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How do domains work

Typically, when you browse the Internet, you type in a domain name into the address bar of your web browser. The web browser and technology behind it then work their magic and you get the website you requested.

But what is a domain name and how does it work?

What is a domain name?

The simplest explanation of a domain name is that it is the address that the browser uses to find a website. In other words, it is a unique identifier for a website or email account.

Expanding on this explanation, a domain name is a human-friendly label of a specific IP address. 

What is an IP address?

An IP address is a unique identifying number given to every single machine on the Internet. An IP address consists of a set of numbers separated by period, for example, 73.14.213.99. Any machine connected to the Internet has an IP address: your computer, mobile phone, gaming console, etc. In every case, the IP address acts like a telephone number – it shows ownership and allows the machine to be located by other machines. 

Is an IP address the same as a domain name?

While both IP address and domain name are unique identifiers, the are not the same. An IP address is the true identifier of a web server (or computer connected to the Internet) and the domain name is simply a human-friendly pointer to help people find the web server.

For example, when you type in a domain name in your web browser, your browser will match that domain name to an IP address. The IP address will tell your browser which web server hosts the website of that domain name. Your browser then connects to the web server and request for a copy of the website. 

Do I really need a domain name?

In order for your website to be viewable on the Internet, it needs to be connected to the Internet (ie. your web files need to be on a computer that is connected to the Internet) and thus, it will have an IP address. Trying to remember the IP address for every website on the Internet is a difficult task, and that’s where domain names come in. A domain name tells other machines (computers, mobile devices, etc.) which web server they need to look to for your web files. 

In other words, yes, you will need a domain name for your website.

The structure of a domain name

Every domain name consists of at least two parts: the actual domain name and the domain extension. 

For example, Doteasy.com. In this example, the actual domain name is “Doteasy” and “.com” is the domain extension.

Does it matter which domain extension you use?

People tend to prefer the domain extension .com as it is the most common and familiar domain extension. But do keep in mind that because of their popularity, there might be a chance that the domain name you want is no longer available in the .com extension.

If the .com domain name that you want is already taken, you have a few other options:

  1. You can register the .net or .org version of the domain name,
  2. You can register the domain name with an alternative country-specific domain extension. For example, if your website targets customers in Japan, you can consider using the .jp domain extension.

What happens when you register a domain name?

When you signup for a Doteasy web hosting package, you will be given the option to register a new domain name for that hosting package. You can select your domain name and the domain extension. 

Once you submit your domain registration request, Doteasy will register your domain name with a DNS (Domain Name System). A DNS is a database that matches IP addresses with their corresponding domain name. We will create all the configuration settings and records so that your domain name is connected to your assigned web server.