Domains 101 – Everything you need to know

websites 101

Perhaps you’re thinking about getting a website or starting a blog? Well, the internet can be a confusing place to most, even some seasoned veterans find it all a bit difficult to understand the technical terms. If you’re wondering exactly what a website or blog is, or what you are purchasing when you register a domain and how hosting works, you’ve come to the right place. Here are answers to some of the most common questions about website stuff:

What is a domain? How is it related to my site?

A domain name is a name used to identify a particular website on the internet.

For example: Let’s say you have the domain name, myawesomesite.com. When you register that domain, you paid for the right to use that specific domain for a specific period of time. Since it would be pretty confusing if entering myawesomesite.com could take you to a variety of different places, there is only ever one myawesomesite.com on the internet.

Think of it as your mailing address: it lets people know where to find you. It’s not your actual house. It’s just the address. And your domain exists independently of your website or blog. Just as your house is still there, even if they change the name of the street.

You can use your domain with another site, or you can cancel it, or you can let it expire, and through all of that, your website or blog with all of its content remains unchanged sitting on some hosting server somewhere. You just can’t access it without a domain name.

What is a registrar?

A registrar is an organization that sells and/or manages domain name registrations. Registrars usually charge an annual fee for the service of delegating a domain name to a user. Often, this transaction is termed a sale or lease of the domain name, and the registrant may sometimes be called an “owner”, but no such legal relationship is actually associated with the transaction, only the exclusive right to use the domain name. For the most part, whoever you pay for your domain is your registrar. It’s always best to shop around because domain name prices can vary greatly.

If you want to register a new domain name, go here www.namecheap.com. They have domain names starting at $3.99 a year. Or Hostmonster.com. Their domain names are $4.50 a year right now. In my opinion Network Solutions is a rip off at $35 a domain name, but they do have bundled deals and offer great sales once in while.

What is hosting?

A web hosting service is an organization that stores and displays your website’s content on the internet. Your domain registration and your site hosting are two different things, just as your mailing address and the house you live in are two different things. You tell people your mailing address so they can send you mail or come visit you, but your actual house is where you keep all your stuff (your site content).

Say you could change the name of the street where you live whenever you wanted. That would be like changing your domain. Your house (hosting) would still be in the same place no matter what the street was called.

What happens when my domain expires?

The short answer is that when your domain expires, it is gone. You should never allow a domain to expire unless you are fully done with it and never want to use it again.

The longer answer is that during the first two weeks after expiration, a domain can still be renewed normally. After that, the domain is put up for auction and anyone can bid on it, but the original owner still has the opportunity to renew it for an extra $80 late fee. Some registrars change much more!

One of my clients accidentally let her domain name expire and didn’t find out about it for over two weeks. She also had no idea how to get it back. So I contacted the registrar for her, and found out the domain name was in Redemption Period. There was a fee to remove the domain name from Redemption of $160.00! And that did not include not include the renewal fee. Plus it took several days to remove the domain from Redemption Status once she redeemed it.

If an owner does not redeem or renew the domain and it is not bid on at auction, the domain usually becomes available for registration again within a few days.

Except when it doesn’t.

Unfortunately, there are companies that specialize in bidding on expired domains, so even if your domain is very specific to you or would seem to have little worth to anyone else, it could still be purchased out from under you if you allow it to expire.

This is why you should never let a domain expire or cancel it with the assumption that you can then buy it again: the registrar will hold onto it for up to 90 days, and they might even sell it directly to a third party during that period.

What is a website? {to be continued…}

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1 Comment

  1. Domain name are important for any business. If the domain name is not relevant to the services offered, the website is virtually of no use. So, choose RELEVANT domain name. By the way great information,. Hope see something new and insightful next time.

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