Two questions that I get asked time and time again when someone is in the process of setting up a website hosting account, is ‘how to point your domain name to your website host’ and ‘can I move my domain name to a different host’. The process is quick and easy and this guide will take you through the steps.
How Domains & Hosting Works
For those people who don’t understand the relationship between domains and hosting, I thought best to briefly cover this first.
Besides having the website itself, which is basically just a collection of text and image files, to get your website online for the world to see, you will need two other things:
Domain Name – the domain is the website address that people will have to type into their browser to reach your site. Without a domain name, there is no easy way of people accessing your site.
Website Hosting – the hosting is basically web space where your website files will sit. Without website hosting, there is no way of getting your website ‘online’ for people to view.
The best way to explain all of these elements together is to think of them in the same way as purchasing a new house. The website is the bricks and mortar of the building, the hosting is the land where that building will be placed and the domain is the postal address so people can locate that building.
To make a website live on the web you will need the website files to be built first, then have those files uploaded to the hosting server space, then finally ‘point’ your domain name to the hosting account.
Then, once someone types in your domain name into their browser, your domain will send the visitor to your hosting space and your website will display.
What You Will Need To Point Your Domain To Your Website
To get started, you will need to do the following two things:
- Register Your Domain Name. Once you have decided on the domain name that you want, you will need to check that it is available and then register it. Where you register your domain doesn’t really matter – I always advise going with the company who offers the best price. Providers that I have used in the past include 123-reg.co.uk, fasthosts.co.uk and krystal.co.uk. They have always been affordable and all have easy-to-use dashboards where you can manage various aspects of your domain easily. This isn’t saying that these guys are the best. These are just providers I can personally recommend, based on my own experience. So, it is always worth hunting around yourself to get the best deal.
- Purchase Your Website Hosting. Once you have your domain name, you then need to purchase the hosting. A little more thought needs to go into choosing a website host, as it will depend on what your site and business needs, rather than just basing the decision on price alone. We understand that most customers will not understand the technicalities of hosting accounts, so always make sure you ask questions before choosing what is right for you.
How To Point Your Domain Name To Your Website Host
For the sake of this example, I will take you through the process of how to point your domain name to your website hosting using 123-reg.co.uk. However, the process will be very similar for any domain provider.
Step 1: Locate Your Domain Settings
The first step is to locate the management settings of your domain. From the 123 Reg dashboard, you would simply select your domain from the drop-down and click the ‘manage domain’ button to be taken to the below screen.
Step 2: Locate Your Nameserver Settings
Every domain has a minimum of two nameservers set. The nameserver is the location setting which tells the domain provider where to send the traffic that comes to that domain and will typically look like ns1.example.com and ns2.example.com.
From the manage domain screen, you will see an option for ‘Change Nameservers (DNS)’, highlighted below:
Step 3: Update Your Nameservers
When you purchase your website hosting, your hosting provider will let you know what nameservers you need to set your domain to, in order for the hosting to work with your domain.
This will usually be sent to you in your welcome email. If you have not received this, then you will need to get in touch with your hosting provider to find out what these are.
Once you have the nameservers, enter them into the relevant boxes on the nameserver management screen (shown below). Ensure that you override the default nameservers set by your domain provider.
Once you save the changes, you will need to wait up to 72 hours for the changes to take effect fully. However, in most cases, the changes will take effect in a couple of hours or so.
Can I Move My Domain Name To A Different Host?
As you can see, the process of how to point your domain name to your website host is fairly simple, as long as you have the correct information.
Not only can you follow these steps when you have had a new website built, but the same steps apply when moving an existing website to a new host.
So, for those people asking can I move my domain name to a different host? The answer is simply yes, by following the steps in this post, once you website files have been moved across to the new server space.
I hope you have found this guide useful, but do drop any questions in the comments below and I will get back to you.