DNS (Domain Name System)
The Internet was built on the notion that any computer on
a global network can be identified by its numeric Internet
Protocol (IP) address. But since people, and not machines,
are the primary users of the Internet, a more
people-friendly naming system called the Domain Name
System (DNS) was invented. DNS maps a host name like
www.DomainProcessor.com to the IP address of the machine that
hosts the DomainProcessor web site. For example, DNS actually maps
the host name www.DomainProcessor.com to the IP address
DNS is built upon the notion that some server's are
'authoritative' (meaning, knows all there is to know) for
certain domains. A distributed name server hierarchy,
beginning with the A Root Server and ending at the
thousands of nameservers active on the Internet, ensures
that the naming and directing system works the same from
A domain name is essentially a signpost on the Internet.
Almost every website you've ever been to, and every email
you've ever composed, has used a domain name in its
People register domain names in order to 'stake a claim'
to a particular name -- whether for business or personal
reasons. Once a domain name is registered to a person or
company, it is that person's to use exclusively as long as
they continue to pay the yearly renewal fee and abide by
Level Domain (TLD)
The portion of a traditional domain name that comes
after the dot. So, in DomainProcessor.com, the top level domain
is .com. The generic top level domains (gTLDs) are .com,
.net and .org; there are also country code top level
domains (ccTLDs) such as .ca, or .uk.
Second Level Domain (SLD)
The portion of a traditional domain name that comes
before the dot. So, in DomainProcessor.com, the second level
domain is DomainProcessor.
Generic Top Level Domain (gTLD)
gTLDs are top level domains that are not associated with
any country. Currently, the only gTLDs in existence are
.com, .net and .org. Originally, the top level domain
designation was meant to denote whether the domain name
was being used for business (.com), charity/non-profit
(.org), or for a network (.net). However, with the
explosion of the Internet (and specifically, the world
wide web) as a new business medium, the lines were
blurred, and companies and individuals alike started
cross-registering domains (ie. me.com, me.net, me.org)
just to protect their interests. Now, .com, .net, and
.org names (the generic Top Level Domains) can be used
for any purpose.
Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD)
Every country (and a few territories) in the world has a
reserved, two letter country code domain that is theirs
to use as they see fit. Some countries run their own
ccTLD registry, others outsource it to a private
company, and still others sell rights to their ccTLD to
third parties to run as they see fit.
Examples of ccTLDs are .ca (Canada), .us (United
States), and .to (Tonga). In general, these are
registered by businesses with a coincidental link to the
TLD in question.
For example: .to is used more by Torontonians than
Tongans and .tv has more American television content
than native Tuvalu culture.
See also, DNS.
A "Registrar" (or "Domain Name
Registrar") is an organization that has control over the granting of
domains within certain TLDs (top level domains, like the
generic .com/.org/.net or country-specific .ca/.us/.mx
The 'Registry' is the system backend that is maintained by
the operators of the TLD. Registrar's write new names to a
central registry database, from which the authoritative
root (essentially, a table of all domain names) is built.
In the case of .com, .net and .org, the InterNIC runs the
registry, and qualified registrars have shared access to
it. In the case of many ccTLDs, the registry and registrar
functions are combined within one entity.
A registrant is the person or company who registers a
domain name. For example, John Smith registers the name johnsmith.com,
therefore John Smith is the registrant.
Domains are leased on an annual basis, and need to be
renewed once the current payment for the lease expires. If
a domain is registered on April 15, 2000 and prepaid for
one year, it will be due for renewal on April 15, 2001, at
which point the registrant either pays for additional
years, or lets the name expire. Domains can also be
pre-paid for multiple years, up to a maximum of 10 years.
The term 'transfer' has been used to describe various
kinds of domain name transfers. Traditionally, simply
changing the nameservers providing name service for a
domain was considered a transfer. Nowadays, such a
modification is more rightly called a modification, and
the term 'transfer' describes the transfer of a domain
from one registrar to another.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)
is the non-profit corporation that was formed to assume
responsibility for the IP address space allocation,
protocol parameter assignment, domain name system
management, and root server system management functions
previously performed under U.S. Government contract by
IANA and other entities.
For more information about ICANN, please visit: http://www.icann.org
The InterNIC maintains the root domain registry,
containing nameserver and registrar information for all
.com, .net and .org domains. When an end user registers a
domain name through registrar, the registrar updates it's
own database with the full WHOIS information, and passes
select domain information up to the root registry.
Nameservers (or Domain Name Servers) are the machines that
perform the DNS function, containing zone files listing
all the hosts on their network, and their corresponding IP
addresses. If a nameserver is unable to determine which IP
address a given hostname (i.e. www.DomainProcessor.com) should map
to, it will at least be able to point to another
nameserver, which will either contain the information, or
pass the request on until the correct nameserver is found.
The Uniform Dispute Resolution policy is a document which
governs how domain name disputes will be resolved within
the gTLD namespace. It defines the conditions under which
a genuine dispute may arise, and provides guidelines for
administrative proceedings to settle the issue, outside of
a court where possible. All registrants registering
domains through DomainProcessor or through other registration
sites are bound
by the UDRP. Click
here to view the UDRP.
One service often closely associated with domain names is
web site hosting. The World Wide Web is a massive
collection of web sites, all hosted on computers (called
web servers) all over the world. Because of the web's
uniquely global nature, a web site should be accessible 24
hours a day, seven days a week. Rather than pay to have a
24/7 dedicated Internet connection to an in-house
webserver, many people opt to host their sites with a web
hosting provider. Web hosting clients simply upload their
web sites to a shared (or dedicated) webserver, which the
ISP maintains to ensure a constant, fast connection to the
WHOIS databases contain nameserver, registrar, and in some
cases, full contact information about a domain name. Each
registrar must maintain a WHOIS database containing all
contact information for the domains they 'host'. A central
registry WHOIS database is maintained by the InterNIC.
This database contains only registrar and nameserver
information for all .com, .net and .org domains.
To learn more about the WHOIS, please follow this link: