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Domains Names & Drupal Hosting


Every website you see on the internet requires at least two services in order to operate: a 'domain name', and 'hosting'. A Drupal website is like any other website, and in order to have a Drupal website, you will need to get a domain name and Drupal-friendly hosting to get started. A domain name and a hosting account are the only real necessary services you'll need to start a Drupal website, everything else can be found free or open source(free and maintained by Drupal-loving volunteers). There are companies that provide free website hosting, but you'll generally get a much lower quality product whenever you encounter free hosting services and therre are often limits to how much traffic your free hosting website would be able to handle. We recommend upgrading freom free hosting and getting a cheap Drupal hosting product that will be able to cover all your needs if your Drupal website starts getting popular and higher amounts of traffic. There's nothing worse than finding out your website is down because you were using too much bandwidth for your free hosting account. 


Domain Names

What is a domain name?
A domain name - or just 'domain' for short - is the name you attach to your website. You can think of it as a websites address. For example, the domain for Bank of America would be bankofamerica.com. The domain for Facebook would be facebook.com, and the domain for the U.S. White House would be whitehouse.gov. You can purchase domains for one or more years at a time for prices ranging from about $10 to $40 per year per domain name. You can have multiple domains go to the same website, but a website can only have one REAL domain.

How do I get a domain name?
A company that sells domain names is called a domain name registrar. There are a large number of registrars selling domain names, so its up to you to pick one that will suit your needs best. They almost all provide the same basic services and there really isn't a lot of reason to choose one domain name registrar over another besides price and customer service. For domains, I choose GoDaddy because I like the interface they have for managing domains and they are one of the cheapest registrars out there.

How to connect your domain name to your hosting account. Once you purchase a domain from a domain name registrar, you will need to point it or connect it to your hosting account (learn about how to get a Drupal friendly hosting account below). Connecting your domain name with your hosting account is really easy to do and your registrar can walk you through the steps if you run into trouble. You just have to connect your domain name and hosting one time and you'll likely never have to do it again. Basically, your hosting account will give you a setting called "name servers" or "domain name servers" or "DNS." You will need to put this setting on your domain name. Your hosting account will give you two (or more) domain name servers that will look something like this:

  • ns1.hostgator.com
  • ns2.hostgator.com

Once you have that information from your hosting account, you can have your domain name registrar "point" your domain to the "name servers". Usually, you will be able to log into you domain name registrar account and manually type these in for your domain. You can also always call or email your registrar and they will help you. This is basically something that needs to be done for every domain name to make it point to a website so the customer support reps at the domain name registrar will be able to walk you through every step of the way.

As I said before, I highly recommend GoDaddy as a domain name registrar because they're cheap and have great customer service that is available by phone or email 24 hours a day to help you if you get stuck.

Once you have set the domain name servers on your domain name, it can take up to 24 hours before your website starts coming up when you type in your domain name. This is because everywhere on the internet has to update to this new change. After you have set the name servers for your domain, when you type in your domain name (www.example.com) your computer finds the "name servers" and follows the directions over to your hosting account where your website will be. You'll get your domain name servers give to you once you sign up for hosting.


Drupal Friendly Hosting

What is hosting?
Going with my address analogy from before: If a domain name is a websites address, then hosting would be the actual house at the address. The hosting account is where you store all your website files, pages, images, etc. to be accessed by website visitors via your webpages. It is also where you will upload Drupal.

Where to get Drupal hosting?
Hosting accounts used to be priced according by a set amount of storage space and bandwidth (bandwideth measures how much your website is actually used, for example downloading pictures would use bandwidth). Nowadays, most hosting accounts have unlimited space and bandwidth for a reasonable price. I use Hostgator to host any Drupal website I make, and of course DrupalTutorial.info is hosted on Hostgator as well. You can host a Drupal site on many other hosting companies, but you'll want to make sure they meet Drupal's specifications. The only real problem I've run into so far with a hosting company and Drupalhas been the time I used shared hosting at GoDaddy. Their shared hosting plans place your Drupal website data and your Drupal databases on two different pieces of hardware which will slow your site down dramatically. If you're looking to get started with as little start up cost as possible without compromising your server quality, get the Hostgator 'baby' plan; it's less than $8/month with unlimited space/bandwidth.

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