If you don’t know what a domain name registrar is, you’re in good company. Not many people do. But, if you own or run a business, and you need a website and email, a domain name registrar is necessary. I call it “the master key.” – all Internet services related to your business are controlled through your registrar.

So, what is a domain name registrar?

Everyone’s familiar with the dot-coms, dot-nets, and dot-orgs of the Internet. Those letters, to the right of the dot, are called top-level domains. To the left of the dot is the domain name. The most famous of which is Google.com.

Registrars are authorized companies that sell domain names. For instance, if your company name is, let’s say, ViaThought Industries, Inc., You might want to be known on the internet as viathought.com. First, you go to a registrar’s website such as Network Solutions, or Register.com. You look to see if viathought.com is available for purchase. If it is, you set up an account and buy the domain name. Congratulations, you’ve started the journey. Now, it’s important to keep your new account login information in a safe, accessible place. If you lose it, you won’t be able to set up web services for email or a website – called DNS settings.

Welcome to the DNS

The web is essentially a series of connected computers, also known as servers. Your website is on a server. Your emails are sent to and stored on a server. Each server is assigned a unique number, similar to a phone number, called an I.P. address. The DNS (Domain Name System) is what ensures that when someone types viathought.com into their browser, they end up at the server that hosts viathought.com or its email. It’s similar to when you tell Siri to “call mom.” Siri knows your mom’s phone number, so you don’t have to. (Okay, of course, you know it, she’s your mother!)

The DNS Is the master key

When you buy a domain name, it’s not connected to any servers. When you choose a website host and email provider, you’ll log into your registrar account and edit what’s called “DNS settings.” This step starts a process called propagation. Within a few hours, your email is working and your new website shows up at viathought.com. Time to celebrate!

Danger, Will Robinson!

Domain name registrars don’t make money from registering domains. Domain names are too few and too cheap, so when you buy a domain, they will hammer you with offerings for other services such as web and email hosting. My advice: Don’t purchase any of those services when buying your domain name. They’re not bad per se, but they might not be right for your needs. Talk with someone (like me) who can help you make the right Internet service choices for your business.

Let me help you.

The web is a complicated place. When you’re ready to build your first – or fifth website, give me a call. I’ll make the whole process as easy as saying, “Hey Siri, build me a website.”