Thursday, 11 April 2013

Hosting a Web Site on BT Broadband - Domain Name

Acquiring and Configuring a Domain Name

In my recent set of Blog posts I have been discussing the possibilities of hosting a personal web site on your BT Broadband using the BT Home Hub.  In this post I am looking at the process of buying a domain name and configuring the settings.

As mentioned previously, it is not essential to have your own domain name to host a web site or your network using one of the Dynamic DNS services (to keep track of your changing ip address).  However, it's quite nice thing to do and is relatively inexpensive.  If you still don't want to get your own domain, then you'll need to configure a sub domain of the available domains attached to you Dynamic DNS provider.  The service I used (freedns.afraid.org) currently has nearly 100,000 domains in their shared domain pool.  The domain afraid.org itself will also be available to use for your sub domain.  For example you could set up myhomewebsite.afraid.org provided that sub domain is still available.  For a a full list of what's in the shared domain pool at FREE DNS then the following page allows you to view them and search through them.

> http://freedns.afraid.org/domain/registry/ 

Only the domains that have bee set to public will be available for use.

If you still want your own personal domain name, there are plenty of places you can buy them from.  When you buy a domain name you are not actually buying it forever.  You are renting it or leasing it through your domain agent from the United Kingdom's central .uk domain name registry, Nominet UK.  This is done for a period of 1, 2, 5 or 10 years.  The annual price is usually less if you take on the domain for a longer period of time. This is assuming that you actually want a .co.uk Top Level Domain.  You may prefer a dot .com or any of the multitude of other tld's available.

If you are would like to use a .co.uk domain then I can recommend Easily.  Their web site can be found at www.easily.co.uk.  However, there are many domain agents to choose from.  As your are likely making the domain purchase to experiment with hosting on your own network, just be careful of cheap ones or even free ones.  It is likely that they would tie you into a hosting package with the domain provider, so that would sort of defeat the object.  The process is pretty straight forward.  From their home page you pick the domain name you want (without the www. bit on the front), select the top level domains you require, such as .co.uk etc. and then type a name of your choice.  The search will reveal if that name is still available for use.

Easily.co.uk - Choosing Your Domain Name
Once you have chosen and purchased your domain name, you will need to make sure that it is linked to your selected Dynamic DNS service.  This is done by changing the values of something known as the Name Servers as part of the DNS management.  DNS stands for the Domain Name System and it is the way that requests for the domain typed into the web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, etc.) are sent to the correct ip address.  When you type the domain name into the browser address bar an initial look-up is made to determine the DNS Servers.  A look-up is then made to determine what the current ip address for the web site is an a database.

For example, the domain name I use for the hobby web site that I have referred to in these blog posts is www.waltonledale.co.uk.  The DNS Name Servers are held at my Dynamic DNS service provider (freedns.afraid.org) and they are as follows:



  • Nameserver 1 - ns1.afraid.org
  • Nameserver 2 - ns2.afraid.org
  • Nameserver 3 - ns3.afraid.org
  • Nameserver 4 - ns4.afraid.org


  • A look up will be made on one of the above name servers and that will determine the current ip address of my web server where the www.waltonledale.co.uk web site is hosted.  The request for the appropriate web page (the index page or home page in this example) will be made by the browser to the web server.  The appropriate web page document will then be sent to the browser by the server.

    To make sure that the name servers are set correctly relative to your Dynamic DNS provider, you will generally have access to a Control Panel area on the web site that you purchased your domain name from.  With this control panel you need to locate an area for DNS Management.  Here you will be able to enter the names of the appropriate server (domain) names in order.  It's possible to have only one, but it's usual to have at least two and in my case I have four listed in priority order.  ie. 1, 2, 3 and 4 (ns1.afraid.org, ns2.afraid.org, ns3.afraid.org and ns4.afraid.org).

    Easily.co.uk - DNS Management (adding Name Servers)
    It can take a little while for the DNS databases to be updated, so don't expect everything to work straight away.  It's possible that the update process can take up to as long as 48 hours, but generally I have have found it to be a little less, maybe 4 to 8 hours.  It's probably best to make the changes in the evening and refrain from trying to check them until the next day.

    As far a testing is concerned, provided it's not obviously working - as you can see your web site on the domain name you have newly acquired, there are a number of web sites out there with DNS tools that allow you to trace the requests and check that all the settings are correct.  I have previously used DNS Stuff's Tools on their web site http://www.dnsstuff.com/tools

    For more BT Home Hub information and advice, I'd recommend visiting the following page:

    http://www.filesaveas.com/bthomehub.html

    Finally, you really need to ask yourself "Is it worth hosting a website at home?"  If the motivation for doing it is to save money for your business web site hosting, I'd say no.  The whole set up isn't ever going to be guaranteed, even though personally I've found it pretty reliable.  If the reason for doing it is to get involved in learning the process and and how the whole set-up works, then I definitely say "yes".  You'll get access to a lot of things that you'd normally have locked away from you until you gained the appropriate experience elsewhere.  The following article asks the very same question:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/askjack/2011/feb/03/website-hosting-at-home-office-ask-jack

    I hope all the related Blog post have been useful.  Please let me know if you find any obvious errors, omissions or if you have any comments and questions.  The other related posts are as follows:






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