11 FAQs About Domain Hosting
You can commonly find the best domain hosting plans on shared platforms with support for unlimited websites, SSD storage, and MySQL databases.
Plus, the popular bonus offer of a free domain name registration when you sign up for a new hosting package makes it easy to launch a new website on a shared plan.
However, not every hosting plan includes a free domain name. Most free hosting services, for example, do not include a free domain or cPanel because of the extra costs.
Here, we’ll help you navigate the domain name marketplace and how to pair a strong domain with a web hosting plan that can help you achieve your online goals.
1. What is Domain Name Hosting?
As your website’s identity on the internet, a domain name is one of the fundamental aspects of internet routing protocols.
Domain names are often keyword terms followed by a URL extension, such as .COM, .NET, and .ORG.
However, the servers and devices hosting or displaying your website know your website as an IP address, not a domain. (Our guide to setting up a website will make this a lot easier to understand.)
A dedicated IP address is a numerical value, like 18.104.22.168. The web host’s name servers will convert between the IP address and the human-friendly domain URL to route I/O requests to a website.
The Domain Name System (DNS) settings with your domain host will point all web traffic requests to the name server, which then routes them to the specific hardware and files stored online.
Many of the terms can sound alike when it comes to domain name hosting, so here we’ll break down the most common phrases you’ll encounter:
- Domain Registration: Acquiring ownership of a keyword phrase with a TLD extension.
- Domain Renewal: Keep a domain registration active by paying the annual fees.
- Domain Registrar: The organization responsible for reserving your domain name.
- Domain Registry: A database of all domain names registered under a specific TLD.
- Domain Name System (DNS): The format for linking IP addresses to domain names.
- Domain Forwarding: Reroute a domain to any address using .htaccess on Apache.
- Domain Parking: Keep a registration active without development with an ad page.
Most web servers reside in a hyperscale datacenter with high-speed fiber-optic connections to the internet. Thousands of domain names can be hosted on a single web server.
Each domain is issued a shared or dedicated IP address that is publicly visible as part of the internet protocol system. This allows people to search and find published website information.
Websites use HTTP and HTTPS connections to transfer information based on DNS routing settings. HTTPS works with an SSL or TLS certificate to enable encryption on data transfers for better privacy and security.
2. Why Should I Use a Domain Hosting Service?
Created in the mid-1980s, the domain name system allows letters, words, and numbers to substitue for numerical IP addresses. The move helped popularize the internet for business, personal, and non-profit use.
The original domain addressing system included certain top-level domains (TLDs), including .COM for commercial domains, .ORG for non-profits, .EDU for schools, and .NET for network organizations.
Today, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has approved thousands of new TLD extensions, which use the same DNS routing.
Most Popular Top Level Domain (TLD) Extensions:
- .COM: The world’s premium TLD with domain names selling for millions of dollars.
- .NET: Originally promoted as a networking extension that can be used by any site.
- .ORG: The primary connotation is for use by a non-profit, charity, or NGO website.
- .INFO: An early alternative extension with popular usage for information technology.
- .EDU: Reserved for recognized education sites like schools, colleges, and universities.
Your domain name search can also include more colorful and entertaining TLD options, including .AUDIO, .HOSTING, .DIET, .NINJA, and .PIZZA.
The best domain registrar will support the widest range of TLDs. GoDaddy and Namecheap are the most popular domain name registrars with small businesses, independent web publishers, brands, and non-profits, while reseller hosts commonly use Enom.
3. How Much Should a Domain Name Cost?
Although the price tags on some of the most expensive domain name purchases soar upward of $35 million, domains are typically much more affordable.
The new TLD extensions are priced at variable rates. The cheapest, including .XYZ, .SITE, .DIGITAL, .STORE, and .ONLINE, cost less than $2 to register. New extensions, such as .AI and .IO, are more expensive to register than the traditional domain name standards.
With hundreds of new domain name extensions, it is more difficult and expensive for brands to defend all of the labels.
Short, distinctive keywords are considered premium domains and may be reserved by the registrar for sale at higher rates to customers. Many premium domain names cost thousands of dollars per year to register.
4. How Do I Choose the Best Domain Name Hosting?
Searching for the best domain name hosting doesn’t have to be complicated.
