Does a website come with a domain name? If not, what comes with a website and how do you 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 a bundle.)
Registrars like godaddy.com and enom.com, for example, charge approx. $10 and $8, respectively, per year, per domain name. In bulk, 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 browser.
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 themselves.
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 come in.
"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 domains.
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 out.
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.
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