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What is a domain name and how does it work? All you need to know

Have you ever heard of the term “domain name”? Perhaps you have come across this term while browsing the internet or browsing your social media news feeds. You may have heard about it when you participate in corporate conversations, especially those concerning the digital sphere. If this will be the first time you’ve heard of the word, you’ve come to the right place. This article will explain and discuss what a domain name is and how it works.

In a nutshell, domain names are identification strings defining a domain of authority, administrative autonomy, or control over the Internet. The domain name is the Internet address of your website. They are used in a variety of application-specific addressing and naming purposes and networking contexts. A domain name is usually unique, so when starting your website, it is essential to take a look at the availability of the domain name. What are the things you need to know about your domain name?

What is a domain name?

Domain names are the addresses that Internet users or people using the Internet enter into browsers to reach and access a site. Often compared to a fingerprint, each domain name is considered unique to a specific website, and it cannot be duplicated or shared with other web pages. A website’s domain name is usually located at the top of the browser. An example of a top-level domain name is .com or .edu. There are also second-level domain names, for example, cornell.edu. The examples bigred.cornell.edu and project.bigred.cornell.edu are third and fourth level domain names respectively.

It has been said that domains were created as a friendly way for people to access IP or Internet Protocol. IP addresses represent the online locator of a website. On the other hand, IP addresses, which you should also know when we discuss domain names, are strings of numbers assigned to each computer, comprising four decimal numbers ranging from zero to 255 and separated by periods. While these series of seemingly random numbers are ideal for computers, they are obviously easier for human beings to remember through words. And like saving numbers on your phone, domain names allow individuals to save 172.217.3.196 as google.com. Sounds interesting, right?

But wait, there’s more to learn…about domain names

ICANN or Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers oversees all domain name registrations. It also assigns and allocates IP addresses, maintains a centralized database for all domain names and their respective IP addresses, and manages accreditation systems for domain registrars. ICANN is also authorized to approve new domain extensions, also called TLDs, to manage them and to close them if they are not able to follow the provisions, guidelines and rules determined.

It is also vital and crucial to remember that although domain names are usually referred to as Universal Resource Locator or URL, or web address, make no mistake about it because domain names are only part of it.

The basic form of a domain name has two elements, the name and the extension. In our example, “google” is the name and “.com” is the extension. However, when you look at your browser’s address bar, you will see that there are more parts to this, which come together to form the web address of the page. How does the domain name work?

How Domain Names Work

The Internet is literally a massive global network of computers connected to each other via a global network of undersea cables. Whether these computers operate as personal devices or servers, an IP address identifies them, allowing them to communicate with each other so they can find, send, and retrieve web data.

As discussed and explained in the previous section, domain names are simply friendly versions of those IP addresses connected to certain websites. However, for computers to find the correct web pages, these seemingly random strings of words must be converted back into numbers. This is where the domain name system comes into its own.

Also known as simply DNS, Domain Name Systems translate any domain name entered using the browser into machine-readable IP addresses. ICANN oversees the system and is generally compared to old school and traditional telephone directories where the person searches for a name to find their number. If you’re younger and haven’t come across those old school phone books, think of this as your smartphone’s contact list that contains numbers you’ve never interacted with or have never interacted with. never been connected.

Once you enter a domain name in the web browser, the DNS servers will receive the request, then these DNS servers will search for the name servers that are connected to the specific request and forward this request to them. The web hosting provider manages these name servers. After finding the relevant IP address, they will forward and send the request to the web server where the website files are located. Web servers use IP addresses to find all files associated with them and send all data back to the browser. It took us a while to develop this, but believe it or not, this process only takes less than three seconds.

How to get your domain name

Yes, especially if you are creating and launching your own website, you need to take care of getting your domain name. Domain names are very important. You can either buy them or get them for free. Additionally, domain name trading is touted as a multi-million dollar industry.

No one else can have your domain name once you register it. That said, it is highly recommended that you register the domain name of one of your businesses. It can be as simple as your name or the name of your business. You can also adapt the practice known as domain parking.

Additionally, you should also consider purchasing any additional top-level domains that you may want to use in the future to ensure that no one else gets hold of the domain name before you. Otherwise, you will end up on the paying side.

Where you should go this time: to web hosting providers. Several web hosting providers offer a free domain registration that accompanies their hosting plans. By doing so, you can create a website faster than buying a domain name separately.

You can also get a free website domain using a content management system or CMS, or a website builder. WordPress and Blogger are excellent examples of platforms offering these services.

However, note that free subdomains usually have minimal features and tools. Nonetheless, getting a free domain with a hosting service will give you the same level of freedom as buying a domain.