Eli5: How does buying a domain work

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If I go to GoDaddy and pay them to own a domain, what happens in the background? Is there a way to cut out the middle man?

I have a background in network engineering, so using terms like DNS, IP address etc. is ok

In: Technology
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You pay them, they pay a fee to the registrar of the top-level, who makes that all the “.COM” names are unique. Then they build an account on their DNS server, to which they have pointed the top-level, for your domain. Then they give you access to that account, so you can manipulate the DNS records.

All the while, they try to sell you other services, like web hosting and email, which they will integrate into your domain’s Internet presence, for a small additional fee.

The top-level registrar might not deal directly with you, but you’re free to find a cheaper source. I like NameCheap.

The other important thing to know is the Top-Level domain registry owns the domain. They are just letting you lease it.

The internet is not unlike a series of apartment or office buildings and the registrars are landlords letting you lease specifically-labeled rooms in it.

You can fill that room with as much stuff as you want, but if you stop paying, they will rent it to someone else and you and all your stuff no longer have an address you can be found at.