Ever wonder what the difference is between file hosting, domain hosting, and email hosting? If so, you’re not alone. Here’s a simple explanation that will help define and differentiate the three:
Put simply, your domain is the address of your website (ours is www.opensail.com). Your domain is hosted by a registrar; they are the company you purchased your domain from. For OpenSail.com, we use Dreamhost — a reputable company we trust to provide reliable service and to help us with technical problems.
A domain without file hosting is just an address with no website, and would show a blank page or an error.
It used to be the case that websites would usually host their files and their domain with the same company, but this is becoming less common.
Your website is made of up a various types of files: images, text, PDFS, HTML, CSS, etc. When someone goes to your domain, they need to be able to access these files in order to see your website. The company that stores and serves these files is hosting your files.
OpenSail.com uses Amazon S3 for it’s file hosting. When you navigate to OpenSail.com, Dreamhost tells your browser that the files for our website will be served by Amazon’s servers. Amazon S3 sends your browser the files for our website, and voila you see this page!
If you only had file hosting and no domain, there would be no way for the public to find or see your website.
In order to have an email address at your domain (for example: firstname.lastname@example.org), you need an email server to receive, store, and transmit emails for you. At OpenSail, we use G Suite by Google (formerly Google Apps for Work) to handle our email. Email hosting isn’t required to have a website, or to have an email address. However, it is required to have an email address at your own domain.
Part of the confusion around domain hosting, file hosting, and email hosting, is that it used to be common practice to host all three with the same company. However, overtime companies have come to specialize in one type of hosting or another. Because of this, it is becoming more common to have each of the three types of hosting with a different company.