Add-on Domains, Parked Domains and Sub-Domains Explained
Once you have a website up and running, you may want to launch other websites. The default way to do it is to register new domain names and open new web hosting accounts. However, opening new web hosting accounts can be expensive, especially if you still have plenty of free space and bandwidth available in your original account. Fortunately, it is possible to share the web space and bandwidth of your original account among different sites.
You can basically do so through:
- Add-On Domains
- Parked Domains, and
What is an Add-On Domain?
An add-on domain is a new domain name that points to a subdirectory within your existing domain hosting account, where the website for the new domain will reside. Add-on domains must be registered domain names that you own, and that are configured to point to your web host's servers.
From a web user perspective, an add-on domain functions just like any other domain. For example, if you already have a hosting account under http://www.main-domain.com, you can register and set up an add-on domain (for example: http://www.add-on-domain.com), so that when your visitors type "http://www.add-on-domain.com" in their browser, they will be transported to the new site.
The advantage of add-on domains is that the browser's address bar will show "http://www.add-on-domain.com" (there will be no reference to the original domain), so the process will be totally transparent to your users. If your users navigate to another page, their browsers will accordingly show "http://www.add-on-domain.com/anotherpage.html", just like they should.
Apart from sharing web space and bandwidth with your main domain, add-on domains also get their own cgi-bin and statistics.
Many web hosts now offer to set-up add-on domains for free. This is only fair, since you are not getting any more web space or bandwidth. Others, however, will charge you a modest one time fee, which is not bad, especially when the cost of registering the new domain is included. Finally, some web hosts will charge you a monthly fee for each add-on domain you set up. In some cases, that fee can be very close to the monthly cost of your web hosting account, to the point that it is better to just open a new hosting account for the new domain. If you plan to set up add-on domains in the future, you're better off avoiding this kind of account.
What is a Parked Domain?
A parked domain is a domain that doesn't have a hosting account associated to it, and that is usually enabled with URL forwarding capabilities, so that it points to an existing website. For example, let's assume that you already run a newsletter that is hosted in a subdirectory of your domain name, as follows: "http://www.domain.com/newsletter/index.html". You may at one given point want to register a separate domain name for your newsletter, so that it is more memorable, but may not want to move its pages to a new server, open a new hosting account, or pay to establish an add-on domain. You can then register and park a new domain for your newsletter (for example: "http://www.newsletter.com"), which will be forwarded to "http://www.domain.com/newsletter/index.html".
You don't need to register this new domain with the same company that hosts your website. You can register it with any domain registrar (preferably one that offers free URL forwarding) and point it to the physical location of the pages.
The difference between a parked domain and an add-on domain from a web user's perspective is that with a parked domain, the URL in the address bar will change to the physical location of the page as the page loads. For example, if you type "http://www.newsletter.com", that domain won't remain in the browser address bar, but will change to "http://www.domain.com/newsletter/index.html" as soon as the page is displayed.
From a webmaster's perspective, the difference is that the parked domain won't have its own separate statistics reported through the control panel of your hosting account.
Parked domains are also a good alternative for webmasters whose site is hosted by a free hosting service, since by using a memorable parked domain, users won't need to remember the cumbersome web addresses usually associated with free hosting accounts.
They are also widely used by members of affiliate programs, who forward the parked domain to the merchant pages, so that they don't have to use an affiliate URL that includes their affiliate id (which turns many people off).
What is a Sub-Domain?
A sub-domain, also known as a "third-level" domain, is a great way to create memorable web addresses for various sub-sites of your site. For instance, Yahoo! uses subdomains for its different services, like "mail.yahoo.com", "music.yahoo.com", etc. The basic syntax is: "http://subdomain.domain.com".
Large businesses use sub-domains to establish branding and focus on separate products or services, because a subdomain creates a separate URL and web presence, all within your same main hosting account. For example, a restaurant directory may establish sub-domains for different cities, or a school can set up subdomains for different academic programs.
It is also possible to redirect (forward) traffic from a particular subdomain to another location, either within the main site or to a different website altogether.
You should be able to set up and manage add-on domains, parked domains, and sub-domains from your hosting account or domain registrar control panel. However, as we usually suggest, always consult with your web host before proceeding if you have any doubts.