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About Domain Names

You need two things to have a successful website and professional email: a domain name and a hosting account.

  • Domain Name. Your domain name is what people type into their browser to find your website, but the website's address is really a unique string of identifying numbers called an IP address that isn't easy for most people to remember. Your domain name functions as a memorable link, or shortcut, to the IP address, making it easier to get to your website without needing to remember its numeric address.
  • Hosting Account. Website hosts are companies that house, serve, and maintain files for many websites. A website hosting company is like a shopping center that has space for many individual stores. A hosting account is like leasing a space in that shopping center where you can set up a shop. Website hosting companies let you lease space on their web servers where you can store your website files and make them available for your visitors to view.

Without a domain name, your website visitors won't have a memorable way to get to your website. And without a hosting account, there won't be a website to go to.

Bluehost offers both hosting and domain names to make it easy to manage your email, website, and domains— all in one place. You can register new domain names and transfer domains you already own right inside your Bluehost account.


Using a Domain You Already Own

If you already own a domain name that is registered elsewhere, you can still use it with your Bluehost account. You'll just need to change your domain's settings to point to Bluehost. To do that, contact your registrar or log in to your account with your current registrar and change the name servers to:

  • ns1.bluehost.com
  • ns2.bluehost.com

This tells your registrar that Bluehost is now the hosting provider. It doesn't move website content, that is something you'll do later in your control panel. Once that's been done, it will take every host and internet service provider about 4 to 48 hours to update their records to associate our name servers with your domain. This is called DNS propagation and sadly, you just have to wait for it to complete.

Once a domain has been pointed here (by changing the name servers), there are two ways you can use the domain on your account. You can transfer the domain's registration to your Bluehost account, or you can just assign the domain name to your account without transferring the registration.

Domain names are typically renewed once a year and sometimes for multiple years at a time. It can be easy to lose track of where your domains are registered when it's time for renewal, especially if your domain and hosting are in separate places. And keep in mind, you need both a hosting provider and a domain registrar to have an active website and working email. For this reason, many of our customers like to transfer domains to their Bluehost account to keep things simple. Here you can keep everything on one bill, purchase domains for multiple years, and set up your domains and hosting to automatically renew. No need to worry about a lapse in service or worse -- losing your domain registration altogether.

Note: To transfer your domain's registration to Bluehost, check out this article. To assign the domain to your account without transferring the registration, check out this article. If you need to change the primary domain name, please refer to How To Change Your Primary Domain.

Register a New Domain Name

Your domain name is the name of your website and acts as your address on the web. Viewers will use your domain to find your website which is why it's also a good idea to register your domain name along with common misspellings and various other domain extensions— just in case. If you own johnsphotography.com, see if johnsphotos.com and johns.photo are available to catch users who misspell your domain name. We make it easy to see which domain names are available for registration.

Shorter domains are typically better since they are easier to type out and remember. If your business name is long, you might try registering one domain for your website and a shorter version of the domain name just for email. Email addresses should be simple enough that they can be written out and spoken aloud without too much effort.

Your domain should be unique so you won't be confused for another website or business, but simple so it's easy to remember. Avoid things like hyphens or unusual spelling so people can still find you online.

You can also set up redirects on your hosting account so that if someone visits a misspelled or short version of your domain, they can be redirected to the correct site.

Domain Privacy

Every domain name has public information tied to it about the owner of the domain. The name, email address, phone number, and even home address of the owner is publicly available online in the WHOIS database.

The rules and laws surrounding domain names require every domain name owner to disclose their contact information. But most people wouldn't want their personal contact information available to the public where scammers, hackers, and anyone else can see it. This is what makes Domain Privacy so useful.

Domain Privacy is a service Bluehost offers that will hide your personal contact information from the public WHOIS database and replace it with generic Bluehost contact information instead. You are still the owner of the domain name, but your personal contact information can be kept safe.

Domain Privacy protects you from:

  • Spam and other unsolicited email
  • Unwanted phone calls and postal mail
  • Identity theft
  • Fraudulent domain transfers