Many people get their first email address when they sign up with an Internet Service Provider (ISP) for their broadband.
Others use freely available online email services, like Hotmail or Gmail (Googlemail).
Email addresses acquired by either of the above means are not really that great for business, for two reasons:
1) A Hotmail, Gmail or similar email address does not provide a particularly good impression of a business, and while ISP-based email addresses (firstname.lastname@example.org) are perhaps not as bad, any firm of substance will have email addresses using its own domain name. E,g, email@example.com .
A further disadvantage of using Hotmail and similar addresses is that they are heavily used or faked by spammers the world over, and as a result emails from these addresses may have a greater risk of being treated as spam, even when they are genuine.
2) An email address provided by an ISP ties you to using that particular service. Should the ISP fail to give good service, or you fall out with them for any reason, you cannot switch ISP without going through the pain of changing your business email address. This means not only telling all your contacts and changing the numerous online logins that you may have, but revising all printed material, flyers, business cards, website, etc. You may lose potential business at result of such a change.
Your own domain name
If you are intent on building a serious business, you need to acquire your own domain name. A domain name is an identity that is registered and unique on the worldwide web. The internet uses domain names to direct traffic (emails, web searches, etc) to the servers that look after the name in question.
International domain suffixes such as .com are the most prestigious and most expensive. Country or regional domains such as .co.uk and .eu are less so. There are also now many other possibilities, including .biz, .net, .org.uk, and (for personal use) .me.uk.
Acquiring domain names and using them is easy and inexpensive. It costs just a few £ a year for a domain name, with the top-level domains such as .com costing more than less popular ones.
There are a good number of companies (registrars) that will register and host domains names, and allow you to control where the email or requests for web pages related to these names are forwarded. Domain name registrars usually provide good search facilities to enable you to see which domain names are still available with which suffixes, and how much they would cost. Note that you cannot get a .co.uk or similar company-type domain name without showing you are entitled to use it - this is to protect registered companies and trademarks having their names hijacked.
When you have registered your domain name, the registrar that you have done it through will give you your own account through which you can manage the domain. This normally gives access to a Control Panel, which allows you to specify such things as where www requests are sent to, and to set up email addresses. A Catchall email address can be useful – this means that any email sent to the domain name for a user who does not have a mailbox set up will be forwarded to the email address you designate. You may also have options for such things as spam control.
Your own domain name is the way forward. It looks better for your business, and it breaks the link between your company identity and your ISP, so you can change your broadband supplier at any time if you have to - without having to disrupt your business.
Who controls domain names?
The highest domain name authority is http://www.icann.org. Run from the USA, The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is responsible for managing and coordinating the Domain Name System (DNS) to ensure that every address is unique and that all users of the Internet can find all valid addresses. It does this by overseeing the distribution of unique IP addresses and domain names. It also ensures that each domain name maps to the correct IP address.
ICANN is also responsible for accrediting the domain name registrars. "Accredit" means to identify and set minimum standards for the performance of registration functions, to recognize persons or entities meeting those standards, and to enter into an accreditation agreement that sets forth the rules and procedures applicable to the provision of Registrar Services. ICANN-accredited registrars are entitled to register global top-level domains, such as .com, and .biz. Control of other, non-global top-level domains is delegated to authorities around the world, who in turn appoint local registrars.
The Authority for all .uk domain names is www.nominet.co.uk. They publish a list of all their members (ie Registrars who are entitled to make .uk domain name registrations) at http://www.nominet.org.uk/governance/members/list/. Nominet is responsible for organising dispute resolution related to .uk domain names.
Domain name registrars and hosting –
Many ISPs (check with your current one), plus specialist hosting or registrar companies such as:
and many others.
If you have any questions arising from this paper, or to discuss the computer systems for your business, please contact:
Chiltern Business Computing Ltd
Tel: 0845 521 1555
Mob: 07813 080053
Member since: 12th October 2009
Jim Symington is a director of Chiltern Business Computing Ltd. The company offers IT advice and support to smaller businesses. http:\\www.chilternbusinesscomputing.co.uk