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Top 10 Best Domain and Hosting Services (2020)
And as always, for any one-on-one consulting and assistance, you may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you really need a website? Should you invest in a domain and hosting early on? Can you do away with the expenses related to having a website?
If you are starting out on building an online business or a venture, the first thing you would require is a website. Yes, you could think of only having your social media channels to begin with. But hey, if you are looking at building a serious brand, then you must consider having a website.
And when it comes to building a website, needless to mention, you have to invest in a domain and hosting service provider.
If you have been following my articles, you would know by now, that I like to start off by addressing the absolute basics, popular queries & clarifications that are out there.
Mentioned below is a list of top 11 frequently asked questions related to domain and hosting.
Domain and Hosting: Top 11 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is a domain name?
A domain name is your unique address in the online world. It’s what people type out in the browser.
To help you understand this a little better, consider your house address. Don’t you have a unique mailing house address? Which probably has a door number, crossroads, main roads, etc?
Well, the domain name is to the online world, what the address is to the offline world. Now that this is clear, let’s move on to the next bit.
Your domain name may start with a ‘www’, ‘http://’ or ‘https://’. E.g., google.com, microsoft.com, bloggersbloom.com. Don’t I just love blowing my own trumpet and listing myself against the big guys! 😉
What is web hosting?
A web hosting or website hosting is a service that ensures your website is accessible across the Internet or across the World Wide Web (WWW). Web hosting service providers are companies that provide space on a server. These servers are owned or leased for use by the clients. Too technical?
Ok, let’s go back to our house address example in the previous faq on ‘What is a domain name?’.
So you have a house address. But is there a house in it? And if so, what is the house build on? A piece of land, right? And in this piece of land, you go ahead and build your house, have windows & doors, etc.
Now, hosting space is similar to your piece of land. It is in this hosting space, that you purchase, you go ahead and place (or rather upload) your website files, images, videos, etc. Cool?!
Now, while we needn’t dwell on the different types of web hosting available, it’s always nice to be informed. I will have a separate article written on the different types of hostings available. Nevertheless, the different types of hosting are shared web hosting, reseller web hosting, virtual dedicated server, dedicated hosting, managed hosting, cloud hosting, colocation web hosting, clustered hosting, and grid hosting.
I guess the above two clearly explains the difference between a domain and hosting.
It’s not funny, but I’ve had a number of clients confused about the two and even asking me, “If we purchase a domain, why do we have to invest in hosting again. Can’t we just launch the website using the domain name?”. Many a time, we speak only about the domain, and hosting is not spoken about at all. And at times, we even club the two. Hence, clients do need education from their consultants.
What are the different domain name extensions available?
Did you know there are close to 1300 domain name extensions? (Check this link on the the various domain name extensions) Psst… I didn’t know myself until I researched for this article. 😉
To begin with, domain names are managed by an organization called ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers).
“ICANN is a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation with participants from all over the world dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable, and interoperable.” This organization specifies what domain names and domain extensions are available. They also maintain a massive database of every location that domain names point to. WOW!
Primarily, there are 5 different types of domains. The Top Level Domains (TLDs), Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLD), Generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs), Second Level Domains, Third Level Domains.
As mentioned, there are close to 1300 Top Level Domains (TLDs) available. Some of the common ones are .com, .net, ,org, .website, .co, etc.
Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLD), as the name suggests are established for geographical locations. For example; .us signifies the United States, .in signifies India, .au signifies Australia, .jp signifies Japan, etc. When initially formulated, only residents of a country could register their corresponding ccTLD.
But that has changed now and quite a few countries allow outsiders to register website names. However, .au (Australia) is one such exception even today. Here’s a list of ccTLDs.
Generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) is more of a definition than an actual type of domain. You could technically classify this type of domain as a TLD as well. The popular gTLDs are ‘.com’, ‘.net’, ‘.edu’, ‘.mil’, ‘.org’, etc.
Here’s a list of gTLDs.
Next in the list is Second Level Domains, which may look like ‘.co.in’ (companies in India), ‘.gov.us’ (government agencies in the United States), ‘.gov.in’ (government agencies in India)
The difference between the Second and Third Level Domains can be a little confusing. For example, ‘bloggersbloom.com’ is considered a Second Level Domain, but ‘bloggersbloom.com.in’ would be classed as a Third Level Domain. Also, in the domain name ‘www.bloggersbloom.com’, ‘www’ would be the Third Level Domain. Or, if you’re using a subdomain, e.g., seo.bloggersbloom.com, this would be considered a Third Level Domain as well.
When does the domain name expire?
It depends on the time frame you have selected while registering your domain. You can register your domain for 1 year up to 10 years. Once the domain is due for renewal, you would be intimated. Once the domain expires, there is a 30 days grace period for you to renew the domain, before it is open for anyone to go ahead and purchase.
How to check if a domain name is available?
You have a number of tools to check this out. You could also directly go into a domain registrar such as Namecheap, or Godaddy. Type in the domain name you would like to check or register in the ‘Search Domain’ area.
