Many web hosting companies offer a free domain name when you purchase a hosting plan.
Unfortunately, these are usually only free for the first year. After that, you have to renew at a fee set by the hosting company — usually several dollars a year more expensive than if you were to pay for it separately directly from a domain name registrar.
Hosting companies also have a tendency to add-on additional charges like domain name privacy, which you can also get cheaper (or for free) from many good registrars.
If you'd rather purchase your domain name separate from your hosting plan (which is a very good idea), check out our list of domain name registrars for some of the better low-cost options.
Just about every domain name registrar will be able to sell you a .com domain name.
No, there are many other options.
For example — if you are a non-profit organization, a club, a church, or another non-commercial entity, you may want to register as a .org domain name.
There has been a trend among tech-focused startups and open source projects in the last few years to use the .io extension.
For non-US entities, each country has its own country-code TLD, such a .uk and .ru. These are also popular for domain hacks — using the domain extension as part of the name of your site or brand.
There also, of course, the new "exotic" domain names, such as .ninja and .club. There are a number of these, and they might fit your brand very well.
You generally want to steer clear of second-tier gTLDs such a .biz and .info. These are not very well respected and tend to make savvy internet users suspicious.
Even with all the additional options, .com seems to remain the gold standard for domain names. It carries a high-degree of trust with consumers, and communicates a sense of legitimacy that is hard to achieve with other domain name extensions. Because of this .com domains continue to have the highest sale price in the domain aftermarket.
If you want to buy a domain name that no one else has registered before, that is very easy — just use any reputable domain name registrar.
If you are trying to purchase a domain name that has already been registered, you can do that as well. It can be a little more complicated than purchasing new registrations, though. Check out our in-depth guide to aftermarket domain purchasing for details.
If you have registered domain names that you would like to sell, or are thinking about getting into the domain speculation business, there are a lot of details to consider. To get a good understanding of the issues, see the chapter on selling domain names in our Ultimate Domain Name Guide.
If you want to set up a website, you probably need a domain name.
Some people set up free blogs or other types of sites using a domain name that belong to a third-party service like WordPress.com or Tumblr. That's okay for small personal blogs — but if you want to build a serious online presence, you really should have your own domain name.
It isn't hard to get your own domain name, all you need to do is buy one from a good domain name registrar.
If you're having trouble finding a domain name you like, or you want to learn more about what makes a good domain name before you purchase one, see our Ultimate Domain Name Guide.
You usually want to focus your brand-building efforts on a single domain name. Especially if you're just starting to build an online presence for yourself or your organization, trying to build on multiple domain names can spread your efforts too thin.
However, it can be helpful to purchase additional domain names apart from your primary domain name. For example, if you have a .com, it's usually a good idea to go ahead and buy the .org version if it is available (and vice versa). It's also a good idea to buy common misspellings of your primary domain name, or other things people might accidentally type if they were looking for you.
Generally, when you buy these additional domain names, you don't want to set up whole sites on them — you just want to set up a simple 301 Redirect to your primary domain. (Make sure you set up wildcard redirects so that links to any URL with the wrong domain name will end up in the right place.)
Trying to figure out the best domain name for your new website is one of the more difficult tasks when establishing a new online presence. You don't want to change domain names often — it's bad for branding and bad for SEO — so whatever you diecide is going to have to work well for a good long time.
If you are an organization with a primarily offline presence, the best thing is usually to pick a domain name that is a easy-to-remember version of your real-world name. That might be your full business name, or a common, conversational shortening.
If you serve a particular geographical area, it can be helpful to include the name of your city or town in the domain name. This is especially useful if your name is somewhat common. For example — there are a lot of churches named "St. John's" and a lot of private schools named "Excelsior Academy." Since schools and churches both serve local communities, it's a good idea to distinguish these with domain names like stjohnsfortworth.org or excelsiorwilkesbarre.academy.
Buying domains in order to sell them later is a multi-million dollar industry known as "domain name speculation."
Popular media has focused on the exceedingly rare high-value domain names that have commanded huge sums of money:
- toys.com — $5.1 million
- fund.com — $9.9 million
- sex.com — $13 million
The vast majority of domain name sales — and really, the heart and soul of the domain speculation business — are in the less exciting, high-volume world of decently-valued domain names that sell for a few hundred or a few thousand dollars.
For information about how to get into the industry, read the chapter on domain name speculating in our Ultimate Domain Name Guide
A domain name registrar is a company that manages the registration of domain names. When you buy a new domain name, you are buying it "from" a registrar (that is — you are paying the registration fee to a registrar).
Becoming a domain name registrar is not easy — it requires a significant investment in capital and technology. (Let's put it this way: If you need to read this page to learn about it, you aren't qualified.)
However, that doesn't mean you can't sell domain names. Most people don't buy domain names directly from the actual registrar, but rather from retail domain name sales companies.
