In previous articles we have covered why you need a domain name, determined your target audience and chosen the domain name you would like to have (with a couple of back-up names in hand). Now it’s time to actually register your domain name.
Before we work through the registering a domain name process, there are a few terms you need to understand.
Domain Name Registration Terms
This is You!
You need to be the domain name registrant to have total control of your domain! Some registrars or someone else that registers domain names for people may put their own name. This creates a problem if the two of you have a disagreement as they have control over your domain name, not you.
If you will not be the domain name registrant, then find another company to register your domain name with. It is possible to have your name as the registrant.
A domain registrar is a company that is in the business of registering domain names. They have to be an authorized registrar to perform this function.
The body that handles giving out authorization for selling domain names is ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). Before starting the domain name registration process, check that the company you have selected is an authorized seller of domain names.
The body looking after country specific domains can be different than the general domain registrar. For example, CIRA is in charge of .ca domain name registration records. For a list of country specific domain authorities, visit the Root-Zone Whois Information at the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) website.
Avoid domain registration with hosting included (or visa versa). It is much better to handle everything with separate companies. This may seem like a nuisance, but in the end, when you have a disagreement with any of your service providers, you are in control, not them. You can change services when you like, without cost as long as you read the terms and conditions and follow them.
Domain Name Server (DNS)
The domain name server is the server at your web hosting company that keeps track of what domains are hosted on their servers and their IP address.
You don’t need this information right away when registering your domain name but will have to update it once you have web hosting in place.
Most domain registration companies will let you use their domain name servers until you have hosting in place. This is also known as “Parking” a domain if you bought a domain name for future use or to avoid someone else buying a variation of the domain name you have selected.
If you have hosting in place (or once you arrange it) you will need the domain name server information from your hosting company. It will look something like this: n1.accretewebsolutions.ca There should also be a second domain name server looking something like this: n2.accretewebsolutions.ca When web hosting in place, log into your domain name registration company and update this information.
When you purchase a domain name you don’t own it forever. Your ownership will expire at some time. When purchasing or renewing a domain you will be asking during the process how long you would like to own the domain. The time period can range from one year to ten years.
Be sure to make a note when your domain name ownership expires! Some domain registration companies will not send out a notice to warn you the domain is about to expire.
If you let your ownership lasp, you have 30 – 60 days grace period to renew (depending on the registrar) before the domain name becomes available to the general public for purchase. At this point you cannot stop someone from purchasing your domain name. You snooze, You loose. So make sure you mark on the calendar when the domain expires a couple of months in advance. If you are not happy with your current registrar, this would be the time to change. Once you renew, there will be a time frame (30 -60 days depending on the registar) where you cannot move companies.
Private registration is where your domain name’s contact information is hidden from the public. The registrar you use may provide this option, for a fee.
One good thing about this is that your email address is not picked up by email spammers.
The downside to using this service would be a lack of credibility. A customer might want to check who they are going to do business with before making a purchase. If this information is hidden, then they might be wary of dealing with you.
Ok, now onto actually registering a domain name.
Registering a Domain Name
Before starting the domain registration process, have the following in front of you:
Note: The contact information you provide during the registration process will be public information. There can be an option of Private Registration available through the registrar you use.
- List of domain names selected as possibilites.
- PayPal account information if you wish to pay via PayPal.
- Credit card information. Have this handy even if you were intending to pay via PayPal, in case PayPal is not an option.
- Your address, postal code, a phone number and fax number.
- The name and contact information (including email addresses) for Administrative, Billing and Technical contacts for the domain name.
- Email address of domain owner. This is important! If there is a problem with your domain name then the registrar can get a hold of you. Also, if they have this service, they can email you a notice when your domain name is about to expire.
Be prepared to purchase your domain name when you sit down to do this. Tomorrow, the domain name you want maybe gone.
Domain Name Registration
Select a Domain Registrar
Do some looking around for a domain registrar that has the features and type of service you need.
There are lots of them around. Just make sure to check the list of authorized registrars before selecting one.
Be sure to check the terms and conditions and payment options before deciding on a domain registrar.
Once at the domain registrar site, you will be asked to enter the domain name you wish to register. The domain registrar site will do what is called a WHOIS search.
Within the internet structure, there is one centeral spot where all the domain name records are coordinated. The WHOIS search checks these records to make sure the domain name you wish to register is still available.
If the domain name is available, you will proceed to the next step. If the domian name is taken, you will be asked to try another domain name choice. This is why you have back up choices already selected! With your list in hand, repeat the WHOIS search.
Domain Name Registrant Information
This is where you enter your name and contact information.
You will also be opening an account with registrar. You will need this information later when updating the domain name servers and if you need to update any contact information, so keep this information in a safe place.
Be sure to double and triple check the information you provide, if any of it is incorrect, it could be very difficult to straighten out later.
Domain Name Server
If you have web hosting in place, this is the time when you enter the domain name server information.
Use the registrar’s domain name server information if web hosting is not in place yet.
Domain Name Expiry
Along the way of the domain name purchase process you will be asked how long you wish to register the domain name for. As explained above, the time frame varies from one year to ten years.
The yearly cost of domain name registration can go down on a per year basis if you register for a longer period. The savings vary from domain registrar to domain registrar.
Domain Name Registration Payment
Depending on which domain registrar you choose to use, your options for paying for the registration of your domain can be via PayPal, credit card or other convience card.
That’s about it for registering a domain name.
You should receive emails confirming your payment and the registration of the domain name.
Keep all this information in a safe place. You will need it when it comes time to set-up your web hosting and renew your domain name.
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