What is the difference between a domain name and a website?

Most often people confuse a domain name with a website. But they are totally different. A domain name may have a website, or may not have a website. A website may have a domain name or may not have a domain name. Let us understand how.

A domain name is a name, something that one can easily remember, like google.com, facebook.com, etc. So, having a name makes things easy. Tell the name to the browser, and the browser will take you to that website.

On the other hand, a website is a set of web pages, where you have a home page, and other pages internal pages. The website is what the browser shows you when you give it the domain name.

“So, a domain name is like the name of a person, while a website is like the person himself or herself.” – Gurudev

Domain name without a website

You can simply register a domain name with a domain registrar, but never create any website for it. In that case, when somebody tries to visit your website, the website does not load. Or may end up with the default page your registrar has provided, like an empty page. Or it may be just a simple page that says the website has not been hosted yet.

But since you have registered the domain name, nobody else can register that domain name either. So unless you create a website for it and host it somewhere, the domain name exists without a website. So it is like a name, but that name is not attached to any person.

Registering a domain name, but not creating a website for it is called, parking the domain name. One might do this with the plan of launching a website sometime in the future, but doesn’t want somebody else to take up that domain name in the mean time. There are also domain resellers who register domain names and sell if for a higher price when somebody comes looking for that name.

“A domain name without a website is like a name without a face.” – Gurudev

Website without a domain name

Similarly, you can create a website and host it somewhere without a domain name. In that case, the website can be accessed by mentioning the IP address of the server where you have it hosted. So visitors to your website then should know the IP address of your server, and if they type it in the browser, then they will be able to see your website.

Every website has to be hosted on some or other server, and servers are reachable by IP address only. So what domain name actually does is map an easy to remember name, the domain name, to the IP address of where its website is hosted. That is what DNS servers do.

So, technically you can host a website without a domain name pointing to it in the DNS servers. Usually, websites within a local intranet, like within an office are hosted like this, without a domain name, but only with an IP address. So the employees just type in the IP address given to them to access the website. This is also done while testing a web design temporarily, like in the local computer of a web designer or developer.

“A Website without a domain name is like a Person without a name” – Gurudev

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