Ever want a domain name of your own? You’ve got a web site on your Bellsouth, Cox, Charter, RoadRunner or other ISP account and that long tacky URL to get to it — members.isp.net/username, or something worse.
Now, you can get your own free domain name from DotTK (www.dot.tk). DotTK will let you have up to 3 free domain names, or you can register .tk domain names through them.
The free domains include the ability to have up to 5 email addresses that reroute to the account of your choice. So, you can have an email address firstname.lastname@example.org (for example) that automatically reroutes the incoming email to your regular email account.
The redirection to your actual web site is “framed” — that is, the domain name points to a specific web page — the home page you select — visitors see only that address in their web browser’s location bar.
If you use “framed” web pages, whether through DotTK (www.dot.tk) or through any other domain registrar, be careful with your links that go outside your web site. Since the “frame” includes the address bar, the visitor will always see your domain name, even if she has now gone to Yahoo, Google, or any place else! The fix is up to you. In your anchor tags to other web sites, the clickable links that go to other web sites, always include target=”_blank” within the <a> tag.
Although there is a lot of boilerplate to the domain registration agreement, it didn’t seem as long as others I had read. The most important thing that stood out was that you have to have visitors to your domain — you have minimum usage requirements — if you do not have 25 visitors to your domain every 90 days (and that can change), they will deactivate your domain. At that point, you can register the domain for as a paid service to reactivate it.
Of course, at any time you want, you can convert to a paid domain, which has its own advantages. If you want to keep your .tk domain but wish to set up regular non-framed hosting at your web host of choice (I use and recommend HostGator), you have to pay the $9.95 (or whatever the current rate is) to convert to a paid listing before you can set it up for use as a regular non-framed domain — which still has to be hosted somewhere (wherever you want). Of course, once you convert to a paid .tk domain name, as long as you keep your .tk domain name, you will have to pay the .tk registrar its annual fee.
You have this issue with any domain name, anywhere — you pay an annual fee for its use. While some registrars offer a free domain name, I recommend against taking them up on the offer. The problem is that, if you change web hosts — which may or may not require changing domain registrars if they are the actual registrar — your web site may not be available for hours during the change. Similarly, if you want to change domain registrars, your site may have transition outages.
So, I recommend buying a domain name and buying it from someone other than the web host that is hosting your site. GoDaddy is my choice for domain registrars.
Back to www.dot.tk — this looks like this might be a good choice for any hobbyist who has their own web site. This is your chance to get away from http://members.cox.net/[userid] for free and to have your own domain for your web site.
If you want to pay for your own .com, .net, .org or many others, I recommend GoDaddy. Prices may vary depending on the top-level domain. Prices will vary significantly from domain registrar to domain registrar. GoDaddy has an excellent package of services for domains, even if you host your site on a free service.