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A Beginner's Guide to Domain Names and DNS

Updated 31 May 2021 (Published 25 May 2015) by Miles in Business Tips

Domain Names, DNS Records, Name Servers and Hosting, you've probably heard of at least one or two of these but what do they mean and why do you need them?

A Beginner's Guide to Domain Names and DNS

Without going into how the internet works these technologies form the link between the domain name, server and ultimately the web browser.

Domain Names

A domain, or domain name, is simply the name of the website, where to tell people to go on the internet to find their website. For example, the domain name for this blog is We use domain names because they are alot easier to remember than an ip address like for example.

Domain names are similar to a business name registrations, They need to be renewed and approved by governing bodies.

Domains can be broken down into a few categories:

Top-Level Domains

This is the highest level of a domain which essentially only means there's only one dot after your chosen name. Responsibility for management of most top-level domains is delegated to specific organizations by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which operates the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA)

Descriptive top-level domains

Descriptive top level domains are the new cool kid on the block like .agency and .guru and many more that have been released.

Country code Top Level

Established for countries and teritories and are two letters long like .au .uk .us .fr

.au Domain Administration (auDA) is the manager of the .au domain, which is the country-code top-level domain for Australia

Generic Top Level

These are atleast three letters and are .com .net .org

Second-Level Level Domains

Second level domains have two dots after your name and generally include a combination of a generic top level domain and a country code like e.t.c

Name Servers and Domain Name System (DNS) Records

When you register a domain name you then need to put at least two nameservers in, The nameservers house the DNS Records and is the glue that holds the domain name and dns records together.

The DNS Records are what converts that easy to remember domain name to the hard to remember ip address.

Explanations of a few common types of dns records can be found below:

A: Address (A) records direct a domain to a numerical IP address.

CNAME: Stands for Canonical Name. CNAME records can be used to alias one name to another. These are usally setup for www. to show the same as the domain without the www.

MX: A mail exchanger record (MX record) is a type of resource record in the DNS that specifies a mail server responsible for accepting email messages.


Hosting is the actual data that is stored (a website, emails or other data) on a server so that it can be accessed over the Internet.

Hosting is where your website and emails live.


It can be confusing when trying to setup a website or register a domain name, hopefully, this information has helped someone but if you still need more help feel free to contact Bam Creative

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