Oct 11, 2010

People are often confused when talking about their website, domain name and other pieces of the web hosting puzzle.  Here are how all the different parts of your website relate to each other in one, easy-to-understand article.

Domain Name

Your domain name is your “address” on the Internet.  The common ones end in .com, .net, .org and more.  A domain name can be registered at any registrar.


A registrar is a place the registers domain names on your behalf.  Some of the most popular ones are GoDaddy, TuCows and Network Solutions.  There are hundreds if not thousands of registrars in the world.  A registrar “holds” your domain name in an account for you.

Web Host

A web host is the place that physically stores your web site on its system.  The web host can also offer other types of hosting including email, ftp, and more.


A nameserver directs requests for your domain name to query against a specific DNS (domain name system) entry to find out where different parts of your website should be directed.  A web host can run their own nameservers, or they can use someone else’s.  Most hosting companies offer complementary nameserver access, and set them by default when you register them.

DNS (Domain Name System)

A DNS entry contains all the various components of your website and tells them where to find each resource.  Some of the resources include web, email, ftp, any subdomains, and more.  A DNS entry usually resides directly on a nameserver.

MX Entry

A MX entry is part of a DNS file, which resides on a nameserver, specified on a domain name registered at a registrar. (See the connection?  The MX entry tells where the domain name’s email is located and any special settings.

Common Questions:

Q: Can a site’s email and web site files be with different providers?
A: Absolutely! Whoever controls the domain’s DNS entries can point email and the web site to different providers

Q: What is the basic difference between DNS and a Nameserver?
A: A nameserver tells where DNS entries are located. The DNS “bind” file itself has the individual components of a domain name inside of it.

Q: Why won’t my web host give me access to the domain name at the registrar?
A: Unlike Captain Jack Communications, some registrars put every client’s domain name into their account at a registrar.  So giving you access would give you access to all of their domain names.  At CJC we put your domain into its own private account, thus avoiding issues.

Q: If I want my email hosted by google, how do I do that?
A: Whoever handles your DNS will have to change the MX records to google’s specific DNS entries.

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