what is the difference between having a server account and a hosting account?

Hello and Good Evening Everyone

          I am entertaining the idea of creating a web page and uploading it to the internet.  From a viewed YouTube video, I am under the impression I will need to create a server account and hosting account which brings me to the point of this post.  What is the difference between a server account and a hosting account?  The recommended site for registering a domain name given within the YouTube video is namecheap.com.  As I understand it, I can get a registered domain name for about $10.00 per year.  With respect to a hosting account, the YouTube video recommends going to hostgator.com for this need.  The average fee charged by hostgator.com is $6.00 to $7.00 a month.  

         With respect to the purpose or reason for having a server account and hosting account, I believe it boils down to this.  The server will be used to store the web page on the internet for others to view online.  Depending upon the company the domain name is registered with, the server comes in different storage capacities.  However, I am not very clear on the purpose of having a hosting account.  Maybe the company, like hostgator.com, simply maintains the site after it is uploaded to the server.  But, what does maintain mean?  Does that imply that I will have agents from the company help in the supervising of the creation and additions made to the website?  

           In closing, I look forward to reviewing any shared input which will help resolve my confusion surround server and hosting accounts.  Any feedback will certainly be welcomed.

           Thank you

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Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
Confusing words.  To have a web site, you need a domain name and a hosting account.  They can be from the same company.  Domain Names are registered thru a Domain Registrar and web hosting for that domain name can be rented from a hosting company.  Many companies like Godaddy and Hostgator do both and sometimes you get a domain name free for a year.

Domain names are billed yearly and hosting is billed monthly although they really like it when you pay for a year at a time.
There are a lot of providers who provide services in this range. Which one is "best" probably changes every day.

For a server account, you more-or-less get complete control of a server, the entry level being a virtual server instance, but you can pay to have a whole physical server to yourself as well, if that's what you need. You can choose (perhaps within limits) what OS it will run, what application software to install (again, perhaps within limits). The provider is not usually going to offer a lot of hand-holding with getting your website to work.

For a web hosting account, you get access to just the file storage and control panel of an application that controls your website - but not necessarily any deeper control of the underlying server. There may also be some database access associated with the account, but you get limited access to how the server is set up.

If all you want is a "standard" website, the web hosting account is usually the way to go. One way the providers differentiate themselves is by the level of support they offer. The basic model is that you design your website, either on your own system or via their website, the configuration and content get loaded into your website and it goes live. Some providers will have nice wizards and frameworks to allow beginners to put together a website, some will have support staff that can help you on the design side or to troubleshoot your site once it has been deployed. Most of the work of maintaining the website is going to be up to you, unless you pay for additional services.

I don't have any experience to speak of regarding namecheap or hostgator, but it's worth shopping around to see what other providers can offer.
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
In a majority of cases for a website you don't need a server (virtual or real hosted in a datacenter) you just need a hosting account. hosting accounts normally are divided into microsoft and linux server bases. Where the microsoft hosting account will have the capability of using MS SQL (size and # of database limitations) and the complete range of microsoft .net framework based web applications where linux allows mysql, python web services. If you were using dotnetnuke framework you will need a Microsoft style hosting, if using Wordpress you would be better off with a Linux hosting service.  Of course, if you have a private server then you don't have these limitations as you can add/remove components as required.  

A server solution is the same linux or microsoft based. and at different price levels you get # of cores and amount of memory available. Different providers provide differing levels of available control options.

Only you can decide what is appropriate for you.
Your post shows that you have some misunderstandings.  In particular:

"Depending upon the company the domain name is registered with, the server comes in different storage capacities."

You need a domain name registrar and a hosting provider.  They can be the same company.  If you want  to keep things simple, they SHOULD be the same company.  Otherwise, when you have difficulties, the hosting provider will blame the domain name registrar and vice versa.

Godaddy provides both services, as does hostgator.   In my experience, godaddy is FAR more helpful when you have a problem.

The domain name registrar obtains the domain name for you, and follows your instructions as to where it should be pointed.  That is, they are in charge of what server someone is sent to when they enter your domain name in their browser.   This is ENTIRELY separate from providing you disk space on the server, where the content of your website is stored.

In theory, you could operate the server yourself, and just have the domain name registrar set the domain name to point to your own server.  By hiring a hosting provider, you are essentially renting space on someone else's server.

You would then design your website, and copy the files that comprise your site onto the server - either your own, or the one you're renting space on.   And, you would tell your domain name registrar to point the domain name to that server.  Again, this will be easier if the server is operated by the same company that's providing you with the domain name.

The domain name registrar should be charging you a flat fee, and you'll typically get a discount if you pay now for a number of years.

The hosting company will charge you based on how much space you need, and perhaps what bells and whistles you want.

The hosting company is NOT responsible for maintaining your website in any way, though they may kindly provide you advice as to how to upload your files.  ALL they are responsible for is making sure the server doesn't crash, is reasonably secure, and that it is able to connect to the internet, so that people can connect to your site.

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