Copyright 2001, David Pierce

How to set up your own domain and web site

David Pierce
July 21, 2001

Note: This document is not intended as an advertisement for any particular services. It is only intended for family and friends who want to set up their own web sites and who might be asking me for help with it in the future.

Introduction

An internet domain is a base address in cyberspace, like microsoft.com or google.com. Setting up your own domain means finding a unique domain name and laying claim to it using the services of a domain registrar. Setting up your own web site, so that you can attach content to your domain, means finding a web hosting service to do all the hard work for you. In this how-to document, I will describe the process I used and currently recommend.

Register a domain name

Several of my friends and I have all been satisfied with GoDaddy.com as a domain registrar. Their site is good about leading you through the steps of finding an unclaimed domain name and registering it for you. They only charge about $10 per year for the service.

If you are setting up a domain for business purposes, I'm sure you'll want to go with a .com suffix. For a personal web site, none of the suffixes make a lot of sense. Using .org would be good if your web site represents an organization. You might want to use .com even for a family web site simply because it is the one that your friends are most likely to remember correctly. You also have the option of using more than one suffix. When setting up your site with a web-hosting service, you can have multiple domains aliased to the same underlying web site.

So here are the steps:

  1. Go to www.godaddy.com.
  2. Play with their Domain Names finding utility until you find one you like.
  3. Go through their step-by-step process. This will ultimately involve you providing contact information, including permanent address, and providing a credit-card number so that they can bill you for the service. When GoDaddy asks you for DNS Data for your hosting account, simply go with the option where they temporarily park the domain name at their site.

You should get a confirming email at the email address you provided when you signed up.

Set up an account with a web hoster

The company phpwebhosting.com offers a very complete service for less then $10 per month. There may be better deals out there, but I have been happy with phpwebhosting so far and recommend that you use them, especially if you want to ask me for any technical support. Here are the steps:

  1. Go to www.phpwebhosting.com.
  2. Click on "sign-up".
  3. Follow the instructions, giving them the name of your new domain and, of course, credit-card information so that they can bill you.
  4. You should get a confirming email at the email address you provided when you signed up. It will contain further instructions and should give you two nameserver names that you need to use to update your account with godaddy.com.

Wait...

Once you have updated your godaddy account with phpwebhosting.com's nameservers, it may take up to 48 hours for the rest of the world to know about your new domain. While you are waiting, you can use your phpwebhosting Control Panel (whose address was included in your email from phpwebhosting) to start setting up your site and even set up email addresses if you like. If you are going to use Microsoft Outlook to read your mail, be sure to read the "Guide to setting up Microsoft Outlook" document.

You'll know that your domain is up when you can type it (e.g., www.yourdomain.com) into a web browser and be taken to your default web page.

Uploading files

You actually don't have to wait until your domain is accessible over the Internet before uploading files. Read the "How do I upload files to my account" document, which is accessible from your phpwebhosting Control Panel. I like to use Internet Explorer 5. In my case, I open the link "ftp://ftp.kasheke.com" where I am prompted for a user name and password. Use the name and password provided when you set up your account with phpwebhosting. Double-click on the www icon folder. Into this folder, put whatever want to make available on your web site. If you put HowISpentMyVacation.html into this folder, then your friends will be able to access it using the URL "http://www.yourdomain.com/HowISpentMyVacation.html".

Note: if you are uploading files before your domain name is visible to the Internet, use the FTP address provided by phpwebhosting in their "How do I upload files to my account" document.