Congratulations on your new domain! Every year, hundreds of thousands of people stare wistfully at their laptops and think, “I should really make my own website.” And then they take a bite of their sandwich and promptly forget what they were thinking. But not you! You’ve taken the first real step towards creating your website. Now, all you need to do for your new site is point your domain to an IP address.
If that sounds like gibberish, fret not. In this guide, we’ll tell you what it means to point your domain to an IP address, then we’ll tell you exactly how to point your domain to an IP address, so you can activate your website. First, let’s make sure we’re on the same page.
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What’s a domain?
A domain is the name of your website. It’s the address people type into their browsers when they want to head straight to your website. Some domains you might know are Youtube.com, Google.com, and Hosting.uk.
Domains (also called “domain names”) help you remember your favourite websites, so you can go back to them later. But domains can’t work on their own. To activate your website, you need to point your domain to an IP address.
What’s an IP address?
You may remember websites by their domain names, but computers don’t think in words. They think in numbers and symbols. So, instead of remembering the domain name of a website, your computer remembers the website’s IP address. An IP address is a string of numbers and dots that identifies a particular website. An IP address typically looks something like this: 22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.
Why you need to know how to point domain to IP address
If you’ve just bought an upgraded web hosting package like VPS hosting, and you don’t know how to point domain to IP address once you’ve found a web host, then when people type your domain into their browser, your website will simply not open, because the domain isn’t connected to anything. It’s like a shiny new appliance that hasn’t been plugged in.
How to point domain to IP address
Many people are intimidated by the process of learning how to point domain to IP address, but please remember that nobody is born knowing how to do this. And if other people can learn how to point domain to IP address, then so can you.
Here’s what you need to know
To point your domain name to the IP address of your web host, you’ll need to associate a hostname with an IPv4 address, by creating an “A” record.
You usually need two A records: one will be for the “www” version of your domain (e.g., www.paintingsbyelephants.com) and the other will be for the naked domain (the domain without the “www”; e.g., paintingsbyelephants.com).
If you don’t know what any of this means, don’t worry. You don’t need to understand all the technobabble to follow the steps.
How to point domain to IP address in 9 easy steps
Here’s how to point domain to IP address in nine easy steps:
- Go to the official website of your domain name registrar. Sign in with the same account you created when you registered your domain name.
- Head to the Domain names section, select your domain name from the drop-down list, and click Manage.
- Scroll down to the Advanced Domain Settings section and click Manage DNS. (This section might also include the list: A, MX, CNAME, TXT.)
- Click the Advanced DNS tab.
- Look for a section labelled Add new entry. Under Type, select “A” from the drop-down list.
- Look for the Hostname field and enter “www”. (Don’t type the quotation marks.)
- In the Destination IPv4 address field, enter the IP address the domain will point to. If there’s a TTL column, just use the default value.
- (Optional) If you want people to be able to type your domain without the “www”, you can also enter an @ symbol instead of www and point it to the same IP address.
- Click Add new entry.
It will take some time for your domain to be fully linked to the IP address, but this shouldn’t be too long a wait, regardless of the hosting service you’re using.
Now that you’ve pointed your domain to your IP address, there’s one more thing you should do to protect your privacy on the internet.
Ask your hosting provider about domain privacy protection
When you bought your domain name, you had to give your registrar your personal contact information. But not all registrars explain that this contact information is entered into a publicly accessible database called the WHOIS database. So, if anyone wants to know who owns your domain they can simply look it up on the database and find your information. To keep your contact information safe from those with less than honourable intentions, ask your hosting registrar how to protect your domain privacy.
Buying your domain name is an admirable first step towards creating your own website. Now you only need to follow these nine easy steps to point your domain to an IP address, and you’ll be ready to activate your website. Good luck!