The Domain Name System (DNS) helps users to find their way around the Internet. (Source: InterNIC Domain Names). To make your website more authentic and professional, you should consider registering your own .com, .org, .net, .biz, .info, or .pro domain. Sometimes the actual path to your files is very convoluted and difficult to remember. The likelihood of someone remembering this URL without writing it down is minimal. So I registered pdxpc.net so people can easily remember where my website is. Domain hosting usually carries a price tag from $6 US to $20 US a year, give or take.
For more detailed information about domain registration, hosting, and a list of registrars, visit InterNIC.
A web host stores your website online so that people can view it anytime they wish. Most dialup and broadband internet providers give their customers some web space online to build a personal site with for free. Usually this free space is limited to 10 to 25 megabytes and isn't optimized for business websites. There are many web hosts out there however, which tailor theirs services directly to businesses. Web hosts usually provide from 100 megabytes of space up to how much the customer is willing to pay for, as well as a reliable connection for the website, support for various web technologies such as CGI, PHP, Java, etc. These services usually range in cost from $5 US per month to $100+ US a month, depending on the level of service.
Evaluating A Domain Or Web Host
On the internet, you get what you pay for, which means if you want to spend less, you have to put up with more. If you plan on your site looking professional, you can almost count out free services. Free hosts will do things like display pop-up advertisements, require navigation bars relating to their site to appear on your site, watermarks which float over your site, or sometimes all of the above. Make sure you can tolerate whatever your host requires that you display, and if you get a paid service, verify that you can disable any of their content, if they have any, without a hassle. Some web hosts allow only a certain about of bandwidth over a period of time, (i.e. 3 gigabytes per month.) which means that once enough people have access your page so that 3 gigabytes of information has been pulled from the server, your page is down until the beginning of the next month. (For example, if 300 people pulled an average of 10 megabytes of data from your site in 20 days, your page would be disabled for the rest of that month.)