Domain Names and Registration

Your domain name is the name of your web site (www.MYDOMAIN.com).and is established through a registration process.  This registration is completely independent of the other aspects of your website such as design, hosting, support, e-mail services, etc. You do not have to acquire and register your domain name through your website provider as ANYONE can register and own a domain name. While most hosting providers can provide registration services for you (including us), we actually advise against this. Your domain name is the key to your customers finding your website, so you want to make sure you have full ownership and control over this.  In the event you ever need to change website vendors, all you need to do is point your domain name to your new website, provided you control the domain name. If you don't control it you may find yourself at the mercy of your website vendor, and could lose the brand equity built up by your domain. 
 
While we can register your domain for you and are happy to do so, this article provides the background information and knowledge you need to acquire and register a domain name on your own.

Domain names such as www.mydomain.com actually have three parts (separated by the periods) that define three different levels of hierarchy.  The last part (.com) defines what is called the TLD (Top-Level Domain).  Common TLDs include .com, .net, .org, .edu, .biz, .info, and country specific extensions like .us.  These extensions are set by ICANN, the organization that provides global coordination for Internet names. You cannot create your own TLD extension. 

The second level name (mydomain) is any phrase of your choosing and is the part you own when you register a name.  The name you pick must be globally unique within the associated Top Level Domain (i.e. .com or .org extension). Typically your first challenge in is finding a unique name that is available. When you do find one, you must register it with an authorized Internet "registrar" to reserve it for your exclusive global use to assure no one else can use it. There is an annual registration fee that you must pay the registrar for this service. 

The important thing to know is the registration of your selected name is specific to the TLD  (.com or .net) selected.  Mydomain.com and mydomain.org are completely separate and unrelated names because they are associated with different top levels. So if you only register “myname.com” someone else can register “myname.org” and “myname.net” if they are available. Typically when you find a unique name that works for you, you will want to register it with the three most popular TLDs: .com, .net, and .org.  But this requires three different registrations and associated fees.
  
Finding and registering a unique name can easily be done on line through the websites of popular registrars. Prices for the service can vary widely so make sure you shop. Popular registrars include Network Solutions, Go Daddy, and Register. All of these companies offer a quick search tool on their home pages to help you find if your desired name if available. If you find it, you simply need to complete the steps outlined to establish your account and pay your registration fees. The name is then yours.

The third level of a name (in this case the www) is actually a sub level of the associated domain (mydomain.com).  Once you have ownership of a registered name, you can control where these sub levels go.  WWW is simply a default and typically the home page of your website.  But you can have other names besides www such as name1.mydomain.com, and name2.mydomain.com  that go to different pages or different websites.  This is not usually something you will use, but is mentioned here just to complete the picture of how the three parts of www.mydomain.com relate to three different levels of hierarchy. 

Most if not all registrars also offer other services like hosting, email, web design tools, etc. which are targeted toward do-it-yourself.  These services are totally independent of the registration process.  Just because you register your name with GoDaddy does not mean you need to use their other services.  Likewise using their other services does not mean you need to register you name with them.

The last thing to note is you can always transfer your domain name from one registrar to another.  The process depends upon the registrar being used.  First, establish your account with the new registrar, and then simply follow their on-line instructions for transferring your domain name to them.
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