You have a website, but who can you approach to provide web hosting service? And what is a domain name? For anyone starting out, these are questions that need to be answered.
Web hosting is a service offered by a company, which enables companies and individual users to post a website onto the Internet. A website is a group of related web pages found under a single domain name. And what would be a domain name? It is a section of a network address that indicates which domain it belongs to. And domain refers to a specific subset of the Internet, consisting of addresses with a common suffix or falling in the domain of a specific organisation or individual.
On the other hand, the organisation that provides the web hosting service is called a web host or a web hosting company or service provider. It is a host that hosts or stores websites onto a type of computer called a server, and via its own technologies and services, enables a website to be seen on the Internet.
So, what exactly is a domain? The Domain Name System (DNS) is a naming system that provides addresses for web servers and web pages. So, every server has an easy-to-remember domain name. The actual domain name, which is like an international telephone number, represents an IP (Internet protocol) address, which is difficult to remember as it is quite long. An example of an Internet domain name is wikipedia.org. A domain name is a nickname given to a string of numbers and dots that make up an IP address.
Domain names work from the right to the left, with general descriptors to the right, and specific descriptors to the left. All these descriptors together are called domains. The ‘top-level domains” (TLD, or parent domain) refers to the section found on the most right of the domain name. The mid-level domains (like children and grandchildren domain) are found in the middle. To the far left is the machine’s name, which in most cases is “www”. Dots separate the different levels of the domains.
If anyone would like to view a website, the Internet user will type in a website address, or domain into his or her browser. After the computer has contacted the specific server, the server responds by sending back to your browser some webpages. If you want to have your website hosted with a web hosting company, you will have to buy or rent your own domain. The web host company will sell you a domain should you not have one.
So, in the previous example of wikipedia.org, the mid-level domain is “wikipedia” and the top-level domain is “org.” It is interesting to note that US servers use 3 letters for the top-level domain (“org"), whilst the rest of the world use only 2 – e.g. za (South Africa)
We can now have a quick look at the different types of web hosting services that are available.