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What you should know about domain names

Domain names are the simple yoursite.com names who enable you to navigate around the Internet without knowing the actual Internet Protocol number of the computer you are communicating with.


  1. Domain names need to be registered
  2. How to get information about a domain
  3. The various status identifications domains can have
  4. Status identifications for expiring domains


1. Domain names need to be registered

It is very cheap and easy to register a domain name, so the chances of a good one not being registered decreases by the hour. It is, however, still possible to find a good domain name. Register it immediately once you have managed to come up with a good one or someone else will take it shortly.

1.1. Top level domains

The information in the domains must be read from right to left. The toplevel domain if what is asked first.

If you go to the webiste www.linuxreviews.org then org is asked for linuxreviews and linuxreviews is then asked for www.

Domains are written subdomain.domain.tld, your web browser asks for tld -> domain -> subdomain.

2. How to get information about a domain

You can use the whois tool (manual page) to find information about domains. It is part of the bind-tools package.

A typical whois output looks like this (whois cnn.com):

     Domain Name: CNN.COM
     Registrar: NETWORK SOLUTIONS, LLC.
     Whois Server: whois.networksolutions.com
     Referral URL: http://www.networksolutions.com
     Name Server: TWDNS-01.NS.AOL.COM
     Name Server: TWDNS-02.NS.AOL.COM
     Name Server: TWDNS-03.NS.AOL.COM
     Name Server: TWDNS-04.NS.AOL.COM
     Status: REGISTRAR-LOCK
     Updated Date: 11-mar-2005
     Creation Date: 22-sep-1993
     Expiration Date: 21-sep-2009
  
  Registrant:
  Turner Broadcasting (CNN-DOM)
     1 CNN Center
     One CNN Center
     Atlanta, GA 30303
     US
  
     Domain Name: CNN.COM
  
     Administrative Contact:
        Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.  (NDUMQQEQLO)
           TMGROUP@TURNER.COM
        1 CNN CTR NW
        ATLANTA, GA 30303-2762
        US
        404-827-3470 fax: 404-827-1995
  
     Technical Contact:
        Turner Broadcasting System Inc, User  (39209794P)
           hostmaster@TBSNAMES.TURNER.COM
        1 CNN CTR NW
        ATLANTA, GA 30303-2762
        US
        404-827-5000 fax: 404-827-1593
  
     Record expires on 23-Sep-2009.
     Record created on 22-Sep-1993.
     Database last updated on 22-Jun-2005 22:46:36 EDT.
  
     Domain servers in listed order:
  
     TWDNS-01.NS.AOL.COM          149.174.213.151
     TWDNS-02.NS.AOL.COM          152.163.239.216
     TWDNS-03.NS.AOL.COM          205.188.146.88
     TWDNS-04.NS.AOL.COM          64.12.147.120

whois will show you if a domain is free with "No match". whois kajfdkajfd.com currently returns No match for "KAJFDKAJFD.COM".

3. The various status identifications domains can have

It can be very useful to be able to check the status and ownership of domains.

Knowing how to check a domains status enables you to find out when you can re-register expired domain names as well as help you prevent your own domain names from expiring.

The whois program can tell you all you need to know about a domains status. In the example above the status is Status: REGISTRAR-LOCK.

3.1. Active

This is the normal status for a registered domain.

  • The domain can be modified by the registrar.
  • The domain can be renewed.
  • The domain is included in the root zone files if the domain has one name server.

3.2. Registry-lock

This is a status the registry can set on a main which declares that it can not be changed or deleted by the registrar. This prevents any change from being done to the domain until the status of the domain is changed back to active.

  • The domain CAN NOT be modified or deleted by the registrar.
  • The domain can be renewed.
  • The domain is included in the root zone files if the domain has one name server.

3.3. Registry-hold

This status is set by the registry to freeze domains. The domains are not active and can not be changed. The domain must be changed from hold to something else to work again.

  • The domain CAN NOT be modified or deleted by the registrar.
  • The domain can be renewed.
  • The domain IS NOT included in the root zone files if the domain has one name server.

3.4. Registrar-hold

This is the same as registry-hold, only it is the registrar service who has put it on hold. Again, the status must be changed from hold in order to make the domain active and available. Contact your registry if your domain has this status.

The domain will be put on registrar-hold if your contact information is "YARGH!!!":

     Domain Name: CHIOTHEPIRATE.COM
     Registrar: INTERCOSMOS MEDIA GROUP, INC. D/B/A DIRECTNIC.COM
     Whois Server: whois.directnic.com
     Referral URL: http://www.directnic.com
     Name Server: NS1.LEVEL3X.COM
     Name Server: NS2.LEVEL3X.COM
     Status: REGISTRAR-HOLD
     Updated Date: 16-jun-2005
     Creation Date: 26-feb-2005
     Expiration Date: 26-feb-2006
  
  Registrant:
   This domain is not active.
   invalid WHOIS, domain disabled
   invalid WHOIS, domain disabled
   invalid WHOIS, domain disabled
   invalid WHOIS domain disabled, WY 99999
   US
   9990000000 
  Fax:9980000000
  
  
  Domain Name: CHIOTHEPIRATE.COM
  
  Administrative Contact: 
   This domain was reported to, 
     ICANN for invalid WHOIS info. 
     customer-must-correct-the-info@or-the-domain-will-be-deleted.com
   invalid WHOIS, domain disabled
   invalid WHOIS, domain disabled
   invalid WHOIS, domain disabled
   invalid WHOIS domain disabled, WY 99999
   US
   9990000000 
  Fax:9980000000
  • The domain CAN NOT be modified or deleted by the registrar.
  • The domain can be renewed.
  • The domain IS NOT included in the root zone files if the domain has one name server.

3.5. Registrar-lock

This is a very good status to have on your domain. The domain is active and can not be changed without first unlocking the domain.

  • The domain CAN NOT be modified or deleted by the registrar.
  • The domain can be renewed.
  • The domain is included in the root zone files if the domain has one name server.

4. Status identifications for expiring domains

It is easy to spot domains who have just expired and are soon to be available using whois.

4.1. Registry-delete-notify

Sometimes domain names who have child name servers hosting other domain names expire. The registry can give the name Registry-delete-notify in such cases. The domain is kept alive and the zone files will keep on working as long as such domains have at least one associated name server.

Domains who get a registry-delete-notify status have it for 5 days.

4.2. Redemptionperiod

The domain registrar will give a domain the status redemptionperiod when the registrar requests that the registry deletes it on the domains expiration date. The only thing the domain registrar can do while in this period is to ask that the the status of the domain is restored back to active. The current length of the redemptionperiod is 30 calendar days. Domains in redemptionperiod are changed to pendingdelete status after the 30 day period.

4.3. Pendingdelete

Domains who are not requested restored at the end of the redemptionperiod are given the status pendingdelete. These domains are not included in the root server zone files, they do not work, and they are scheduled to be purged from the registry database a set period of days after it is given pendingdelete status. Currently domains have the pendingdelete. status for five days before they are removed.

4.4. When expired domains become available

Domains who expire are first placed in a 30 day long redemptionperiod. The domain owner can re-register the domain in this period. If the domain is not renewed in this period then it is too late for the domain owner and the domain is held to be removed for five days.

Anyone can register the domain after the five day pendingdelete period. It is up to you to make sure you are the one to be the first to take it..


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