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After submitting a quote and discussing clients’ requirements with them I find this question is very commonly asked:

Why are you charging for web hosting? We’ve already bought our domain.

Your domain name and registration are actually two separate things and here I answer the question: what’s the difference between a domain name and web hosting?

I’ll start by saying that if you’ve made the mistake in thinking they’re both the same you can be forgiven. Why? Most hosting companies offer domain names and a web hosting package together—and they may even appear as the same item on your invoice. I can assure they are different though—and here’s the explanation.

Imagine you buy a small house in a terraced street. Over the years you outgrow the house and subsequently move to a larger detached house in the same area. When you move house you keep the same phone number as this is the one all your family and friends use to get in touch with you. Over the years your children grow up and move out so you downsize to a smaller area; again, you take your phone number with you for the same reasons as before.

Think of the domain as the phone number and the web hosting as the house. Your domain name is a unique identifying word (similar to a phone number); it never changes. Your web hosting is like your house though—and it can change to suit your needs. All your domain name does is provide a common easy way for people and search engines to find you.

In reality, domain names sometimes change (as do phone numbers) but usually only as part of a major rebranding exercise. While some sites stay with the same hosting company for years at a time (as indeed some people spend their entire lives in the same property) it is very common for hosting to change from time–to–time as web traffic, etc changes.

One final thing that reminds me why this isn’t such a bad analogy…changing web hosting and moving house can be both extremely stressful—but I’ll save that for another blog post.

For help sorting out your domain name and web hosting call me now on 07843 483 078 or get a free quote online.

Tim Bennett is a web designer and developer. He has a First Class Honours degree in Computing from Leeds Metropolitan University and currently runs his own one-man web design company, Texelate.