You know what a domain name is, you know its importance to your success online. The question then is, how do you choose the best domain registrar?
First of all, who is a domain registrar, and what does he do?
A domain registrar is a company that has been authorized or accredited by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to register and manage domain names on behalf of the public.
A domain name is like your identity, just like your name its something that you get to live all your life.
Of course, you can always change it, but, once you get one that represents you want to protect it. Since the domain registry is an intermediary between you and the registry, you need to be a little cautious about whom you are dealing with.
Working with hundreds of clients over the years, we know a thing or two about domain name registrars.
Though mostly a calm sea, every once in a while we bump into horror stories, from domain name thefts to upright “hostage” of the domain names.
That is why who manages your domain name is very important.
What to Look for in A Domain Registrar?
1. Look for an accredited domain name registrar for the TLD you want
Probably the first thing you need to look for in a domain registrar is one who is accredited by ICANN.
Not everyone who claims to be a domain registrar is accredited to register domain names.
Often when an organization builds a website, they leave all the details of the domain name, web hosting with the agency or individual creating the website.
Later, when you ask the client who is their domain name registrar, they know it is the agency or individual who built the site, yet in reality, it is not.
Trouble arises when there is a need to access the Domain Name Server (DNS) manager for administrative tasks like renewals and transfers, and the agency or individual is inaccessible.
One more thing you need to keep in mind is that registrars are licensed to register particular TLDs – for instance, .com, .net, .org, .com.au, .co.uk.
Following this rule, we tend to work with multiple registrars around the world.
When we build a website for a client in Australia who needs a .com.au TLD, we will use a registrar licensed for that; the same would apply if we were building a website for a client who requires a .co.uk domain name.
Get this one thing right, and everything else gets easier. The assumption is that an accredited registry abides by the rules set by ICANN.
2. Costs and fees
There are known costs for domain names across the industry; for instance, the standard price for a .com domain name, for instance, is about $8.03, registrars are then allowed to add on their markup.
Some registrars add exorbitant markup on top of the base fees, so look out for those that do not deviate far away from the standard prices.
Besides the registration fees, look at the renewal fees, domain restoration fees, and any other hidden that could be there.
So pick a domain name registrar who has transparent pricing preferably publicly accessible on their website.
3. Domain Management
Look for a registrar who provides you with an easy to use interface to manage your domain name.
If a person providing you a domain name does not give you a place to manage the domain name, then steer clear.
Having access to a DNS manager provides you some kind of assurance that you own the domain name, from this interface you can ensure that the domain name contact details are yours.
If you do not have access to the DNS manager, verify domain ownership with a whois search.
Secondly, there will be times that you may need to very domain name ownership – or if you need to add A, MX, Nameservers to your domain. You should be able to do this by your self.
If you do not have a hosting service you are pointing your domain name to, then you need a host whose interface can allow you to forward the domain, or park it, or gives you free email addresses using your domain name.
4. Easy of transfer
There will be a time when you may need to move your domain name from one registrar to another for whatever reasons.
Get a clear answer from the registrar on their policies as regards to domain transfers.
Some registrars flaunt the rules and make it hard for domain name owners to move their domains to competitors.
I had an experience with one who wanted $150.00 to authorize a domain name transfer.
That’s why use should strive to use an accredited registrar.
With access to the DNS manager, you have access to the Authorisation Code (Auth Code or EPP) which is required by the new registrar to validate the transfer.
Lastly, use a registrar whose support lines are accessible when you need them.
If you get a good registrar the only times you will be in contact is during the renewal of the domain name, apart from that, there is nothing more to do with them.
However, it does not hurt to get a registrar who is responsive to the issues that could arise.
Choosing the best domain registrar is not hard if you are armed with the right information to look out for when shopping for one.
- The most important aspect of a domain registrar that is a good fit is one who is accredited and licensed to register the domain name tld you want.
- Everything else gets easier if they are playing by ICANN the regulatory body’s rules.
- Pricing could be an issue, but, for the leading registrars, the price differences are small, it gets steep if you are dealing with resellers or agencies.
- Management, of course, is important if you do not have access to the DNS manager, chances are high that you do not own the domain name, you will feel the pinch when it comes to transfers or if the person who registered your domain name disappears and you can not renew it.
- And of course, you want to work with some who is accessible when you need them.
These are the basics that the best domain name registrar needs to have before you work with them.
Here is our handpicked list of the 15 best domain registrars for renting your domain names.