Domain and web hosting are two of the fundamental elements of creating and maintaining your law firm website. While domain and web hosting are very closely related, they are different services and it is important to know how these two work together.
This article will go over exactly what the differences are and what you need to do to bring your law firm website online. It is also important to note that many companies provide both domain and law firm web hosting services which more easily allows you to manage everything you need all in one place. There are a few keywords/phrases that we should cover before we go more in-depth on this topic.
- Web host: This is the provider that you make an account with that will store and serve all the files for your website
- IP address: This is a computer-readable numeric address for the location where all your files are being stored by the web host. An example of an IP address is 192.168.1.1
- Domain: A domain is a human-readable word that is inputted into your browser to go to a website
- DNS: Short for Domain Name System, is the system that translates your domain into an IP address that computers use to get the files for your website from the host.
To have a fully working and professional website both domain and hosting services are needed in most cases. Some hosts can provide you with a free subdomain but you would not be able to fully customize your web address.
What is Web Hosting?
When you go to a website, all the information needed is pulled and ready to display all of its content from a server or computer that is storing those files. This is what a web host is, the company that allows you to rent the space on their computer/server to be able to store and have the files accessible to whoever would want to visit your website. The web host providers are usually the ones that provide extra services such as domain name registration and email hosting.
There are several types of web hosting available with the five most common being:
WordPress is the world’s most popular website builder. Its basic form is for a blog but can be used for any type of website you would need. You would use this if you want to work exclusively with WordPress. It is very flexible and capable of very complex yet robust websites. These plans can vary from affordable to premium multisite hosting depending on your needs.
Shared hosting is great for solo practice or small firm websites. Your website will be stored on a computer/server along with many other websites. With this hosting type, you will share the resources with the other websites which makes it a highly affordable option. However, if you plan on having a bigger website or having a lot of traffic, the shared resources may result in a worse user experience especially during high volume times.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting
VPS hosting uses virtualization technology to provide a dedicated server experience while still having multiple websites on the server. This means it is a more secure and stable alternative to shared hosting. These hosting plans are usually cheaper than having your own dedicated server and can handle more traffic than shared hosting plans. It is a great in-between if you don’t feel like you need the full resources of a dedicated server.
Dedicated Server Hosting
Dedicated hosting is exactly that, you solely are renting the server and your website is the only website on it. This hosting gives you the most control over the server with full root and admin access. Dedicated hosting however is a more expensive type of hosting and usually requires a good amount of technical knowledge to start and be able to manage it.
Cloud hosting is a type of hosting that is changing how many larger projects are being managed. Most servers or plans you sign up for have a set amount of resources that you are able to use. If you have a higher than usual traffic volume you might have to upgrade or could even lead to some downtime in the server due to not being able to handle the amount of traffic.
What is Domain Hosting?
A domain host is who you would go to for your domain name, in other words, what you would type into your browser to get to the website. For example, to get to a house you use their address to know where to go. This works the same way with the domain you are using, it is the address anyone would use to find your website on the internet.
In other words, the domain name points to where all your website files are on your server/computer. The server, along with every other computer, has a related IP address which look like a series of numbers such as 192.168.1.1. Domain names are used to related to each IP so rather than type in the series of numbers, you type in the much easier to remember domain name. These names are each registered with the host and are unique so no one else would be able to use that specific domain name.
How much do domain names cost?
When searching for domains the prices can vary greatly depending on whether it is new or not. A new domain can cost anywhere from $5-$20. There are premium domains that can cost hundreds or even thousands because they are domains that have been previously owned and have a value-added to it by either length, keywords, or popularity.
How are Domain and Web Hosting Related?
Since we mostly build in WordPress, many clients come to us with existing sites that are hosted with various other providers and although it is more expensive it is worth it. There have been clients that decide to host elsewhere but end up coming back either because the site ended up slowing down a lot or because of the lack of support provided. We use WPEngine, designed solely for WordPress, and provide us with amazing support and can resolve issues that we ourselves may not be able to.
Once you are set up with both a domain and web host, you have to link them together, this can be done by changing the DNS record for the domain name. Usually, by default, your domain is pointing to a landing page or 404 pages because it does not yet have the IP address associated with your hosting server connected to it, such as the one below. This is what is known as your DNS, your DNS has a series of records that you update in order to achieve what you want.
Choosing a Law Firm Web Hosting Service
Even though these two concepts are completely different, they are both essential parts of putting together a website and both have different purposes. Picking the right web host can make all the difference. Learn more about the difference between 99% and 99.9% reliability when you host with PaperStreet law firm web hosting.