Maybe you’ve had it so long that you forgot who is hosting it. Maybe you’ve signed up with a company and while you’re website is live, you aren’t sure if they are hosting it or passing it on to someone else. Or maybe you aren’t sure if your domain name was purchased through someone else and is being sold to you through a different hosting service.
For a variety of reasons, you may want to figure out who is currently hosting your website. In this post, we’re going to look at the differences between domain hosting and web hosting, and give you some tools to figure them both out. Remember that some companies will outsource their domain registration or hosting, so you may have to read the fine print.
Finding Out Your Website Host
You can use https://www.iplocation.net/who-is-hosting-website to figure out who is hosting a given website. They give you valuable information about the website, including linking you automatically to a WHOIS lookup to see the domain host as well.
For example, if you type in Apple.com, you would return the following information:
- Datacenter: Apple Inc.
- Server IP: 188.8.131.52
- Location: United States of America
- City: Cupertino
- Nameservers: c.ns.apple.com, d.ns.apple.com, a.ns.apple.com, b.ns.apple.com
- Reverse DNS of the IP: carbontest.com
Most of that information is fairly straightforward. Note, however, that the “nameserver” references the kind of network service that will transform the domain name (“Apple”) into the IP address that the server actually reads. The internet identifies websites based on IPs and domain names, and needs to translate back and forth to render them intelligible to humans and machines.
Finding Out the Host of Your Domain
If you don’t remember where you got your domain, you can search your email archives. There will probably be billing or invoice information that may help you track down the website.
There’s also a super helpful free resource, WHOIS lookup, which can tell you about the domain registration of any website that you put in. This can be super helpful for figuring out the domain host and owner of sites that aren’t even yours!
Other times, a domain name is bought and resold. This is sort of like investing in digital real estate, because you may think that the domain name will be worth something to someone eventually. If you think that a domain is bought and resold, WHOIS lookup can still be helpful, but you’ll have to scroll down to the resale section to get more information.
What is a Website Host?
A website host is the server that your website lives on, or more specifically, the company that manages the server that your website lives on. Most websites on the internet are not hosted on dedicated private servers, and therefore are managed by a number of different hosting solutions. There are a lot of companies that manage servers and hosting spaces, using a variety of techniques to split servers for smaller websites.
Cloud hosting uses a number of physical servers to create a unique virtual environment which then runs individual virtual private servers.
Virtual private server hosting uses a single server to split into a number of different virtual machines which all act as their own dedicated virtual private servers.
Shared servers use a single server and split that server into different administrative tasks to run a variety of different websites.
There are a variety of strengths and weaknesses to each model of hosting. The host is the place where all of the different files and HTML coding is stored for your website. But a host is not the same as a domain, which is the IP address and text identifier of your website.
What is the Difference Between a Host and Domain Name?
The website host is the server where your website lives. The server is a computer that is hooked up to the internet and has all of the different files and HTML calls that your website needs to run. When people try to access your website, it sends a command to the server which then retrieves the relevant data that the website needs to run.
A domain name is simply the web address that people use to find and access your website. Domain names that are still available are generally pretty cheap to get and register, but may cost more to maintain over time.
Generally speaking you want to register your domain name with someone other than your host so that you avoid anything happening to your domain in case you want to move your hosting. Some domain name plus hosting sites will offer different services for each, however, so that you retain your domain name even if you shift your hosting.
Conclusions: Where it Gets Tricky
Plenty of companies will tell you that they do domain hosting and then you’ll find out that they outsource it. For example, Squarespace says that they host domains. They do, but they run it through their trusted partner Tucow. Now, that’s not to say that Squarespace isn’t trustworthy or that their domain hosting is second class.
Lots of companies do domain registration and/or web hosting by working with another company that works with that. The B2B sector for web and domain hosting is huge. You can use the tools in this post to try to track down the actual owner of your domain name, the registrar for the domain, and the host of the websit.