What is a Domain Name and why do I need one?

Your website or email services will reside on a web or email server somewhere on the internet. These servers all have a unique “IP Address” – this is their address on the internet – which consists of four numbers separated by dots, eg 123.456.789.012. The IP address for each device on the internet is unique and ensures internet traffic travels between the correct devices.

As IP addresses aren’t particularly user friendly, so domain names are used to provide user friendly names that can be used instead of the IP Address.

Domain names are registered with a central authority, depending on which “TLD” (Top Level Domain) you are using. For example the .uk TLD is managed by Nominet. When you register a domain name with us, we interface with the central authority on your behalf.

The central authority makes various entries in directories that provide a mapping table of domain name to server so other internet connected services and devices know where to send traffic. These directories are known as Name Servers and the process of mapping domain names to IP addresses is referred to as DNS (Domain Name Service). You will often hear web and IT professionals referring to “DNS problems” if your internet services aren’t working correctly.

Can I get by without a Domain name?

In theory you can run a website or email services without a domain name, and there are occasions - usually technical in nature - where this is fine. But if you are using public facing web services, you almost definitely need a domain name!
  • How to: What is Web Hosting and why do I need it?
  • Article published 23rd January 2024
    Last modified 23rd January 2024