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Appendix B: Domains and Registration

The following notes provide information about Domain registrations.

Registration and Domains

In order to use a Domain Name it must be registered. Where it is registered depends on the Top Level Domain or TLD (in mydomain.com the 'com' is the TLD). The following information is designed to help you understand Domain Names, Registration procedures and the mysterious world of DNS servers.

  1. How do I register a .com or .org or .net domain name?

  2. How do I register a Canadian (.ca) or Provincial (e.g. bc.ca) domain name?

  3. What is a domain name?

  4. What about registering .dog, .cat, .pro, or .budapest domain names?

  5. Can I register my domain name in any country?

  6. If I register a .com do I automatically register in every country?

  7. What is a TLD (or gTLD or ccTLD) domain name?

  8. What happens when I register a domain name?

  9. What do the DNS server names do when I register a domain name (are they necessary)?

  10. How do I change my domain name information?

  11. What must I do to change my web site (or e-mail) provider?

  12. How do I register a domain in Malaysia (or any other country)?

  13. Who is responsible for Domain Names?

  14. How do I register a .edu (or .mil or .gov or .int) name?

  15. How do I check my (or some else's) registration information?

  16. Is there any relationship between Internet Access and my mail or web site?

  17. Can I have my e-mail with one supplier (ISP) and my web site with another?

  18. What are the names of all the gTLDs?

  19. I thought www.example.com was my domain name.

  20. What is a URL (or URI)?

Answers

How do I register a .com or .org or .net domain name?

The authority for all Top Level Domains (TLDs) lies with ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) and responsibility for generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) has been subcontracted to accredited registrars. For a full list of ICANN accredited registrars see this list.

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How do I register a Canadian (.ca) or Provincial (xx.ca) domain name?

Since 1st November 2000 the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (cira) has moved to a distributed model (like ICANN) in which the process of registration is handled by 'certified' Registrars who deal with customer requests and changes and in turn update the cira database. To find a list of certified registrars go to www.cira.ca then click your language preference then click the 'certified Registrar list'. This process is used for both Canadian National registrations (.ca) and Provincial registrations (xx.ca).

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What is a domain name?

A domain name is a unique identifier registered by an individual or organisation, for instance, if a web site is located at the URL http://www.example.com (or http://example.com) then example is the domain name part, com is the Top Level Domain (TLD) and the 'www' is a server or service name. Once you register the domain name it is delegated to you via a Domain Name Service (DNS) entry and the domain owner CONTROLS all naming to the left of example. So depending on your company you could create (and give public or private access to) systems with names like myhost.example.com or uk.example.com or plant1.ca.example.com or anything you choose - and have valid DNS entries for. By convention (but only convention) the most commonly used entries are www.example.com (world wide web) and mail.example.com (or pop.example.com or smtp.example.com).

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4. What about registering .dog, .cat, .pro, or .budapest domain names?

The ICANN list of Top Level Domains (TLDs) classifies each Top Level Domain (TLD) as generic (theoretically anyone can register them), generic-restricted (limitations on registration apply), country-code (rules for registration delegated to individual countries) and sponsored (registration limited to published rules for the TLD). Follow the link above, select the domain name in which you are interested.

ICANN's current policy is currently (2017), in essence, that if you pay enough money you can register any Top Level Domain (TLD) level domain name (it's a tad more complicated than that) and indeed you will see a lot of brand names.

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Can I register my domain name in any country?

In certain countries restrictions do apply, for example, Canada limits .ca domains names to one per company or individual and companies must have registered offices in Canada, individuals must be Canadian citizens to qualify. See the appropriate national (country-code) registrar via this list for country specific rules.

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If I register a .com do I automatically register in every country?

Your .com domain name is accessible from every country in the world (as is every other Top Level Domain (TLD) name) but registering a .com domain name does not grant you any rights for any other TLD, for example, if you register example.com then someone else can register example.ca (Canada) or example.tv (Tuvala) or example.net or example.microsoft.

