About the Author

Chris Shiflett

Hi, I’m Chris: web craftsman, community leader, husband, father, and partner at Fictive Kin.


Domain Registrars

I'm a domain addict.

For years, I've maintained a portfolio of more than one hundred domains, most of which were being reserved for later use. I'm an imaginative person, and I love the Web, so I have lots and lots of ideas that require a domain name. If you're reading this, there's a good chance you're a lot like me.

Recently, I reduced the number of domains I own by about half. I let a number of them expire, and due to the prohibitive cost of renewing an expired domain, I decided to use the opportunity to reduce my portfolio substantially. I'm glad I did.

There's one more change I want to make before I'm completely happy with my whole domain situation, however. I want a new registrar. The vast majority of my domains are registered with Go Daddy. As my portfolio has grown over the years, I've been forced to use Go Daddy's web site more and more often. If you've ever had the misfortune of using their web site, you understand why that's untenable.

As I began my search, I discovered Hover. The clean, simple web site seemed like the complete opposite of the cluttered carnage of Go Daddy, so I tweeted about my discovery:

Is this the good domain registrar I've been waiting for? I sure hope so. Let me know if you use them. http://hover.com/

Within minutes, Helgi and Ed alerted me to the fact that Hover stored passwords in plaintext. Worse, they would email you your password if you forgot it.

To be fair, Hover has since modified their approach, but I'm still a bit wary. We all make mistakes, but this was a deliberate decision made with enough thought that they blogged about it. Their transparency and friendliness earn a fair amount of forgiveness, so I'm keeping them in mind.

Others began suggesting alternatives, prompting me to ask for more:

Please keep sending your domain registrar recommendations. I'm going to share your responses in a blog post. Thanks a bunch.

So, here we are. These are my top choices at the moment. I've not yet made my decision, but if you're thinking about switching, maybe this list will help. I'm going to list and link to everyone who commented on each registrar, so you can judge for yourself.

Gandi

Judging by the number of glowing recommendations, Gandi is the clear crowd favorite and went from not being on my list to being the frontrunner. The concept of "no bullshit" aligns pretty well with my needs, and the online documentation looks pretty darn good, too.

Here are the people who commented:

Hover

Hover remains on my list, primarily because I like the people. I visited them in Toronto several years ago, and everyone I met was super nice. Plus, they're Canadian, so they're pretty much nice by definition.

Here are the people who commented:

Namecheap

I've always been a little turned off by the name, but Namecheap always seems to come up, and their prices are pretty good, even if they're not the cheapest. They also offer free DNS hosting, even if you use another registrar. That's pretty cool.

Here are the people who commented:

Name.com

Although it wasn't mentioned by anyone on Twitter, Name.com is on my list for the simple reason that I already have more than a dozen domains registered there. As I recall, transferring domains is a bit of a hassle, so avoiding that is a plus. (I'm transferring my Go Daddy domains regardless.) I'm only bothered by simple things, like having an embedded Flash object for tracking, an extra fee for whois privacy, and the lackluster documentation.

On the other hand, I really like the native support for Google Apps and the simple — albeit crowded — interface.

Honorable Mention

There are other registrars that didn't make my list but are worth mentioning:

Dynadot
Mentioned by Floren Munteanu and Brian Jones
EasyDNS
Mentioned by Graham Freeman.
Joker
Mentioned by Ilya Alexander and Daniel Farrugia.
FastDomain
Mentioned by Jon Payne.
iWantMyName
Mentioned by Jan Lehnardt.
GratisDNS
Mentioned by Christian Winther.
Dotster
Mentioned by Nick Benson.
QTH
Mentioned by Ryan Born.
Domain.com
Mentioned by Derek Anderson.

