If it is your responsibility to manage the domains names for your organization, you will come across many terms, words and acronyms that you may be unfamiliar with, such as ‘Whois’, and ‘ICANN’, and ‘IDNs’. To help you make sense of these terms, please use the NetNames domain name glossary below.


The A-record is the most basic and the most important DNS record type. It is used to translate domain names such as "www.netnames.com" into IP addresses such as They are stored on DNS name servers.

Administrative contact

(See also Billing Contact, Technical Contact)
As part of the domain name registration process, organizations or individuals must provide the Registrar with key contact names. The administrative contact is one of these names, and will be the main point of contact between the Registrar and the registrant.

Billing contact

One of the key names that must be given to the Registrar when completing a domain name registration form. The billing contact is the person responsible for paying any registration or renewal fees and dealing with bills from the Registrar.

ccTLD (country-code top-level domain)

This is a piece of information that can form part of the domain name, and signifies the country the domain name is registered in, (e.g. www.netnames.co.uk). Every country has been granted a unique two letter ccTLD.


CNAMEs are essentially domain name aliases stored on DNS name servers, which point one domain name to another domain name or URL. The most common use of CNAME is to provide access to a web-server using both the standard ‘www.netnames.com’ and ‘netnames.com’ (so with and without the ‘www.’ prefix).


Because many domain names can be registered on a 'first-come, first served' basis without restrictions, it is possible for people to register domain names that contain a company's trademarks or brands. Such individuals or organizations are described as 'cybersquatters'. While policy on what exactly constitutes cybersquatting differs from country to country, and sometimes between registries, it typically involves registering a domain name including the trademark of another for some kind of gain.

Defined by the U.S. federal law, the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA), cybersquatting is the act of registering or using a domain name in bad-faith or with intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else.

DNS (Domain Name System)

The Domain Name System is the means by which the addresses typed into a web browser are turned into IP addresses. It is built around a set of databases that store IP addresses, and the domain names with which they are associated. When a domain name is entered on the browser, the DNS looks up the details and points the web user to the correct site.

Domain name

A domain name is the string of characters typed into a web browser to find a particular website. It is part of the URL. To connect to the Internet, a computer needs its own Internet Protocol (IP) address, which consists of a series of numbers. However, because these strings of numbers were deemed hard to remember, it was decided to create domain names. Most companies use their name as an integral part of their domain name e.g. netnames.co.uk

Export times

When a zone file is modified or created, the change is exported between servers at various intervals in the hour. This change can usually be viewed within 24-48 hours, depending on TTL and propagation.


gTLD stands for Generic Top Level Domain. Examples of a gTLD’s are .com, .net and .org.


IANA is the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, the entity that oversees global IP address allocation, DNS root zone management, and other Internet protocol assignments. It is operated by ICANN.


ICANN is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. It manages the DNS, ensuring that every address is unique and that each domain name matches its assigned IP address. ICANN also accredits domain name Registrars for gTLDs.


An IDN is an Internationalized Domain Name. It is a domain name that uses a different character set to that present in languages such as English. In other words domain names in non-ASCII character sets.

IP address

An Internet Protocol address is the unique number given to every computer connected to the Internet that enables computers to identify and locate each other. IP addresses come in the form of a series of numbers between 0 and 255, separated by full stops (or dots). For example, an IP Address may look something like:


The LDRP is the Local Domain Name Resolution Policy. This is based on the UDRP (Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy) adopted by ccTLD registries.

Name server

A name server (or domain name server) is a computer that holds a list of domain names and their associated IP addresses.

MX record

(eMail eXchanger) - Part of the zone file which specifies where the email for your domain name should go (i.e. which mail server machine should process the email for that domain).

NIC fee

NIC stands for Network Information Center and is often used to refer to the registry operator, particularly in the case of ccTLDs. The NIC fee is the fee charged by the registry and varies significantly from one suffix to the next.


Propagation time is the amount of time required for a domain name registration and/or changes to DNS information to be distributed throughout the Domain Name System.


The person or business that registers a domain name.


A company that has a direct and authorized relationship with the domain name registries. The term is most commonly used when referring to gTLDs. In order to become an ICANN Accredited Registrar, a company must meet certain business and technical requirements.

In the case of ccTLDs, the role of a Registrar is performed by what is often referred to as an authorized dealer or a Tag Holder.


A registry is an organization responsible for managing the database that stores information about registered domain names for a particular TLD. Different registries exist for different top-level domains and there can be only one registry per TLD.


The root is really just a hypothetical point from which domain names are derived. It is the top of a domain name structure above top-level domains (TLDs). Nothing actually exists at this point, but it is useful nonetheless for defining the name space. For instance, whilst alternative roots do exist (creating their own name space), ICANN presides over the only unique and authoritative root. It is this root that ensures the DNS works effectively, enabling the majority of Internet traffic to get where it is meant to go.

Start of Authority (SOA) record

SOA specifies the time to live. The SOA record has the following parameters:

Serial - the zone serial number, incremented when the zone file is modified, so the slave and secondary name servers know when the zone has been changed and should be reloaded.

Refresh - the number of seconds between update requests from secondary and slave name servers.

Retry - the number of seconds the secondary or slave will wait before retrying when the last attempt has failed.

Expire - the number of seconds a master or slave will wait before considering the data stale if it cannot reach the primary name server.

Sunrise period

The term Sunrise Period refers to the period of time at the launch of a new top-level domain or second-level domain during which owners of trademarks may register a domain name containing the owned mark.


A sponsored top-level domain is a generic top-level domain proposed by an independent agency, with that agency establishing and enforcing rules restricting the eligibility of registrants to use the TLD. For example the .travel domain is reserved for entities whose primary area of activity is in the travel industry

Technical contact

The third key name that must be given to the Registrar when completing a domain name registration form. The technical contact can be the same as the billing contact or administrative contact, but must be able to address any technical issues. It is therefore important that the technical contact is from the company whose name server is being used for the domain name.


Typosquatting, also called URL hijacking, is a form of cybersquatting which relies on mistakes such as typographical errors made by Internet users when inputting a website address into a web browser. Should a user accidentally enter an incorrect website address, they may be led to an alternative address owned by a cybersquatter.

TLD (top-level domain)

A top-level domain represents the last part of a domain name, e.g. .com, .net, .org etc.


TTL (time to live) dictates how long it will take until your computer refreshes its DNS related information. This time is defined in seconds. Generally, DNS propagation takes 24 to 48 hours to complete whenever any changes are made to the zone file. Lowering the TTL prior to making the change will reduce the time for propagation.


UDRP stands for the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy. It is a process established by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) for the resolution of disputes regarding the registration of internet domain names. The UDRP policy currently applies to all .biz, .com, .info, .name, .net, and .org top-level domains, and some country code top-level domains.

URL (Uniform Resource Locator)

A URL is normally understood as the full web address that people type into a browser to find content on the Internet. It differs from a domain name because it also includes the type of protocol used to access the object (e.g. http, ftp) and often extra instructions to find a particular web page being hosted.


WIPO is the World Intellectual Property Organization is one of the specialised agencies of the United Nations. It was created for the promotion and protection of intellectual property globally.


Whois refers to the records in databases maintained by a domain registry, which store details not only about the domain name itself but also who the registrant and key contacts are. It also refers to the protocol used when accessing these databases.