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Web Site Hosting : From Domain Registration to Getting It Online ...by john lenaghan
The first thing you need to do when setting up a web site is to register a domain name. A domain is the familiar "something.com" (the www is not part of the domain name).
Your domain name is a pointer to the actual IP address of your website. They're used because they're a lot easier for people to remember than a bunch of numbers would be.
Every website has an IP address, which is a number like 123.456.78.9. The domain name system (aka DNS) translates between those numbered addresses and the corresponding domain names.
Each domain on the internet is registered with a central registry handled by a group called InterNIC which is a subsidiary of ICANN - the organization that certifies all domain name registrars.
Domains names gets filtered through DNS servers, which link the address with the correct domain name. Most websites have a primary and a secondary DNS server - essentially a backup system that increases reliability.
Getting Your Website Set Up
The first step in registering your domain name is to decide what you want it to be. The domain can be almost anything you want it to be, but it will be more effective if it relates to the subject of your website.
If you're selling shoes, for example, it helps to have a domain name that's related to shoes - all-shoes.com for instance.
There are a few simple rules for registering domain names. The only characters you can use in your domain are letters, numbers and the hyphen. Domain names can't be longer than 70 characters, but it's best to keep them as short as possible.
They can be either upper or lower case - the case of the domain name is ignored by DNS. It sometimes helps to use a combination to make them easier to read. For example, which is easier to read mywebsite.com or MyWebSite.com? Both are the same as far as DNS servers are concerned.
There are a number of extensions available to use with your domain. The most common by far is .com. It has become synonymous with the internet (eg. "The dot com crash").
Other common extensions include .net and .org. Some of the newer ones are .info, .biz and .name - these aren't as common however, and they won't be as effective as .com, .net or .org, which people are more familiar with.
There are also specialized extensions such as .museum, .aero and .coop which are only available for members of certain organizations.
What About Country-Specific Domains?
You can also register domains with specific country extensions such as .us (United States) or .de (Germany). The rules for registering country-specific domains vary from country to country, so you need to check with the registrars for a given country to see if you are able to register them.
All domain registrars must be certified by ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). There are many registrars with varying prices. You can get a full list of all certified registrars at the InterNIC website (www.internic.net/regist.html).
Even though registrars are regulated, they're allowed to offer their registration service through third parties, so most web hosts offer domain registration even if they aren't registrars themselves.
Domains are registered for at least one year and you can buy as many as ten years when registering. A longer registration contract usually nets you a lower price, so if you know you'll be using that domain for some time to come it can pay to pay for a longer period.
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