A tool that I use pretty often is Namecheckr. The reason being, it is a platform wherein, I can not only check if the domain name is available but also gives me a good understanding of the name availability in the other platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Go on to Namecheckr, type out the domain name you are looking out for and click search. You will notice all the platforms that are available or not below the search bar.
Once the domain is available, you can go to one of your domain registrars, such as Namecheap and register your domain name.
What is the WHOIS domain lookup?
How would you check out the contact details of a particular website? Simple right. Go to the ‘contact us’ page of the website and voila, the details are all mentioned there. Great! Now, what if the website is under construction or the website is not even up. Then what? Well, you can then check out the WHOIS record for the domain.
A WHOIS record or a lookup is one such way how you can search the database for information pertaining to a specific domain. You can access information such as the expiration & last renewal date, current registrar, registrant information, address, telephone numbers, etc. And yes, this information will be available for the public to access.
Can you hide this information? Most definitely you can. When you do purchase a new domain, there is an option, during registration, to hide the WHOIS records or to be precise, select the ‘Domain Privacy’ option while registering a new domain. This will ensure that your personal information is not out there for the world to see. The WHOIS record would now show your domain registrar’s information.
Are domain names case sensitive?
Domain names are supposed to be case insensitive. However, my simple answer to this question is a Yes & a No. The exact reply to this question will have to be a wee bit technical. And I will try to explain this in as simple a language as possible. For which, I will have to dwell upon two new terminologies – the ASCII based domain names and the Internationalized Domain Names (IDN).
From the beginning, Domain Name Systems, i.e, DNS (oops… one more new terminology) has had ASCII based domain names. And this has and continues to be case insensitive.
However, IDN contains language-specific characters. And that can create a problem. For the simple reason, it can be tricky to define uppercase and lowercase characters in some languages. Hence, some of the Internationalized Domain Names (IDN) may end up being case sensitive.
Phew, that wasn’t bad! 😉
Is a domain name and URL the same thing?
Nope, it is not.
Domain name is just the website name. Remember, when you wanted to book your domain name, what did you search for in Namecheckr. You typed out just the domain name. For e.g., bloggersbloom.com. That is my domain name. Another example would be google.com, or microsoft.com, facebook.com, etc. These are the respective website names, hence these are your domain names.
URL is an acronym for Universal Resource Locator. It is the complete website address. And it may also include your exact page name as well. For e.g., https://www.bloggersbloom.com is an example of a URL. Another example of a URL is https://www.bloggersbloom.com/about. Also, http://www.google.com.
Are domain names free of cost? Are domain names expensive?
Free domains? No.
But, yes a lot of hosting service providers offer free domains if you go ahead and purchase the hosting service from them. And but obvious, they recover the cost from the hosting service. So, in reality, there are no free domains. You may however get a free subdomain, wherein you get a free website hosting too. These would be in shared hosting providers, which I do not recommend at all.
A number of website features are not available in such free hosting service providers.
Are domain names expensive?
Well, that depends on the domain registrar you end up going with. Typically domain names cost anywhere from $10 to $20 a year. And this may vary again depending on the type of domain. A premium domain will demand much more. For e.g., the domain name websitedev.com is available (at the time of writing this article) at $250. This falls under the premium domain category. And hence, the price.
A more in-depth review of this will be discussed below in this article.
Where to buy a domain name and web hosting?
There are a number of domain registrars and hosting service providers available. I will be mentioning the top few providers below. End of the day, while selecting a domain registrar and hosting service providers, most users look at the price and the company’s reputation.
While yes, the price is a major factor, I suggest looking beyond the price as well. You wouldn’t want to end up hosting your website with a service provider where your website uptime is poor, customer service is bad, bandwidth is less, etc.
This also leads me to the next frequently asked question.
Should the domain and hosting be bought from the same service provider?
Yes & no. Buying your domain and hosting from the same service provider has its own pros and cons. To begin with, buying a domain and hosting from the same service provider reduces your overall cost, as compared to buying your domain and hosting separately. In some cases, the hosting service providers offer you a free domain for the first year, or in some cases, completely eliminates the cost of the domain.
For instance, the cost of a ‘.com’ domain on Namecheap is $10.69 per year. And the entry-level hosting is about $9.88 per year. But, if you were to purchase the domain along with the hosting from Namecheap, the cost of the domain starts from $0.88, depending on the TLD (Top Level Domains).
Hence, price is definitely a big advantage when you purchase both your domain and hosting from the same service provider.
Another advantage is the convenience of having both your domain and hosting in one place. While it is not too difficult, some find it a little technical to go ahead and change the Name Server settings in your domain registrar to point the domain to your hosting service provider. These settings do not come into picture if you have your domain and hosting with the same service provider. In addition to this, the setup process is very simple. All you have to do is click & agree to a few steps, and before you know it, your website structure will be up and running in a few minutes.
The only disadvantage, if you really want to call it so, of having both your domain and hosting with the same provider, is if you are unhappy with the hosting service.
