Hosting, DNS, cPanel – What do they mean?

by | Jun 16, 2016 | Websites

When your website developer asks for the username and password for your Hosting, Host Server Account, cPanel, FTP, Domain Name Registrar, and website, do you feel somewhat overwhelmed by what they all mean and why you have so many anyway? You are not alone in that! Here’s a quick explanation.

Domain Name – This is your website address, such as

Domain Name Registrar – This is the party responsible for registering your domain name. You probably pay them between $10-25/yr. Part of their service is allowing you to input the IP address or ns1 & ns2 of where you have the hosting of your website files. Think of it as keeping a list of your name and telephone number. You can change your number if you move to a different host server.

Hosting Provider – This is the company that you have bought server space from, room on their computers. Its like renting office space. Hostgator and aSmallOrange are hosting providers. Generally, they charge $100-$200/yr for shared server space.

Host Server – The name of the particular server allocated to you by the Hosting Provider. They may name them interesting names or just give them numbers. Like the name of the rooms you are renting, and just like a floor of a building may have many different offices, often host servers are “shared” with several customers besides yourself.

cPanel – Once you have your host server, the provider will give you a username and password. Its like getting the keys to the office. If you do not get them then it will be very inconvenient for you, to say the least! If you get hosting and DON’T get cPanel access, you may like to think seriously about changing providers.

FTP – File Transfer Protocol with its username and password is a way of uploading and downloading to the server that you’ve been allocated. Its different from cPanel access. Its like getting the keys to the storeroom but not all the other rooms.

WordPress details – gives you the ability to log into the back end of your website (if its built on WordPress). Its like being able to get behind the counter at your shop. Userful if you’re an employee – but only part of the story if you are the owner!




This infographic will make it easier for you to see the role each has in getting your website available to your audience, the end user.

It is highly recommended that you have both hard copy (printed on paper) and soft copy of all your details. Some of them may still be in emails that were sent to you when you originally bought your domain name or hosting service. If it is in the hands of your developer, please do ask for the details and store them as they are your property.

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