What’s the Difference Between Website Hosting and Website Maintenance?

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Decoding the Jargon

When it comes to operating your website, a lot of technical jargon gets thrown around in the discussion: web hosting, server, domains, DNS, nameservers, plugins, oh my!

If you’re trying to successfully serve your clients, the last thing you want to be doing is Googling phrases and attempting to fix technical issues. At Design Extensions, we both host and maintain websites for our clients.

To help clear up some of the confusion around these terms, we’re going to break each one down individually, using a retail business as an example.

Hosting

Website hosting, in its simplest form, is giving your website real estate on the web so users can visit it.

For example, if your retail business wants a storefront, you need to rent space in a building. By paying a management company a monthly rent for space in their building, your business is able to sell merchandise.

Without paying for office space, your business is left homeless, and you’re now selling your product out of your trunk (yikes, that’s not a good look). Hosting is the same thing!

By hosting your site, you’re paying for a virtual “storefront” so users can visit your website and interact with your company. Without hosting, your site isn’t available for users to visit, which means less business for you.

Website hosting services also provide server support and security for your website. If the server that your site lives on goes down (i.e. the power goes out to your storefront), the website hosting service will work quickly to get your site online again. They’ll also provide security to your site to help avoid hacks and other malicious activity. 

Domains

A domain is simply your internet address. Just like a storefront would have an address so your customer can find your business, your website has an internet address for users to find you on the web.

Your domain can be owned by either your company or the company that built your website, and it can be managed by either your company or the company that built your website. It doesn’t really matter who owns or manages it, but you’ll want to be sure the party that manages your domain is comfortable ensuring it’s renewed yearly and the settings are adjusted properly to show your website at your domain URL.

There’s nothing worse than getting a new site online only to see a 404 error when you type in your domain name. If you’re paying for a domain name, it should exist.

Maintenance 

Website maintenance is the work to keep your site fully operational and healthy. Many websites look great but fail to receive important updates over time, which can cause a lot of problems.

You can host your site with us, but if your site isn’t being properly maintained, then issues are going to follow. If your site is created on WordPress, you’ll need to be sure that the WordPress version, theme, plugins, and code are kept up-to-date so your site operates properly and is secure.

If any of these items are ignored, your site could face a whole host of issues, from design flaws to fatal errors, causing you to lose customers. Some of this can be done with limited WordPress knowledge; however, we don’t recommend it.

WordPress and the plugins used on websites change often, and we stay up-to-date on new changes and how they affect our customers. This allows us to be proactive instead of reactive, keeping our customer’s websites looking great and operating with excellence.

You wouldn’t want to open your retail storefront and then ignore the plumbing and HVAC, or even worse, try to DIY the fix and cause a major issue. That could require closing your store for some time and paying exorbitant fees for priority help. Regular maintenance ensures your business can stay open and operate fully without major disruptions.

Of course, you can try to go the DIY route, but that tends to only work for so long. You have a business to run, and you shouldn’t have to worry about your website. That’s why we highly recommend both hosting your site with us and enrolling your website in a maintenance plan so everything continues to operate smoothly. 

Have Your Website Hosted & Maintained By Pros

Managing and hosting your website can bring headaches and frustration, especially if you’re not familiar with all the technology. Becoming familiar with the terms above will help you get a better understanding of what’s needed to make your website available to the public and keep it running smoothly.

If you feel overwhelmed by the management of your website, reach out to us! We have several levels of maintenance plans available to support your website, from basic support to all-hands-on-deck priority support.

We’d love to help keep your website running smoothly so you can stay focused on your business. 

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