There is a little bit of internet-magic that happens with domains. I think most people do not understand what a domain is, or what they are really asking for when they want one.
So for this part of the article, I’ll write about:
– what is a domain?
– what are domains good for?
– where can you get one cheap or free?
What is a Domain?
It is the “whatever.com” part of your email address, or the bit right after the www in most website addresses. Essentially they are a short address that tells the computer where the content is.
A domain’s purpose is to convert the address (a long string of numbers) of a server into a human readable format. Far fewer people will read my blog if the URL is “188.8.131.52” instead of andrewbreese.antiblog.com.
Domains also have parts, or sub-domains. Like my address above the andrewbreese part of the address is a sub-domain. The actual content at the sub-address could in a totally different country from the main domain. I don’t own antiblog.com, but the good people at Short URL give me the address for nothing, so why not use it.
So if you want a web presence that is easy to find, buy a domain. Alternately use a sub-domain to provide better organisation of resources.
However please note: a domain is useless without a web host of some sort. Its like paying vehicle registration, but not owning a car. I’ll chat about web hosting in another post, and the actual hosting is as important as the domain you choose.
What are domains good for?
You can have a heap of different servers or sites under the same domain. This is very common, and used far more than people think. Also you don’t need to have a .au address just because you’re in Australia (where I am), and nothing is stopping anyone getting almost any .com address that isn’t taken.
Some countries have special rules about what you can and can’t call a domain.
eg. In Australia you MUST be a legal entity of some sort to get a .au address. This means that I can’t register “whatisthematrix.com.au”, but as the USA rules are much more open I can get “whatisthematrix.com”.
For example a client of mine has the Domain “santos.com“. They run a heap of servers on this domain:
– mail.santos.com (email server)
– induction.santos.com (training website)
– www.santos.com (main website)
All the Santos servers that we’ve seen above are located in Australia, and this proves the point about where a .com can exist.
Where can you get one cheap or free?
There are a heap of companies on the Internet who offer free or almost free domains. As a tired techo I don’t trust most of these companies to always give me a free domain, so you should either pay for a proper one (which is cheap), or use a free re-directing service like Short URL.
Yes, its a shameless plug, but they are a good service.
There are also a heap of other companies doing this, but do some research (google.com) and I’m sure you’ll find one that you like the look of.