What Is An Internet Domain Name (Stuff You Need To Know)
People like names; computers like numbers. Example, at work your name is “Joe” but your employee number may be 123. In this way accounting can calculate your payroll check by using a computer program and mail it to your address by equating your name with your employee number. In the internet world, people find the WebSite Active Technologies by using the Domain Name active-technologies.com. However, computers use an online system of Domain Name Servers (DNS) which equates active-technologies.com to it’s number or IP address, 126.96.36.199, thus getting you to the desired website.
People try to obtain Domain Names that represent what the Website does or that represents the Website owner. I chose activeblognews.com because it does both, it is the name of the publication AND it describes what the Website does. This not only makes a WebSite easy to find and remember, but it helps the WebSite get a better listing in search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
Today, with over 129 million active Domain Names (according to dailychange.com), it is extremely difficult to get a Domain Name that properly represents your website. This has spawned an entire industry that buys, sells, and auctions domain name leases, some at a modest cost, others with glitz and glamor names, for ginormous amounts. What’s in it for us? If you start a business today AND lease a Domain Name that has been in existence for 5 years, somehow the search engines give you credit for being in business for 5 years (the length of time the Domain Name has been around), and that adds to your Search Listing Credibility.
Domain names are obtained through a Domain Registrar. You might deal directly with the Registrar or you may purchase it from a Domain Reseller, ISP, Web Hosting Company, or other places, but ultimately, the Domain Names comes from a Registrar. The registrar sets the rules, conditions, and prices on domain name leases. They are also responsible of making certain that your new Domain Name and corresponding IP address is released to DNS servers around the world so that folks can see the WebSites using the Domain Name VS IP address.
DNS Servers are operated by ISPs (internet service providers), governments, businesses, and just about anybody that wants one (you could have your own if you want). It is the responsibility of the DNS Server owner or provider to make certain that they have the latest DNS information. Just last week, a major local ISP dropped a list of IP address from their DNS server. That meant that nobody on that ISP service could see those dropped Websites. The results was that my customer could not see her own WebSite on her work computer, but her neighbor next door could (and she could see it on her cell phone too) because they used different ISPs. The offending ISP was notified of the problem and the the issue was resolved within a few hours. It took time because DNS Servers usually update their records on a schedule, and the schedules vary between companies. My personal DNS Server updates every 30 minutes, whilst my ISP updates theirs once every 24 hours, at midnight. That is why changes can be made to a Domain Name, and some folks will see it right away, and others may not see it for 24 to 72 hours, the time it may take to propagate all of the DNS servers around the world.
Domain Names are leased, and not owned. When you resister a new domain name, you are buying the right to use the name for a specific period of time. The minimum lease is 1 year, maximum of 10 years. When a domain reaches the expiration date, the Domain Name can be renewed for 1 to 10 years at the current rate, or allowed to expire.
Domain Names as Trade Marks and Copyrights have different rules. In times past, when the internet was new, you could buy a Domain Name that may benefit a company and make tons of money by holding it for sale at a huge price. Soon, large corporations went to court claiming that they had the right to these names because they were identified with their “National Brand”. However, there is still a vibrant market for internet Domain Names that are kool and catchy.
Reclaiming Expired Domain Leases can get really tricky. The reason is that each Domain Registrar flies by their own rules. Some Registrars have varying “Grace Period” whereby you can renew the lease without penalty; others haven none. Some offer a “Redemptive Period” of varying lengths of time, where the domain name may be “Redeemed” for a fee. Still other Domain Registrars may place the Doman Name open for general public consumption, place it in an auction, set a sale price an offer it for sale like a used car, keep the Domain Name for themselves, or retire the domain name so that it can never be used again (estimated 380 million retired Doman Names). In addition, rules can change.
Expiration Bots: These bots are internet scripts or programs that constantly ply the internet looking for domain names that are reaching their expiration date. As soon as the Domain Name expires, they attempt to lease them, keep them for a period of time, then offer them for sale at a premium price. Many of the companies that buy and sell Domain Names use such programs.
Therefore, renewing Domain Names before expiration is extremely important.
Domain Thieves are rampant and one that you should be aware of is a little form comes to your in the mail. The letterhead is impressive and the message looks very official. I can’t name any of the companies because I would be sued into oblivion, but the form reads “Domain Name Expiration Notice”. “As a courtesy to domain name holders, we are sending you this notification of the domain name registration this is due to expire in the next few months". Now we charge less than $20.00 per year for domains, but they will take your domain for only $35.00 per year. And you wouldn’t believe how may good people sign the form and enter their credit card information. Read Carefully OR you could loose your domain!
Domain Transfers are regulated by ICANN (Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers). There are lots of rules concerning Domain Name Transfers, but the main rule to be aware of is the “60 Day Rule”. This rule was put in place to keep folks from hijacking a desirable Domain Name. Basically what it says is that Domain Name Ownership cannot change in the first 60 days after the Domain Name is first created, and it cannot be changed in the first 60 days after ownership has changed. This rule, while cumbersome, has greatly reduced Domain Name Hijacking.
.com .net .org .edu .gov .mil: In times past, you could tell the type of WebSite by the designation at the end, .com = commercial site, .net= ISP, .org=non-profit, edu=education, .gov=government, .mil=military. Today, only government and military designations are protected. Anyone can get a .com .org .net. .mobi is another designation that is quickly gaining popularity for mobile computers and SmartPhones. And now that all the kool .com Domain Names are taken, others like .bus. .biz, and .co are cropping up.
The US Truth in Domain Names Act of 2003, in combination with the PROTECT Act of 2003, forbids the use of a misleading domain name with the intention of attracting Internet users into visiting Internet pornography sites. Domain Name AntiCyberSquatting And Consumer Protection Act passed in 1999 aimed at preventing TypoSquatting and deceptive use of names and trademarks in domain names.