Due to your excellent service and professionalism I have decided to keep all these domains registered through COZAHOST
What is in a domain name
How domain names work
I think it was Shakespeare who asked: "What is in a name?" and, if memory
serves, he concluded "...a rose by any other name will smell as sweet." Pretty
profound statement, and pretty accurate in love and romance. On the internet
however, a rose by another name is called "Unknown host" or "Undeliverable
Computers have no sense of romance. Come to think of it, they have no sense
of humor either. No wonder we struggle so much to get along.
Actually, the internet is not so much about computers as it is about
computers talking to one another over a number of networks.
Domain names are a numbers game
The internet consists of millions of networks connected by a set of
communication rules called TCP/IP. This protocol requires that every device
(computer, printer, server, etc) on the network has a unique address, called an
IP number. The IP number consists of 4 "parts" and looks like this n.n.n.n where
n is a number between 0 and 255.
The IP number is like a phone number, enabling routers (electronic boxes
designed to pass information around networks) to send the data packets to the
The normal telephone system works in the same way: If you are outside of
South Africa and you dial "27" then the local phone exchange knows that the rest
of the telephone number applies to South Africa. Then you dial 21 and the search
narrows down to the Cape Town metropolis. Follow that by 559 and the search
narrows further to the Bothasig exchange. The last 4 digits connects you to
IP numbers use the first three digits to identify (and route to) the network,
and the last digit is used to identify the specific device (computer) on the
network. (This means that the internet can only consist of 255 networks of 255
networks of 255 networks of 255 computers, so we are almost out of IP numbers!
The IP addressing scheme will be upgraded to version 6 over the next 5 to 10
years to allow for many billions more IP numbers, but that is another story)
A practical example of IP numbers: Microsoft`s web site`s IP number is
22.214.171.124. IBM`s web site is 126.96.36.199. Google is 188.8.131.52. Cozahost
is 184.108.40.206. Want to send email to Cozahost? Then the address is email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org for AN Other working for
You get the point - no IP number, no routing, no connection, no joy. No sense
To try to remember those IP numbers and type them (correctly) into your web
browser is obviously an exercise in futility or extreme boredom. The only people
I can think of that would find such a scheme workable would be accountants, bank
managers or SARS clerks: all of whom have a scary talent for remembering
So, how does one get around the stubborn insistence of the network to use IP
numbers and our utter incapability to remember hundreds of IP numbers
The plan - domain names
Why the word "domain" instead of just "name"? To be honest, I don`t know the
exact answer, but I offer this theory: In the old days (when I say "old days" I
mean Lord of the Rings old days) kings had domains. Kingdoms. A land where they
were the boss and they could chop off heads, or hire any damn wizard they
pleased. And the sheep were very afraid.
Network administrators have kingdoms too. They (the administrators) can
connect or disconnect any device on the network and install any damn operating
system they choose. And the users are very afraid.
If you can`t have the world - create your own word in cyberspace! Much easier
to achieve total world domination this way. :-)
So what does the domain name system do? How does the domain name work?
Instead of using IP numbers, the system allows us to use a word or name to
refer to a IP number. Instead of typing 220.127.116.11, we can type www.microsoft.com. Pretty easy. Pretty cool.
But wait: what happened to requirement for an IP number if we can use names?
It`s still there. Special servers on the internet called DNS (Directory
Naming Service) or Name servers are responsible for translating
www.microsoft.com into it`s equivalent IP number. This happens automatically
and invisibly to you because your computer does this work in the background -
all by itself. All you need to know is the NAME you want to access.
In principle this works beautifully, but in practice there are hundreds of
millions of computers on the internet. Who maintains the database of names and
numbers? Where is the database located? What happens if that DNS server breaks
down? How will one computer handle the billions of lookup requests per minute?
Who has control over the database, and what can be done to prevent abuse or a
Making it work in practice
The answer was (and is): distribute the service. Thousands of DNS servers
across the internet share the load - there is no single point of failure and no
one person or organization with total and absolute control. In the same way as
telephone numbers and IP numbers work, domain names also follow a fixed
structure that allows the request to be directed to the correct DNS server on
the internet. Let`s take www.cozahost.com.za as an example:
Reading from the back, the DNS server closest to the user determines that the
domain in question is in the ".za" (South African) high level domain. The local
DNS server now asks one of the 7 root (boss) DNS servers to direct it to the DNS
server that is responsible for the ".za" domain name.
The .za space is resolved to one of a few .za root servers (in different
places and on separate networks). A .za DNS server now studies the request and
determines that the user is looking for a ".co" name in the ".za" space and
passes the request on to one of the servers responsible for .co.za names. One of
these servers finds the cozahost.co.za entry, determines that the Cozahost DNS
server is responsible for the name and passes the request to the Cozahost DNS
servers (separate servers on separate networks).
Arriving at the cozahost.co.za domain name server, the server looks up the
www entry and "resolves" (looks up) to an IP number. That IP number is now
passed back to the computer who requested the information.
As you will correctly deduce, this is quite a long operation and it can take
up to 10 seconds to complete. To prevent this delay (and to reduce the number of
lookups that must be made), the final (called "primary") DNS server tells the
rest of the servers in the chain that www.cozahost.com is IP number so-and-so and
they better remember it - and not ask again for a pre-determined amount of time.
That piece of information is said to have a TTL (time to live / sell-by date)
and it allows other DNS servers to answer questions immediately when they have
fresh data available.
