What Is A Domain Name And Why Do I Need It? Complete Guide

November 03, 2009

If you are a newbie, it is a bit confusing right?

The terms Domain name, website, web hosting.. Whats the difference?

Don’t worry.. These are common questions asked by business owners..

Here we try to answer  most of questions related to domain names and websites.

What is a Domain Name?

A domain name or domain is a user friendly label which identifies an Internet site. For example, findbestwebhosting.com is a  domain name.

What does domain name consist of?

Domain Names always have 2 or more parts, separated by dots. The part on the left is the most specific, and the part on the right is the most general.

The right-most label in a domain name after dot is referred to as its “toplevel domain” (TLD).

For example, in “findbestwebhosting.com”  the “.com” part is called the top level domain (TLD).

The following are some popular TLDs that you might find on the Internet:

  • .com: commercial
  • .org: non-profit organization
  • .gov: government
  • .net: network resources
  • .edu: education

Why do I need a domain name?

In this digital era, a domain name is your unique identity in Internet.

If you are serious about your profession or business or organization, then you should consider investing in a domain name and this will be your first step in establishing an Internet presence.

Moreover, having a nice domain name along with your website and email addresses gives your business a professional touch and adds credibility.

What’s the difference between a domain and a website?

A website is collection of webpages where the website is “hosted” with a web host.

A domain name is the unique identification of a website. In other words, a Domain Name is a unique address of a website such as findbestwebhosting.com

To understand this better, let us consider an analogy. A set of enclosed townhouses in one town under same management.

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The management can be compared to a web host who can take care of maintenance for all the townhouses for a monthly fee.

Each townhouse can be compared to a website. Each townhouse has a unique address, which is compared to a  domain name.

Web Pages: Each townhouse has multiple rooms, where each room can be compared to a web page.


Domain Name vs Hosting vs Web Site

A website is a set of  web pages or files (like index.html, index.php, images etc.). Each website has an IP address.

Hosting is the space on a web server where your website’s files are located. These files are accessed by site visitors via Internet.

A domain name is an easy-to-remember unique address of a website.

How does a Domain Name work?

The Domain name And IP address connection Domain names are for humans. Computers and other network devices on the Internet use an Internet Protocol (IP).

IP address is a unique string of numbers separated by full stops address like

Domain names are basically easy-to-remember shortcuts to numeric IP addresses.

Domain Name into IP address:  Internet is based on IP addresses. When you enter that pretty domain name, the browser needs to know the numerical IP addresses.

There is something called DNS (Domain Name System) which translates domain names to the numerical IP addresses.

When you enter that pretty domain name, the browser will search through the DNS system and find the exact IP address of the corresponding website.

When you register a domain name, your registrar will usually automatically enter  related DNS records.

There are many different types of DNS records, but most of these record types aren’t commonly used. So let us focus on record types you will use:

  • A (address) Maps a host name to an IP address.
  • NS (name server) To make your website visible on the Internet, you need to point your domain name to your hosting account using nameservers.

What is a DNS Server and how does it work?

A Domain Name Server(DNS)is a directory of Domain names. And these domain names are stored or mapped to IP Addresses(Internet Protocol Addresses) in this directory,

Now, this directory is distributed all over the world. They are stored on multiple domain name servers. And they all communicate with each other to “sync” regularly to provide updates to each other.

Why so many multiple DNS Servers? If all the domain names were maintained in just one DNS server, it would crash the Internet with everyone (millions of domain names) trying to access same DNS server. Hence DNS servers are distributed all over the world and then synched up. This makes access to a domain name much faster.

Multiple IP addresses for one domain name? Usually each domain name corresponds to one IP address. But it is possible one domain can correspond to more than one IP address. For example, some websites have so many IP addresses that correspond to a one domain name.

google.com is such an example. There are more than 200,000 IP addresses that correspond to Google.com

Can you buy a domain name forever?

Usually a domain name is registered for a certain time frame, usually for a year. Before that time frame expires, the domain needs to extended or renewed for another year or so.

So there is no way you can buy a domain name forever.

Maximum domain registration period is 10 years.

So you can register(or renew) a domain name for longer periods(2  or 4 or upto 10 years), this period being maximum of 10 years.

And you have to renew before your domain name approaches the expiration date.

Your registrar will give you a reminder before domain expires. It is also possible to enable a “auto-renew” option so that your domain registrar will automatically renew for the time frame you specified in auto-renew section.

How do I purchase a domain name? How to Reserve a Domain Name?

How can I create a domain name? How to Buy a Domain Name? Where is the best place to buy a domain name?

You can purchase a domain name from a Domain name registrar like bluehost

You can use following screen to find and register a domain name.

For example, if you chose a domain name like “mywebsite.com”, then you  search for your domain name from above tool and if the domain name is available, pay a registration fee and then you own it.

Note: You have to pay this registration fee every year to renew or to ensure  continued ownership. If not, you will lose ownership to your domain name.

Your registrar in this case BlueHost, will send you reminders in advance so you wont forget to renew. An “auto-renew” feature is also available when you register. If enabled BlueHost will automatically renew for another year and it will be billed to your credit card in file.

It is also possible to register for a longer period, like 2 or 4 or 10 years. This way you dont have to renew every year.

Can I buy a domain name for free? How to buy a domain name for free?

Purchasing a domain name involves a registration fee. So it is not free.

