Registrar vs. Hosting

Understand the components of a website

What is a registrar?

You may have heard this word before, and you may already know what it is. In the simplest of terms, a registrar is a company that sells domains and manages its DNS records. DNS stands for Domain Name System, the domain such as our website’s domain, (www.enetwebservices.com), has a bunch of behind the scenes parts to it that when bundled together are called the DNS.

Before I dive into the specifics of the DNS we need to discuss what a website actually is. Many times I hear the word website being used incorrectly or without a strong understanding of what it really is, in reality, your website is just a collection of files written in a language that web browsers can interpret as well as images. These are all organized into folders and stored on a server to be distributed to browsers for interpreting. Each server has an identity which can be recognized as an IP address.

Understanding the DNS (Domain Name System)

The DNS has many different parts and the important parts are called “records”. Of the records, only a few will be mentioned here as they are the most important.

A Record: This may sound ridiculous at first, but this is the one part of a domain that connects your domain to your website. This may come as a shock to you, but your domain is not your website. You will usually see the A Record with a single IP address located in the host part of the records data fields. This IP address connects the domain to the web server where your website is stored allowing web browsers to correctly communicate with the server and display the correct website.

MX Records: MX records are typically only configured if you have an email address linked to your domain. For example, our domain is www.enetwebservices.com and our emails would be email@enetwebservices.com. To get this to work you will need an email provider such as G-Suite. The email provider will provide mx records during setup that you will have to add to your domains DNS.

The reason for having Domain names is so that you can have multiple websites on one server with the same IP, it also makes it easier for users to find your website. When you enter www.enetwebservices.com into your web browser it sends a request to the server IP address and says “hey show me the files associated with enetwebservices.com”, the server responds by sending all of the requested information for the browser to display. When configuring the website on the server it is necessary to enter the domain name in the configuration so that it knows what the associated identity of those files will be.

Understanding Hosting

We covered briefly what a Registrar is, now I will discuss in detail what a Host is. Typically these two are provided by one company like GoDaddy. You can purchase the domain, the hosting service and sometimes email all in one place allowing quick setup and easy maintenance. After reading this page though you may not need to opt for the bundled option since you will have a stronger understanding of how a website works.

The host is nothing more than a web server. A server is just a computer configured in such a way that manages access to resources on a network. In our case, a web server holds the files and images that make up our website and stores them in an organized and safe way so that browsers can access them and display them to our users.

Hosting Fees and Switching Hosts

When setting a website you will find yourself paying for a bunch of different items that may seem strange to you since all you want is a website. Companies such as GoDaddy do there best to keep things simple and bundle everything into one package, however, every part of a website is broken down into a separate fee. The domain is typically an annual fee paid to the registrar and is relatively inexpensive. The hosting fee is typically billed monthly and can vary in price depending on the size of the server and options you chose. Email hosting is also billed monthly and is typically charged per email address.

Switching hosts

Sometimes you may find a host that offers a lower cost or better deal for your website. To move your website to a new host I advise hiring a professional such as eNet Web Services to assist you in the process, if it’s not done correctly you can break your website and could lose important files needed to operate it.

Depending on how the website is configured the process can vary in difficulty. Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress make this process a bit easier with the help of plugins. And most hosts have systems in place that automate the process. In the simplest of terms moving the files from one server to another and then changing the A record of your domain to have the IP address of the new server will do the trick. (I am obviously leaving out some other important details).

This page is not meant to provide instructions on how to transfer hosts, so if you are looking for a better explanation please call us at 610.738.0800. We are not responsible for any damage done to your website by mistakes made during changing records or configuring your server.