Understanding Domains | Kray Mitchell | Skillshare
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10 Lessons (17m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. What is a domain

    • 3. How a Domain Works

    • 4. The IP Address

    • 5. Nameservers vs DNS

    • 6. DNS Records

    • 7. Domains, Hosting and Platforms

    • 8. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer)

    • 9. Stay Updated

    • 10. Outro

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About This Class

Understanding Domains is an introduction into the world of domains. At some point many of us will have a website, but we don't really know anything about our domains or how they work. 

This course will take you through everything you need to know as a beginner with domains. You will learn:

  • What a domain is.
  • How a domain works.
  • What an IP address is.
  • The difference between Nameservers and DNS records.
  • Domains vs Hosting.
  • And more!

This is not an advanced course and will not go in depth on any topic. You will learn enough to be able to confidently maintain and understand your domain records.

Meet Your Teacher

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Kray Mitchell

Sometimes a teacher, always a student.


He's a devil's advocate, he's a strategic thinker, he's a technologist and he's an educator. Since 1997 Kray has been building websites and diving headfirst into the world of web and technology. From building websites to implementing technical solutions for companies of all sizes, he has designed for print, directed for TV, taught in the classroom and mentored the eager.

Kray loves to teach, speak and inspire. With an eclectic background in Information Technology, TV and Film, Graphic Design, he brings a wide range of experience and expertise to all his projects.

See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hi, I'm Cream Mitchell and welcome toe understanding domains. This is an introductory course on domains that will take you through things like, what is a domain? How does the domain work? What are DNS records and what is SSL? These are important things to know when you own a domain, even if you're not gonna be using it all the time or making modifications to it. These air things that everybody that has a domain needs to know This isn't an advanced course, but it will give you the starting points to move forward. If you do, decide to later on. I hope you enjoy it. Thanks. 2. What is a domain: So what is a domain? Well, domains lying to easily find websites. It makes the Web actually usable. Let's look at it like this. Your friend Steve lives up the road, and when you go to his house, you're just saying, You're going to Steve's place. You don't see you're going toe 1234 Street not only because it's efficient, but to remember, like 10 people's addresses or even five, is a difficult and complicated task. But Steve's House, Jen's house Aarons house, those really easy to remember makes a lot easier. Domains work in a very similar way. Every website has an I P address, which is a unique number like this and similar to a friend's address. Not very easy to remember is you start trying to remember more and more of them or even one , for that matter. A domain simplifies this unique number by masking into something simple and usually branded . Google dot com apple dot com, facebook dot com So much easier to remember than a whole bunch of numbers. Domains Allied provide a branded experience to your customers, and there are thousands of different top level domains commonly referred to his teal these to choose from of course dot com is the most recognizable of them all, but there's other common ones have been around for a while that you'll probably recognize to like dot net and dot org's not to mention the country specific codes for domains like Canada dot c a dot I am for India and not ceo dot UK for the UK With the limited possibilities of teal, these like dot com, we started to see other domains showing up in the mix in around 2000. Most common and notorious of that time frame is the dot biz. But in 2013 we started sieving, seeing even more of these come out. Things like dot bike dot guru dot photo and not live, and there are available at a range of prices. When you purchased the domain, you're not really purchasing it. You're basically leasing the domain, and that gives you the right to use both the root domain and any sub domains that you'd like. We'll talk a bit more about sub domains when we move into name servers and DNS. But if you wanted to have an additional sub domain like male doctor main dot com or store dot domaine dot com. It's not gonna cost you anything and distant for that. Or it shouldn't let's take a look, a simplified structure of the domain to get a better understanding of how they're put together. Well, it is more complicated than this. What I'm showing you is the majority of what you'll need to know in your day to day use in over 20 years of working with Web technology. It was a very rare occasion when I've actually used the technical names and structure of the domain. So we're gonna look at the domain going from left to right, starting with the protocol, and this could be both secure or insecure, as denoted by the S on the end, then is the sub domain sometimes used, sometimes not follow them by the domain or the group's domain and then ending with the TLT or the top level domain. Anything that follows after that is considered the path. When we put it all together, it becomes you are out. Now that we've talked about what a domain is, let's take a look about how a domain works and what happens when you enter the domain into your browser 3. How a Domain Works: Let's take a look at what goes down when you go to your favorite domain. You punch in your website, lets say. Craig Mitchell dot com that domain gets sent out into the world looking for the corresponding server that the domain is assigned to. This is done through the use of DNS servers. Think of DNS servers is junk and phone directories that matchup the domain to the I. P. Address of the server where your website resides. There are thousands of these servers worldwide. So third Quest gets to a server that has no entry for your domain. It queries the next server and then the next server and so on until it does find a match. That information then get sent back to your computer so it knows where to go, and you're sent to the server to view the website. On the way back. All those servers that didn't have the information on your domain will get updated so they can cash those results for next time. This all happens within Laker seconds. And that's where you get to a website 4. The IP Address: as mentioned previously, the I P address or Internet Protocol address is the underlying address for domain. Every device that is connected to a network or the Internet has a unique I P address. Just like no two houses can have the same address. Notre devices can have the same I p address your phone, your smart watch, her laptop, your gaming console, your security camera and that fancy door lock that connects to the Internet. They all have an I P address associated with them. They usually don't have domains associated with a vote, because people don't need to access them regularly enough to warrant to domain. For most of the Internet's existence, the I P addresses didn't change much. It was always formatted the same way. Four blocks of numbers 192.1 succeed 0.1 dot one. This is a common I P address for your home router. As you can see, there's four blocks and numbers. Each block can have up to three digits, with the max number being 255 such as 255255255255 This is known as an I P V. four Address Internet Protocol version four that were great when most people only have one computer. We didn't have smart devices everywhere. We were running over out of I P addresses rapidly, so I P v. Six was introduced on I. P V six address looks a lot scarier. When we compare this to an I P V four address, you can see that there's not only numbers but letters involved, too. Yikes. This formatting allows for many, many, many more I P addresses than were previously available. But regardless of how they work, they both provide the same overall functionality to identify a device online or over a network. Depending on the device, you may or may not be able to locate the I P address easily. You would most likely need to log into your router to find out which I P addresses are being used and by which devices 5. Nameservers vs DNS: there's often confusion between name servers and DNS records and how they work together. DNS records are the underlying records that control what gets directed where the name servers point to the server, where these DNs records reside and are controlled. This can get confusing because you can change your DNS records with your registrar. But if your name servers appointed towards your hosting company than the DNS would need to be changed at the hosting company for its take effect, you always need to know where your name servers air pointing to control the DNS properly. Let's take a look at an example. If you purchased your domain with hover dot com and your using the default name servers from hover, then you would be able to control the DNS records directly within hover as soon as you changed the name servers to point elsewhere. Remember that the control of those underlying records goes with him. So if you point your name servers to ah, hosting company like host gator dot com, then you need to make DNS changes with host gator and not hover. Many people will only ever change their name servers, but lots of you will ending up changing or adding the N S records at some point. So it's important to understand where to change these records to ensure changes take effect properly. Also, you don't want to confuse changing name servers or DNS records with domain forwarding. Yes, both of them can control where a domain points. But domain redirection works differently, and it's not a recommended way to direct a live website. This can cause issues like making a responsive website, not work on mobile devices. Stick to using DNS records and name servers to point your domains, and you'll be fine. 6. DNS Records: it's time to talk about DNS records. If you haven't yet reviewed the I P addresses or the names, servers and DNS videos, it's recommended you do that before watching this one. There's many people will know only ever use name servers and never getting in a changing DNS records. But some of you will end up adding or modifying one of these records at one point or another. The S stands for domain name system DNS records. There were control how and where different traffic is routed across the Internet. Keep in mind that this is a simplified look at using DNS records. Unless you really know and understand the underlying functionality of DNS, you really shouldn't be doing more than what we're talking about here. Incorrectly. Setting up your DNS can wreak havoc on your website or email. Also, remember that you have to check where your name servers are pointing to ensure that your DNS changes are being done in the right spot. In order to take effect before you make any changes, make sure you review all the records and take a screenshot or write things down in case you need to revert anything. Let's start with the A and the A. A records and a record will