Have you ever heard of the term “domain name”? Perhaps you have encountered this term while browsing the Internet or scrolling through your news feeds on social media. You may have heard of this as you participate in conversations in business, especially those concerning the digital sphere. If this will be your first time to hear about the word, you are in the right place. This article will elaborate and discuss what a domain name is, and how it works.
In a nutshell, domain names are identification strings defining a realm of authority, administrative autonomy, or control on the Internet. The domain name is your website’s Internet address. They are used in a variety of application-specific addressing and naming purposes and networking contexts. A domain name is usually unique, so when starting your website, it is essential to take a look at the domain name availability. What are the things you should know about your domain name?
What Is A Domain Name?
Domain names are the addresses that netizens or people using the Internet type into browsers to reach and access a site. Often compared to a fingerprint, each domain name is considered unique to a specific website, and it cannot be duplicated or shared with other web pages. The domain name of a website is usually located at the top of the browser. An example of a top-level domain name is .com or .edu. There are also second-level domain names, for instance, cornell.edu. Examples bigred.cornell.edu and project.bigred.cornell.edu are third-level and fourth-level domain names, respectively.
It has been said that domains have been created as a human-friendly way for people to access the IP or Internet Protocol. IPs represent the online locator of a website. On the other hand, IP addresses, which you should also know about as we discuss domain names, are strings of numbers assigned to each computer, comprising four decimal numbers that range from zero to 255 and are separated by periods. While those seemingly random number series are great for computers, it is obviously easier for human beings to remember this through words. And like saving numbers on your phone, domain names allow individuals to save 18.104.22.168 as google.com. Sounds interesting, right?
But Wait, There’s More To Learn… About Domain Names
The ICANN or the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers oversees all domain name registrations. It also assigns and allocates IP addresses, keeps a centralized database for all domain names and their respective IPs, and runs systems for accreditation for domain registrars. The ICANN is also authorized to approve new domain extensions, which are also known as TLDs, manage them, and shut them down should they are not able to follow the determined provisions, guidelines, and rules.
It is also vital and crucial to remember that, while domain names are usually referred to as Universal Resource Locator or URL, or web address, make no mistake because domain names are only a part of it.
A domain name’s basic form has two elements, the name, and the extension. In our example, “google” is the name, and “.com” is the extension. However, when you look at the address bar of your browser, you will see there are more parts to this, all of which come together to form the web address of the page. How does the domain name work?
How Domain Names Work
The Internet is literally an enormous worldwide network consisting of computers that are connected to one another via a global submarine grid of cables. No matter whether these computers operate as personal devices or servers, an IP address identifies them, letting them communicate with each other so they will be able to find, send, and retrieve web data.
As discussed and expounded in the previous section, domain names are simply these IP addresses’ user-friendly versions connected to certain websites. However, for computers to find the right web pages, these seemingly random word strings should be converted back to numbers. This is where the domain name system does its part.
Also referred to simply as DNS, domain name systems translate any domain name entered using the browser into IPs that are computer-readable. ICANN oversees the system and is usually compared to old-school and traditional phone books where the person searches for a name to find their number. If you are younger and did not come across these old-school phone books, think of this as your smartphone’s contact list that has numbers you have never interacted with or connected with.
Once you enter a domain name into the web browser, DNS servers will get the request, and then, these DNS servers will search for the name servers that are connected to the specific request and forward this request to them. The web hosting provider manages these name servers. After finding the relevant IP, they will then forward and send the request toward the web server where the website files are. Web servers use the IPs to find all files associated with them and send all the data back to the browser. It took some time for us to elaborate on this, but believe it or not, this process only happens in less than three seconds.
How You Can Obtain Your Domain Name
Yes, especially if you are building and launching your own website, you need to take care of obtaining your domain name. Domain names are very important. You either can purchase them or obtain them for free. Plus, domain name trading is touted as a multi-million dollar industry.
Nobody else can have your domain name once you have registered it. Having said this, it is highly recommended that you register the domain name of any of your ventures. It can be as simple as your name or the name of your business. You can also adapt the practice known as domain parking.
Moreover, you should likewise consider buying any additional top-level domain you might want to utilize in the future to ensure nobody else gets a hold of the domain name before you do. Otherwise, you will find yourself on the paying side.
Where you should go this time: to web hosting providers. Several web hosting providers offer free domain registration that comes along with their hosting plans. By doing so, you can create a website faster than by separately purchasing a domain name.
You could also obtain a free website domain by using a content management system or CMS, or a website builder. WordPress and Blogger are great examples of platforms offering these services.
However, take note that free subdomains usually have minimal features and tools. Nevertheless, obtaining a free domain with a hosting service will offer you the same level of freedom as purchasing a domain.