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What Is A Domain Name? Explanation For Beginners

29 August 2020, Saturday By Victoria Frolova
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A domain name is the equivalent of your actual address, your location. In fact, this is the address of your site, the place where it is placed on the Internet, so that your users get exactly where they want.

A domain name consists of two main elements. For example, a domain name Google.com consists of the site name (Google) and the domain name extension (.com). When a company or individual pays for a domain, they can specify which server the domain is directed to.

Domain name

Domain name registration is controlled by the organization ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers – international organization for the distribution of numbers and names). ICANN determines which domain name extension is available and stores a centralized database with addresses where domain names are directed.

Each site you visit consists of two parts: the domain name and the web server.

  1. Web server – a real computer with files and databases that make up your site, it sends them across the Internet to your site's visitors when they open it on their computers.
  2. Domain name – the address that users specify to access your site. This address gives the browser the path to the server where all the site resources are stored. Without a domain name, people would have to remember the special IP of your server, and this is quite inconvenient.

How Do Domains Work?

What is a domain explained a little. How do they work? Domain names work like shortcuts to the server on which the site is hosted.

Without a domain name, anyone who wants to visit your site will have to enter the full IP address. But the problem is that the IP address is not so easy to remember and it will look strange in advertising materials.

In our case, Cheapdeveloper.com – this is a domain name. For example, it points to the IP address 100.90.80.70. the IP address points to the server, but the address itself does not allow visitors to access the site. In order to get the site from the IP address, the remote server must use port 80 with the default page (i.e. index.html), which is stored in the web application directory.

As you can see, dealing with server settings and IP addresses can be long and painful. Therefore, most website owners prefer to use services such as A2 Hosting, which offer domain names bundled in annual web hosting packages.

Domains can also use redirects, which essentially allows you to automatically redirect visitors from one domain to another. Both companies and small sites will find this feature useful. It's also useful for you if you want to redirect visitors to your main site to landing pages. Redirects also help avoid confusion over different spellings. For example, if you go to www.fb.com, you will be redirected to www.facebook.com.

Different Kinds of Domains

Not all domain names have the same domain extensions. And, while .com domains cover 46.5% of the total number of sites, a large number of free domains remain for extensions such as .org and .net. In general, the most common types of domain names include:

TLD: Top Level Domains

A top-level domain speaks for itself: it is a type of domain name that sits at the top level of the Internet's domain name system. There are over a thousand TLDs available, but the most common are .com, .org, .net, and .edu.

The official list of TLDs is maintained by an organization called the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and can be viewed here. IANA notes that ccTLDs and gTLDs are also included in the TLD list,

ccTLD: Country Code Top Level Domains

ccTLD using only two letters and are based on international country codes such as .us for the United States, or .jp for Japan. They are often used by companies that create special sites for certain regions and can be a good way to signal users that they are in the right place.

gTLD: Generic Top Level Domain

gTLDs are essentially TLDs that don't use the country code. Many gTLDs have specific uses, for example, .edu is intended for educational institutions. However, you do not need to meet any specific criteria to register a gTLD, so .com is not only used for commercial purposes.

Other examples of gTLDs include .mil (military - mil itary), .gov (government - gov ernment), .org (for nonprofits and other organizations), and .net, which was originally developed for Internet Service Providers (ISPs), but which is now much more widely used.

Other Domain Types

Although the above types of domains are the most common, there are other options that you can come across.

Second-Level Domains

You've probably already seen these domain names. We are talking about a domain that is directly under the top-level domain name. We will not go into technical details, they are easier to show by examples, especially when it comes to country codes.

For example, UK companies sometimes use .co.uk instead of .com and this is a great example of a second-level domain. Another second-level domain is  .gov.uk, which is often used by government agencies. Another example, .ac.uk, is used by academic institutions and universities.

Subdomain

Subdomains are useful because they eliminate the need to create additional domain names for subsections on an existing site. Instead, you can create a subdomain that essentially points to a specific directory on the server. Subdomains are often used for ad campaign sites and other types of web content that must be stored separately from the main site.

For example, Facebook uses developers.facebook.com to provide specific information to website and app developers who want to use the Facebook API. Another great example: support.google.com.

How to Register a Domain Name

Different providers use different systems, so the process may differ slightly depending on the domain provider. We've covered this in more detail in our domain buying guide.

Usually, the domain name is searched first. Most domain name providers offer a dedicated tool where you can enter the desired domain name and see if it is available. On Hostinger's website, we also offer a variety of potential domain name options that might interest you if the domain you were looking for is already taken.

domain search

From now on, all that remains is the formal part of completing the process – placing an order and paying for your new domain name. After registration, you will get access to the control panel with all the necessary management tools.

How to Transfer a Domain Name

Domain names can also be transferred between registrars (this procedure is also called transfer). However, there are a few special conditions that must be met:

  1. It must be 60 or more days from the date of registration or the last transfer.
  2. The domain should not be in the Redemption (redemption period) or Pending Delete (pending deletion) status.
  3. You must have your domain authorization code (also known as EPP code).
  4. Domain ownership information must be valid and privacy protection disabled.

While transferring your domain is optional, all services in one place can greatly simplify the process of managing them. 

transfer your domain

On the A2 Hosting website, you can transfer your domain from any registrar. The process can take 4 to 7 days. However, their dedicated customer success team is ready to assist you every step of the way!

Difference Between Domain Name and Hosting

Going back to the beginning of this article, if a domain name is similar to your physical address, then hosting is similar to a physical building and what is stored inside.

Domain names are used to create a friendly link to link what visitors enter in their browser's address bar to the server that is used to host the website. Domain names are fully digital and stored in a centralized database.

Hosting is slightly different because it requires a physical server that is located somewhere and connected to the Internet. It is essentially like a computer hard drive that stores all the files and databases of your site. It is called a server because it literally "serves" your site for your visitors.

When you enter a URL (for example, www.cheapdeveloper.com) in your browser, it sends a request to the specific server that hosts your site. The server then downloads the files and transmits them over the Internet to the device you are using, and it downloads the files and displays them.

So, What Is A Domain Name?

A domain name is essentially a postal address, but in the context of hosting - hosting sites. Here's what you need to know:

  1. A domain name is like a home address, it's a website address.
  2. Domains consist of a site name (i.e., Cheapdeveloper) and a domain extension (for example, .com).
  3. All domain name registrations are controlled by ICANN.
  4. Domains work by redirecting visitors to the appropriate server.
  5. .com domains are the most popular, accounting for 46.5% of Internet domains.
  6. Domains like ccTLDs use country codes and indicate geographical territories (for example, .cn or .es).
  7. Domains like gTLDs are usually intended for specific use cases (such as .org for organizations).
  8. Each domain name registrar has its own slightly different registration process.
  9. Domains can be transferred from one provider to another.
  10. Servers are special computers that store your website files.

Final Word

In this article, we've covered what a domain name is, covering everything you need to know about domains and how they work. We've also covered the basics of the domain name transfer and registration process. 

If you have additional domain-related questions, feel free to write them down in the comments below!

Discuss

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