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Published: February 12, 2020

Domain name, DNS, Web server and Mail server. What does it mean?

To the world of people who deal with websites every day, the terms domain name, name server, website host/server and email server will be tossed around like general terms. What does it all mean and are they all required when building a website? All these elements are required and it is time to get comfortable with these terms as you start researching on what is need to make a website.

Definition of the terms

  • Domain Name: It is the glue that will tie your brand to your web servers. In majority of cases, one would register their domain name as their existing business and company name if it is available or choose something similar. Like business names, domain names need to be registered and can be registered for a minimum of 1 year. To keep the domain name it needs to be renewed. Domain names can also be transferred to other providers. There are many domain extensions that can be register but the most common is .com.
  • Name server: Name servers are part of the DNS (Domain Name Server) and holds DNS resource records to tie your domain name to servers and services located in world wide web. Most common is pointing your domain name to the right website server and mail servers so data can be retrieved for display. The DNS server will propagate all records to other DNS servers to help speed the lookup of the domain name.
  • Web host/server: The web server is where all of the files for your website and applications recedes. In many cases the web host/server will also provide a email server to setup emails. A web host would usually bundle the name server and web hosting into one package. The name server will point the DNS resource records to this server so it let any requests know to go to the web server for files and data.
  • Email server/exchange (optional): The email server/exchange is what handles receiving and delivering of your emails. It makes sure the right people get the right message using it's protocols. A web hosting usually will provide email hosting on same package of the website hosting.

All these are needed in order to get your website up and running.

In short a Domain name is the human readable name that is linked to your website. The name server is used to propagate the required records to the rest of the world so when someone enters a domain name or clicks a link it knows where to find the website data. The web server is where the website applications and files are located so it able to send it to the browser that request it for display.

All these items can be separated and don't need be provided by the same company. For instance you could register a domain name from company 1, use a name server for company 2, a web server from company 3 and a email server from company 4.

In most instances name server, web server and email server would be bundled with the hosting package while you can register the domain from any provider and add to the name server. This provides flexibility in pricing and for you to shop around.

At GGregistry we provide competitive pricing on domain registration and website hosting. Have a look at our plans today.