There are two key elements to any web venture: a domain name and a web hosting package. Whether you run a fan site for your favourite film or a site that lets people compare landlord insurance, you’ll need both a domain name and a hosting package.

The former is usually decided upon during the planning stages, and can be anything from the name of a company to an exact match keyword. The latter, however, is somewhat more flexible. There is a world of options when it comes to hosting packages, and a lot of confusion for the uninitiated.

With terms like PHP and MySQL being thrown around left, right, and centre, it’s no surprise that many webmasters simply settle on the first one they find. But there are lots of great reasons to take your time and choose carefully, or you risk ending up with an inferior hosting package.

Take domains, for example. Most hosts will offer one domain per hosting package – but some offer ‘unlimited’ domains. Let’s look at what these terms mean, and which is the best choice for you.

What does ‘unlimited domains’ actually mean?

Think of your hosting package as a room within which you keep your website, then think of your domain name as a door that leads into that room. The domain serves one single purpose, but the hosting package may actually have spare space.

If you’ve got a small site, you might only be using a small fraction of your capacity. Unlimited domains would – in our example – allow you to put up a wall in your room and add another door leading to it. In a nutshell, you simply host more than one website on one hosting package and have two or more domain names pointing to it.

Of course, just like a room in a house, your hosting is usually of limited size, so there are only so many domains you can have redirecting there – but sellers often use the term ‘unlimited’ to make their services sound even better.

Why is having unlimited domains a better option?

There are countless webmasters out there who run multiple websites. It follows, then, that some of these may actually have a separate hosting package for each of these sites. In this scenario, the webmaster has to pay out a monthly fee for every single website – even if it’s only using 2% of the available space.

This is the key problem with a single domain web hosting package. If you want more than one website, you can end up paying big. With an unlimited domain package, you can have as many sites as you need pointed at the same hosting space.

It can be a real money saver. And with many unlimited hosting packages now costing very little per month, you can save over the long term as well. Just imagine how much having lots of single domain packages would cost – it’s plenty!

Should you opt for an unlimited domain package?

Your specific circumstances will determine if any of these unlimited deals is right for you. If you want just one website, and you’re confident that’s all you’ll ever need, then by all means go for a single domain hosting package.

On the other hand, if you want the choice to be able to host other websites should the need arise (without having to pay another monthly fee) you’ll benefit greatly from an unlimited hosting package. Just be sure that the other aspects of the hosting (MySQL databases, disk space, bandwidth and so on) are also unlimited.

Remember that domains are relatively cheap, whereas web hosting can run into the hundreds per year or more, so you’re much better off having one hosting package that’s as unlimited as possible, because it will give you the freedom to launch sites without paying each time (except the domain registration fee).

Of course, if you’re feeling really adventurous, you could always buy your own web server to run from your home or office. That way, you could even offer web hosting packages out to other people – at which point, the shoe really is on the other foot.