My clients get confused all the time about what the difference is between domain names and web hosting. Your web designer sometimes set both of these up, so the confusion is understandable. It is essential that you fully understand the difference and know your rights!
Think of purchasing a domain name just like renting a plot of land. Buying a domain for 3 years is like signing a 3 year lease on a lot and paying for it all up front. Luckily you don’t have any neighborhood associations to worry about so you can build anything you want on that land. Once the contract is up though, expect to get boarded up by the city – some land developer from China wants to buy that land real quick. And they will!
So now you have your virtual address on the web. How do people find you? And who delivers your information to anyone who wants it? This is the job of the Hosting Company. They are the ones that offer you the space to put your website and deliver that content to someone’s little browser window. Think of them as the crew that creates a building on your plot of land. You can construct that building however you like- call it your website. Your hosting company is also responsible for the handling of your emails. Kind of like how the postman knows to deliver your mail to your new building.
But I HATE my Hosting Company!
What if you hate your Hosting Company? Well, fire them! In our analogy, you still own the land, so in the same vein, you can raze the building and hire new builders to put a new one in. When they are done, you can decorate the place exactly as before. This is essentially what you are doing if you have another company host your domain name and put your website back up exactly as it was. Sometimes the construction goes very smoothly, sometimes there are bumps in the road. Either way, your web designer should be able to help you pull this off without pulling your hair out.