A Guide to Configuring Your Domain Name

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domain registrationWhen you purchase a domain name, the next thing is you would want it to work. As I alluded in my previous article, domain name uses include setting up emails, name servers and websites, of which the most common uses by the majority of people are emails and websites. For these services to work for your domain name the domain has to be configured.

Most domain registrars provide email hosting and web hosting services. If you are signing up for your domain registrar’s hosting services there may not be a need to configure your domain since most of the registrars will have it configured already if you are using their hosting service.

To use a third party hosting service, there is need to configure your domain to point to your host’s servers. There are two ways to point your domain to your host’s servers in order to use their hosting services.

It’s either you use your domain registrar’s name servers and use DNS records to point the domain to your host, or you use your host’s name servers and manage your domain from the host’s control panel. Another thing to note is you have to add your domain to your host’s account when pointing your domain to the host.

Using Your Host’s Name Servers

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When you sign up for hosting services, the host furnishes you with a minimum of two name servers (primary and secondary) to use in order to point to their servers. An example of nameservers looks as follows;

  1. ns1.webenchanter.com (primary name server)
  2. ns2.webenchanter.com (secondary name server)

Usually, domain registrars use their default name servers when you are registering a domain name. You can change these name servers during the registration process and if you have not yet signed up for any hosting services you can leave the domain registrar’s default name servers which you can change later.

To change the name servers after registration you will simply need to log on to your domain registrar’s control panel and input your desired name servers. However, this may not be the case with some country code Top Level Domains(ccTLDs) e.g. .co.zw domains where you need to send an email requesting the name servers to be changed by the registry operator.

After effecting the name server changes, note that it takes from 24 to 48 hours (depending on the zone publishing frequency set by the registry operator) for the domain name to propagate i.e for other networks to reflect the name server changes.

Using The DNS Records

When registering a domain name, if you do not change the name servers the domain registrar will use its default name servers. In this case, you will have an option to change the name servers at a later stage or continue with the domain registrar’s name servers and then use the DNS records to point to your desired host. You can only access your domain through your domain registrar’s control panel if your domain name bears the domain registrar’s name servers.

The DNS records include the A/AAAA records, CNAME records, MX Records etc. We will cover the types of DNS records in the articles to follow. To configure these DNS records, you need to log  onto the control panel provided by your domain registrar. Here is an example of how a control panel looks like (using cPanel as an example). Note that registrars use different control panels.

Domain-Name-Panel

I highly recommend this option of using DNS Records to point your domain to your host over the use of name servers for those who frequently change hosts as this offers some flexibility and it usually takes less time for the DNS records to propagate.



11 Comments

  1. Magneto says:

    Thank you for a quite simple and straight to the point article.

    We must encourage each other to use local registrars and local name servers in order for us to keep our traffic local. This will save the whole a lot of much needed FOREX going out each month to pay for International Traffic.

  2. Isaac Maposa says:

    Thanks for the encouraging feedback. Sure using local registrars and local hosts (hope its what you meant) will help build our local businesses and reduce spending on importing services. But also we as local registrars and hosts must build products that are reliable enough for one not to prefer foreign registrars and hosts over us.

  3. kilotango says:

    The problem here with your comment Isaac, is that many local web hosting companies advocate local hosting, and provision of local services, but in reality, all use reseller services provided by US companies.

    for example, just having a quick look at servers like:

    ns1.webenchanter.com and ns2.webenchanter.com

    its quite easy to tell that these arent infact hosted anywhere near the African continent, let alone Zimbabwe. So while defending local internet and hosting.. which was the point of your comment, it should be noted that your company does not actually host anything in Zimbabwe

  4. Isaac Maposa says:

    That’s true kilotango most of the local hosts are resellers, but still those who have there servers locally if they could provide a service that won’t make people prefer foreign hosts over local hosts there will be no need for most people hosting outside of Zim. Also note i may have name servers like ns1.webenchanter.com being hosted locally and also have ns1.webenchanter.co.zw being hosted out of Zimbabwe.

    1. kilotango says:

      Hi Isaac, i stand to be corrected, but all of your services are hosted in the US from what i’ve checked? so while you are saying that us as locals need to improve our products locally to stop people using foreign hosts, you are infact outsourcing to overseas companies yourself. sure, having co.zw on your domain name doesnt necessarily mean being physically hosted in Zimbabwe, but the IP addresses of, and trace routes to hosts do say alot more.

      My argument is that by investing in everything locally, infrastructure and all… eg. co-locating a physical nameserver or webserver at your local ISP, you would be providing income into their local business. You would be employing a local lad to manage the server and its security, so you’d be providing jobs to locals as well. In a wider view, you would be contributing to our local economy, at the cost of smaller profits.

    2. Magneto says:

      Your point is not valid. Most major companies in Zimbabwe use local hosts (iWayAfrica,ZOL,Yo,AfricaOnline etc…). Ask any of these business giants if they have ever considered moving their hosting outside… probably never! In-fact the guys we always encounter with mail and DNS issues are those using funny briefcase hosting companies in SA or US.

      1. Anonymous says:

        Magneto, you do realise that all these “giants” you mention have one thing in common. They are Internet Service Providers. Web hosting is not their core business. Of course they do provide it as well because, after all, they already have all the infrastructure in place to offer it. From my experience, these guys’ web hosting sucks. I wouldn’t go there. These guys charge exorbitant prices for co-location hosting.

  5. Isaac Maposa says:

    Hi kilotango, You are correct on that, i did not reject that. My point was if those who have the infrastructure locally have good customer service, reliable service, good security (this a very serious issue), competitive pricing models (prices charged for VPS locally can buy you two or more Dedicated servers outside) , support an array of services e.t.c. we wouldn’t be considering outside companies. The local companies must also up their game to match to International standards.

    1. Dee says:

      I concur with where you say ,” The local companies must also up their game to match to International standards.” Local hosting prices and packages are not competitive. I have a domain hosted locally but the price is just to high compared to international, even our neighbour South Africa have very reasonable charges. For just ZAR 29.00 per month one can get uncapped disk space, free domain name, uncapped trafic , etc. The local companies are taking us for granted.

  6. Mhuka Huru says:

    Basically the issue is about pricing, Isaac, you’re right, I host ove 30 websites, all of them using an SA company, that in turn uses Hostgator, a USA Company, all beacuse if you wanna do it here, you’ll be asked to pay with an arm, leg and at times even your head. So please, support local, and we send the money outside the country, until those with servers get serious!

  7. creativeON says:

    Great Post.Choosing a web facilitating supplier relies on upon what sort of site you need to have: interest, blog or ecommerce website. Accordingly there are diverse kinds of facilitating suppliers, probably the most widely recognized site facilitating sorts are: shared, free and committed facilitating.

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