Domain Name

The final step to a complete website is to obtain a domain name and give the site a professional look online. This is done by visiting a domain registrar such as Fasthosts or GoDaddy and buying a domain name, try not to use a domain reseller as these companies have already registered the domains on show and try to sell on for a high premium.

When purchasing a domain the registrar often offers hosting packages alongside the domain, but since the hosting will be done from the home server this will not be needed. All you need from the registrar is the option to update the domains DNS record.

A DNS record of a domain tells a computer where to go when it is looked up, the record has a number of options so that a computer can be pointed in a different direction based on what service is needed. These are the more typical types used in a DNS record:

A IPv4 address of server
AAAA IPv6 address of server
CNAME Canonical Name, allows a domain to point to another domain
MX Mail Exchange, to point to a server managing email/messaging
SRV Service Locator, works like MX but for differnet protocols/services
SPF Sender Policy Framework, allows other email servers to send mail
TXT Text, sometimes used by services to verify a domain

Static IP

If you are running a web server from a static IP then a website can be treated like any other server on the net. Edit the A record to contain the servers external IP, or AAAA if IPv6 is used.

Dynamic IP

It is possible to host a website with a domain on a dynamic IP address with a little creative tweak. The traditional A Name DNS record only allows an IP address to be used, but since that IP is constantly changing a DDNS subdomain is needed to ensure a reliable address. Luckily the CNAME record is available for such wildcards.

Under the CNAME field a complete address instead of an IP can be entered where it will be treated as a fully fledged domain. So by entering the DDNS web address in this field web traffic to the domain will be redirected via the DDNS address to the home server.


Whether using A name or CNAME records, there is an option to add a host name that appears before the domain, commonly known as a subdomain. Leaving this blank means a site can be visited by entering diyhomeserver.co.uk for example, but many people are still using the www. prefix to browse websites even though its not needed anymore. Therefore its a good idea to add another record with www as the host name to help catch all visitors to the site.