If you want to get a Domain Name (Internet address) such as x.com, x.org, x.net, or x.ca (Canadian domain) for your Website address, you will need to register it with a "registrar" and then buy web hosting for the domain, usually for a one year period. (Registering for 10 years will prevent forgetting - getting back an "expired" domain is a lot of work.) Domain names usually cost very little per year, but Website hosting features/costs vary widely, so shop around. How to Choose a Web Host (by Christopher Heng, thesitewizard.com)
What is a domain name?
A domain name, such as yahoo.com or microsoft.com, is the name of an electronic network. Most domains are "virtual domains", hosted by a service company on their system (you don't have to buy your own Web server to have a domain name). One domain might include hundreds of machines or just one. (Details about domain name procedures)
Should you get your own domain?
With a domain name, your Website address is permanent - a good idea for any organization. As long as you pay the registration fee, your Web address never changes (changing your Web host is entirely invisible). Free Web space you get with a personal Internet account should never be used for commercial Websites. If you don't want a domain or Website, you can usually get a basic Web page in a local business site or community directory at low cost. Free Web space you get with your email account should never be used for commercial Websites.
How to get a domain
1&1.com has a "starter" package that includes almost everything the average business needs: a domain (registered), multiple email accounts, PHP, FTP, etc. - all for about $60 per year. They also provide great phone support - most cheap packages offer only email support.
Choosing A Domain Name
Businesses usually want a .COM name, followed by .ORG or .NET. These domain names are open to anyone, but you will find that many names are already taken. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN.ORG) authorizes new Internet domain suffixes. .CA domain names are administered by the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA.CA). For .CA you must use a CIRA-authorized registrars or resellers and purchase is restricted to Canadian citizens or companies. This is the usual next choice when Canadian cannot get their .COM domain.
You must pay a registration fee to buy a domain name. Some also add a one-time setup fee. Many ISPs offer low registration fees to get you to buy their Web hosting or design services at much higher profit margins. Be wise and choose a good hosting service first.
There are dozens of country domains available, such as MD (Moldova), the British Virgin Islands (VG), and Kazakstan (KZ) and even TV!
When you register a name, set ownership to your legal name if it's a personal site or your business name (if a legal entity, otherwise your name). Domain ownership and transfers are legal operations. Use an email address that you intend to have for a long time - and try not to use the address linked to your domain unless it's the only one you have (your email will expire with it). Remember to inform the registrar (or edit your account) if you ever change the email address you registered with! The owner of the business should be the "administrative contact" for the domain so that all email about your domain, and any changes to it are in your hands. (You can always forward the emails to someone else for action.)
Protect Your Domain
Scam criminals have attempted to obtain Account Numbers and Passwords from domain registrants by sending misleading email notices or even postal mail. Legitimate companies do not send postal mail for renewal - they send an email notice to the email address you registered with. Most will send you a renewal a month or two before the expiry date asking you to renew. NEVER click on a "link" in an email. Login to your online account to renew. Some ISP's renew automatically to your credit card unless you cancel in advance. When in doubt, dig out the original email they sent explaining your account. Read about "Phishing" for more information.
If you fell for one of these emails, or typed your Account Number and Password, contact your registrar immediately. You may obtain the name of your registrar at whois.cira.ca/public for .CA domains and NetworkSolutions.com/whois for all others.
Check Unused Domains!
You bought your domain name for your business, but haven't gotten around to getting a website. You are secure in the knowledge that the domain is like a property deed in cyberspace - or is it? Check those domains regularly to see what's there!
According to an article in Canadian Technology & Business by George Butters, a small New Brunswick gallery registered www.beaverbrookartgallery.org through Expiry Corporation of Vancouver, a reseller for U.S. registrar Enom. Since the gallery wasn't using the site, their home page was rented out to an "adult" site. When queried by the gallery, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) said a registrar is NOT in violation of the ICANN accreditation agreement by using a domain name without the registered owwner's knowledge or permission, to host porn for the registrar's profit. The photos of young women and porn links are gone now, but it makes you wonder if ICANN has lost control.
Domain name registration is now done by private businesses called registrars, resulting in a new problem - domain name disputes.
The Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), was mandated for all registrars dealing in the .com,.net and .org domain names. Information is available at ICANN.ORG/udrp/udrp-policy-24oct99.htm. In the U.S., registrar Network Solutions Inc. enable clients to resolve domain duplication disputes online.
Once you have a Website designed, you need a place to put it - a Web hosting company provides this service. You should probably choose your hosting company first for services and price, then buy both domain and hosting from them. This simplifies everything - one account and one invoice for all your website services.
Commercial services charge from $6 to $200 per month for hosting depending on Website size (megabytes), throughput (megabyes per month), reliability, backup servers and additional services such as email, webmail, spam filters, mail forms, site statistics, counters, etc. Total for domain registration and web hosting with several email accounts for a small business should start at $100 CAD per year.
Free web hosting: ROXER at www.roxer.com was recommended by Neat Net Tricks e-letter. You create and edit your Web page from your browser - no download or expertise required. Plus, they host it for free! (For ANY free hosting, check privacy and advertising policy.)
If you want to support a community network, get an account at www.ncf.ca and apply for a website space. They give you a "subdomain" (e.g. boating.ncf.ca) so you don't need to buy a domain. You also get free personal webspace. NCF.CA has been providing free/donation services for email, newsgroups, websites, cloud computing, forums, dialup modems, and more since 1991.
I have a domain and Web host - now what?
Once your domain is registered and your Web hosting is set up, you're ready to publish your Website. If you hire a web design service, you should register the domain yourself (it's a legal entity). The service you hire can design the Website and publish it for you.
Search Engine Applications
Once you have your Website published under your domain name, it is extremely important that you tell the world that your Website exists! You should register your new Website address with all major search engines and directories so people can find you. This should be redone every several months. Most web design services include this service, but be sure to include it in your contract.
What Does It Cost?
You may hire a web service that will take care of registering the domain, buying web hosting, creating your website and maintaining it. If you register a domain name yourself with an online registrar (company authorized to register domain names), they generally charge $20-$75 CDN annually just for registering the name! In addition, Website hosting might cost anywhere from $5 to $300 per month depending on what is included in your package, and additional services like Internet access, email accounts, CGI access, online services, high volume charges, backup servers. Credit transactions require additional levels of security. Web design costs vary widely but are usually based on hourly rates or estimates, much like any design service.