Practical Ecommerce

Tech Support – December 2006

Question: I’m confused by all the prices out there for domain-name registration. My hosting company occasionally offers free domain name registration, yet I see some other companies charging up to $29.99 annually to register a domain name. Are the more expensive versions somehow better?

Brian Getting: Domain-name registration is a relatively straightforward process. However, there can be a tremendous price difference between different registrars. The difference in pricing generally stems from what services the registrar offers and what promotions the registrar is offering. For example, a hosting company may offer its customers a free domain-name registration each year as a marketing promotion. Since presumably each domain needs to be hosted, it is hoping that, by giving away free domain names (which are relatively cheap for the company), it will pick up new hosting accounts in return, which generate good revenue for the hosting company.

In another example, you may be using a registrar that has invested quite a bit of time and energy into creating tools to help you manage the domain names that you have registered. Such a company typically charges a bit more to register a domain name since it is also covering the overhead of application development. However, the ability to easily perform domain name tasks such as setting contact information, changing DNS settings or automatically renewing your domain when it expires is worth the extra expense to some consumers.

So while registering a domain name ensures that your website address will remain yours for the period of time that you register it, that may not be all that you are paying for. You might also be paying for that slick domain management interface as well or for the piece of mind that a certain registrar provides you.

Question: I was asked to visit a website the other day that had a URL with a “2” after the www. What does the “www2” mean?

Brian Getting: Occasionally you will see a website that starts with “www2” rather than “www.” However, the “www2” has no real significance other than being a subdomain. Developers will often use subdomains such as “www2” or “www3” to accommodate overflow sections of large websites or to segment larger sites into more manageable subdomains.

Subdomains are smaller sections of a main domain. For example, you might have a website at www.examplesite.com that has a community forum. This forum could be housed at a subdomain called forum.examplesite. com, which represents a subdomain. This type of subdomain uses the DNS system to point requests to forum.example.com to a particular directory of the top-level domain. In the case of websites that display as www2.examplesite.com, the developers have simply named their subdomain “www2,” and it is no different than the forum.examplesite.com sub domain.

Question: We run a small ecommerce business that sells education supplies. We would like to start recording podcasts to provide more detail about each of our products, but we cannot afford expensive recording equipment. Is there an affordable way for us to do this?

Brian Getting: Absolutely. Podcasting was brought to life because anyone can create a podcast, which is really just an MP3 audio file that is available for public download. All you need to get started with podcasting is a microphone and a personal computer with recording software on it.

Some computers come with microphones already built in, but I would recommend getting at least a directional microphone that will record your voice clearly and without much background noise. After all, the better the initial recording, is the less work will need to be done later on to clean it up, and the better the final podcast will be. It’s also not a bad idea to look into having some headphone handy in the event that you want to incorporate music or other audio in your podcast. You don’t want any other playback feeding into the microphone while you are recording.

The software that you choose to use to create your podcast is up to you. There are many free applications available for both Windows and Mac operating systems. Start by doing a search for “free podcasting software” and you will be able to pick and choose the application that suits your needs. At the very least, podcasting software should be able to record, mix and compress your podcast files so that all you need to do is upload them. For more information about podcasting take a look at Podcastingnews.com.

Question: I’d like to change hosting companies, but I don’t know how to move my ecommerce site from my old host to my new host. Are there resources available to me?

Brian Getting: Switching hosting servers can be a very easy process or a relatively difficult process, depending on the size and complexity of your website. For the average ecommerce website, changing hosting servers will require the assistance of a professional. The reason for this is that downtime on a website means that customers cannot buy products, which translates into a loss of revenue.

Contact a web developer or consultant as early as you can, and before you choose your new hosting company. They will help to guide you with regards to what features and software a hosting company will need to have in order to accommodate your website. You will want to ensure that every piece of functionality that your website requires will transfer properly, which includes checking database software, dynamic scripting software, web server software and much more.

Remember that there is much more than your website being handled by your hosting company. Your company’s email is also housed there, so be sure to have your email bases covered as well when making a hosting switch.

Brian Getting

Brian Getting

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  1. Legacy User March 28, 2007 Reply

    some nice data, good stuff to know

    — *psi simon*

  2. Legacy User May 3, 2007 Reply

    Thanks for the helpful information. I have been told that there is a difference between leasing your domain name (paying a yearly fee) and owning your domain (paying a one-time lump sum). However, I have yet to find a hosting ad that makes that distinction in its domain registration offers. Is there any truth to this? If so, how does it work and what are the pros and cons of leasing versus owning?

    — *Carmen Garcia Ruiz*

  3. Legacy User June 17, 2007 Reply

    This is an answer to Carmen.

    There is no such thing as owning your domain. You can only lease it. The registration must be renewed, and paid for, each year. In many cases, you can pay upfront for a number of years and the registrar you pay takes care of paying each year, but there is ALWAYS a time limit on it. You cannot OWN a domain name, you can only rent it.

    — *CJ Rhoads*