Domain Registrars

12 Jul 2011

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.

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.


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 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 nice by definition.

Here are the people who commented:


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:

Although it wasn’t mentioned by anyone on Twitter, 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:

Mentioned by Floren Munteanu and Brian Jones
Mentioned by Graham Freeman.
Mentioned by Ilya Alexander and Daniel Farrugia.
Mentioned by Jon Payne.
Mentioned by Jan Lehnardt.
Mentioned by Christian Winther.
Mentioned by Nick Benson.
Mentioned by Ryan Born.
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 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, 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!