We continue with the series on domain names and the important things to know and remember when securing a domain name and creating a web presence.
Structure of domain names
A domain name is composed of different parts separated by “dots” and each part represents a hierarchy in the domain name structure and this hierarchy descent from the right to the left part of the domain name.
At the highest level of the hierarchy is the Top Level Domain which is the right most part of the domain name. For example in google.com “.com” is the Top Level Domain (TLD), google is the Second Level Domain (SLD) and in adwords.google.com, “adwords” is the third level domain.
The Zimbabwean domain name structure
The Country Code Top Level Domain for Zimbabwe is .zw domain extension which has since ceased to be used and was subdivided into multiple parts to carter for different industries thereby creating different Country Code Second Level Domains (ccSLDs).
The .zw ccTLD is under the management of the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) and they subdivided the domain and delegated it to different institutions as shown on the following table
|Domain Name Extension||Industry||Management|
|.co.zw||General and Commercial Uses||ZISPA (Zimbabwe Internet Service Providers Association) http://www.zispa.org.zw/|
|.ac.zw||Academic Institutions||UZ (University of Zimbabwe) http://www.compcentre.uz.ac.zw
|.org.zw||Non Profit Organisations||Tel One http://www.telone.co.zw|
|.gov.zw||Government Institutions||Government Internet Service Providers (GISP) http://www.gisp.gov.zw|
|.mil.zw||Military||Government Internet Service Providers (GISP) http://www.gisp.gov.zw|
At the top hierarchy of domain name system control is a non profit making organisation known as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) which was founded in 1998.
ICANN is responsible for the formulation of policies and deciding which registry manages a specific TLD for example the appointment of VeriSign for the management of the .com TLD.
Domain name ownership
When you register a domain name, you are simply renting the right to use that domain name for the specified period usually 1 to 10 years. Note that the minimum time for domain registration is usually 1 year, though some domain extensions require a minimum of two years.
Failure to renew your domain name after it expires can result in the domain name being taken over by someone else. Also note domain ownership can be transferred from one company/person to another.
Managing your domain name
There a number of things that you have to know with regard to managing your domain name and these include:
Domain renewal – you have to know when your domain will be due for renewal as failure to renew may result in losing the domain name to someone else. However domain registrars usually send renewal reminders before the expiry date.
Billing, Technical and administrative contacts – it is very important to have correct contacts associated with your domain name.
- The billing contact receives communication with regard to payment of renewals.
- The technical contact usually receives communication with regard to the change of technical characteristics of the domain name for example the changing of name servers and other domain records.
- The administrative contact receives communication with regard to domain ownership issues. The administrative contact is the one contacted on issues such as domain transfer and change of domain ownership.
It is critical to have these details updated because failure to have the correct details may result in losing your domain name. For instance if the administrative contact has left the company and still have control over the domain s/he can misuse his/her contact association to the domain.