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A lot of people, even those who have a solid understanding of computers and the internet, don’t really appreciate the concept of domains, and how they changed the face of the internet forever. Even those who were working professionals in a time before domains often miss this, because before the popularity of the internet in the nineties, they didn’t really deal much with the internet. Everyone is more or less aware of how important a solid domain name is, but without a real grasp of how they work, why they exist, professionals are very bereft of a solid grip on many factors they need to account for, when obtaining a domain and hosting. This results in a lot of people overlooking the usefulness of a domain hosting checker and other similar tools.
Most people, of course, understand the basics of what makes for the most effective domain name. A dot com address tends to be the most highly sought after, due to its inevitable reputation as “official and professional”. Dot net is a close second and very distant third would be dot org. Of course, a host of other domain names like dot tv, dot info and so on have come along in recent years as well. Some of these are actually pretty good depending on what the business’ service might be.
Furthermore, there are country-specific domains such as, for example, dot us and dot ca. Unless a business’ country of origin is very much a part of its identity, or it’s an international business which needs to compartmentalize for different countries (Google, EBay and Amazon for example), it’s best to avoid these if a business wants to compete. They’re not a definite nail in the coffin, but they don’t help either!
This seems like all there’d be to it, right? The best extension, for the best price is the goal when seeking a domain name. This isn’t entirely untrue, but there’s a good bit more to it than that. Let’s take a step back and look at why domains exist, and how much they really changed the shape of the internet. This will help a lot.
Before the advent of DNS (domain name service), going to a specific location online was not easy. Initially, users had to know a phone number, to dial into a specific computer. They would be limited, usually, to that computer until they would hang up and dial another. Sometimes, in more professional settings, this number may have led to a series of computers connected together, or a mainframe system. The unified, interconnected internet of today, however, simply did not exist. This made it a bit of an elite club useful to a small niche of people, and a tool for abstract business data exchange.
That was the early eighties, though. Later in the decade, the internet became more interconnected as a small but dedicated user base continued to make it a profitable utility to make available. This was when real internet service providers began to appear albeit in a different form from the nineties or today. At this point, connecting to one gateway computer made it possible to cruise a more global, interconnected internet. Unfortunately, it was still annoying to navigate. There were no search engines back then (they would have been impossible), and the type of address needed to find a specific place, was not much better than a phone number.
IP addresses, which are four sets of up to three numbers, had to be entered to navigate to a specific network or connected computer. At the end of that decade, however, domain name systems came about, which made this all so much easier, and made the internet an accessible thing for the masses.
IP addresses didn’t go away. They still haven’t, and can’t. Instead, domain names provide an easier to remember type of address to enter into a browser, fail to mention one that makes much more sense to the way the human mind works. These domains, however, just “mask” an IP address. Servers dedicated to cross-referencing domains with associated IPs, still connect a device to its destination via the IP address.
The obscuring of these addresses needed to happen either way, as IPv6, the recent new form of IP address, is far more horrendous to remember and enter, as it’s just a long string of alphanumerical nonsense.
So, how does one obtain a domain address? Most of the time, when a business decides to set up a website, they will find a professional hosting solution that encompasses all of the components needed. This includes registering a domain name. However, whether it’s a host provider doing the registration, or the customer doing it themselves, the process is pretty much the same.
A domain registrar will reserve the domain once purchased. They, like phone numbers, will expire after a certain amount of time, unless renewed. How long this takes varies depending on the arrangement made with the registrar.
The domain is then parked, by the host server’s name server addresses being pointed to the newly registered domain. At this point, it takes up to two business days for the domain to be visible and operational to the general public, as its existence is propagated to the many global DNS servers out there. This is faster in recent times, rarely taking more than a day. Still, it can take a while depending on how good the hosting and registrar are at being snappy with announcing themselves.
That said, it’s obvious that when looking to set up a website and acquire a domain, a well-respected registrar and very well-respected host provider are something to look for. While shopping for these the traditional way is fine, it helps to use a domain hosting checker to do a little recon on sites known to be very responsive and fast.
