Getting Your Registered Domain Online (Part One)

Before getting your web site online on the internet, you will need to register a domain name. A domain name is a familiar web address such as that the browser needs in order to find the web site in question. In fact, domain names are pointers to a particular IP address and we use the domain name because it is easier to remember than a set series of numbers.

All websites enclose an IP address in the shape of a set of numbers, such as 123.456.78.9. The domain name system then translates all these numbers into a name such as All domain names are registered in a central registry upheld by InterNIC, an auxiliary of ICANN – which is the company which certifies domain name registrars. Domain names are also filtered through Domain Name Servers (DNS) which link the IP address with the domain names. Usually, every web site has a primary and a secondary DNS. These duplicates are there in order to increase reliability.

The first step that needs to be taken when registering a domain name is to make the right choice. The name can be nearly anything you fancy, but usually, it is better if the name represents the nature of the website. If you are selling computers, for example, it will help to register a domain name that refers to computers in some way – for instance.

Only letters, numbers or hyphens are allowed, which makes choosing a domain name quite simple. Apart from that, a domain name is also limited to 70 characters, but it is preferable to keep the name as short as possible. Your domain name can be in upper or lower case – the case is ignored by the DNS but you can sometimes use a combination to make the name easier to identify. For example, is easier to read than, but both are the same to the DNS.

Also, several extensions are available to you. The most broadly used extension is .com — it has even entered people’s everyday vocabulary as a means to express Internet activity – (I own a dot com business). Other extensions you can use include .biz (for commercial sites), .org (for non-commercial companies), .net (for organisations involved in Internet infrastructure) and .name (for personal names). There are also certain extensions which are more specialized such as .museum, .aero, and .coop and are only used very exclusively by members of certain particular organizations. Further to this, there can also be country code extensions such as .us (United States) or .de (Germany). There are variable rules for using country extensions, so you will need to check with your registrar first to see if they are available to you.

All domains must be registered with an ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) certified registrar. There are hundreds of registrars and their prices can be considerably different. The full list of registrars can be found at the InterNIC website ( Although most registrars are closely regulated, they are also allowed to offer their services through third parties, so many web hosts can offer a domain name registration service even if they aren’t themselves a registrar. The domain name price will usually be higher when dealing with these third-party services.

A domain names can usually be registered for a minimum of one year, although you can also buy up to a 10-year registration contract. Usually the longer your registration contract is, the lower the price will be, so if you are certain that you will be on the web for a while, you can benefit a great deal from a longer registration period. A lot of registrars also offer a discount on bulk purchases. If you own a large number of domain names you can also save some money if you transfer them all to the same registrar.

Nora Roberts is contributing editor at This article may be reproduced provided that its complete content, links and author byline are kept intact and unchanged. No additional links permitted. Hyperlinks and/or URLs must remain both human clickable and search engine spiderable.

IP Addresses Explained

On the internet, every server is given a unique number, or what is called an IP (Internet Protocol) address. This number can be regarded as a ‘telephone number’ which will allow other computers to find and gain access to files regardless of where they are. The IP address is equivalent to 4 bytes (32 bits), and each byte is known as an octet and can have a value of between 0 and 255, so IP addresses are written in the form of numbers, such as 123.456.78.9.

IP addresses of 32 bits allow in theory more than 4 billion unique addresses, but in actual fact, the real number is much less. Certain varieties are set aside for special purposes so the number of available IP addresses is restricted. Web sites can however get around this limitation by using shared hosting or virtual servers. Instead of using one server for one web site, shared hosting can enable several sites (sometimes hundreds) to be hosted on the same server. Each of these sites will have the same IP address, and they will be uniquely identified by their domain name (e.g.

With the introduction of version 6, there are plans to expand the number of IP addresses (We currently use version 4) of the Internet Protocol. IPv6 has IP addresses which are 128 bits wide. This will give you an almost unlimited number of unique addresses, but will also take several years to carry out because of the very costly process of upgrading the Internet infrastructure.

Shared hosting explains the problem of limited IP addresses for web sites, but there is also a requirement for IP addresses for each personal computer which connects to the Internet in order to browse the web or to send emails. Rather than allocate each PC a unique IP address, Internet Providers is able to use a system of ‘dynamic addresses’. This implies that each time you connect to the Internet through a dial-up or DSL modem you will be assigned a different IP address.

We have previously discussed how to use a web hosting company in order to host a web site, but there are no reasons why you cannot host a site on your home computer. For most people, though, the biggest technical difficulty is that they connect to the Internet using an IP address which is dynamic. Dynamic addresses make it more difficult to host a web site from your home. As the IP address is constantly changing, nobody would be able to find your site unless you somehow inform them of your current IP address. There are many dynamic DNS services, nevertheless, which will allow you to assign a domain name to a site with a dynamic IP address. Every time you are given a new address your computer will automatically notify the service, which will in turn update its DNS (Domain Name Server).

Hosting your web site on your computer at home, however, might not be a good idea. The computer will need to operate server software and will need a high speed Internet connection. Your home Internet connection might probably be a lot slower than those used by hosting companies, so it is possible that your web pages load more slowly – especially if they have many graphics. If you have a smaller personal site with little visitors, however, it may be possible to host your own site. You can obtain dynamic DNS as either a free or a subscribed service.

Martin Redford is contributing editor at This article may be reproduced provided that its complete content, links and author byline are kept intact and unchanged. No additional links permitted. Hyperlinks and/or URLs must remain both human clickable and search engine spiderable.