What is a domain name?

A domain name is an address that people use on the internet, whether for websites or for e-mail. It’s a string of characters which usually spells out a word, a company name or person’s name. You can buy domain names from a domain registrar 123.reg or Namesco, and they can be incredibly useful things. There are many different types of domain names available to purchase, ie:

  • .com
  • .co.uk
  • .org
  • .net
  • .edu
  • .gov

Without a domain name (URL or web address), you’d still be able to access and view websites, but only by typing a series of numbers into your browser’s address bar this your IP address. Domain names provide a neat, human-friendly and much more memorable alternative, which is why you’ll find it almost impossible to find a website without a domain name ‘pointing’ to it.

You can of course use a domain name for e-mail addresses. There are many free e-mail providers out there (such as Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail etc) but it’s incredibly difficult to find a good address that hasn’t already been taken by somebody else.

Domain Names and URLs

The universal resource locator, or URL, is an entire set of directions, and it contains extremely detailed information. The domain name is one of the pieces inside of a URL. It is also the most easily recognized part of the entire address. When computer users type a web address directly into the field at the top of their browser window, it initiates a process of locating the page requested. To do so, the instructions contained inside the URL, including the domain name, must correctly point to that location. The IP address is a numerical code that makes this possible.

What’s in a Domain Name?

Domain names function on the Internet in a manner similar to a physical address in the physical world. Each part of the domain name provides specific information. These pieces of information enable web browsers to locate the web page. The naming system is closely regulated in order to prevent confusion or duplicate addresses. As demand increased exponentially, a new Internet Protocol version, or IPv6, was created to expand the amount of domain names available.