Names & Websites
Domain Names & Websites
Does a website come with a domain name? If not, what comes with
a website and how do I get a domain name?
New website owners often seem confused about how and when domain
names come into play. The questions usually boil down to: "Does
a website come with a domain name?" and "If not, how do
I get a domain name?"
Web hosting and domain name registration are usually separate services.
Although your hosting company may give or sell you a domain name
with your website, most hosting companies are not domain registrars,
and chances are they're procuring it from a third party. (Domain
registrars often give you a website, but they're usually not "full
featured" websites, and another issue.)
What's more, despite the fact that hosting companies will generally
take care of your initial domain name registration, becoming familiar
with the basics of domain name management can save you anywhere
from a few bucks to a little bundle. (For the definition of "bundle,"
forget Webster's Dictionary. Look at your monthly statement from
your hosting company; if it gives you that sinking feeling, that's
Registrars like directnic.com and enom.com, for example, charge
$15 and $30, respectively, per year, per domain name. In bulk, you
can get names at enom.com for as low as $9. And with a little shopping
around, you can do even better than this.
Managing your own domain names will usually have its biggest payoff
if you should decide to get more than one domain name, a common
practice that can sometimes enhance your web presence. How? Let's
say, your business name is "Grumpy's Hardware and Paint."
Some people know you as Grumpy's Hardware, some as Grumpy's Paint,
and some as just plain Grumpy. You might want to get three domain
names -- grumpyshardware.com, grumpyspaint.com, and grumpy.com --
so your site can be reached no matter what a surfer enters in his
The way this would work is, you'd open your hosting account using,
let's say, grumpy.com. Then you'd add on, what's called, "parked"
or "mirror" domain names, grumpyshardware.com and grumpyspaint.com.
Parked or mirror domains are not separate websites; they simply
point to an existing website, grumpy.com, in this case.
The problem is that some hosting companies will charge you setup
and/or monthly fees for parked domains. These fees are above and
beyond the yearly fees you already pay for registering domain names.
And these fees can add up.
By managing domain names yourself, however, you can avoid all "parking"
fees, not to mention shop around for a better deal on the names
The fundamentals of domain management begin with two basic methods
of directing domain names to your website. That is, the process
that gets a surfer from the browser to your website involves a mechanism
that takes the surfer (unbeknownst to him) to your domain name registrar
and then to your website.
The journey from your registrar to your website can be accomplished
by one of two methods -- "pointing" or "forwarding."
It's your choice as to which method to use.
What's the difference? There's a huge difference.
Although the menus for setting up these features vary from registrar
to registrar, the concepts are the same. "Pointing" involves
assigning a DNS (Domain Name Server) address, obtained from your
hosting company, to your domain name grumpy.com. This is done at
your registrar account.
Then, you must inform your hosting company to "set up"
grumpy.com on their end, if they have not yet done so. And this
is where domain name setup and monthly fees at your hosting company
"Forwarding" (also referred to as "redirecting"),
on the other hand, works a little differently. Let's say you wanted
to set up grumpyspaint.com for your website. Instead of using the
DNS method described above, you would simply "forward"
it to grumpy.com, which would already be pointing to your website.
In addition to being a little simpler, it's likely you've just saved
yourself some money.
When a surfer enters grumpyspaint.com, they simply get forwarded
to your other name, grumpy.com, which is already pointing to your
website. It's almost as if the surfer entered grumpy.com directly.
And you don't need any additional setups at your hosting company
when you use this method, no matter how many additional parked domain
names you have. So, no setups, no fees.
To put it all together, if you had let's say 20 domain names, you'd
need to set up only one domain name at your registrar using the
DNS method, and you'd need your hosting company to "setup"
that same name on their end. The other nineteen names would need
no setup whatsoever at your hosting company.
All you'd have to do is redirect (at your registrar account) all
nineteen names to that one name you already have set up. And, thus,
you've saved yourself setup and/or monthly fees for nineteen parked
How much can you save? Some hosting companies can charge as much
as $20 setup and $5 per month for each parked domain. Figure it
Be aware that some registrars charge extra for features such as
"forwarding." But there's no need to pay extra even for
this. Many registrars, like directnic.com and enom.com, include
forwarding and other features at no extra charge.
So, even if you do not necessarily take care of these domain matters
yourself, but relegate it to a friend or coworker, being aware of
the ins and outs can help you avoid getting ripped off by a hosting
company whose job is not necessarily to keep you informed of the
most budget-conscious way of running your operation. After all,
the information super highway should be for surfing, not for being
taken for a ride.
About the Author
Josh Greenberger: A
computer consultant for over two decades, the author has developed
software for such organizations as NASA's Goddard Institute of Space
Studies, AT&T, Charles Schwab, Bell Laboratories and Chase Manhattan
Bank. Since 1984, the author's literary works have appeared in such
periodicals as The New York Post, The Daily News, The Village Voice,
The Jewish Press, and others. His articles have ranged from humor
to scientific to topical events. Visit him at http://shopndrop.com