Domain Name FAQs
The domain name is one of the most vital components of your website, and entire web presence. Though often treated as an afterthought, it can be the key to establishing your brand identity, generating traffic, and having success with your online endeavors. For those who use the internet as a business tool, having one is an absolute must.
While the concept of a domain name is pretty straightforward, the lingo and technology associated with it isn’t always cut and dry. The terminology can really be confusing for someone who is just looking into getting up and running with their very first website. To clear the air, this guide will answer some of the most frequently asked questions newcomers tend to have about domain names.
What Exactly is a Domain Name?
A domain name is a set of characters that represent an IP address. Every web address on the internet corresponds to an IP address, which is essentially a block of numbers that represents devices connected to the internet. Because an IP address is long and difficult to recall, domain names are needed to them easy to identify and remember.
How Can I Register a Domain Name?
A domain name can be registered through companies known as domain name registrars. These service providers allow you to register any available name of your choice for anywhere from one to five years. The actual price for registration may vary from one company to another.
What is the ICANN?
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, is a nonprofit organization that was founded to oversee the internet’s Domain Name System. With the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) and other groups, the ICANN is responsible for assigning domain names, IP addresses, port numbers, and handling various other tasks.
What is ICANN Accreditation?
ICANN accreditation refers to the seal of approval the ICANN gives registrars to register domain names. Looking for accreditation credentials is the most reliable way to ensure that you are dealing with a trusted registrar.
Should I Register a Domain Name with a Non-Accredited Registrar?
You will often see companies offering domain name registration services that are not accredited by the ICANN. These companies are essentially resellers that are selling domains that have been obtained from accredited registrars. While you are free to do business with whomever you please, the ICANN strongly recommends that you only register a name with accredited companies.
What is InterNIC?
InterNIC (internic.com) is a website operated by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. It exists to provide various publicly available information associated with the Domain Name System. People often visit this site to search records in the Whois database, find contact information for accredited registrars, and file complaints against registrars.
How Much Does it Cost to Register a Domain Name?
The price for domain name registration varies greatly from one registrar to another. For example, you have some companies that offer registration for $10 or less, and others that charge $65 or more. The price could be even higher when you are going after a domain through an auction service or one that is already registered by someone else.
How Long Does it Take for My Domain Name to Become Active?
After paying your registration fee, and updating the nameserver information with your registrar, a domain name can take up to 72 hours to become active. However, it is not uncommon for the entire activation process to be done in two hours or less.
What Other Services Come Included with Domain Name Registration?
This all depends on the registrar, but standard services typically include forwarding, locking, and management. These services may not or may not cost you extra depending on the company.
How Do I Activate My Domain Name?
In order to activate a domain name, you will need to acquire the nameserver information from the company that will be hosting your website. Once you have this information, you must enter it on your registrar’s system, usually through a control panel interface, to make sure the domain is pointed to the web host’s server.
How Long is My Domain Name Registration Active?
ICANN accredited registrars allow you to register a domain name for at least a year. Most have the flexibility to offer two, five or even ten years at a time. Once the registration period has a expired, a renewal fee must be paid in order to keep it.
What is a Domain Registrar?
A registrar is an entity or organization that provides the services for registering a domain name. The best of these organizations are accredited by the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Name and Numbers), and allow you to register domains with TLDs (top level domains) such as .com, .co, .org, .net, and .biz. While all accredited registrars are required to pay a fixed fee to the ICANN, the actual prices they charge for registration tend to vary considerably.
Who are the Major Domain Name Registrars?
There are currently well over 500 domain name registrars on the market. However, some are much more popular than others. Some of the major registrars include GoDaddy, Network Solutions, Dotster, Fast Domain, and Register.com.
Can I Switch Registrars?
You can indeed switch to another registrar. In most cases, you must wait 60 days from the initial registration date. To learn more about the transfer process, confer with the registrar you want to switch your domain over to.
What is a TLD?
A top level domain or TLD, is the highest level in the hierarchy of the DNS (domain name system). In simple terms, it is the suffix or extension that follows the “dot” in a web address. The most popular example of a TLD is .com. Others include .net, .org, .biz, and .info.
Why is My Domain Name Not Available?
There is a good chance that the domain name you have decided on will not be available when you go to register it. This is especially the case if you chose a generic, catchy, and common name such as cars.com or airplanes.com. If you can easily think of a typical domain, it has probably already been registered. The good ones get more scarce by the day, so you often have to be creative to find something that really works.
What’s the Difference Between a Domain Name and URL?
The terms domain name and URL are often used interchangeably, but they are not one in the same. Short for Uniform Resource Locator, a URL is a protocol that identifies the location of a specific resource on the World Wide Web. In most cases, this resource is a web page, which may resemble something like “http://mywebsite.com.” In this example, the domain name is essentially a part of a URL.
What is a Sub Domain?
A sub domain is the second level of a primary domain. For instance, if your primary domain is “mywebsite.com,” you can set up “page.mywebsite.com” as a sub domain. Sub domains are ideal for different areas of a larger website, or separate websites altogether.
What is the UDRP?
Established in 1999 by the ICANN, the UDRP (Uniform Domain Dispute Resolution Policy) is a policy that was put in place to resolve domain name disputes. The UDRP mainly comes into play when issues over ownership and trademarks arise. You must agree to this policy when registering a domain name with any ICANN accredited registrar.
