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If you wish to create a website, this implies that you need a domain. A domain is an easy-to-memorize name that you write in your browser's location bar when you desire to look up a given web page.

Why Do You Need a Domain Name?

This is a topic I broach due to the fact that last week my boss brought forth the idea of setting up a website for our new venture. That itself is not an issue, the issue is that he wants a web site, but has not made 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 website - its domain name. So, we now have an Internet address for a yet-to-be-established website and nothing aside from that.

The Domain

Each web site is located on a physical server. That physical server has its own personal physical address, known also as an Internet Protocol address. Visiting a site by typing the IP of the machine in your web browser, however, is not the best and most appropriate thing to do, so that was how and why domains came into existence. Hence, a domain corresponds to an IP address on the Internet. Once it has been registered, of course.

Registering a Domain

To register a domain, you first have to choose a domain name registration provider. FreeHostia offers the best solution for my current and future projects - they have a Domain Manager package, which can be easily upgraded to a hosting plan later on - when my boss eventually reaches a decision about what objective the web site will have.

Hence, to register a domain name, you have to choose a name for your web site. Then, you need to select a top-level domain name - this is what comes after the dot. For instance, in 'youtube.com', '.com' is the top-level domain name (TLD). Apparently, '.com' stands for 'company', '.net' stands for 'network', '.org' stands for 'organization', etc.

After you've selected your domain name and your future registrar, you have to confirm whether the domain name you would like to register is available for registration, because someone else might have registered it before you, no matter how unpleasant it might be. Each domain registrar, including FreeHostia, offers a functionality at their sign-up page, which checks the availability of a certain domain. To proceed with the registration of a domain name, you need to specify some registrant info - the name, the place of residence, the electronic mail address and the phone number of the owner of the domain name.

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

I registered .com, .net, .name and .eu domain names for our project, according to the wish of my still-hesitating-about-the-purpose-of-the-future-site boss. I tried out the domain management interface FreeHostia is offering and found it very user-friendly - everything is logically arranged and, from what I noticed in the hosting CP demo at their web site, once we upgrade to a low-cost hosting package, it will remain the same, but with a lot more functionalities. This, thank God, will spare me quite a bit of inconvenience from having to manage my domain and web site hosting user account separately. So, while waiting for the boss to decide at least what the website should contain, I was happy to discover that the domain name management interface offers DNS management and domain renewal options, and - a very convenient functionality (!) - a parked domain name template, which I used in order to create a "Coming Soon" page for our domains.

Country-Specific Top-Level Domains

I was quite happy to find that FreeHostia is offering lots of country-specific Top-Level Domains, since the project the web site is meant for is multinational. Country-code top-level domain names are delegated to domestic registry operators, which enable domain name registration providers to register domains, usually at rates that are cheaper than those offered to the end customers. There are numerous country-specific TLDs: .co.uk for the UK, .nl for the Netherlands, .it for Italy, .us for the USA, .ca for Canada, .com.au for Australia, etc. This, I presume, will please my boss because we will be able to build a local version of the website for each country where the project will be introduced.

TLDs 1-year 2-years with Hosting
.COM (Commercial) $14.00 USD $28.00 USD FREE
.NET (Network) $16.00 USD $32.00 USD $16.00 USD
.INFO (Information) $16.00 USD $32.00 USD $16.00 USD
.US (United States) $9.95 USD $19.90 USD FREE
.BIZ (Business) $16.00 USD $32.00 USD $16.00 USD
.EU (European Union) $9.95 USD $19.90 USD FREE
.BE (Belgium) $9.95 USD N/A FREE
.NL (Netherlands) $9.95 USD N/A FREE
.AT (Austria) $18.00 USD N/A $18.00 USD
.NU (NEW) $20.00 USD $40.00 USD $20.00 USD