A domain name registrar is an organization authorized to create/register new domain names and renew the validity of existing domain names. The organization also ensures the transfer of the necessary information about the domain and its administrator to the Registry and does domain maintenance.
Overall, there are zone 1 registries, registrars, and registrar resellers. Each zone of first-level domains has a register, also known as a coordinator. This is the organization that stores, maintains, and provides the registrar access to the zone’s central domain database. The registry sells the right to access the zone to registrars. It is a purely technical organization that provides a programming interface (API) to registrars.
Registrars, meanwhile, work with retail clients, people. To become a registrar, you must meet various stringent registry requirements.
Registrar resellers buy low, sell high. Often registrars also provide a software interface (API) to resellers, which allows them to hide from the user the fact that he or she is not buying the domain from first hands.
What does it mean to register the domain?
Registration starts with an appeal to the registrar or a reseller; it’s like coming to the store and saying, I want to buy this or that domain. If this domain already belongs to someone (perhaps it was purchased through another registrar, as there is only one registry), then tough luck.
You can check if a domain is free on WHOIS even without an intention to buy it. Note that sometimes a domain will belong to someone but there won’t be a website on it.
When you register a domain, you purchase two main things:
- The formal temporary ownership of the domain. The closest analogy here is renting an apartment.
- Access to any changes to the domain’s NS servers.
As soon as you register a domain, it is practically all yours, information about the owner is stored in the registry. In case of problems with the registrar, you can transfer the domain to another one, still owning the domain at all stages of the transfer.
All registries register domains for at least 1 year (in the CO.UK zone for 2). After this period, the domain registration must be renewed. Renewal usually costs somewhat more than registration.
Domain registration parameters
Website visitors find it hard to remember the numerical address of a site, which is why the DNS (Domain Name System) was created. It associates names like www.example.com with digital addresses (such as 126.96.36.199) that computers use to communicate with each other.
To connect your website to the domain name you’ve purchased, you must specify the DNS servers on which the server (hosting) your site is located on is indicated. DNS servers look like this:
There are three ways to set up DNS:
- Registrar DNS. In this case, you will need to fully configure the DNS zone just like in the third option.
- The hosting provider’s DNS. In this case, the hosting provider will do all the preliminary DNS setup sufficient for the normal functioning of your site.
- Third party DNS. You can specify DNS parameters via a third-party DNS server, for example, Google Public DNS.
Bear in mind that you can also register a domain privately if you choose. This way the domain owner’s info is hidden in WHOIS and you maintain your privacy.
Domain registration vs hosting
Domain and hosting are basic services without which it is impossible to create a website on the Internet. What is the difference between a domain and hosting? The domain is the online address of the site, while hosting is the space on which it “lives.” To create a website, you need to both register a domain and purchase a hosting service.
How to point registered domain to hosting?
If the domain and hosting provider are in different companies, then you need to link the domain manually. It’s easy. Here’s what you need to do:
- Log in to your personal account on the website of the company where your domain name is registered.
- Go to settings.
- Add in the DNS of your hosting provider. Usually this information can be found in the letter that you received from the provider when purchasing hosting or somewhere in the hosting’s settings. You can also check your hosting provider’s website for instructions.
- That’s it! You only have to wait a bit, since the DNS change doesn’t happen instantly. The process can take up to 24 hours.