A quick tutorial, in plain English, on where you can live on the net.

If you are a typical internet user you have an ID. You might be "ignatz@aol.com" as an example. That means that your mail is sent to aol.com and they put it into the "ignatz" mail slot at aol.com for you.
This is the least expensive way to be on the internet. Typical prices run from the $21.95 per month at AOL to something lower at AOL's competitors. I once checked out Erols.com and they were about $9.95 pre month but you had to pay in advance for about a year. Here in Westchester County NY we use Bestweb.net. They charge $19.95. And they answer almost 100% of the time. Much better than any other ISPs we have tried.
Each of these companies are called ISPs or Internet Service Providers. They are your gateway to the internet and your post office.
Some, like AOL give you a great deal more without actually going to the internet. At AOLs home  page, you are given a wide range of options including current news, weather in your area, road maps etc. At a cost of tons of advertising!!
AOL also allows parents to block the kids from some of the true junk on the internet.
Other ISPs like Bestweb do not have a very interesting home page. Their prime concern is to get you out past Bestweb to the internet. And they do that very well.
Of course one of the items that all ISPs offer is mail. That is how you get to be "ignatz" at AOL.
"ignatz" is an ID. It lives at aol.com so their mailing address is "ignatz@aol.com". You are a part of the AOL family. For better or worse.

Now lets think about what that means.
You have just created a new business card that says "Contact us at our e-mail address at "ignatz@aol.com". Great start. Print a few hundred start to hand them out to clients and potential clients.
Now, sometime later, for some reason or another you get disenchanted with the folks at AOL. Guess what your business card still says?? A problem. Can you live with it? Your call. I don't think AOL will go out of business. I do think that they will raise their price again. And they do have all that incesant advertising (did I mention that?)
So, how do you get an address that is really yours and is permanent.
There are two main ways.
One is an e-mail forwarder.  I will let you research that yourself. It is an almost solution but still leaves you depending on someone for your identity.
Best way to get your true own name is to become your own "dot com".
That involves some research and some money.
Your own "dot com" is basically a name that you select and register with an organization that is semi official but is generally recognized. This is InterNIC.
Their job is to verify the name you select is not taken and then to assign it to you and most importantly to tell all internet user who you are...sort of, at least they tell what computer in the world you live at (more on that in a minute).
Our parent company is Mangi Enterprises, Inc. We initially wanted "mangi.com". That is not a common name so I though it would be easy. Alas I forgot about my brothers company in Arlington VA, "mangi.com" was taken.
Only took about 5 tries to end up with "qlpconsulting.com" (we do business as Q.L.P. PC consulting).
Hereintown.com was a nightmare. We kept a list. This was our 53rd choice!!
Once you find a name that is available and works for you, you are yourname.com. You have what is called your own "domain".
Step two. You now have to find a "host", some computer operator that will let you set up shop on his or her computer. No, generally you can't use your own PC. Lots of reasons.
The person acting as your host has this nasty habit of sending you a bill every now and then. Bestweb bills me $50/month for my mail domain and less for seconds and thirds.
But now you have independance. Note that your ID is now "ignatz@yourname.com" and nowhere in that ID is the name is your ISP. The folks at hereintown.com have an ID of hit@qlpconsulting.com. You can't tell from that ID that we are on Bestweb. For that matter, if Bestweb and hereintown did not get along any longer we would call up one of Bestweb's competitiors, strike a deal and move the entire hereintown operation to the new ISP literally overnight. And here is the best part. You, the person looking up something at hereintown.com will never know it happened!
Same story for you business card.
We use "hit@qlpconsulting.com". If we change ISPs (Bestweb), our ID is still "hit@qlpconsulting.com"
Stability is the key here. If you plan to be around for a while and want that constant name recognition having your own domain (your own "dot com") is the way to go...at a price.
Did I mention ego? Yeah, that too.
So, do you want to be "hosted" at hereintown.com? Depends. You tell us. We will certainly be cheaper than an ISP. But if we cease to be in business your name changes.
Actually, it does not matter to us. We want to help you build a web site and there is very little difference to us where you will be hosted.

Hope this long tutorial helped.

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