If you've spent any time at all surfing internet, then you've seen a domain name. You may not have known, but you can be sure that you've seen one.
So what are domain names all about? Here are some common questions and answers.
What is this thing called a domain name?
It is a completely unique address which identifies a collection of web pages (generally called a web site) that are publicly accessible. A domain name identifies your site and allows people to get to it without knowing technical details of it's TCP/IP address and so forth. A good domain name also informs people what your site is about.
Is a domain name only for web sites?
No. A domain name also is used for email identification. In addition, other kinds of systems such as newsgroups and FTP servers are often identified by a domain name.
Why is a domain name important?
If you create a web site, you don't absolutely need a domain name. In fact, vast majority of people create a web site on a free host. These free hosts typically have many thousands (and in a few cases millions) of web sites on same domain, each site identified by a unique name.
However, if you have desire to do anything significant on internet, then you need to get your own domain name. Why? It's considered more professional, it is not very expensive, and many of major search engines will not spider free host sites which do not have their own domain name.
What are components of a domain name?
There are two to three parts to a domain name. Let's take a typical domain name - "internet-tips.net". This domain name has two parts. The first, "internet-tips", is a second-level domain name. The second part, ".net" is a top-level domain name. You can also have a third (or even more) part, called a subdomain. For example, "search.internet-tips.net" might be a valid subdomain. The whole thing together identifies a web site or sites.
What is a subdomain for?
A subdomain is used to drill down deeper into a site. For example, a web host that allows other people to create sites might offer subdomains. Each subdomain might be a unique site. Subdomains can also be used to identify functions - "search.internet-tips.net" is a good example of a function oriented subdomain.
What are valid top-level domains?
The current major top-level domains are listed in table below.
Domain Usage .COM Commercial business .EDU 4-year university or college .GOV Government .INT International .MIL Military .NATO NATO field .NET Network related organizations .ORG Non-profit organization
There are also top-level domain names for countries - these are defined by ISO-3166. In addition, new top-level domains are in process of being created - these are described in "The new domains are coming soon".
The intended purpose of top-level domain is to allow surfers to know, just by looking at characters, what kind of site they are examining. For example, a site with a top level domain of ".EDU" is a university or four year college.
Unfortunately, restrictions of use of top-level domains (especially .ORG) has not been enforced. Thus, divisions between domain names has blurred.
How do people get domain names?
There are over 200 companies (called Domain Registrars) whose only purpose is to sell you domain names. All you have to do is find one and give them money. They will take care of rest. How much does it cost to get a domain?
It depends upon where you get your domain name. You can find many places that will register for free in return for some service or product. Some will charge a yearly fee, some will only charge for registration itself. In general, I would not pay more than $35 a year. If you look around, you can get this down to under $10.
What about Network Solutions?
Until recently, you could only purchase domain names from a company called Network Solutions. You can still purchase your domain name directly from them. However, you now have option of using any of several hundred different companies. It is up to you.
How many domain names can a person own?
As many as he wants. You do have to be careful about cybersquatting, which is practice of purchasing a domain only to block someone else or force them to pay you money (it's could be described as domain name extortion).
Can domain names be sold or traded?
Yes, as long as rules for cybersquatting are not violated. There are several companies who specialize in buying, selling and bidding on domain names.