Once such a site is chosen, the checker tool can then tell whom is hosting the site, through whom they registered the domain, and on top of this, tell how long the domain was registered (when it will expire), and where the hosting data centers are located.
While this isn’t quite as true as it once was, choosing hosting and registry services on the same part of the planet as the intended demographics is a very obvious way to ensure it will be faster for them. People aren’t very forgiving of slow websites, and that can reflect very poorly on a company. This may not always be a fair judgment to make, nor a fair thing on which to base judgment.
Nobody said business was fair, though.
A domain hosting checker can be useful for more than just snooping around to see which hosts and registrars are best. It’s also quite useful for problem solving. Sometimes, a website just seems to not work. Sometimes, other domain-enabled connections through other platforms also seem to not work. Of course, there are so very many things that could be causing this problem.
The local internet may not be working properly. It may claim that it is, but still not be working properly. There may be something broken between the two machines. The DNS or host may be down. And these are just the obvious, common things that could cause such worries.
In some cases, these can be serially eliminated by examining data obtained by a domain hosting checker. This can reveal if the domain is improperly parked, if the registration expired, or if it’s simply in a location that makes it non-responsive.
Another thing this is helpful with, is to keep an eye on security and maintaining a business’ holdings reliably. As said before, these domains expire. While age checkers help with this too, a proper hosting checker can show not only when these domains expire, but also when others have shown interest and posted inquiries about a given domain. They can even help diagnose attempted attacks.
This is so important due to a subset of entrepreneurs online that hold domains ransom. They will scoop up domains and charge marked up prices when businesses want them. Obviously, a popular strategy exercised for maximum yield, is to await the expiration of valuable domains, and pounce on them before the company can renew them.
Being prepared for an impending expiration makes it much easier to outrun these domain squatters. What they do is not illegal in most of the world, so the only good defense from this tactic is to be fast and prepared.
Of course, some registrars provide (usually at a cost) some insurance against this. While the domain will expire, there is a moratorium on its release to public purchase, usually a few hours on up to a few days. During this time, only the previous owner of the domain can reacquire it. Not all registrars do this, and it’s not always something clearly listed in their white paper or marketing material due to a lot of customers not knowing why it’s important.
A proper domain hosting checker, used for the previously discussed shopping, can help find a registrar that imposes such a moratorium. As said before, this feature has a bad habit of costing something extra. Compared to the mark up squatters will charge, though, it’s a paltry price indeed.
An added convenience of these tools, in recent times, is how much faster it makes the process of finding out what domain(s) are available that match the needs of a business. Without such a tool, it’s a process of elimination, trying and trying a registration until it permits one to be obtained. This can result in a lot of time spent (and time is something one does not have with domain squatters about), and often maybe not the most preferred domain being acquired.
Domain hosting checker tools can look up a lot of domains at once, and find out who owns them, if anyone, and which registrar is the most convenient one through which to register it. This saves a lot of time, and lets a business actually prioritize which domain(s) to acquire if available, rather than shooting blindly in the dark as would otherwise be the case.
Domains are important, just like any other aspect of internet connectivity, accessibility and visibility. Once upon a time, properly researching these the way a domain hosting checker now does, would have been so very time consuming, and ultimately, often very expensive. There was a brief moment in history when a special type of researcher would make quite a bit of money by doing this research for a business. While there was nothing wrong with such an enterprising service being available in a time before these modern tools … problems arose greater than their obvious inconvenience. It wasn’t hard for some of these to be paid off by the nascent domain ransom groups, or by competitors wanting a business to have a difficult time.
Computers, however, don’t feel greed, and they have no concept of disloyalty. Whenever a tool like this can be put into place to retrieve such crucial, make or break information for a business, it should absolutely happen.
While it’s not quite as important for these tools to be remarkably easy to use, given they’re still mostly used by the IT staff of a business, they nonetheless tend to be very much so. While the internet may change in the future in how it’s shaped (as it did when DNS became a thing, and when web pages became a thing), it’s highly unlikely that the concept of domains is ever going to go away. They may work differently in the future, they may look different in the future. Neither of these things changes how important they are, or what agencies are either directly or indirectly working against a business when it comes to these things.