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What is a TLD (or gTLD or ccTLD) domain name?

A TLD is a Top Level Domain, for instance, in www.example.com, 'com' is the TLD. gTLD is used to describe the generic Top Level Domains ( .com, .net. edu etc), ccTLD is used to denote the country code Top Level Domains, for instance, .ca is Canada and .tv is Tuvala.

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What happens when I register a domain name?

When you register a domain name 4 types of information are requested:

Administration Contact Details:

Typically the domain owner. This section requires the full name, address, telephone number, fax number and e-mail address. The Administration contact controls (and approves) any changes to the rest of the domain name details. When you have a domain name registered IT IS VITAL that the e-mail address in particular is correct, accessable by you and preferably NOT in your own domain name.

Technical Contact Details:

Generally the Technical contact also supplies the DNS service for convenience (but this is NOT essential). This section requires the full name, address, telephone number, fax number and e-mail address of the technical or DNS delegation authority.

Billing Contact Details:

The location where registration fee invoices are sent. This section requires the full name, address, telephone number, fax number and e-mail address. Certain registration organizations will send regular mail invoices and reminders so having correct information here is vital.

Name Servers (DNS)

At least two Name Servers are required. This section usually requires both the name and IP address of the name servers that will be authoritative for your domain. Generally but not always these will be the responsibility of the Technical contact.

During the registration process you may be asked for an authentication method - typically you have a choice of MAIL-FROM (which uses an e-mail address) or an ENCRYPTION process (using PGP or other format). Most people choose MAIL-FROM. Whenever a change is made to the registration record the registrar will send you an e-mail to the address specified in the MAIL-FROM entry and request confirmation of the change (changes can be initiated by anyone). It is VITAL that the e-mail address you specify is valid and is accessible to you under all conditions because this is how you maintain control over your domain name. It is good practice that any e-mail address is NOT in the domain name you are registering, for example, use a free email account. This ensures that in the even of problems with your domain notification messages can still reach you.

Do not leave all this stuff to an ISP - keep control of the process, understand what is going on. IT IS YOUR ASSET MAKE SURE YOU CONTROL IT.

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What do the DNS server names do and why are they necessary?

When you register a domain name the authority for management of that domain is delegated to you. The DNS identifiers are defined in the registration record for your domain (DNS names and IP addresses - usually two but can be more) and are maintained in one of a number of centralised DNS that every DNS is the world uses. When your local DNS looks for a name, say, www.example.com and cannot find it locally, it will ask one of these centralised DNS for the information. The centralised DNS will supply back the name and IP address of the DNS which contains the 'authoritative' information for your domain. The local DNS will then interrogate the 'authoritative' DNS for the domain ('example.com') for the specific service or server, for instance, www.example.com and get back the IP address of the requested service or server. The reason for having more than one DNS is for redundancy purposes. A single DNS may become overloaded or even break down, so if the first DNS is not available the second is tried then the third (if present) and so on.

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How do I change my domain name information?

To change your domain information you must go to the Registrar with whom you registered the domain name and follow their procedure for Change or Modification. Remember that before any change is effective the Administration contact will have to authorize it via e-mail or the AUTHENTICATION scheme selected when the domain name was originally registered.

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What must I do to change my web site (or e-mail) provider?

You must change your domain name record to point to the DNS servers of your new ISP, or service provider or an in-house DNS. Generally your ISP will carry out the changes but you as the administrator contact must authorize them. See here for domain name changes and here for additional information if you are thinking about using different suppliers for e-mail and web.

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How do I register a domain in Malaysia (or any other country)?

ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) maintains a list of current ccTLD (country code Top Level Domains) registration authorities for all participating countries including .tv!

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Who is responsible for Domain Names?

The organization responsible for all Top Level Domains is ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), now an independent non-profit corporation. ICANN sets the rules for domain name disputes, authorizes new gTLDs and delegates (or subcontracts) the registration process to 'accredited' Registrars for gTLDs and to specific country agencies for ccTLDs.

