Primary, Addon, Alias, and Sub Domains
For anyone new to the world of web hosting, the four different types of domains can seem a little overwhelming. We’ve put together a handy guide below to help you brush up on the differences.
What is a primary domain?
A primary domain, in the context of the average website, is the main address that the website can be found at. It will likely be set as the domain for the hosting account/cPanel that the website is hosted on too.
What is an addon domain?
An addon domain is that which is added to an existing hosting account as an extra domain, alongside the primary domain. All hosting accounts can technically host multiple websites/domains, though doing so is not advised, as in the case of websites, they will fight each other for resources. There are other concerns regarding keeping multiple websites in a single hosting account, including potential search engine optimization issues. Website CMS software such as WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla should always have their own individual hosting accounts, to ensure adequate resources and optimal organization.
However, there may be times where you wish to host a simple HTML website alongside your main website, without having another full hosting account for it. This would be one of the times where an addon domain is used to add the second domain to share the same hosting account and allow another directory to be created where the files for that extra website can be stored.
What is an alias domain?
An alias domain is also known as a parked domain. These domains are generally the ones that closely match your primary domain, but are slightly different, such as different spellings or abbreviations, or different domain types (e.g. .com, .com.au, .org etc.). You may wish to register these domains to ensure others do not use them (brand protection), or you may wish to register them to catch common misspellings of your company name. If your main domain is a bit long, you may wish to use an alias domain so that you have a shorter domain you can use on certain materials such as business cards.
Rather than have these domains sitting there doing nothing, you can add them to your hosting account as alias domains. This will give you the ability to redirect them to your primary domain, maximizing the amount of visitors you catch.
What is a subdomain?
A subdomain is most useful when you need to have multiple websites or systems without having to register different domains for the subsequent websites to live on. An example of this may be if you have a website that sells services, but your checkout redirects to a third-party billing system. You may wish to set up your billing software on billing.yourbusiness.com, rather than have to come up with a different domain altogether to house it on. Keeping your domain branding consistent builds more trust with your audience, giving them the peace of mind that they are still on a website related to your primary domain, rather than something completely different.
Subdomains are also often used simply for the purpose of redirecting visitors to other systems you may use online, such as third-party portals, social media channels, educational platforms or custom applications.
Subdomains also do not have to share the same hosting account (though they can do too if you wish). So, if you have large websites or systems that you wish to keep on your subdomains, it would be best practice to create a new hosting account for each substantial application.