point to an I P address, and it will most likely effect just the root domain when editing in a record usually denote that it's going to affect the root domain by using an at symbol or a star. And sometimes both. You may want to check with whoever hosts your DNS to find out how they foot one things formatted. If you're not sure, and a record is specific to the I P V four address is, where is the A? Is reserved for I P v six. You wouldn't have one of each of these records, nor should you have more than one of either, That said. Sometimes you will have to one for the A at symbol and one for the star. Depending on who's hosting your DNS, more complicated set ups may be used as well. Now the sea name or canonical records, on the other hand, point to another domain or a sub domain. There are times where you'll need to use I P address its for a C name, but unless specifically instructed to, you should keep it simple to avoid potential issues. For instance, let's look at this www c name record. Most of the time, this will simply point to your root domain. Let's use criminal dot com as an example. The A record for the primary domain could be something like 2458123.4, and then a C name for the W W would simply point to criminal dot com. Different hosting companies and different platforms will have things set up differently. So make sure you check the directions for adding domains to any service you might be using to ensure you're setting up correctly. One size does not fit all in the terms of DNS. Moving on. We're gonna look at MX entries. This stands for mail exchanger and is used to tell email which mail server it needs to go to. In most cases, you're gonna add multiple MX records and set them in different priorities. This is redundancy to ensure that your mail gets delivered properly if one server is down. If you were going to set up a Google G suite, these air the five records that you're gonna add in to make sure that it works the first starting a priority. One up to Priority 10. If the first servers unavailable, it'll go to the second and so on until it fails or delivers the mail. Finally, the text record exactly as it sounds, A Tax Records holds text information. There's a wide range of uses from domain verification tabbing SPF information for email, deliver ability, the tax records common and, like MX records, you may end up with multiples of them. You shouldn't have duplicates, but you could have two or three text records for different things in your domain. Regardless of what records are adding and modifying after changing any DNS servers or name servers, you'll need to wait for propagation. This is the process of getting the changes you made to thousands of different being s servers around the world. Well, this normally happens. Within a few hours, it can take up to 24 to 48 hours to fully complete. During that time, some people may see the old data well. Some people will see the new one. So this is a brief overview of the different types of records that you're going to use in your domain again. If you're unsure of anything. Don't make any changes. Contact your registrar support or you're hosting support and ask if they can help get you set up properly. Remember, a bad record can cause bad things for your website or take it down. Same goes for your email. Let's play safe. 7. Domains, Hosting and Platforms: many people incorrectly assumed that their domain is the same is hosting. This could certainly get a little confusing, especially when you add platforms into the mix. So I'm hoping that we can clarify a bit here, though, make sure you check out what is the domain video to when we talk about hosting. We're talking about the physical location where your website is stored. Think of it as a storage locker fear website. This will be on a server somewhere, but we referred to it as hosting or Web Hosting. Web hosting is a place where you'll store your website files and will usually provide you with some kind of control panel to set up and maintain the environment. You'll be able to do things like set up a database or remove files vile by the final manager. Understanding and using a hosting environment may require a learning curve, depending on your technical nature. When we look at a platform in comparison, it's easy to confuse it with hosting. Since your website is stored there, however, you really have the features and the modification capabilities on the server side like you will with hosting think of services like Wicks were Shopify. These both allow you to set up a website, but you can't control the features of the server that hosts the website, and you can't get the same kind of access to the server files like you can with Webos Day. The platform controls and handles this side of things for you so you can work on the things that matter most. Now the domain. You can have a Web hosting or a platform without a domain. You can also have a domain without having Web hosting or platform to directed to. In many cases, you can purchase the domain through the same company that provides you the hosting or the platform services. Think of companies like Host Gator or Go Daddy as hosting companies, but you can also purchase domains from them. Wicks and Shopify would be examples of platforms, and you can also buy domains from them when you purchase it domain by itself. You do this through a registrar usually, but it could also sell hosting, but you don't need to buy hosting at the same time. Once you have access to the domain, you're able to use DNS records or name servers to point the domain to a specific Web server work to a platform. You're also able to transfer domain to another registrar at any time, and the same goes for hosting and platforms. It may require a bunch of extra work, but it can be done. I always suggest keeping your website in your domain together with the same company. If you only have one website, this makes it a lot easier for you and keeps everything in one location. If you have a number of websites, I'd look at having a single registrar for your domains and a host fear website again. It makes things easier for you now. When I said You can transfer domain at any time. It's a little bit of a misnomer. Within the 1st 60 days of registering a domain, no matter where you do it, there's something known as a transfer lock. This prevents people from stealing domains, so if you do want to transfer to domain, you're gonna have to wait till that 60 day lock unlocks before you can do that transfer. Hopefully, this clears things up in regards to domains hosting and platforms 8. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer): the last thing I want to talk about is encryption were commonly known as SSL secure sockets layer or TLS transport layer Security. I'm gonna be using the term SSL going forward encapsulates both and is more common here. When traffic is center received from a server, it's unencrypted by default. That means it's being transmitted in plain text, so anybody listening in on the connection will be able to easily read that information. This is especially important if you have a logging on your website transmitting user names and passwords and planes. Text is a huge security risk as an example. If you install WordPress on your server and you don't have an SSL certificate that when you log in, people could very easily steal your log in details. When you see the dots instead of a password when you're lugging in, that's not encryption. That's masking, and it's just doing that so nobody standing beside you can read what you're typing. Do that a higher security risks online, even if you don't have a knob wagen. It suggested that you have SSL. Google's even starting to rank secure websites higher than insecure websites. Given that you can get a free or low cost access cell. Six. Forget there's no reason not to have one. If it's not something that you can do yourself, hire somebody to do it for you or talk to your hosting company to see if they can do it for you. You want to look for the walk in your browser to show that your pages secure. You see this on every page of your website with browsing using https. If using, http, that's a red flag to say that sites not transmitting data securely again. With so many free and low cost options for securing your website, there is no reason not to do this. Stay secure. 9. Stay Updated: it's important to keep your information updated. When you have a domain, you're gonna get emails from ICANN, the Internet corporation for assigned names and numbers and or from the company that you registered your domain lift. Well, some of these emails air just confirming address and email are up to date. Some will be important things like verifying your domain or letting you know when your domain is about to expire. If you don't recall getting in the emails like this, you're gonna want to check that your contact information is up to date cause there's nothing worse than losing an important domain because you didn't get the notification or your website going down 90 days after you register because we didn't verify it. If your registrar allows it, enable auto renew fear domain that way, providing you keep your credit card information up to date. Your domain is going to renew automatically every year without you having to do anything. Make sure your information is always up to date and you should be golden 10. Outro: Well, that's a wrap that's understanding domains, and I hope you now understand domains a little bit better. If you have any questions, feel free to post them, and I'll respond as soon as I can.