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What's in a (Domain) Name?

When looking at a domain name, you will often see a ".com" on the end of it. However, it's not uncommon to see a ".net", a ".org" or something else on the end. These are referred to as "Top Level Domains" or TLDs. Many people don't know what the difference in these are or why there are different TLDs used. There are specific reasons why there are .coms, .nets, .orgs etc in use. Some of these TLDs can be registered by anyone, while others have certain restrictions on them. Here's a look at some of the more common TLDs.

  • .com: Originally was meant for businesses, but now can be registered by anyone and is used by businesses, individuals, schools and many others. It is the most commonly used TLD.
  • .net: Similarly to the .com, it was originally intended for use by technology companies, but now can be registered by anyone. This is probably the second most widely used TLD.
  • .org: While the .org is available for anyone to register, it is still mainly used for non-profit organizations as it was originally intended for.
  • .edu: This TLD is limited to educational institutions, such as schools and colleges.
  • .gov: The .gov TLD is used for all US government agencies.
  • .biz: The .biz was created as an alternative to the .com and so is aimed mostly at commercial businesses although it is open for anyone to be able to register.
  • .mobi: This must be used for sites made for mobile devices such as cell phones.

Countries other than the US also have their own country code domains, similar to the country codes required for dialing an international phone number. The requirements for using country codes varies, but they are mostly used for websites intended for the particular country. Examples of the country codes are as follows:

  • .au: Australia
  • .br: Brazil
  • .ca: Canada
  • .cn: China
  • .de: Germany
  • .mx: Mexico
  • .nz: New Zealand
  • .uk: United Kingdom

It isn't uncommon for the same domain to be registered with several TLDs, so you might see mydomain.com, mydomain.net and mydomain.org all registered by the same company. Companies will often do this to prevent others from registering under a similar name and protect their own interests.

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