Domain Names: How do they work?

A lot of people seem to ask this question now days, what are domain names, how do they work, and where can I get one? This is what I aim to cover in this post. If I missed anything, need to make changes, or you simply have more questions, feel free to leave a comment!

What are Domain Names?

Domain names are in simple terms names for websites. However, there is a wide variety of names available. For example, a domain name could be example.com, mysite.com, or whatever you can think of so long as someone else doesn’t already use it. A domain name doesn’t have to end in .com either. It could use .ca, .org, .net, and many others depending on the country you are located in. There are even new domain extensions such as .io, making possibilities endless. However, there are still even more types of possibilities available.

SUB DOMAINS

Websites can use sub domains to enhance and add more functionality as well as pages to there site. Sub domains work in nearly the same fashion as normal domain names. This blog website is an example: http://blog.smartphone-repair.ca. The second component, “smartphone-repair.ca,” is the URL, or domain name of my main website. And the first component, “blog,” is the sub domain! Beware: if you run your own website, most hosts charge extra for each domain and sub domain you get.

How Does a Domain Name Work?

Before getting into how a domain name works, you need to understand IP addresses, and web hosting.

IP ADDRESSES

The simple explanation of IP addresses is a unique string of numbers separated by periods that identifies each computer using the Internet Protocol to communicate over a network. (More Info on IP addresses here) There are also two types of IP addresses, normal addresses: only accessible on your Local Area Network (LAN), and Public addresses: different from a local IP address, and with port forwarding set up on your router, accessible all around the world.

Each and every website available on the Internet is stored on a computer, called a server. Each server has a IP address on its LAN, and a Public IP for access outside the LAN. To access the website without a domain name, you would simply type the Public IP of the computer storing your website. However, it is not good to give out a Public IP address as it can be used for hacking. So domain names were invented, essentially allowing the user to type in a domain, each domain being connected to the Public IP of the server. This setup allows the “masking” of the Public IP address making computer in general harder for hackers to break into.

Where Can I Get a Domain Name?

Where to get a domain name presents almost as big a choice as choosing a domain name. Depending on if you want a .com domain or a .io domain can even change availability from some registrars. I would personally recommend Rebel.ca, as you can also get web hosting at the same time, but you should feel free to explore a bit too. However, most web developers recommend that you have your websites hosted through a different service from your domain registrar, for the purpose of keepings things separate so less services can possibly fail at once. My personal favorite for web hosting is Bluehost, for its ease of use and customer support. Also, when choosing  from the many services available what is best for your needs, be sure to investigate the options thoroughly reading all of the disclaimers.

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