I am often asked to explain the difference between website hosting and a domain name. I know from my own experience that these two words can be very confusing for a beginner. 

In this comprehensive guide, I will explain the difference between the two and then discuss the various types of website hosting.

I expect that this guide will help you choose a reliable hosting plan and start making money online with your website/Blog.

Let’s dive in!  

Domain Names

A Domain Name is used to identify one or more Internet resources such as websites and personal computers.
In simpler terms, a domain name is a unique name used to identify a website. For instance, this website’s domain name is catforddigitalmedia.com. Similarly, the domain name of Youtube is Youtube.com. 
Domain names are sold by companies that manage the traffic to your website and reserve your unique identity.
Some of the reputable companies that sell domain names include BlueHost, DreamHost, Namecheap, SiteGround, etc. 
When you buy a domain address, you get exclusive rights to ownership, meaning that no one else can register a website using the same name.
As a business having a domain name builds your credibility and generally gives you a professional look.
Having your own domain name also helps you to protect your identity against imposters who may want to tarnish your reputation. 
The other reason for registering a domain name is to build brand awareness through Search engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media Marketing. 

Domain names and URLs.
Uniform Resource Locator (URL) corresponds to a website’s unique address which is available on the internet.

List of Things to Do After Buying a Domain name:  

  • Create social media profiles with matching names  
  • Get a trademark or register your business name.  
  • Buy a web hosting plan and set up your blog/website on it.  
  • Create matching email IDs on your Cpanel.  
  • Design Your WordPress Website.  
  • Create Content for your Website/Blog. 

Web-Hosting

Websites are stored or hosted on sophisticated computers referred to as servers. 
The Server is comparable to your business premise or the space you host your business. 
In other words, a web hosting service provider provides the resources and technologies needed for your website to be viewed online. However, it is up to you to furnish the space by installing themes, plugins, etc. 
Choosing the ideal WordPress hosting solution is one of the most important decisions as a website owner.
In fact, the right hosting solution can improve your rankings on Google and help you increase sales. 
There are many affordable hosting solutions to choose from, and it is up to you decide the appropriate solution depending on your needs.
Note that some web hosting companies offer a wide range of site-friendly features such as automatic updates, page caching, and data backups. 

Types of Website Hosting Services

There are many affordable web hosting solutions on the internet. Here is a list of the standard packages:  
  • Shared Hosting
  • Managed WordPress Hosting 
  • Dedicated Server Website Hosting
  •  Cloud hosting 
  • VPS Web Hosting
  • Colocation Hosting  

Shared Hosting

As the name suggests, this plan is based on a Shared Hosting environment. 
Hosting prices usually, start from $3/month up to $10/ month (Usually billed annually)
Shared hosting is cost-effective because you share one server with other website owners.
Along with cost-effectiveness, there are other benefits of using shared hosting:  
  • The hosting company takes care of all technical issues.
  • The general website management is also rather straightforward as you are provided with easy to understand cPanel application.
  • Most hosting companies give you at least three custom email accounts with your domain extension.
Shared WordPress hosting is an ideal solution for beginners and starting bloggers who do not receive a lot of traffic.
It is also the best option if you are on a tight budget because it allows you to create secure and reliable sites at an affordable cost.
Note that as your site grows and starts to take substantial bandwidth and storage, you might need to upgrade your hosting plan to avoid negatively affecting other sites on the server.

Managed WordPress Hosting  

WordPress is popular because it offers the easiest and quickest ways to create your website/blog.

Due to this popularity, several hosting companies offer managed to hosting that is explicitly meant for WordPress sites.

The main advantage of managed WordPress hosting is that the hosting provider maintains your site by keeping regular updates and optimizing security features. 

This can be extremely convenient if you do not have the time to manage your WordPress site. 

However, the best plans are quite costly.  For instance, the standard package in Bluehost will cost you at least $ 71 annually. This is on top of the annual cost ($ 10- $ 15) to renew your domain name.    

Website Hosting in Kenya

I consider the Plus plan as the standard package because the basic plan is limited to one website. 

Managed WordPress hosting might prove unsustainable in terms of cost; therefore, it is not a good choice if you are just starting.

It is an ideal choice if you are an established blogger or you don’t have the time and skills to manage your WordPress site. 

It is worth noting that the best WordPress hosting deals are the ones that include extra services to enrich customers’ experience. Things like automatic updates, backups, parked domains, and customer support are all crucial to your online success.

Remember you want to choose a deal that gives you the freedom to focus on the true essence of your online work – teaching others, promoting your business, selling products, etc. 

I recommend Bluehost based on their excellent customer support.

Who needs managed WordPress hosting

  • Business looking to expand or anyone who wants a versatile website hosting platform to cater for current and future needs.
  • Blogs that experience regular spikes in traffic.
  • Blogs that are growing rapidly.
  • Website owners or bloggers who do not want to get their hands dirty with the technical skills required to manage a WordPress site.

