We are moving now! Now is the hands down, most critical part of setting anything up – what do you call this thing? So – everyone knows how the web works. You just type in www.something.com and stuff appears on your screen. Well yes, it does, but how does all of that magic happen? Lets take a little side trip here.
How does the internet work. A primer. So in a previous step we talked about how your computer ends up connecting to another server somewhere in the cloudy ether. But how does that work? Computers are just like you when you are driving somewhere. You need an address on a street, in a city, in a state, in a country. Computers use a standard called an IP address. IP stands for Internet Protocol. Most IP Addresses come in a format that looks something like 192.168.100.101. This is an IPv4 address, meaning version 4 of the standard and it has been around for a while. Each octet (3 numbers between the ‘.’) ranges from 0-255. This means that there are a total of about 4.3 billion combinations in this address space. Big neighborhood. However, we have so many devices connected that we are running out of room in this neighborhood so there is a new one called IPv6 that supports a much bigger space that is in use on some systems. How much bigger? 4.3 billion looks like this: 4,300,000,000. The IPv6 space is this big: 340,300,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.
Ok, ok, why all of this number mumbo-jumbo? Well, just like you are not your street address, something has to exist to map www.internetcheddar.com to an IP address of 192.168.101.202. The ‘www.internetcheddar.com’ is the website name but the ‘192.168.101.202’ is how a computer finds your website. In order to do this mapping in real life, those of us who might remember such things might have used a phone book to do this (ask your parents if you are lost or check to see what is propping up the wobbly leg of the dining room table). The phone book maps a name to a phone number and address. In internet terms, this ‘phone book’ is called a Domain Name Server, or another way to put it is a DNS. A Domain Name Server maps www.internetcheddar.com->192.168.101.202.
Note – 192.168.101.202 is NOT the actual IP address of this site. I am using that for example purposes. A fun side note: the 192.168.xxx.yyy and 10.0.yyy.xxx are reserved for internal network addressing so I know that that is a safe IP address to use as an example. Most of your home router IP Addresses and work IP Addresses will be on one of these two subnets.
So now we get to what this post is actually about. Just so you know, the term domain (remember 2 seconds ago and the ‘Domain’ Name Server?) can also refer to the ‘name’ of your website. My domain name is www.internetcheddar.com. Some domain name server somewhere translated that text for your computer into an IP address and voila here you are! When creating this site I had to pick a domain name just like you may be doing right now. Did you know that there were originally 7 top level domains? These were: .com, .net, .org, .int, .edu, .gov, .mil. Now there are over 330! The originals still are king, but more and more are becoming popular. Look through them when deciding what to name your site.
So what should I name my site?
Good question. That is up to you. If you are serious about your site then you want it to be recognizable, easy to type, and memorable. I chose the name internetcheddar.com because I used to work with a guy that would ask me almost daily if I had found a way to “make any of that sweet cheddar”. So here I am, working on making some cheddar of my own.
The best advice I can give you on this topic – pick something that makes you happy. I have tried creating many websites before now and never gotten this far. I own about a dozen domain names and most of them are gathering dust. Pick something that is good for you and it may help you stick with it a little longer and let you get some cheddar of your own. If nothing else, it will be your own little corner of cyberspace that shows who you are, with your own little address in the DNS white pages.