Domains terminology

A domain, or domain name, is the address (or URL) that people will use to visit your website on the internet. It appears in the address bar of your web browser (for example, Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Safari).

By default, your primary domain, known as your URL, looks like Your URL is used to log into your store.

You can't change your URL, but you can buy a custom domain name through Shopify or from any third-party domain registrar, which you can then make your primary domain.

When you buy a domain, you can choose a root domain and create subdomains for your online store.

To help you understand some of the terminology, we’ve provided you with definitions of common terms about domains.

A record

An A record is a DNS setting that checks if a domain name has a specific IP address associated with it. In this case, you want your A record to point to Shopify’s IP address.

Other terms: Address record, host record

CNAME record

A CNAME record is a DNS setting that points your subdomains to another domain name. In this case, you want your CNAME record to point to your Shopify-hosted domain by using Copy .

Other terms: CNAME resource record, Alias


Domain Name Systems (DNS) is a database of domain names. Every domain has its own DNS entry. It organizes domain names and translates them from words (for example, to numbers (for example, Shopify’s IP address is To visit a website without having to memorize its IP address. Typically, this process works quickly in the background, but when you connect your domain with your Shopify store you might need to change your DNS settings.

Other terms: DNS records, DNS settings, resource records, DNS file zone

Domain name

A domain name is the address that people use to visit your website on the internet. It appears in the address bar of your web browser and is linked to a specific IP address.

Other terms: domain

Domain provider

A domain provider is a company that will register your domain name for you. Typically, you purchase a domain on a subscription basis and you pay a regular fee to your domain provider to keep using your domain name.

Other terms: domain registrar, domain host

Email forwarding

Email forwarding is a service that lets you direct an email from your custom domain to an existing email account with Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, or another provider. For example, if you own the domain name, then you can create the email for your customers. When customers email, their messages are forwarded to your existing personal account, for example,


The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is an organization that governs and manages DNS (Domain Name Systems) and other internet protocols.

IP address

An IP address is a unique string of numbers that specifies the location of a computer or device on the internet and distinguishes it from others. It is required for one computer to communicate with another over the internet.

Shopify’s IP address is

Other terms: Internet Protocol address

MX record

An MX record is a DNS setting that points a domain name to a mail server and is used to process emails through your custom domain. You can set up more than one MX record, and add a backup email addresses if you want to make sure that emails reach you if your main email server is down.

Other terms: Mail Exchange record, Mail eXchanger record, mail server record

Primary domain

In Shopify, a primary domain is the domain name that customers see in the address bar while they browse your online store. You can use your root domain or a subdomain as your primary domain, but you can have only one primary domain.

Root domain

A root domain is the domain name that you purchase from your domain provider. It does not contain a prefix, such as www., but has a top-level domain (TLD) extension like .com, .org, or .net. An example of a root domain is

Other terms: base domain, top-level domain and second-level domain

SSL certificate

An SSL certificate is a security protocol that creates a safe connection between a server and a browser to keep your and your customers’ information secure. In Shopify, you can activate an SSL certificate to encrypt your online store's content and publish it securely using HTTPS instead of HTTP. When you activate SSL, the SSL padlock icon will appear beside your online store's URL in the address bar.

Other terms: Secure Sockets Layer


A subdirectory is a section of your main website. It is defined by a / at the end of the domain name, for example,, where /pricing is the subdirectory. A subdirectory is different from a subdomain because it is used mainly for organizing your website while a subdomain can take you to an entirely different website. An example of a subdirectory in your online store is /collections.


A subdomain is a subset of your root domain that you see as a prefix to your root domain. For example, in the URL, is the root domain and help. is the subdomain. You can use subdomains to organize your website and make it easier for visitors to find the information that they're looking for.

Time to Live

The Time to Live (TTL) value of your domain determines how frequently your DNS records are updated. All domain DNS records have a TTL value. For example, if a record has a TTL of 86400 seconds, then it takes up to 24 hours to go into effect. Changing a record's TTL affects how long it takes any subsequent change to happen.

Top-level and second-level domains

A top-level domain (TLD) and a second-level domain are components of the root domain that give hierarchy to the domain structure. For example, in the root domain, the top-level domain is .com and the second-level domain is shopify.

TXT record

A TXT record is a DNS setting. It contains text information that can be used by services outside of your domain. For example, you might add a text record that a third-party service has given you to verify with them that you own the domain.

Other terms: Text record

WHOIS Privacy

WHOIS (pronounced "who is") is a service you can use to look up information about the owner of a domain name.

WHOIS privacy is a service that hides your domain information from a WHOIS lookup and replaces your contact information with contact details. This allows your personal contact information to remain hidden from the public. You can purchase WHOIS privacy from your domain provider for an additional fee. WHOIS privacy is included when you purchase your domain through Shopify.

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