To begin with, we have to understand what is going on. Who owns, stores and maintains the information about a domain address.
Every website needs an identification number (what users don’t usually see – IP address) and a rememberable name of the website (domain name). People who might be looking for your website usually would type in the name of your company or a name of the service/product that they are looking for. This is the easy stuff that everybody knows and understand.
How does it work?
The Domain Name Servers (DNS) are associated with Internet Protocol – commonly known as IP address. Every website has its own server (where all the files are stored) maintained by hosting provider, and every server (and website) has its own IP address connected to it. To make a life easier, the user must remember only the name of the website instead of the complicated IP address. The IP address is needed only for your computer or other devices to connect and access the website that you are looking for.
How to get a domain?
The answer is simple, but it needs explaining. To start with – every person who is looking for a domain name can go to InstantDomainSearch or Whois and run a quick search to check if the desired domain is available. If it already belongs to somebody (we will talk about it in a second) you can check all the information and history of the domain name. If you really want a certain domain, you could possibly contact the owner to make an offer – because they have the right to own (more on that later) it and they have a priority to extend their ownership for the domain for upcoming years.
When you find the domain that you would like to buy, you will have to purchase it (rent it) for at least a year from the domain providers such as GoDaddy. The prices may vary, depending on the: registral providers rates, the length of the contract, popularity of the domain and the suffix (.co.uk, .com, .org , etc).
When you register or update a domain it takes about 8-48 hours for the DNS around the world to update their information. So, be patient and don’t be nervous if you can’t find your website in a first few minutes/hours or days in google or other search services.
So, who owns domains?
For example, the DNS of the websites with .uk prefix belongs to the Nominet. The Nominet is the owner for the .uk domains. It means that the domain providers must purchase the rights to re-sell and follow the Nominet Registry-Registral Agreement.
In other words, the Nominet is the owner of the domain name (ending with .uk), domain provider can obtain the rights to resell a domain name with a suffix .uk and you are a domain name holder for a certain amount of time (until your contract with domain provider runs out, or you stop paying for it) – it is like a rental service.
Can I buy a domain forever?
The answer is – No. You can rent a domain for a few years, but after this period you have to renew it and pay an annual fee. The domain provider will notify you before your contract expires, so you will have time to decide if you want to renew it if not – simply don’t and your domain will become available for other people to buy (rent). There is always an auto-renewal option, but always remember to read the terms and conditions before proceeding.
What happens if I stop paying?
Simply – nobody will be able to find or access your website, even if you type in the URL. Your website files will still exist on the hosting provider servers (as long as you pay fees associated with it).
Can I change a domain provider?
Some providers might increase the renewal fee based on their preferences, the demand for your domain or other reasons. Usually, the biggest domain providers are keeping their prices the same, year after year. Yes, you can change a domain provider, but make sure that you do it in advance. This might take a while and you don’t want to lose your domain because your contract will expire in a next few days.
When does the domain become available again?
If you are not interested any more in the domain, or you have forgotten to renew your contract, the domain will be unavailable for approximately 5 days after it expired. After this time, it will come back on “market” and will be available to purchase to everybody around the world.
Usually, the cost associated with the domain name is insignificant in comparison to the profits that your company might acquire. Most of the businesses should have a domain with the company name in it or be accurately matched to represent services/products or the content of the website. An accurate domain name increases the credibility, builds the trust and looks professional for potential clients.