You can jump right to the answer, or you can get there by reading through these related frequently asked questions:
Question: What is a domain name?
Answer: An address on the World Wide Web (Internet) like www.mybusiness.com (for example, www.microsoft.com).
Question: What are the names that end with something other than .com?
Answer: The internet started as a network to link together groups doing research for the US military. The original domains were the name of the group used followed by a suffix to indicate the type of group. Commercial businesses were given the suffix .COM, educational institutions the suffix .EDU, the companies building the network the suffix .NET, other organization the suffix .ORG, and other than .MIL (US Military) and .GOV (US Government) that was about it. The suffix at end of a domain name is officially called the Top Level Domain (TTL). As other countries joined the internet, each country was assigned a Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTTL). For example, .CA for Canada, .UK for the United Kingdom, etc. There has always been a .US ccTTL, but originally only state and local government government could use them, now they are open to all US residents.
As the internet exploded, everyone in the world wanted to be a .COM and soon it became hard to find a names that hadn't been taken. And now we find that many of those that weren't taken were bought up on speculation, in the hope someone will pay a premium for them.
To give you more choices in domain name they opened it up so that any United States citizen could register a domain with a .US TTL. In addition they added a few new general TTL's. One which you might consider in addition to .US is the .BIZ TTL. There are also two country code TTL's under which domain names can be registered just like general TTL's. They are .TV (Tuvalu) and .CC (Cocos Islands).
However, if you're looking for a domain name, I recommend getting a .COM name if at all possible. If you tell someone you have a website, most are just going to assume it is a .COM site.
Question: What about capitol letters in domain names? Would they help make my name unique?
Answer: No, domain names and eMail addresses are NOT case sensitive. You can put capitol letters in them to make them easier for a human to read, but it doesn't matter how you type them. Note: This applies to entire eMail addresses (case does matter anywhere in the address) but it only applies to the domain name part of a URL.
is the same as
but after that most URLs (although not all) ARE case sensitive. Therefore, you could not type http://www.cherryfield.us/BlueHeron if the URL was really http://www.cherryfield.us/blueheron
Question: I give up, What's a URL?
Answer: A Universal Resource Locator ... in other words, the address of an individual web page under a domain. (That web page may be the start of a another whole whole website, but that's just a detail to confuse you some more.)
Question: Why should I get my own domain name when a website on Cherryfield.US costs less and involves less hassle.
Answer: You're right, it's less effort to setup a website on Cherryfield.US and cost less.
However, there are some advantages to having your own domain:
On the other hand the advantages of starting with a site on Cherryfield.US are:
Remember, you want a web address that's easy for your (potential?) customers to remember with ease. You also want an address that's not too long or difficult to type. Millions of domain names are already taken, so unless your business has a very unusual name you're not going to by able to get your first choice in domain names. If your choice is not available, try adding hyphens or "Maine" to the name.
Question: What does it cost to have my own domain?
Answer: There is an annual registration fee which is now under $10/year if you use one of the more aggressive registrars (See below for some recommendations.)
In addition to this you have to pay someone to host your website on an internet server. This is what Cherryfield.net does for you. Our machine is located in the Washington, D.C. area where it has very high speed access to the backbone of the internet.
Typical prices for hosting range from $8 to $50 per month, depending on how much big and how active your site is. Cherryfield.net's prices are very competative. For most sites the cost of hosting your own domain on Cherryfield.net is $150 year including "support credits" and local training classes.
Bottom line: it costs about $5 more per month to have your own domain as opposed to just hosting your website on Cherryfield.US
Question: How do I find what domain names are available?
Answer: Use one of the Domain Name Registrars, here are few options:
I've used them all, but lately I have found that GoDaddy has by far the lowest prices ($5-9/year, as opposed to the $15-35/year that the others charge). I've been happy with GoDaddy ... even if it is a little hard to take a company with that name seriously.
If you go to GoDaddy, you'll see a box labeled "Search for a Domain Name". Fill in the name you would like and click GO. It will tell you if your choice is available, and if the .COM name is not available if any of the other suffixes are. If not try something else. Pretty soon it will start making suggestions for you ... sometimes these are actually useful suggestions.
Question: How do I register the domain name I want?
Answer: Each registrar is a little different, but once you find one you like just get out your credit card and start the registration process. Choose how many years you want to register for (if your expect to remain in business and like your choice of domain names, choose a longer time period ... they discount the price, but more important you don't have to worry about someone hi-jacking your domain if you forget to renew your registration. Of course if you choose 10 years like I tend to, by the time you do have to renew you'll forget you ever had to renew ... I know you'll blame me then, but at least I can say I told you so :)
One question you will need to answer is about hosting. It may be worded differently, but basically you want to choose the "host my domain elsewhere" option. When choosing this option you also need to fill in the names of two DNS severs. When hosting with Cherryfield.net, you want to fill in:
DNS Server 1: ns1.cherryfield.net
DNS Server 2: ns2.cherryfield.net
(DNS stands for Domain Name Server ... they're the machines that tell all the other millions of machines on the internet how to find your domain. As you see, Cherryfield.net has its own Domain Name Servers.
That's about all there is to it.
Oh, one last tip. The last couple of times I've registered with GoDaddy.com and they have tried to add all kinds of extras. Assuming you're not hosting with them you don't need any (except for maybe the private listing ... but if you don't have an unlisted phone number why do you need that? Everyone can find you (just go to Google and type in your name and zip code) ... it's not a big deal. Once the courts get through messing with the do-not-call list, I'm sure the polititcians will institute a do-not-email list (or you can use the filters Cherryfield.net has to eliminate most of your junk mail).
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