domains and hosting

Domain Names and DNS

A domain name is an internet address.  Domain names consist of two parts, the TLD or Top Level Domain and the second-level domain.  The TLD is the last section of the address; .com, .org, .net.  So for, the term Google is the secondary and .com is the top. Before you use a domain name you must point it to the IP address of the computer that is hosting your website.

The system which connects or points the domain name to the IP (Internet Protocol) address of your hosting is called the DNS or Domain Name System.  The DNS is a collection of root (top level) server computers which allow the world to browse the World Wide Web by storing the IP addresses of the name servers that have authority over individual domains of all registered internet domain names.  An IP address, which looks something like is hard for humans to remember so we use the domain name instead. The domain name, using the DNS, points any browser request to the IP address assigned to the domain.  The DNS stores a series of records regarding a domain name to handle not only the IP address (A record) but also email (MX record) and any aliases (CNAME) or subdomains which also point to the host IP.

When you enter a domain name into the address bar of your browser you are (through your ISP  or Internet Service Provider) requesting the IP address of the domain from the DNS server.  Which DNS servers are queried varies and if the DNS queried doesn’t posses the record the request is passed on until the resource is located or returns an error.

Website Hosting

Once the domain has been purchased through a domain name registrar it’s time to decide on a hosting company.  Most domain registration companies also offer hosting packages but the two do not have to be purchased through the same company.  This is most commonly where the DNS comes into play, if a domain is purchased through a company such as Network Solutions it could be hosted through  From your account at NS you would set the DNS records to point to the name servers belonging to  This example simply demonstrates that there are options available.

There are a wide variety of hosting packages available, from basic shared hosting to dedicated hosting with many levels in between.  The hosting package required is largely dictated by the type of website content and anticipated traffic.  A hosting server is similar to a desktop computer in that it has a CPU(s) (processing), RAM (memory), and storage (hard drive space). 

Hosting Packages

The lowest level of hosting offered is often called shared hosting.  This means that any number of websites may be hosted on the same computer and those sites share the resources of that computer.  For most websites, without advanced applications, a basic package is adequate. 

For sites with a higher degree of functionality like shopping carts or event calendars, a higher level of shared hosting may be appropriate.  A business shared plan, for example, would offer higher processing and memory usage even though shared. 

Sites with a high degree of functionality and a large amount of content – an online store with many products for instance – might require higher resource allocation.  Typically these plans are described as enterprise level packages.

Above shared hosting we run into VPS packages, or virtual private server hosting.  This type of hosting package may be appropriate for a large eCommerce or Membership/Subscription site which will contain a large amount of content (products) or user generated content.  This type of hosting is also appropriate for multiple website scenarios.

Pricing for hosting is relatively inexpensive but varies greatly . The type of package required should be examined thoroughly prior to development.  Purchasing a higher level of hosting than is initially required can often be advantageous if anticipating content and user growth.


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