Why Register a Domain?
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Domain names are registered for a variety of reasons. Some build a web site right away, or buy a name to build a site later, while others purchase domain names in order to protect a company name or trademark, and some register a domain so they can have personalized email addresses. What do you plan to do with the domain after it is registered?
Build a Web Site Now
If you are planning to build a web site right away for your domain, it is often easiest to register the domain name with your chosen web host. If you choose to host with iPowerWeb, for example, they offer free domain name registration when you sign up for web hosting. If you decide to host and register separately you will want to choose a domain registrar with a quick DNS set up time. Usually this process can take as long as two days to get the domain and web host in sync. GoDaddy is a registrar known for its quick set up abilities.
Build a Web Site Later
If you are buying a domain now, and plan to build a web site in the future you need to be aware that law prohibits "sitting" on a domain name. This means purchasing a domain and not doing anything with it. This legislation is to prohibit the monopolistic buying out of domains. So you must do something with your domain name immediately or you may be accused of misconduct. Luckily registrars have figured a way to make both the law and the customer happy by providing "free parking" or an "under construction page" for domains that are not going to be used for a while. If you are biding your time before building a web site for your domain make sure your registrar offers "free parking" or "coming soon" pages. Go Daddy offers this free with their domains.
Protect a Trademark
Some companies will register domain names solely to protect the name of their company or registered trademark. Normally they will already have one web site and will have no intention of building separate ones to go with each of these domain names. (ex. yahoo.com might register yahoo.net and yahoo.org as well). In this situation URL forwarding is an extremely handy feature. For example your company has registered the domain mydomain.com. You want to prevent your competitors from buying mydomain.net and mydomain.biz, so you buy both of those domain names as well. Then you utilize URL forwarding so when a customer types in "mydomain.biz" they don't see an "under construction page" they are instantly redirected, or forwarded to your main URL, at mydomain.com. Many registrars will offer this as a free service with registration or as an add-on for a small fee. If you plan to have many domain names pointing to the same site choose a registrar that offers URL forwarding.
Another common reason for registering a domain is for the use of personalized email. Instead of a having a generic Hotmail or AOL account, you can buy a domain name from a domain registrar that offers email packages or email forwarding and get a personalized email address. For example instead of being "email@example.com" you could now be "firstname.lastname@example.org". This is much more professional sounding than the boring free email account addresses.
Email forwarding allows you to receive mail from your email@example.com address into the email account that you would check all the time, such as firstname.lastname@example.org. So you don't have to check a bunch of different mailboxes to read your email. Mail can be directed, or forwarded, to another inbox. Normally you would get the email features through your web host, but if you aren't planning to build a web site for your domain you can just register your domain name with a best domain registrar who offers email packages or email forwarding. Go Daddy offers email packages for only .99.
If you have purchased a valuable domain name in order to auction it or resell for profit you may look into a domain auction agency or domain appraisal agency to assess how much the domain you purchased is worth.
Now that you've decided whether you will be building a web site, "parking" your domain, redirecting your domain to another site, reselling your domain, or using your domain for email, you can choose the best registrar, register your name and get it hosted! Check out our list of recommended free and low-cost web hosts.
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