In the past, some of our customers have queried why there's two charges for their website / email setup. Therefore, this month, we'll cover what the difference is between owning a domain name, and having a hosting account for that domain.
When you buy a domain name (e.g. mydomain.co.uk), what you are buying is literally just that. The ownership of that name. A domain name is pretty much useless on its own (unless your sole purpose for purchasing it is to stop anyone else from being able to own it.)
The only things "attached" to a domain name are the details of the company that registered the domain, contact details of the owner, and the name servers that the domain should point to. Name servers are where the DNS for a domain is specified (Which we covered in previous Jargon Busting blog "What is DNS").
The hosting side of the equation is what kicks in after that DNS check. A hosting account is an all-encompassing term that covers the variety of services that you might want a domain name to point to.
The most common applications of a hosting account are for websites and email. To be able to host these things, you need hard drive space on a server. Therefore the "hosting" portion of a website / email payment is primarily for the licence to use this space (plus the tools that allow you to configure your hosting account).
As an aside, a hosting account could be used without owning a domain name at all. For instance, you could use it just as a file storage system that you accessed directly via your hosting control panel. However, with services like Dropbox, One Drive and Google Drive to use for file storage, using a hosting account for this purpose would probably be pretty uneconomical these days.
Depending on how a server has been set up, it can be possible to point many domains at one hosting account. However, our servers are generally set up so that there's one hosting account per domain name.