Every website needs a domain name to identify it (e.g. www.gatech.edu), but not all domain names are equal. The following attempts to demystify domain names and help you select the best name for your new website.
Georgia Tech Domain Names
Georgia tech owns the entire *.gatech.edu domain space, and so you can request names within this space at no charge to your unit. However, there are differences in names, and new rules coming into effect that you need to consider.
Top Level Georgia Tech Domain Names
These names look like something.gatech.edu or www.something.gatech.edu, where "something" is a unique identifier for a Georgia Tech unit. Top level names can convey a sense of prestige, but can only be created and managed by the Office of Information Technology (OIT), and there are new rules coming into effect governing who can request a top level domain name. If your website is for a major unit of Georgia Tech or a very high level project or activity/event, then such a domain may be right for you - contact OIT to put in a name request. Otherwise, please read on.
Georgia Tech Sub-Domain Names
Major units of Georgia Tech that already have their own top level Georgia Tech Domain Name can create any number of subdomain names, which look like subunit.something.gatech.edu, where "subunit" is most any name except "www" (which is reserved as an alias for the unit's top-level domain).
Sub-domain names can often be created and updated by a unit's own Information Technology (IT) staff, which can usually handle requests more quickly than OIT. You also do not have to go through the institute level approval process to get a new sub-domain name, though your unit might implement their own rules on sub-domain names. For both reasons, you can usually get a sub-domain name more quickly than a top-level Georgia Tech domain name.
(Outside) Non-Georgia Tech Domain Names
It is possible to go to a commercial hosting company and purchase a non-Georgia Tech domain name, but this practice is highly discouraged for several reasons:
- You'll be paying regular fees for something that you could get from within Georgia Tech for free.
- Your website may not be regarded by your site visitors as being official, even though it is.
- Your site may not be able to make use of Georgia Tech services that are limited to websites with a *.gatech.edu hostname.
- OIT may not be willing to host your website with an outside domain name (they reserve the right to make this decision on a case-by-case basis), so you may end up having to pay for outside web hosting as well.
- If you ever fail to renew your outside name, it could be grabbed by a spammer who could then put up a fake site under that domain name (and yes, this has happened to at least one Georgia Tech unit in the past). This could hurt your unit's image and reputation for many years to come, as it is nearly impossible to get all links to your site throughout the internet updated to a new domain name.
If your circumstances still warrant getting an outside domain name, make certain that billing is set up to go directly to your unit's financial department so that renewal fees get paid in a timely manner.