To become a domain name reseller, sign up for a reseller account at a registrar like Enom
Any good domain name registrar will let you search for domain names.
Namecheap has a particularly good domain name search tool. It lets you search hundreds of domain name options based on provided keywords, including domain names with the new Top Level Domains.
A domain name generator is a tool that takes one or more keywords as inputs and provides a list of possible domain names based on combinations of your keywords and common affixes such as my, i, or best. Some will attempt to create new words by combining letters from your different key words. Usually these tools are combined with a domain name availability checker, so that only available options are presented.
Domain name generator tools can be a good way to brainstorm ideas, especially if you're stuck for a creative name or the name you really want is taken. However, ideas from a domain name generator need to evaluated to see if they would be a good fit for your site.
Whoishostingthis.com is the best place to look up information about a domain name. Just go to the search form on our homepage and enter the domain name. From there you can see where the website is hosted and what its IP address is, and you can even get the site's WHOIS information.
You can use our the search tool on our homepage.
If you have aMac or a Linux machine, and you're comfortable on the command line, you can also use the whois command directly on the terminal. Just type the command and the domain name ( whois example.com ), and all the info will be displayed right there. You can also access this command from scripts, if you want to incorporate WHOIS data into an app.
Remember, though, because of WHOIS privacy, you won't always get usable information from a WHOIS lookup.
If you're trying to find something on a site, and the site's own on-page search isn't working great — here's a little trick that works in Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, and many other search engines:
Type site:example.com in front of your search terms. The search engine will only show you results from the domain name you enter after the site: command.
Sometimes, but not always, you can find the owner of a domain by looking at the WHOIS information.
You can search for WHOIS information, and find out other details of a website, by using the tool on our homepage.
The domain name system isn't owned by any one entity. It is, however, managed by the Internet Coorporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICAAN), a non-profit organization.
There are several good domain name registrars — and several you probably want to avoid. See our list of domain name registrars for our favorites.
Any good registrar will let you search for domain names.
Namecheap has a really great search tool for finding domain names. They let you domain name options based on keywords, including new Top Level Domains.
You can pick a different domain name that is available, or you can try to buy the domain you want on the domain aftermarket.
A domain backorder is a service provided by many domain name registrars that sometimes gives you the opportunity to buy domain names that have already been registered.
The registrar will watch the domain you want and attempt to register it immediately if it ever comes available.
This can be a good way to snag high-quality domain names, but it isn't a reliable way to acquire a domain name if you need one within a set period of time (for example, if you're about to launch a new web site).
Each domain registrar handles back orders a little differently. GoDaddy is one of the largest providers of domain backorder services, so they are a good place to start.
All you need to do to buy a domain name is to find a good domain name registrar. We have a list to get you started.
Yes. They aren't that expensive, and a good domain name can become the basis of a great brand.
Prices for country code and new gTLD domains vary, but names with one of the "standard" domain extensions (.com, .org, etc.) should be under $10 per year. If they cost more than that, the reseller is charging too much
GoDaddy and Namecheap both have excellent tools for bulk domain name purchasing.
In our experience, the two domain registrars with the consistently lowest prices are Namecheap and Namesilo.
We don't really recommend it.
The .co domain name is often marketed as a good alternative to .com, primarily for use when the .com domain name is taken.
The problem with that is that it is confusing. Some people are likely to think it is a typo. Others may simply mistype it, adding the "m" and ending up at someone else's website.
It also communicates, to some internet users, that your site is low-quality — it carries the feeling of "knock-off," like those unlicensed cartoon character performers in Times Square.
Even if you can't get the exact domain name you want, you're almost always better of with a .com the .co domain name.
TTL stands for "Time to Live." It is one of the settings on your DNS setup, and it refers to the amount of time a router or server will store the the IP address information in your DNS record.
This has an effect if you change your DNS record. IF you have a very high TTL, some servers will wait the full time before re-checking where requests should be sent. This may lengthen the amount of time domain name propagation lasts.
TTL is measured in seconds. The traditional value is 86400, which is 24 hours.
TTL is one of the fields on a DNS record, so it is edited there. You can usually find it in your hosting control panel under something like Domain Tools or DNS Zone Editor.
Remember that TTL is one of the data points governed by TTL. If you change the TTL for a domain name from 864000 (24 hours) to 300 (five minutes), hoping that it will speed up global DNS propagation, servers and routers won't see the updated TTL until the check back for the entire DNS record. So, you might want to change the TTL a day or two before your change your IP address, if fast propagation is a high priority.
DDNS stands for Dynamic DNS. It is a way of automatically updating a name server in the Domain Name System.
This is useful in the case of web resources which may change IP addresses on a frequent basis (daily or even hourly). The DNS records are updated by a local router or server whenever the IP address of the resource changes.
