Webopedia says: "Domain names are used to identify one or more IP addresses and are used in URLs to identify particular Web pages. Every domain name has a suffix that indicates which top level domain (TLD) it belongs to."
Feel better? No? Me neither. The web is full of tech talk explaining other tech talk.
Lets break this down to basics.
- A Domain name is the address of a website. such as google.com
- Every domain name has an extension. This could be .com, .net, .org, or one of many others.
- google.com, google.net, and google.org are all completely different domain names.
If you want to go to Google you would type google.com into the address bar of your web browser and you are routed to Google's website.
Ok, what if you type in google.net? In this case you still go to Google's website. Even though google.com and google.net are completely different domain names. Why do they go to the same place? Think of a domain name like a phone number. You can have one number go to your office or you can have multiple numbers go to your office. Domain names work like phone numbers on the web.
So how do these these names know where to go? Each domain name has settings that tell it which web hosting server to go to. Your website files are stored on your web hosting server. Learn about a web hosting server.
Tips for selecting a domain name:
- Like a phone number, it is a good idea if your domain name is easy to remember.
- Most people assume domain names to end with the extension .com.
- Avoid long names. Fact is it is hard to find a .com name with less that 5 letters but sometimes variations are available. As an example, if waffles.com is taken, you could try mywaffles.com as an alternative.
- Avoid easily misspelled words. Last I checked pheasantpseudonyms.com is still available. See some bad domain names.
- Avoid dashes and numbers. symbols are a pain to type on mobile keypads, and symbols can be easily forgotten or omitted. mysite.com is preferred to my-site.com
Where to get a domain name (Domain Registrars)
- You register your domain name at a registrar for a fee of around $10-$15 per year.
- A registrar is not the same as web host though the same company may offer both services. Learn about web hosting.
- You should have the ability to manage your domain's DNS records at the registrar. The DNS records are the actual instructions that tell your domain the location of where your website is hosted.
About switching registrars
If you move your website to another Web-Host you do not need to move your domain name. You only need to change the DNS records to tell your domain the location of where your website has moved to (The new Web-Host).
If you do move your domain to a new registrar and you have an active website, you may interrupt service to your website for up to 5 days. This means that once you register a name and put up a site, you should avoid transferring your domain to a new registrar. The important thing to recognize is that domain registrars (sellers of domain names) know this. Thats why there are some who will offer domain registration for $1 for the first year. They will probably increase any following years renewal to a higher price (often $30 or more).
Tip: avoid cheap upfront domain registration fees that have high cost renewal fees.