Anthony Matiya

CEO and Founder

DesignStudio Network, Inc.

San Diego, California

A Deep Dive into Domains and DNS but in Layman’s Terms

This article will be a deep dive into the topic of managing domain names and DNS settings that control website hosting, email hosting, and more. It is written for the “non-technical” person in an attempt to help people understand this often misunderstood topic.

Topics Covered

  • What is a domain name?
  • Common mistakes made with domain names
  • What does DNS stand for?
  • How does DNS work?
  • Common DNS record types
  • Links to more helpful articles on this topic
    • DNS Updates on GoDaddy
    • DNS Updates on Network Solutions
    • DNS Updates on Tucows
    • DNS Updates on Register.com

What is a domain name?

Domain names are the equivalent of street addresses, but for websites. To get to any web site, directly, in a web browser (i.e. without using a search engine), we will need to know its domain name.

A domain name is a set of letters, words, numbers, and the occassional hyphen. (Example: Google.com, Reddit.com, etc) When you type domain name into a web browser, the website will appear if the domain is in use.

A domain comes in 3 parts:

  • The top-level domain – (AKA the TLD”) This is the .com part of the domain. (Or .net, .org, .info, etc)
  • The root domain – Is the main part of the domain or what comes before the TLD
  • The subdomain – Is what comes before the root domain. Often by default, this is “www” which is a defauly sub-domain that is used less and less these days and almost never required anymore.

Common Mistakes with Domain Names

  • Not ebabling privacy protection
    When you buy a domain, you are required to list contact info for the “Registrant” of the domain which is the person or entity that owns it.

    The contact info for that Registrant then becomes part of publicly available records in the big master database of all domains, which is called the “WHOIS” database. This means that spammers, hackers, etc can easily find out who owns any given domain and potentially target them.

  • Not keeping contact info up to date
    This is very common and leads to problems later. 
  • Not having a payment method setup for renewals
  • Changing web vendors who host your DNS for you

What Does DNS Stand For?

The acronym itself stands for Domain Name Service but you also see it used for Domain Name Servers or Domain Name Scalpers in the domain aftermarket. (I just made that last part up)

How Does DNS Work

[Insert super simplistic diagram here]