The basics of web and email hosting and domains

Posted December 16, 2013

Owning a website usually means you need 3 services. These are website host, domain registrar and an email host. Most major web hosting companies provide all 3 services. However, you don’t have to rely on one company to provide each of these services. For example, at Philsquare, we prefer Google for handling our email services so we use them instead of our hosting company, Media Temple. However, this requires another set of credentials (login information) to track and we pay additional costs. To get a better understanding of these 3 services, let’s talk about them individually.



Domain names (i.e. are purchased through domain registrars such as eNom and Namecheap or resellers like Media Temple. It is important to keep in mind that domains do not store your website pages or emails. The domain holds information about where your email and website host is located. The domain simply directs traffic to your other services such as web and email hosts.

Website Host

Website hosting companies, such as Media Temple or Bluehost, provide a computer with software and storage for your website. These computers are connected to the internet and allow the public to view your website. In order for your domain (traffic director) to point towards the computer storing your website, it needs to know the computer’s location know as the IP address. The IP address is provided by your website host as should be placed in your domain’s control panel.

Email Host

Most major website hosting companies also provide email hosting services and include it in their hosting or domain services. Either way, just like the website, they will provide information (ex. about the location of the mail service and this information should also be placed in the domain’s control panel.

Can you name your providers?

If you obtained all 3 services from the same company, there is a good chance this is all setup for you. The point to make is that if you change your website and/or email hosting company, then you will need to update the settings in your domain with the new “address” information. Whether you use 1 or 3 different companies you should be able to answer the 3 following questions.

  1. Who is hosting my website? This company is physically storing your website files on a computer under their management.
  2. Who is my domain registrar? This company is responsible for keeping a record of your domain registration.
  3. Who is hosting my email? This can be different than the website host. This company is physically storing your emails on a computer under their management.

If you are not able to answer these questions then you will need to do some investigating. We recommend using a tool call MxToolBox to help find each service. If you where able to answer all of the questions, then the next step it to verify you can log into each one. It is very important that you know your login information for each of these services. You never know when you or your web developer will need to hop in and make adjustments to make sure your website avoids prolonged downtime and hacks.

Our preferred hosting company

For domain purchases and web hosting we prefer Media Temple. For 20% off a new web hosting plan, use our referral link (you get a discount AND we get account credit: win-win!)