But, it is possible to get a domain name for free. Here’s how:

To promote it’s web hosting account(where you host your domain name and website), BlueHost provides one free domain name if you sign up for it’s web hosting account.

If you plan to create a website along with a new domain name, then this makes a lot of sense.

You need a web hosting account anyway to host your website and so why not claim this offer and get a domain name for free.

Get a free domain name from BlueHost

To know more about BlueHost, read our BlueHost Review.

How to Point a Domain Name to Your Website

After registering a domain name and signing up with a web host, you need to point your domain name to your hosting account. This include 2 steps:

  1. Get Your Web Host’s Name Servers
    The name servers information will be there in the email sent to you by your host When you first signed up with them. If you can not find it, contact your web host and ask them for the “DNS servers” or “name servers” to use for your domain.
  2. Log into your domain registrar and set name server

How to Change name servers via 1and1.com

How To Change Name Servers (DNS) for GoDaddy

This article will go through the steps on how to change name servers on your domain registered through Godaddy.

  1. Login to your GoDaddy Account using the Username and Password given to you by GoDaddy when you opened your account with them.
  2. In the left hand menu sidebar of the Account Overview window displayed to you click on Domain Manager below My Products.
  3. A list of your domains will be displayed.Click on the Domain Name for which you wish to change the Name Servers.
  4. A page will then be displayed showing all the details for that domain.Click on the NameServers icon on the top then click Setnameservers.
  5. A new pop-up window will be displayed. Check the radio button “I have specific nameservers for my domains” and enter/replace nameservers provided by your hosting (you will normally get with your welcome email from your new web hosting company) and then click OK.
  6. You will see another message asking you to wait while the changes take effect. Please note that this can take up to 48 hours to be propagated all over the internet.

Changing name servers at Register.com

This article will go through the steps on how to change name servers on your domain registered through Register.com.

  1. Go to the Register.com and login to your account.
  2. Click on the domain you want to edit.
  3. In the next page scroll down to the section Domain name system servers (DNS servers). Enter the new DNS serverin the text field. Click on Continue.
  4. Next you will see DNS Server change confirmation page. Click on continue on that page.

You have successfully made DNS changes to your domain. Please note that it takes around 24 – 72 hours for name server changes to propagate

How to Change name servers via Dotster.com

  1. Log into your account – (go to dotster.com>> Click on Account Login link on the top >> enter your username/password.)
  2. Click on My Domains button on top menu
  3. From Step 1: Choose one or more domains –  By Checking the boxes, select the domain(s) you wish to update.
    From Step 2:  Select a domain management task – select Modify name servers.
  4. Enter the name server and click Add
  5. Enter the second name server and click Add
  6. Dotster requires two name servers to be entered; however, your hosting service provider may require more name servers to be entered. Please consult with your hosting service provider for more information and continue until all name servers have been added/updated. After you are done, enter confirmation email address and click on Continue button.
  7. Next you will see the Name server updates confirmation page. It may take 24 to 72 hours to propagate.

How to change the name servers on a Yahoo Domain

This article will go through the steps on how to change name servers on your domain registered through yahoo.

  1. Login to your domain control panel. Click on Domain Control Panel link.
  2. Click on Manage Advanced DNS settings link.
  3. Before you changes name server on yahoo.com, you need to unlock the domain. So scroll down and click on Unlock the Domain button.
  4. Click the Unlock Domain button in next 2 windows.
  5. After Unlocking the domain, let’s go back to Domain Control Panel by clicking on Domain Control Panel ink on the top to change the name server.
  6. Click on Manage Advanced DNS settings link.
  7. Scroll down and click on Change NameServers button.
  8. Enter Primary and Secondary name server fields (You will get these from your hosting company). Click Submit.
  9. Any domain name servers change can take up to 72 hours to be propagated all over the internet. Next you need to re-lock the domain. Let’s go back to Domain Control Panel by clicking the domain control panel link.
  10. Click on Edit Domain Locking link.
  11. Click on Lock Domain button in next 2 windows.
  12. Congratulations !! Now you are done.

How to change DNS name server settings in Network Solutions?

  1. Log in to the Network Solutions Account Manager at https://www.networksolutions.com/manage-it/index.jsp
  2. After logged into your NetworkSolutions account, click on View Domain Name List link on left.
  3. Click on the domain name you want to change.
  4. The Domain Details section displays different options. Select the radio button next to Custom DNS Setting and click on the Apply Change button. (Note: If radio button DNS Settings was already selected, then click on Edit DNS.)
  5. Next you will see Edit DNS page. On this page click on the Continue button (under the section Move DNS to a New Name Server). In the next page, after reading the confirmation warning, click on the Continue button.
  6. Enter the primary & secondary nameservers in the text boxes (usually your host will send these information in your confirmation email). You can add additional name severs by clicking on the Add More Name Servers button. When finished click on the Continue button, and then click on the Save DNS button
  7. You will see a confirmation page.  Please note that this can take up to 48 hours to be propagated all over the internet.

How to Change your Nameservers on an Enom Account

his article will take you through the steps to change name servers ( DNS ) settings of your domain name registered with Enom.com.

  1. First you will need to visit www.enom.com and click login in the upper right hand corner of the screen. Enter in your username and password in the boxes shown.
  2. Click on Registered Domains link.
  3. Now click on the domain name you want to manage.
  4. Here you can see the current DNS setting for this domain. Click on Configure to change these setting.
  5. Enter the correct DNS settings provided by your hosting. Then click save changes and you are DONE!!!!.

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