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Domain Stack: Web Hosting and Email Hosting: What's the Difference?

A non-developer's guide to online hosting.

Erik Johnson


Website development has a lot of jargon, the same as other professions. For non-web developers, website jargon can be confusing. One question we get asked a lot is, what's the difference between terms like "domain registration", "Domain Name Service," "DNS," and "hosting?"

In this two-part post, we're working to simplify the concepts to help non-developers understand what they are and how to work with a website developer on these issues. Part 1: Domain Hosting covers Domain Name Registration and Domain Name Service.

In this post, I'll walk you through what is web hosting and email hosting.

Web Hosting

DNS will point to web hosting and, in most cases, email hosting.

Web Hosting This term refers to the servers where the website data is physically "hosted". At LRS, we maintain our own web servers, which is where our websites are hosted. Our sites have over 99% "uptime," meaning the sites are rarely unavailable. 

Email Hosting This term refers to the physical location of servers that save your email data. LRS generally uses Microsoft’s email servers for email hosting. In some cases, we will use a proxy such as Barracuda for spam filtering and DNS will point to that server instead.

 

Email Hosting

If the DNS is your entry within the phone book, then your mailbox outside of your house is your mail server. Your DNS contains instructions, or an MX record, on where to find your mail server (or mailbox). All email clients, such as Gmail or Outlook, understand how to read these instructions to your mailbox.

Your mailbox may be self-hosted (right outside your house), or it could be hosted in the cloud (maybe a PO box). Your mail server is responsible for handling all incoming mail that is sent to you on the internet when someone sends an email to you@yourdomain.com.

The largest email hosts in the world are Microsoft and Google, but email can be hosted anywhere that can host an operating system and are easily findable using various online tools like NSLOOKUP, or a web-based GUI lookup like MXToolbox.

The Least You Need to Know

Without DNS and hosting services, your business website couldn't be found on the internet. Website development professionals can give you peace of mind to ensure that these steps are taken properly and securely.

I hope this gives you a basic understanding of the more technical terms used during your website redesign. Contact us if you have more questions. 

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