How do websites supply people with domain names?
When people do use websites to register a domain name, how do those websites give you that name. Is there a way i can host a site on my own home computer, or a piece of equipment I can buy to do this, and i want a .com name.
Go and search for a dot-com name at a hosting company.
It is hard to find an unbought domain name. You might need to buy one on the 'aftermarket' or use a bulk search to find one.
http://godaddy.com and http://dynadot.com both have 'bulk domain searches'.
Then you need a host. You can set up an http server on your home computer, but then when you shut it off, your page goes down. There are cheap hosts out there like Godaddy or ovh http://ovh.co.uk; http://ovh.fr
I guess I'll answer the most direct question first, about domain names.
Basically, there is an organization called ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) who gets to be 'in-charge' of things like domain names. They essentially approve and grant other groups known as Domain Name Registrars the permission/ability to register domain names on the internet. While I suppose it *may* be possible for an individual to somehow register and maintain his/her own domain directly, I'd imagine that would involve far more work (and potentially money) than it would be worth. So ultimately, due to the domain name system being a somewhat regulated industry, you're better off finding a suitable Domain Name Registrar and buying a domain from them.
As for hosting, this is a much simpler task for any individual with a computer and stable internet connection. There are a number of free and easy-to-use http servers available, such as apache. And there are even software packages such as XAMPP which will automatically install a number of useful web server application and help you manage them in a relatively simple interface. Using something like XAMPP you could run your own website off of your home computer. There are a number of other factors to consider though. Obviously, there is the concern for downtime like donatello mentioned. Your website will only be up and available as long as your computer is running and connected to the internet. Another potential problem is your IP address itself. Depending on your internet service provider, your IP address may be static or dynamic. In the later case, this means your IP address will change and when/if this happens your site will inevitably go down. You would need to implement ways of updating the IP address with your domain name servers to prevent or reduce any downtime due to this. There is also often the issue of bandwidth. In the U.S. particularly, many internet providers offer high downstream speeds with low upstream speeds which prevents typical home internet users from running servers (such as a web or file server) from their home computers. Due to the low upstream speed a website run on such a connection would not be able to handle high user loads and would experience a number of issues because of that.
But hey, if you've got a computer you can run 24/7 and a solid internet connection, then assuming the site you are running isn't too large or doesn't require a high uptime or performance guarantee, I see no reason why not to run it from home. You would still need to buy your own domain and more importantly, would have to set it up to point to your home IP address (and address any dynamic IP issues if present).
Your question has been pretty comprehensively answered, but I'd like to ask the obvious question: Why would you want to host your own web site?
As has been said, there are packages like XAMPP (and Wampserver) which greatly simplify the setup of a server, but they are generally used for off-line testing not on-line servers. Why? Because, as well as the issues already mentioned by others, they are fairly insecure. If you know your stuff, you can secure them, but if you did know, you wouldn't be asking this question, would you???
So, I'd suggest that you forget self-hosting as a practical solution...
By the nature of your question, I would guess that setting up a home web server is not a skill you will soon be able to master.
Therefore, use a hosting company.
1.) A domain (http://godaddy.com; http://moniker.com; http://ovh.co.uk; http://dynadot.com, etc. will sell you one.
Or you can spend more and buy an existing domain in the aftermarket: (http://tdnam.com; http://afternic.com; http://sedo.com)
2.) You need a host. (http://godaddy.com, http://ixwebhosting.com; http://gatorhost.com; http://dynadot.com; http://ovh.co.uk)
IF you really want to get ambitious, you can build a web server on the Raspberry PI platform and leave it plugged in 24/7 and it uses almost no electricity.
Your answer: Buy a domain. Either find a new one with bulk search, or get on on the aftermarket.
Find a cheap host.
Build your site.
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