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If you desire to run a site, this implies that you require a domain name. A domain is a human-memorable name that you type in your browser's address bar when you would like to go to a specific web portal.

Why Do You Need a Domain Name?

This is a question I broach because last week my boss brought forth the idea of building a site for our new venture. That itself is not an issue, the issue is that he needs a website, but does not know yet what it should look like, what it should encompass, and so on. All that he revealed to me was the name of the site - its domain. Thus, we now have an Internet address for a yet-to-be-launched site and nothing aside from that.

The Domain

Each web site is located on a physical machine. That physical machine has its own personal physical address, popular also as an Internet Protocol address. Visiting a website by writing the IP address of the physical server in your web browser, however, is not the best and most suitable thing to do, so that was how and why domains appeared. Therefore, a domain corresponds to an IP on the World Wide Web. Once it has been registered, that is.

Registering a Domain

To register a domain name, you first need to find a domain registrar. FreeHostia Web Hosting offers an optimal solution for my present and prospective projects - they offer a Domain Manager plan, which can be effortlessly upgraded to a web hosting plan at a later time - when my boss finally makes up his mind about what objective the site will serve.

Hence, to register a domain, you have to select a name for your site. Then, you have to choose a Top-Level Domain - this is what follows the dot. For example, in 'ehow.com', '.com' is the top-level domain name (TLD). Apparently, '.com' is short for 'company', '.net' is short for 'network', '.org' is short for 'organization', and so on and so forth.

After you've chosen your domain name and your future domain name registration provider, you need to see whether the domain name you want to register is free, since someone else might have snatched it already, no matter how unpleasant it might be. Each domain registration company, including FreeHostia Web Hosting, has a tool at their signup page, which ascertains the availability of a specific domain name. To proceed with the registration of a domain name, you need to fill in some domain registrant info - the name, the physical address, the e-mail and the telephone number of the registrant of the domain.

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

I registered .com, .net, .name and .info domains for our venture, as per the wish of my still-uncertain-about-the-function-of-the-future-website boss. I tried out the domain administration dashboard FreeHostia Web Hosting is offering and found it very intuitive - everything is logically arranged and, from what I noticed in the web hosting Control Panel demo at their web site, once we upgrade to a dedicated hosting plan, it will remain the same, just with many more functionalities. This, thank heavens, will save me quite a bit of inconvenience from having to manage my domain name and web hosting user account separately. So, while waiting for the boss to decide at least what the web site should contain, I was happy to discover that the domain management interface includes DNS administration and domain name renewal options, and - an extremely handy functionality (!) - a parked domain template, which I used in order to set up a "Coming Soon" page for our domains.

Country-Specific TLDs

I was pretty glad to find that FreeHostia Web Hosting is offering plenty of country-specific Top-Level Domains, since the project the website is aimed for is international. Country-code Top-Level Domains are entrusted to local registry operators, which allow domain registrars to register domain names, typically at prices that are cheaper than those offered to the end customers. There are numerous country-code TLDs: .co.uk for the UK, .it for Italy, .nl for the Netherlands, .us for the United States of America, .ca for Canada, .com.au for Australia, and so on. This, I presume, will make my boss happy since we will be able to prepare a local version of the site for each country where the project will be introduced.