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Domain Name Basics

What is a domain Name?

The entire internet runs on an addressing scheme consisting of IP addresses in the form of "aaa.bbb.ccc.ddd" where a, b, c and d are numbers.  An example would be 192.168.0.1.  These IP addresses simply specifify a destination for the information that is being transmitted.

A domain name is simply a way for humans to easily remember the destinations without having to remember a series of numbers.

Why do I need a domain name?

Quite simply, you don't.  The internet can function without domain names however, if you want anyone to have half of a chance to find your site or remembering how to get there, it is simply a necessity.

What does a domain name look like?

Domains are arranged in a series of heirarchies to be able to function.  At the top of the heirarchy are the Top Level Domains (or TLDs).  When viewing a domain name, the TLD is the farthest to the right.  Some of the most common TLDs are '.com', '.net', and '.org'.  These TLDs are an inherent part of the internet and are not generally available to the general public on their own, but managed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

The next level of domain is where the public can usually purchase the names, and can be any letters, numbers, and a few special characters that the user can think of.  These are prepended to the TLD to create a second level domain, such as 'mydomain.com'.  Usually an individual or organization will purchase a second level domain and parse it up according to their needs.

The third level domain is typically used to indicate the type of traffic that the domain supports and is for the most part user defined.  Again, the third level domain is prepended to the second level domain to indicate the Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN).  'www' can be used to indicate World Wide Web traffic making the FQDN 'www.mydomain.com' and 'ftp' could be used to indicate File Transfer Protocol data.  An orgainzation may wish to have support data at 'support.mydomain.com', which could also be World Wide Web traffic as well.

How do I get a domain?

What does it mean to manage a domain?



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