How can I find out who is hosting a website?
Knowing the hosting provider of a website is important
From marketing to development, the question "Who is hosting this?" comes up across the board of people working in the technology industry.
As a marketer, you might be asking yourself where a competitor or a potential customer is hosted. You can find out a lot about a prospect if you know whether they are hosted with a website builder such as Squarespace or Wix, an e-commerce platform such as Shopify, self-hosted in their own datacenter or running on a cloud provider like Amazon Web Services.
As a developer or website owner, you want to know where your website is hosted mainly for debugging and performance checks. You want to know if your Domain Name System (DNS) records are correct and that your website is reachable. Maybe you recently had a Domain transfer and want to see if it worked. When you want to improve your website's performance for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you want to see if you are using a Content Distribution Network (CDN), which greatly improves your website's speed.
There is no single hosting provider
However, it often is difficult to answer these questions without a lot of online research and knowing the ins and outs of IT infrastructure. Additionally, there are several answers to the question of who is hosting a website. For example, a company might be setup like this:
- 1. Domain registered with Bluehost
- 2. DNS hosted with AWS Route53
- 3. Web Hosting with GoDaddy
- 4. CDN with Fastly
- 5. E-Mail hosting with Office356
An easy way to get the website host
Previously, you would answer these questions by investing a lot of time searching for each of these online, going to a specialized website and seeing cryptic "whois", domain and IP address entries that you need to interpret yourself.
Bhnd.io greatly simplifies this search. Not only is the tool fetching the right data from the vastness of the internet, but it also interprets the data for you. It does this by checking the DNS records in real-time and translating them to the actual provider name behind the entry. Today, bhnd.io can detect the DNS, Web/CDN and E-Mail host of a website. With that, you know within seconds where a company is hosted.
The difference between Domain and Web Hosting
A domain is the human-readable address of a website, for example www.Netflix.com. You need to register a Domain with a Domain Registrar which often costs around $15 per year or more.
The Web Host is the server where the actual files (images, documents) of the website are saved. Often, the web hosting company will also offer you to register a domain with them and takes care of routing the domain correctly.
When you type in a domain name in your browser, it actually does not know where to go yet. It will need to first find out to which server the domain is pointing to. The browser does this by checking a large "domain database" (a DNS) that works like an address book. This address book tells the browser where the server is located, often providing a so-called Internet Protocol (IP) address. That's where the browser will then go.
When the website is using a Content Distribution Network (CDN), the domain might not point to the hosting server, but to the CDN provider. Many websites use a CDN because it serves as a caching layer to speed up the website.