If you have an email address like
email@example.com then you’re using the domain name of your Internet provider. If you then switch providers — going from Xtra to Actrix, for example — you have the whole hassle of changing your email address.
You have to tell everyone you know, figure out who you may have given the address to, such as the electricity company, clubs you belong to, your doctor or dentist. It’s a huge nuisance.
You can probably pay the previous provider to keep sending emails on to you, but you may prefer to spend that money on something else.
This is where having your own, personal domain name really comes into its own. It’s yours. It’s attached to you. It stays with you. Emails addressed to
firstname.lastname@example.org find their way to me whether I use TelstraClear, Actrix, or some provider in the US, India or Finland. It just doesn’t matter how I connect to the Internet; my
firstbite.co.nz domain name is mine.
Domain names are cheap
There are many places that sell domain names. Two I’ve used, that have good prices and that I’m happy to recommend, are Freeparking in New Zealand and GoDaddy in the USA. I have recently bought a
.info domain name from GoDaddy for US$0.99 and another from Freeparking for NZ$40. I use both organisations because between them they allow me to choose from more names and services.
What is a domain name?
The domain name is the part of an email address that comes after the
@ sign, for example firstbite.co.nz, community.net.nz, gmail.com, xtra.co.nz, google.com. Wikipedia has more information.
.com are used for businesses,
.org.nz for non-profit groups, and certain domains, such as
.iwi.nz are reserved for specific types of organisations.
Each country has its own two letter extension, too, such as .nz, .au, .uk, and so on. Some have ‘desirable’ extensions, such as .me (Montenegro), .to (Tonga), .tv (Tuvalu). There’s a full list at Wikipedia.
Personal domain names
There are several domains available and suitable for personal use, such as
.gen.nz, or perhaps one with a country code that appeals to you. Some small countries earn a lot of income from selling domain names that use their country code.
The good thing about a personal domain name, unlike one for a business or organisation, is that it can be anything that takes your fancy. Keep in mind though, that you may at some time want to use an email address based on that domain name for something serious such as applying for a job or a grant.
The downside of a domain name is that you don’t actually buy it. Instead you rent it. There’s an annual cost for every domain name. With FreeParking that cost is usually around NZ$40 per year. That’s a lot less than a Post Office box in a city such as Wellington, and only a few dollars more than the cost of the current best selling book at Whitcoulls.
How to use a domain name
The next tip will explain how to use a domain name you own for email or even a website. There are ways to do this for free, or at least very low cost.
Meanwhile think up and buy a domain name for yourself — or perhaps one for each family member — it would be a great gift!
Beware ‘domain tasting’
Some companies will immediately register any domain you search for through their service, meaning you then can’t use it yourself. This practice is known as ‘domain tasting’. The two companies I mentioned above do not do this. For more information about domain tasting read Who Is Monitoring Your Domain Searches?.
Written by Miraz Jordan for, and reproduced from CommunityNet Aotearoa Panui, July 2008. This article has been modified for publication here.