. The URL, or Uniform Resource Locator, is the full address of your site. For example, the full URL of the site you are reading this on right now is: https://www.polymathus.com.
When you type a URL into a web browser, you’re requesting a specific web page from a server. The server then sends that web page back to your browser, which displays it on your screen.
A hosting provider is a company that provides the technology and services necessary to make your website accessible on the internet. After a web page is created, it needs to be stored somewhere so that people can access it. Hosting providers provide the storage space and servers required to store and serve web pages. There are various types of hosting services available like shared hosting, dedicated hosting, and virtual private servers. When you sign up for a hosting plan, you’re essentially renting space on a server that’s connected to the internet.
Hosting providers offer a range of different plans and options depending on your website’s needs. For example, if you have a small website with minimal traffic, you might choose a shared hosting plan that allows you to share server resources with other websites. If you have a larger website with high traffic, you might choose a dedicated hosting plan that gives you exclusive access to a server.
The site for Polymathus is hosted with a company called Hostinger. They are an excellent company for small to medium sized businesses and websites.