This is the first in a series of guest articles written by Isaac Maposa, co-founder of Web Enchanter, a Zimbabwean domain registration startup.
Why you should know about domain names
Knowing how the domain name system works will help you in the event of failure or misconfiguration of your DNS records. In a case like this, you will be able to resolve the problem yourself. I know most of us rely on our ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to do this for us, but sometimes they may have made a mistake configuring or installing the DNS records for your domain name. DNS errors can result in loss of revenue or traffic.
Relying on your ISP also means that for any changes that need to be made to your domain name’s DNS records, you will need to contact your ISP. Due to the poor service offered by most local businesses, updating DNS records can take a long time. But if you know how it works, it takes a few minutes for you to change your DNS records without contacting them.
What is a domain name
Computers on the Internet communicate using strings of unique digits called Internet Protocol (IP) addresses such as 188.8.131.52 to locate themselves or other resources on the Internet. The use of IP addresses posed a difficult situation for people to remember those strings of numbers; therefore, in 1983, the Domain Name System (DNS) was introduced.
The Domain Name System (DNS) is a distributed database that translates domain names like google.com to IP addresses like 184.108.40.206. Using domain names like google.com now allows people to locate a website or other Internet resource using a human readable and rememberable format instead of typing in a string of numeric addresses like 74.125. 225,133. A domain name is therefore a human-readable and memorizable representation of an IP address.
Why do you need a domain name
One might ask why do I really need a domain name? You need a domain name for a number of reasons which include, but are not limited to the following;
- Establish a brand online – A domain name helps an individual or an organization to establish a unique identity on the internet which in turn can be used as the basis for establishing a brand online eg google.com.
- Secure Your Internet Name – Everyone will agree with me that your business name is one of the greatest assets. Securing it on the internet ensures that you won’t lose your name to someone else who will use your offline reputation to steal your online customers.
- Integrity and Trust – Customers will trust organizations or individuals with a branded domain name like yourcompany.co.zw rather than free domain names like wordpress.com/yourcompany. Owning your domain name also shows that you are serious about your online business.
- Easy to find online – Having a domain name makes it easier for your customers to locate you online and remember your Internet address.
- Portability – Having your own domain name allows you to switch between service providers without restrictions and without affecting your domain name and links to your website.
- Protecting Copyrights and Trademarks – Registering your own domain name is also a measure to protect your copyrights and trademarks online.
Uses of a domain name
A domain name helps establish your unique identity on the internet and can be used in a number of ways, including:
- Websites – the most common reason people register domain names is for websites. The domain name will be used as the website address, for example name.co.zw.
- Emails – A domain name can be used to create professional emails like firstname.lastname@example.org rather than using free generic emails like email@example.com Where firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also use it to forward emails to other email services, for example emails sent to email@example.com can be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Name servers – A domain name can also be used for name servers, for example ns1.webenchanter.com.
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