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Choosing A Domain Name Registrar - Essential Tips

Mar 26, 2008
Once upon a time, there was only one domain name registrar. Network Solutions had a monopoly, and anyone wishing to register a domain had to use their services, which were expensive, and offered no extra services like email along with the domain name.

Now there are hundreds of domain name registrars to choose from, and they offer registration for as little as about $10 a year, along with free parking, domain monetization, free email, domain locking , domain protection and other services.

But how do you know which registrars are reliable and give you the best deal? With the example of registerfly.com fresh in their minds, many people who want to register a domain name need to be sure that any name they do register will not be lost, or will not become impossible to transfer if the registrar has problems.

While all registrars must be approved by ICANN, that approval does not guarantee you will get a reasonably priced service with good support.

So, how can you choose a good one? Here are some tips on selecting a reliable registrar. They may help you to avoid problems in the future.

First, don't use the same company to register your domain and host your site. This happens when you sign up with a host which offers 'a free domain of your choice', and they register it for you. Web hosting services are notoriously unstable, and if a hosting service goes down it may be difficult or impossible to retrieve your domain. This has happened to me twice, and though I eventually got my domains back, it is an experience I don't recommend.

Second, remember that domain registrars can be cautious, and even supine in the face of complaints. If your site is to be controversial, contentious, political or sexual in nature, or will contain 'whistleblowing' material, ask a potential registrar if they believe in the principles of free speech, and discuss the nature of your site with them. Registrars can, and do, take sites down, often without hearing the owner's side of the story.

Third, check the prices. Look at all the available registrars, see what their prices are for a year, or for extended registration over a period of years. See what extra services are on offer, and what they cost. Private registrations particularly should not be costing you an inflated price. If you are going to register multiple domains, do you get a discount? Conversely, note that prices for domains have settled at about $9 or $10 a year. If a registrar is offering domains at a lot less that this, and is very new on the scene, be extra careful.

Fourth, check the domain name forums. Many people make a living trading domains, and it is in their interest to know what is going on. If there are rumors of a registrar being about to go under or having financial problems, you will soon see the relevant threads. On the other hand, you can often find registrar recommendations too, written by customers who are happy. If a registrar has a dedicated forum, have a look at it. Any problems will be apparent there.

Fifth, send a message to the Technical Support section of the potential registrar, as if you are a newbie. While the Sales section of any business will always reply to queries, it's the amount of resources given to their support that is of interest to you. If you get a reply from Technical Support in minutes, you may have a winner.

As for the last tip - make sure a registrar has a clearly stated process for transferring a domain away to another registrar if you ever want to do it. After all, it's your domain, not theirs.
About the Author
Check Dee's site for information about domain names and how to buy and sell domains.
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