BOOT CAMP ARCHIVE 2001

  

 

BOOT CAMP 170 (12/04//01)

 

DOMAIN NAMES AND THE INTERNET, part 2

 

In last week's Boot Camp we showed how Internet addresses evolved from an awkward string of numbers into the familiar name-based system we used today. This week, as promised, we will show you how to register your own domain name, but first a few words on how the system works and news of some forthcoming changes.

 

The body responsible for administering the allocation of addresses and domain names is called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers or ICANN. It's a non-profit making organisation, based in the US, with a wide remit to oversee the Internet's technical standards and govern the sale and distribution of domain names though companies known as Accredited Registrars.

 

Until fairly recently there were only a handful of top-level domain (TLD) names: .com, .net and .gov, plus all of the country code domain names (ccTLDs) such as .uk, .fr etc., and these are being rapidly used up, (apparently there are no four or five letter .com combinations left…) so ICANN has issued a brand new set of seven 'generic' top level domains (gTLDs), which will come into effect in the next few weeks. They are: .aero – for aviation based sites,  .biz – for businesses,  .coop – cooperatives, .info - general information, .museum – museums, .name - individuals and .pro – professionals.

 

Registering a domain name is very simple, and surprisingly inexpensive, but you may be wondering why on earth you, as an individual, would want to do such a thing? There are several good reasons the first is to protect your name or idea and prevent anyone else from using it. Maybe, who knows, at some time in the future you may want to set up your own company, or a website? There's also the possibility, admittedly very slim, that a company sharing your name will offer you large sums of money for your domain name. One word of warning, though, registering a name or trademark that is already in use with a view to selling it is not advisable and 'cyber squatting' as it has become known could result in lengthy and costly litigation, which you will almost certainly loose!

 

If you already have a web site, using free space provided for your Internet Service Provider, you definitely want your own domain name. The address for your site is almost certainly long and unmemorable and probably not the sort of thing you'd want to put on a letterhead or business card. When you register a domain name the deal usually includes a web and email redirection service. For example, let's say the home page for your web site address is something like: http://freebienet.co.uk/fspace/0123/name/welcome.htm. If you register 'yourname.com' as a domain name the registration company will automatically redirect all searches for www.yourname.com to your free ISP web address.

 

Most domain name registration companies operate a similar system with email redirection. In other words, if your current email address is tom123@freebienet.co.uk, once you've registered your domain name any mail sent to tom@yourname.com will be sent to your freebienet mailbox. Other's can use it too, so you can have separate email addresses for all the family; mail sent to kate@yourname.com, or alex@yourname.com will all be routed to your existing ISP's mailbox and you can set up simple message rules to divert them into individual Inboxes (see Boot Camp 162) 

 

The first step to registering your domain name is to find out if it is free or not. If you want to register a fairly common name or word you can be fairly sure that any domains ending in '.com' and probably '.co.uk' as well have already been snapped up, so have a few alternatives ready or be prepared to wait for a while until the new generic domain registrations come on stream.

 

When you are ready you need to log on to one of the many domain name registration sites, most of which have a simple to use search facility. There are scores of such sites on the web; we've included a few at random in the Contacts box, (and Nominet, which is responsible for administering .uk domain names). If you want to see a wider selection just use  'UK domain names' as keywords in any search engine and start trawling. 

 

When you've found a likely looking site type in your preferred name and select the type of domain (.com, .co.uk etc.) you require. Do not use any punctuation marks -- hyphens may be acceptable -- or any special characters or accents (this may change soon). A few moments later you will see if it is available. If not most search sites will show a list of alternative domains or variations on your name that are free. Quite a few sites provide a link to the registered owner of your chosen domain name, in case you want to make them an offer for it. You should try several sites, to get a good idea of prices and the services on offer but as a rule of thumb you can expect to pay between £5 and £10 per year to register a .co.uk address and £15 to £30 for .com, .net or .org names. Most sites also offer web site design and hosting services, for an additional fee of course. You must read the small print quite carefully, the prices shown often do not include VAT, and you may be required to sign up for a minimum of 2 years. Almost all of these companies provide web and email forwarding, so have your email or web address to hand as you may be required to enter it during the registration process.

 

If you do decide to go ahead you should pay by credit card as this provides you with a degree of protection should something go wrong, and make sure that the site uses a secure on-line ordering system like SSL. This will usually be clearly flagged in the web site's terms and conditions section. It's a good idea to print out the on-line order pages, and keep a copy of any email confirmation messages and order numbers. If your registration is successful your new domain name should become operational within a day or two.  

 

CONTACTS

 

http://www.nic.uk/

http://www.names-online.co.uk/

http://www.lowcostnames.co.uk

http://www.uk-domain-names-centre.co.uk/

 

 

Next Week - Getting on the net

 

JARGON FILTER

 

SSL

Secure Sockets Layer, a powerful encryption system used to send data and information, like credit card details, over the Internet

 

TLD

Top Level Domain – the part of a web site address, after the second or third 'dot' that denotes the site owner's status (i.e. .com for commercial entity, .org for non-profit making organisations like charities etc.) or country where the site is based (.uk for UK, .fr for France etc.)

 

WEB HOST

Company providing disc space on its server computer for a web site, most Internet Service Providers allocate a small amount of free web space for their subscribers (typically 10 to 20Mb), larger amounts of space generally have to be paid for

 

TOP TIP

Generally speaking Microsoft Word is fairly reliable, but when it does go wrong it does so in spectacular fashion and in addition to closing itself down without warning, it can also take Windows with it. Word users plagued by persistent problems usually give up and re-install the program, only to find that nothing has changed. In those circumstances there's almost always a glitch in a file called 'Normal.dot' which contains all of the user's settings, which includes macros and other mischief-makers. If you are about to re-install Word for the tenth time, try this. Make a copy of your Normal.dot file, (just in case it's not corrupt), and save it in another folder, it can usually be found in Windows\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates, delete the original Normal.dot and re-boot. Word will automatically create a new Normal.dot and return to its default settings.

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