This week, online grocer FreshDirect got so busy with the holidays, they forgot to renew their domain name. Their web site reverted to Network Solutions’ generic placeholder landing page. Oops!
Don’t make this mistake: be sure to renew your domain name registration each year when you get the first reminder from Network Solutions or GoDaddy, usually three to six months before it expires. You don’t want your site to ever go dark, especially if your core business depends on it.
Image courtesy of Flickr, AndyRobertsPhotos
“But wait!” you’re thinking, “Didn’t I already pay for domain hosting? Why are they sending me this reminder?” Don’t confuse domain name registration with web site hosting, they are different things:
- Web hosting is how your website files are stored, ready to be displayed to the world (probably on a server somewhere in Minnesota or Nebraska) by web browsers like Firefox or Chrome.
- The location of the server that hosts those web files is identified by something called an IP address, which is a series of numbers and dots that web browsers need to understand, but you don’t (22.214.171.124). You could send visitors directly to your IP address, but who can remember all those numbers?
- Your domain name is a more memorable alphanumeric address (tatge.biz) someone types into a browser to get to your IP address and view those files. Network Solutions knows where to send your visitor because I’ve specified your IP address for your domain name.
Or think of it this way: the domain name is like your cell phone number, and the web host is like your cell carrier. Most customers can keep their cell phone number when they switch from AT&T to Verizon or vice versa. Because you want your “phone number” to be easy to remember, you pay for the privilege of the unique domain name registration.
It’s easy enough to switch web hosts, but it’s kind of a hassle to switch domain name registrars, so keeping them in two different places is just smarter. So you get billed separately.