When searching for a domain name for personal use or business, it is important to learn all aspects of the industry to become a more informed consumer. The following 35 questions outline the most pertinent information regarding domain names, registrars and regulating bodies.

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What is a domain name?

 A domain name is a combination of letters and numbers separated by periods to name businesses, organizations and websites and computers and their subsequent addresses on the Internet.

 What is the Domain Name System?

 The Domain Name System assists users with the navigation of the Internet. Since every computer is issued an IP address which is a string of numbers, the DNS allows for a string of letters to be used. IP addresses are much more difficult to remember than words, phrases and abbreviations. 

 What does “registering a domain name” mean? 

 This is the process of inserting an entry into the registry of all domain names that exist so that other computers across the globe will be able to find that specific location (your domain name) on the Internet. 

 How do I register a domain name?

 Domain names can be registered through companies known as registrars. The registrar will ask you to provide contact and technical information which will then be submitted to a central directory or “registry.” This allows others to find your website on the Internet or send you an email.

 What is the length of time for a domain name registration?

 Although there is great flexibility offered by registrars, the maximum legal limit is ten years. Many registrars will offer the domain name in increments of no less than one year.

 How much does registration cost?

 Domain name registration costs differ between registrars and the other services you wish to purchase. Also, many registrars offer free registration with the purchase of other services like web hosting.

Am I able to change registrars after registering?

 Yes, you typically have up to 60 days following your registration to change it. For more specific details on the transfer process, contact your registrar.

Can I register for domain name companies that are not accredited?

 Only those companies accredited by ICANN are authorized to register all domain names and their subsequent extensions. Many registrars provide their services through resellers and affiliates which are provided with a commission for new accounts. However, your actual contact will be with an accredited company who will also maintain your contact information.

Will my personal information be available to the public?

 Yes, this is to provide resolution to any technical problems that may occur as well as protect the consumer, trademarks, copyrights and other laws. This information will be available on a WhoIs website. You may also provide contact information as a third party such as a company to protect yourself.

What is a TLD?

 TLD or Top-Level Domain is the highest level of the domain name. There are five types of TLD’s including gTLD, sTLD, uTLD, ccTLD and SLDs.

What is the difference between a gTLD, sTLD, uTLD and ccTLD?

 A gTLD or Generic Top-Level Domain are the most common domain names and include .com, .net, .org, .biz, .info and a few others. sTLD is Sponsored Top Level Domain which is a subdivision of a gTLD. These are operated by specific agencies like a museum (.museum). A uTLD stands for an Unsponsored Top-Level Domain which indicates a .com or .info extension. Finally, the ccTLD indicates a Country Code Top-Level Domain which was created for specific countries like the United Kingdom (.uk) or Canada (.ca).

What are the rules for registering a gTLD?

 The specific rules regarding the registration of a domain name vary between registrars. However, there are only a handful of acceptable extensions that may be used in conjunction with your domain name.

Are gTLD names available internationally?

Yes, gTLD’s are utilized in all countries across the globe. In addition to the standard extensions, each country is assigned a two-digit code known as ccTLD’s which indicate that location in the world.

 What is an SLD?

 SLD stands for Second-Level Domain. This is the part of the domain name in front of the last period. In the example of www.example.com, the word “example” is known as the SLD. This can only contain English letters, hyphens and numbers. The exception is with International Domain Names (IDNs). Most domain names only contain an SLD and a TLD.

What are the rules for registering domain names ending with two-letter combinations?

Two-letter domain names are considered ccTLDs which represent a specific geographic location. The rules for registering these domain names vary greatly and many can only be used by citizens of that corresponding country. It is best to check with registrars that provide ccTLD services. 

What is ICANN?

 ICANN stands for Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers and is responsible for managing the Domain Name System. This verifies each website address is unique and valid. This is accomplished by distributing unique IP addresses and domain names. ICANN also accredits domain name registrars to ensure they are following standards.

What is InterNIC?

 InterNIC is a website managed by ICANN that offers Internet domain name registration information to the public through links to other websites like WhoIs, the Accredited Registrar Directory, the Registrar Problem Report Form and WhoIs Data Problem Report Form.

How can I acquire a domain name that was recently expired?

Section 3.7.5 of the Registrar Accreditation Agreement obligates registrars to delete expired domain names following a grace period and a second notice with the exception of “extenuating circumstances” which include payment issues and ownership disputes. Unfortunately, ICANN has not yet implemented a standard policy with regards to expired domain names. 

What happens to my domain name if my registrar loses its ICANN accreditation?

 You will not lose your domain name as a result of lost accreditation. Your gTLD will be transferred to another registrar. ccTLD domains are not affected by the loss of accreditation.

