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Domain Name Guide - Web Hosting Ratings

Domain name is the address that users will enter in their web browser (like Internet Explorer or Netscape) to access your web site.  For example this site's domain name is WebHostingRatings.com.  ".com" extension (called TLD, top-level domains) is most common for commercial web sites.  Non-profit organizations might prefer using .org, universities usually use .edu, government sites use .gov.  ICANN (organization responsible for such matters) approved new TLDs in November 2000, including .biz, .info, .name, .museum, .coop, .areo, and .pro.  Rules for registering domains with those TLDs vary, see http://www.internic.net/faqs/new-tlds.html for more info.  Other domains like .tv are also available - most commonly they were originally assigned to small countries or provinces and subsequently sold to companies that offer them to everybody.

Many web hosts will register a domain name for you if you choose this option when opening an account.  However, we recommend doing it separately before opening a hosting account because hosts usually don't have most competitive rates and because if you decide to move your site to another host, you will already be familiar with domain name administration and you will have full control over it.  

The original and still biggest domain name registrar is Network Solutions / VeriSign.  This company held a monopoly over domain name registrations until several years ago.  VeriSign still operates .com registry services and other registrars have to pay it a fee for every domain registered.  We recommend using less expensive registrars like NameCheap instead.  You can register a .com domain name with them for less than $10/year as compared to around $30/year that VeriSign currently charges and their customer support is usually as good as that of VeriSign.

The minimum period for which a domain name can be registered is 1 year.  You need to make sure to renew a domain name before it expires, or you may lose it to somebody.

If you don't yet have a web site but there is a domain name that you want now, you can register it and use domain parking which is a cheap way to display an "Under Construction" message.  

You should know that the name, street address, e-mail address, and phone number that you use when registering a domain name will be publicly viewable by anybody that performs a so-called Whois lookup on this domain name.  You should expect to receive spam at this email address.

Unfortunately, you will find out that most common words and sentences for domain names are already in use, especially in the .com space.  Most choices are available with new TLDs (see above).  You will have to be creative or use a domain name generator such as NameBoy to come up with a good name.  You need to make sure that your domain name doesn't contain any trademarked phrases or you could lose it to the company that holds such a trademark later on (rulings usually go in favor of trademark holders).  To find out how domain name disputes are handled, please see this page.  

If you really want some specific domain name that is already in use, you could try to offer to buy it from its current holder.  If this domain name has expired or it might expire soon, there are services that will try to grab it before anybody else has a chance to do it, the biggest being SnapNames.

Once you register a domain name, you will be able to modify its name servers.  Those are addresses that associate this domain name with your web hosting account.  Once you open a hosting account, you will need to modify those name servers to match the names that your new host will provide.  Information about what name servers to use will usually be included in the welcome email you get when opening an account or it will displayed on the host's web site.  Once your hosting account is activated and you modify the name servers, it will take around 24-48 hours for the changes to propagate across the Internet.  Once this happens, your new web site will be accessible by using your domain name.  You will usually be able to upload and access your web site even before the name server changes are propagated by using the control panel or just the IP address that your host will provide.

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