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Domain Names and Website Hosting – What’s The Difference?

Posted on December 2, 2017 by Christopher Rhines

Are you ready for your first website but not sure where you should start? Are you not sure about the difference between a domain name and website hosting? We have the answers you’re looking for. Read on….


Selecting and purchasing a domain name is your first step in the process of setting up a new website. This is the equivalent of purchasing a tract of land on which you’d like to build your new home. Just as you would most likely pay careful attention to which tract of land has the greatest appeal, you would do the same with your new website’s domain name.

Most domain names look something like this: www.yourbusinessname.com. You can buy other types of domains besides “.com” domains, but you should make every attempt to find a good “.com” domain. It’s essentially the default and most widely used “top-level domain”. Using the www.yourbusinessname.com example, you would obviously replace “yourbusinessname” with your actual business name.

There are many online resources (“domain registrars”) for purchasing a domain name. The cost for a “.com” domain name is typically less than $20/year, and many domain registrars offer auto-renewal services.

Check out our blog post, 5 Steps For Choosing The Perfect Domain Name, to learn a bit more.


After you’ve purchased your domain name, the next step is to set up website hosting. Your new website will consist of many different types of files: HTML code, images, video files, a database, content management system (CMS) files, etc., etc., etc. Going into further detail about these files is beyond the scope of this blog post, but the moral of the story is that all of your website’s files need to “live” somewhere.

Your website’s files will “live” on a web server. Website hosting providers will rent you space to store your files on one of their servers. Whoever you hire to build your website will then connect your domain name to your website hosting account. This results in the general public being able to visit your website when they type your domain name into their web browser.

The cost of website hosting can range from free (be careful to read the fine print!) to several hundred dollars per month. It all depends on how many “bells and whistles” your website requires. Most simple brochure-style websites can be hosted for a few bucks a month, whereas an insanely large website (think Amazon or Facebook) would literally cost thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars.

To learn more about how to select a website hosting company, check out our Choosing A Great Hosting Partner blog post.

Now that you understand the difference between domain names and website hosting, head over to Google and do a bit of additional research so you can find a domain registrar and a website hosting provider that would be a good fit for your new website. Full disclosure: We offer website hosting services here at Torx!

If you have any questions related to the topic of this blog post, we’re more than happy to answer those questions for you. Give us a call at 804-577-8679 or complete the short form below to contact us.

About the author:

Christopher Rhines

Partner, Director of Development

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Christopher is the Director of Development and one of the partners at Torx. In addition to keeping Torx's Richmond office firing on all cylinders, he can often be found deep in the trenches, building custom content management systems and WordPress-powered websites. He still remembers how to write Basic computer programs on Apple IIs and Commodore 64s.