- Domain name
- The name of a website that you type in an address bar. This site's domain name is
- Top-level domain (TLD)
- The extension of a domain name, like
- A service authorized to reserve a domain name for you.
When domain names first sell, they usually sell for very cheap, but once someone buys one, they have the rights to it until they decide to sell it, often for much, much more money. Therefore, it's a good idea to reserve a domain name ASAP, even if you didn't intend on doing anything big with it.
So let's register your domain name!
Domains can be registered at any accredited registrar. In this guide, I will use the registrar Epik because it is one of the more high quality and easy to use. The guides on this site will use Epik, but if you choose to register your domain with one of the many, many other registrars, you can still do most of what Epik does, albeit options and settings might appear in different menus.
Basic info about domain names
- Domain names usually require a very small year fee to keep registered, usually around $12 for most generic TLDs.
There are some "specialty" TLDs that are more expensive, but
.xyzand other basic TLDs are that cheap.
- Once you own a domain, it is yours as long as you pay the yearly fee, but you can also sell it to someone for however much you want.
- Domain names do not hold your data or your website, instead, you add "DNS settings" that direct people connecting to your domain to your IP address. The purpose of a domain name is so that people don't have to remember your IP address to find your website!
Looking for domain names
Let's go to Epik's site and you can search for domain names.
You can look for whatever domain name you want. Domains that are already bought and owned by someone else might have the option to "Backorder," but it's always best to get one that is unowned, like these:
Note the differences in prices.
Some "specialty" TLDs like
.io charge a much larger fee, although you might want one.
Some domains above, like
.org have reduced prices for the first year.
Choose the domain you want and buy it.
.xyz domains are a steal now on sale.
That's all you have to do to own a domain name! As you register a domain, you can also setup an automatic payment to pay your fee yearly to keep your domain. Easy as pie.
Now we will get a server to host your website on.Next: Get a Server.
More info on domains
One worry people have when reserving a domain is that a domain registrar requires that you submit a home address! In fact, it used to be even worse: You could easily look up the information of the owner of a website by looking them up in the public WHOIS database!
Firstly, you can easily register a domain under some other address you don't actually have access to. The internet police does not go looking to see who lives where.
But more importantly, every good registrar like Epik now includes some kind of WHOIS guard, which is a service that logs a dummy address including a dummy email in the WHOIS database instead of your proper information. By the way, if the registrar you're looking at requires an extra fee for this service, switch to another. All good registrars should do this for free nowadays.
Registrars to avoid
If you are picking a random registrar to use, it's best to avoid any registrar based in America or Europe. They are more likely to (1) be under the tacit control or cooperation with the "Five Eyes" and other Western privacy-violating regimes or (2) be staffed by political partisans who have now made a habit out of seizing domains they want to shut up.
(2) is a new, but much bigger problem, and even if you don't plan on posting any political content, there is really no predicting what their standards are going to be in the future. I recommend Epik because it is one of the only English-speaking registrars that does what registrars used to do: register domains without political curation, which is unfortunately now becoming more uncommon. If you don't want to use Epik, use a registrar based in Russia or China or a country more sympathetic to political criticism.
Here are some registrars to explicitly avoid:
- GoDaddy – People always want to go here because it's so well advertized. They have a long record of censorship and nickeling-and-diming accounts. Just avoid them. They can be lazy because a lot of people use them because they are often the "default" registrar.
- NearlyFreeSpeech – People have signed up for this minor registrar because of its name that's actually tongue-and-cheek. I will let this post of theirs speak for itself. Register a domain here only if you want to have it seized.
- Google, Amazon – Maybe this is obvious, but if you are trying to escape the control of Google or Amazon, it is a very self-defeating thing to register your domain with them. Sites like Parler figured this out the hard way.
If you use one of these registrars, be sure to remove your domains from it ASAP. That is usually a very easy thing to do, although you can only move a domain to a new registrar once every several months. Pick a good one and stay put. Registrars without principled policies maintain the right to seize your domain name on their whim. Don't think for a minute that this doesn't apply to you.Next: Get a Server.