We strongly recommend trusted shared hosting platforms that support unlimited websites at low costs.
Plans that come equipped with cPanel cost as low at $2 per month, and you can use Softaculous to choose from more than 400 open-source applications for web development. Look for the inclusion of bonus offers like SEO tools, developer utilities, and advertising credits.
With a domain name hosting plan, website owners frequently need email inboxes, FTP accounts, databases, and SSL certificates to meet a project’s needs.
Best Domain Name Hosting
|Bluehost||$2.95/month||Leading WordPress host great for first-time site owners|
|Hostinger||$1.99/month||Cheapest prices for single-domain and unlimited domain plans|
|iPage||$4.99/month||Low-cost option for unlimited domains, storage, and bandwidth|
|GoDaddy||$2.99/month||Largest domain registrar with every hosting type|
|A2 Hosting||$2.99/month||Developer-friendly host with high-performance hardware|
We’ll go into more detail later, but you’ll want to consider if you want to keep your domain hosting separate from your web hosting.
If you register a free domain name with a web host and decide to migrate to a different platform, a free website transfer service can help site owners’ sanity during the transition.
Registering all of your domain names with a single registrar and using DNS settings to route the addresses to different web hosting environments comes with many advantages, but many site owners prefer the simplicity of having everything under one roof.
5. How is Domain Hosting Different From Web Hosting?
Understanding the differences between domain hosting and web hosting can be a little tricky, since the two services work closely together.
Ultimately, you’ll need both to publish a website or send an email from a custom domain. Naturally, the domain host takes care of your registration and DNS settings, while your web host handles the storage and processing requirements of delivering your website to visitors.
We’ll break it down like this:
- A domain host helps you manage your domain name registrations and connects them to websites, email inboxes, and other web services.
- A web host stores your website information and provides the server resources to deliver the information to visitors.
Domain hosting primarily operates as the routing layer on top of a web hosting platform. Every domain name can be converted to a numerical IP address that can be used interchangeably with the keyword.
A web hosting platform will also include multiple database frameworks for running dynamic content and scripts.
It is important to understand the relationship between domain name registration, DNS settings, and web hosting.
When you register a domain name with a registrar, you have the option to park the site at the company with a static landing page; some site owners monetize landing pages with advertising.
Domain forwarding using the .htaccess file on Apache servers will route all requests to a domain address to another extension or URL based on custom configurations.
You need to change the Domain Name Server (DNS) settings of a registered extension to point to the web hosting company. Use cPanel or another control panel solution to add the domains to the web server.
When the web server and the registrar records are synchronized, anyone in the world can search and find information on your website.
Business owners and publishers using domain names for personal, educational, or non-profit sites need to renew domain ownership every year, otherwise the address will revert to public availability when the registration expires.
6. What is a Domain Registrar?
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, is the agency that governs the internet routing system and TLD extension allocation, approves each domain name registrar.
- A domain registrar is an accredited organization in charge of reserving domain names and submitting the registrant’s information to the registry.
- A domain registrant is the registered holder or owner of a domain name.
- A domain registry is the database of top-level domain names and their associated registrant information.
Thousands of companies file proposals for new domain name extensions with ICANN. These companies invest millions of dollars in securing the rights to manage TLDs and then franchise the licensing through commissions to public registrars.
Any individual or business organization can use a domain registrar to secure their keywords as an internet address with a TLD extension. A registrar must then submit user information to each top-level domain’s registry.
6 Best Domain Name Registrars
- GoDaddy: Nearly 80 million registered domains – almost five times more than anyone else.
- Namecheap: Cheap domain and web hosting with roughly 420 top-level domains.
- Tucows: The parent company of Enom, the most commonly used reseller solution.
- Google Domains: The search traffic and cloud hosting giant is a relative newcomer as a registrar.
- Network Solutions: The internet’s original domain registrar got started in 1979.
- Alibaba Cloud: Serves mostly the Chinese mainland marketplace for registrations.
Domain privacy services allow you to appoint a public agent as your representative to mask personal address, email, and phone numbers from WHOIS records, where they are publicly visible and searchable.
