Put simply, web hosting is where all the files and databases of your website reside.
For instance, a florist might have a website with text that talks about what they do, photos of their floral arrangements, and a blog where they talk about floristry.
You will note that just like on your computer, this information needs to be stored somewhere. In this case, the florist’s web hosting contains the text and the photos, as well as the database that keeps track of the blog posts.
Unlike a personal computer, where the written content and photos can only be accessed by the person using the computer, the web hosting puts it out on the world wide web, for anyone to access, no matter where they are.
Storage is only part of what web hosting does and how it works, but for the purposes of this explainer, we won’t go any further other than to say it figures out what to do with this information, and it presents it to website visitors.
To explain how web hosting works in relation to domain names, we will turn to a useful, but perhaps cheesy real life analogy.
Let’s say web hosting is like a house. It is where people reside. It is also a place where mail gets delivered and where friends come to visit. On its own, the house is impossible to find without an address. How will the mailman know which house is which?
You can say the same about a website. It needs a web address so that both people and computers know where to find it. It’s all well and good for the florist to have a great looking website, but if that website isn’t accessible from a web address, then nobody is going to be able to find it!
This is where domain names come in. They are a virtual address that tells a web browser where to find a website. For the florist, their domain name might be amazingflorist.com.au.
So that customers can access their website, the florist has registered the domain name and connected it to their web hosting. The domain name is simply the address that points people in the direction of the web hosting, which in turn presents the website.
Web hosting and domain names go hand in hand. They are what turns some writing and photographs into a website that is accessible to the entire world.