This is usually not an issue for typical web hosting plans, as web hosting providers use blocks of static IP addresses. However, it is an expected feature of many internet-connected devices, since they are dynamically assigned a new IP address every time they are restarted.
DNS is the Domain Name System. It is a distributed database of human-meaningful domain names mapped to network-meaningful IP addresses. Web browsers and other internet clients access DNS information through a series of recursive calls to various nodes in the DNS database.
Your DNS records are usually managed at your domain registrar, unless you have changed the Name Servers to "point" them to your web hosting company (a common practice). Whichever set of Name Servers are specified for your domain is where you need to edit your DNS records.
Whether it is at your hosting company or your domain name registrar, you'll find it easy to edit your DNS records. There's usually a link to something like "DNS Records" or "DNS Zone Editor
" on the control panel
A DNS record has the following parts:
- Type of record. The most common you will need to know about are:
- A — the main record, used to identify the IP address that all requests should be sent to
- CNAME — Used to map one domain onto another
- MX — Mail exchange, used to identify the mail server for a domain
- Domain name or subdomain
- Address — In the case of most records, including A and MX, this is the IP address of the server that is going to handle requests for the domain or subdomain. In the case of CNAME records, this is another domain name or subdomain.
- TTL — Time to Live. How long servers and routers should keep a cache of the record before rechecking.
The DNS system is a distributed database system. It isn't kept in one location, but rather pieces of it are spread out all over the globe.
A DNS server is one node in the global DNS network — one particular computer that stores part of the DNS database.
What is domain WHOIS?
The domain name WHOIS system is a public database of contact information associated with each domain name. The manager for each Top Level Domain (.org, .com, .ninja) manages the WHOIS directory for their respective TLD.
The WHOIS directory keeps contact information for the owner of a domain name, including:
- phone number
- mailing address
- email address
Naturally, this is directory is a prime target for marketers. Because of this, many domain name owners choose to use WHOIS privacy.
For more information on the WHOIS system, see the WHOIS chapter of the Ultimate Domain Name Guide
You can find domain names that are expiring with JustDropped and SnapNames.
This can be a good idea because if a domain is expiring, it means that someone thought it was a good idea. A lot of people come up with clever domain names or great business ideas, register the name, and then never do anything with it and let the domain name expire. Other times, businesses just fail and their domain names expire because no one cares to renew them.
Sometimes these expired domains have a long history or even existing backlinks, which is a good way to get a new web project started off on the right foot.
The abbreviation gTLD stands for "Generic Top Level Domain."
A Top Level Domain is the highest realm of administrative authority within the Domain Name System, and is represented by "domain extensions" like .com.
There are two types of Top Level Domains — country-code (ccTLD) like .us and .ru, and generic (gTLD) like .com and .org.
Some ccTLDs are commonly used as if they were actually generic TLDs, such as .ly (Libya), .me (Montenegro), and .tv (Tuvalu). Also, a few gTLDs are reserved and not available for use by the general public, like .gov and .edu.
Pretty much every domain name registrar sells the original set of gTLD:
A few years, ICAAN allowed for the expansion of the gTLD system. Today, in addition to the conventional options of .com, .org, and the like, there is an almost limitless list of new
gTLDs, such as:
Not all registrars sell all the different domain name options, but several do. You may want to try Namecheap
InterNIC, also known as the Network Information Center, was the governing body responsible for managing the domain name system. This responsibility is now handled by ICAAN.
The .io domain is, officially, the country-code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) for British Islands in the Indian Ocean.
However, it is frequently used by tech companies, particularly those whose primary audience is developers, because IO is a short-hand for "input-output" — an important concept in computer science and engineering.
Several domain name registrars sell .io domains, including Namecheap.
The .me domain extension is the country-code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) for Montenegro. However, because it is also the English word "me," it is marketed as if it were a generic Top Level Domain for personal sites.
Many domain name registrars sell .me domain names, including two of our favorites, Namecheap and Namesilo.
SRV is one of the DNS record types (like A, CNAME, and MX).
Most DNS record types provide information about one particular type of service or protocol. For example, the MX record specifies the IP address of the server that handles email for a domain.
The SRV record is an open-ended record — it can be used to specify any type of service (including ones not invented yet). This gives the DNS record system flexibility, instead of having to create a new record standard for each new protocol that is invented and used.
SRV records are commonly used for identifying a number of different protocols. Most interestingly (we think) is Minecraft servers.
A subdomain is a domain that is a part of a larger domain.
Since the Domain Name System is hierarchical, technically all domain are subdomains. The TLDs like .com are subdomains of the primary domain — the DNS system itself. Registered domains such as example.com are subdomains of the Top Level Domain represented in the domain extension (.com).
