The Low Down on Domain Names

What is a Domain Name?

Every computer that connects to the internet is assigned a unique string of numbers called an IP address. But, like phone numbers, passwords and your spouse’s birthday, IP addresses can be difficult to impossible to remember. That’s where a Domain Name comes in.

Instead of making humanity memorize random strings of numbers for every website they want to visit or email they want to send, we give our sites “real” names such as www.ComputerGeeks2Go.com or http://www.weather.com, etc. These names are much easier to remember than 50.22.79.124 or 96.8.84.121.

Once you decide on and register a domain name for your website, the IP Address assigned to your site displays the much more memorable string of words between the “www.” and the “.com.” It’s also entered into the Domain Name System, a large directory of domain names and their associated computers maintained by  Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

ICANN keeps this directory to make it easier to resolve problems, enforce laws, protect trademarks, etc. and you can access it via a “Whois” site.

So how do you get a domain name of your own?

Registering a Domain Name

There are two things you need to decide before you register your domain name:

  1. the actual name of the site (like ComputerGeeks2go) and
  2. the extension (.com, .net, .org, etc.)

Since domain names are like internet fingerprints, no two websites can have exactly the same name. Have a couple of backup names or spelling variations in mind just in case the name you want is already taken.

For example, say you want “ComputerGeeks2Go.com” but it’s already being used by another site. You could try:

  • ComputerGeeksTwoGo
  • ComputerGeeksToGo

Or you could try your desired name as a .net or .org, which is the extension of your site.

Once you’ve got a list of desired names, you’re ready to see if one is available and register it for your site.  Many registrars and resellers sites, such as ComputerGeeks2go, GoDaddy, 1&1, have tools that let you search for and register domain names. It’s as easy as filling out an online form. The cost of registering a domain name varies by service and the length of time you wish to keep the name. Many of these same sites also offer services to help you protect your privacy online.

Protecting Your Privacy

Online security threats get more sophisticated every day and Identity Theft is a growing problem. To combat this problem, it’s possible to add a level of privacy to your registration information.

For a fee, proxy services will collect the legally required registrant information (your name, phone number, address, etc.) but will use their information as the registrant on record. This keeps your name, address and email from being published on Whois sites.

But don’t confuse privacy with anonymity. Your information is still there; it’s just hidden. And in certain situations, it can be made public.

If you’re a business, you may want to consider keeping your information public. Potential customers may look you up to confirm that you’re a legitimate business. If they do, they’ll find your business contact information.

Keep in mind, too, that if you’re trying to register a .us domain, you’re not able to privatize that information under a March 2005 ruling by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

If you still have questions about domain names and how to register one, call us at 1-888-863-3033 or email us at sales@computergeeks2go.com and we’ll be happy to help you get your new site registered, up, and running.

These tips and tricks are to you by ComputerGeeks2Go. Feel free to print a copy and tack it to your wall or keep it in a handy file. If you need to share it though, we ask that you respect our copyright and give us credit with a link back to our website: http://www.computergeeks2go.com. Also, let us know! If you’re reprinting it, we’d love to post a link to your site.

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