What’s the difference? There’s a huge difference.
Although the menus for setting up most domain or website features vary from registrar to registrar, the concepts are the same. “Pointing” involves assigning a DNS (Domain Name Server) address, obtained from your hosting company, to your domain name ?grumpy.com ? for example. This is done at your registrar account.
Then, you must inform your hosting company to “set up” grumpy.com on their end, if they have not yet done so. And this is where domain setup and monthly fees at your hosting company come in.
“Forwarding” (also referred to as “redirecting”), on the other hand, works a little differently. Let’s say you wanted to set up a domain grumpyspaint.com for your website. Instead of using the DNS method described above, you would simply “forward” it to grumpy.com, which would already be pointing to your website. In addition to being a little easier, it’s likely you’ve just saved yourself some cash.
When a surfer enters grumpyspaint.com, they simply get forwarded to your other name, grumpy.com, which is already pointing to your site. It’s almost as if the surfer entered grumpy.com directly. And you don’t need any additional setups at your hosting company when you use this method, no matter how many additional parked domain names you have. So, no setups, no fees.
To put it all together, if you had let’s say twenty domain names, you’d need to set up only one domain at your registrar using the DNS method, and you’d need your hosting company to “setup” that same name on their end. The other nineteen names would need no setup whatsoever at your hosting company. All you’d have to do is redirect (at your registrar account) all 19 names to that one name you already have set up. And, thus, you’ve saved yourself setup and/or monthly fees for nineteen parked domains.
How much can you save? Some hosting companies can charge as much as $20 setup and $5 per month for each parked domain. Figure it out.
Be aware that some registrars charge extra for features such as “forwarding.” But there’s no need to pay extra even for this. Many registrars, like Stickywebdomains.com, include forwarding and other features at no extra charge.
So, even if you do not necessarily manage these domain matters yourself, but relegate it to a friend or coworker, being aware of the ins and outs can help you avoid getting ripped off by a hosting company whose job is not necessarily to keep you informed of the most budget-conscious way of running your operation. After all, the information super highway should be for surfing, not for being taken for a ride.