No, I’m not talking about a URL shortening service such as u.nu, bit.ly or tinyurl.com. Rather, I’m talking about getting a free alternative URL for anyone who has a long domain name, but would prefer it was a few (or a lot of) characters shorter (keeping in mind that most good short .com/.net/.org URLs are taken and cost $).
For example, my photo site’s URL – xploration.org – is not terribly long (14 characters), but it ain’t short either. Thanks to dot.tk, I managed to grab a much more concise (50% smaller) domain – xplr.tk – for free. Obviously, you can sign up for a free domain for any reason under the sun, it does not have to be because it is shorter. Perhaps you’ve got a free Blogger or WordPress.com site and you’d like a unique URL, or maybe your name is T. K. and you like the .tk domain.
However, there are a few strings attached to the free service: 1. you do not own the domain name; 2. if you don’t get 25 visits in any consecutive 90 day period, you lose the domain; 3. there is no DNS service, meaning you cannot create subdomains or point directly to your own hosting service (i.e. you have little to no control over anything but the actual domain name); and 4. free domain names only refer to other existing websites (although, some sites, like Twitter, seem to block this). For more, check out the Dot TK’s info page.
Alternatively, like any domain registrar, you can purchase the domain outright (prices range from a low $6.95/yr to multiple thousands for more desirable names), thus gaining full rights to use the domain as you wish (in general). Ultimately, if you think you can sustain 25 hits over 3 months continuously and just want a quick and dirty (and FREE) alternative URL, you really can’t beat Dot TK.