What Is A Domain Name? What Is A URL?

New bloggers often ask this question. What is a domain name and how a domain name works? They are also confused between a domain name and web hosting. So let’s find the answer to all these questions in this article.

What Is A Domain Name?

In simple words, a domain name is a string of words used for accessing a website. Those sting of words maps to a certain IP address to pull the information that you need from a client network computer called a web server.

The internet is a network of tons of giant computers connected together using a global network of cables. A domain name is an online identity for you in this internet world.

what is a domain name
Credit: Mythemeshop

A domain name tells the DNS from which computer your website files should be fetched. All domain name points to an IP address which is basically the address of the remote computer.

The funniest thing is that the internet does not know what is a domain name. It can only recognize IP addresses. So basically when you type the domain name it redirects to an IP address and displays the information.

Every computer in this internet network has an IP address. An IP address is the unique identity of that computer. For example, 192.162.0.1 is an IP address.

You can also think of a domain name as a phone book where the domain name is the person’s name and the IP address is that person’s phone number.

Why do we need a phone book? Because it’s not easy to remember all numbers. Right? Similarly, we use domain names because it’s not easy to remember all IP addresses.

A domain name is also called a URL ( Uniform Resource Locator). An URL is nothing but the address of a resource on the internet.

Difference Between Domain Name And Web Hosting

Often we are confused between a domain name and web hosting. They think that both are the same. But in reality, both are two different things.

Consider domain name as your home address and when you build a website using web hosting it becomes your home.

Web hosting is where all your website file resides. When you enter a domain name in the browser, it connects to the name server and that name server then connects to the IP address of the remote computer and gives the information you want.

To create a website, you need both domain name and web hosting. Both services you can buy from the same vendor like Hostarmada or from separate vendors.

Domain name + Web hosting -> A running website

To connect your domain name with your web hosting service, you need to use a name server and that name server connects to the IP address of your web server.

Domain Name -> DNS-> Name Server -> IP Address

Why A Domain Name Is Required?

Like how it is impossible to remember phone numbers, similarly it is next to impossible to remember IP addresses. That is why a domain name is important just for our convenience.

For example, consider there is no domain name. In that case what would have happened? You need to enter the IP addresses every time you want to access a website. That would have been a disaster.

The domain name also helps in securing your website. If the IP address is available in public, anyone can try to hack your website. Because they will get the location of the remote computer.

So domain name here also acts as a security layer. You can also use CDN to mask your IP address.

How A Domain Name Works?

As I told you before, a domain name is nothing but a masked address of your website server. Since memorizing IP addresses is not possible, we use a domain name.

When you type a domain name in the browser, it basically sends a query to the global network of servers or domain name servers ( DNS). The DNS then looks for the correct nameserver against that particular domain name.

If DNS finds that nameserver, it redirects the domain name to that name server. And that name server then redirects to the IP address of the remote computer.

That remote computer then delivers the information that you requested and displays it on the browser.

So here are the things that happen in the background when you type a domain name in the browser.

  • Type a domain name in the browser
  • The browser sends a signal to the DNS
  • DNS looks for the correct name server
  • Name servers redirect to the IP address of the remote computer
  • The remote computer fetches the file and delivers it to you.
what is a domain name
Credit: Mythemeshop

Types Of Domain Name

There are different types of domain names based on the domain extensions.

  • Top Level Domain Namaes ( TLD)
  • Country Code Top Level Domain Names ( ccTLD)
  • Sponsored Top Level Domain Names ( sTLD)

Top Level Domain Names ( TLD)

Domain extensions like .com, .net, .org, .io are few of the top-level domain names. There are hundreds of top-level domain names available. . com is the most popular as it accounts for about 37% of all domain names.

Country Code Top Level Domain Names ( ccTLD)

Domain extensions that are specific to some countries are called country code top-level domain names. For example.in, .us, .UK etc.

These are used by the target audience of that country.

Sponsored top-level domain names are used by a sponsor represented by a specific community to serve a specific audience category.

For example, .gov is for government websites and .edu is for educational websites. You can not simply buy those domain extensions unless you prove that you belong to those types of organizations.

Who is responsible for domain name system?

Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) manages the domain name system. They create and manage roles and regulations for the domain name system.

If you want to buy a domain name, you cannot directly buy from ICANN. Instead, you need to buy from domain registrars who are nothing but authorized resellers for ICANN.

Domain registrars rent the domain name, manage the domain information, and update the domain information as and when required. In return, they charge a nominal fee every year.

Please make a note that, you can never buy a domain but you can only rent a domain. What does that mean that every year you have to renew your domain name.

How to choose a domain name

There are certain best practices that you should follow while choosing a domain name so that you can get the best out of it.

  • Alwyas try to get the .com extension. This is the most popuar domain extension
  • Try to buy a brandable domain name rather than a generic domain name.
  • Avoid domain names with number or symbols
  • Use niche keyword in the domain name
  • Choose a domain name that is easy to spell
  • Choose a domain name that is easy to pronounce
  • Use a short domain names
  • Dont copy other domain names.

if you learn more about domain names then you should read this article.

Frequently Asked Questions ( FAQ)

What is a subdomain?

A subdomain is an extension of the main domain. Once you buy the main domain, you can create the subdomain by yourself. For example, rianstech.com is the main domain whereas blog.rianstech.com is a subdomain.

Subdomains are used to categorize your website content.

Can I move my website to a different domain?

Yes, you can always move your website to a different domain. You can follow this article to know about how to move your website

Can I sell a domain name?

You can sell a domain name whenever you want. In fact, this is good business for many in recent times.

What is domain privacy protection?

Domain privacy protection is a service offered by many domain registrars to safeguard your personal information from going public. This is a must-add-on for all domain names.

Rajib

Rajib

Rajib is the Co-Founder and the Lead Product Analyst of RiansTech. A BTech in Mechanical Engineering and a veteran in the Home Appliance industry with over 17 years of experience in designing appliances for industry leaders like GE and Whirlpool. He also runs a successful niche blog (RiansClub) on Mechanical Engineering

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