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Your Domain Name Is Separate From Your CMS Web Site

Understand Why This Separation Gives You Flexibility

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A good CMS web site can handle almost any task you throw its way, but there's one problem a CMS can't handle: its own domain name.

Sometimes, your web host makes it very easy to buy a new domain name (like pineapplesrule.com) and immediately attach or map it to a CMS web site (like an installation of WordPress or Drupal).

Other times, you have to do some extra work to get your domain name to point to your actual web site. Why?

Domain Names Are Separate From the Web Site

You need to understand how the domain name is separate from your web site.

When you register a domain, like pineapplesrule.com, it doesn't automatically point to a web site. It may seem like it does, but that's only because many companies will do it for you.

You can often buy a web hosting package that includes both the domain registration and the actual hosting services on their server hard drives. Behind the scenes, the web host takes care of mapping the domain to the right place on their server.

It's convenient that they make the process so seamless. But it's important to keep these two ideas separate. The domain name is one thing, and the actual web site it points to is another.

By "actual web site," I mean the files and software and database that people interact with when they visit your domain name. We might point pineapplesrule.com to a Drupal installation, or a WordPress installation, or even a cluster of static HTML files.

No matter which we choose, pineapplesrule.com is the domain name, not the actual files of the web site.

Domain Names Are Like Phone Numbers

You can think of domain names as phone numbers.

When you buy a new cell phone, you can usually point your current number to the new phone.

On the flip side, if you've had the same phone number for awhile, you can drop your old phone number, and point a new number to the same phone.

The number and the physical cell phone are totally separate. You can change either one.

Domain names and web sites are the same way. The domain name is like the phone number, and the web site is like the phone.

Suppose you start pineapplesrule.com as a WordPress site. Then, you decide to migrate the site into Drupal. That's like buying a new cell phone, but keeping your old number.

Or, you might decide to amp up the pressure, and change the site's domain name to pineapples-rule-carrots-drool.com. Same site, new domain. That's like keeping your phone, but getting a new phone number.

This separation of the domain name and the web site gives you extreme flexibility. It's a great system.

Of course, it can be tricky to actually connect your domain name to your web site. The main thing you need to understand is how to find the correct "name server", where you can edit the "DNS records" for your domain.

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