Domain names are your access to the online world. If you have a brilliant idea for a website or blog, you want a compelling domain name.
If you want to buy a domain name for your website, you will need to work with a domain name registrar. Domain Registrars are the companies that manage the domain names of all your favorite websites.
Most registrars have similar features, but also have certain advantages and disadvantages.
Here’s what it takes to know what a domain registrar really is, how to select the right registrar, what to look for, and what’s good and bad about some of the most popular domain registrars.
What is a domain name registrar?
Simply put, a domain name registrar is a service that allows you to register and acquire domain names. Domain name registries have been accredited by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), a nonprofit organization that has assumed responsibility for administering the domain name system.
Without the domain name system, we would only have confusing and hard-to-remember IP addresses, rather than the today’s user-friendly and remembering domain names.
For example, if you plan to sell custom Google Pixel cases and want to create a website. You go to a registrar for domain names and register the domain name “custompixelcases.com”. Of course, you can only register this domain name if it is still available.
During this time, you also selected the top-level domain for your URL. These are the extensions like.com, .org, .co, .io, etc. following your custom domain name.
Most domain name registries today make it easy to buy and renew your domain names. However, you must make a smart choice, since each register has the corresponding positive and negative values. Below, we’ll show you what to look for when choosing the right domain name registrar.
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How to Choose the Right Registrar
Today there are hundreds of domain name registrars to choose from.
Once you’ve found the perfect domain name for your needs you need to take special care in purchasing it through the right registrar. Below we highlight a few factors you’ll want to consider during your search.
1. Domain Transfers
You probably won’t want to transfer your domain right away (if you’ve done your research), but it is something that might arise in the future. Domain transferring is the process of moving your domain from one registrar to another.
Make sure you check the transfer details in your policy. In most cases, you won’t be able to transfer a domain for 60 days following your registration. Some domain name registrars don’t allow for transfers, or they’ll even charge you a fee.
On the other hand, some registrars allow for easy transfer of your domain, all without an additional charge.
2. Contract and Pricing
This is probably your most immediate focus. When looking through various domain name registrars you’ll come across a variety of pricing options. For starters, you can usually register your domain for a period of one, three, five, or even ten years. In some cases you can do it even longer.
If this is your first time registering a domain then we usually recommend just registering a domain name for a year. You can usually turn on automatic renewal, so your domain doesn’t expire, and this will give you the freedom to switch registrars if needed.
Make sure you examine any associated costs in dealing with domain transfers, cost of renewal, and any additional fees they might tack on.
3. Customer Support
You’ll want their support staff to be on your side. You’d hate to be scrambling to get in touch with support when something goes wrong with your site. You want to make sure their support is responsive and helpful well before you actually need it.
When examining the different levels of support you can either read reviews from past and current customers online, or put in a support request and see how quickly they handle your question.
4. Additional Services
A lot of registrars will offer additional web services well beyond just allowing you to register a domain name. If you’re looking to host your domain names, build your site out, and purchase other certificates, then a lot of domain name registrars can help you do this as well.
So, if you’re looking for an all-in-one domain name registrar and prefer to keep everything under one roof, then you’ll want to compare the pricing of these bundle services as well.
5. Drop Catching
Sometimes you might forget to renew your domain name, or your credit card on file might expire. This leads to your domain expiring and it being opened up for other people to purchase. Sometimes your domain can be purchased by another competitor in your space, or it could be purchased completely accidentally.
Whatever the reason, now the domain is no longer in your possession, which means the future of your site, and your business is in jeopardy.
Now, a lot of domain registrars offer a service that holds onto the domain for you for a certain period of time to prevent this from happening. At the very least the registrar you choose should send out reminders that your domain is expiring, before it actually occurs.
What to Watch Out For When Choosing a Domain Name Registrar
Now that you know a couple key features you’ll want to keep an eye on, we’re going to show you a few things you’ll want to look out for. Some of these might be a little hard to track down, and you’ll have to look into the fine print. That being said, it’ll be well worth it, and you’ll end up with an even better domain registrar choice.
1. Pricing Add-ons
Some domain registrars will tack on added fees just as you’re about to purchase your domain name. The most common added fees are WHOIS registration and privacy protection. So, when you see a domain being advertised for a super cheap price this might not always be the final price.
Before you complete your purchase make sure you’re not paying too much for your domain. A lot of domain registrars are very straightforward with their pricing and don’t tack on added fees, what you see if what you get.
You’ll also want to watch out for upsells that you might involuntarily add to your total, like additional web hosting, multi-year domain registration, and others.
2. Transfer Fees
You might not want to stay with your current registrar forever. Or, maybe you’re eventually planning on selling your current domain. Whatever the reason you’ll want to look out for hidden transfer fees.
Some domain registrars will do this for free, while others will charge a small fee. Make sure their fees are communicated clearly before you end up signing on the dotted line.