Friday, August 14, 2009

Domain Registration Terminology


This section explains the major features of a domain name account and the things you need to be aware of with regard to their function and use. It is not necessary for you to understand in great technical detail everything there is to know about domain names, but the features described below are the ones you will encounter during the registration process, and the ones most likely to cause you trouble if they are not handled appropriately.


This is the company that the domain was purchased from. Top level registrars include Network Solutions, DirectI, etc. Many smaller companies also function as registrars by reselling domains from the top level domain providers. resells domains from DirectI who is a ICANN registrar, since they sell domains to resellers only. The registrar is also the company you pay to renew your domain name when the registration period is up. Domain names can be transferred from one registrar to another following specific rules. There are a number of domain registration scams out there which appear to be renewal notices when in fact they are registrar transfer forms. The easiest way to recognize them is to know who your registrar is and only accept renewal notices from the company you bought your domain from.

WHOIS Information

This is the basic information returned by a WHOIS query on a domain name. It contains the ownership and contact information, the registration and expiration dates, and the DNS servers for the domain. This is the information you are creating when you register your domain. You can find a WHOIS query form on most domain registrar sites, and there are also many independent WHOIS servers where you can check domain information.

Registrant or Owner Contact

This is the first contact you have to fill out, and arguably the most important, at least from a legal standpoint. The person or organization listed in this contact is considered to be the legal owner of the domain name. This can be a serious problem if a client asks their designer to purchase a domain on their behalf and the designer registers the domain with himself as the owner. It does happen, unfortunately far too often, and if a legal dispute arises over the ownership of the domain this can be very problematic. You should always make sure whenever someone else buys a domain for you that you are listed as the owner.  If we at purchase a domain name for you, you have our guarantee that you will be the designated owner of the domain.

Administrative Contact

For operational purposes, this is the single most important piece of information about your domain. Almost all of a registrar's business is done with the Administrative Contact. As you might guess, this is the person or company that has administrative rights to act on behalf of the Registrant and make changes to all aspects of the domain name, including all contacts, name servers, and sub-domains. If you lose your domain manager password, this is the person that the registrar will ask to deal with in order for you to get it back or change it. The contact information for the administrator should be kept as accurate as possible at all times, particularly the email address. The administrator's email receives all renewal notices, password reminders, and other business email from the registrar.

The number one mistake people make when registering a domain name is not keeping the administrative email address current. Many people change their email address before the registration period is up and drop the one they were using when the bought the domain. This results in failure to receive renewal notices and the inability to receive password reminders from the registrar if your password becomes lost. When that is the case, you usually have to go through a painful process involving a fax request form with a copy of a photo ID and several days of waiting to get the registrar to update your information for you. This is not fun, and if you are not patient it is not something you want to have to do. Keeping the Administrative Contact up to date is the best way to guarantee that your domain name will be quick and easy to manage whenever changes are needed.

You should always register a domain with an email address you plan to keep for a long time if at all possible. One mistake that companies often make is when an employee purchases the domain and uses his own contact information, then that employee later leaves the company, has his email address deleted, etc., and generally makes life difficult for everybody who has to manage the domain after he is gone. If you are using a company email address, it is best to use a general company address such as the one we use,, or if that is unavailable, the address of a senior employee or manager who isn't planning on changing jobs anytime soon.

Billing Contact

Fortunately this one is nice and obvious. This is the person to be contacted by the registrar regarding any billing matters for your domain name, including registrations and renewals. If the billing contact is different from the registrant or the administrator, those two contacts may also receive billing notices from the registrar if the billing contact can no longer be reached.

Technical or Zone Contact

This contact is usually the person or organization responsible for maintaining the DNS servers that resolve the domain to a website, as well as handling other technical problems related to the domain. In most cases this will be your web host, ISP, or the registrar you bought the domain from. You always have the option to change this contact to yourself or someone else of your choice, such as the website designer.

DNS or Name Servers

DNS stands for Domain Name Server (also referred to as Domain Name Service or Domain Name System). A DNS translates domain names into IP addresses. If someone wants to access dotWeavers web site (, the DNS translates the domain name into its corresponding IP address, allowing the computer to locate web server. The DNS for your domain will normally be provided by the company hosting your website, and you have to make sure that you have the correct DNS settings specified in your domain account in order for it to display your website properly. When you change hosts, you also change DNS servers, which is why you need to keep your domain manager login. If you can't change your domain's DNS settings, then you can't change hosts. The domain registrar can still change this information for you if you have no way to do it yourself, but as with changing contact information it involves a tedious fax verification process that you don't want to go through if it can be avoided.


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