Understanding Internet domain names

Really, really high-level overview, simplified.

Domain name basic characteristics:

In the beginning, sometime long after electricity, and well before Al Gore mentioned he "took the initiative in creating the Internet", there were Internet domain names.

One of the primary functions of an Internet domain name is to assign humanly recognizable, if not meaningful, strings of characters together to form a name that represents, essentially, an end point on a computer network. (This end point could also be an entry point into another network, depending on how things are set up.)

The idea was to make easier "sense" (to people) of complex network addresses used on the Internet. This is accomplished through the Domain Name System (DNS), and the specialized servers that run software that makes the DNS work, called DNS servers. And there begins your alphabet soup for the day.

A primary benefit of a domain name allows the network address of the server (where the data you desire is located) to be changed, and yet the data request is routed to the appropriate server's new network address. This is accomplished by requesting data by reference to its (the data's) domain name, rather than by its network address. This process is facilitated by the Domain Name System and the many DNS servers that make it work.

The Internet is a network that uses a common networking language and network addressing scheme known as "TCP/IP". Usually one of these network addresses is spoken of as an "IP address", and particularly so when talking about a network address end point of a web server computer.

The Internet, in its entirety, is founded on this "IP" addressing scheme using particular sets of numbers, "masks", and gateways. If you were to study how it works, you might find it pretty interesting, but beyond the professional need to know, most people don't care. And for the most part, they don't need to know because now the mouthful of numbers required to describe "what they sort of really mean" about a network address for an Internet server computer can also be referenced by its domain name, if it has one.

Name your web site with a domain name

You may be getting ready to start a web site and may have heard that an Internet domain name might be the the answer for you, and you think you want one. Do you know what a domain name is?
Learn what a domain name is

Your IP address:
(or the external IP address of your network's cable or DSL modem):

Domain names make sense

Keep in mind that regardless of how foreign the "jumble of numbers" that make up an IP address may look to you, an IP address is very specific in both its values and how they are assembled, and how they are assigned. But almost none of that can give you help to be able to easily remember - exactly - the IP addresses for each of all of your favorite web sites.

That's what you are really trying to get to, right?... Get a domain name for your web server that can be used in place of, and in stead of, a hard-to-remember series of numbers. More at: Choosing a domain name

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