Where to start?
Once you’ve picked your preferred domain names and checked they are still available, it’s time to register! If you haven’t already, you can find useful tips at <What you should Know before Registering your Domain>. There are thousands of domain name registrars on the Internet so where to start?
Domain name registrars are ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) accredited companies which act as an intermediary between the future domain owner, the Registrant, and the domain registries which are authorized to offer top-level domains (TLDs) and which, in turn, delegate domain registration to registrars and their resellers.
To sift through registrars efficiently and find the most suitable one for you, we suggest the following easy-to-check selection criteria that will lead you to the right registrar match for you!
• Registrar Reputation
• Period of Domain Ownership
• Domain Transfers
• Customer Support
• Privacy Services
• Additional Services
Because you entrust the security and safekeeping of your domains to that company, it is important to know if it’s got a clean background, high customer satisfaction and complies with ICANN rules and policies. Bigger does not necessarily mean better – better is one which adequately meets the selection criteria above.
Period of Domain Ownership
Registrars offer various registration plans: one year, two years, five years, even ten years, each priced differently. Therefore, it is necessary to be clear about your objectives: short- or long-term and choose accordingly. Always pay attention to the small print in the service agreement before sending any money – if extra fees apply, what the renewal costs are, etc.
Only the ICANN fee is obligatory in domain registration. The rest depends on the particular registrar’s pricing plans. Some offer bundle services, others add many free services like free privacy registration or email forwarding, still others – offer discounts for registering domains in bulk. It all depends on what your domain needs are.
Typically, you’re not allowed to transfer your domains earlier than 60 days after registration. There are many reasons you may choose to transfer your domains to another registrar at some point, so you’d want the process to be quick and easy. Refer to the registrar’s transfer policies for transfer fees – it may be twice the initial domain price or there may be hidden snags making it difficult to leave.
Usually there is a balance between design and functionality. Do you want your domain management interface user-friendly with nice menus and buttons or efficient for everyday use? Again, it depends on your needs, because some registrars emphasize one over the other.
Customer services are essential, especially if you manage many domains. It is worth checking their response time, if they are available 24/7 via phone, live chat and email, etc. You’d want a registrar that acts reliably fast when your website is down, or there is another technical issue or you wish to contact them for rules or compliance policies.
Many registrars offer Whois privacy or private registration which means that the Whois record will display the name and contact details of your service company’s instead of yours. However, please note that whoever is listed in the Whois record as owner is legally the domain owner so it is important to consider if this poses risks for you and check the domain registrar’s reputation.
In addition to domain registration, many registrars offer website hosting, website building, email services, SSL certificates, even SEO tools, etc. Upsells can be really annoying, though, so you might want to get a registrar that has a less aggressive approach and doesn’t shove them in your face at every turn. Many hosting providers offer domain services as well, but it is best to keep these two separate since if you’d like to change your hosting provider, you wouldn’t have to transfer your domains as well. Also, it is more secure when you spread around the services you use.
Popular Domain Registrars to Choose from
There are many popular domain registrars such as GoDaddy, Domain.com, DreamHost, Namecheap, Hover, Moniker, Domainname.com, etc. Let’s take a closer look at the following listed in no particular order:
Much has been said about GoDaddy and hardly any big domainer hasn’t registered domains with them. They offer big discounts so you can save in the short term. Their cluttered layout and endless upsells somewhat erode the user-friendliness of their interface. Customer support is reliable and includes phone services.
Final word: GoDaddy is a good match that is cheap upfront, but if you’re in the domain business for long and need hardcore functionality, you may want to look elsewhere.
Namecheap offers many services and can be a good choice if you want to register your domains for two years or more. Their lean interface is both functional and user-friendly. Domain transfers are easy with them, which is definitely a plus. Their additional services are usually more technical (SSL packages, shared hosting, etc.), but they’ve got a lot of free services as well: eg email forwarding.
Final word: Namecheap is a very good bet for the long term because of their reputation, overall user experience, and additional services.
Hover is a well-established registrar with a long history and a number of advantages. They offer a good variety of TLDs, excellent customer support including phone service, and easy domain transfers. Their pricing isn’t the lowest, but they make it up with discounts. Their Whois privacy is free of charge. In terms of interface and management tools, they are praised for ad-free simplicity and user-friendliness.
Final word: If your user experience means a lot to you, then Hover should top your registrar list.
All in All
In the modern world of tailor-made solutions and customized services, there is no ‘one size fits all’ option for domain registrars either. It is important to use discernment based on your own needs and business goals. Prioritizing your selection criteria can also help you choose.