Get your Web domain name -- cheap
Let a URL redirection service point to your page inexpensively and easily.
February 8, 1999
by Carla Thornton
(IDG) -- PROBLEM: You want a Web domain name -- but traditional hosting services are costly and complex.
SOLUTION: Let a URL redirection service do the job inexpensively and easily.
Go on, admit it: You want your own Web domain name. Maybe you're tired of a clunky home page address that dwells three directories deep on your Internet service provider's Web site. (Who can remember www.bigisp.net/users/jsmith/index.html?) Or perhaps you've finally decided to take your business online, in which case having a professional-sounding URL is even more important.
Registering a domain name with InterNIC, the organization that licenses and maintains all domain names, costs a reasonable $70 for the first two years, and $35 annually thereafter. The trouble is, the actual costs of using that name mount quickly. Most ISPs will gladly register the name for you and host (or store) your site on a Web server. But a special Web site hosting account costs at least $20 a month, on top of your monthly dial-up fee. And if you decide to move your site to another ISP, InterNIC must transfer the domain name to the new host -- a bureaucratic procedure that can take days.
The alternative: Use a URL redirection service. When Web surfers type your custom domain name into their Web browsers, the service automatically forwards them to your existing home page, no matter where it's located or what its actual URL is. Redirection is transparent to your visitors--and simple and cheap for you (costing as little as a one-time-only fee of $49).
Richard Tarango, owner of RTC Computer Services, a consulting business in Whittier, California, knew it was time to get his own domain name when customers tripped over his Web address. "No matter how carefully I spelled it over the phone, people would miss a character," recalls Tarango, whose Web site resides in the space he receives with his EarthLink account.
At first, Tarango considered using EarthLink's domain-name registration and Web-hosting services but was put off by the additional fees. "I was already spending $34 a month for my ISDN account. Adding domain-name hosting would have increased that to $54 a month, not including $100 in one-time setup fees." Then one day he surfed across a banner ad for MyDomain, a company that promised cheap, fast URL redirection ($49 one-time setup fee, not including $70 InterNIC registration fee). "Fifteen minutes after I registered with MyDomain, anyone could type my new URL, www.rtc-computerservices.com, and get sent right to my site on EarthLink," he remembers. "No one knows the difference, and it costs me at least $240 less a year than it would to use EarthLink's services."
Claim your domain
Like an ISP, MyDomain and competitors such as NameSecure will register a domain name with InterNIC for you. But rather than hosting your site, they simply redirect your new domain name to any URL you specify -- so surfers can avoid entering a complex URL such as www.bigisp.net/users/jsmith/index.html and just type www.johnsmith.com. These services also redirect e-mail, letting you use a snappy address like email@example.com.
Compared to ISP domain-name hosting services, URL directors offer rock-bottom fees, increased flexibility, and maximum convenience. After you pay InterNIC's $70 fee, for instance, MyDomain charges a one-time setup fee of $49 -- period. That fee covers both domain-name registration and redirection to any online location, such as the space that comes with your ISP account or the free space available at sites like GeoCities. And if you eventually decide to move your Web site to another ISP, MyDomain will reroute your domain quickly and for free.
On the Web, no one need know you're a one-person company. A domain name of your own suggests a sizable operation -- and so do multiple e-mail addresses, available for little or no extra money from URL redirectors like MyDomain. For example, your solo catering business's home page might list several e-mail addresses besides the owner's: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org. A well-chosen set of addresses can also presort incoming messages for you.
Registering more than one domain name makes sense if you're worried about competitors grabbing a similar name -- say, uptowncatering.net vs. uptowncatering.com. Or you may simply want to provide surfers with as many paths to your site as possible. For instance, in addition to uptowncatering.com, you might want to register cateringexperts.com. MyDomain charges $35 apiece for additional names (plus the $70 InterNIC fee).
If you're strapped for cash, consider a free URL redirection service such as CJB.Net or WebAlias.com. These services don't give you a true domain name, just a permanent subdirectory on their server (for example, http://jsmith.cjb.net) that redirects visitors to your real URL. Still, the addresses are simpler than many traditional URLs. And they offer one address where friends and family can reach you -- no matter where a new ISP may take you.
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