Many web hosting companies now include a domain name in their hosting package. This makes it seem like domain names are equivalent to websites running on them. These are two different services.
A website doesn’t technically have to have a domain name. That being said, you’d be much better off if you register a domain name for it.
Domain names are pretty important. That’s why practically all websites have one. There are over 333 million registered domain names, with 5,000 brand new domains spawning every hour.
How do domain names work, then, and why are they important?
We’ll start with IP addresses. Every device on the internet has one and computers use them to communicate with one another. The IP address is all you need to visit a website.
The problem is IP addresses are awfully difficult to remember. Computers are good at remembering strings of numbers, but humans aren’t.
That’s why the DNS, or Domain Name System, exists. The DNS is a network of servers that contains info on all domain names and the IP addresses attached to them.
The DNS lets you find a website by just knowing its domain name. For instance, when you type “facebook.com” into your browser, your computer automatically retrieves the IP address from the DNS. That way you don’t need to remember a lot of numbers, only the easy-to-remember domain name.
There’s more complexity to the domain name system, but that’s the gist of it. It’s there to make the internet more comfortable for users by letting them use domain names to find websites. Domain names are so useful they’re the norm or all websites.
That’s why, if you want a website, you absolutely need a domain name. If you want to learn more about domain names, we have a helpful infographic for you.