What is a Domain Name and How Do Domains Work? in 2023

Nearly all people who use the internet are familiar with the concept of a domain name. However, what precisely is a domain name, and How Do Domains Work? Should you get your own domain name for your website?

Beginners often inquire to us about the meaning of “domain name” and the operation of “domains.” If you are just starting out, you have probably already heard that in order to create a website, you need a domain name.

However, many people who are just starting out mistake a domain name with a website or a service that hosts websites. If you are just getting started, it’s possible that all of these distinct phrases may seem too complex to you.

In this tutorial for beginners, we will explain what a domain name is as well as how the domain system works. The purpose of this guide is to explain domain names and assist you in selecting an appropriate one for your website.

How Do Domains Work
How Do Domains Work

Here is a quick overview of the topics we will cover in this guide.

What is a Domain Name?

A domain name is a one-of-a-kind text string that is used in order to recognize a certain resource that is located on the internet. This may be a website, an email server, or an FTP server. It might be anything.

When you browse a website, the domain name of that website is translated into a string of digits known as an IP address. This allows you to connect with the server that hosts the website in order to submit requests for website content and receive it.

Your website’s domain name is the address that users of the internet must put into the address bar of their web browsers in order to access your website.

A more in-depth explanation is as follows:

The Internet is comprised of a vast network of computers that are all linked to one another through a worldwide web of cable connections. Every computer that is connected to this network has the ability to communicate with the other computers.

An Internet Protocol address, or IP address, is given to every computer so that it may be identified. A specific machine on the internet may be identified by a string of digits known as an IP address. The following is an example of a typical IP address: 626.259.66.1

An IP address such as this one is quite tough to keep in one’s memory. Just try to picture having to enter such numbers in order to access some of your favorite websites.

Domain names were created to address this issue.

If you want to go to a website right now, you won’t have to type in a really lengthy string of digits like you used to.

You may access it in place of that by entering a domain name that is simple to recall into the URL bar of your browser. Take, for instance, the website mobileblogmoney.com.

Different Types of Domain Names

There are a large number of distinct extensions available for domain names. The.com extension is by far the most common. There are many additional choices available, such as domain extensions ending in.org, .net, .tv, .info, and.io, among others. However, we strongly encourage everyone to use the.com domain extension.

Let’s take a more detailed look at different types of domain names available.

Top Level Domain – TLD

Top level domains, often known as TLDs, are extensions of domain names that are used generically and are listed at the highest level possible in the domain name system. In certain circles, they are referred to as gTLDs, which stands for generic top level domains.

There are hundreds of TLDs, but the most popular ones are .com, .org, and .net. Other TLDs are lesser known and we don’t recommend using them. For example, .biz, .club, .info, .agency, and many more. Other common TLDs include:

  • .edu (for educational institutions)
  • .org (usually for non-profit organizations)
  • .gov (for government organizations)
  • .net
  • .io

Country Code Top Level Domain – ccTLD

Country code top-level domains, often known as ccTLDs, are country-specific domain names that finish with the respective country’s code extension, such as “.uk” for the United Kingdom, “.de” for Germany, and “.in” for India.

  • .ca (Canada)
  • .mx (Mexico)
  • .de (Germany)
  • .cn (China)
  • .jp (Japan)

They are used by websites that want to target audiences in a specific country.

Sponsored Top Level Domain – sTLD

A type of top-level domains known as sponsored top-level domains, or sTLDs, are those that have a sponsor that is representative of a particular community that is supported by the domain extension.

To provide just a few examples, there is the domain extension “.edu” for educational institutions, “.gov” for the federal government of the United States, “.mil” for the armed forces of the United States, and many more.

Second Level Domain – SLD

The name that comes before the top level domain, or TLD, is usually called the second level domain.

The SLDs are used by the domain registry to set up a structure for their ccTLD.

For example, the.au ccTLD, which stands for Australia, includes com.au, net.au, and other domains. In this case,.com is not the Top Level Domain (TLD). Instead, it is a sub-TLD of the.au TLD.

In the same way, the.co in.co.uk is the SLD of the.uk TLD.

How Domain Names Actually Work?

DNS servers change URLs and domain names into IP numbers that computers can understand and use. They change what a user puts into a computer into something that a machine can use to find a webpage. DNS resolution is the name for this process of translating and looking up.

