Internet Domain Names

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Domain Names are public labels we put on our web sites:, and are all examples of domain names. If you type a valid domain into the address bar of your favorite browser and press the enter key you will, through the magic of the internet, be connected to that web site.

But what makes 'your' domain name truly yours?

It turns out that there are a number of companies around the world who will allow you to create a new, unique domain name. They work together to guarantee that new domain names are unique and to maintain accurate information about who 'owns' ('rents' would probably be a better description) each domain. These activities are overseen and coordinated through an association know as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (or ICANN). Their URL is

If you established 'your' web site with a hosting service chances are they coordinated the creation of your domain name for you when you first contacted them to set up your web site. And you are probably completely unaware of the steps they take to maintain 'your' domain name on your behalf.

But what happens if you want to move your web site to a different hosting provider, or even host it on your own server?

It turns out that you can transfer the administration of your domain name to any of a number of companies who perform this service for an annual fee (that is why you really are 'renting' your domain name).

Note that this has no impact on traffic to your web site... Transferring the administration of your domain name is just, well, an administrative thing. 

Transferring a domain name sounds daunting but it really is a simple process.

  • You select the Registrar you want to use (look for information about Registrars on the ICANN web site)
  • Go to their web site and provide the information they require about your domain. You will need to obtain some information about your existing domain through your existing Registrar. The things you need to know include: Your domain name,  your hosting companies namesever IP Addresses and your authorization code.
  • They will initiate some email messages to the currently registered 'owner' of the domain name (this prevents malicious transfers of domain names)
  • Once the owner responds with their approval the transfer will occur (this usually take a few days)

That's there is to it! From that point forward you just need to be sure to keep your contact information up to date and pay the annual fee (currently less than $10 US per domain).

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