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If you want to develop a website and put it online, you will need a domain name to start. You will not be alone. As of 2010, there were 196,000,000 domains in active use worldwide. Your domain name will be reserved for you and assigned for your personal use. You will not own the domain name, but will simply have rights to its use for a period of one year at a time. Your payment for a domain name is payment just for those rights of use. You may pay for more than one year of use at a time. Even still, in common language, domains are considered purchased when they are reserved, even though the transaction is not actually a purchase of any sort. The transaction is more a sort of lease, and leases are arranged via one of the many domain name registrars in operation worldwide. Upon expiration of the lease, after one year or longer, rights to the domain will revert to the registrar. To develop your website, you will need to know how to register a domain name.
One might think of a domain as a sort of nickname. A domain is a humanly-recognizable name for an Internet resource which is actually located at a numeric physical address. The numeric address is the IP address, which is viewed as a set of four blocks of numbers separated by periods, such as Google’s IP address 126.96.36.199. The IP address is assigned to the computer or server that holds the Google Internet content files. That IP address is interchangeable with the domain name Google.com, and one can actually enter that IP address into their browser as an Internet address and surf to the Google website just as they would by typing Google.com into the address bar. Google.com is the Google domain name, and 188.8.131.52 the Google IP address assigned to its server. They are synonymous.
The obvious benefit of a domain name is that it provides an easily recognizable designation for an Internet resource. It is a lot easier to remember Google.com than it is to remember 184.108.40.206. In the same way, your website will be physically located on the server that holds its files, and that server will be located at its IP address. Your domain name will be associated with that IP address, and will resolve at the same location, i.e., at the server holding the content for your website. All that one will need to remember to visit your website is the domain name. The worldwide Domain Name System (DNS) will take care of directing visitors to the right place, i.e., your website’s IP address.
You will most likely use a registrar to reserve your domain name. A domain name registrar is a commercial entity or other organization that is accredited by a top level domain registry. Most registrars are private, for-profit businesses, such as GoDaddy or Enom. Registrars sell domain name registrations and other services to registrants, who may be private individuals or organizations of any size. You will be such a registrant when you register your domain name. The registrar may offer other services, including DNS hosting, web hosting, and email.
Registrars operate online, and you may go to a registrar’s website and purchase your domain registration there. Registrars offer competitive pricing, and some may offer domain registration for just a few dollars. Larger registrars generally charge fees of around ten dollars for a new registration. Prices will also vary with the type of domain. Certain top level domains command a higher price, including .co and .mobi. The more popular .com, .net., and .org command only the standard registration fee.
Domain names are in short supply in the current market. Common words and common names are generally not available with typical top level domains. This, again, is because of the enormous entry of individuals worldwide into website operation. Many domain names have been taken. To find a domain name, one can use the search utilities located at the registrar websites. Most of these will allow for entry of the domain name sought, and will then search for that name as associated with all top level domains, along with variations of the name. This gives one a number of possibilities to choose from. Creativity in devising a domain name is also useful, as one may find a desirable name just by considering a number of variants.