Learn Everything about Domain Names
When you want to access a website on the internet, you type in the address of the website into the address bar of your browser. For example, if you want to reach Monovm, you type www.monovm.com and press enter. This all is possible thanks to domain names, as without them, you would have to remember the complex for humans, but computer-friendly, IP address of every website you want to visit.
A brief history of domains
Let us start from the very beginning. In October 1984, 6 generic “top level domains” (gTLDs, including .com, .net, .org and .gov) are established to provide domain space for corporations, non-profits, schools, networks, US government offices and the US military.
On March 15, 1985, Symbolics Inc., a computer manufacturer in Massachusetts, registered the domain name Symbolics.com, making it the first appropriately registered .com domain in the world. From that point on, until 1995, domain registration was free of charge. That all changed when the National Science Foundation awarded tech consulting company Network Solutions the ability to charge for registration. Domain prices began at $100 for a two-year registration.
In the year 1998, the Department of Commerce proposed privatizing the DNS (i.e. Domain Name System), which was at the time, under the control of the United States government. This eventually led to the formation of ICANN (i.e. Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers).
Due to some controversial domain naming practices, in 2003, Truth in Domain Names Act was incorporated into the PROTECT Act, setting a punishment for the creators of misleading domain names.
By December of 2013, we have officially run out of all the possible four-letter combinations for the .com TLD (i.e. Top-Level Domain). All 456,976 possible combinations from AAAA.com to ZZZZ.com have been exhausted.
In 2014, more than 100 new generic TLDs were added to the registration list, allowing for even more possibilities of website naming.
Here’s a fun fact: The most expensive domain name sale was carried out in 2007 for the low price of $35 million. The domain was VacationRentals.com and the buyer purchased it for the purposes of keeping it out of the hands of his competition.
What is a domain name?
Domain names are the letter counterparts of an IP address. Every device connected to the internet has a unique IP address assigned to it which is used by others to send and receive data. A domain name can represent a single or multiple IP addresses.
For example, Monovm’s IP address is 184.108.40.206, however, it would be difficult for a person to remember it, so instead you type in our domain name, which is monovm.com in order to connect to our website.
What is DNS?
Put simply, the Domain Name System is the phonebook of the internet. Although web browsers interact via the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, they are just a bunch of numbers (and letters in the case of IPv6) that would be difficult for a humans to memorize. Instead, it is much easier for us to remember a website name such as google.com or facebook.com.
Each device connected to the Internet has a unique IP address which other machines use to find the device. DNS converts easily memorable website names into computer-readable IP addresses and vice versa. This eliminates the need to remember complex IP addresses such as 192.168.1.1
DNS and domain names
Now that we know what domain names are and what is the DNS, let us explain the difference between the two. The domain name of a website is simply a string of characters such as monovm.com that helps users identify the website. The DNS, on the other hand, is the system that converts a website’s domain name to its IP address using purposefully-built DNS servers when requested to do so by a user.
What are the types of domains?
When people think of a website, the standard ‘.com’ pops into their mind. Although it is, in fact, the most common extension, there are different types of extensions available for use. There are, in fact, five types of domains and they are:
- Top-Level Domains (TLDs)
- Country-Code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs)
- Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs)
- Second-Level Domains (SLDs)
- Third-Level Domains (Subdomains)
We will explain what are TLDs further down within this article, however, if you want more detailed information about each type of domain, check out our detailed blog post on different domain types.
What are TLDs?
The description for TLDs can be quite simple: They are the suffix that comes after the Second-Level Domain within a web address. For example, in www.monovm.com, the Top-Level Domain is .com, while in www.wikipedia.org, .org is the TLD.
The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (i.e. IANA) released six top-level domains in the 1990’s. These became known as domain name extensions and represent the highest level in the Domain Name System hierarchy and they are:
- .com: This was the first TLD to be available for common use. It stands for commercial and was initially made to be used by commercial organizations. Regardless, it soon became the most commonly used domain that was especially popular among businesses, websites and emails.
- .net Short for network, it was created for use by institutes that took part in network technologies like infrastructure companies and internet service providers. Nevertheless, the restrictions that were meant to limit if for networking purposes were not upheld and just like the .com TLD, it became one of the most popular top-level domain, coming in a close second to .com.
