By definition, a domain name is simply a human readable form of an IP address. In function it is the destination that you type into a web browser in order to visit a website, such a www.google.com. Metaphorically, it is very similar to how you would scroll to a contact in your cell phone rather than manually dialing the person by entering their full phone number; the phone number would be an IP address and the saved contact would be a domain name. Always buy a domain with a reputable domain registrar.
When it comes to server operating systems, Linux is typically the default option. Still, some services offer a choice of Linux or Windows hosting. If you have specific server-side applications that require Windows, such as SQL Server or a custom application written in .NET, then you need to make sure your web host has Windows hosting. But don't let the idea of a Linux host intimidate you. Nowadays, most web hosts offer a graphical interface or a control panel to simplify server administration and website management. Instead of typing at the command line, you'll click easily identifiable icons.
If you're planning on selling a product, look for a web host that offers a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate, because it encrypts the data between the customer's browser and web host to safeguard purchasing information. You're probably familiar with SSL; it's the green padlock that appears in your web browser's address bar as you visit an online financial institution or retail outlet. A few companies toss in a SSL certificate free of charge; others may charge you roughly $100 per year for that extra security layer.

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Whether a large or small business, an institution or private user, anyone planning on creating an online presence will require the appropriate storage space for their future website. This is where web hosting services come into play: the provision of storage space for a website by a hosting provider (also known as a provider). Such storage space is referred to as web space. The provision of web space on a server (a computer designed for this purpose), as well as providing the necessary network connections, is usually done at a cost. To put it simply: the customers rent web space from a web hosting service provider.
A handful of domains will have restrictions on them, which means you can only purchase them if you meet or exceed certain criteria or have authorization (some examples are .gov, .edu and .mil). But most extensions are available to everyone. In fact, most country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) are available for anyone to purchase, even if you don't reside in the country code in question.
On the topic of dedicated hosting, many web hosting services also offer managed hosting. This type of hosting sees the web host act as your IT department, handling a server's maintenance and upkeep. This hosting option is something that you'd typically find with dedicated servers, so it's a business-centric addition. Naturally, it adds a few bucks to the hosting cost, but nothing that should break the bank if you have the resources for a dedicated server.
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