The goal of this post is to provide website owners with the proper understanding of how domain name registration works and the relationship between domain name registration and their website (or website hosting)
A Domain Name is a Human-Friendly URL. In the same way that we give names to our streets and businesses, domain names make it easier for people to find and visit your website.
Domain registration is the process of registering a domain name. The person or business that registers a domain name is called the domain name registrant. The domain name registrar is a company that manages the reservation of Internet domain names. GoDaddy is an example of a domain registrar, they are by far the biggest domain registrar.
After registering a domain name you are provided access to update/change the domain’s owner contact information (which determines who the owner of the domain is) and to the domain’s DNS Server which is simply a database that Maps Human-Friendly URLs ( Domain Names) to IP Addresses (servers.)
The function of DNS is to tell your domain what to do, and can be considered the settings for your domain. These settings are broken down into 2 levels. The Nameservers and the Zone File.
The Zone File is effectively a “To-Do” List for your domain and the Nameservers are the setting that determines where that “To-Do” List is managed.
The owner of a domain name can if they chose, transfer the registration to a different registrar. Sometimes people do this because they want to have all their domains in one place, other times they do so because the renewal prices are better than they are with their current registrar. Other times they do so because of confusion that leads them to conclude that transferring the registration is necessary to change where they are hosting their website. What dictates where you are hosting your website is one of the records in the DNS Zone File, not where the domain registration is maintained.
No one EVER needs to transfer their domain name in order to facilitate the creation, completion or updating of their website. If you already own a domain name and a Website Development or Marketing Company advises that you need to transfer your domain name as part of the process, they are lying to you.
Transferring a domain name is a somewhat complicated process that can easily break your website, cause unnecessary downtime or trigger a lock on the domain. The only outcome is that you lose your autonomy and open yourself up to having your domain stolen or being locked into unreasonable registration or renewal fees.
A web development company requesting that you transfer your domain name so that they can complete their scope of work is essentially like your mechanic asking for the title to your car in order to change the oil.
This Video at the beginning of this post should help clarify this information further and help domain owners understand how these things work and protect themselves. With the Internet being the primary source of information in the Modern World, a general understanding of these things work is important.