27 Apr Where is my Website Hosted?
In the digital age, having a website for your business is essential. For many companies, it’s your entire storefront. However, all the tech speak can be confusing and leave business owners with little understanding of the key elements and how to access them. In this blog post, we’ll break down the differences between the 3 main services related to your website – domain, hosting & email – and how you can find each one.
A domain name or URL is the address of your website that people type into a browser, like PathandCompass.com! Domain registration is the process of purchasing and registering your unique domain name. This is the address where your website lives. It is completed through a domain registrar, like GoDaddy or Google Domains. Once you have registered a domain, you own the right to use that domain name for a certain period of time. Ownership usually lasts between one to ten years, before it expires and you must renew it. Often users set up auto-renewal to a domain never expires. Here you will see a renewal fee billed for the term of renewal.
The domain registrar also provides you with access to management tools, such as Domain Name System (DNS) records. These records allow you to point website files to your domain as well as create emails that use it. To find where a domain is registered, you can use a lookup tool. Sites like WHOIS make it easy to search for your (or any) domain name and see who the registrar is.
After registering your domain, you can build your digital storefront or office. This is your website and requires hosting to be visible on the web. Web hosting is a service that allows you to rent space on a server, which is responsible for storing a website’s files and making the site accessible through the Internet. There are a variety of web hosting services available — shared hosting, dedicated hosting, and VPS hosting. Shared hosting is the most common option for small businesses, where your website shares server resources with other websites. This also makes it the most affordable choice, which is a huge benefit for small businesses that are just starting out. Meanwhile, dedicated hosting gives you a server dedicated to your website. And VPS hosting is a hybrid of shared and dedicated hosting. Hosting is often billed monthly but can also be purchased for longer terms. Most website hosts will set up auto-renewal so when your hosting term expires, you are automatically billed. It is also common for marketing agencies to host websites. We offer this service for clients’ sites we have built at Path & Compass through a partnership with Siteground.
Once you have set up website hosting, your DNS records will be accessible through your website host. Clients that have hosting through an agency, generally have limited access here. Instead, they have the professional support of their website developer to manage this for them. To find your website host, you can use a tool like WhoIsHostingThis or HostAdvice. Enter the domain name and it will display where a site is hosted, and information about the hosting company.
Email Service Provider
Email is essential for running a company, and an email service provider (ESP) allows you to send and receive emails using your domain name. With an ESP, you can create professional email addresses (firstname.lastname@example.org). And send emails from your website’s domain name, rather than using a free provider like Gmail. ESPs also come with a lot of useful features, like templates, list management tools, and analytics. Perfect for small business that wants to exude professionalism and track growth. Some of the most popular ESPs include Google Workspace and Microsoft 365.
If you need to find out which ESP you’re using, check your email settings. Or contact your website developer or administrator, who should be able to provide you with login details.
A Word of Warning
Some or all of these may be under the agency that built your website. Meaning you may or may not have access to DNS or the back end of your site. While it makes sense to have your website hosted through an agency’s services, you need to ensure that you own and have the ability to access your domain. One of the biggest issues businesses run into is during a fallout with an agency or designer. All of the sudden they go dark, leaving businesses scrambling for access. Without knowing where your site is hosted or how to access it, options are limited. Which will leave you to sit on a very expensive yet non-functional asset.
At Path & Compass, our mission is to help you create a website that aligns with your brand and helps you achieve your business goals. As a team of visionary creatives and professional designers, we’re helping businesses of every kind stand out in overcrowded markets. And we never hide the answer to “Where is my website hosted?”. Take a look at our portfolio today, and contact us to see if a custom website can amplify your business!