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If you would like to have a site, this implies that you require a domain. A domain name is an easy-to-remember name that you type in your web browser's URL bar when you want to access a particular web page.

Why Do You Need a Domain?

This is an issue I introduce because one week ago my boss suggested the idea of building a web site for our brand new project. That itself is not a problem, the problem is that he wants a web site, but has not reached a decision yet about what it should look like, what it should contain, etc. All that he mentioned to me was the name of the web site - its domain name. So, we now have an address for a future site and nothing more.

The Domain Name

Each web site is hosted on a physical machine. That physical machine has its own physical address, popular also as an IP address. Reaching a web site by writing the Internet Protocol address of the server in your browser, though, is not the best and most suitable thing to do, so that was how and why domains came into being. Thus, a domain name pertains to an IP address on the Internet. After it has been registered, that is.

Registering a Domain Name

To register a domain, you first have to settle on a domain registration provider. FreeHostia has an optimal solution for my present and future projects - they offer a Domain Manager package, which can be easily upgraded to a hosting package later on - when my boss finally reaches a decision about what function the website will serve.

Hence, to register a domain, you need to pick a name for your site. After that, you have to select a Top-Level Domain - this is what follows the dot. For example, in 'wikipedia.com', '.com' is the Top-Level Domain (TLD). Apparently, '.com' stands for 'company', '.net' stands for 'network', '.org' stands for 'organization', and so on and so forth.

Once you've picked your domain name and your future domain name registrar, you have to confirm whether the domain you want to register is free, since somebody else might have snatched it before you, however unpleasant it might be. Each domain name registration provider, including FreeHostia, has a search tool at their signup page, which checks the availability of a given domain. To continue with the registration of a domain, you have to specify certain domain registrant details - the personal name, the address, the electronic mail address and the phone number of the domain name's owner.

You've Registered a Domain... Now What?

I registered .com, .net, .name and .biz domain names for our venture, as per the desire of my still-uncertain-about-the-purpose-of-the-future-website boss. I tried out the domain management tool FreeHostia is offering and found it extremely convenient - everything is logically arranged and, from what I noticed in the web hosting CP demo at their web site, once we upgrade to a low-cost web hosting package, it will stay the same, but with a lot more features. This, thank goodness, will spare me quite a bit of inconvenience from having to administer my domain and web hosting user account separately. So, while waiting for the boss to decide at least what the site should include, I was glad to discover that the domain name administration interface includes DNS administration and domain name renewal options, and - an extremely handy feature (!) - a parked domain name template, which I used in order to set up a "Coming Soon" page for our domains.

Country-Code TLDs

I was rather glad to see that FreeHostia is offering lots of country-specific top-level domain names, as the project the website is intended for is international. Country-code top-level domain names are entrusted to national registry operators, which allow domain registrar companies to register domains, typically at prices that are lower than those offered to the end clients. There are lots of country-code TLDs: .co.uk for the UK, .nl for the Netherlands, .me for Montenegro, .us for the USA, .ca for Canada, .com.au for Australia, and so on. This, I think, will please my boss because we will be able to set up a local version of the web site for each country where the project will be presented.