A domain registrar is generally a body or company that sells and registers domain names to people.
When you visit an on line registrar with the intent of purchasing a domain name for your web site, you must first perform a simple search to see if the domain is available. If you are in luck and no one has beaten you to it, you pay the registrar a small fee for the privilege of owning that name and the domain is then registered to you for a designated period of time. The fee is usually a just few pounds a year but can vary greatly depending on the registrar.
Once you own that name, it is up to you what you decide to do with it. You don’t necessarily have to own a web site or have a hosting account to purchase a domain. You can instruct your registrar to park the domain while it is not in use and also lock it to ensure no one else can obtain access to it without your consent.
Often when you purchase a domain name, the registrar will give you a small amount of hosting space to enable you to create a few simple web pages if you desire. These will literally only amount to one or two pages to get you started but as soon as you decide to build a proper site, you will have to purchase some form of hosting package either from another hosting provider or the same company from which you bought the domain name.
Usually if you shop around, you can find some great deals on line but be aware that the company you purchase your domain name from, and the company that host your site do not have to be the same.
When you buy a domain name, if you choose to host your site with a different company, you simply have to ‘point’ your domain at the address of your hosting provider in order for those who visit your web site to be able to read the files and web pages you have created and stored in your hosting account.
This can be easily done from your user account control panel located at your registrars web site, and involves changing what is known as the the domain name server (DNS) settings. These are a set of numbers that correspond to the address of the servers on which your files are stored at your chosen hosts location.
Which Registrar ?
Registrars vary greatly in the prices they charge to register domain names, so it is wise to check out as many as you can before choosing one.
Regarding the actual name of the domain, as long as you use an accredited registrar that offers good service and a user control panel, it doesn’t make much of a difference as to whom you buy it from.
You can buy almost any domain name from any registrar. For example, you could buy www.streetmusician.org from GoDaddy.com or from 123-Reg.co.uk and the outcome would be the same. However, once you have registered your domain name with a particular registrar, control of that domain will now rest with that registrar. So if you need to alter any of your domain settings, you do it from your user control panel located at your domains registrar.
If you do have a different hosting company and registrar, and at some point you decide to change the registrar to another company or maybe to the same company that hosts your site, you will have to complete a domain transfer. This involves informing both companies of your intentions and usually the payment of a small transfer fee. People often do this as hosting with the same registrar can make life a little easier when dealing with many sites and domains at once.
Registrars also differ in the domain name prefixes they are allowed to sell you. For instance, an American registrar will probably be able to sell you a .com, .us, .info, .biz etc domain name, but may not be allowed to sell you a .co.uk domain. Some will be able to sell you all types of domain prefix and others only certain types. It just depends on the rules and regulations by which they are governed.
There are thousands of domain registrars out there, all offering different packages and prices, but don’t pay anything more than £2 – 10 per year for a domain name.
After much searching, I originally paid £7 or $14 for my first .com name. I thought it was a reasonable price until I found out that Go Daddy sell .com domains for £5 per year and this can be cut even further by using voucher codes that can be found on various money saving web sites on the net.
If you search the net for a voucher code for Go Daddy, you will easily find many available that give 20% off domain purchases along with various other deals. Adding a voucher code to your checkout bill will easily get you a .com domain for about £3.70 or $7 a year.
Dot com’s tend to be more expensive than .co.uk’s. You can pick a .co.uk for a couple of pounds but if you are really strapped for cash, you can buy a domain name with a .info prefix from Go Daddy for literally a few cents.
If you are looking for a particular name and you find somebody has registered the domain but is not using it for any purpose, you have probably encountered a domain sitter. These people buy up all the best domain names for a few measly dollars that they believe will be worth big bucks at some point in the future. They then hold on to them until someone desperately needs that particular domain and then charge hundreds or even thousands of times the original value to the unfortunate soul who just so happens to need that name for their site or business.
It is a lucrative trade and domain sitters can make a lot of money if they get it right.
In 2008, Chris Clark the owner of a software company raked in almost 3 million dollars from the sale of the domain name Pizza.com. He bought the domain for a mere $20 dollars 14 years previously and put the domain up for auction after hearing of the 3 million dollar sale of vodka.com a couple of years earlier. By the time the auction closed, the final figure had reached $2.6 million.
As I stated previously, most registrars also offer hosting services and will often offer some form of hosting package deal or free services once you have bought your domain name to entice you to host your web site with them. Many offer a free web page or free templates to suck you in to a further purchase, but make sure look around before you sign up for a twelve month deal. These companies vary greatly in the services they provide, what you get for your money and how reliable they are.
Take a look at my hosting guide to get an idea of what to expect when choosing a hosting package for your site.
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