Getting Started: Domain Registration and Hosting

Registering a domain name is easier than ever. Use the Domain Name Buyers Guide to find the best deal.


The first step to building a home on the Web is to get a name and a place to slap up your pages.

The name is called a domain name. It's what people type in their browser to get to your site.

The place is a Webhost. A Webhost hosts your pages for you so you don't have to know all that nasty server stuff unless you want to.

Strangely enough, you may want to pick your host before the name.

Pick a Host

You have a few options for picking a host:

  • Blogging
  • Free hosting either from some place like Yahoo!Geocities or Tripod or perhaps free space on your ISP.
  • Renting space from a webhost
  • Running your own server

    If you go with free space, you get a domain name automatically, but it's usually pretty ugly. If you want your own custom domain name you usually have to pay for the name and the space you host your pages at.

    Registering a domain name

    Registrars are the people who keep track of who owns what name and what server the name points to.

    It costs between $10 and $35 a year to register your own name.

    Find a domain

    To garner the consumer lowdown on domain registrars, visit the Domain Name Buyers Guide. It ranks the reliability, service, and legal rights your registration gives you. If you decided to get the name before the host, you'll want to choose a service that will park, or hold, your name for you until you need it.

    Sometimes webhosts will register your domain name for you -- just make sure they're not overcharging you.

    Either way, you'll want to spend some time scoping out the webhosts. Read on to find out where to dig up good information and how to make sense of it.

    Picking a Webhost Guide

    It used to be you needed a guide to find a good webhost. Now you need a guide for the guides. I visited each one of these sites and evaluated their search capability, their selection, their reliability, and how easy they were to use.

    Consider the following before you decide:

    Know how much you want to spend, how much space you need, and whether you want to use fancy programming.

    In this search I wanted to specifically find a cheap host that had as much storage and bandwidth as possible, unlimited email forwarding, FTP and Telnet access, and the possibility of other frills.

    Webhost guides rated

    Here are my experiences at the different guides in order of my fondness for them.


    They have the search right up front with great advanced search options. I could also sort search results, a big plus, and compare selected plans. Their ratings were a little short on votes but maybe that will pick up after a while . I chose Web Outlook 100 or 200 Plan with the $15 domain name registration. They had great info on each host.


    Up until May 7 this had some cool info and a good search engine but now it redirects to something called WebHosting Talk. It seems like an interesting message board with great community features. I'm not sure what happened to HostInvestigator and I can't find any reviews or comparisons.


    Good search options. I came up with WestHost from them. Overall I found it fairly easy to use. It seemed on par with HostInvestigator.


    This site is tailored more towards business hosting but they had some great tools that anyone can use, including a host speed test.


    Their advanced search options rocked. However it was easy to get lost in all the data it returned. Also, it didn't always seem to work. Its reviews are suspiciously like advertising and there aren't many of them.


    Fairly limited search. A lot of the stuff didn't work. Didn't spend too much time here.


    I didn't feel that had a wide choice and the search engine wasn't very useful. They recommended 5 top hosts but they were all big companies and I wasn't sure how they chose them. I could find no guarantee of impartiality.


    Full of industry info and very ad driven. I didn't like it so I fled.


    They seemed lit up like a big billboard, with ads everywhere. I found the search somewhat limited. Using their guaranteed web hosts helped narrow the search, but they had ads in the results -- yuck!

    Now read our term guide to make sure you know what they're talking about.

    Guide to Webhosting terms

    Other common Features

    Now get out there and start hunting!

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