Wherever you look these days you can see the ubiquitous www sign, as in: www.something-or-other.com It's there on the TV, on the sides of vans, in the newspaper...everywhere.

 
 
 
 

Then there's the "@" symbol in email addresses, as in: sales@something-or-other.com

In these two examples we have different prefixes - "www." and "sales@". There is also the part they have in common: "something-or-other.com". That part is the "domain name".

That's the bit that you can stake a claim to and own.

The different prefixes just state something about how your domain is available across the Internet.

Only one person (or organization) can own a domain name

Rather like the license plate on your car, a domain name cannot belong to more than one owner. So if you're looking to stake out your claim to a piece of Internet space you have two choices:

  1. buy a domain name that no one has yet registered, or
  2. try to purchase the domain name from the existing owner.

Domain names are "leasehold" rather than "freehold"

When you buy a domain name you get the sole rights to that name for a fixed period of time only. If you fail to renew your domain name when its term has expired you will lose the rights to the domain and it will be returned to the "pool" of available domain names

How long does a domain registration last?

This varies with all the different types of domain name.

The three main "generic" domain names - dot com, dot org, dot net - can be ordered for 1, 2, 3, 5 or even 10 year periods.