I also solicited opinions from my awesome Studiomates. Here's what some of them had to say:

Kieran Lynn
Oh, this one is easy, DNSimple. It's simple, cheap, and they have a great API.
Cameron Koczon
I like Namecheap. Not the cheapest, despite what the name says. I find their interface fairly easy to use and haven't had any problems with them in over 3 years.
Kristen Taylor
I really like DreamHost, partly because I host my domains from there (and have for 7+ years). PowerPipe has also been a great registrar for me, and pretty cheap, too!
Erica Heinz
I like DreamHost, because their control panel is great. Some people complain about downtime, but in 3 years, I've not had any issues. I use Doteasy for cheap stuff. They used to have a free plan with no ads; not sure if it still exists.
Josh Stewart
We use Name.com. I wouldn't say we love them, but they've been good. Moving our domains over hasn't been without hiccups, but they've been helpful solving those small issues.
Raul Gutierrez
I use Name.com, because it's easy, cheap, no hassle, and not evil.
Rusty Meadows
We've had no problems with Libyan Spider for Tattly.

That last one sounds too fantastic to be real, but it is! Also, Tattly just launched this morning, so you should go buy some designy temporary tattoos. :-)

Please feel free to suggest others or add your own comments below. Thanks!

About this post

Domain Registrars was posted on Tue, 12 Jul 2011. If you liked it, follow me on Twitter or share:

19 comments

1.Paul Reinheimer said:

I have a few VPS units for WonderProxy with Gandi, and there's a few rough edges. As I mentioned in my Miles per Milisecond post they route traffic between Baltimore and New York through Paris. They also send out billing emails for pre-paid accounts with half the information you need to make an informed decision. They tell you what your pre-paid balance is, but not how much they charge you. That may be a bit simpler for a product like domain registrations however.

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 at 13:52:35 GMT Link


2.Shameer Chamal said:

Though its not about domain name registration, I am also a victim of using Godaddy's service. The reason why I choose godaddy was attractive payment plan. But now their outages grown like too hectic, and their customer service also very bad. Past few days their email service suffered a delay of atleast 20-30 minutes. It will be nice if someone tells good alternatives. with affordable cost.

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 at 14:40:40 GMT Link


3.Thomas Traub said:

I use Gandi since 2005 when I came to Paris. It is a reliable registrar with an excellent, complete interface, a good support (mail and phone) and flexible payment methods.

The quality of the Wiki is mixed and I would not rely on the forums (maybe I am spoiled, I am used to Codeigniter's excellent forum). Cannot tell how they stock / treat passwords resets.

Just recently I discovered regfish.de, looks promising, haven't tried ityet (but very german, I need to leave my credit card credentials or work with bank transfers).

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 at 14:51:47 GMT Link


4.Gerard Sychay said:

+1 for dnsimple. I haven't used them myself, but I've heard great things about them. They have native support for Google Apps as well, Posterous, and other services.

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 at 15:44:06 GMT Link


5.Josh Holloway said:

Thanks so much for this, Chris. This is insanely useful.

Looks like I'll be going with Gandi for my next domain name.

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 at 16:32:41 GMT Link


6.No One said:

Totally agree with you. GoDaddy has 1 of the worst sites in the industry. They really try hard in tricking you into purchasing products you have no need for.

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 at 16:48:50 GMT Link


7.Ferenc Kovacs said:

+1 for dnsimple

Tyrael

Wed, 13 Jul 2011 at 01:14:03 GMT Link


8.Lisa Ridley said:

Another vote for NameCheap. I began moving my domains to them two years ago. I have over 50 domains with them right now. They have always been extremely responsive, and their DNS servers seem to resolve IP address changes faster than other registrars I've used. The control panel is relatively easy to use as well.

Wed, 13 Jul 2011 at 02:34:50 GMT Link


9.Grant Palin said:

Another vote for Gandi. I consolidated my domains there some time ago. Moving domains to and from the service has been painless.

Wed, 13 Jul 2011 at 04:46:18 GMT Link


10.Frank van den Brink said:

Thanks for this, Chris! Very useful.

I have to say Gandi looks really good. I've always found domain registrars in the Netherlands to be a bit "outdated" with their UI (and prices), but I could never find others which supported both the .nl and .eu TLDs.

It's good to see that Gandi fortunately does! Too bad they don't have some simple shared hosting package to top it off.

