Understanding Domain Name Registration
Owning and managing a website requires understanding 4 different associated components. This website post helps you to understand 2. Domain Name Registration and Renewal.
The 4 Parts Summarized
- Website Hosting
- Domain Name Registration and Renewal
- Email Hosting
- Website management
These 4 components often involve 4 different companies. For instance, many of my clients use this setup:
- Website Hosting: I host my client websites through Dreamhost.
- Domain Name Registration and Renewal: I register my client Domain Names through GoDaddy.
- Email Hosting: I recommend hosting email through a paid Google Apps for Work (GSuite).
- Website management: I manage client websites through my Blue Orchard.
Domain Name Registration and Renewal
Domain names look like this: www.blueorchard.ca or www.lifebyfire.com. New domain name extensions come onto the market regularly with too many to name here. Some example extensions include:
- .com (for Commercial websites—though .com has become the standard for any website)
- .ca (for Canada)
- .uk (for the United Kingdom)
- .org (for Organizations—often used by not-for-profit organizations)
- .info (for Information-based websites)
Your domain name is your website’s address or “URL” (Uniform Resource Locator—not a term you need to remember!). But, you can think of your domain name as your postal box—which is not necessarily located in the same place as your house. Your postal box sits one place (a block from your house, or at the post office, for instance), but Canada Post knows which postal box number is associated with which house.
Likewise, your website sits on a website server somewhere—typically in a large secure building somewhere that holds very large servers, on which many websites sit. The settings associated with your domain name enable us to point your domain name to the website server on which your website sits. So, when someone enters in your domain name, it leads them to your website.
So, if you ever decide to move your website to a new website host, you will need to update the information in your domain name settings to point to the new server.
Multiple Domain Names
You can own multiple domain names, which can all point to the same website. For instance, in Canada, some people feel it’s necessary to own both the .com and the .ca domain names associated with their business name.
Renewing Your Domain Name
You must remember to renew your domain name yearly; if you do not, your website will stop working.
Domain Name Contact Information
You must also remember to keep the contact information associated with your website up-to-date. If you discontinue the email address associated with your domain name but do not update your domain name contact details, you could lose control of your domain name.
To help to ensure that you never lose control of your domain name, you associate Owner Contact Information, Administrative Contact Information and Billing Contact Information with your domain name. You are the domain name owner. I can act as your domain name administrator.
Common Companies Associated with Domain Name Registration:
Domain Reseller Companies
Many, many companies resell domain names. Prices vary significantly. And prices for specific domain name extensions, for instance .com versus .ca, vary greatly. You can expect to pay between $10-$20 for a domain name. If the domain name registrar is asking more, move on. I personally register all my domain names through GoDaddy. Their prices are reasonable and they offer good customer service.
If you register a .ca domain name, you will occasionally receive emails from CIRA. They are legitimate.
TuCows is a wholesale domain name seller. So, very often small website hosting companies will want to offer their customers the option to purchase and renew their a domain names directly through them so the small website hosting company connects with TuCows to resell their domain names. As a result, even though you bought your domain through your hosting company (or another domain reseller), the “whois” information—that is the publicly accessible information about your domain name—will still show TuCows as the registrar because, technically, TuCows is the registrar. You just bought your domain name through a “middleman” reseller, which is fine as long as they are a reputable reseller.
Domain Registry of Canada—BEWARE!
Have you ever received an official looking notice in the mail from the “Domain Registry of Canada”? DO NOT RESPOND TO IT! It looks official—like it could even be a government notice. Although this company is not technically fraudulent, it is trying to acquire your domain name registration business through deception. Domain name information—including renewal dates—is public information (unless you pay more to make yours private) so they harvest that information and send people renewal notices that look like official Canadian government documents. If people don’t remember where they registered their domain name from one year to the next, then they receive the official looking renewal notice in the mail, think it must be legitimate, and fill in the form and send it back with payment—without realizing that this company was not actually their domain name registrar and that they are charging about four times the going rate for domain names. This company has tricked several of my clients in the past into paying exorbitant rates for their domain names—don’t let you be one of them!