This is our "general" domain FAQ. It tries to provide information which applies to all types of domains and domain registrations. You may also want to check our domain-specific FAQs: .CA FAQ, .com/net/org FAQ,
- What is a domain name?
- What is a domain registration?
- What is a domain registrant?
- What is a domain registrar?
- What is a domain registry?
- How is a domain registered?
- What is a WHOIS record?
- What are the domain contacts?
- What are DNS servers?
- What is involved in making a domain "work"?
- Can I make my domains work myself without hiring a hosting service?
- How do I change the DNS servers, the admin contact etc?
What is a domain name?
It is a vague term that can mean a number of different things in different contexts. It often means "domain registration", but it can be a DNS name or the family of DNS names with the domain name as the suffix.
A DNS name is a convenient label for information that would be harder to refer to directly (often an IP address).Return to top Return to top
What is a domain registration?
A domain registration is a 'right to use' for a given domain name. Usually registrations cost money, and are sold by the year.Return to top
What is a domain registrant?
A registRANT is the organization that has purchased a domain registration.Return to top
What is a domain registrar?
A registRAR is an organization that sells domain registrations. Usually registrars have a contract with a registry, and often are certified by an organization. Some Registrars use resellers (like OpenSRS), so it may be hard to know who the registrar is. Some registrys sell direct, so the registrar and the registry may be the same organization.Return to top
What is a domain registry?
A registRY is the single organization that co-ordinates the domain registrations for a given top level domain (e.g. .com, .ca, or .info).Return to top
How is a domain registered?
Generally, whoever wants to register a domain contacts a registrar, requests a particular domain name, provides some contact and other supporting information.
The Registrar then sends the appropriate information/request to the registry to complete the registration.Return to top
What is a WHOIS record?
Every domain registration can be searched in a set of public records called Whois. What information is shown varies dramatically. Spammers have a long history of abusing Whois information.
Different registries (and registrars), have different rules for Whois information. In some cases the registry makes the whois listing private. In other cases the registrar charges an extra fee for that service.
Return to top
What are the domain contacts?
They are the people you contact if you have questions about the domain or trouble accessing it.
Just as importantly, the admin contact is the authority allowed to make changes to the domain, and the billing contact (if there is one) is where the domain expiration messages go to.Return to top
What are DNS servers?
DNS servers are what actually makes a domain name work. By work I mean that they convert a text label to the information like IP addresses that the Internet is based on. (See 'What is a domain name'.)
This is not to say that they handle e-mail, or serve web pages. Instead they direct web surfers and e-mail messages to the correct computers.Return to top
What is involved in making a domain "work"?
By "work" I am assuming that you mean setup a web page at your domain name, or enable e-mail addresses at your domain name.
The short answer is that most people simply hire a hosting service to look after their needs, which means you simply need to get the DNS servers for the domain set to the DNS servers that the hosting service operates, and they do everything else.
The long answer is that you need to get a computer (#1) configured to handle your e-mail and/or serve your web pages. You also need to get a computer (#2, a DNS server) configured to answer DNS lookups and refer requests to the first computer.Return to top
Can I make my domains work myself without hiring a hosting service?
If you are comfortable adding and configuring new software, and you have a computer connected full time to the internet, then the answer is probably "yes!" Of course, there are many good reasons to use a competent professional hosting service, but for casual or experimental use, a home computer can do fine. (Also, there are various free services on the net. You may be able to combine free dns with free webspace.)
DNS servers generally require static IP addresses, so they are not usually run from ADSL and cable modem connections... but there are a number of free and non-free DNS services (see the Google Directory or our domain-dns.com service).
There are many solutions for web server software, so I'll just provide a link to the Google directory. (Note that there are subdirectories for Windows, Macintosh, and Unix software.)Return to top
How do I change the DNS servers, the admin contact etc?
Generally, you go to the website of the registrar you registered the domain with.
For names registered through Baremetal.com, take the 'My Account' link on the menu, login, click on domain-registrations, click on the domain you want to change, and then take the 'manage registration' link.
Alternatively, you can use domain-specific userid/passwords from here.Return to top