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Though your website can work well without a domain name, if your intention is for other people to visit your website, you need one.  It is one of the first steps to consider while getting your business online.


What is a domain name?


A domain name is a string representation of a web resource address.  A domain name is used as a 'mask' for the real address which is the Internet Protocol Address well known as IP Address.  An IP address is a unique address that identifies any devices(server, laptop, desktop, phone, and many others) on the internet or local network.  It is a combination of numbers separated by dots(.).  An example of an IP address is 127.0.0.1 which is commonly used as localhost address.


Apart from a handful of people, numbers a not easily recalled to mind by humans.  A word like localhost is easier to remember as compared to 127.0.0.1 or google.com is easier compared to 142.250.190.46. And that's why domain names are very important.  Without them your website will work fine, but only a few people will visit it because of the pain in recalling numbers some people might have.  A domain name hides these complexities.


How does a domain name work?


Well, now that you know what a domain name is, you might ask yourself, 'how does it work?'  To be honest, it is a little complex.  When you put a domain name in the browser to download a page or upload a document, there are some exchanges that take place between your browser and other systems(servers) to ensure that the computer you are trying to connect to is identified.  This work is done by your browser in a few milliseconds.


The first step is the attempt to convert the domain name into an IP address, which is by itself a whole article, maybe I will write one about domain name to ip address translation.  For now, know that this process is done by DNS resolvers. DNS stands for Domain Name System.  Look at the a DNS as a phonebook that translates a name to a number, which in this case is an IP address.  A DNS publishes information about a particular domain name, and the nodes associated to it in order to locate a specific resource.


How do you choose a domain name?


This seems simple, but not quite. Know that the name you choose can affect your website. This is your online brand, so take some time to think about it.


Here are some few tips to consider:-


  1. Choose a name that represents well what you do:  Though any domain name can work, it is important to choose one that people can easily identify you with.
  2. Avoid using a lot of numbers in your domain name:  The whole purpose of a domain name is to minimize the complexity of the address for humans.  As I mentioned earlier, not every one can recall lots of numbers quickly.
  3. Consideration for country Top Level Domains(cTLDs):  If you are only interested in a particular country, it would be beneficial to consider cTLD for better search engine optimization.

How to keep your domain name safe?


Now that you know a little about domain names and how to choose one, how do you keep your domain name safe?


Well, it might sound as a useless question, but many companies have lost their domain names.  Mostly this happens when you frequently change your domain registrars.  To be safe, avoid moving your domain name so frequently.  At least try to give it 60 days before moving it.  Also if your domain name has a domain-lock feature, always make sure that it is locked, and only unlock it just before transfer.


Conclusion:


We have looked at the basics of domain names, including; what a domain name is, how it works, how to choose one, and how to keep it safe.  There is a lot to domain names, IP addresses, DNS, and Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol(DHCP) which is a protocol used to supply IP addresses to devices.

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