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Domain & Website Basics: Information to Avoid Scams

  • September 10, 2018
  • by ServeNow Staff
  • Articles

The internet and digital world are tricky to navigate, and even the experts have to do regular research to learn about all the new information. Terminology can often be overwhelming and it is difficult to determine what requests are valid and legitimate. In the last few weeks, ServeNow became aware of an email from an outside registrar company written and designed to look like a bill that must be paid to renew your domain. However, the letter is, in fact, a marketing tactic to get you to transfer your domain to their registrar, potentially causing an increase in rates and an unnecessary change of vendors.

Here, we break down some terminology to help you avoid falling victim to malicious marketing tactics:

Domain

A domain is where your website lives. For example, ServeNow’s domain name is serve-now.com.

URL

A URL is the Uniform Resource Locator. It differs from a domain because a URL is the complete world wide web address. For example, this page’s URL is https://www.serve-now.com/articles/2486/domain-website-basics-information-to-avoid-scams but the domain is still serve-now.com. A URL can take you to a specific page on a domain.

Registrar

Where your domain is registered and lives. The registrar is the company you pay to keep your domain active. Example registrars are GoDaddy and RedHat Domains.

Domain Name System/DNS

In simple terms, DNS is the address book of the internet. It translates your domain into an address computers understand (an IP address).

Domain Name Records

DNS records are the configurations of your domain. These records connect your domain name to the server where the stored data lives. There are several types of domain name records that establish different connections. We have outlined some here:

  • A - points a domain to an IP address

  • CNAME - establishes domain name aliases

  • MX - point to an email server which handles the domain’s email like [email protected]

Domain name records typically live in your registrar, but they can be pointed outside of the system and managed remotely through custom Domain Name Servers.

NS Records

NS records direct where DNS records are managed. There are preset records when you first purchase a domain that points them to your registrar. They can be changed so that they are managed outside of the registrar.

Website Hosting

Hosting a website means storing its files and information. Website hosting is different from just owning a domain as hosting involves saving the actual code of your site. In other terms, the domain is your address on the internet, and hosting is the house you build there. Registrars often offer hosting alongside a domain name purchase, which means your website code is built and stored within their system. If you have a third party build your site, they likely include hosting on their platform. Double check with your website company to see what the included products are and if they will host your site. Be sure to not pay two website hosting charges!

Important Technology Practices

If you own your own domain, it is important to remember the location (registrar) of your domain and to safely store your login information. Knowing what registrar you use will validate what requests for renewal payment are legitimate. If another registrar/company contacts you to “transfer and renew” your domain, that is an attempt to get you to use their services.

Another tip to help with domain renewals is to set up auto-renew. Don’t let your domain expire as you could lose your domain, harming your brand, online reputation, and ranking. Even if you are able to repurchase your domain after it lapses, you may have to set up your records again, which can be complicated and waste time. If you turn auto-renew on, remember to update any expiring cards.

If another company manages your domain and website, be sure to have their email address handy to ask about any suspicious looking emails or requests before taking action. Furthermore, it is possible that a domain lives in your account at a specific registrar, but the management of your Domain Name Records is in another company’s system. Keep track of who built and manages your website so that they can make necessary changes.

Legitimate Practices

Transferring your domain out of an outdated registrar is sometimes the best decision to more easily manage your account, settings, and DNS records. Carefully look over the costs and services provided. However, be wary if a company contacts you first to transfer your domain to them.

Setting up your DNS properly can often seem suspicious to those unfamiliar with technology, but it is standard practice if you hire another company to manage your website and hosting. They will need access to connect their website design to your domain. As always, be sure that you hired a reputable and trusted company.

Websites for Process Servers

ServeNow’s parent company, Lawgical, provides process servers with websites and domain leasing (but don’t worry, we’re not anything like everything we told you to avoid above). We can connect our website design with your domain, or get a new domain up and running for you! Our trained staff is knowledgeable in dealing with websites, DNS, domains, and more so that can we can worry about your website and you can focus on serving papers.

Overall, registrars, hosting, and email are relatively inexpensive. We recommend going with a reputable, established, and popular company, even if they are not the cheapest. Quality registrar and services are worthwhile in the long run when dealing with the confusing world of domains and websites.


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