When it comes to getting a website up and running even seasoned IT professionals can go cross-eyed with all that’s involved in making that happen. Today, I hope to breakdown at least some of the mystery surrounding how a website goes from being registered to dispersing information.
Registering Your Domain
The first step in creating a website is to choose a domain name (or web address) for your site – www.yourdomain.com.au.
Once you have chosen your domain name and handed over your hard-earned money, you are often presented with a myriad of options as ‘add-on’ services. You do not need to purchase these services, because at this point you have everything you need from your Domain Registrar.
The Domain Registrar’s role is simply to insert your domain record into the Internet and then tell people how to find you.
The Domain Name System (DNS) is the White Pages of the Internet. It allows computers to find your website; to send email to your domain, and to retrieve other information.
Technically, it is a very large distributed database spanning tens of thousands of servers all over the world.
It sounds scary, but in a nutshell it means if web users want to find example.com.au, they simply access the DNS to make their enquiry.
On your registrar’s website there should be a place to enter ‘Name Servers’. A Name Server answers DNS queries and gives out appropriate responses.
If databases are fast, why does it take so long for changes to propagate?
Databases are indeed fast. To combat the distributed nature of the Internet and to make sure that websites can be served, even if a Name Server cannot be reached, information is retrieved from the database’s cache. A cache is an area in the database’s memory that retrieves frequently used or requested data.
At Titan Web we set our Time To Live (TTL) to 1 hour. This means that changes should be replicated throughout the world within 1 hour.
Web and Email Hosting
Web and Email Hosting are two services that the DNS points to. They are completely separate from each other and DNS Hosting.
Picture if you will the Help Desk at your local shopping centre. You walk up and ask for the location of a certain shop and the attendant gives you directions. This is the same as your web browser asking the Name Server (Help Desk) for directions to your website, or your email client asking for directions to your email server.