Tutorial on Web Hosting and Domain Registration

by Selwyn Bergman of BMSC-Online

Giving your business an online presence can be a bit confusing and overwhelming, even to people who use the internet all the time. After all, eating a slice of cake is very different from trying to bake one - the same applies to your website. This article is all about Website Hosting and Domain Registration: the two basic steps that every website owner needs to take in order to "get themselves onto the internet".

Website Hosting or Domain Hosting

All your individual web pages collectively form what is known as your website. In order to get others to browse through your website, you'll need to put it in a place where everybody can have a look at it, no matter where they are in the world. This is what is meant by "publishing your website", and it merely entails copying your website onto a public web server. Keeping your website on that public server is known as Web Hosting or Domain Hosting. Now, even though its possible to host your own website by using a personal computer, it is far more common to use a Website Hosting company that offers this service for a fee. As almost all webhosting companies offer different packages, it is therefore important to know what kind of website you want in order to make an informed choice about which Website Hosting package to use.

Domain Registration

The registration of a new domain name is actually a very easy, yet a crucially important topic. A domain is everything that appears after the "@" sign in an email address, or after the www in a website address. So if your email address is yourfirstandlastname@bmsc-host.co.za, then your domain would be "bmsc-host.co.za". Likewise, if your website address is "www.bmsc-online.co.za" then your domain would be the "bmsc-online.co.za" part. There are quite a few organisations that offer use of some of their domains to others, such as Telkom, which allows its ISP clients a @telkomsa.net email, or Mweb which does the same. If you're communicating with a client through an email address or a website, it is more professional to have a private domain so that you arent seen to be riding on the back of some other company. So for example, if your SMME company trades under the name 123 Daycare, then you'll be looked at in a more serious light if you had an email address like yourname@123daycare.co.za as opposed to 123daycare@hotmail.com or 123daycare@telkomsa.net . In order to reserve a domain, like 123daycare.co.za for your private use, you need register the domain.

To register a domain you need to firstly check that the domain is available and isnt being used by someone else; then have it hosted somewhere; and lastly notify an accreditted registrar that you'd like to have the domain for your own private use. These steps are usually done by an agent and often form part of a Website Hosting package.

An important note: As all domains are unique, it is important to confirm that you are the "owner" of your domain. Read the article on Domain Theft, and you'll realise that some agents register domains in the own name and simply let their clients use it in much the same way a tenant would rent a room from a landlord. These bottom-feeders do this in order to trap their clients or, even worse, resell the domain to the highest bidder once their client painstakingly builds up a large client-base and website traffic to the domain. BMSC-Online offers a domain ownership report which details the ownership of almost any domain worldwide.

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