In a nutshell, your domain is your URL: for example ours is detype.com.
Essentially it’s what people type into a browser to get to your website, but it covers far more than that – for example how your email works, sub domains, and many other DNS records.
They can also have different TLDs (Top Level Domains) – examples of which are .com, .co.uk, .org and some so-called ‘vanity’ TLDs such as .club or .io. Decide what you want your main domain TLD to be – but we would always recommend aiming for the .com, and if possible purchase the .co.uk too, even if they just forward on to your chosen TLD.
Aren’t domains part of my web hosting?
‘Domain’ and ‘web’ hosting are actually separate things. Many domain registration companies such as 123-reg.co.uk also offer web hosting, likewise a lot of web hosting companies offer domain registration.
So as you can see, they can be hosted in the same location; but we prefer to keep them separate, and preferably in the control of either the owner of the business or their IT company.
As the purchase and renewal of domains is independent of hosting, it’s more stable for the owner of the business to hold the account, or their IT provider to look after them.
Why should they be separate?
Domain hosting allows access to the series of DNS (Domain Name System) records which give commands to web browsers and ISPs on how to handle certain requests.
- A Record – this stands for ‘Address’ and typically tells the browser the IPv4 address of the server that hosts the website – these are the most common for websites
- AAAA Record – used to point to IPv6 addresses
- CNAME – these are ‘alias’ records and can be used for things such as subdomains (e.g. support.detype.com) as well as for verification records from Google or email systems
- MX Record – tells the server how to route emails
- TXT Record – these are used for a variety for purposes but usually for verification, and in the case of email deliverability are vital to add SPF, DMARC and DKIM records
As you can see, there are a whole host of records that are unrelated to your website hosting, and your IT or CRM provider will likely ask you to add records from time to time, so it can be far easier to either look after the domain yourself, or leave it in the capable hands of your IT provider.
So, what should I do?
It’s understandable to leave the ‘techy’ stuff to those of us who dabble with computers, but when it comes to the crunch it’s important to understand and know where they are – and keep an eye out for the renewal notices!
Most domain registrants will send you a reminder near when it is time to renew, so keep an eye out, and make sure you set to auto renew if its your main domain, it can be a nightmare to recover! Thankfully, most good vendors such as 123-Reg will ‘park’ your domain for a while before it gets released for sale agan.