What is a Domain Name?

Just like us “Humans” have names that we use to recognize and greet each other. Every Web Server has a name. After all, How can anybody access your website without one? 

By default, every web server has a unique name that looks something like this. It is called an IP Address (Internet Protocol Address). But it is not human-friendly, is it? We browse many websites in our day to day lives. For example, we check our Email using Gmail, We searching for information using Google. 

Imagine having to type out every time for accessing google. Although we humans good at dealing with numbers, it is tough to remember IP address for hundreds of websites we use from time to time.

To solve this problem, smart people who made the World Wide Web possible came up with an easily recognizable alternative to IP addresses and called it “Domain Name System” or a “DNS” for short.

So by using Domain Name Systems, every web server is linked to a Domain Name. So, instead of typing for accessing Google website, you can type Google.com. It is that simple. 

“So! No more IP addresses? Just plain text names?”

No. It is important to remember that DNS is not a replacement for IP addresses. It is merely a convenience. You can still access google using the IP address. Without IP addresses, there is no internet. 

“Also, what is the difference between a URL and a Domain Name?”

A domain name is part of the URL. For example, quora.com is the domain name. https://www.quora.com/about is the URL referring to  “about” web page on the Quora website. 

Let’s break down our Quora URL. “https” is the protocol for accessing websites. “www” means world wide web. “quora.com” domain name identifies the web server. And the final part of the URL “about” means, you are requesting an “about” web page from that web server. 

Not only web pages, but assets like image, audio, and video that you include in a web page will also have a URL too. 

If you simply enter quora.com into the browser, the browser converts that into a fully qualified URL like this: https://www.quora.com.

It is important to note that, “www” is totally optional inside a URL. Also, https://quora.com and https://www.quora.com are two totally different URLs. When someone enters https://quora.com into their browser, Quora redirects them to the https://www.quora.com. If Quora not to direct the URL, you’ll get a “Page Not Found” error from Quora’s Server.

You’ll learn more about redirects in a future chapter where you purchase and set up your own domain name and the web server.

In the next lesson, you’ll learn to understand web hosting.