Your domain name is something like this: MyWebSite.com. It should convey something about the content of your site but sometimes doesn't. Your domain name is used by people to get to your site. Type it into your address bar and press enter - your home page displays. In browser terms, it's your internet address. It's how people recognize and find you.
Domain names can be free if nobody is using it or if it is being used you may be able to purchase it from the current owner. Once you decide on a domain name and find that it's available, you have to register it. You do this through what's called a domain name registrar. A domain name registrar keeps track of who owns what domain. By registering it, you acquire ownership. Obviously, you can't register a domain name that's currently being used. There's an annual fee to register a domain name. The fee can be as low as $10.00 per year.
Along with registering the domain name, you control the location of your web site. Your web site resides on a computer somewhere. You enter the location of the computer at the registrar. These entries take the domain name (like MyWebSite.com) and send people to a specific computer. This computer holds the computer files for your site and sends the appropriate web page to the browser of the person who requested it. The computer is usually owned by a web hosting company. Web hosting companies charge a monthly, quarterly or annual fee to make your computer files available as a web site. The cost can be as low as $10.00 per month.
Here's a typical scenario for most web site owners: You decide you want a web site for your business, passion or blog. You don't know how to set up a web site so you pay someone to do it for you.
What if you have a disagreement with this person? What if they stop providing web site services? What if they can't provide services due to illness or death? What if you want a redesigned site but don't want this person to create your new site? Hey, things happen. He or she controls your domain name and your current site computer files! You need to take control of your domain name because this is the key to your site. The files can be replaced, the domain name can't. There's only one domain name and you don't have control!
What to do if you have a new domain name: