A domain name is an identification string that defines a sphere of administrative independence, control, or authority on the internet. Domain names are invariably referred to as domains while domain name registrants are called domain owners.

Domain names are usually formed by the rules and regulations of the Domain Name System (DNS) and any name documented on the DNS is a domain name.

Domain names are used in many networking backgrounds and application-specific addressing and naming purposes. Generally, domain names represent Internet Protocol (IP) resource like a Personal Computer or (PC) used to access the internet, or a server computer hosting a website or any service that is communicated through internet. Domain names are usually written using lowercase, although labels in the Domain Name System are usually case-insensitive. Domain names are usually used to establish a unique identity with organizations choosing a domain name giving preference to domain names that correspond to their name thus enabling internet users to reach them easily. For example Google’s website is at Google.com making it way easier to locate it online.

Domain names or domains serve a number of useful purposes such as:

  • Individual internet host computers use domains as host names which appear as an element in URL’s (Uniform Resource Locators), or host identifiers for internet resources like websites (e.g. Wikipedia.ORG).
  • Domains are also used as simple identification labels to indicate ownership. Generic domains boost popularity and generic domain names tend to be extremely valuable like VirginAtlantic.com which has spread its tentacles to engage in diversified but highly profitable businesses around the world from aviation, entertainment, hospitality, and even space tourism that has now become a reality.

The number of domains has eclipsed the 200 million mark by the end of 2012 and is still set to go further than that when you factor China that is changing the dynamics of the game and dislodging competitors as it guns for the number one spot.

There are different classifications of domains and they are organized in subordinate levels from the highest to the lowest in pecking order.

  • The first level of domains are the top-level domains (TLD’s), as well as the generic top-level domains (gTLDd’s) (with examples like com, org, net, and edu) and the country code top level domains (ccTLD’s) (with examples like co.uk, de, fr) and
  • Below this top-level domains are second-tier and third-tier domains help connect end-users who wish to run websites.

The business of reselling registered domains influences the perceived value of domains with millions of dollars exchanging hands regularly.