What are Domain names?

What are Domain names?


This guide gives a brief introduction to Domain names (Website names) and how they affect your website.

Domain name basics

A domain name is the technical term for the name of your website e.g www.johnsmith.co.uk.

All domain names are unique and there are no two addresses that are exactly the same. However you can have the same name but with many different endings. For example www.johnsmith.co.uk, www.johnsmith.com or www.johnsmith.net.

The generic term for a website ending such as .com or .co.uk is a 'Top level Domain' or TLD for short. When domain names were first introduced there were very few TLD's.

As the number of websites on the internet grew there became a need to expand the number of names that could be used. One way of accomplishing this was to create more TLD's. Each country now has its own TLD such as .co.uk, for the UK and .fr for France. As well as many other TLD's such as .uk.com or .me

It is therefore possible to have many websites owned by different people and the only difference in the name is the TLD. such as in the example already used www.johnsmith.co.uk and the other www.johnsmith.com.

Many large companies deliberately purchase as many variations of their name as possible to prevent somebody else from having a similar name. Before considering whether it is worth buying duplicate names it is important to consider the cost versus the benefit. Buying your name in duplicate to prevent competitors can be a costly business.

So how are Domain names managed?

There are many governing bodies across the world who have ultimate control over the distribution and management of Domain names. For example all .com names are controlled in the US and all .co.uk in the UK.

These governing bodies give licences to companies called registrars. It is these registrars that sell the names to individuals and manage them on a day to day basis. A simple search on the internet will display numerous companies who can supply you with a domain name.

So if I buy a Domain will it be mine forever?

Unfortunately not, when you buy a domain name you only register it for a set period of time. Usually 1-2 years, but you can buy a name for up to 10 years. When the name expires you will be responsible for renewing it if you wish to continue using it.

After the name expires there is a holding period of approx. 6 weeks, where only the previous registrant can buy it. After that date it will be released onto the open market for anybody to purchase. If the name is subsequently purchased by a third party it will be almost impossible to get it back.

Will there be any work involved in managing my Domain name?

The answer to this question is difficult. Most people buy a domain name and never experience any problems. However, as the subject is so complex if problems do arise unless you have an understand of how they work it can be difficult to get them resolved.

If you purchase your domain name through Reason8 we manage all the settings on our clients behalf. We set the name up to point to your website, renew the name annually and make any changes necessary to keep your website up and running. This provides piece of mind that you won't ever have to remember to renew your name or deal with any difficulties.

For more information on domain names  please see our guides  How domain names work  and About pointing your domain name to Reason8



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