Hosting – CMS – Domain – Site Builders: How is it all connected and what does it mean for my website?

April 2, 2014 Published by 9 Comments

hosting cms domain

Readers contact us on a regular basis with questions such as,

“I created my website using Jimdo Free, which was nice and easy. Now I want to move my site to my own hosting service because I already have a domain, but I’m not sure how to do that. Do I have to start over from scratch?”

or

“If I choose a Wix.com paid plan and want to move the website later on, will I lose everything?”

 

However, the number of possible questions you might encounter is endless, which is why we want to try and explain, as simply as possible, how all these individual elements are connected.

 

The Hosting Service: This is your website’s landlord

Every website is run on a server. In the end, a server is nothing other than a computer which can be accessed from any location in the world. The server is run by a web hosting service (such as 1&1, GoDaddy), or a provider of website builders. Figure 1 illustrates separate servers run by Jimdo, Weebly, and a hosting service named “XY”.

HostingFigure 1

The CMS: This is what you use to build your website

In order to be able to create and run a website without programming skills, you need a content management system (CMS). There are hosting services who have exclusive agreements with a CMS provider or run their own CMS (such as Jimdo or Weebly), but there are also those who offer a variety of CMS. On hosting service XY’s server, for instance, you could run Joomla or WordPress (see Figure 2). Every CMS has its own framework, which means that you cannot run, for instance, a Jimdo website with WordPress.

Hosting-CMSFigure 2

Please note: A website builder is simply a pre-installed and simplified CMS.

 

The Domain Name: This is what other people use to find your website

The domain name is the address people can enter to reach the website stored on a hosting service’s server. It’s bound to neither the hosting service nor to the CMS, and can be moved or set to forward people to another address at will. Of course, it can refer to only one website at a time (see Figure 3). How exactly this works depends on the individual domain provider and hosting service.

Hosting-CMS-Domain Figure 3

Conclusions

Now, what does all of this mean?

1. If you already have a domain name, you can always move it or have it forward people to any website of your choice. The domain is not bound to the hosting service. (Exceptions are free subdomains such as xyz.jimdo.com.)

2. If you create a website using CMS X, you cannot simply run that same website using CMS Y afterwards.

3. If you create a website on hosting service X’s server using a CMS also offered by hosting service Y, you can move the complete site to hosting service Y.

We hope that this illustrates the connection between CMS, hosting services, and domains. Should you have any questions, please leave a comment, or ask your domain or web hosting provider. Oh, and before we forget to answer the questions that initially got us started, here we go.

The answer to the first question is:

No, you do not have to start from scratch. In order to use the domain with Jimdo, you would
either have to move the domain to Jimdo, or have the domain point to the Jimdo website. In
order to make use of your own domain, however, Jimdo requires a paid plan. Jimdo Pro is
available at 7.50$/month.

The answer to the second question is:

No, you do not lose everything – you can keep the domain and move it. The website, however,
would have to be re-created. After all, a Wix.com website can only be run using a Wix.com
CMS.

Armin

Written by Armin (7 posts)

Armin Pinggera has worked for the ToolTester Network since March 2013 with a focus on website builders.

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Your opinion

  • Stephen Belomy

    Armin: We get these types of questions from confused business owners all the time. Thanks for such a clear and concise explanation.

    • http://WebsiteToolTester.com/ Armin

      Hi Stephen! Thank you for the nice feedback. Always happy to help. :-)

  • terri

    Do you think its better to build with cms such as wordpress and host separately or go with a combined host and builder such as weebly? Im interested in what you might think are the pros and cons

    • http://www.tooltester.net/ Robert (Tooltester Network)

      Hi Terri, that really depends on your type of project. A CMS gives you a lot of flexibility as can add plug-ins and have direct access to your website’s code. With a website builder you will always have certain limitations. Even though most site builders allow you to edit the HTML and CSS code there are always limits. The downside of a CMS is that you will have to spend a lot more time to get to grips with it. We switched to WordPress ourselves a while ago but we also have a programmer working for us now. Without him it would be impossible for us to run WebsiteToolTester. WordPress is powerful but it has to be set up and maintained by an expert, otherwise it won’t be secure. Of course you can learn it all yourself but that’s a substantial time investment that you’d probably better spend on the business side of things (unless it’s a hobby project). You can learn more about the differences of WordPress and website builders here: http://www.websitetooltester.com/en/blog/wordpress-alternatives/

  • time traveler

    Hi,i started a search engine using html by weebly,so i went to the web designer and she advised m to move to cms because is ‘better’,is moving a great idea?

    • http://WebsiteToolTester.com/ Armin

      Hi! Could you more specify what you mean, please? Are you asking if you should use Weebly or a CMS like WordPress, etc?

      • time traveler

        yes exactly that

        • http://WebsiteToolTester.com/ Armin

          It depends on what your goals are. Maybe this article helps you to make a better decision.

  • time traveler

    yes exactly that