Thursday, February 5, 2009

Domains, Registrars, and Hosts

I had spent several months reading up on domains and how to get them. I was confused by the various entities involved in getting a domain. I only had a vague comprehension of the differences between a domain, a registrar, a host, and a server. It mattered, because each separate entity had its own set of fees ~ and how much might those be? Each process also brought its own new set of technical difficulties. I discovered that a domain name was one thing ~ you could "park" it free (whatever that meant). Page hosting was another thing entirely, and no matter how much I read, it seemed that I couldn't get around having to pay a monthly fee for it. Free advice was everywhere to be found, and some of the tutorials stated that your local ISP might give you a free page. I checked into it. Sure enough, OCS, my local Internet Service Provider, did offer a free personal web page. Since I was already paying them for Internet service and the page was "free," I thought that hosting might be included in the monthly fee I was already paying. If so, I would only have to buy a domain name. OCS didn't have FTP, but buying FTP software would still be cheaper than a monthly hosting fee.

At this point, I wasn't even sure that OCS would let me hang a domain name on the free page they gave me. Angelfire advertised that you could turn your free page into a domain at any time ~ for a fee. But what was I buying? The terms were confusing. I knew I'd be paying for space that I now got for free. Oh, Angelfire promised I'd get lots of other cool things that I didn't know I needed ~ wouldn't know what to do with when I got them. But the Angelfire web-shell upgrade had left me in a bind. I could barely log in, much less navigate the new directory. Did I want to pay them for that? I now knew that Angelfire wasn't the only host in town. Cheap hosting was everywhere, for as little as five dollars a month. Nearly all hosts required a one-time set-up fee, ranging from fifteen to seventy dollars. I could manage a one-time flat fee. Registering a domain name would cost about ten dollars. Once you had a domain name, you had to "park" it apparently. I wasn't sure what "parking" entailed. Was it free parking, or would I have to put a quarter in the meter ever few hours? (I thought I knew the answer to that!) What was the difference between registering and parking anyhow?

Transition: Bugbones to Southern Muse.