What is the difference between a Registrar, Name Server, Host, WordPress, Theme and a Plugin?

What is a Registrar?

Your Registrar is the company where your domain name is registered.  When someone first “signed up” for this domain name, or “claimed” this domain name, the company where they did this is called the Registrar.  Your domain name may be registered at this same Registrar or it may have been moved to a new Registrar.  It is a little difficult to move Registrars, so in general, we don’t move the Registrar too much.

The registrar has 2 pieces of information that are really important that you should check: the administrative contact and the technical contact.  In order to have control over your domain name, you must have access to these email addresses listed as the contact. If you do not have access to the email address listed, you should make it a priority to work with your Registrar to change this as soon as possible.  Do not wait until you need to do this as it can be a longer process.

What is a Name Server?

Your Name Server is the computer that tells all the other computers and phones and devices on the Internet where to find your website or where to send an email so it arrives in your inbox, or tells the digital world about other things that have to do with your domain name.  The name server can be considered the “white pages” or “yellow pages” of the things on the Internet.  If you would like to view a website, when you type in the domain name into your browser, your browser goes out and checks a name server to find out where that website is so that the browser can go look at the files on that server.  You should have access to edit the “records” on your name server for your domain so that you can make changes to things that involve your domain name.  A good name server has nice tools to edit records and is quick at publishing those changes to the Internet when you do make a change.

What is a Webste Host?

Your host is the company you are paying to “host” the files of your website.  You pay them on a monthly or yearly basis to keep the files and databases that make up your website on a server somewhere that is attached to the Internet.  The host matters a LOT.  The host can determine the speed of your website. They also may have really great tools for managing your website or may have terrible tools.  The support technicians may be fantastic or not so great.  It is really important not to overlook your host. Also, at TechCare we recommend signing up for a hosting account for a year or month to month.  We have been building websites since the 1990s, and hosting companies can change dramatically.  We used to host many websites at a small company back in the 90s in New York City. That was a great solution back then but then as the Internet grew, we realized we needed to recommend hosts that had more options. We were recommending a large company in the Philippines for a while because of the great tools they had available to users, but after a while the support began to fail and we began recommending another large company in the US. The support was 24 hour a day which was amazing and all of the techs were located in the US so there was no language barrier.  We then began to have some issues, so we started recommending a host in the US that was very large and they were cheap and amazing! But then they were purchased by a large conglomerate and the support went down the tubes, not to mention that they started using some caching plugins that was ruining some of the websites hosted there.  We now recommend a really great company that hosts WordPress websites only, but who knows what the future will bring.

Hosting is easy to change (as long as you have access to your name server) , so don’t get locked in for a long time. There are too many issues that could affect the company where you are hosting, so be ready to move your website if you need to in order to get the best results possible.

What is WordPress?

WordPress is the software that is running your website.  You can make a document on your computer in a text editor, in an image editor, in word, in a desktop processor, etc.  This is just like WordPress – it is the software you chose to run your website.  It is free to use, and is considered “open-source” software meaning the code of the software is open to the public to view – it’s not a secret!  If it is open-source, other developers can write other pieces of software that you can use on your website!  Wordpress needs to be updated on a regular basis.

What is a WordPress Theme?

Even if your website is custom and looks nothing like any other website, if it is built on WordPress it is built on a theme! All WordPress websites need to be built on a theme.  You can install a free theme from the WordPress repository or you can purchase a theme.  The theme is the base of what your website looks like and how it functions.  Some themes are really basic and you have to do a lot of work to make it look the way you want. Some themes are very developed and there are many options of how you would like the theme to look. The theme more or less controls the placement of where items are on pages and then it may have some styling built in to change the look and feel of your website.  Themes should be updated on a regular basis.

What is a Plugin

A plugin is the fun part of of your website!  You probably have a few plugins installed on your website. A plugin lets you do really cool fun things with your website. Do you need an online store? That would be a plugin.  How about an informative calendar?  An amazing photo gallery? A form?  A table?  A membership portion of your site?  There are so many plugins that provide so many functions.  You can download some for free in the WordPress repository under Plugins > Add New or you can purchase some on the internet.  Usually plugins cost very little for the functionality that you get.

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