A large number of website owners out there own a single website with a single domain name — but far from all. Many webmasters own and operate multiple domains, and for those people domain hosting is the best type of web hosting to use.
A domain name, of course, is your website's address on the Internet. It usually starts with http:// (or https:// if a secure site) and ends with .com, .org, .net, .biz, or another such suffix, known as an "extension". In fact, one way many website owners these days are making sure that no other individual or business tries to capitalize on their domain name is by purchasing all the versions of their domain with all possible extensions (e.g. myname.COM, myname.BIZ, myname.ORG, etc.). This option is generally made more affordable with domain hosting.
Website owners are also getting wise to the number of typos people make when entering URLs into their browser bars. A lot of business can be lost from these typos, but the opposite is also true: a lot can be gained if you're the one who owns the most common misspellings of your own domain (e.g. mynane.com, mynme.com, mynamme.com, etc.). Again, domain hosting makes this possible.
Another huge market for many online businesses these days is the local market, leading many webmasters to break their main site down into what are called subdomains catered to specific localities, each with its own slight variation on the domain name (e.g. ny.myname.com, ca.myname.com, tx.myname.com for the New York, California, and Texas local subdomains of myname.com). Use of subdomains can allow you to break down any generalized site into several, more manageable niche sites (e.g. books.myname.com, music.myname.com, movies.myname.com or football.myname.com, baseball.myname.com, NASCAR.myname.com). The possibilities are endless and subject only to your creativity and market needs. Whatever possibilities you choose, if you plan to market on subdomains, then domain hosting, again, may be the best type of web hosting for your needs.
Then of course, there's the renaissance webmaster who simply owns many different websites covering many different industries and serving many different markets (e.g. myname.com, mypets.com, mycar.com), each requiring its own unique domain and possible set of subdomains — all of which, again, is made easier with domain hosting.
Free, Unlimited Domains & Subdomains for Life
At its core, domain hosting has little difference from regular shared web hosting, with one common exception: more free or low-cost domains or subdomains per account. Most standard shared web hosting plans offer hosting for a certain number of domains. Sometimes this is 1 domain, sometimes it's 5 or 10. And oftentimes a web host will even offer several free subdomains with those domains. You may get one or more of the domains free, you may have to pay extra for them, or possibly even upgrade your hosting account.
Where domain hosting most often differs is in offering you a far better deal on the number of domains you need. Usually you'll get at least one domain free, often "for life", meaning that you don't have to renew it each year, one of the costs of doing business that many website owners forget. Domain web hosting also typically offers you hosting for free subdomains beneath your main domain(s), often in unlimited quantity.
Of course this may come in trade for other features, so always be sure to compare what a domain host offers you against what a standard shared web host offers you for the same price. If, for example, you're giving up unlimited disk space and bandwidth to have the multiple domain flexibility you seek, then at least make sure that you get enough disk space and bandwidth per domain to suit each of your websites’ needs.
One of the features to look for in any type of web host (and indeed one of the focal points of every review on this site) is the quality of its datacenter. For owners of multiple domains and subdomains, these matters of datacenter quality matter even more.
Factors of datacenter quality — like technology and equipment, power and backup power supplies, temperature and humidity control, fire protection, security systems, and built-in redundancies (among others) — determine the consistency, reliability, and speed with which people can reach your website. When you own multiple websites, those concerns are amplified that much more.
The more domains and subdomains you have running, the wider and deeper your reach, the bigger and broader your marketplace, the more important qualities of security, speed, and reliability become.
When Domain Hosting Means Web Hosting
Be aware in all this that another common use of the term "domain hosting", besides referring to the hosting of multiple domains, is simply a replacement or an alternative for the phrase "web hosting". In other words, many people (and companies) use the two terms interchangeably. This is worth knowing when evaluating so-called domain website hosting companies to make sure that they are indeed offering you the services you require.
Even if you only plan on hosting a single domain for a single site, a domain host should at least include easy (if not free) domain name registration with your hosting plan so that you don't need to take care of that separately. And they should offer all the latest possible extensions for your domain as well, from .net, .org and .biz to .us, .me, .tv, and .mobi. A good domain host will also offer domain management services like:
optional dedicated and/or secure domain hosting
Which brings us to our last word on domain web hosting: "privacy". All domain name owners are required legally to list certain information in the singular public database of all registered domains: the WHOIS database. A domain web host that offers domain privacy, however, allows you to hide much of that information from the public eye, particularly your name, address, and phone number.
Whether you're planning on hosting one domain or one-hundred and one, the bottom line is this: be sure that the domain hosting company you choose offers you the services you will need at a competitive price.
Disclosure: As is the case with many other industry/topic specific magazines, websites and trade publications, we do receive compensation from some of the companies whose products we review within and outside of the web hosting industry, including, but not limited to, paid advertising placements, referral fees, contextual advertising links and sponsorship packages.