These steps make up the basic process of a DNS resolution:

  • A site address or domain name is put into a computer by the user.
  • The browser sends a message to the network called a “recursive DNS query” to find out which IP or network address the name is linked to.
  • The question is sent to a recursive DNS server, also called a recursive resolution. This type of server is usually run by an internet service provider (ISP). If the recursive resolution knows the address, it will give the address back to the user, and the webpage will load.
  • If the recursive DNS server doesn’t have the answer, it will ask a number of other servers in the following order: DNS root name servers, top-level domain (TLD) name servers, and authoritative name servers.
  • The three types of servers work together to keep forwarding until they find a DNS record that has the IP address that was asked for. It sends this information to the recursive DNS server, and the page the person is looking for loads. Most of the time, DNS root name servers and TLD servers just send questions to other servers and rarely do the work themselves.
  • The recursive server saves, or “caches,” the IP address in the A record for the domain name. The next time it gets a request for that domain name, it can reply straight to the customer instead of asking other computers.
  • If the query gets to the correct server and the information isn’t there, the server sends back an error message.

The whole process of asking the different sites for information takes a fraction of a second and is generally invisible to the user.

DNS servers answer questions from people both inside and outside of their own domains. When someone from outside the domain asks for information about a person or place inside the domain, the computer gives the official answer.

When a server gets a request from within its domain for a name or address outside that domain, it sends the request to another server, usually one run by its ISP.

How is Domain Name Different from a Website and Web Hosting?

A website is made up of different files, like HTML pages, pictures, and website building software. It lets people find you and your business online.

If your website’s domain name is its web address, then web hosting is where your website lives.

This is the computer where the files for your website are kept. Servers are these kinds of computers, and hosting companies rent them out as a service.

You need both a domain name and web hosting to make a website. You need both to make any kind of website, whether it’s for yourself, a small business, or an online shop.

But keep in mind that they are two different services that can be bought from two different companies.

You might be thinking what would happen if you got them from two different places.

You just need to change the settings for your domain name and put in the Name Server information that your hosting company gave you. The details about your Name Server tells users where to send requests for your domain name.

We suggest that you use the same company for both your domain name and your server. This makes it easy to keep track of them all from the same account.

FAQ on What is a Domain Name

What is a domain name?

A domain name is a unique, human-readable web address used to identify websites on the internet.

Why do websites need domain names?

Domain names provide a memorable way for users to access websites instead of using numerical IP addresses.

How does a domain name work?

Domain names are translated into IP addresses by the Domain Name System (DNS) so that computers can locate and connect to websites.

What is an IP address?

An IP address is a numerical label assigned to each device connected to a computer network, including the internet.

What is the format of a domain name?

A domain name typically consists of two parts: the second-level domain (SLD) and the top-level domain (TLD), like “example.com.”

What is the role of a TLD in a domain name?

TLDs categorize domain names by type or purpose, such as “.com” for commercial websites or “.org” for organizations.

How do I register a domain name?

You can register a domain name through accredited domain registrars by paying a registration fee.

Can I own a domain name forever?

No, domain names are typically registered for a specific period, such as one year, and need to be renewed to maintain ownership.

What is DNS (Domain Name System)?

DNS is a system that translates human-readable domain names into IP addresses, allowing computers to locate websites.

What is a DNS resolver?

A DNS resolver is a server or software that queries the DNS to find the IP address associated with a domain name.

Can I transfer my domain name to a different registrar?

Yes, you can transfer your domain name to another registrar by following a specific process.

What is domain parking?

Domain parking is the practice of registering a domain name without using it for a website, often to resell it later.

What happens if I forget to renew my domain name?

If you forget to renew, your domain may enter a grace period or be released for others to register.

Can I change the DNS records of my domain?

Yes, you can edit DNS records to control where your domain points, like directing it to a different web server.

What is a subdomain?

A subdomain is a part of a larger domain that can be used to create separate web addresses, like “blog.example.com.”

What is WHOIS information?

WHOIS provides public information about the owner of a domain, including contact details, but privacy options are available.

What is domain forwarding?

Domain forwarding redirects visitors from one domain to another, often used for rebranding or consolidating websites.

Can I register a domain name with special characters or spaces?

Domain names can only contain letters, numbers, and hyphens, with no spaces or special characters.

How do expired domain auctions work?

Expired domain names can be auctioned, allowing interested buyers to bid on and acquire them.

Are there restrictions on domain name registration?

Yes, some TLDs have restrictions or requirements, like “.gov” for government entities or country code TLDs like “.uk” for the United Kingdom.

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