What is a domain name and how does it work?
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When creating a website, a domain name is quite essential since it is the equivalent of a physical address. In this article, we shall answer the question of what is a domain name and explain how it works in detail. In the same way that a GPS needs a street address or a zipcode to provide directions, a web browser needs a domain name to direct you to a website.

As we answer the question of what is a domain name? we need to understand that a domain name takes the form of two main elements. For example, the domain name Facebook.com consists of the website’s name (Facebook) and the domain name extension (.com). When a company (or a person) purchases a domain name, they’re able to specify which server the domain name points to.

Also read: What is a browser extension?

What is a domain name?

A domain name is the address where Internet users can access your website. It is used for finding and identifying computers on the Internet. Computers use IP addresses, which are a series of number. However, it is difficult for humans to remember strings of numbers. Because of this, domain names were developed and used to identify entities on the Internet rather than using IP addresses.

Domain name registrations are overseen by an organization called ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). ICANN specifies which domain name extensions are available and keeps a centralized database of where the domain names point to.

Every website that you visit effectively consists of two main elements: a domain name and a web server.

  1. A web server is a physical machine that hosts the files and the databases that your website is made from and sends them out to people across the internet when they visit your site from their machine.
  2. The domain name is what people type in to access your site, and it points the web browser to the server that stores those resources. Without a domain name, people would need to remember the specific IP address of your server — and that’s just not going to happen.

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How Do Domains Work?

After answering the question of what is a domain name? the obvious question would be, how do domain names work? Domain names work by acting as a shortcut to the server that hosts your website.

Without a domain name, anyone who wanted to visit your website would have to enter the full IP address. But the problem is that an IP address is difficult for people to memorize or to include on advertising materials.

In our case, Techrafiki.com is the domain name. Let’s say it points to the IP address  100.90.80.70. The IP address points to a server, but it doesn’t resolve the website if visitors try to use it. That’s because for an IP address to resolve a website, the remote server needs to be using port 80 with a default page (i.e. index.html) stored in its web-apps directory.

As you can see, messing around with server defaults and IP addresses can be both confusing and time-consuming. That’s why the vast majority of website owners opt to utilize services that offer bundled domain names with annual web hosting packages.

Domains can also use redirects, which essentially allow you to specify that if people visit your domain, they’re automatically forwarded to another. This can be useful for campaigns and microsites or for forwarding people to dedicated landing pages on your main site. They can also come in useful for avoiding confusion around spellings. For example, if you visit www.fb.com, you’ll be forwarded to www.facebook.com.

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Read more: What is an IP address?

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