Many registrars offer free domain privacy or charge a few dollars per year for the perk, which protects registrants from spam or malicious contacts.
7. Should I Buy a Domain and Web Hosting Together?
Although a hosting package with a free domain name registration is one of our favorite deals in the industry, purchasing the two from the same company is not always necessary – or even encouraged.
A hosting provider that offers a free custom domain registration is best when you are launching a new website and don’t already have an existing domain. For instance, WordPress hosting with a free domain registration allows you to launch new sites instantly.
But a registrar like Google Domains offers better longevity for domain name management than basic WordPress hosting companies.
Reasons to Keep Domains and Web Hosting Together
- Simplicity. Website owners only have to worry about one account, one set of invoices, one online management portal, and one channel for support.
- Lower costs. A hosting account with a free domain name is a cost-saving resource for publishers seeking the lowest rates on a hosting package.
Reasons to Separate Your Hosting Services
- More freedom. You’ll have an easier time changing web hosts without impacting your domain. Transferring a domain is a delicate process that can take weeks to negotiate.
- Specialized tools. Most web hosting providers are focused on those products and offer domains on the side as an added feature. Expert registrars, however, will provide more advanced domain services and customer support.
- Better security. Keeping domains at a separate registrar adds an extra layer of security. If a web hosting account becomes compromised, your domain name will not be affected.
As you can see, hosting multiple domain names at a registrar separate from your web hosting provider is generally a good practice. You can avoid vendor lock-in and change web hosts as required for development or seek the lowest prices.
Use a domain name registrar and hosting for greater security when protecting brand identity and avoiding being stuck with hosting provider services that can change over time.
A top-level domain should be preserved with domain privacy and security. Protect your premium or existing domain name from attacks like phishing, which can target a custom domain or web hosting service in production.
You can initiate a domain transfer – different from moving a website – to move from one host to another. The assigned names for your domain will change with the DNS server settings.
Domain hosts use DNS record settings to route multiple domain names on a shared or dedicated IP address. Any assigned names will transfer across domain name search records when DNS record changes populate.
Website files use the assigned names of domain hosts to deliver files globally with a DNS server.
A domain extension only requires the DNS record settings to be changed to a new web hosting company to migrate across domain hosts. VPS hosting and dedicated server plans will offer a number of dedicated IP addresses for use with top-level domain settings.
8. Which Hosts Offer a Free Domain Name Registration?
Many well-known hosts give new customers a free domain registration when they sign up for at least a year’s worth of web hosting.
Bluehost, HostGator, and InMotion Hosting are some of the best shared web hosting companies that offer cPanel and a free domain name registration on unlimited website plans.
The best web host for you largely depends on your project’s budget, development requirements, and brand preferences. cPanel is the industry standard for web server administration on shared Linux hosting platforms.
If you need to run Windows servers, look for shared hosting plans with Plesk administration and multi-domain support. You can also get a free domain on Windows plans.
Best Web Hosting Companies with a Free Domain Name
- Bluehost: Unlimited websites with a free domain and cPanel for $2.95/month
- HostGator: Unlimited sites with a free domain, SSL, and cPanel for $2.64/month
- Hostinger: 100 websites with a free domain, SSL, CDN, and hPanel for $1.99/month
- iPage: Unlimited sites, free domain, website builder, and vDeck for $4.99/month
- GoDaddy: 50 websites and free domain, Microsoft 365 email, and SSL for $2.99/month
- InMotion Hosting: Unlimited websites with free domain plus NVMe SSD storage for $2.29/month
These popular platforms deliver fast SSD storage on shared hosting plans at low costs.
Hostinger and iPage offer even cheaper domain hosting by leveraging alternative control panel options like vDeck and DirectAdmin to avoid expensive cPanel licensing costs.
A single license for cPanel on a dedicated server and VPS hosting plans can cost about $16 per month. A shared hosting plan from one of the best web hosting service providers will include free perks such as unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth, live chat customer support, and a free domain name. If all of these perks sound enticing, a shared hosting plan may be a viable hosting option for you.
If you manage your own domain names through a third-party registrar, A2 Hosting and SiteGround are recommended budget hosting solutions.
