Domainname, Hosting


HomeWeb Basics → Domainname, Hosting


We will not work on individual domain names and webservers, but the knowledge about it is essential for publishing online.

1. Basics

To set up a website on your own domain name, you need three elements

a) buying at domain name at a → registrar
b) then book a → hosting service (hoster)
c) the → name server adresses of your hoster needs to be filed at the registrars account

Steps a) and b) can be executed in reverse order, too.

Many registrars also offer the hosting of your website as a separately payable service. As well, hosters offer the domain name registration. But finally, it is nevertheless important to know that there are two services that must be drawn on.

Book hosting and name registration from the same provider:

  • PRO: no hassles with DNS/nameserver setup as its done by them
  • CONTRA: if you want to move to another hoster once, you might have hassles and costs for changing the DNS/nameserver setup at your former registrar/hoster

2. Registrar

A → domain name registrar is a company or organization that sells domain names. It must either be accredited by the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) or subcontracted by an accredited registrar.

In Switzerland, → Switch has lost the monopole of registering .ch domain names. Since every hoster now can offer registrar services, the price for a .ch Domain has dropped from 35 francs to 10 francs and less.

The main registrar for .com, .net, .org and many other top-level domains is Network Solutions. They are rather expensive and cash $35 for each .com domain name. There a many cheaper .com registrars over the web, godaddy.com, hover.com, etc. You may find offerings starting at $5.00 for a domain name. Though, GoDaddy and Hover have a bad reputation as well as Network Solutions. For → TLD’s other than .ch I have used united-domains in the past years, which is a recommendable registrar.

Nameserver

The adress of the → hoster’s → nameserver must be filed at the → registrar. DNS nameservers translate the humanly memorable domain names (like “sample.com”) into the corresponding IP adress, a numeric information (like for instance “172.16.254.12”).

To conclude, the nameserver knows which domain is hosted on which computer, on which hardisc in which directory, so that people looking for “sample.com” are actually landing on the right website. This procedure may use a few milliseconds only, but is crucial. Internet providers (like Swisscom, UPC) speed up that process by running their own copies of nameserver lists

Important to know is: the hosters namesever IP adresses must be registered with the domain. If you change a hoster for an existing domain, you must also change the nameserver entries at your registrar.

Top Level Domain

TLD’s are the suffix from your domain name, like .com, .ch, .net and so on. Since 2015, hundreds of new, and sometimes fancy, TLD’s have been released, like .academy, .bar, .live, .yoga and many others (see list).

WHOIS

WHOIS is a function to find out whether a domain name is free or not, and who is the owner and the hoster of an already existing domain name. Most registrars offer a WHOIS service, mostly as first step in a registering process.

Switch WHOIS: https://www.nic.ch/reg/ds03/whois/view.html?lid=en
Network Solution WHOIS: http://www.networksolutions.com/whois/index.jsp

3. Hoster

The hoster is a service provider who will host your data and make it accessible through the internet. Usually, the hoster also runs the mailserver of your domain.

Webserver

The webserver is a computer that actually stores the digital data of your website. Common customers hire a “virtual server”, that means, they just hire a partition of a hard disc, not an entire computer. A virtual server starts at CHF 5.00/month. Booking an entire server (so called “dedicated server”) is much more costly (starting at approx. CHF 500.00/month). Dedicated servers are required for websites with significant traffic.

Mailserver

The e-mail is handled on other computers than webservers, on specialized mailservers. Usually, there are three options how to run an email account:

→ POP3
Your mail is basically saved on your local device. Emails arriving on your mailserver will be downloaed by your mail application (Apple mail, Outlook, Thunderbird, Lotus, etc.) everytime you open it, or you give a send/receive command.
Advantage: fast handling, offline usage.
Disadvantage: not all emails always accessible through different devices

→ IMAP
This kind of account leaves all received and sent mails on the mailserver, and your local application serves as interface to read and write email.
Advantage: all your mail data is accessible through many devices (home, office, mobile, etc.)
Disadvantage: online connection always required, slower handling, data storage limit issue after a certain time.

→ Webmail
While POP3 and IMAP can not be used at the same time, webmail is an additional option to both. It is a separate mail application, hosted on your mailserver and is accessible through a web browser, and no other mail application is requested. Gmail, GMX and Hotmail are typical Webmail offerings (though they can also be used as POP3 and IMAP mostly).

Password management

Before you start to run your new domain with hosting and all that, I strongly recommend to create an excel sheet for your future passwords (and save the excel sheet with an additional password).

You have lot of usernames and passwords:

  • Registrar Account(s)
  • Hosting account(s)
  • Nameserver infos
  • Email account(s)
  • FTP accounts(s)
  • Social communities
  • E-Shops
  • Serial numbers, IMEI codes
  • …and many more

With the growing count of password protected accesses, managing passwords in a separate file makes quite sense. If this is too messy for you, third parties offer the same service too, like cross platform password apps (see a list here).

Do NOT save passwords for internet banking, paypal or other financial services in such files and apps. The might be hacked.
Recommended passwords have at least 12 digits, containing small and capital letters, numbers and special characters like #, $, %, * and so on. Note some international apps and sites do not accept Umlaute in passwords (ä, ö, ü, é, …).


HomeWeb Basics → Domainname, Hosting

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