Registering A Domain Name – How It Works?
Registering a domain name is essentially like owning a small slice of internet real estate and, just like in the real estate market, consumers will be expected to cough up a good deal of information about themselves and pay for the privilege of claiming their corner of the internet’s public space. Domain registration guidelines are not set on a pre-registrar basis, but are instead determined by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN. This governing body is essentially a global regulator of best practices for registrars, web hosts, and the clients who interact with them.
According to the body’s standards, all customers registering a domain name must be prepared to furnish contact information for themselves, their organization, their business, and even their employer in some cases. For those customers who are seeking to register a country-specific domain name option (like “.us” or “.co.uk”), a good portion of the registration process will be dedicated to determining whether or not the customer is a resident of that country and therefore legally permitted to purchase one of its country-specific top level domains (will talk about this later).
And that should hammer home a secondary point to consumers. While there are hundreds of available domain name suffixes (like “.com” or “.net), many of these domains have specific registration requirements. For example, only organizations can register a “.org” domain name, and only American citizens can register a domain name that ends in “.us.” Failing to meet the guidelines and requirements for each type of domain during the actual registration and payment process will result in the domain name being “released” back into the pool of available domain names; the customer will have to pick a top level domain for which they actually qualify, or cancel their purchase altogether.
During the signup process, it’s also important to have information directly from a web host, as this information will be need when filling in the DNS and MX record information during registration. These two records determine which web hosting server’s content is displayed when a user navigates to the domain, as well as how email is addressed, sent, and received using that hosting package and the associated domain name. In accurate information will result in errors and page-load failures.
What Are Top Level Domains (TLD)?
Let’s get back to our previous examples: Alexa.com, Linux.org, WebRevenue.co, TopWebHostReview.net, eLearningEuropa.info, Yahoo.co.uk, all examples above end with a different ‘extension’ – .com, .org, .net, .biz… and so on.
We call this “extension” as top level domain (shortform:TLD). Examples of other TLD include .uk, .ws, .co.jp, .com.sg, .tv, .edu, .co, .com.my, and .mobi.
While most of these TLDs are open for public’s registration, there are strict regulations on certain domain registration. For example the registration of country code top level domains (like .co.uk for United Kingdom) are restricted for the citizens of the corresponding country; and the activities with such domains website are ruled by local regulations and cyber laws.
Certain extensions of these TLDs are used to describe the ‘characteristics’ of the website – like .biz for busineses, .edu for education (schools, universities, colleagues, etc), .org for public organization, and country code top level domain names are for locations.
Country Code TLDs
The full list of country code top-level domain (ccTLD) extensions are (in alphabet order):
.ac .ad .ae .af .ag .ai .al .am .an .ao .aq .ar .as .at .au .aw .ax .az
.ba .bb .bd .be .bf .bg .bh .bi .bj .bm .bn .bo .br .bs .bt .bw .by .bz
.ca .cc .cd .cf .cg .ch .ci .ck .cl .cm .cn .co .cr .cu .cv .cx .cy .cz .de .dj .dk .dm .do .dz .ec .ee .eg .er .es .et .eu
.fi .fj .fk .fm .fo .fr
.ga .gd .ge .gf .gg .gh .gi .gl .gm .gn .gp .gq .gr .gs .gt .gu .gw .gy
.hk .hm .hn .hr .ht .hu
.id .ie .il .im .in .io .iq .ir .is .it
.je .jm .jo .jp
.ke .kg .kh .ki .km .kn .kp .kr .kw .ky .kz
.la .lb .lc .li .lk .lr .ls .lt .lu .lv .ly
.ma .mc .md .me .mg .mh .mk .ml .mm .mn .mo .mp .mq .mr .ms .mt .mu .mv .mw .mx .my .mz
.na .nc .ne .nf .ng .ni .nl .no .np .nr .nu .nz . om .pa .pe .pf .pg .ph .pk .pl .pn .pr .ps .pt .pw .py
.qa .re .ro .rs .ru .rw .sa .sb .sc .sd .se .sg .sh .si .sk .sl .sm .sn .sr .st .sv .sy .sz
.tc .td .tf .tg .th .tj .tk .tl .tm .tn .to .tr .tt .tv .tw .tz .ua .ug .uk .us .uy .uz
.va .vc .ve .vg .vi .vn .vu .wf .ws .ye .za .zm .zw
Domain vs Sub Domain
Take mail.yahoo.com for example – yahoo.com is the domain, mail.yahoo.com in this case, is the sub domain. A domain must be unique (for example there can only be one single Yahoo.com) and must be registered with a domain agent (example Godaddy); while for sub domains, users can freely add it on top of the existing domain as long as their web host provide the service.
Some would say subdomains are the ‘third level’ domains in the sense that they are simply “sub folders” under the domain root directory, normally used to organize your website content in different languages or different categories. However, this is not the case to many including the search engines – it is known fact that the search engines (namely, Google) treat sub domain as a different domain independent from the primary domain.
WhoIs data and domain privacy: Do you need it?
