Call me paranoid, but having my domain and hosting with the same company scares the sh*t outta me!
Because you know what? I’ve heard HORROR stories where hosting company got screwed in mysterious ways, erased databases and lost all backup files, AND took FOREVER to unlock domains to their owners causing people to lose not only their websites but also causing them to lose their first page Google ranking because of it.
And I have heard this story not once, but quite a few times!
So, if you ask me, I’d rather be paranoid than lose Google ranking or go without my website for days.
Having your domain and hosting from separate providers is always a good idea and adds an extra layer of security should something unimaginable occur.
With that said, the next question that I get from my clients is inevitably this: “But Maliha, how do I then connect my domain to my website?”
The answer is: you point your domain to your hosting company by changing the nameservers. And in this blog post, that’s exactly what I’ll be showing you how to do.
The next section will give you a brief overview of what nameservers are and what does it mean to change nameservers so you can use a domain purchased from one company to point to a website hosted with another company. If you’re already familiar with this, feel free to skip this section and jump to the step-by-step tutorial instead that lays out how exactly to point your domain to your hosting company.
DNS & Nameserver Basics: What They Are & What They Do
DNS stands for Domain Name System and is a massive network of servers forming one of the largest digital databases on Earth. This database is maintained, managed and regulated by several internet authorities such as the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) and ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers).
A nameserver is a server managed by a web hosting company and it manages all the hosting accounts associated with that company.
A DNS software is a program that facilitates our computers to look for, and then connect to the right website by way of finding the correct nameserver associated with the domain name.
So, for example, let’s say you purchase a domain name — mywebsite.com — from company X, and then you purchase hosting from company Y.
Now, by default, when you type mywebsite.com in your browser, your computer attempts to find the associated nameserver (with the help of DNS software), and then, with that nameserver, connects the domain to the associated website hosted by company X.
But remember, you bought hosting with company Y, which means your website is with company Y. So, in the end, your computer cannot find the real website and shows you an incorrect page or gives you an error.
And that’s why it’s imperative that when your domain and hosting are from different companies, you change the nameservers (there are usually two nameservers) for the domain from its default to the nameservers of company Y (your hosting company) so that the DNS software can properly look up and show the correct website.
Fortunately, changing the nameservers is super easy. In the following section, I’ll walk you through the process of doing just that.
Step by Step Method of Changing a Domain’s Default Nameservers
There are a lot of hosting companies out there and you can purchase your domain name from these companies as well, which allows you to bypass the domain pointing process by way of changing the nameservers. However, as mentioned in the intro of this post, I strongly encourage my web design and development clients (and YOU) to purchase their domain and hosting from separate companies as a precautionary measure against hackers, accidental database corruption, ill-intentioned people, etc.
The steps to change the nameservers are different for different companies as every company has their unique user interface. However, they are fairly similar, so if you understand the process I have outlined below, you should be able to figure out how to do this no matter which company you have purchased your domain from. And if you’re still struggling, feel free to contact the customer service of the respective companies and get them to help you out.
Since it’s impossible for me to show you how to do this for all the companies out there, I will show you the steps that I follow to change the nameservers in Namecheap [affiliate link], the company where I purchase all my domain names from, with nameservers of my preferred hosting company SiteGround [affiliate link].
A few words regarding my choice of Namecheap and SiteGround for a domain registrar and hosting company:
I have chosen Namecheap as my preferred domain registrar for a number of reasons: They have a really clean, intuitive, back-end interface, which makes changing nameservers a breeze. They also have free WhoisGuard (a privacy protection service). Usually, most other companies charge extra for domain privacy, but with NameCheap, it’s totally free! Last but not least, they have great customer service.
As for hosting, my absolute favorite is SiteGround [affiliate link]. They are just a friggin’ amazing company, for so many different reasons. They have the best bang for the bucks! I cannot say enough about all the cool features they have, but what I love about SiteGround the most is their AMAZING customer service. Guys… their representatives will go ABOVE and BEYOND to help resolve whatever issues you may have… sometimes even issues that have nothing to do with SiteGround itself. Now THAT IS what I call freakin’ A+++ customer service. And of course, the free SSL, free daily backups, and all the measures they take to keep their sites secure and fast are commendable features and puts them above the cut when it comes to all the hosting companies out there.
Step 1: Find Out the Nameservers of the Hosting Company
(With SiteGround, locating the nameservers is super easy. If you have your hosting with a different company, you may have to contact their customer service and ask for their unique nameservers.)
In SiteGround [affiliate link], click on “login” at the top right (image 1). A new window will open where you can enter your login credentials to sign in. After you have signed in, click on “My Account” from the list of tabs (image 2). This will take you to a new page with some information about your account. In this page, you will see a bright orange/red button that says “Go to cPanel”; click it (image 3). This takes you to the cPanel, and in here you will find the required nameservers listed on the top left corner of the page (image 4).
Step 2: Change the Nameservers of the Domain
In this step, you will log into Namecheap’s [affiliate link] dashboard. To do so, click on “Sign In”, on the top left (image 5). After you sign in, in the next page you will see your domain name or a list of all the domains you own (if you have multiple domains). Next to the domain name, you will see a button that says “Manage”; click it (image 6). This will take you to the next page, and somewhere around the middle of this page, you will see the default nameservers.
It should say something like “Namecheap BasicDNS”. Click to open the drop-down, and choose “Custom DNS”. And then change the two default DNS to the ones from your hosting company. Double check to make sure everything looks good, and then click on the little green checkmark to save the nameserver changes (image 7).
That’s it! The changes can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, and up to a maximum of 48 hours to take effect.
The next step to starting your blog, after you’ve pointed your domain to your hosting company, is to set up the blog with WordPress. You can find detailed, step-by-step guide to do just that in this blog post: How to Set Up Blog with Self-Hosted WordPress.
That was easy, right? If you have any question or if any of the steps were not clear enough, feel free to leave a comment below.