What is a domain name?
A domain name is an essential cog in the World Wide Web. We linked up with Mila Uzunovska, marketing manager at domain name registry NameSilo, to give us a more thorough introduction to domain names.
"A domain name is the address of a website that is typed by internet users in the URL bar when they want to find a website online. To put it simply, if a website was a house, the domain name would be its physical address."
How does a domain name work?
The internet can be seen as a huge network of computers connected to each other through a global network of cables where every computer can communicate with the others on the network.
In order to identify other computers, each one gets a unique IP address, which is a series of numbers that identify that computer on the internet. Since IP addresses are long sets of digits, domain names were invented to make it easier for people to remember them and to visit the websites.
Domain name vs IP address: What's the difference?
With a domain, you don’t have to enter a long set of numbers in the address bar. Instead, you only need to type an easy-to-remember domain name and it will get you to your desired location.
To better understand how this works, take a look at this brief explanation of the entire process:
When a user enters a domain name in their web browser, it first sends a request to a global network of servers that form the Domain Name System (DNS).
The servers then search for the name servers (computers managed by hosting companies) that are related to the domain and forward the request to them.
Next, a hosting company forwards the request to the computer where the website is stored, which is called a web server and it has special software installed that helps it act as a server.
The server then fetches the web page and information related to it and sends the data back to the browser (the user sending the request).
Domain names and information are registered and maintained by domain registries. They work with domain registrars in order to provide registration services to users. The end-users select the registrars that provide the registration service and that way registrars become designated for the domain chosen by the user.
Finally, only the designated registrar is able to modify or delete information about domain names in a central registry database, and that is the reason why users sometimes switch registrars. This is called a domain transfer process between registrars and it is governed by specific domain name transfer policies.
Want to know how to buy a domain name for your website? We have a step-by-step guide
Choosing the best domain registrar for your website is a bit more complicated than just looking for the lowest price. While cost is a huge factor, many registrars that offer low prices do not include privacy protection in the base rate—leaving your personal contact information publicly available in the global ICANN registry for anyone to access. In order to protect yourself, you need to factor in this service when selecting a registrar.
Some registrars wear multiple hats, allowing you to register a domain, host and design your website in an all-in-one package. Be sure to take your unique situation into consideration when selecting a service, and remember that introductory rates generally do not carry over when it’s time to renew. We looked at the best domain registrars available to help you pick the best for your business.
The best domain registrar can make or break the start of your journey of creating an online presence. Once you’ve come up with your unique domain name, selecting the right domain registrar for it is the natural next step.
Registration isn't difficult, but first you must choose from the hundreds of companies competing for your business, and there are several things for you to consider before committing to one firm.
A domain registrar is an entity that registers domain names with an organization called ICANN, which manages domain names globally. It therefore acts as a proxy and will make sure that you're the official recognized owner of that domain name.
Some of the best website builder services and the best web hosting providers also offer domain registration services, which makes so much more sense to go for an all inclusive, one stop shop offer.
To help you get started on our online journey, we've rounded up the best domain registrars on the market right now so that there is one less thing you have to worry about.
The best domain registrar: How we choose them
Pricing structures can be complicated. A low headline figure could become expensive on renewal, for instance. Prices vary between domain extensions, too, so a registrar that offers great value for a .com domain might give you a poor deal on when it comes to .org.
There may be extra costs for tasks like transferring your domain to another registrar, too. Read the small print before you sign up.
Look for any bundled or optional extras. A Whois privacy service prevents your address, phone number and email address appearing as public contact details for the domain, something which could otherwise get you a significant amount of spam email and phone calls. We've seen this cost as much as $11.20 a year, but several registrars provide it for free.
Many domain registrars offer hosting as an extra, but keep in mind that web hosting companies can also register domains. If you have an idea of which web host you'd like to use, check the details of its plans: you may be able to register a domain for free when you buy hosting, and that's often the cheapest option.
Finally, take a look at the support a registrar offers. You may never need any help at all, but if anything critical crops up – maybe an issue which might cause a problem with renewal – it's important that your provider is on hand to ably assist.
Balancing all these priorities can be tricky, so that's why we've created this list of top domain registrars to help point you in the right direction
At the top of our best domain registrar list and perfect for small and medium businesses, Domain.com offers some of the most popular domains across over 25 country codes, and also sells premium domains as a broker.
With nearly two decades of online presence, the company - which is one of the world’s biggest domain name registrars - expanded in web hosting and now ranges a number of products including a full design service and web hosting.
Domain.com prices tend to be average but we have managed to blag a 25% discount off almost everything in your cart*. Non-premium TLD (.Life, .Men, .Live etc) start from $2.99 for the first year ($2.24 with our code). In line with the rest of the industry, they rise significantly after the second year).
You need to pay for privacy protection, a reasonable $8.99, plus you can add email, web hosting, SSL certificates and malware protection, none of which is compulsory. You can stick with its basic website builder which is free with every domain: you get a drag and drop website builder, tons of mobile-friendly templates, up to six pages, SEO tools, Paypal integration and even access to stock image library.
Support is more than adequate with 24/7 chat, email and phone support. Domain.com may not have the cheapest prices but it provides a very balanced offering.
*All renewals after the initial discounted period will be charged at the then current standard list price for the selected period. Coupon is not valid with sunrise registrations, landrush registrations, EAP registrations, pre-registrations, premium registrations, renewals, transfers, custom website design, other coupons, or special pricing.