How Many Domain Names am I Allowed to Have?
There is no limit on the number of domain names you are allowed to register. However, there may be a limit on the number you are allowed to have on a single web hosting account. Some providers only allow one, some allow a specific number, others allow an unlimited amount.
What is Whois?
Whois is an online database that contains a wealth of domain name information. These details typically range from the of the name of the registrant and registering company to contact information and expiration date. A totally free service, Whois is often used as a tool to check the ownership and availability of domain names.
What Should I Do If Someone Has the Domain Name I Want?
Once any given domain name has been registered, it is under the control of the registering party. The only thing you can do at this point is contact the owner, and ask if they would like to sell it. There are services available that will track down the owner and even make an offer on your behalf.
Why Do I Receive an Error Message When Typing in My Domain Name?
In most cases, you will receive an error message when your domain has not fully propagated to the new server. This is a process that takes up 72 hours. If your domain name is not active in 72 hours, contact the support department of your web hosting company.
How Can I Find Out if a Domain Name is Available?
You can find out if a domain name is available by visiting a registrar. Most registrars have built-in search engines that allow you to enter the name you want and check its availability. If it is available, you can instantly register it, or check around to see if another registrar has it at a lower rate.
How Do I Transfer a Domain Name?
Transferring a domain name from one registrar to another is a relatively simple and straightforward process. For the most part, you simply request that the old registrar unlock the name, have them confirm the transfer, and have the new registrar approve the transfer. When the process is complete, you can manage the name with the tools provided by the new registrar.
What is the DNS?
Short for domain name system, the DNS is the underlying system that translates IP addresses to the domain names we use to find websites on the internet. The system itself is made of two separate pieces of software: a DNS server, and a DNS client. The DNS is one of the numerous protocols that make up the TCP/IP suite of internet protocols.
What is a Nameserver?
A nameserver is a critical component of the Domain Name System. It stores the IP address data, corresponding domain name, and all the information the internet needs to find a website and send email to a particular address. When activating a domain name, the primary and secondary nameservers must be adjusted on the new server.
What is Domain Name Parking?
Domain name parking is simply the act of registering a domain name without using it for the common purposes of hosting a website or email address. This is ideal if you are not quite ready to build your website, or simply want to snatch up a good domain name before someone beats you to the punch.
How Can I Park a Domain?
Parking a domain name is a process that can be easily completed through most control panels. In most cases, you simply enter the name of the domain you want to park, and click a button. If you do not use the domain right away, the registrar will often park it for you to generate advertising revenue for themselves.
Who Really Owns a Domain Name?
Although conventional wisdom tells us that the answer to this question is the person who registered it, but in reality, the ownership of a domain name can be compared to ownership of a phone number. It is yours as long as you pay the fee needed to keep it. Once you fail to renew a domain name, it goes back on the market and can then be registered by anyone who wants it.
Can I Register a Domain Name With Any TLD?
A domain name can be registered with most top level domains, including .com, .net, .org, .biz and others. However, some are reserved for special purposes. These include .arpa, which is exclusive to technical infrastructure purposes, and .gov, which is reserved for United States government entities.
What is a Country-Specific Domain Name?
A country-specific domain name refers to a name that is registered with a country-coded top level domain. The most common examples would be .us (United States), .ca ( Canada), and .uk (United Kingdom). Depending on the extension, you may need to register the domain name with certain registrars as not all support country-specific TLDs.
What is a Free Domain for Life?
This is an offering you will often encounter when evaluating web hosting packages. Many hosts will offer a free domain name that you do not have to pay for as long a you have an account. If you want to transfer to a new host and take the name with you, special arrangements may have to be made.
How Much is My Domain Name Worth?
There is no putting a price value on any given domain name. What a certain name means to you, could mean something different to someone else. With that said, domain names can be quite valuable as some have been sold for millions of dollars.
How Do I Renew a Domain Name?
A domain name can be renewed through the registrar you originally registered with in the same manner. Many companies offer an automatic renewal option, which allows you to automatically pay just before the expiration date with the payment method you have on file. This is a convenient option for the busy person who may not remember, but cannot afford to forget to renew their domain name.
How Do I Cancel a Domain Name?
Once your domain name is registered and paid for, there is usually no way to cancel it without still having to pay the full registration fee. For this reason, your best bet would be to let the domain name you no longer want to expire, and then not pay the annual fee when it comes time to renew.
How Much Does it Cost to Renew a Domain Name?
The price of renewing a domain name varies depending on the company. In most cases, you will either pay the exact same rate you paid initially, or whatever the registrar’s rate is at the current time.
Can I buy domain names in bulk?
Domain names can be purchased in bulk. In fact, some registrars encourage that you buy in bulk and even present alternative options that could be useful for your web presence. In the right package, bulk domain names can deliver major cost savings.
What is Whois Privacy?
Whois privacy is a feature that protects your information from the public. When you register a domain name, a good portion of your details are made visible to the public. Whois protection turns this into generic information that keeps others from knowing more than they should.
Is My Domain Name Registrant Info Public?
When you register a domain name, there is certain information that is made available to the public in a database such as Whois. These details may include your name, the domain’s registration and expiration date, contact information, and more. If this is information you do not want publicly available, you can talk to your registrar to discuss an arrangement that protects your personal information.