Domain names serve to identify Internet resources, such as computers, networks, and services, with a text-based label that is easier to memorize than the numerical addresses used in the Internet Protocols (IP's). Domain names are formed by the rules and procedures of the Domain Name System (DNS). Any name registered in the DNS is a domain name. A domain name may represent entire collections of such resources or individual instances. Domain names are used to establish a unique identity.
Domain names are used in various networking contexts and for application-specific naming and addressing purposes. In general, a domain name represents an Internet Protocol (IP) resource, such as a personal computer used to access the Internet, a server computer hosting a web site, or the web site itself or any other service communicated via the Internet. In 2017, 330.6
million domain names had been registered.
The registration of the domain names is usually administered by domain name registrars who sell their services to the public.
An important function of domain names is to provide easily recognizable and memorizable names to numerically addressed Internet resources. Domain names are used to establish a unique identity. Organizations can choose a domain name that corresponds to their name, helping Internet users to reach them easily.
Domain names are often simply referred to as domains and domain name registrants are frequently referred to as domain owners, although domain name registration with a registrar does not confer any legal ownership of the domain name, only an exclusive right of use for a particular duration of time. The use of domain names in commerce may subject them to trademark law.
The character set allowed in the Domain Name System is based on ASCII and does not allow the representation of names and words of many languages in their native scripts or alphabets. ICANN approved the Internationalized domain name (IDNA) system, which maps Unicode strings used in application user interfaces into the valid DNS character set by an encoding called Punycode.