You can hear the term domain a lot of the time. Promotions everywhere, get your cheap domain here get your cheap domain there. Is it worth it? Should you buy a domain from cheap providers? Should you only care about price? In this post I will explain everything about domains.

Well I am going to get a bit “technical” first. A domain is just another definition for an IP address (Internet Protocol Address). So what a domain does is it changes an ugly number that no one can remember, for example, 10.121.233.102 to a really nice name like google.com. A name you can relate to and understand. So it gives a sense of branding to it.

Technical – Why should you get a domain?

Technically speaking you should get a domain because it protects your IP address from attacks. Showing your IP to the public often times is a vulnerability because, well it is the address of your server. So anyone can attack it with DDoS or Spam. Imagine it like giving your home address to strangers. Not a good idea. So what you can do with a domain is protect it by not sharing your IP, this is not a default for many providers. So I recommend you use Cloudflare to protect your website. You can hide your IP from attackers.

Another benefit of a domain is that you can have an e-mail address to your domain like yourname@yourdomain.com. This can help you get near to your customers, give them a more relatable email, because often times, if you use free e-mails like gmail or yahoo, your name is already picked. So having a custom e-mail allows you: First, not to have to create a weird name like MyName1221@gmail.com and second it allows you to look more profesional for all your customers.

Now, when you have a domain, you don’t have to worry about hosting multiple websites. With one IP using the standard 80 port you can only host one website. There are several workarounds but it’s just not ideal. This allows your service to be cheaper. So 20-40 websites can be hosted on the same IP and server. This is cheaper because you only have to pay to rent 1 IP, you can use one server and you can pack more performance in this server.

Also, if you have enough skills and budget you can optimize your service by load-balancing. That means that your domain with the same address connects to a lot of different servers so the load is spread. This is usually optimal for websites that have more than 10,000 visits a day. Google, for example, has many IP’s associated with their domain. So when you google you use the nearest server and not one server handles all the searches.

Finally, because of SEO. SEO is Search Engine Optimization. This service is used so your website appears on top of a google search.

Non-Technical Why should you get a domain?

You should get a domain to give your brand a face and to connect to customers. This allows you to build an online experience which can be beneficial in most cases. That means, for example, that your customer doesn’t need to go to the store to buy your products. They have the convenience of going directly to your website and accusing it.

Getting a domain is important because anyone around the world can access it. Unlike a store, which only local users can visit, a domain is global. If you are running a small shop you can show your products to users in Europe, the US, Argentina , everywhere. Thus, improving the access your customers have to your products.

How do domains work?

How domains work is not that complicated. First, there is a massive database of all domains registered (DNS). This database tells each request where to look to find the right IP. So, when you go to Facebook.com, this massive databases tell you the nameservers. The nameservers have all the IP’s of the domain stored. So it tells you the right direction for app.facebook.com , m.facebook.com and Facebook.com. It translates the name from a friendly name that everyone can remember into an IP. This IP is used afterwards by computers to communicate.

But remember how I told you domains can use load-balancing, proxies and more? Let’s take the case of Facebook as an example. Facebook.com does not only have one IP or one server. So the main database (DNS) can not tell you exactly where to look. Mainly because Facebook can add more or less servers as it pleases. So updating the main database (DNS) might seem like a feasible idea. But it is not. The main DNS host the information for millions of websites all around the world and keeping them updated takes a lot of time and money. That is why there is a need for an intermediary between the main DNS and your website, a name server. Nameservers are small databases from your website. It tells you the IP’s, where to send e-mail to your custom domain e-mail, where your subdomain is, etc.. This nameservers can be updated all the time.

Imagine it this way. You are looking for an address but you don’t know where to look. So you ask in which street it is (That is the DNS). When you arrive to that street you ask which is the house (The nameservers).

So this is how it works in real life:

image1
Image property of Microsoft.

And remember how I told you that for massive applications you can use a load balancer? This is how it works:

active-passive-with-cold-standby
Property of Microsoft

How to chose a Domain Registrar?

What should you be aware of when buying from a cheap registrar?

Sometimes it seems that cheap registrars are the best option. Let’s take GoDaddy as an example. They give you a domain for 0.99 for one year. After it is 18.99 USD (Prices might not be accurate). At the end of the day you are stuck paying more because they force you to buy a 2 year plan. So you end up paying 20$ while you could have paid for two years for around 18$. It is not cheaper, it just seems cheaper.

Another trick that cheap domain registrars play is making you pay for services that should be free. They might ask for an extra fee to hide your information, to allow you to change the nameservers, etc.. And if you let your domain expire because you made a mistake, they might charge you extra to get it back or they might sell it to premium domain registrars like hugedomains.com where you end up paying 3,000$ to get your domain back.

If you want to buy for cheap make sure to be aware of all the limitations. It doesn’t mean it is not a good idea, just make your research before buying from them.

What should you look for?

When buying a domain, you should look for

  • Make sure they have proper privacy and security options.
    • Protection against domain Hijackers.
    • Protection against domain related spam.
    • Masking of your personal information.
    • Private e-mail address.

  • Make sure they have the domain you are looking for
    • Geographically located domains (Like .us, .eu, .es , etc..)
    • Bulk domain discounts
    • International domain names (Like .com, .org, .net)

You can see more here https://www.thebalancesmb.com/picking-the-right-domain-name-registrar-2532049

A good domain registrar will try to make everything as easy as possible.

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