Previously on this blog, I’ve talked about setting up a website with domain names and web hosting. With the markets for both of these digital products being so crowded, how do you find the right ones? Could there really be an unspoken business “war” between these web service retailers? Grab a coffee and sit comfortably as I share my findings and thoughts on this topic.

Firstly, I need to lay some groundwork to help beginners understand. What is a domain name? A domain name is a digital address which people type in to their web browsers or click on the visit your website. These are sold by a type of company called a domain registrar and normally cost about £10-15 /year each on average.

Now we look at web hosting. What is web hosting? This is a practice where you purchase rented server space from a company called a web hosting provider or just hosting provider. Your website files, database, email and everything that makes your website run will sit on this rented server space.

Your domain name will point to your web hosting to make everything fit together and I recommend that you purchase your domain name from a different company to your web hosting. Yes there are some companies that do both. Yes I do believe these companies are trying to do too much and could possibly be at war with each other. All will be revealed…

After trying several domain name registrars and web hosting providers, I have noticed that a lot of them are overcharging for certain services in order to compete with other companies.

For example, say you wish to purchase a domain name. You would visit company X, a domain registrar primarily known for their domain services. However, you would also find that they offer web hosting. Sometimes these two services are bundled together to give you a deal e.g. “buy web hosting and get a free domain for a year”. This is all fine, but you later find that the web hosting offered by the domain registrar company is slow and lacks quality. Not to mention, nearly all domain registrars who offer web hosting will hike the price of this service and charge you for extra services that should be included in the price, specifically SSL or HTTPS certificates.

SSL/TLS/HTTPS (they go by many names) certificates and what encrypt the connection between your website and your visitors’ computers, keeping them safe and making your website look better, since it won’t show the “Site Not Secure” message in your visitors’ web browsers.

There is a company called Let’s Encrypt that offers free HTTPS certificates to web hosting providers, who can then issue them to you as part of your web hosting service. These free HTTPS certificates are fine for the average small to medium businesses and even some larger ones use them too.

So why aren’t domain registrars who offer web hosting making use of this free offering? Money. Yes, they would rather sell you a paid HTTPS certificate than give you one for free, because it makes them more money. Even though the free and paid ones essentially serve the same purpose.

So while the domain registrars are doing this behind closed doors, the web hosting providers aren’t exactly in the clear. Although their web hosting packages may be reasonably priced and some even offering discounts on 12 month or 24 month options, some offer domain names and boy are those overpriced. I get that it costs a fair bit to become an accredited domain registrar as well as running your standard web hosting services but come on, do you really expect people to pay £25 for a .co.uk domain? On signup they offer you these overpriced domain names and sometimes make the option of connecting your own domain from a separate domain registrar rather tricky.

So do I think that domain registrars and web hosting providers are secretly at war with one another? Yes I do. Will this change any time soon? I think not, because it is not illegal or against any consumer rights. It is standard business practice to be competitive and make as much profit as you can. So I will just advise anyone who is looking to purchase and domain name or web hosting services to just spend a little bit more time shopping around and comparing prices and always, always read the small print.

Anyway, this post is dragging on a bit, so I’ll put out another one soon on how to fully compare web hosts and domain registrars to get the best deals and bang for your buck.

Thanks for reading!