.COM addresses are becoming harder and hard to come by. It seems each time you look, it is harder to get the name you want. Many startups have become creative in the way they name their site, for example if you wanted to create a site called score.com, you might try calling it scorable.com or scorability.com. Another option that seems to be getting more and more popular is to use non .COM domains such as instant.ly or ordr.in or ginger.io. Many of these domains are easier to get, but the downside for many is that they are typically more expensive and the process of configuring them is often harder. I want to talk about how I managed to create URL using the io domain which used a site hosted on Windows Azure (where all the html pages are hosted). I am going to assume you already know how to create a web site on Windows Azure.
Getting the Domain Name
In the past, I have used GoDaddy as the place that I set up most of my domains. For .COM’s this is incredibly cheap (most of the time you can find a promo code for just about anything) and I have found them to be extremely supportive and easy to work with. However, in this case I wanted to get a .IO domain which is actually a Indian Ocean domain because the .COM was owned by someone else trying to sell it. To do this, I used http://nic.io where it cost ~$93 for the year (as opposed to ~$8 for a .COM domain).
DNS Server Configuration
After I purchased the .io domain from nic.io, I learned that they needed to be provided with DNS settings requiring a Primary and Secondary DNS Server. This was kind of frustrating since GoDaddy provided me with this whenever I created a .COM address. So after looking a little more I learned that I could just use GoDaddy for this. In my case, I could just log into my existing GoDaddy account and configure this for no extra charge. For you, you could either look at another DNS Server provider or create an account with GoDaddy to do this.
GoDaddy DNS Configuration
Within my GoDaddy account, I launched the DNS Manager and chose to create a new Offsite Domain. This was pretty hidden which is why I am adding a screen shot of where I went.
In the Domain Name text box I entered my .IO domain name, clicked Next and copied the 2 DNS servers that were provided. Copy these as you will need them in a minute.
Create A Record
The next step is to configure the GoDaddy DNS servers so that when a request for my domain .io is requested, it know where to point the user to. In my case it is a Windows Azure website with a .cloudapp.net name. To do this config, in the GoDaddy DNS Dashboard you click on “Edit Zone” under the domain you just added. In the A Host section, choose “Add Record” and for “Host” use @, and for “Points To” add the IP address to your Azure hosted site.
Add DNS Servers to NIC.io.
The final step is to configure NIC.io so that it knows to use the GoDaddy domain servers you just configured. Log in to the admin panel for NIC.io and choose to Manage the DNS Settings. In the “DNS Servers or Mail & Web Forwarding Details”, for the primary server enter the first DNS server you copied from the previous steps and in the Secondary Server enter the second. If you only have one DNS server, I think that is probably ok. At the bottom choose “Modify Domain”.
Give it an hour or two
It usually takes an hour or two for these configurations to fully get updated. However, after that you should be all set to go.