I was thinking yesterday how needed a “what is a domain name?” article that covers everything everyone should about the importance of a domain name. Domain names have been available for a long time, how long, just google it. The good ones are all taken so you have to be creative to come up with a good .com, .net, .org or utilize the other TLD’s like .biz, .us, and .it.
Domain names have to be registered through a domain registrar. The best example is that you can only get a phone number from a phone company, so technically you can never own a phone number. You’re just leasing it from the registrar. Most Web hosting companies like point2point are also registrars since the two go hand in hand. However, that does not mean you have to host your web site on our servers because the domain is registered with us. The registrar keeps what is called a WHOIS record which lists 4 contacts, these are technically the owner of the domain name. That is why it’s very important to make sure that the contacts on the domain are supposed to be there. Ex employees and bad e-mail addresses can cause havoc when you cannot access your domain since you don’t technically own it. Who’s info is there is who owns it.
A WHOIS lookup will also tell you where the domain is registered which is also very important since they are the ones you have to pay each year for the domain name to be active.
You can transfer between registrars extremely easy but you’ll need to make sure you have the authorization or EPP code from your current registrar AND make sure the domain is unlocked. EPP codes are usually found within the control panel of wherever the domain was registered. I’ve wrote a bunch of instructions on how to transfer domain names from registrars to point2point and vice versa. A common misconception is that the current registrar has to initiate the transfer. You actually have to start the transfer from where you are transferring it to. Since the auth code, unlocking the domain and starting the transfer is kind of a hassle, we take care of this when you are transferring to us.
Domain names have what are called names servers, which tells the Internet where your server is. This something else you see when you do a WHOIS look up. For example, if companyb.com is supposed to be hosted with point2point it would have to have point2point’s names servers listed. The format for name servers are usually ns1.hostingocmpany.com and ns2.hostingcompany.com. Behind those name servers there are scary things called DNS records which are a little more advanced and most people prefer to leave that up to the guys with earrings and glasses. The ones you have to worry about are the A record, which tells the Internet where the web page is hosted and the MX record that tells the internet where the mail should go. You’re starting to see how if these are not setup right then things are broken and are broken until they are fixed.
Our first step to most trouble shooting a Web site issue is to check the name servers to make sure they are pointing to the correct server. This is always the first step because when a domain name expires, the registrar’s system automatically changes the name servers to a generic link page server. When the name servers change it also changes your MX records to generic MX records will kill your e-mail. You then get the worst thing in the world, the dreaded backpack girl page. Smiling at you with her smug little smile with your domain name in her backpack.
A common question, after a domain has expired, the name servers are changed by the system and the e-mail goes down, is the e-mail that was sent to me while the domain was expired going to show up now? It won’t. All e-mail sent to a e-mail address on a domain that is expired will bounce back and the sender will receive a notice.
The nice thing about registering your domain name with point2point is we go out of our way to keep the backpack girl away from your company’s web site. Because WHOIS information can be out of date, because you might not have seen the invoice from us, or any of the billion reasons a bill goes unpaid, we take the extra step to call if we see your domain name coming up for expiration. Domain names are serious business and to quote johnny cash, we keep a close watch on these sites of mine.
Domain names range from GoDaddy’s bottom basement price and bottom basement support to point2point’s mid ranged price. It’s like anything, you get what you pay for. If you have a complicated DNS request and you call GoDaddy’s support you’re looking at least half an hour of nonsense. With point2point just email or call and it’s done in a few seconds. If someone has a domain you like then it’s always possible to buy it from. A pro tip is not to let them know anything about your identity before starting the negotiation. A lot can be discovered by doing research on a person seeking to buy a domain name and the price will fluctuate drastically depending on if you’re using a generic gmail account or a high powered law firm’s email system.