In simple words, a domain name is the name of your website. In our case, it is “weboftwo.com”. It is the address that anyone types in the address bar of the web browser to visit any web page. It is the identity of any website. Any website is known by this domain name.
You will find out everything from how exactly this domain name works and every information related to them in this article.
What is Domain Name?
For the sake of simplicity, refer Internet as our earth and domain extensions as our countries. Now to own a property in any part of the country you have to buy a domain name. This domain name is the name of your property. Similarly, you contact any agents to buy any real estate, here also you need to contact domain name registrar to buy a domain name. There are many domain name registrar available online.
So, in brief, your website is like a house and domain name is the address of the house. We need the address of the website to visit it as in a similar case we need the address of any house to visit it.
The Internet is a worldwide system of computers network. It uses dedicated routers and servers to connect different computers together. Any user from one computer can communicate with other computers if they have permission to do it. They use their address to connect them. This unique address of each computer is known as IP address.
What is IP (Internet Protocol) address?
Internet Protocol address is a number assigned to any computer to identify them uniquely. It helps them to communicate with other computers via internet. It is like an identity for them.
Most of the IP address looks like this –
There are many types of IP addresses. It depends on their version.
Finding your IP address –
If you want to know your computer’s IP address then perform one of these depending on your system –
- Windows – One of the easiest way is to open the Command Prompt application from Accessories and enter command ipconfig
- Mac – Open your System Preferences, click Network, be sure your current network connection (with the green dot beside it) is selected, click Advanced, and click the TCP/IP tab.
- Linux – Open command prompt and enter command ifconfig.
- Mobile Phone – You can find this generally in your phone’s network settings.
Don’t confuse domain name with URL
Domain name is a part of URL. It is not same as URL.
Structure of a Domain Name –
Every Domain name consists of at least two parts – an actual name and Top Level Domain. The following diagram shows the structure of the domain name.
It also consists of a number of levels also known as sub-domains separated by dots. For example in
“blog” is the Third-Level domain, “.weboftwo” is the Second-Level domain and “.com” is the Top Level domain.
It can have numbers of sub-domains but generally, it is less than five.
The names in the DNS form a hierarchical tree structure; this is called the domain namespace. DNS hierarchy comprised of the following elements:
1) Root Level
2) Top Level Domains
3) Second Level Domains
Root Level – It is the topmost layer of the DNS hierarchy. The name server of the root zone is root name server and it plays the first role in resolving a domain name.
TLDs (Top Level Domains) – They are the last segment of a domain name. The most popular and common among TLDs is “.com”. Any TLD also tells about the objective of the website. We can also know about the location we are visiting by looking at the Top Level Domains.
Each TLD has a separate registry which is managed by Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) at the Root Zone Database. The official list of all the TDL’s is also maintained by them.
IANA identifies the following categories of TLDs –
- Infrastructure top-level domain (ARPA) – It is used exclusively for technical infrastructure purposes. “.arpa “ is the only TLD in this category.
- Generic top-level domains (gTLD) – They are the most popular types of TDLs and are available for registration. Some examples of gTLD are “.edu” for educational sites and .”com” for commercial sites.
- sponsored top-level domains (sTLD) – These TLD’s have sponsor behind them.
- country code top-level domains (ccTLD) – They are generally reserved for a country. For example “.au” for Australia.
Some of the TLDs and their description –
- .com – Commercial businesses
- .org – Organizations
- .net – Network organizations
- .gov – US government organisations
- .mil – US military
- .uk – United Kingdom, country specific website
- .edu – Educational facilities like universities
- .th – Thailand , country specific website
- .ca – Canada , country specific website
- .au – Australia, country specific website
- .so – Somalia, country specific website
- .onion – Deep Web Links
Second level Domain
This is the part of a domain name which comes below the Top Level Domains in DNS hierarchy, for example “weboftwo.com”. So it varies according to our choice.
A subdomain is a part of the main domain. For example, consider domain “blog.weboftwo.com” where it is a subdomain of “weboftwo.com” and “weboftwo.com” is the subdomain of .com ( a Top Level Domain).