Wed, 13 Jul 2011 at 05:52:07 GMT Link


11.Joel Caton said:

Hey Chris,

There's a whole lot of truth to what you are saying about Godaddy. If you go through their site to administer your account you'll get sucked into a marketing vortex. I've learned a little trick that will keep you clear of that. Bookmark https://hostingmanager.secureserver.net and used it to login to your account. You'll be able to do all of your admin stuff without the marketing distractions.

Wed, 13 Jul 2011 at 11:12:00 GMT Link


12.Luka Kladaric said:

buying domains from your hosting company is a big no-no, you're in a double-lockin in case anything goes wrong

Wed, 13 Jul 2011 at 22:12:51 GMT Link


13.Ross Rader said:

Hi Chris -

Thanks for the kind words. Out of all the competitors mentioned, I'd really encourage you to seriously consider EasyDNS. They have been around forever and I've got the utmost respect for them as a competitor and as colleagues.

You mentioned that registrars can make domain transfers a real hassle. Last year we launched a service called "Transfer Valet" where we take care of all of the details of your domain transfers - as many domains as you want from as many registrars as you want, and consolidate them in your Hover account at no additional charge (registration fees are still payable, but we do all the administrative work gratis). Its been a really popular service with our customers because it completely eliminates 100% of the hassle associated with doing domain transfers - whether it be 1 domain, or consolidating a large portfolio.

We'd love to win your business, so if I can answer any other questions, please let me know. If you do decide to go with us, please give me a heads up so that we can create a special pricing profile for you - with that many domains, you'd definitely qualify for some pretty substantial discounts.

Thanks again for your feedback and post.

best,

/ross

Thu, 14 Jul 2011 at 02:31:03 GMT Link


14.Joni Rubio said:

Hello Chris,

I recommend you to use CDmon (http://www.cdmon.com). It's a seriously company that has a very good customer service and a very powerful control panel.

The only negative point is the language: spanish. But they are going to translate it to english.

I encourage you to visit it and to use their services.

Thu, 14 Jul 2011 at 09:53:30 GMT Link


15.Thibaut Allender said:

+1 for Gandi. Its creator, Valentin Lacambre, launched altern.org, one of the first french free hoster. He was a pioneer and remains one in the "no bullshit" registrar business. I've got more than 30 domains there, always been happy with them.

Sun, 17 Jul 2011 at 22:02:17 GMT Link


16.David Oliver said:

My advice on 1&1 is to never go near it - truly appalling customer service.

I'm a Brit and am using http://www.daily.co.uk/ - not much need for customer service yet, but pleased so far. Control panel is fine.

Tue, 02 Aug 2011 at 13:57:32 GMT Link


17.Rich Testani said:

While GoDaddys website is tough, the DNS editor is decent enough. The buying process is a different story which I agree, it's a rough jungle.

I do however think Network Solutions is far worse of a service and interface. I stay far away from them.

Sun, 18 Sep 2011 at 21:17:26 GMT Link


18.Chris Shiflett said:

For anyone considering 1&1, I'd recommend you be wary of them. When things go wrong, the quality of your registrar matters.

Read about David Walsh's woes with them:

http://davidwalsh.name/domain-stolen

Fri, 02 Dec 2011 at 15:04:07 GMT Link


19.André DeMarre said:

I've been using Gandi for a few months and I've been very happy with them so far. I've needed to contact them only one time and they were very responsive.

On the whole though, it's sad that such an important space in the information industry is marked by controversy and questionable business practices.

For some time I've been pondering the idea of getting support together to found a nonprofit domain name registrar. It would operate as a nonprofit organization with some of its key principles and features being:

Complete transparency, including the composition of all fees (e.g. ICANN fees, registry fees, operating costs).

Open source. As far as is reasonable, all the software we write to serve our own needs will be released as open source.

Programmable. To the extent possible, all of our services will be exposed via an API.

Quite a few registrars are providing APIs now, but how refreshing would it be to know that your registrar isn't seeking a profit and isn't pushing products and services that you don't need?

Thu, 08 Dec 2011 at 22:51:58 GMT Link


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