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Tip: Use a free .TK domain for custom e-mail address, website

Last year I wrote an article on how to get your own custom e-mail address [1] using a free CO.CC domain [2]; last week I added on to that article by explaining how that CO.CC domain can be used for a custom e-mail address and a website at the same time [3]. Today I am going to explain how you can do the exact same things (i.e. get a custom e-mail address and a website) using a .TK domain [4].

Before we begin, let’s discuss why one may want a .TK domain over a CO.CC domain. The free CO.CC domains are actually subdomains where the company has allowed users to modify DNS settings. However, .TK domains are actual domains. For most of us that just want personal websites/e-mails, the different between a subdomain vs domain isn’t really that big of a deal as long as we can modify the DNS settings for both. On the other hand, for people looking for a more “professional” looking e-mail address and/or website URL, a real domain is a much better choice than a subdomain. Plus, free .TK domains have privacy settings (i.e. no one can find out who owns the domain by doing a WHOIS) whereas CO.CC domains do not. However, picking a .TK domain over a CO.CC domain isn’t as simple as that.

You see free .TK domains have a catch – multiple catches, actually:

Without a doubt that last requirement is the most imposing; indeed if you plan on using a free .TK domain just for e-mail (and not a website) I don’t see how you can get 25 unique hits every 90 days. If you fall in this group – i.e. you want to use a free .TK domain for e-mail only – you really should consider using a free CO.CC domain [1] instead or you should wait for my next article which will explain how everyone can get a free custom e-mail address using a free .TK domain without having to worry about the 25 unique hits/90 days requirement. (If you plan on waiting for that article, take note that the e-mail address will just be a forwarder; it will receive e-mails and forward them to your other e-mails but you will not be able to reply to e-mails with it.)

That said, let’s begin.

First off, if you plan on hosting a website with your free .TK domain [4], you need a web host. If you plan on using the free .TK domain just for e-mail, you don’t need a web host; but as I already said, I highly discourage using it just for e-mail because I doubt you would be able to meet the 25 unique hits/90 days requirement. 000WebHost [5] is a popular choice for a free web host so I will use them as an example in this article but you can use any web host.

Secondly, you need the find out the nameservers of your web host; you should be given at least two nameservers. Nameservers are typically something like ns1.example.com (example.com being the URL of your web host). For the purpose of this article, we don’t need the actual nameservers, but rather the IP addresses connected to the nameservers. Typically most hosts provide you with the IP addresses associated with each nameservers. However if your host does not, there is an easy way to find out:

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…and hit Enter on your keyboard. After the ping has finished (it should only take a few seconds), copy down the IP address shown (you will have to manually type it – command prompt won’t let you copy it):

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Once you have a web host and you have the IP addresses for the web host, you are ready to setup your free .TK domain:

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Take note that not all domains may be available for free and some domains may be taken already, so you may been to search multiple times until you find a suitable one.

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At this screen you need to click on the Use DNS for this domain button:

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To create the A records, you need to enter the IP address of one of your web host’s nameservers in both the two textboxes found in the IP address column. It doesn’t matter which nameserver’s IP address you use.

If you are not using the free .TK domain for a website, and only want to use it for an e-mail address, the IP address you enter can be anything you want (i.e. it can be 0.0.0.0 or you can use one of Google’s IP addresses 74.125.227.18).

If you are having trouble, don’t waste too much time on setting the A records because you can easily change them later on. (In fact this article will discuss how to change the DNS records after you have registered the domain.)

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If everything has gone well, after filling out your name, password, and click Next >> you should be taken to a “success” screen:

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Copy the confirmation code and click on the confirmation link.

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Enter the confirmation code and hit Confirm. If all goes well you will get a “congratulations” message:

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While the congratulations page tells you to login to your account, you don’t need to login just yet. First you need to setup your domain with Windows Live. (Note: You need a Windows Live ID, so if you don’t have one signup [19] for one.)

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Look under Mail setup, find MX Entry, and copy the bold value:

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If it all went well, upon page reload you should see a success message:

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…you need to wait. You need to allow time for the DNS changes to properly propagate. It may take as little as 5 minutes or as long as 48-hours. (I had to wait about 5 minutes.) When the Status says Active

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…you are good to go! Click on your domain name and start adding as many e-mail addresses as you like (you can have upto 500). After you have created an e-mail address, you can login to check the e-mail from http://mail.live.com/ [38] using the new e-mail address (i.e. your .TK e-mail address) and password.

Phew. After all that hard work you are done! You can start using your e-mail address instantly after you create it. You can start building your website (using FTP or whatever your web host provides you) whenever the DNS changes for the A entries fully propagate (can take upto 48 hours). Enjoy!