Domain names, hosting, and email

Domain names, hosting, and email will all be part of your website project. But whether you require all these as new, or you have some or all available already to run with I will advise what is the best option for you. Below is a basic guide to give you an understanding of whats involved:

(Click on the titles to find out more.)

You need a domain name in order to set-up hosting. You may already have one that's registered with an Internet Service Provider (ISP) or you may still need to purchase one. Domain names require renewing every year or so (.com's are commonly renewable every 12 months, .co.uk's every 24 months - some people choose to pay for a domain in much longer time blocks such as five years, or ten years).

If you need to purchase a domain then I can help with this. As a word of advice, always ensure that any domain name purchased for your website is purchased in your name, or your businesses name. If a third party purchases in their name then they have the legal rights to that domain name. Although you can follow a legal route to revoke ownership you can eliminate the need to do that at this domain name purchasing stage.

Rather confusingly the ISP that you purchased your domain name through does not have to be the same company that your hosting is with. Every hosting provider has its own unique set of what are referred to as nameservers, which can set on the domain. The process of setting the nameservers is referred to as 'pointing'. 

So if you have a domain name then it can either be left who it is registered with, and pointed at new hosting. Or you can move the domain name to where the new hosting is. The only benefits of moving the domain name to where the hosting is; would be cost reasons (i.e. if a domain name renewal is not competitively priced with the ISP that it was registered with.)

I provide hosting (if required) to all my clients. If you do just want to move your website hosting as you are unhappy with your existing provider or just want the hosting managed by someone closer to where you are based in the UK.

Rather than just display to you a generic table of different different types of hosting available I will provide custom hosting to suit your needs. This is because hosting can be a confusing muddle, but here's the basics:

  • There's normally a choice of two types of hosting - Windows and Linux - In most cases it's Linux hosting that will be required to run the main popular content management systems
  • The hosting itself (i.e. the bit of space on a server allocated to your website) can be very roughly split into three types:
    1. Shared server hosting - this is where your website sits on a server along with a bunch of other websites - in the majority of cases this is all that you will need. It's only if your website exhibits really high usage of 'shared' resources that a hosting company will make contact with you to say that either you need to cut your website down, to be less intensive on resources, or to upgrade to:
    2. Dedicated server hosting - this is much more expensive, and means that your website has a whole server to itself. You can have multiple websites on dedicated hosting but they will all be yours
    3. Virtual server hosting - this is the new flavour of hosting and is the same as a dedicated server except, rather than physically residing on a server in a building somewhere, it resides in 'the cloud' using web based software - virtual hosting is the newest concept and like dedicated hosting is more expensive than shared hosting

All hosting comes with the ability to send and receive emails. Many businesses choose to not use the email that comes with hosting and opt to use a third-party solution such as Microsoft Exchange which is designed for heavy use, and is managed totally separate from the hosting. The email facility which does come with hosting is normally perfectly adequate for most small to medium sized enterprises (SME's). There are two types available:

  1. POP3 - this is the most common of all. It can be accessed via webmail, or using email client software (such as Outlook). It can be set-up on PC, tablet, or mobile.
  2. IMAP - is the more up to date email solution and is gaining popularity because it synchronizes across all devices that it is set-up on. So for example if you receive an email on your mobile device, read the email and choose to delete it. Then that email will show up as deleted (i.e. with a line through it) across all devices that email address is set-up on.