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I have a domain name registered with Melbourne IT; I would like to use a free hosting service. Rather than transfer the registration to the hosting service, is it right that I can in general host with one provider, and just delegate the domain from Melbourne IT by providing two name servers and an IP address? So that when a user types www.thedomain.com, it transparently is redirected to the host?
Is it that simple? If so, are there any disadvantages to doing so?
advantages: If your web host goes belly up you can point the name to a different provider. If your name host goes under you don't have to rebuild your site when you sort the domain name out.
The most common problem that I have seen with people having the domain and hosting managed by the same company forgetting that they need to renew two separate contracts when they expire and end up with a domain and no site. It is a suprisingly common problem.
What you describe is how name forwarding should be handled but I have come across companies that don't let you do that but simply host a frameset locally which contains the page that you are hosting elsewhere. Make sure that you know what you are signing up for before parting with any money.
Hint: make your own diary record of the renewal dates, Mr Murphy dictates that any vital email reminder will be zapped by your spam filter.
Melbourne IT is a big registrar and is likely to be assimilated by another bigger registrar before it goes under.