A question that is often asked by beginners. What is a domain name and how does the domain name system work?
If you are new to domain names and have heard from other people the process of getting a new website online, then you may have heard that you need a domain to make a website first.
Many beginners often confuse domain names with a website or website hosting provider. Often service providers provide both domain name registration and web hosting on the same website which can cause even further confusion. If you are just starting out in this area of internet communications, these different terms and names may sound very technical and sometimes even a bit scary.
In this guide, I will try to answer what a domain name is and how domain names work.
Our goal is to try and help you understand and pick the right domain name for your new website.
The Domain name is the address of a website that people type into a web browser's URL bar to visit a website address. There are many different web browsers out there. So to give you an example of some different web browsers you will often hear them referred to as. Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox and Microsoft Edge. To put this in a more simple term. Imagine if a website was a house. And the address of that house was the domain name. Simple right?
To explain this in more detail. The internet is actually a massive network of different computers all connected to each other though a giant network of underground and sub sea cables. And every computer on this huge network can talk and communicate with each other.
In order to identify each computer it is assigned with something called an IP address. IP stands for "Internet Protocol" This is a series of numbers that identifies a certain computer on the internet. There are three classes of IP addresses. Class A, Class B and Class C.
Generally an IP address will like this: 22.214.171.124. Or 192.168.0.254
An IP address like this is very difficult to remember. So imagine if you had to remember long numbers like this to go to your favourite website.
The internet domain name system was created to solve the problem of needing to remember such a long numbers associated with the web site that you want to visit and browse. Today if you want to visit a certain website, you don’t need to put in a long string of numbers. Instead, you can visit the website by just typing an easy to remember domain name in your web browser’s address bar.
How do domain names actually work?
In order to understand how domain names work, lets have a look at what happens when you enter it into your web browser. When you put in a domain name into your web browser, it will first send a request to a global network of special servers that form the Domain Name System (DNS) as we know it. There are 13 root DNS server computers located in different locations around the world.
These root DNS servers then look up the name servers associated with the domain name and then forwards the request to those specific name server computers.
As an example. If your website is hosted on domainregistrationdns.com.au, then its name server information will look just like this
Those name servers are the computers managed by your web hosting provider. Your web hosting provider or company will forward your request to the server where your website is currently stored. This server is called a web server. It has special server software installed on it. Nginix and Apache are two popular web server software products designed for web hosting. The web server will now fetch the web page and put together all the information associated with it and finally sends the data back to the web browser.
How is a internet Domain Name different from a website and web Hosting?
Websites are made up of files like HTML pages, PHP pages, images, website builder software, and many other file types. If a domain name is the web address of your personal website, then web hosting is the place or home where your website lives. This web server is the actual computer where your website’s files and information is stored. These computers are called servers offered as a service by web hosting companies.
In order to create your very first website. You will need a domain name and you will need web hosting. It is important to remember that these are two separate services. You can buy them from two different companies. Or you can buy them from the same company if they offer both services which they generally do. It is possible that you may be thinking how could it work if you brought both services from two different companies. If you decided to do this for cost or performance reasons all you need to do is just edit your domain name settings and put in the name server information provided by your web hosting company. This is name server information that we spoke about before and what defines where to send internet requests for your domain name.
We would strongly recommend getting both your domain name and web hosting from the same company. This will allow you to easily manage both of them under the same roof and takes some of the complexity out of things.
To register an internet domain name. You can start right here by searching for the name you wish to register.
Domain Registration DNS also offers a 100% free DNS service so you can make changes to your domain names zone records. This gives you more flexibility to customise your domains settings and create different DNS records. Such as A, CNAME, MX, and TXT records. Many other domain name registrars charge for DNS record management. We believe this should always be free!