- .edu Originally created for use by educational institutions all over globe, it only gained popularity in the United States. Schools and universities in other countries opted to use it together with their country-level domains such as .edu.au for Australia and .edu.de for Germany, etc.
- .org .org is shortened from the word organization and was designed to be used by non-profit organizations. Similarly to the above-mentioned TLDs, however, restrictions for it were not enforced and it soon was being used for bot non-profits and profit businesses alike, as well as schools and communities.
- .mil Shorthand for military, it was made for United States military branches, and unlike the previously mentioned TLDs, restrictions were followed and are upheld to this day. Only official US military websites have access to use this top-level domain.
- .gov This being the shortened version of “government”, just like .mil, its restrictions were strictly upheld, making this TLD available only to govern governmental agencies, programs, cities, states, towns and counties. These became what are nowadays known as generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) and hundreds more were added to this list.
These became what are nowadays known as generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) and hundreds more were added to this list.
Web host and domain
If you wish to have your site up on the internet, having both, a web host and a domain name registrar is a must. Without a web host, you will not have a server to put your site on and without a domain name registrar people would not be able to reach your site.
There are many web hosting service providers that offer both web hosting and domain name registration services (such as Monocm), however, not all do so. Some are simply providing servers without registering a domain name and vice versa.
The good news is that web hosting service providers that offer both, usually have special offers where they will give you a discounted price on domain registration if you purchase both services from them.
Keep in mind, however, that these discounted prices are only in effect for one or two years, after which the registrar will bill you for the annual or biennial fee. In other words, the provider of the discounted domain name pays only for the first billing from the registrar.
The domain contract
When buying something, we usually think that that thing is ours to keep and forever, but in many cases, that is not true. This includes registering domain names as well. First and foremost, when you purchase a domain name it is more of a lease, as after you stop paying for it, it no longer belongs to you and is available for others to buy.
Many domain registrars also have the right to revoke your domain name for certain reasons. They most commonly include using your domain name for illegal purposes or carrying out behavior that tis deemed unacceptable, such as spamming.
We urge you to read your domain contracts carefully as many of them include clauses that allow registrars to terminate these contracts for no apparent reason at all, as well as allow registrars to make changes to the registration agreement whenever they want without prior notification.
Once you selected the registrar you want to register with, however, you can choose a longer billing period for your contract, which often drops the price of the service, sometimes very significantly.
Waiting time for domain names
Despite the modern focus on automation and efficiency, a domain name won’t be available for use straight away after the purchase is complete. It might take anywhere from a few hours to several days for a domain to be propagated. This means that the domain name registry must first be updated with your website’s DNS information before it could be put to use.
Although some registrars promise to have your domain name registered instantly, the actual waiting time might take as much as seven days. Such a long wait period is typically not the case and usually domain names are up and running on the internet within two days’ time, however, do not be alarmed if it takes longer.
Difference between network domains and domain names
Now this is one area where newcomers to the computer and networking world often get mixed up. A domain, in the context of networking, refers to any group of users, workstations, devices, printers, computers and database servers that share different types of data via network resources.
When put into the context of web hosting, however, a domain name is simply the identifiable string for a website that replaces the site’s IP address within the address bar when a user wishes to connect to it.
Here’s a small bonus you get when registering a domain name with a respectable registrar. They also provide a professional email that you can use, based on the domain name.
Usually it is only a few emails that you get for free and if you want more, you will have to purchase extra ones. For example, you are registering exampledomain.com. You can then create emails such as firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. These emails look much more professional than let’s say firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Throughout this article we went through all the details that are related to domains. lot has changed since the 1980's till now. With the development of the internet the domains have substantially grown.
There are hundreds of new TLDs available now-a-days from .photography to .kitchen. There are many options to choose if you are planning on getting a domain name.
We made a comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to register a domain which will provide the steps to choose the perfect domain that will stand out from the rest. The biggest hurdle when choosing a domain is to pick the right name.
Not to worry because we have the perfect guide with the tipson how to choose the perfect domain.