If you've purchased your domain name and your hosting from different companies, you need to perform a simple operation to essentially link the two together. In this lesson we'll take a look at how to Link your domain with your hosting.
Depending on who you're using for your hosting, you might be prompted to enter your domain name when you first sign up for hosting (HostGator) or you might be allowed to purchase hosting without having a domain name first. If you didn't tell your hosting provider your domain name when you signed up, you will need to log in to your hosting control panel (or similar) and "add" that domain.
If your hosting is already aware of your domain name, this will usually appear in the welcome email they send you, and you can skip this step.
It can take anywhere between 20 minutes and 48 hours for these changes to filter their way through the internet (a process known as "propagation") so you won't be able to access your website through your domain immediately. You'll know when it's finished because you'll be able to type your domain name into your browser and more than likely encounter a "this page is under construction" sign from your hosting provider.
If you want to start uploading things to your website before it's propagated you'll need to use the IP address provided by your hosting company, or you can sit tight and wait.
The name servers basically keep a record of the association between your friendly, easy to remember domain name (http://www.greatdomain.com) and the nasty, hard-to-remember IP address which is where your website is *actually* stored (eg. http://188.8.131.52/~joebloggs).
By specifying your name servers in your domain control panel you're telling the domain to ask your website host about the real location of your website (all in a hidden and automatic manner).
The name servers you enter will generally follow the following format of these examples:
Of course, your real name servers will be in the information from your hosting company - most likely in your welcome email when you signed up, or possibly in their help system.
HostGator also provide some nice instructional videos for changing your name servers at http://www.hostgator.com/dns.shtml. They have specific videos for a number of different registrars, and it doesn't matter if you're not using HostGator for your hosting -- the process is still the same.
Linking your domain from one place to your hosting in another place is a fairly simple process, and usually there are support tutorials available from both your domain and hosting providers. In short, all you need to do is: