If you’re new to owing a domain, or you need to register a new domain for your company, this information will be important for you. You will both need a domain name and hosting to have your website online.
WHAT IS A DOMAIN?
You can think of a domain name as a “street sign” which points to the location of your website online. It’s like giving your forwarding address to the post office… any person who sends you mail, will be pointed at the location of your new address. In the case of a domain, anyone who types in your domain name into their website browser, will end up being directed to view your website files.
HOW CAN I “OWN” A DOMAIN?
Nobody actually “owns” a domain. Domains are leased on a yearly basis, everyone in the world that has use of a domain, pays the yearly renewal fee. If you choose to pay the fee for more than one year at a time, some companies will give you a discounted rate. You can register to “own” (lease) a domain at a company like Domains at Cost (details to the left).
HOW TO CHOOSE A DOMAIN NAME FOR YOUR BUSINESS:
WHAT IS HOSTING?
Just like you need a place to live, your website needs a place to live on a “server”. A server is a computer that is always on, and attached to the internet in a way that allows many people to see the information on this computer at the same time. You can think of the server as being an apartment block in which many websites live. A hosting fee is the rental of space (an apartment) on one of these servers for your website.
WHAT DOES HOSTING COST?
Just like everything else, you get what you pay for… you can host as cheaply as a few dollars a month, but these servers can be slow to display your information at peak times of the day, loosing you business, or you can have problems getting in touch with the people who run the server.
HOW MUCH SPACE DOES MY WEBSITE NEED?
Most websites take less than 100MB of space, so signing up with a company that promises huge amounts of storage for your website when you just have an ordinary website that needs minimal storage, is a complete waste. Even if you were to sign up with a shared hosting company for and account with huge amounts of space, bandwidth and server memory restrictions would keep you from actually being able to utilize this. Beware of this misleading marketing – more does not mean better for you! If you really need 2GIG of storage or more for your website content, you’re better off having your developer set up a VPS (virtual private server) for your website, that gives it all the space it needs, and dedicated bandwidth to display it your site. Talk to your web developer, and ask for help to make the right choice for your site’s hosting needs.
WHERE SHOULD I REGISTER MY DOMAIN?
A decent place to register your domains is DomainsatCost.ca. Their prices are reasonable and the interface is easy to use. You don’t want to sign up for hosting with them, JUST the registration of the domain… it’s always best to host with the company you choose to design your site, as it will be easier for the designer to launch your site and maintain it when they have control over your hosting environment.
HINT: Remember to keep your login information, you will need it to point the domain to your design company.
WHAT IS DNS?
FYI only… read if interested, otherwise leave it to your design company!
Once you have signed up with a web design company, and have signed up for hosting, your “street sign” (your domain) will need to be pointed over to the location of your new website files on the server you are hosting on. This can be done either by you, or by your web developer. To do this, the information called the DNS Settings are updated at the place you registered your domain. Once this information has been updated, it will take 24-48 hours to propagate – during propagation, all the name-servers on the internet update their information database about where your website files are located. Once propagation is complete, anyone who types in your domain name, will see your new website files.