The question “How can I host a site without a domain name” is something I see regularly on different domain community forums and I think it is worth discussing from several different points of view.
Most people that ask this question are the ones looking to avoid spending a few dollars on a domain registration. Considering the domain name “investment” is only a few dollars there are reasons for and against owning a domain name.
What is a domain name?
This seems to be such a basic question, but it’s not always that easy, especially if you are a beginner. While a domain name and website are closely connected, they are two very different things.
The domain name is a human-readable address for a website, as such a very crucial part of a website because it is involved with visitors interaction, company or product branding.
Why do you need a domain name?
The main reason why you need a domain name for your website is so that people can come to your website, and communicate it to their friends. For the same reason you should want a catchy, memorable and recognizable domain name.
Domain names for popular online platforms have become synonyms for the intended use of that website. For example, when you say “google it” what you mean is you want to search for it on the Internet.
Why would you host a website without a domain?
Any kind of website that is catering to the average internet user simply needs a domain name, but there is one specific case when you may not need a domain name with your website – a website for “machines”.
I know this may sound silly but we are about to enter a brave new world where “intelligent machines” talk to each other, or technically speaking they interact with servers that provide useful information to them.
One example would be that your “intelligent” refrigerator has detected you are low on milk, and it will content the grocery store server and insert a bottle of milk in your next order.
Maybe you are running a website for such “intelligent machines” instead of humans? Then ok, I guess the naked IP will suffice for serving the machines needs.
How can I host a site without a domain name?
While not having a domain name associated with it, your website will have to use the IP address (numbers) of your hosting server so that it can be reached by visitors (for example 192.168.0.1 or something similar).
Arguably, most web servers use “Apache” as their web server software. The “Apache” can be set up to respond to all requests to its IP address in the same way or to serve different sites depending on the domain name sent by the browser.
I have to mention that this may be difficult with many hosting providers, because only their administrators have root access to the server. One example where you would have this kind of access to the server is renting a Virtual Private Server (VPS).
Other options to host a site without a domain name?
Remember that the domain name is a human-readable website address, so another option would be to use a subdomain with renown free subdomain platform, but bear in mind that any kind of intellectual property you would be building will add to that domain authority which you do now own.
In this case I would not suggest a single subdomain service as I am not a fan of this option, though some of the renown platforms are WordPress, Wix and Weebly.
Main drawbacks of this approach is that you do not own the sub-domain and if the domain owners decided, they can take it offline without noting you.
These services can revoke your domain name any time they feel like it, and if they conclude that you are making a profit with your website I am sure they will try to sell you the subdomain.
Besides that, the subdomain will always have the name of the service provider at the end of the domain name, meaning your website visitors will always be reading that too.
Is there an absolute way to avoid paying for a domain name?
As tricky as this may sound, yes and no, you can avoid paying for your domain name, at least for the first year of running your website – which will save you a few dollars.
In this case, the best option is to get a hosting service that includes a free domain name, though note that most offers like this include the free domain name only as the 1st-year registration period.
Is there any drawbacks to a free domain name included with hosting? I have to be honest with you, and say yes.
One thing many hosting service users report is that when they want to transfer-out the free domain name they are drawn into a transfer process which demands that they also pay for next-year domain-registration before the domain can leave.
So, there you have it – If you do not provide a domain name for your website then your website address can be communicated as a string of numbers very similar to “cell phone” number.
What you need to ask yourself now is “will saving a few dollars on domain registration be worth it”? It is always helpful to have yourself thorugly informed about a topic and I am sure this article has provided insight into different options for hosting a site without a domain name?