Master Your Own Internet Domain

Seinfeld episodes notwithstanding, buying a domain name may be easy, but managing the domain and making smart technology decisions is another story. Let's take a look at the steps and decisions involved in setting up Web and e-mail hosting accounts for your a domain.

First some basics. Getting a new domain is the purview of a domain registrar, someone like,, or even Network Solutions. The registrar handles the paperwork details and bills you once a year for taking care of them. Each registrar handles the various Domain Name System records that tell everyone on the Internet where to find your Web, e-mail, and other servers. The screen shot at right shows a listing of the records for my domain

As the entries on the list indicate, I have set up a separate mailing list server called 'list', Google hosts my e-mail (that's what the MX records are for), and my Web site is located at the IP address of

You can use your registrar's hosting services for both Web and e-mail services if you wish. This approach is quite convenient, but what happens if you become dissatisfied with your registrar's service and want to switch to a new provider? Relocating your site is easier if your registrar isn't also youre host.

The Web hosting part of the equation presents you with three basic options: using a Web-based public site provider (free or nearly so); using a virtual private server as your host, running some Windows or Linux Web server software ($50 to $500 a year); or using a managed services provider ($200 a month or more). Cost isn't the only factor: The free public providers, such as,,, and, are easy to set up and maintain but don't offer much flexibility with page templates and designs. On the positive side, is these providers simplify the tasks of updating your site and drawing traffic to it. With one of them, you won't require the services of a graphic Web designer to build a fairly attractive site.

If you're interested in extremely low-cost hosting, check out my blog post "," which compares the services offered by Microsoft's Office Live Small Business and by Weebly. Obviously, you forfeit some control over your site's final appearance; but if you want to launch a Web presence quickly, these are both good places to start.