Normally, however, when we talk about "subdomains" we are talking about domains which are one more step below registered domains names, for example:
Subdomains can be very helpful for separating out different major aspects of domain usage. For example, some businesses like to have their main site at their primary domain (example.com), and then put their blog at a subdomain (blog.example.com).
Another common usage is for SaaS apps, especially when the public marketing site and the logged-in application are served from different computers or at least different code bases. Often the public site will be at the base domain, with the application on the subdomain (app.example.com).
The most common use of subdomains is when creating a network of sites which are individually manafged by other people, usually customers. This is the model for a number of popular blogging services, including WordPress.com and Tumblr.
It's possible, but it depends on how you use them.
Some SEO experts like to set up category-based subdomains for blogs. The advantage here is that the keywords in the category name are at the front of the URL, in the domain name.
So, for example, a post about using subdomains as blog post categories might then have the URL:
But, it's hard to see how this is significantly better than the more conventional approach of putting the category into the permalink structure:
This approach may be most helpful if you want your category pages ( http://category-name.example.com ) to be landing pages for Search Engine results.
In cPanel, there is an icon labeled "Subdomains." Click that. It takes you to the subdomain management page. Here you can setup subdomains and associate them with specific folders in your file system.
If you are trying to setup wildcard subdomains (for example, for WordPress Multisite), use an asterisk ( * ) as the subdomain, and associate the subdomain with the same folder as your main WordPress install.
This is a different tool than the DNS editor. You will need to do this even if you manage your domain at a different registrar — cPanel uses these settings to route requests once they have arrived at the server. (It also updates the DNS records as required, but only if the domain uses the nameservers associated with your cPanel account).
If your site is actually hosted somewhere else, and you just manage the domains from this cPanel account, then ignore the instructions above and just use the DNS Zone Editor.
There are two common uses for subdomains in WordPress: multisite and subdomain categories.
Subdomains are usually the preferred network structure for WordPress Multisite. You can make this selection in the configuration of your multisite network — just follow the options.
For using subdomains as categories, you'll need a plugin to do that.
In both cases you will also need to set up a DNS CNAME record for a wildcard subdomain. The domain name for the CNAME record will be *.example.com and the address will be the base domain name, example.com.
A TLD is a Top Level Domain (and sometimes gTLD, where the "g" refers to "generic"). They are also sometimes called "domain extensions." Common TLDs include .com and .org, but there are many more.
A better question is — Which TLD is the best for my website?
If you are running a non-profit, club, church, or other social group, you probably want to use .org. On the other hand, if you are setting up a website for an online store, .com might be the best option.
While it isn't the best choice for all projects, .com continues to be the "gold standard" for commercial products and services, especially for direct-to-consumer brands.
All other things being equal, a .com domain name will fetch a higher price than its equivalent with any other extension.
Many hosting companies offer a free domain name when you buy a shared hosting plan. All you have to do is sign up.
Whether or not using a free domain name from your hosting company is a good idea is an entirely different question.
We don't usually recommend it.
The free domain name that comes with your hosting plan is tied into your hosting plans billing. With some hosts, the domain name actually identifies your account.
The problem with this close tie between domain name and hosting is that it makes it more difficult to move your hosting later, which most people do eventually.
Another problem is that sometimes (not always, but sometimes) the Free Domain Name is only free the first year, and you have to pay for it after that. Usually, in this case, the renewal fee is several dollars more than it would be from a low-cost domain registrar.
It is much easier, and usually cheaper in the long run, to host your domain name with a decent, low-cost domain name registrar, and use the free domain just as a placeholder or identifier.
You EPP key is an authorization code provided by your current registrar. It is used to verify your ownership of the domain name when transfering it to another registrar.
This varies by registrar, and they are usually not easy to find. Many registrars make them deliberately hard to find in order to discourage transfers. Sometimes you can't even find it, they require that you request it be emailed to you.
You'll often find it somewhere labeled something like:
- domain management
- domain settings
- domain profile
Many people have been frustrated by Network Solutions over the years, and they have been involved in a number of controversies concerning their business practices.
We would never come right out and say that they are bad. The truth is — Network Solutions has made a lot of changes to how they operate to address some of the common complaints.
Of course, its hard for us to judge whether any of those improvements have been successful, because none of us uses Network Solutions, in favor of other registrars and hosting companies we have had better experiences with.
Namecheap is one of the domain name registrars several members of the WhoIsHostingThis.com team prefer and use for their own work. They have good prices, an excellent interface, and one of the best domain name search tools available.
We don't have enough experience with Directnic to form an opinion on them as a registrar, and our users have not submitted any hosting reviews for them.
We do have a list of domain name registrars we recommend (you can also see some on that list we don't recommend).
For hosting companies, there are a lot of different things to consider when selecting one that is right for you. You can use our hosting features comparison tool to find the right hosting provider for you.