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Domains and Hosting: The Basic Upkeeps of a Website

by Scott Prindle

I get questions from clients from time to time asking about various costs for keeping their website up and functional, so I thought I’d put together a small blog article to explain what the specific components are that require upkeep.

There are three major components to a website that have a recurring cost, two of which we’ll be discussing thoroughly: domains and hosting. The third, secure hosting, is more relevant for e-commerce solutions to establish a secure connection with your clients to protect their data when using your server. It’s a rather complicated topic, so a detailed explanation of that will be relegated to a later article.

Domains

Domains are fairly simple to understand and I’ll use an analogy I’ve started using more and more the past few months. Admittedly, this is simplifying the concept, but a domain is sort of like your public listing of your address in the phone book. Normally, a phone book consists of your name, and your address. The purpose of this listing is that if someone is trying to find you, they look your name up and find out your address and/or phone number.

When you purchase a domain online, you’re basically accomplishing the same thing as that listing. Typing in your websites domain in a browser causes your computer to ask the almighty internet to look up your address in the internet phone book and send you to the right place.

What you’re paying for when you purchase a domain is the ownership of that name in the phone book (www.yourdomain.com for example) and the ability to change what the address is for that listing. No one else can change that address unless your registration expires, which you can renew to prevent that from occurring.

Hosting

Continuing this analogy, hosting is the address listed in the phone book. When people look up your domain, they find the address to the computers running your website, and when they go to the address, the hosting computers will serve the website to your visitors. It is where the files for your website are physically located (most likely on a hard drive in a large batch of server towers).

What you are paying for with hosting is the upkeep cost of keeping the computers running and serving your website up when people visit from your phone book listing (domain). The hosting company will make sure the computers don’t break or that anyone loses access to your website (most tout a 99.99% uptime rate, whether that’s wholly true or not).

What makes this separation great?

One of the great benefits of this separation is that it allows you to keep control over your website and how it is served to your visitors. If you’re not happy with a website host, you can always move to a new one and change the address in your domain’s listing to the new host’s address. It should also be mentioned that you can also transfer a domain to a different registrar, though the service quality is generally less important than the hosting.

Our Practices

At Print & Copy Factory, we tend to handle domains for our clients, and run all of our websites through our particular host of choice. This allows us for easier maintenance, managing the listing’s settings, as well as helping you maintain control over your domains for the long term, by notifying you of when the domain is near expiration.

If you’ve ever owned a domain, you’ve probably received a large number of emails about your domain expiring trying to get you to renew your registration. A number of these emails turn out to be different registrars trying to mislead you toward registering with your registrar’s competition. It can often be difficult to spot these, unless you’re used to seeing them or are able to remember the specific company that you are registered with (I can’t fault you for not). This is why we generally try to handle the renewal process for our clients, allowing us to keep a well maintained record and keep track of when a domain needs to be renewed.

Conclusion

That just about covers the various elements of a website’s upkeep and what you’re paying for with each type of service. As always, if you have questions, feel free to email me at scott@printcopyfactory.com

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