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Multiple Domains for a Single Website

By Heshy Friedman

domain-forwardingWhen people form a new company, often they are not sure about the name they want to use for their website. Since domain names are inexpensive (at less than $15 per year for the typical .com), I usually suggest buying multiple names. This allows one to be able to make this decision with proper thought rather than hastily having to decide which name to use. Prior to a final decision, all the potential names can be used to route to the same website. Although a primary domain name usually has to be selected for a hosting plan, multiple names can be set to go to the same place. If set up correctly, primary domain doesn’t have any priority over secondary names to an end user. There are several different options for setting up website routing:

  • Domain Alias
  • Domain Forwarding
  • Domain Forwarding with Masking
  • Web Page Redirect

Domain Alias

A Domain Alias is where another domain name is assigned to duplicate the functionality of an existing domain name. A domain alias will tell the aliased domain to mimic the original domain name exactly. This includes file URL’s for all pages as well as emails. For example, let’s say you have the name www.domainname1.com. If you set up www.domainname2.com as an alias to www.domainname1.com, you can access the same website with domainname2.com, and domainname2.com will stay as the name in your browser address bar even if you navigate to inner pages within the website. Further, any email sent to yourname@domainname1.com and yourname@ domainname2.com will be delivered to one and  the same mailbox.

A domain alias needs to be setup both on the domain registrar and hosting server. The DNS needs to be pointed on the domain registrar, and the hosting server needs be set to accept the incoming domain alias to properly route it on the server.

Domain Forwarding
A Domain Forward will take a domain name and just route it to a different domain name. For example, if you set up www.domainname2.com as a domain forward to www.domainname1.com, when you type www.domainname2.com in your browser, it will load www.domainname1.com in your address bar and you will no longer see www.domainname2.com. Emails are not duplicated in a domain forward, and they are usually not set up at all on the forwarded domain.

A domain forward is set only with the domain name registrar. Once a domain forward is set, the domain registrar routes the browser to the pointed website domain and loads it normally.


Domain Forwarding with Masking
Domain Forwarding with Masking works the same way as domain forwarding, but keeps the original domain name in the browser address bar without showing the routed website name. For example, if you set up www.domainname2.com as a domain forward with masking to www.domainname1.com, when you type www.domainname2.com in your browser, it will load the www.domainname1.com website in your browser, but will still show www.domainname2.com in the browser address bar. Also, any inner pages you browse will still show www.domainname2.com in the address bar, without further specifying inner page locations.

A domain forward with masking is set only with the domain name registrar. Only a few domain registrars such as Godaddy provide this feature. It works by using web frames to completely load the forwarded page into the full body of the browser, while still masking the location of the framed page in the browser address bar. The “masking” can easily be uncovered by viewing the code source of the page to see the domain it is forwarding to.


Web Page Redirect
A Web Page Redirect is code within a web page that tells the browser to load a different page when triggered. A redirect can be in the homepage of a website or within an inner page of a website. A redirect can also be set with a time interval to only redirect the page after a specific number of seconds.

A redirect is set neither from the domain registrar or the hosting. It is set only within the code of a web page, in either a meta tag, JavaScript, or scripting languages such as php and asp.net.


Stay tuned for my next post, where I’ll discuss my experiences with Windows 8 and what I think about it!


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