I was working on a website today for a friend and he was asking me about how many subdomains he could have on his account. Having worked as a support tech for long enough time I was able to understand that by subdomains he meant addon domains, but it made me realize just how often these two are confused. If you choose a web host with cPanel it is incredibly easy to manage all of your domains, but it might not be so easy to understand.
Main Domain – This is (obviously) the main domain on your account. When you reference your account with your web hosting company this is what you will give them. The main domain is how cPanel stores all of the rest of your information. If you are only hosting one website, this is the only domain name you will have.
Addon Domain – An addon domain is a completely separate domain name that can be hosted under the same hosting account as your main domain name. Your main domain might be ABC.com and your addon domain would be 123.com. They are completely separate domains and nobody visiting either will know that they are on the same hosting account. This is great for people who want to have more than one website and don’t want to spend a lot of money for multiple hosting accounts.
Subdomain – Subdomains are essentially extensions of a domain name. They are generally used for organizing different sections of the same website. For example, let’s say you are hosting a pet supply website. The main domain might be PetSupplies.com. You are probably going to have multiple sections for this website: dogs, cats, fish, etc. Subdomains allow you to easily separate these so that it is easy for you to recognize where your files are stored, and also makes it easy for your visitors to navigate. The subdomain for dogs, for example, would be dogs.PetSupplies.com, cats would be cats.PetSupplies.com, and so on. Each subdomain will have its own folder where the files will be stored.
While addon domains may not be useful for everybody, I always suggest getting in the habit of using subdomains. It simplifies the file structure of your hosting account and makes it infinitely more organized than having every single file for the whole website in the same folder, especially if there are several unique sections.