How to buy a domain name and set up a website on it

A friend asked me today how to go about buying a domain name and setting up a website on it. Here's the process:

1. Buy a domain name from a registrar. There are tons of different places you can do this. I recommend because they're cheap and popular (aka no bankruptcy). On their site you can play around by entering different domain names and they will tell you what's available. When you find one you want you can buy it online using a credit card.

One thing you should know about GoDaddy is that they keep their prices low by trying to sell you all kinds of other services in addition to the domain you want. Just click 'No thanks' for all the stuff they offer you and it will all go well. The price of a domain name there should be $10 per year or less. You can buy it for 2 or more years at the start if you want. This means you won't have to bother renewing it in a year, and sometimes there are further discounts for buying many years at once.

2. After you buy a domain name you need to get a webhost to serve a website on it for you. If you have a friend with a server then you could ask him to host it there. Otherwise there are a million commercial webhosts out there. I have only had shitty experiences with cheap webhosts, so I can't recommend any personally. I've heard some good rumblings about DreamHost though. A cheap webhost will probably charge from 5-20$ per month.

Once you have a friend or company ready to host your site you will have to login to your registrar's control panel (this would be at GoDaddy) and change your nameservers to whatever your webhost tells you to. This way the registrar knows to point everyone looking for your domain to your webhost, and your webhost then serves up the content.

That pretty much wraps up the lesson. Any questions?

Posted by dustin on May 15, 2005 with category tags of

GoDaddy's private registration (domainsbyproxy) is worth the extra cost for cutting down on spam. Your email address (as well as your home address & phone number) doesn't appear in your whois info. Contact email is filtered so you can elect to receive ONLY domain renewal and other administrative requests.
   comment by Mike Cohen on May 16, 2005

Mike adds an excellent point. When you buy a domain you will appear in the public whois records, which is like a phonebook for domains. Being in the whois database is yet another way of spammers finding your email address, and they certainly take advantage of it.

I don't advise putting in a fake email address though. Usually your registrar will send any renewal/billing/important info to your whois email address. I don't personally use the 'private registration' option. I am fully committed to having my email address out there publically and dealing with spam via strong filtering.
   comment by dustin (#1) on May 16, 2005

Merci. And I found my old password + stuff for the server, too. Exxxcellent.
   comment by alice (#60) on May 16, 2005

I have reserved the domain name of for my self-owned company in Marion, Al. I have bought the name and now I need to find a good but cheap hosting company. I use a mac computer at my office.
   comment by Heather Thurber on November 13, 2007


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