Web, mail and domain hosting and what’s the difference?

A domain host, a web host and a mail host walk into a bar. Which one is which?

Life in the digital world isn’t always as simple as it seems. While it’s true that you can set up your own website in minutes, it’s good to know at least the major nuts and bolts that are required for that website to actually work in the way you expect it to. Here’s our introduction to the difference between three essential website hosting and support services.

Web hosting

A web hosting service is the digital equivalent of a bricks and mortar rental space. Your web host is the company who maintains  the server where your website is going to live.

You need it because

You website needs a server (or cloud-based equivalent) where your entire website content and site infrastructure files can be saved. A website can’t exist without a web host.

Mail hosting

Mail or email hosting is a service that operates email servers. Mail hosting is only concerned with your email. Depending on the type and size of your business, there is a range of services that mail hosting providers deliver. There’s the basic service of managing your email via standardised basic open source email platform such as Horde or SquirrelMail that uses POP3 (Post Office Protocol) or even IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) technology.

For companies that want a dedicated, customised email platform, mail hosting providers can provide premium services (and premium prices) that included dedicated support and a range of other options such as anti-spam software and virus protection.

You need it because

If you want an email address that matches your domain name, e.g.: your domain name is  and you want your email address to be you will need a mail host.

Large companies often choose to manage their own email servers in-house, using enterprise software such as Microsoft Exchange, which uses different language again to POP3 and IMAP – but we’re not going into those details.

Domain hosting

Domain hosting is done by the company that provides you with the IP address for your website and while your website is probably a name, for example: – the internet translates this name into a numerical address on the internet – called an IP address. When someone types your domain name, into the address bar of a web browser, the web browser searches for the numbers that are registered to that domain name and within milliseconds, take you to that IP address.

You won’t see the IP address (unless you look very closely) but you’ll see the domain name – and that domain name lives on a server. Each domain name and its IP address needs to be hosted on a server somewhere – just like in the old days, when every phone number needed to be listed somewhere.

You need it because

While all these hosting services talk to each other, they are in fact different types of technology. A problem with your email server doesn’t necessarily affect your website and while your domain host might be having problems, it doesn’t mean that your email won’t work.

These three hosting services are specialist areas of digital expertise and as any business that has had repeated issues with web hosting, mail hosting or domain hosting knows, when things go wrong they need to be fixed fast.

At iFactory, we use our own secure and reliable Australian-based servers to host client websites so that if and when things do go wrong, we provide same-time-zone support and a rapid response to get your business back online. For more details regarding our affordable, flexible website support and hosting services, contact us today.

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