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Cheap Domains

The Internet, the thing ay the future.

If you haven't been completely repulsed by the hype, then you'd probably like a piece of it. Problem is, for those of us unable or unwilling to invest a fairly significant amount of money, coveted "dot com" (or "dot net" or "dot org") addresses seem to be out of reach. By traditional means, merely registering a .com costs at least US$70, and usually quite a bit more than that; for $200 or so you can probably have someone register your domain, set up your name server, and maybe throw in a month or 2 of hosting.

If you're not willing to dish out that kind of cash, the apparent alternative is the free web space offered by companies like GeoCities, Angelfire, and Freeyellow. The problem with this option is that your site almost invariably ends up with a convoluted URL that very few people are likely to remember. Instead of a sexy, hip, everybody wants to be your friend .com, you end up with something like:

http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Station/6748/

Who's going to remember something like that?

So the choice seems clear: spend big bucks and get a .com, or save your beans and live with a URL roughly the length of your forearm.

As you've probably guessed by all the suspense-inducing build-up, I'm going to show you another, better, solution that allows you to register and run a .com, .net, or .org domain for under US$40, flat, for 2 years; this includes domain name registration, DNS configuration, and hosting. It's not perfect (there are some limitations involving advertising and the use of frames, which I'll get into later) but it works.

Please note that these pages won't teach you how to make a web site, but merely how to get one on-line using your own domain name. There are, however, many great on-line resources for aspiring web designers: the Web Developer's Virtual Library is probably a good place to start.

At times this stuff will get fairly technical. If you're not the kind of person who likes to get your hands dirty, you might want to check out a free service called myinternet.com that will automate a lot of what you'll find here. Whether or not you choose to use myinternet.com, follow the 1st step below (registering a domain), since it will save you a bunch of money. Once your domain is registered, I'll tell you how to get started with myinternet.com.

The process of setting up a domain is divided into 4 steps; if you're starting from scratch, it probably makes sense to follow them all in the order in which they're presented. Alternately, if one or more aspects of your site are already set up, you'll only need to complete some of these steps (in which case I'll trust that you know enough about what you're doing to know which steps to take).

Please note that as of May, 2001, the Capibara Free Domain Project, which provided free mapping, is in a state of flux. It is apparently running again after having been down for a while, but it is not terribly reliable. I've left the information about configuring Capibara mapping here for reference purposes, and added a note about MyDomain.com, on the recommendation of a fromer Capibara user (I haven't tried MyDomain.com myself). If you have experience with MyDomain.com, or if you know of another free mapping service, please let me know and I'll make the appropriate updates.

Also, I'm no longer using several of the services discussed here, so I may not be on top of recent developments. If you are using all of these services and you have any interest in maintaining this tutorial, I'd be happy to pass it on to you. Let me know.

A note on style: there are a lot of links in these documents; I worked under the assumption that you'll want to actually set up a domain as you read through this, so links to pages that you need to visit in order to complete the process will each open a new browser window, to make it easier to come back here and continue the process when you're done that step. Other links will use the existing window.

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