This is critical information for you to review. Your domain name is registered (“rented,” if you want to think of it that way) through a “registrar.” These are accredited by ICANN so that they can do this service for a fee. However, there are a lot of bad apples in the group; frequent complaints involve either (a) high fees, (b) confusing web site interfaces, (c) no way to contact, (d) slow to respond to any questions, (e) all of the above.
I now strongly recommend NameCheap. Odd name; good service; clean and clear web interface.
If your registration expires your domain name is gone and all the work on your site (search engine listings, advertisement, email, etc.) is down the drain.
Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: the settings.
If your site is hosted with CFDS, we will provide you a pair of name servers to enter at your domain registrar. It will look something like this:
If you are handling your own hosting, you’ll need to contact your host or look through their frequent questions area to determine which (typically 2 or 3) servers they want you to designate. Look for the terms “Name Server” or “Domain Name Servers” or “DNS.”
There are four categories of contact information for a domain. It is drop-dead important that this information be kept up to date and be correct. There are ICANN requirements that demand accuracy, but even more important from a practical point of view, you need to be able to be contacted for reminders and other time-sensitive domain name registration business.
- Owner. This is the person who is viewed by the registrar as having the right to make decisions about the domain name. This must be you.
- Administrative. This should be you as well.
- Billing. This should be you or can be a designee who handles your payments.
- Technical. This could be you, or it could be your web developer, or it could be your host.
Please note that all four items of contact information are public information (ie: they will come up in any WHOIS search on the Internet). It is strongly suggested that you not indicate your home address or home phone number or personal email address. Use a PO Box. Use an email address (perhaps a Googlemail, Yahoo, etc.) address that you regularly check but which can sift through the spam you will get from having a published email address online. Do note, though, that most registrars will offer to “shield” either all of your information or portions of it (ie: email) for a small yearly add-on fee. This is recommended.
Edited 02-2016 to remove:
- References to Dotster whom I used to recommend until, in my opinion, their service deteriorated. As you can see, I now recommend NameCheap with whom I’ve had superior service.
- Instructions for those for whom (many years ago) I used to purchase and manage domains. Suspended as that’s not good practice.