What is the difference between a URL and a domain name? 

 A Uniform Resource Locator or URL is the entire address of a website. For instance, http://www.example.com is a URL. However, the domain name in the previous example is example.com. The breakdown is as follows: Http:// is a type of file followed by www, the subdomain followed by the domain name example ending with the extension .com. 

What is a subdomain?

 A subdomain refers to an instance when an additional prefix is added to a domain name and separated by a period. For instance, agood.example.com in which the example.com is the TLD and agood is the subdomain. There are two reasons subdomains are used: so users can register unavailable domain names and to better organize large websites.

What is Whois Privacy?

ICANN requires contact information at the time of registration so it can be publicly available. Your contact information is stored on a WhoIs server which is available to anyone with an Internet connection. Unfortunately, this does open you up to identity theft and a massive amount of spam. Luckily registrars create privacy or proxy that shields your personal information from the public eye, similar to acquiring an unlisted phone number. 

What can I do with a domain name?

 Domain names serve many purposes in cyberspace. With them you can establish a brand or unique identity; they can be resold, leased or traded and provide a permanent, creative email address. Also, domain names have the ability to improve page rankings on search engines which will greatly increase traffic to the website. 

How can I choose the right domain name?

 There are many answers to this question. First, you want to ensure the domain name is unique. Second, make it easy to type and remember. Third, try and keep the domain name as short as possible so it is easy to type and remember. Fourth, avoid copyright infringement. Fifth, differentiate yourself from the competition. Sixth, do not follow the latest trends such as strange misspellings and many hyphens. 

Why is it important to register a domain name?

 Domain names have a profound effect on your business as they build your credibility on the Internet, are portable like a sign pointing directly to your site and can greatly improve your sites web visibility. Furthermore, domain names showcase your professionalism, are memorable and can be popular, especially if a generic name is selected. 

How can I protect a domain name?

 It begins and ends by selecting a reputable registrar that guards your information against the public which includes contact information, credit card number, etc. Also, protect yourself by using up-to-date virus software to avoid hackers acquiring your passwords. 

Can I fight a domain dispute in court?

 Yes, the best route to take is through UDRP which is an arbitration company. This will save you money, time and expands beyond the borders of the United States.

How do I backorder expired names?

 If it is a popular domain name, it can be quite tricky to scoop up expired names. There is a mini-industry that developed around acquiring expired domain names. Most of these are acquired through software programs. However, there are websites that post soon-to-expire domain names as an auction.

What are the typical domain name rules?

 The most commonly accepted naming convention rules for a domain name can contain numbers from 0-9, the letters a-z and hyphens. However, they may not begin or end with a hyphen. 

Why should a domain name be unique?

 This differentiates businesses from one another allowing them to describe their products or services through their domain name. Also, since all domain names are recorded in a database, no two can be alike. Thus, many domain names become a valuable commodity. 

What are the various domain name extensions?

 Domain name extensions approved by ICANN include: .aero, .asia, .biz, .cat, .com, .coop, .info, .jobs, .mobi, .museum, .name, .net, .org, .pro, .tel, .travel.

What does each extension mean?

 .aero is reserved for the global aviation industry. .asia is reserved for the Asia Pacific region and Pan-Asia. .biz is restricted to business websites. .cat relates to the Catalan linguistic and cultural committee. .com is commercial and can be used by anyone. .coop is restricted to cooperatives. .info can be used by anyone wishing to create an informational site. .jobs is reserved for the human resource industry. .mobi is another extension that can be utilized by anyone with a website geared toward use on a mobile device. 

 .museum represents the museum community and related individuals. .name can only be used by individuals, no businesses are permitted. .net represents a network and can be used by all individuals. .org is used by organizations. .pro is restricted to licensed professionals only. .tel is restricted to businesses as well as individuals to store their contact information in The Domain Name System. .travel is reserved for those involved with the travel industry. 

 What are the registration rules for .aero, .coop, and .museum?

 .aero, .coop and .museum are sTLD’s for use with a specific community or industry. Registration requirements have been developed by the sponsor with feedback from the community it represents. Unless you are in that industry, it may be difficult to register for a domain name with this extension. Contact your registrar for more information.

Who do I contact regarding customer service inquiries related to my registration?

 The registrar that registered your domain name.

A different individual has registered my company’s name as their domain name, how do I resolve a complaint?

If the registrar is ICANN-accredited, there is a standard dispute policy which indicates any disputes must be settled in through court litigation between the two parties. Once the court rules for the entitled party, the registrar will implement that decision. For registration abuses, an expedited policy exists to avoid litigation.

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