FAQs

What is a domain name?
Aren’t domain names supposed to have "www" in them?
How do I find who my domain is registered through?
What is a Whois listing?
What is the difference between a .com, a .net, a .org etc?
What is a subdomain?
What exactly is DNS and what does it do?
What is an A record?
What is an MX record?
What is an SPF record?

 

What is a domain name?
 
A domain name is basically your identity on the internet. It is like your name and address all in one. Without domain names, the only way to get around the internet would be by using IP addresses, and it is much more difficult to remember a set of numbers like 199.6.60.50 than it is mydomain.com. Computers work well with numbers, people work well with words. Domains are used for websites and also for email. Your website might be mydomain.com, and your email might be jdoe@mydomain.com. In both examples, the “mydomain.com” is the domain name.

Aren’t domain names supposed to have “www” in them?
 
An actual domain name does not have a “www” in it. The “www” part is often used with the website of a domain, but is not part of the actual domain itself. When you register a domain, you register it as “mydomain.com” only, but your website might be www.mydomain.com (or it may just be mydomain.com or both may in fact work).

How do I find who my domain is registered through?
 
The company that a domain is registered through is known as a domain registrar. A domain registrar can be found by performing a whois lookup on the domain. There are many sites that provide a whois lookup. One website that can do this can be found here. On this site you can type the domain name into either the “Domain Info” field or the “Whois Lookup(Domain)” field. For a .org site you usually have to go to pir.org and enter in the .org domain there to get any information on the registrar. Here is an example of the registrar on a whois.

Whois Example

The “Registrar of Record” shows TUCOWS, INC. This is the registrar of the domain. However, Tucows doesn’t register domains directly to end-users, so the domains are sold through a “Registration Service Provider” which for this domain is “WWW Internet Solutions, Inc” or ISOCNET. ISOCNET would be the first point of contact for the person or company registering the domain.

What is a Whois listing?
 
A Whois listing contains information about the owner of a domain and other information associated with the particular domain such as when it was first registered and when it expires. It is important that the information listed in the Whois is up to date and valid. The administrative contact in particular needs to remain valid and is used when information needs to be sent to someone at the domain or for other tasks such as transferring a domain to a different registrar.

What is the difference between a .com, a .net, a .org etc?
 
These days there is not that much difference between a .com, a .net or any other domain extension. Originally they were used to differentiate between what the domain was being used for. .com was for businesses (commercial) .net was for a technology based business and .org was for non-profit type organizations. Now many companies and individuals will register a .com, a .net and a .org domain all at once to protect their own interests.

Additionally, different countries have their own domain extensions that signify which country they are from. Canada has .ca, Mexico has .mx, Australia has .au and so on.

What is a subdomain?
 
A subdomain adds an extra level to a domain name. If you have a domain of “mydomain.com” then a subdomain of that might be “corporate.mydomain.com”. Subdomains are commonly used to assign unique names for a particular part of a network or website. A company might have a public website that uses the main domain, and then a company only section of the website that uses a subdomain.

What is DNS?
 
DNS (Domain Name System or Domain Name Server) translates domain names meaningful to humans into the numerical (binary) identifiers associated with networking equipment for the purpose of locating and addressing these devices world-wide. An often used analogy to explain the Domain Name System is that it serves as the “phone book” for the Internet by translating human-friendly computer domain names into IP addresses.

What is an A record?
 
An A record will directly translate a domain name into an IP address.

Example: isoc.net has an A record of 67.96.0.250. When you type isoc.net into a browser, the browser knows to go to the IP address of 67.96.0.250. because of the DNS.

What is an MX record?
 
An MX record defines where to send any email sent to the domain. MX records don’t use IP addresses, but rather a domain name.

Example: The MX record for isoc.net is mailin.isoc.net. So when someone sends an email to an email address at isoc.net, the MX records tells it to send it to the server mailin.isoc.net. However, as computers use numbers rather than words, just like any other domain, mailin.isoc.net also needs an A record so computers and servers know what IP address mailin.isoc.net is located at. So an additional A record is created for mailin.isoc.net that points to the IP address of 65.90.81.50.

What is an SPF record?
 
SPF (Sender Policy Framework) is an authentication protocol designed to help fight spam. It works by checking to see whether email really comes from who it says it comes from in the email header. SPF works by adding additional information in a domain’s DNS (Domain Names Server) record specifying which machines may legitimately send email for that domain. When mail servers receive email, they can check which computers are authorized to send mail for the domain of the email address in the From: field, and see if this message actually came from one of those authorized computers. If it did, the message is assumed to be legitimate and allowed through. If it did not, or if it is questionable, the receiving mail server can accept the message, mark it and accept it, or refuse to receive it.