Domain names are site names that provide memorable names to stand in for numeric IP addresses. Before getting a web site on line you need to have a domain name. These are the familiar web addresses such as yahoo.com that most browsers use to find a particular web site. Domain names, in fact, are pointers to a particular IP address and we use them because they are easier to remember than a series of numbers. The Domain Name System (DNS) is a system that stores information associated with domain names in a distributed database on networks, such as the Internet. The DNS is what makes it possible to attach hard-to-remember IP addresses (such as 193.456.28.8.) to easy-to-remember domain names (such as “web-hosting-guide.org”)
All websites have an IP address in the form 193.456.28.8. The domain name system translates these numbers into names such as google.com. All domain names are registered in a central registry maintained by InterNIC, a subsidiary of ICANN – the organization which certifies domain name registrars. Domain names are filtered through Domain Name Servers (DNS) which link IP addresses with domain names. Each web site usually has a primary and a secondary DNS – duplicates that increase reliability.
The first step in registering a domain name is to choose it. The name can be almost anything you want, but to be most effective it should reflect the nature of your website. If you are selling scented candles, for example, it helps to have a domain name that has some reference to candles – scented-candles.org.uk for example.
The rules for domain names are simple – only letters, numbers or hyphens are allowed. Other than that, a domain name is limited to 70 characters, but you are advised to keep it as short as possible. Domain names can be upper or lower case – case is ignored by DNS but you can use a combination to make the name more recognizable. Since DNS is case-insensitive, yahoo.com can be advertised as YAHOO.COM.
Every domain name ends in a top-level domain (TLD) name, which is always either one of a small list of generic names (three or more characters), or a two characters territory code. There are several extensions available. The most common is .com – it has even entered common vocabulary as a way to express Internet activity – (I own a dot com business). Other extensions include .biz (for commercial sites), .org (for non-commercial organisations), .net (for organisations involved in Internet infrastructure) and .name (for personal names). There are also extensions with more specialized uses such as .museum, .aero, and .coop and are used exclusively by members of certain organizations. In addition to these common extensions, there can also be a country code extension such as .us (United States) or .uk (United Kingdom). The rules for using country extensions vary, so you need to check with your registrar to see if they are available to you.
All domains must be registered with a registrar that has been certified by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). There are hundreds of registrars and their prices vary considerably. Although registrars are closely regulated, they are permitted to offer their services through third parties; so many web hosts offer a domain name registration service even if they are not a registrar. The price of a domain name will usually be higher when dealing with these third-party services.
Domain names are usually registered for a minimum of one year, although you are permitted to buy up to a 10-year registration contract. Usually the longer the registration contract, the lower the price, so if you are sure you will be on the web for a considerable length of time you can benefit from a longer registration period. Most registrars also offer a discount on bulk purchases. If you own a number of domain names you can save money by transferring them all to the same registrar.