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simple domain names domain names - frequently asked questions

Here are the answers to some of our frequently asked questions about domain names.

What is a domain name?

A domain name is basically a signpost on the Internet. Almost every website you've ever been to, and every email you've ever composed, has used a domain name in its address.

People register domain names in order to 'stake a claim' to a particular name - whether for business or personal reasons. Once a domain name is registered to a person or company, it is that person's to use exclusively as long as they continue to pay the yearly renewal fee and abide by the terms of use.

Types of domain

  • Top-Level Domain (TLD)
    The portion of a traditional domain name that comes after the dot. So, in microsoft.com, the top-level domain is .com. The generic top-level domains (gTLDs) are .com, .net and .org; there are also country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) such as .uk and .ca.

  • Second-Level Domain (SLD)
    The portion of a traditional domain name that comes before the dot. So, in ba.com, the second level domain is ba.

  • Generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD)
    gTLDs are top-level domains that are not associated with any country. Currently, the only gTLDs in existence are .com, .net and .org. Originally, the top level domain designation was meant to denote whether the domain name was being used for business (.com), charity/non-profit (.org), or for a network (.net). However, with the explosion of the Internet (and specifically, the world wide web) as a new business medium, the lines were blurred, and companies and individuals alike started cross-registering domains (ie. me.com, me.net, me.org) just to protect their interests. Now, .com, .net, and .org names (the generic Top Level Domains) can be used for any purpose.

  • Country Code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD)
    Every country (and a few territories) in the world has a reserved, two letter country code domain that is theirs to use as they see fit. Some countries run their own ccTLD registry (such as .uk), others outsource it to a private company, and still others sell rights to their ccTLD to third parties to run as they see fit. Examples of ccTLDs are .ca (Canada), .us (United States), and .uk (United Kingdom). In general, these are registered by businesses with a coincidental link to the TLD in question. For example: .to is used more by Torontonians than Tongans and .tv has more American television content than native Tuvalu culture.
What are nameservers?

When someone visits your website, or sends you an e-mail, their Internet Service Provider (ISP) checks your domain name to find out where it is hosted.

Every domain name must have at least two Internet addresses that tell ISPs where it is hosted. These are called nameserver records.

If your domain is registered with simplewebhosting.co.uk or simpledomainnames.co.uk, its nameserver records are usually:

ns1.simpledns.co.uk
ns2.simpledns.co.uk

ns1.simpledns.co.uk and ns2.simpledns.co.uk are internet servers called nameservers. Their job is to direct ISPs to the specific server on our network that looks after your website or e-mail.

To change your hosting provider you need to change your domain name's nameserver records.

Who is ICANN?

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the non-profit corporation that was formed to assume responsibility for the IP address space allocation, protocol parameter assignment, domain name system management, and root server system management functions previously performed under U.S. Government contract by IANA and other entities.

For more information about ICANN, please visit: http://www.icann.org

Who is Nominet?

Nominet operate at the heart of e-commerce in the UK, running one of the world's largest Internet registries and managing over six million domain names.

Nominet maintain the register of .uk domain names and run the technology which locates a computer on the Internet hosting the web site or email system you're looking for when you type in a web address or send an email that ends in .uk.

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