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About Domain Names
Mike de Sousa, Director, AbleStable®
Domain names are the currency of contact on the
Internet If you own a domain name or are considering
taking the plunge you'll be well advised to keep
the following issues at the forefront of your mind.
is a domain name?
Domain names are made up of several elements. The
top level domain (TLD), for example .com, is preceded
by a sub level domain (in our case this is ablestable).
Together the top level and sub level are grouped
together to create a domain name (in our case our
domain name is ablestable.com).
Domain names are leased for a specified time period
(they are not owned outright), and renewal fees
are required at certain intervals depending on the
domain owners payment preferences.
The business of connecting
Every time you connect to the Internet your Internet
Service Provider (ISP) assigns you an Internet Protocol
(IP address) that uniquely identifies your computer.
Domain names convert these numbers into letters
which are organised within the Domain Name System
(DNS). The DNS recognises your IP address and makes
the contact possible between one computer and another.
IP address can be either static, meaning it never
changes, or dynamic, meaning each time you dial-in
or login you are assigned a new address for that
session. Check with your Internet service provider
or network administrator to find out if your computer
uses static or dynamic IP addressing.
The Whois is an Internet directory service (a 'registrar'
in the case of domain names) for looking up names
of people, and information relating to domain names
on a remote server. Each Top Level domain (.com;
.net etc) hosts their own Whois server that allows
users to enquire about what domain names are currently
registered with them.
Each registrar maintains a Whois server containing
contact and nameserver information for domains registered
with them. The InterNIC maintains a central, registry
Whois server, which contains nameserver and registrar
information for all .com, Net and .org domains.
Registrars provide a registration system for use
by Web hosting companies, ISPs, Web site design
firms and other providers of Internet services who
sell domain names and SSL certificates to their
customers. Keep in mind the following two important
principles when using a Whois service:
Only the Whois server of a domains' registrar
of record can be considered authoritative. Some
Registrar's configure their Whois server to perform
a 'registry lookup' for other Registrar's domain
names; some will even go so far as to perform a
lookup on another registrar's Whois server. However,
the only sure way to check domain availability or
get contact and expiry information is to perform
a Whois query with the domain's registrar of record.
Many Whois databases are not updated in realtime,
so that you can make a change to record, but the
change will not appear in the Whois output (most
often within 24 hours, but on occasion up to 48
The Whois search will provide details about the
administrator, technical, and billing contact for
domain names, and the domain name servers (DNS).
Domain name owners are strongly advised to ensure
they are listed in their Whois lookup as the domain
and most importantly, that the domain name Administrator's
e-mail address is their own. Should domain name
owners wish to change their domain name host, it
is the administrator of that domain name who is
e-mailed to sanction the transfer.
expiry date of domain names are crucial in determining
when a domain name is due for renewal. Failure to
renew a domain name before the expiry date can result
in the immediate deletion of that domain name.
There are usually two, at times three, name-servers
for a domain name. Typically, a single name server
will be configured as the primary name server for
a domain. For backup purposes, a number of other
name servers may be configured as secondary name
servers. From the standpoint of DNS, there is no
difference between primary and secondary name servers,
since the resolving algorithm simply uses a domain's
NS records in the order provided. Typically, the
primary name server is listed first, followed by
the secondaries, but this is not a requirement.
a domain name
There are countless domain name resellers out there
so carry out some careful research before you buy
from the cheapest. Here's a check list of what to
expect when deciding on your domain name host:
Unlimited Mail Forwarding (redirect your domain
e-mail to any e-mail account)
Free Unlimited Web Forwarding (direct to your website
to any ISP)
Free Transfer to any ISP - anytime (Change IPS-tag
and/or DNS server information)
ordering of the domain name (SSL/PGP encryption)
registry fees included
Control panel for each domain with 24 hour access
The Domain Name System (DNS) is hugely significant
in defining on-line identity. Any business or individual
not owning a domain name will be at a disadvantage
on-line as domain names are increasingly used as
economic and personal identifiers.
de Sousa is the Director of AbleStable®.
Mike has been commissioned as an artist, music
composer, photographer, print and web site designer,
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