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Newbie Guide To Domain Registration

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Want to reserve a domain? This article will hopefully help you understand the many pieces of this process- and help you decide how to get started.

Registering a domain is only the first step in the process of getting a web site up. When you register a domain, you are effectively reserving the right to _use_ the domain for as long as you pay for it. You don't really _own_ it, as you will never stop payments on it. But you do own the rights to it, and you can do with it whatever you want, but if you stop paying for it, someone else can take it.

So along with the domain, you will need space on a webserver to keep your web site, and an account on a mail server to host your mail.

But when registering your domain you don't actually need to specify the web and mail server addresses to the company that registers the domain, as those addresses are taken care of by DNS servers.

DNS servers are computers that map your domain name to the addresses of your webserver and your mailserver.

Confused yet?

Here's a walk through.

  1. Go to

  2. Type in the domain name that you want to register, and see if it is available. If it is, they will then ask you if you want to 'reserve' the domain, or 'register' it.

    • Reserve- means they will hold the domain name for you for two years for $119. I don't think this gets you a website- just a 'splash screen'. I'm not sure about an email account either- I think that is extra. All this really does is makes sure no one else takes the name. They will point the domain to their own DNS servers.

    • Register- means you have a place to point the domain. They will ask you a boatload of questions about the technical contact, administrative contact, and billing contact, and the addresses of the DNS servers that you want to point the domain to. (remember from above- the DNS server is the computer that says where your website and mailservers live.)

    • Technical contact - this is actually the name of the person who runs the DNS server you are pointing to.

    • Administrative contact - This can be you if you want.

    • Billing contact - Can be you, or your billing person.

    • DNS addresses (they ask for two of them - primary and secondary)- these are the aforementioned servers that point the domain to the right places to see your website, or send you mail. They ask for two of them in case one of them fails.

After you have filled in all this info, Network Solutions will send you a bill for $70 (good for two years). This does not include the website or email account- its just a charge to give you the domain. Web and mail costs will come from the person whose DNS server you pointed to.

Still confused? Most people are by this time. That's why there are companies that do it all for you.

These one-stop companies (of which there are thousands) will reserve the name for you, set up your webspace and email accounts- and all you need to do is give them a domain name.

So lets review the costs.

  • Domain name ( $70
  • Webspace ( shouldn't be more than $25 a month and _maybe_ a nominal setup charge.
  • Mail service ( one or two accounts included in the web site costs- extra mail accounts for your dog, goldfish and mother are extra.

So which company should I use to register my domain?

Well, if you have access to a DNS server- go straight to NetworkSolutions and 'register' your domain name. Its cheap and fast. If you don't have access to a DNS server, or still don't understand what-in-the-heck a DNS server is, go with a web hosting provider that will do it all for you.

Look for the larger names in the business, they (usually) have reliable service (their servers don't go down) and they are pretty cheap. You will find cheaper web hosting providers on the net, but caveat emptor. You don't know if they will be around next month, or if your website will live on the same machine as someone who is serving the latest Pammy & Tom naughty video (which means your site will be suuuuper slow).

Whatever you do - make sure to do some research. Moving a domain to another DNS server later isn't hard, but it can be tedious.

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