Every domain name has a publicly accessible record that includes the owner’s personal information such as owner name, contact number, mailing address, and domain registration as well as expiry date. It’s called a WhoIs record and lists the registrant and contacts for the domain. As required by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the domain owners must make these contact information available on WHOIS directories. These records are available anytime to anyone who does a simple WhoIs lookup. In other words, if someone wants to know who owns a Web site, all they to do is run a quick WHOIS search, type the domain name and voila, they have access to the Web site registration details.
So, why is this a big deal? Your domain record may also be used in ways that aren’t legitimate or desirable. Since anyone can look up a WhoIs record, spammers, hackers, identity thieves and stalkers may access your personal information! Unethical companies check domain expiration dates then send official looking “renewal” notices in an attempt to get the domain owners to transfer domains to their company, or send invoices that are service solicitations for search engine submissions and other questionable services. Both email and snail mail spammers use the WhoIs databases to contact domain owners with solicitations as well.
Can a hosting company affect your domain configuration?
Although web hosting and domain names are two different entities; they are highly related to each other. When selecting a web host, domain feature is one of the factors you should look into.
For example if you are planning to add subdomains, a convenient setup point for your sub domains in your control panel is critical. Setting up a sub domain should be easy, instant, and within a few clicks. Yes, I know this sounds so common but this is crucial and shouldn’t be ignored. Years ago, I was caught in deep surprise when I found out Gate.com does not provide such feature (in fact, I wasn’t allow to add a subdomain).
What Is Bandwidth?
Bandwidth is the measure of maximum data that can be transferred by your hosting account in a given time, usually measured in seconds.
The term “bandwidth” should not be mixed up with “data transfer” as they are two very different things. Data transfer refers to the consumption of bandwidth. In layman terms, the amount of data being transferred is ‘data transfer’; while the rate of data being transferred is ‘bandwidth’.
Data transfer and bandwidth limit used to be a big thing when it comes to choosing a good web host in the past (I even wrote a tutorial and a math formula on how-to calculate site bandwidth years ago). Not now anymore. As the average cost of data transfer go lower and lower, hosting companies nowadays are very generous in term of data transfer limit. So, unless you are running a large movie download sites, I wouldn’t stretch myself too thin on bandwidth and data transfer when selecting a web hosting service.
What Is File Transfer Protocol (FTP)?
FTP is a standard network protocol used to transfer files from one computer to another over Internet. Webmasters use FTP clients like FTP Pro and Cute FTP to upload and download files to/from their hosting server.
Here is a list of popular FTP clients: Smart FTP, File Zilla, Cute FTP, and core FTP.
The name is client but what it actually does is to connect to your server using FTP and allow you to easily browse and transfer files online.
Choosing a web host is never an easy job – which explains why we have site like WHSR for hosting guides and reviews. If this is your first time in choosing a web host, here are the 15 must-ask questions before you decide.
- What do you need from your hosting provider?
- What is the web host’s uptime record?
- Does the web host support multiple addon domain?
- Can you upgrade your server in future?
- How much does it cost for renewal?
- How does the hosting company’s refund policy work?
- Does the hosting provider support all basic hosting features, such as cron, SSI, one click installation, etc?
- What are the e-commerce features you’ll get with the web host?
- What will cause account suspension?
- Is the web host eco-friendly?
- Does the web host come with email hosting?
- What is the commitment period for the web host?
- How often does the web host backup their customers’ sites?
- Which control panel is the web host using?
- Is 24/7 live chat support available?
A detail check-list guide is provided on a separate page here: Is This Web Host Right for Me? 15 Questions to Ask Yourself; alternatively, you can check out my Top 5 Web Host Picks (less reading, focus on only 5 best hosting options according to my experience).
A reliable web host is a must for all websites and blogs, but it shouldn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Not all cheap web host sucks. Some budget web hosts are as good as that VPS hosting deal you were looking at. And hey, that “awesome” web business idea you have in mind doesn’t need a dedicated hosting yet. You can host it on a shared hosting first and make the switch after it accumulate enough buzz.
Define Cheap: How Cheap Is Cheap By Today Standard?
Quick answer: Below R300.00 pm, with adequate features.
By adequate features, I mean hosting services that come with features that match current market standard. The standards may change from time to time (for example years ago a R300 pm hosting deal can get you only 6 addon domains, 5GB storage, and 10GB data transfer; now everything goes unlimited).
At this time of writing, a standard cheap hosting deal should at least cover sufficient power to host at least 50 – 100 not-so-active domains with basic web statistics support, email and web mail services, auto script installations, updated PHP and MySQL, basic after-sale technical support, and at least 99.5% server uptime. It would be a plus if the host can provide regular server backup and restore, periodic malware scanning, and additional dedicated IP and private SSL certifications.
It’s fact of life that good things normally come with a high price tag. But before you draw any conclusion on low cost web hosting services, there are a number of things you need to be clear of. Not all cheap hosting suck – though there will be certain drawbacks with most of them, we still can benefit from these cheap hosting deals.