You would agree that, once you do decide on your domain name, you needn’t change that. Hence fewer chances of you changing the domain registrar. However, if you are unhappy with the hosting service, you can always change to another hosting service provider. Thus, a lot of times, you see people having registered their domain names with a particular registrar and have the hosting with another service provider. All you have to do is change the Name Servers to the new hosting provider.
Now that a lot of queries about domain and hosting has been answered, I would like to mention three tips that may help you choose a domain name. After all, your domain name is going to be your brand going forward.
So it helps to consider these points before purchasing one.
3 Tips to help you choose a domain name
Tip #1: Get a ‘.com’
While the domain extension really doesn’t matter and it is more what is in the website and what you build around the brand name which is more important, you would agree with me that having a ‘.com’ the extension does add value. And more so, ‘.com’ is the most common extension and has a higher recall value for everyone.
I suppose the moment you hear of a brand name and want to check it out on the web, it’s a common practice to type out a ‘.com’ extension by default. Hence, always do look out for the possibility of buying a ‘.com’ extension. Unless of course, you are an organization and it makes perfect sense to buy a ‘.org’ extension.
Tip #2: KISS
Yo! Before you get me wrong, my version of KISS is “keep it simple and straightforward” or even “keep it small and simple”. 😉
Ideally within 15 characters. That would be a good thumb rule to follow. Try to use popular keywords related to your business or niche, if you would like to build a domain name out of your keywords. For e.g., I just did a random search for a domain name ‘isellonline.com’. Yes, this is available and it is a premium domain. Why? To begin with, it is less than 15 characters. Second, it uses popular words such as ‘sell’ and ‘online’.
Also, it is a good practice to indicate your business in the domain name. For e.g., diginews.com, would be a clear indication that the domain relates to digital news. By the way, diginews.com is up for sale at a price of 36,960 USD. Consider domain flipping. It’s another great money-making opportunity you could consider.
Else, come up with a random out of the usual brand name. For e.g., google.com, apple.com, etc. They are random names which have now, over the course of time, become huge brand names.
Tip #3: No Special Characters
Hyphens, underscores, dots, etc., and special characters, in general, are a complete no-no. What is easier to type out, bloggers-bloom.com, bloggers_bloom.com, bloggers.bloom.com, or bloggersbloom.com? Well, it’s pretty obvious, bloggersbloom.com is any day easier.
It is also much easier to recall a domain name without any special characters.
You can use numbers in the domain. For e.g., 699store.com, https://www.news18.com, etc. If your choice of the domain name is not available, consider including a number. However, try not to use any random number. Let the number be related to the niche, product, service, that you are offering. For e.g., 699store.com indicates it is a store where the products are priced at 699.
So now that all the domain and hosting basics, queries, tips have been covered, let’s get into the Top 10 Best Domain and Hosting Services currently available.
And before I get into it, a small little disclaimer. I recommend domain and hosting services that I have personally used. Either directly for my own websites or working on them for my consulting clients. So, that having being said, let’s jump into the top 10 best domain and hosting services.
Top 10 Best Domain and Hosting Services
1. Bluehost – Best overall web hosting service provider
Bluehost has been in operations since 2003. It is probably the premier hosting service provider around. Bluehost powers more than 2 Million websites all over the world and supports thousands more every day.
If you would like to either start off or scale-up, Bluehost is without a doubt a great option.
2. SiteGround – The Best Customer Service
SiteGround is where I host 90% of my websites. I’ve personally been using SiteGround since 2014. And while I really do not have any issues with any of their services to date, I must emphasize on their customer service, which is truly out of the world. I’ve bugged them at different parts of the day and night with the silliest to complex technical issues. And they’ve solved my issues every single time. And this is one single reason why I will not consider any other hosting service provider apart from SiteGround.
5. Hostinger – Best Affordable Solution for Beginners
Hostinger was bootstrapped in 2004. They provide a world-class website hosting platform to over 29 million users in 178 countries. 15K new sign-ups on average every day – that’s 1 new client every 5 seconds!
6. Namecheap – Affordable Domain Names
Namecheap is an ICANN-accredited domain registrar and technology company founded in 2000. It is one of the fastest-growing American companies according to the 2018 Inc. 5000. Namecheap has been steadfast in customer satisfaction. With over 10 million domains under management, Namecheap is among the top domain registrars and web hosting providers in the world.
9. CloudWays – Get Started Absolutely Free
A Managed Cloud Hosting Platform Where Teams Can Build, Deploy, Scale & Manage Phenomenal Web Applications
CloudWays simplifies hosting experiences because they believe in empowering individuals, teams and businesses.
10. GoDaddy – World’s largest and trusted domain registrar
Started in 1997 as Jomax Technologies and later in 1999 changed name to GoDaddy. And has more than 8 Million International customers.
I hope you found value in this article.
Please do share your views and feedback in the comments section below. It will only help me improve and in turn, help me in bringing out quality content for you.