This article shows how to setup your domain and explains DNS, Nameservers, IP Address, Forwarding, domain registration and trouble shooting.
Introduction and scope
Almost Everyone who knows about internet knows what a domain name is. It is what identifies a unique website or email server. When you send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, domain.com forms domain name. When you type in http://domain.com in address bar of your browser, domain.com is domain name of website you are going to see.
But how does computer know which page to show when there are almost infinite number of domain names possible ? How does it know where to fetch webpage from ? This article answers these question and explains what you need to do to register and setup your domain and tell all computers in world that yourdomain.com should show your web page.
How to choose a domain name ?
There are many top level domains (TLDs) most popular are .com, .net and .org – Countries have their own like .us, .in, .ca, .au etc and then there is new breed of domains like .tv, .info, .ws and so on but most powerful king of all is .com Why ? Because it came first ? In domain market, single word domains sell for thousands of dollars and .com costs around 10 times more than others and is as difficult to get a new name. There is a myth that domains with hypnens (dashes) are better for search engine rankings, I think there may be some truth in that myth, but domains without dashes always seem to cost more than ones with dashes. The best way to register a domain is to determine keywords you are going to target by using free trial of keyword popularity and competition analysis from wordtracker.com and get a domain with those keywords in it. Another school of thought abandons this approach and advocates brand name domains like yahoo.com instead of everything-portal.com google.com instead of the-only-search-engine.com and ebay.com instead of online-junk-acutions.com - you get picture.
Name Servers Explained
Every computer connected to internet has an ip address that looks like 220.127.116.11
An ip address consists of 4 numbers separated by dots, each number ranging from 1 to 255. What this numbers mean is not important for us, all we need to understand is that each computer on internet has a unique ip address and if GoldenRobot wants to talk to R2D2 on internet, it has to know IP address of R2D2 (name borrowed from movie Star Wars).
But Wait a minute, does that mean that there are only 256*256*256*256 number of computers that can connect to internet, technically yes. But that number is large enough for now until they start connecting ever microwave and freezer to internet (imagine your freezer automatically placing an order for 2 liters of milk to grocery store when it detects that your milk stock is diminishing!)
OK, now you must be thinking all ip address stuff is fine, but how does it relate to domain names ? Remember that I said "if GoldenRobot wants to talk to R2D2, it has to know IP address of R2D2 " - but all you give to your computer is Domain Name of website you want to visit, so how can it get ip address ? Enter NameServer.
The job of a nameserver is to resolve a domain name to an ip address. Simple.
A nameserver is similar to a telephone directory except that instead of mapping person names to phone numbers, it maps domain names to ip addresses.
Imagine having just one telephone directory for all people in world ! In same way, if they had just one nameserver for all domains, it would be unmanageably huge and all computers would have to contact that one nameserver to get domains resolved to ip addresses ! Even a super-duper-mega-monster-computer would not be able to handle such a load !
So we have many nameservers. When you register a domain, you specify which name server to use.
Now lets take our example
GoldenRobot wants to talk to R2D2
It will have to follow these steps
1> Look at registrar entry for R2D2 to determine which nameserver to use
2> Connect to that nameserver and ask it for ip address of R2D2
3> Connect to R2D2 using this IP address
In reality it is a bit more complicated due nameserver cacheing, and chained recursive lookups leading to authoritative and non authoritative responses but our example illustrates basic concept and is sufficient knowledge to setup your domain.
One misconception that I would like to clarify, some people think that each domain name maps to a unique ip address, not true. Just as many people in a house can share a single telephone number, many domain names can share a single ip address. The NameServer will return same ip address for all of these domains and when browser connects to that ip address, it says I am trying to reach suchandsuch.com domain, webserver then returns correct page for domain requested. Obtaining a unique ip address (known as dedicated ip) for your website is usually more expensive than sharing ip address.
How to setup your domain name
Form discussion we just had, you would be able to appreciate that in order for you to get your domain to point to your webpage, you need to do following in theory
1> Obtain ip address for web host where your WebPages reside - this is webserver ip
2> Make an entry (Called as DNS Entry) in a Nameserver to resolve your domain name to this ip address.
3> Configure your domain to use this nameserver
Most of time, step 2 will be transparent to you as most webservers provide nameservers in which they make DNS entry for you when you purchase webspace from them. Also, many good domain registrars provide their own nameservers that you can use.
While registering a domain or after registering a domain, you will need to set it up to use two or more nameservers. It is common to use multiple nameservers so that if one of them is down others may be used.
You have three options to set nameservers
- 1> nameserver provided by your web host
Your webhost will usually have