This works very well (it`s the core mechanics of the internet so it better
work!), but there is one problem in the TTL scheme: when DNS changes are made -
for instance when you move your domain name from one ISP`s DNS to another, the
rest of the internet may still have old information that is considered fresh -
because the TTL said it was. In most cases the TTL is set to 8 hours, but some
ISPs set the TTL to 10 days or longer to save on network traffic and bandwidth
costs. These ISPs cause huge problems for their clients when domain names are
moved because for long periods of time incorrect and out of date information is
stored in some DNS servers.
What kind of domain name to choose
In a nutshell (albeit a rather large one), that is how domain names work on a
technical level. From this discussion you can deduce that one domain name, say
cozahost.com is not any different from cozahost.co.za - they work in exactly the
same way. The only difference is the way in which the name to IP number
information is stored on the (invisible) Domain Name Servers (DNS). In theory
the top level domain is supposed to indicate the purpose and/or location of the
domain: A .com domain is supposed to be a commercial domain. A .co.za is
supposed to be a commercial domain in South Africa and so on.
For a number of reasons these conventions have grown vague and of little
practical value - just because a domain name sits in the top level .co.za does
not necessarily mean that it is situated in South Africa. The moral of the story
is that your decision on whether you should register a .com or .co.za domain
name is cosmetic (marketing, branding and so on) and not technical at all.
In this case Sheakespeare was right: what`s in a .co.za or .com domain name?
A name by any other name will resolve as easily! (Apologies to the
literary erudite who may lament the edification of this burlesque, however we
attest that no belles-lettres were debilitated in its conception)
Once the not-so-difficult decision of .com or .co.za or .biz is behind you,
concentrate on registering your company name, your surname, key phrases in your
industry, generic terms like "support" or "cars" or "holiday", your product name
- peer into the future and invest in your own irreplaceable intellectual
How does a domain name apply to your business or web site?
In one word: power. In another word: freedom. In another word: flexibility.
Ok, I give up: It`s not a one word answer - it is a collection of benefits.
Like the kingdoms of yore, owning your own internet domain name gives you a
land (in cyberspace) where you are the boss and your competitors better be
scared. You can choose to provide a web site, email, FTP, etc. etc. You can have
the domain hosted by company A and move it to company B whenever you please. You
can call your web server "webserver" instead of "www" if the fancy strikes you.
When you register your own domain name, you own a piece of intellectual
property. (This is a strange term: I never heard the term "stupid property"
used, so it is safe to assume that the property is not actually intelligent (or
even alive) - it`s more like property in your head. Something you think you
have, but can`t touch, dust, polish or display it, but you can sell it, and use
it for stuff, and you can brag with it. Perhaps they call it "intellectual"
because it`s only in your head. All very confusing if you ask me.)
I`m kidding. A bit. Intellectual property means that it belongs to you - even
though it is not a physical thing. Like a story in a book. Or the joke you
invented that night at the braai, or the excuse you developed to explain why you
forgot your anniversary...
Seriously though, the name of your company is also intellectual property. You
spent years building a good reputation around that name (or your own) and it has
value in and of itself. How much do you think the name "Microsoft" is worth?
Imagine you could register the domain name "Microsoft.com"...
You might not have a multi-billion dollar business, but how much is it worth
to you to ensure that when a potential customer types www.your-company-name.co.za he
lands on YOUR web site and not that of your competitors? Ask Telkom about www.hellkom.co.za and you`ll get the drift
of the argument. ;-)
The practical day-to-day value of a domain name
Granted, intellectual property (or property with any IQ for that matter) does
not exactly keep you awake at night; but what about not being able to receive
email for a week? Would that disrupt your business? What about the possibility
that your ISP goes out of business or gives you service so poor that you have to
see your doctor for high blood pressure medication and/or self mutilation
The problem is that all your business cards, your promotional material, your
letterheads all refer to JoeSoap@mweb.co.za (I`m using mweb as an
example because they are the largest ISP in SA - it`s not like I have an axe to
grind ;-)) If you decide to leave your ISP (mweb in this example) because their
service is poor or their prices are too high, then you cannot take your JoeSoap@mweb.co.za email address with you -
because the mweb domain name does not belong to you.
If you had the foresight to register your own domain name however, you can
move that domain name to any ISP you choose - and your email address will never
change. From now until you decide to delete your domain name you will always be
reachable at JoeSoap@my-domain-name.co.za,
regardless where in the world you are or who you use as an ISP.
The same holds true for your web site: no matter where you move, no matter
which ISP you use - your web site will always be www.my-domain-name.co.za - `cause you
OWN that there piece of cyber land! :-) Who ya daddy?!
My 4 year old niece likes to use the term "A lot of".
As in: "I like it a lot of", or "I love you a lot of" or "I hate you a lot
of". I think it`s a Smarties ad she saw on the TV - you know, a chocolate ad and
a 4 year old brain = instant click.
Maybe it`s just cute because of the way she says is, but I like the sound of
it, so, if you ask "What`s in a domain name?", I can`t wait to answer: "A lot
There are more advantages in having your own domain name that can be covered
in this article. Things like search engine placement, branding, customer
service, etc, but those stories will have to wait for another time.
In the mean time, go get your own domain name. It`s a good, affordable
investment. A lot of. If you have a domain name already, be greedy: register
more while you still can. To see what I mean and why that is a good idea, check
out www.getinternet.co.za or www.gethosting.co.za - I`m sure you`ll
understand my point.
Register your names before someone else does.
To check if your domain name is still available for registration, use the online tool here, or
get a quote for registration here.
Do it now.
If you have questions about domain names then please contact us here.
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