Domain Names

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Domain Names

What is a “domain name”?

Domain names are the addresses of the Internet, like or A domain name is part of a URL or “Universal Resource Locator;” an Internet Address. Each user on the Internet is identified by a unique IP address, consisting of four bytes (or 32 bits) from 0 to 255 separated by periods, such as To avoid remembering such an unwieldy address, a domain name is used instead. When you type a domain name into your browser, it first looks it up in a “domain name server” or DNS, which is like a registry or telephone book that associates the name with the correct IP address.

What are the parts of the domain name?

The final piece of a domain name, the “.com” or “.net” suffix, is called the “top-level domain” or TLD. There are only a few TLD suffixes that are currently used. The middle portion of the domain name is called the “second-level domain”, “sub-domain” or SLD. This is usually the key piece of information that describes the site. The first part of the domain name, the “www.” or “email.” is typically used as the name of the computer hosting the information, and is often used to designate a communications protocol, such as www (for HTML) or ftp (for ‘file transfer protocol’).

What top domains are allowed?

Only seven designations, called “generic” TLDs, are used in the USA. These are:


· .com commercial use

· .int international organizations

· .net a network

· .org an organization, usually non-profit


· .gov US government

· .edu 4-year educational institution

· .mil US military


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... Consider registering common misspellings as well.

· Position yourself differently from your net competitors.

· Be aware of trademark laws if you intend to trademark your name. If it is merely a contact address, or is descriptive like “”, it will not be trademark protected. There are numerous other pitfalls, and most domain names do not qualify as protected trademarks.

Where can I learn more?

An excellent, comprehensive book covering every aspect of domain names was published in 1998 by Ellen and Peter Rony, called The Domain Name Handbook. The table of contents, updates to the book, and many excellent links to domain name news can be found at A slightly outdated beginners guide to registering domain names is found at, and some useful related info can be found at

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