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Purchasing a domain name?

domain_image.jpgHere are some commons Q&A

Q. Do I need to buy the various .com, .biz, .info, .ca, etc. domains?

A. No, not unless you have a valuable brand name or trademark that you wish to protect from impostors.

Q. What is the difference between .com, .org, .ca, .bc.ca, etc.? A. It is a trade-off between recognizability and exclusivity.

Anyone can get a .com, so they are recognizable and popular all over the world. But they are non-exclusive which means the domain type is shared with everything from legitimate businesses to personal blogs to shady scams, which makes them less prestigious. For this reason, organizations that qualify might want a more specific domain type such as .edu or .org. Canadian individuals or organizations can use .ca domains to help distinguish them from the sea of .com domains. These domains are restricted to Canadians, so they are more exclusive. They are still very recognizable in Canada, but might be seen as more obscure outside of Canada. Provincial domains like .bc.ca are even more exclusive than .ca. Organizations must have a provincial affiliation; since there is no provincial citizenship, that means .bc.ca domains are typically used by regional governments and provincial branches of national associations. This can increase the impression of "official status" for a regional website, at the expense of appearing more obscure to visitors who don't understand Canadian geography.

Q. Why do some registrars charge more for the same domain? Is there any reason not to go with the cheapest?

A. Registrars provide a service - they maintain your directory listing in the Internet domain system (DNS). This service is used indirectly every time someone looks up your web address. You also use this service directly whenever you renew your domain name, or reconfigure how lookups of your web address are done (for instance if you change nameservers). The price you pay for your domain might reflect the quality of service you can expect. A cheap registrar might provide simple automated tools for common service requests, but poor service if you have a specific request that requires a real tech support person. However, as with all purchases, there is no guarantee that high price = high quality service. Buyer beware.