What are some good domain registrars?
There are many companies that handle domain registration. Most of our clients either use the service that came with their web host. But if you want to register your domain separately, many of our clients use one of the following services: Godaddy.com, 1and1.com, gandi.net, or networksolutions.com. We don't recommend a specific company, but these have a reliable reputation. Pick the one that offers the best price for your budget. Currently GoDaddy and Gandi.net have very easy-to-configure DNS record management interfaces, but this can change. We recommend you maintain control of domain hosting through your registrar.
What does domain registration and hosting cost?
Some registrars offer a bargain rate for the first year or two and then double the price on the third year. Others just offer a standard rate. But expect to pay somewhere between $10 and $20/year for registration and hosting. You pay the same amount whether you just register the domain or also host the DNS. Many registrars will offer a discount for multiple domain registrations. No reputable DNS registrar charges extra for DNS hosting. DNS hosting should be included in the price for registration.
How do I find out who my domain registrar or domain host are?
To find out where your domain is registered, go to whois.net and enter your domain name, or go to the terminal on a Mac or Linux computer and type whois yourdomain.com where yourdomain.com is your actual domain. The resulting record will tell lots of information about the registration record of your domain, most importantly who registered the domain (usually your organization), and who is providing domain hosting for your domain.
What is the difference between a DNS host and a web host?
DNS hosting is not the same as web hosting. DNS hosting is the service that tells computers the IP address of web servers or email servers based on a human-readable domain name. So when you enter, say, triangleparkcreative.com, your browser, it sends a request to the Domain Host (in this case godaddy.com). GoDaddy tells your browser that the site is located at the IP address 126.96.36.199. Your then connects to the server at the IP address 188.8.131.52, and says it is looking for the website triangleparkcreative.com. A special record on the web server indicates where the site files are and sends the website data to your browser. The same basic process works for other services like email and ftp.
How long does it take for a new DNS record to go live?
When you are creating a brand new domain, the hosting service will go live in moments after you complete registration and assign an ip address for the server. But changes to a domain record (such as the ip address of a web or email server) can take between two hours and 24 or even 48 hours to resolve. The reason for this is that DNS is an amazingly distributed system. When you request a web site, your browser first looks at your own computer's DNS cache to see what the ip address is, if it doesn't find information, it goes to your router, then to the DNS cache of your ISP, then out into the web until it finally reaches the "authoritative" registrar which tells your computer where the "authoritative" host is. This information is then sent back down the line, updating each of the DNS caches on each of the devices along the route finally updating your computer's DNS cache. The time it takes for all those caching computers to get updated depends on how many servers have a cache of your sites' DNS record, how frequently your site gets visited by new users from different ISPs, and whether your top level domain is common or not (less common ones like .org and .info generally get updated faster), and lastly, the variable you have most control over is the time to live (rhymes with give). This TTL value is set in your DNS hosting record and can be as little as 1/2 hour or as much as 24 hours or more. So when a server caches your domain record, if the cache record is more than your TTL value old, it will go back to the DNS host to get new information.