Master of your domain

from the July 2006 Newsletter
by Rob Zorn

Have you ever thought about getting yourself a domain name?

A domain name is the part that comes after the @ in an e-mail address, and after the www. in a web address. It's a pretty cool cyber-accessory, and if you haven't got one of your own, you might want to think about getting one.

You can have a domain name without having a web site to go with it, and getting one set up is easier, quicker and cheaper than you might have thought. Lots of people get domain names just to secure them in case they may want to use them in the future. At any stage you can start using your domain name for your e-mail address, and if you are ready for a web site one day, you're already set with the web address.

It's a real testament to your cyber-mojo when your e-mail address is yourfirstname@yoursurname.co.nz. If you're in business, it's much more professional and reassuring when you can e-mail your customers from sales@yourbusiness.co.nz (instead of yourbusiness@actrix.co.nz). Creating one from your business name is also a good idea because it is recognisable and becomes part of your advertising.

The domain name you choose can be absolutely anything you like as long as it is 67 characters long or less and isnít already taken. You can check whether a domain name is still available by searching it on the New Zealand Domain Name Commissioner's web site (www.dnc.org.nz). Just put the domain name into the box, select the extension you require (.co.nz, .net.nz etc) and you'll instantly see whether it's been taken, and if it has, who it has been taken by.

To make things easier, Actrix provides the ability to check the availability of your desired domain name during the signup process, saving you the hassle of having to use the DNC site. You'll find a button you can click that will check the domain name's availability status for you.

A domain name's "bits"

The .nz part is technically called the first level domain. The .co, .net etc part is called the second level, and the part that you get to choose is called the third level, but we're only mentioning that for correctness. In this article we'll just refer to the end bits of a domain name as the extension.

Companies and businesses should use .co.nz for their domain names, but a lot of personal e-mail addresses also use this. If you or your company are into technical or Internet related stuff, you should probably use the .net.nz extension on your domain. A list of the available NZ extensions can be found in the table (right).
.co.nz businesses and companies
.net.nz network and Internet companies
.org.nz non-profit/charitable bodies
.geek.nz geeks and ardent techos
.school.nz schools
.gen.nz general
.maori.nz Māori
.govt.nz Government
.ac.nz academic institutions
.iwi.nz Iwis
.cri.nz Crown research institutes
.mil.nz Military

You're free to choose whatever extension you think is most appropriate for your domain name in most cases. Some extensions are moderated, however. You can't use .govt, .mil .cri or .iwi without special permission.

Getting your domain name

Actrix can secure your domain name for you in virtually no time at all. You can apply for one online at http://www.actrix.co.nz/webservices/domainnames.php (or just choose Domain Names under Web Services on our main menu). There's a $35 set up fee and the domain itself will cost you just $44.95 per year.

Actrix can also secure some overseas domains for you (.com, .net etc), but these tend to be more expensive, and anyway, you should be proud of the .nz in your e-mail address!

Using your domain for e-mail

When Actrix secures your domain name for you, part of the process is to automatically point all e-mail for that domain at the e-mail address you specify. For example, if I wanted to get the domain ratemyeditor.co.nz, I would specify to Actrix that I wanted all e-mail for that domain to go to editor@actrix.co.nz by default. Each time I check my editor mailbox, all mail to anything@ratemyeditor.co.nz would also turn up there. In effect I would now have two working e-mail addresses, all going to the same place. In fact I sort of have an unlimited number of e-mail addresses, because the default setting means that anything at all sent to @ratemyeditor.co.nz now comes to me via the editor mailbox.

Upon request, however, Actrix can create separate mail rules for your domain. I could have accounts@ratemyeditor.co.nz to go to one of my employee's e-mail address, and inquiries@ratemyeditor.co.nz go to a different employee. The default would still be in place, so anything for my domain other than those two addresses would still come to me.

Getting your e-mail program to handle your new domain name is also a snap. If you just want to use your domain name e-mail address, all you have to do is change the reply address setting so that it has your new address in it. Your old e-mail address will still work, but every e-mail you send out will now come from your domain name e-mail address. If you want to set your mail program up so that you can choose which address to send from, you may need to create a new account in your settings. This will vary from program to program, but it is easy to do, and the Actrix help desk can talk you through it over the phone in just a minute or two (0800-228749).

So what are you waiting for? Head on over to the domain names sign-up form to check whether your new e-mail address is available, and then apply for it online. Your friends are all going to be really impressed!