Shared Hosting Vs. Managed WordPress Hosting 

Shared Website Hosting Managed WordPress Hosting   
 Manual updates through third-party plugins. Some plugins allow you to set-up automatic backup schedules. Automatic updates (Weekly or daily)
 Manual speed optimization through third-party plugins  Automatic data and speed optimization 
 Added security only available through third-party pluginsBuilt-in general and third party security procedures
 Bandwidth limitations meaning that your website can go offline if you exceed a   traffic  limit(This is easily solvable by upgrading to a higher plan)   Optimized server specifically designed for WordPress. 

WordPress Dedicated Server Web Hosting

Dedicated hosting plans provide entire web server resources to a single website. In other words, the hosting company gives you complete control of the server’s hardware and operating system.
There are many advantages to this plan, such as faster performance and excellent support. You also have the liberty of installing any applications or custom scripts according to your site’s needs.
You should only consider a dedicated web server if your website is receiving millions of visitors or if you need extra security assurance to secure sensitive data.
Companies such as Bluehost, HostGator, Namecheap, and Dreamhost provide reliable and affordable dedicated hosting for all types of websites.
 
Hosting prices range from $150 to $250/ month. But you can opt for three months payment and get a discount.

Virtual private server (VPS) Web Hosting

With VPS web hosting, every website runs on its own server that is a virtual compartment of a more robust physical server. 
Basically, the website hosting company partitions a physical server into multiple virtual operating systems and assigns each partition to a single website.  VPS is comparable to shared hosting, only that the individual virtual servers are capable of performing independently of all other compartments.

VPS hosting gives you a certain level of control, although not as much as with a dedicated server.

The main benefits include increased security and the ability to configure the server to work with certain software.

VPS hosting is ideal for medium-sized businesses, software developers, and for hosting blogs with millions of visitors.

If you are a blogger or a business owner and you do not have the technical know-how, then it is advisable to choose managed VPS.

Choosing the managed option means that the hosting company is responsible for managing technical issues such as data backups and software updates. 

Cloud Website  Hosting

This plan means that your site is hosted on a cluster of servers in the cloud.

Cloud servers are based on innovative Cloud computing technologies that allow an unlimited number of servers to serve as one system.

This is obviously different from all the other three hosting solutions that are based on a single machine.
The main benefit is that you get access to unlimited resources making it impossible to overload the system. 
But while this technology promises to revolutionize the local and global hosting environment, it is yet to be fully adopted due to various inherent setbacks.

Colocation Web Hosting

Colocation means that rent space from a data center to host your server hardware.

The data center usually provides internet uplink, security, cooling, and provide power. When you collocate, it means that you are responsible for any hardware fails, backup procedures, and data storage.

Colocation is not recommended for small businesses unless you are technically knowledgeable. 

Summary

I’m a strong advocate of Shared hosting, and I would recommend this option for word press blogs including; personal websites/blogs, portfolio websites, and institutional websites. As I said before, shared hosting provides all the resources needed to run a successful online business.

Of course, shared hosting presents some inherent challenges. But so do all other web hosting solutions, so chill and Get Online.

Glossary of terms  

Web hosting:  A collection of technologies and services that are necessary for a website to be viewed online. 

Shared hosting: the most popular and cheapest hosting solution. In Shared hosting, several websites are hosted one server. Shared hosting is the best option for start-ups. 

VPS hosting: This stands for Virtual Private Server. With VPS hosting, the host gives you a part of the server.

vServer: This is the name used to identify virtual servers. A vServer a term mostly used by cloud hosts for identifying a virtual server. A vServer is usually part of a dedicated server that split into multiple virtual systems. 

Dedicated Server web hosting: This is the most advanced hosting solution. With dedicated hosting, the host provides an entire server or more than one depending on your needs. 

Server: A collection of hardware and software that is used to keep a website online. Servers are classified according to specific features including RAM, operating system, and bandwidth and hardware capacity. 

Datacentre: a physical room where web hosting companies keep their servers.

Site Engine Optimization (SEO): a combination of activities used to improve a website’s position on Google and other major search engines.

Bandwidth: Defines a server’s traffic capacity, i.e., the amount of incoming and outgoing traffic can be processed with your hosting plan. 

Control panel (c-Panel): Software interface used to manage your hosting plan. The control panel lets you launch your site, create custom emails, and store website files.

Operating System: This refers to the environment used to administer hosting features and installing developer tools. 

Server uptime: Defines the amount of time during which your server runs smoothly without failures. A reasonable uptime rate ensures that users can browse your site without any load time delays. 

Ecommerce:  A section of the web that focuses on online trade.  Many web-hosting companies offer features to create E-commerce stores with relative ease. 

Eliud is a WordPress Website Designer, Content Creator (copywriter) and SEO-Expert living in Nairobi, Kenya. He is a fan of technology, design, and entrepreneurship. Eliud’s other interests include writing, reading and innovation.

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