Linking the Domain Name and Hosting Plan with DNS
Does publishing a website really take magic?
To publish a website you need to register a domain name from a domain name registrar, and you need to purchase a website hosting plan. Once you have the domain name and hosting connected with the DNS, then you are ready to publish your website with File Transfer Protocol (FTP).
Sound complicated? What you need to know to get started publishing is something that you can do. I’ll explain how do in this article.
This article assumes that you already have a website to publish. If you are interested in learning how to make websites, I have a training program on this website that will teach you the basics.
Here are the steps we are going to cover:
- Purchasing a domain name from a domain registrar (10 minutes)
- Purchasing or obtaining a hosting plan (10 minutes)
- Connecting the domain to the hosting with the domain nameservers (DNS)(5 minutes)
- Publishing your website files to the website hosting via File Transfer Protocol (FTP) (5 minutes)
While it may see like a lot to do, each of these steps is easy. As a side benefit, publishing a website will give you a much greater understanding of how the Internet works.
Your domain is your address on the World Wide Web. The cost is low at around $12 – $16 per year. You may want to purchase and hold your name (eg. susanmetoxen.com), so no one else can purchase it.
- Hover.com: Most TLD Choices and great reputation. Free privacy services. If you need help, you can chat with Hover.
- Domains.google.com: Cheaper than Hover but still has free privacy. They attempt to sell additional services, so be wary and ONLY purchase the domain. No service is available.
If you purchase a domain name from another registrar, make sure the registrar has free privacy services and the annual renewal cost is less than $18 per year.
How to purchase a domain name
Go to Hover.com or one of the other options and enter your first choice. If it isn’t available, consider the alternatives.
- Include a middle name or initial
- Look for an appropriate TLD, like .ninja or .io
Purchasing a domain name is optional. If you purchase a domain name, send me an email at email@example.com so I can set up your hosting.
Optional: Read my blog post about choosing a domain: Purchasing a domain name
Two Ongoing Costs of Websites
1. Domain Name: $12 – $16 per year.
2. Website Hosting: $100 – $150 for shared hosting a year.
Of course, if you don’t know how to develop a website, you will also have web development costs. Assuming you are a student of web development, you don’t need to worry about this cost.
Domain + Hosting
To publish a website you need a domain name (like “webdevstudents.com”) and website hosting. Purchasing the domain name is separate from purchasing the hosting.
Some hosting companies sell both domains and hosting, and some of those companies attempt to link the two together. It is better to keep the hosting and domain purchases separate. Even if purchased together initially, they can always be separated.
Some of my clients purchase both the hosting and the domains from the same place for the convenience of having invoices from one place. They overpay for both the hosting and the domains.
What is Website Hosting?
In order for the world to see your website, you must move your files from your computer to a website server. Hosting is purchased from website hosting companies. Here is a link to where you can see a list of hosting companies: https://www.codeinwp.com/blog/largest-web-hosting-companies/
You send your website files to the hosting server via FTP (File Transfer Protocol). When your website visitor puts in the domain name for a website, they are sent to the hosting server.
Domain Nameservers (DNS)
How is a domain name linked to the website hosting? For example, if I type SaintPaul.edu in the browser, how does the browser know where the website files are hosted?
Domain Nameservers aka DNS! The DNS links the domain to the website hosting server. There is a separate set of servers that connect the domains to the hosting. These servers are different than the servers that host the websites. The photo below may help to explain it:
When your website visitor types in your domain name, the inquiry goes first to the DNS servers, represented by the light pink boxes. These servers then direct your website visitor to the right website hosting server.
If you purchased a domain, sign in to your domain registrar and navigate to where you change the nameservers.
Note: The DNS must propagate through the DNS servers. It can take up to 48 hours, but usually happens in a few minutes.
If you purchased a domain from Hover.com, it is very easy to set up the nameservers. If you purchased a domain from domains.google.com, it is a bit more complicated. Here is an article with instructions: How to Purchase a Domain from domains.google.com and Set the Nameservers.
File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
Before we talk about FTP, we need to learn a couple new terms:
Local Files: these are files on your computer.
Remote Files: these are files on the hosting server.
The process of moving the files from your computer to the hosting server is called File Transfer Protocol, or FTP. For FTP, commonly used software is Dreamweaver, Cyberduck, or Filezilla.
For class we will use Filezilla. If you are publishing to a website domain, download Filezilla on to your own computer.
If you purchased a domain name, I will send you the credentials you need to FTP.
Add your IP (or FTP address) to the host, your username and password. The port is 21, which is the default. The screen in Filezilla looks like this:
If you do it correctly, you will see the Directory listing of “/” successful. You are now connected to your server!
Now that you are connected, you can FTP your local files to the hosting server. In the screenshot below, you can see the local files on the left side and the hosting server files on the right side.
Your computer files are on the left. Navigate to the website you want to publish.
Your server files are on the right. Upload your website to the public_html folder. Make sure your index.html file is at the root of public_html and the rest of the files are in the same place relative to where they are on your computer. You can either drag the files from left to right or right click your website files and upload them.