About Domain Names
Now that you have a domain name, it's good to understand the basics of what domain names are and how they fit into the Domain Name System (DNS).
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The Domain Name System (DNS) helps you find your way around the Internet. Every computer on the Internet has a unique address. This address is a rather complicated string of numbers called "IP address" (IP stands for "Internet Protocol"). IP addresses are hard to remember so the DNS makes using the Internet easier by allowing a familiar string of letters (the "domain name") to be used instead of the arcane IP address.
Another feature of DNS names is their hierarchical structure. This is reflected in the anatomy of the domain name. For example, the domain name "whois.icann.org" has three levels of hierarchy: "org" is the top-level, "icann" is the second-level, and "whois" is the third-level. Remarkably, there can be up to 128 levels!
As seen by users, each level of the hierarchy is separated by a dot. At each dot, management authority, that is, the ability to create, edit, or remove names within that level or below, can be assigned or delegated to another party. Continuing to use "whois.icann.org" as an example:
- The ICANN community sets the rules for creating, editing, or removing top-level domains;
- The organization that operates the "org" top-level domain sets the rules for registering domain names within "org" (e.g., registration policy); and
- The ICANN organization, which registered the "icann.org" name, sets the rules for domain names under "icann.org" and using those rules, creates the name "whois.icann.org".
So, when you register a domain name, you are creating a new realm in the DNS and giving that realm a name, which is the domain name that you registered.
Within this new realm, you can do a number of things such as create the domain name for a website that uses the same domain name you registered, or a sub-domain name. For example, if you register the domain name "example.com", you could create a website and host it at example.com, or at cookies.example.com, or at candies.example.com. You could also set up an email address using your domain name such as email@example.com.
Your domain name is not the same thing as a website or a Uniform Resource Locator (URL). While some people assume that the creation of a domain name automatically means you have a website, what they don't understand is that a domain name is like a street address for getting postal mail: there still must be a building or post office box to receive letters or packages. You must purchase, find, or implement services like web hosting or email to make your Internet presence known by your domain name functional and accessible to others.