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What Is A Domain Name?

A domain name is a string of characters with an extension that represents one or more IP addresses (e.g. on the Internet. A Domain Name System/Server (DNS) translates that domain name to an IP address. You could actually just type the IP address of the domain into a browser to display the website instead of the domain name if the IP is for a dedicated web server. Shared web servers use the same IP address.

It must be a unique name to all other existing domains and importantly any existing trademark or you may have issues. Your business trading name would be a logical first choice. The name is made up of the name and the extension such as   .com   A different extension such as   .org   is a different domain.

The www prefix to a domain name is only a sub-domain of the domain. You do not register a  www  and usually never need to enter the  www.   Using  the (e.g.)  mydomain.com  would work.  Other common sub-domains can  be (e.g.)  help.mydomain.com     (not   www.help.mydomain.com   because this is an invalid address)

Three common protocols are used for retrieving data from a domain. They are  HyperTextTransferProtocol for standard web pages using the   http:  prefix,  HyperTextTransferProtocolSecured for encrypted data transfer to and from  a web browser using the   https:  prefix, and  FileTransferProtocol with a   ftp:  prefix  to download and upload files to a domain.


How Do I Register A Domain Name?

The name needs to be registered with a domain name registrar or a re-seller who will charge you a relatively small annual fee of around $15.00 for a standard domain, less for some and more for special domains. It can be  a great deal cheaper if you bundle with a hosting plan and pay for an entire years subscription, but you are locked in.

It must be a name that is not currently registered. Or, you could pay for an existing name that is for sale and is "parked", meaning it is not being hosted but is registered and waiting for some-one to pay money and make the owner a small fortune.

 Domain name registration is a recurring fee, usually every year or more paid in advance. Not paying the fee before it expires will allow somebody else to grab that domain name for themselves because it is released.

Choose a trusted re-seller or registrar. They will be providing the domain management interface where you configure your domain properties such as pointing to your web site host server. You should determine who is the actual domain provider. Sometimes registrations are moved to a different registrar due to reliability issues. You can search in the ICANN listing for registrars accredited under the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. ICANN has a FAQ page for Domain Name holders such as yourself.

Select a domain name re-seller for registering your domain name(s) and a separate company as your web site host provider. If in the future you want to change your host, then you will just need to point your domain name to the new host web server which avoids any issues if you need to "ditch" a bad hosting site because they are slow, their "downtime" is significant or they do not provide the service you require.

Important !  You will be sent a confirmation email or SMS text message, with a confirmation ID code immediately after registering a new domain name.

  • Ensure you register your correct mobile cell phone number and email address when you register.
  • Other details such as postal address and name should also be accurate.
  • Access your email as soon as possible to confirm by clicking on the link (with the ID code) provided in the email or confirm with SMS message if it is sent.
  • Failure to do this will result in the registrar suspending your account.

More details here at  https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/approved-with-specs-2013-09-17-en#whois-accuracy

namecheap Register any of hundreds of domain extension types like  .buzz .bargains and .cool  with the new Domain TLD's available. Or, register a common domain like .com or .net

domainThere are many types of new domain types you can register quickly and easily like   .me.mobi.boutique, .tv  and many more, as well as the common domains.

Above are some popular accredited ICANN domain registrars. You can read the disclosure regarding these promoted sites.


What Is A Good Domain Name?

Interesting and memorable names are ideal. Do not use hyphens or long names or spaces or numbers unless this is a part of your business. The shorter the name the better because people can type the name quickly and easily and it is easy to remember. Ensure the name cannot be construed as a different meaning, especially something rude or abusive, unless you want to make it interesting and lyrical. Take time to come up with a name and consult with others for their feedback. Google... "search a domain name" to find a web site which can perform searches on web site names and tell you if the name is available or already taken. Many of these sites are re-sellers which can also host your physical website.

A name needs to reflect what business you are running and to convey your "brand". Each country will usually have regulations and approval procedures that apply for domain names that have an extension such as .au for Australia. Registering a  .com  name can be done quickly and easily but may not provide a visitor with any sense of security for on-line purchases if the website location is unknown.


What Happens After I Register A Name?

Your newly registered website name will need time to propagate throughout the Internet on DNS servers. The name is stored along with the IP address of the web server where you actually host your website. It can take 24 to 72 hours to be on all or most worldwide DNS servers. Internet users can then type in your website name e.g. mynewwebsite.com  and the DNS server will point to the correct web server where your web pages are hosted. It works like an address book. Google... "worldwide dns checker" to find a web site where you can enter your new website name and have it checked against several DNS servers around the world.

The domain name will need to "point" to the Web Host Provider Web Server. Your account with the re-seller will have a web interface that has all the information. This will normally be automatically set up with all the required details. If you only registered a domain name and did not take the option for hosting, i.e. you are using a different web hosting provider, then you need to edit the domain details and modify the NS (Name Server) fields to be the web server  names of your web hosting provider. There should be at least two, a primary server and a secondary server name.


Suggestions On Registering A Domain Name

Your Domain Name is a very precious thing. Below are a few suggestions you could consider that can prevent issues in the future.


Searching for a domain name

Keep a list of possible domain names secret and do not  *advertise* using social media or by any other means. Do not search for an available domain name on any unknown domain search website because they may possibly be monitoring the names you are enquiring about and then register it very quickly themselves hoping to sell it back to you at an exorbitant price. Just because you have a registered business name does not mean you are automatically entitled to have it registered as a web site name.

Search domain names using a reputable registrar or re-seller website and then when you have found an available name you like,  BUY IMMEDIATELY !


