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Are you thinking of setting up your own Singapore-based website or starting a blog but feeling a bit daunted by the prospect? For those new to web design, there is a lot to learn and think about – but don’t worry! In this article, we cover the first step of any web project – the domain name.
Read on to find out exactly what a Singapore domain name is and gain an in-depth look at how they work. We will explain technical terms like IP addresses, the Domain Name System (DNS), and top level domains (TLDs). We will then share some top tips on how to choose a domain name, where to purchase one, what you can expect to pay, and much much more. Are you ready to get started?
Quite simply, a domain name is the address of your website. It is the name that people type into the URL bar of their browser to find your website.
The domain name for this website, for example, is https://phenomenon.sg/
Domain names can be purchased through a domain registrar or through your hosting provider. They are also often provided for free by hosting companies or website builders.
Domain names are crucial, as they enable computers to find the server where your website is hosted. Website files can then be retrieved from that server, allowing users to access your site on their browsers.
But to fully understand this process, you first need an understanding of what an IP address is, and how the Domain Name System enables computers to translate domain names into IP addresses. Let’s find out more…
Every computer and server has its own IP address – a string of unique numbers that are separated by full stops. Computers use these IP addresses to connect and communicate with each other, and importantly find and retrieve web data.
An IP address looks something a bit like this 22.214.171.124.
However, remembering strings of numbers is not possible for most humans, which is where domain names come into play. Instead of having to type in an IP address, when someone wants to open a website they simply type the domain name into their browser.
The Domain Name System then transfers this domain name into an IP address, which is the address of the server that hosts the website. The server can then quickly be contacted, and the website served to the user.
To understand this further, let’s look in more depth at how the Domain Name System works…
Domain names are part of a much larger network called the Domain Name System (DNS). The DNS is managed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). This non-profit organization is responsible for the on-going maintenance and management of the DNS, creating policies and regulating domain registrars.
The DNS is a large network of servers that are located across the globe. These servers contain a distributed database of IP addresses and act like an address book, transferring domain names into IP addresses. Servers can then be located, and websites requested and served to browsers.
When a domain name is typed into your browser, in the first instance the computer will check its cache to see if it has previously requested that domain. If not, it will then contact the local DNS server (usually provided by the internet service provider (ISP)). If again, there are no records of this domain name in the ISP cache, then the computer will next need to locate the name servers associated with that domain.
To do so, the local DNS server will break the domain name into sections. For example, www.phenomenon.sg would be broken down into .sg, phenomenon, and www. The .sg section, known as a top-level domain (TLD), will be investigated first – the local DNS server will connect to a root name server to find out which server holds the domain information for this TLD. Once known, it will then contact this next server to find out which name server holds details on the second part of the domain name (phenomenon).
The name servers are managed by your website’s hosting provider. They contain the DNS records of given domains and map domain names to IP addresses. Once the computer has located the name servers for your website, your hosting company will forward the request to the computer where your website is hosted. The web page is then sent to the browser that initially put out the request.
Although simplified, the above should give you an idea of how the DNS works.