How domain name works?
Now you understand that there are two addresses of any website – One is Domain Name and other is a unique series of a number known as Internet Protocol (IP) address.
We humans remember words much easier than digits. We simply cannot remember these digits for every single website we visit. Whereas domain name something like weboftwo.com can be easily recognized and remembered. So to make it easy for us, all IP address has a corresponding Domain Name. It is very easy to remember weboftwo.com instead of its IP address having so many digits. Domain Name just provides us an easy way to remember the address of any website.
So whenever you want to visit any website you don’t have to type the long string of numbers.
Originally it was done by using mapping technique. Computer names and IP addresses were mapped using a list and stored in a simple text file known as hosts file. But that technique only works for the small local network but it doesn’t work for lots of machine spread over the different network. So for better organizing, these name to IP address DNS came into picture.
Now I will explain how this domain name works. For this first, you need to know about DNS (Domain Name Server).
What is DNS (Domain Name Server)?
Domain Name Server is like a phone book of the internet. The name of every domain name and their corresponding IP address is stored therein this database. It basically turns any domain name like “weboftwo.com” into its IP address like 188.8.131.52 that computers use to identify each other on the network. It works like your computer’s GPS for the Internet.
How Domain Name Server works?
It makes browsing easy for you. When you type any domain name in the address bar of a web browser, the DNS will search for IP address of the respective domain name and maps the domain name to their corresponding IP address. This works in the following way –
When you type any domain name like weboftwo.com into your browser, your browser first sends a request to the DNS server to find the website for the entered domain name. It is sent in the form of a query to match the domain name with its corresponding IP address. If the domain name of the website you are searching is registered in the database with the DNS, then it’ll reply you with its corresponding IP address.
So exactly what happens when you type a domain name in your browser?
This works on domain name hierarchy.
- The first process starts when we ask your computer to visit any specific website like http://www.weboftwo.com. The computer determines whether it is in the local DNS registry or not. The computer checks local DNS cache for the entered website which stores the information about the recently visited websites.
- If the computer didn’t find it there then it will send a request to local ISP’s recursive DNS server. Recursive servers have their own cache so generally the process ends here.
- If it is not found there also. Then the DNS server needs to locate the details of the name server that hosts the domain record for the address you are trying to resolve.
- In the next process the name DNS server breaks the name into a number of sections, starting from the right-hand side of the domain name. For example, for weboftwo.com this would be split into com, weboftwo, and www. The last section .com is the Top Level Domain (TLD). The query is then sent to the root name servers.
A name server is a specialised computer that handles queries from your local computer.
- The root name server will look for the first part of domain form left-right www.weboftwo.com . It directs the query to Top Level Domain for .com. The information that we need is not with these servers so they refer us to the next server which contains the details of next section of domain name.
- The TLD name server then look the next part of our domain i.e .com and direct the query to the name server that contains the details of the specific domain.
- This name server will again give the details of another name server which holds the details about weboftwo.com. It is most likely that it returns the IP address associated with the domain name www.weboftwo.com .
- The resulting address may be a IP address or a another domain name known as Canonical Name record (CNAME). It is a type of record in DNS which can be used to alias one name to another.
- If the result is a CNAME then the process is repeated until the IP address is resolved.
- Once you receive the result, your computer stores the result in its cache and passes the information to the browser. Then the browser opens the required web page.
How to register for a Domain Name?
There are many Internet registrars available online who are responsible for allocating you any domains that you want. A few popular among them are NameCheap , Godaddy , BigRock etc. You can read the detailed instruction on registering for your domain name in our post “Beginner’s Guide: All You Need to Know About Domain Name and Hosting Services Before Starting a Website”. I have also explained everything about hosting services in this post. This will be helpful for you if you are a beginner and confused about the terms domain name and web hosting.
So this is all about the detailed guide on the domain name.
If you have any query regarding these things or if you still didn’t understand anything , feel free to comment below or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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