Domain Name - General Info

What is a Domain Name?

For all intents and purposes, your domain name is your online identity, which allows internet users from around the world to locate and browse your website from their computer. Technically speaking, a domain name is an alias which refers Internet users to your ISP address, a complicated series of numbers that represent your space on the web. Developed to make ISP addresses easier to remember, domain names consist of three parts: the second level domain, the root, and the top level domain. The second level domain is the name of your website.

The History of Domain Names
Quite surprisingly, the history of domain names can be traced clear back to the 1960's, well before the advent of the personal computer. In the 1960's the United States Department of Defense established the Internet, and set up the present domain name system, using generic top-level domains (gTLDs) as a way of describing organizational and political structures. In the past few years, several of these gTLDs have been granted "unrestricted" classification, meaning that anyone can register and use a domain in that particular gTLD. Below is a listing of current gTLDs, their specified use, and their classification.

  • Top Level Domain
    Specified Use
  • Top Level
    Specified UseCommercial Companies
  • Top Level
    Specified UseEducational Institutions
    Classification4Year Institutions
  • Top Level
    Specified UseGovernment Agencies
    ClassificationRestricted to US Government
  • Top Level
    Specified UseMilitary Agencies
    ClassificationRestricted to US Military
  • Top Level
    Specified UseNetwork Providers
  • Top Level
    Specified UseNon-Profit Organizations
  • Top Level
    Specified UseHistorical Remnant
    ClassificationNo Longer Available

All unrestricted gTLDs, such as .com, .net, and .org, can be registed by anyone. In addition to these, there are several new gTLDs currently being considered, which will probably be added soon, including: .info, .biz, .name, .aero, .museum, .coop, and .pro.

Applying For a Domain Name
In order to apply for a domain name, you must provide information on at least two servers who will be responsible for handling all DNS inquiries concerning your domain on the Internet. This requirement makes it relatively difficult and extremely expensive for an individual to apply for a domain name, so most people allow Internet service companies to handle domain name registration and account setup for a minimal fee. These days there are literally thousands of Domain registrars on the web, all offering a variety of services, so make sure to shop around for the best deal. In case you are serious about registering your own domain name, here are the official requirements:

At least two independent Servers MUST be provided for translating names to addresses for Hosts in the Domain. A Domain name may be removed from the InterNIC database, after notice, if at least two Name Servers are not reachable and functioning properly. DO NOT list Name Servers if you do not have permission from the owner to do so. Listing Name Servers without the explicit approval of the owners is not only unethical, but can cause operational problems for the Name Servers listed. The Servers should be in physically separate locations and on different networks, if possible. The Servers should be active and respond to Domain Name System (DNS) queries BEFORE this application is submitted. Incomplete information in Sections 7 and 8 will result in a returned template. Most ISPs can provide one or more Name Servers if you do not have your own.

If the last passage made little or no sense to you, you probably do not qualify to register your own domain name, and would be better off using a domain registrar. The process of registering for a domain name requires advanced computer skills, and is much more than filling out an application and mailing it in.

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