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What Is A Domain Name?

A domain name, in its simplest terms, is a label that identifies a webpage. Examples of domain names include: www.Google.com, www.WhiteHouse.gov, and www.UTexas.edu. However, a domain name is more than just a label, it is also a name that everyone has agreed on as “yours”. Think about your domain name as the name of your “private property” on the web, the internet equivilent of a home address (i.e. 123 Main Street identifies the location of your home).

All of the domain names out there on the internet are registered through the Domain Name System. The DNS (as it is shortened) is kind of like a list of rules and guidelines that everyone obeys so the internet can work the way it does. Without regulation, the internet would not be able to accurately present information to users.

The Domain name is just that: a name of your domain. However, the name isn’t the true address to your private place on the web: it is a user friendly way to express impersonal computer code. While your domain name might be www.example.com, the true identity of your website would be 192.0.32.10. Unfortunately, since many people just don’t feel like typing numbers all day, the Domain Name System is a much more friendly way to lead users to websites.

That number above, 192.0.32.10, is called an IP Address. IP Addresses (Internet Protocol Addresses) are the identity that each website has. The true name of your site is the IP Address, but the Domain Name is used to familiarize people with a friendly title (and also so people remember it). People love to say “Google.com” instead of “216.239.51.99″; it’s convenient to simply hand out these Domain Names without knowing exactly how the computer gets to the website.

There are also Top Level Domains, Second Level Domains, Third Level Domains, etcetera. Top Level Domains (or TLDs, as they are know) are included in the generic Google.com, Wikipedia.org, and other websites as such. In those, the “COM” is the TLD or Top Level Domain.

Second Level Domains are website names such as en.Wikipedia.org. The “Wikipedia.org” part of “en.Wikipedia.org” is the SLD or Second Level Domain. As you can see, this trend can go for third, fourth, and however many generations the website owner chooses (or at least until they reach the maximum amount: which is arbitrarily chosen at 127 levels). The total amount of characters in a domain name may not exceed 253 characters (which include periods, slashes, letters, numbers, and anything else) while each label (the segments seperated by periods) may not exceed 63 characters.

The first ever Domain Name was registered on March 15, 1985 by Symbolics Inc., a computer systems firm, under the name “www.Symbolics.com”. Since then, the “COM” domain alone (i.e. Google.com) has grown to 84 million registered Domain Names to this day.

So whether you are interested in purchasing your own little part of the net, or simply wanting to know more about it, hopefully this has been a very instructional experience.

Domain Name Guide