Register your new Domain Name with a well known and reputable company

Registration can be performed through a registrar or re-seller. There have been instances where somebody "registers" a domain name but ends up having a slightly different name registered and their original name is registered and locked by another entity and then put on sale for a large sum of money.

Ensure you are actually purchasing the domain name. Some companies that provide a "complete service" of web builder, hosting and a "free" or discounted domain name will purchase the domain name using a re-seller or registrar but they may possibly keep ownership of that domain name. You can only use that domain name if you remain their customer. They may sell it to you for a substantial fee if you want to change host providers.

The re-seller should provide you with an account that has a control panel so the domain can be configured for such things as  changing the Name Server(s) records, Mail Server(s) and other options.

Note that you will need to use the "unlock" option for your domain in the control panel before being able to modify any records. Re-lock the account immediately afterwards.

Ensure you retain total control over your DNS records. This is where you "point" your domain name to the hosting server where your website is located. A re-seller may charge you a fee to change the DNS records or deny you from having it changed because you purchased a package deal with hosting.


Register similar names and different extensions

Prevent others from registering a domain similar to your website name by registering them yourself. The benefits can outweigh the cost of the recurring domain name registration fees. Do not let your domain names expire else they will be freely available on the Internet for anyone to register.  All your hard work on your website could be undermined and your reputation unjustly compromised if someone creates a similar named website and "piggy-backs" on your good reputation. If Internet users mistype your website name or perform a search that comes up with similar names then they may think it is your legitimate site.

You could also register names with the well known extensions such as  .com  .org  .net  .biz  .co  (possible misspelled  ".com" without the "m" that is Columbia). There are other combinations such as a name with mydomain.uk.com  or  mydomain.us.com 

You can redirect all the other names to your main domain using the domain forwarding option in the domain control panel.


Use a different company for your Hosting

Many hosting companies can register your new domain name and also host your website but you have all your "eggs in one basket". Most hosting companies are usually re-sellers for a domain registrar company or they could possibly be a registrar. Transferring your domain name to another company can be a nightmare if you want to change the hosting company due to poor performance or billing issues etc. The hosting company that registered your domain may not like you going elsewhere. It can take a long time and your website downtime can be severely affected. You will also need to "unlock" your domain for a substantial period of time which is dangerous.

Within your domain registration control panel that is provided by the domain re-seller or registrar you will need to "point" your domain to the hosting Name Server(s) by changing to the new name e.g.  ns1.example.com   ns2.example.com  . There are usually two or more Name Servers (NS), the Primary and the Secondary. The domain re-seller will usually have their own name servers in the "NS" record type within your account. It is a not to difficult to simply change them to your hosting providers name servers.

Use a separate company for registering your domain names and for hosting your websites. If you ever change Hosting companies for your website, then it is a simple matter of changing the Name Servers (NS) records to point to the new hosting providers Name Servers. It will take roughly 24 to 72 hours for the new details to propagate throughout the Internet to all DNS servers. There will be no "down-time" if you keep the original website active on your old hosting provider for a time. Any Internet user will be pointed to your old website or your new website depending where they are in the world. Then you can cancel the old hosting account afterwards. You will not get a refund on the old hosting account.


Paying for your hosting and domain name

Payment would best be done using a secured system such as PayPal and not use recurring credit card deductions. When using a credit card over the Internet ensure the site is using HTTPS encrypted transmission of data and the website is valid by checking the security certificate using a SSL checking website such as https://www.geocerts.com/ssl_checker .
green ssl lock small A "lock" symbol should appear at the start of the web browser address bar which has information on who issued the security certificate. The prefix (protocol) for the website page will start with https://  .  If a credit card is the only option, then do not use your main credit card. The only way to absolutely stop continued fraudulent credit card deductions is to call your bank and cancel the card. This would affect other important deductions from reputable organizations and you then need to obtain a new card from your bank.

Some hosting companies have month to month hosting fee plans available and this could be a good option to start, but the fees will be cheaper by paying up front for a full years subscription. Be aware that the re-seller may be offering a discounted first year subscription if you pay for two years in total, and then subsequent years will be at the full price.

You should be notified by email before your subscription is due and that they will deduct the next years subscription using your previous payment method such as a credit card.
Keep a reminder calendar a month before the due date because if the registration lapses then your domain will be released. Sometimes the registration period has a grace period of 30 or 40 days to accept payment but you don't want to test that if you want to keep your domain.

When paying for the domain (or anything else), ensure the credit card name and your registration name are the same and don't change payment methods afterwards because it can trigger a "fraud" alert and you may find your domain locked and inaccessible. Then you will need to go through a process of unlocking by supplying identity documents and making expensive phone calls.


Lock the Domain Name from within the account

One important option in your domain control panel is the "Lock" which prevents the domain from being fraudulently transferred. If at any time you need to make changes, unlock the domain to make the change, and re-lock it immediately afterwards. The locked account has a code which prevents unauthorized transfers of your domain.


Select the Private Domain Registration option

One of the options available when registering a Domain Name is for a Private Domain Registration. This is an extra recurring fee. Your personal details such as name, address and contact phone number is hidden and replaced with standard contact details of the registrar. Anybody wanting your details would need to provide sufficient reason to the registrar. This is a highly recommended option which prevents spammers, scammers and cyber-criminals  from targeting you with huge volumes of emails, text messages, phone calls and mail. Sometimes it is very difficult to ascertain if the email you have been sent wanting you to re-new your domain and provide your credit card details is genuine or a scam. Without a private registration anybody would have access to your personal details using the public WHOIS database that is accessible on the Internet through many websites that list this information.


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