9. Do I Need Domain Privacy?
When you register the perfect domain name, the registrar is required to document the transaction by submitting your contact information to the domain extension’s registry and WHOIS database.
The service replaces your contact information with a third-party proxy agent’s data, usually for a fee.
Many domain name publishers do not want to be identified as the owner of a website for numerous reasons, chiefly identity theft and spam messages.
Using a domain privacy service is the only alternative to listing your personal information in the WHOIS records for most domains.
Some premium domain name extensions are country codes and require proof of residency in the geographic location referenced.
The last few years have seen more domain name registrar companies offering free domain privacy services on all domain name registrations. Others charge $10 to $15 per year on for the service.
If you wish to remain anonymous and do not want to list your street address, phone number, and email online as the authorized owner of a domain, use a domain privacy masking service with an authorized agent.
10. What is the Domain Name System?
Domain Name System (DNS) settings are used to link the alpha-numeric values of domain name registrations with IP address values assigned for network routing over internet protocols.
DNS servers are part of the HTTP/HTTPS addressing system with URLs that govern the operation of the internet.
DNS settings allow anyone in the world to ping your web server to receive data transfers over internet connections. You need to connect a domain name registrar with your web hosting plan.
Every device connected to the internet has a unique IP address that other devices use to find and connect to the device. DNS servers mean people don’t need to memorize those addresses when browsing the web.
Each web hosting company operates its own name server settings for domain routing. Web hosts purchase IP addresses in bulk from internet service providers and telecom companies.
The IP addresses are then assigned to domain names that are registered on the platform through the name servers to maintain public records of the routing system.
Common Terms in DNS Management
- Name servers: The hardware that manages the routing to domains by IP address.
- WHOIS: A public system of domain name identity registration required by ICANN.
- Dedicated IP address: A numerical value that is used in I/O transfers to servers.
- Shared IP address: Multi-domain hosting with wildcard routing on shared IP addresses.
- SSL/TLS certificate: Used to establish encryption protocols to transfer website files.
Each datacenter or web host will operate proprietary name servers with all of the customer domains linked to a dedicated or shared IP address.
When users query a website through a browser, the information request is routed through the registrar to the name servers at the web host which directs the transfer request to your files on the web server.
Make sure to enable encryption on all sites by using a free SSL certificate.
11. How Should I Get Started With Domain Registration?
Existing domain name owners can start with a cheap shared hosting account and either initiate a domain transfer or change the DNS settings to start publishing. The process usually takes 12 to 24 hours for DNS changes to resolve globally.
Some registrars may offer quicker change resolution, but website owners should plan for at least some scheduled downtime for transferring a live website between hosts. Otherwise, use a free domain name offer to launch a new site.
The days of high-flying domain speculation and auctions for premium keywords have cooled after the introduction of hundreds of new extensions that compete with the .COM dominance. We still recommend using a .COM domain if available, but other options are equivalent.
5 Steps to Registering a New Domain Name
- Choose a registrar: Most web hosts are bulk resellers of domain name registrations.
- Search TLD extensions: There are hundreds of new extensions available for sites.
- Prioritize keywords: Keyword terms in the URL will help users find your website.
- Protect your brand: Make sure your products and services are linked to the brand.
- Manage DNS settings: Host on any platform by changing the name server settings.
Using relevant keywords in domains is the most important aspect of building an SEO campaign. For businesses with a brand identity, this involves protecting your intellectual property with domain name registration across several TLD extensions.
Avoid vendor lock-in to make sure you can move your scripts, databases, and files across service providers for the lowest costs. A free domain offer is a great deal when you need to launch a new website.
A free domain name offer allows you to register a new site and get started publishing with a website builder or other open-source design tools.
Shared cPanel plans make WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, and Magento development accessible to small businesses and independent web publishers.
Using a keyword domain is a critical aspect of SEO marketing with WordPress blogs, advertising campaigns, and online promotions. cPanel hosting with support for unlimited domains allows publishers to build and host dynamic websites at the lowest costs on shared Linux servers.
As you mull over your newly acquired knowledge of domain name hosting, consider what’s important for your website’s goals, and you’re sure to pick the best web hosting company for you. Now go forth and put your brand’s domain name on the world wide web!