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I had an email today from a good friend, asking for recommendations about setting up a personal domain name. I get asked this quite a lot, so I thought I’d Blog the answer for future. You know it makes sense.

Right, if you’re simply after a domain name for your email – i.e. having a nice personal email address such as joe.bloggs@artiss.co.uk – then this is easy. I use 1&1 who can supply them for £2.99 for 2 years. This gives you the domain name, but no email facility. You’ll need to keep your existing email but use the 1&1 Control Panel to divert your new domain name to your existing email address.

That means if you move ISP and therefore ISP-based email address, then you simply change the forwarding, and your friends don’t need to know anything different – they still use your personal email address.

Not only that but you can set up different diversions for different email addresses.

The down-side to this is that when you reply from most email account it will use your “proper” email address as the “from”. In other words, if you’re using an ISP supplied email address, it will use that when you reply. Google Mail, which I highly recommend, isn’t ISP dependant and will allow you to reply to emails using your personal email addresses.

Now, that’s the email covered. What if you want a domain name for a website as well? Well, the 1&1 offering will allow you to divert the matching website address to anywhere else. So again, you can divert, say, artiss.co.uk, to that free space given to you by your ISP. But, again, there’s a downside. The forwarding works by creating a frame with your website inside it. That means the URL doesn’t change as you move around pages, and makes providing specific links to page rather difficult. Now there is a way around this by pointing the “name servers” directly to the web space. However, this is dependant on both your ISP and domain name provider allowing this. It’s also a bit of a technical jungle at times.

So, if you want a website and want it to look all cool, froody and sophisticated, I’d suggest you look at getting a host – i.e. a company that can provide the domain name and webspace and link them together automatically. The additional upside of this is that they’re likely to provide a better quality service than the free offerings from your ISP.

Streamline.net provide a “power” option for £47.98 for 2 years. This includes your domain name, email forwarding, 750MB of space and even PHP & MySQL if that’s your bag.

UPDATE: A Blog reader has kindly pointed me to Microsoft Office Live. They provide a FREE small business package which includes email, 500MB of space and a domain name. It looks as if the email is their own mail service and you may have to use their own designer to create the website rather than upload your own. Plus I suspect it won’t allow PHP, MySQL, etc. So limitations you should be aware of… BUT it’s free, so worthy of investigation.