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How do I register a .edu (.gov or .mil or .int) name?

The .edu gTLD is available only for educational institutions in the United States granting four year degrees and is handled exclusively via EDUCAUSE, Inc.

The .gov gTLD is reserved exclusively for the United States Government.

The .mil gTLD is reserved exclusively for use by the United States Military.

The .int gTLD is reserved exclusively for organisations created by international treaties and may be registered here.

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How do I check my (or some else's) registration information?

Most registrarsoperate a search facility that will let you know if a specific domain name is a vailable or not (use this list of registrars for gTLDs (.com etc) and this for Canadian registrars. The alternative method especially if you will be checking frequently is to use a 'whois' utility. These are widely available for download either as freeware or shareware from many locations on the web. Whois databases are available across the net and will supply the definitive registration information about any valid domain name. The Internet is no longer the friendly place it once was. Whois access services increasingly place restrictions on generic searches to limit abuse. Some limits are so draconian as to make the services essentiaally unusable.

NOTE: Be VERY cautious before downloading and installing software on your PC, ensure that it does the job that you want and satisfy yourself of its fitness for purpose.

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Is there any relationship between Internet Access and my mail or web site?

None. You can have your e-mail and web site with one ISP or service provider and get your Internet access via another. Remember you control this process! Check here if you are considering having your e-mail with one supplier and your web site with another.

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Can I have my e-mail with one supplier (ISP) and my web site with another?

This a little tricky and its depends upon your ISP. Your domain name information is 'delegated' to an 'authoritative' DNS. This DNS contains pointers (DNS A records for your web site and MX records for your Mail service) if your web and e-mail are with different suppliers then one of them must have the 'authoritative' DNS and must be prepared to add a record pointing to another ISPs site. Not all ISPs will do this (remember the DNS gets traffic - resolution requests - which someone has to pay for).

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What are the names of all the gTLDs?

Until 16th November, 2000 the following was the complete list of gTLDs.

.com No restrictions. Conventionally used by commercial enterprises.
.net No restrictions. Conventionally used by network providers (e.g. ISPs)
.mil Restricted to US Military only.
.gov Restricted to US Government only.
.arpa Special domain used for reserve mapping (Names to numbers) not available for registration.
.int Restricted to organisations created by International treaty.
.edu Restricted to certain US colleges.
.org Restricted to non-profit organisations but may be otherwise freely registered through any registrar.

The full list of Top Level Domains (TLDs) is available from ICANN/IANA.

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I thought www.example.com was my domain name.

The URL http://www.example.com is simply the name of a service (or resource). The www is the type of service (in this case www = world wide web), 'example' is the domain name part (that you register), the .com is the Top Level Domain (TLD). Once you own the domain name it is 'delegated' to you via a Domain Name Service (DNS) entry and the domain owner CONTROLS all naming to the left of 'example'. So depending on your company you could create resources (and provide public or private access) with names like myhost.example.com or uk.example.com or plant1.ca.example.com or anything you choose - and have valid DNS entries for. By convention (but only convention) the most commonly used entries are www.example.com (world wide web) and mail.example.com.

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What is a URL (or URI)?

A Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is the string of letters that define the 'location' of a resource and how to get to it, for instance, http://www.example.com is conventionally a web service for example.com using the HTTP protocol (will contain HTML). The URL is used (resolved) by a DNS and an IP address returned from an authoritative DNS for the domain example. A Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) is subtly different and is a string of letters that defines the identity of a resource and which also, usually, includes its location, for instance, in a URI of http://www.zytrax.com/isp/index.htm, the URL part is http://www.zytrax.com/isp/. A URL is always a subset of a URI.

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Problems, comments, suggestions, corrections (including broken links) or something to add? Please take the time from a busy life to 'mail us' (at top of screen), the webmaster (below) or info-support at zytrax. You will have a warm inner glow for the rest of the day.

Pro DNS and BIND by Ron Aitchison

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