What is a Domain Name?

What is a Domain Name?

As a beginner you might have questions like “what is domain?, How do domains work? or what is the Difference Between Domain Name and URL?

Here’s a simplest answer, just take a look at the top of the screen. You can see that part at the top of your browser window in the URL bar which starts with “https://” in the address bar. The second part of this URL is the Domain.
In our case ‘pcheaven.in‘ is the domain name.

At a glance

A domain name basically provides your website a physical address. It is similar to a GPS that needs a street address or a zipcode to provide directions, and in the same way web browser needs a domain name to direct you to a website.

What is a Domain Name
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Domain Name

A domain name is unique user-friendly address used to access the websites. For ex ‘twitter.com’, and ‘facebook.com’ Users are routed to websites using domain names which is possible because of DNS system.

Every website has a complicated but unique series of numbers called an IP address and a domain name helps you to reach the IP address, used to access a website.

A domain name essentially has two main elements. As in the domain name Facebook.com there is website’s name (Facebook) and the domain name extension (.com).

Difference Between Domain Name and URL

A (URL) Uniform Resource Locator is a complete address of a website which is used to find a particular web page and contains domain name as well as other information including protocol and the path.
While domain name is a part of the URL and is the simpler form of a computer’s IP address.

If someone wants to visit your website without a domain name, they would have to enter the full IP address. But there is a problem with IP address that it is difficult for people to memorize or to include any advertising materials.

For example, in the URL ‘https://pcheaven.in/website/what-is-a-domain-name/’, ‘pcheaven.in’ is the domain name, while ‘https’ is the protocol and ‘/website/what-is-a-domain-name/’ is the path to a specific page of that website.

How do Domains work?

Let’s talk about the working of domains. What exactly happens when someone searches a website’s domain name into their browsers?

We all know that internet is a giant web of computers. These computers are connected to each other through a network, with each computer having their own IP addresses.

All this is possible because of the DNS or Domain Name System which is a set of specialized servers that connects the domain names to the correct IP addresses.

Domain names acts as a shortcut to the server that hosts your website.
Any website that we visit consists of two main elements:

  1. Domain Name &
  2. Web Server or Web Hosting

• Users type in the domain name of any website they want to access and it then enroute the web browser to the server which stores the resources.
If people don’t have a domain name, then they would need to remember the specific IP address of your server which isn’t an easy task.

• A web server has a physical mechanism that hosts the files and the databases that the website is consists of and sends them out to people across the internet when they visit your site from their device.

Types of Domains

Now we have already defined what’s a domain name and it’s working. Let’s dig a little deeper and know more about it’s different parts.

When we read domain names from right to left, the identifiers in them go from the very general to the most specific.

Types of Domains​
image credit: pcheaven
  1. TLD Top level domains
  2. ccTLDs Country code Top level domains
  3. gTLD Generic Top level domains
  4. Second level domains
  5. Third level domains

1. Top level domains (TLD):

As it sounds, these top level domains represents the highest level of domain name in the internet’s domain name system.
The section which is to the right of the last dot in a domain name is the top-level domain (TLD).

TLDs are organised by an organisation called IANA, Internet Assigned Number Authority which was initiated in 1985.

Inspite of thousands of TLDs available in the IANA list, .com, .edu, .org and . net are most commonly used. Just .com domains only make up for the 46.5 % of the websites all over the globe.

2. Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs):

ccTLDs are country based two-letter domain, established to distinguish one country from another or are used for different geographical locations.
For example, .us for United States, .uk represents England and .au for Australia.
Some International versions of ccTLDs are also there in non-Latin alphabets like Chinese and Arabic.

3. Generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs):

It is a top level domain that is independent of country code.Most of the gTLDs are for a specific use. They are used for general purposes. There is no such criteria to register a gTLD that’s why .com may not necessarily be used only for commercial purposes.

Some more examples of gTLDs are .gov (government), .org (for non-profits and organisations), and .net, which was initially designed for internet service providers (ISPs) but is now used more widely.

4. Second Level Domain :

Within the DNS hierarchy, these domains sit directly below the top level domain. Mostly 2nd level domain often refer to the name of the company or business.
For example, in Facebook.com Facebook is the 2nd level domain and .com Top Level Domain.
On top of these there are also a country Code second level domains (ccSLD).

5. Third Level Domain :

In the domain name system it is the part of website or domain name that comes exactly before the 2nd level domain. These may also refer to sub-domains and are found to the left of SLD.
These are useful for keeping content separate from the main site and also helps to distinguish between various departments or parts of the site.

What is a Domain Name?
image credit: shutterstock

Free Domains

There are many website builders and services like WordPress.com, Squarespace, Weebly, etc. that provide you with a free domain. It is quite similar to having a sub domain as they the name of their website in your personal domain.
For example, instead of pcheaven.com it’ll be pcheaven.wordpress.com

It simply means that you don’t have your own domain, the service provider does and they profit from you indirectly that’s why it’s free for you.
But this is not recommended for long term business as you’re limited to using the website builder platform that gives you the subdomain.

Hope you enjoyed reading this detailed beginners guide on What is a Domain Name, it’s type and working.
We’ve also tried to explain the difference between a domain name and URL and the importance of domains for your websites.
For any further queries or suggestions you can write down to us below or contact us here.

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