How WordPress Websites Are Stored and Accessed on the Internet

Your website is a symphony of moving parts that all work together to deliver your website when your domain name is typed into a browser. Most basic WordPress websites involve a domain registrar, your DNS provider, and your hosting solution. By following sets of protocols, they work together to ensure that when you type in your website’s domain, your website appears!

Here is a basic overview of how the process works:

  1. You type in YourDomain.com and click enter
  2. Your Internet Provider sends that request to a database that it maintains to see where it can where it can find more information about where that domain is stored.
  3. That database points to your registrar.
  4. Your registrar points to your DNS with nameservers.
  5. Your DNS points to your hosting provider’s servers with an IP address.
  6. Your hosting provider keeps the code of your website and your database stored in their system.
  7. Your hosting provider then renders the visual aspect of your site and sends it back to you.

Your Registrar

The Registrar is a company that ICANN accredits to sell domains. Some common registrars are GoDaddy or NameCheap.

The registrar is responsible for maintaining a record of where your nameservers exist. ICANN trusts your domain registrar to provide accurate information about where your nameservers can be found.

Here are some helpful notes:

  • Your Registrar can be your hosting provider, but it doesn’t have to be.
  • Often, small businesses’ hosts are their registrar, DNS, and host.
  • Always be 100% certain that your domain is set up to renew with your registrar; not renewing your domain is a costly mistake. You should rarely trust this to a third party that can hold your domain hostage if you fail to pay a bill, a contract falls apart, or some other unforeseen circumstance.  

Your DNS

Your DNS is the system that tells the internet exactly where to look for certain information. It houses all sorts of information that are called records. Records are simply address markers that define where something is stored. For example, an important record you will define is called the A Record. The A record shows the IP address that stores the actual files and database of the website.

At this point, the request life cycle looks something like this:

  1. Type in example.com. This is your initial request. It doesn’t know anything about the site you’re requesting yet. It has to go through the internet and acquire information from different parties.
  2. Your internet service provider visits the official internet resource to see where your domain is stored.
  3. Here, they find the location of your Registrar. 
  4. The request goes to the registrar, where it finds nameservers that define where your DNS records are stored.
  5. It then travels to the DNS records, where it finds that example.com is stored on a server with your server’s IP address.
  6. Finally, it goes to that IP address (which is typically your hosting provider’s computer)

Your Hosting Provider

Think of your hosting provider as a computer configured to be publicly accessible.

They house the two aspects of most websites:

  1. The Code
  2. The Databases

Don’t worry about the code and database; you probably will never have to interact with them. Most users will interact with the site via the CMS.

Once your request arrives at the hosting provider, the hosting provider will then go through a process to generate the front-end view of your website (this is what you initially requested). It then uses the channel that it discovered on the trip to the hosting provider to send files back to you that your internet browser understands how to display!