.com domains start at just $8.99 for the first year and renew at $14.99 thereafter. Domain transfer with 1&1 is free, but they will charge you for a 1 year automatic domain renewal, costing the same as a usual 1 year domain registration.
When registering a domain with 1&1, you get 4 options of contract duration. 1, 2, 3 and 5 years are available.
Looking at our 1&1 hosting review, you can see that support is not an area they shine in. And that's a shame. However, 1&1 excels in so many other areas that this is merely a small blip on a wonderful provider.
Looking at drop-catching, 1&1 offers the industry standard of 30 days redemption period after domain expiration.
Namecheap was founded back in the year 2000. Many things were changing in the online space as the millennium came into view, and Namecheap was formed with the idea that everyone using the internet should be able to get a great domain and customer service without paying too much for it.
Almost 20 years later and Namecheap has delivered on that idea.
With nearly 2 million customers and over 9 million domains being managed by them, Namecheap is a name you will find often when looking for the best domain registrar.
.com domains start at just $10.98 and renew at $12.98.
What's really great about Namecheap is the fact that WhoisGuard is included for free. This essentially means that people won't be able to see any personal contact information for who registered the domain name.
When registering a domain with Namecheap, you get 10 choices of contract length. From 1 year to 10 and every choice in between.
This is really nice as it means you can be very flexible with the duration.
Transferring your domain to Namecheap will cost you $9.69 for a .com domain.
Namecheap has some of the best support in the business. Their live chat is particularly pleasing as it's fast and the agents seem to know their stuff!
The only downside was that instead of simply telling me the answer to my question, I was directed to a page in their knowledgebase.
In terms of drop-catching, Namecheap offers a redemption period of up to 27 days.
Founded in 2004 in Kaunas, Lithuania, Hostinger is the best web hosting provider we've ever reviewed. Let's see how their domain name service does in comparison.
Hostinger currently manages over 3 million domain names.
With some of the lowest prices out there, Hostinger certainly has one big thing going for it.
.com domains start at a shockingly low $8.99 and renew at $10.99, transfers cost $10.99.
If you want domain privacy attached to your domain name, Hostinger will charge you $5.00 per year. Not as good of an offer as Namecheap, but still cheaper than GoDaddy.
One of the main drawbacks of Hostinger is that their support is limited to a live chat system which, while very good, doesn't quite compare to talking on the phone with a real person.
You also only get a small choice of contract lengths here. 1, 2 and 3 years are the only options, so those looking for a longer term domain name should look elsewhere unless the price is of utmost importance.
One big thing that puts Hostinger in contention for the title of the best domain registrar, is the variety of payment methods on offer.
You can purchase domains not just with credit cards and PayPal, as is standard, but also with a multitude of cryptocurrencies.
In terms of drop-catching, Hostinger allows the industry standard 30 days of redemption period.
...for standard domains (.com .org .net .info) we offer a 30-day redemption period where the domain can be renewed with no additional fee.Hostinger Support
Over 17 million people use GoDaddy worldwide, and they manage over 73 million domain names. This makes GoDaddy the largest domain name registrar in the world.
Founded in 1997, GoDaddy is a big name in the online world.
If you want to buy a domain, GoDaddy is a good option primarily due to the fact that they have a wide selection of premium domains.
Premium domains are usually referred to as the domains which have additional value, often due the inclusion of widely popular terms (football.com, fashion.net, etc.) or their shortness (ie.com, kd.net, etc.). These domains usually have elevated price and are often sold via auctions.
Standard .com domains with GoDaddy start at $11.99 and renew at $14.99 thereafter, making them quite pricey in comparison to the competition.
GoDaddy loves to upsell. When you add your domain to the cart you will be bombarded with additional items to buy. Hosting, Email services, SSL Certificates, and even their website builder, GoCentral.
In terms of customer support, GoDaddy is one of the best in the business. With 24/7 support agents on hand, if you ever need help GoDaddy is there for you. On top of that, GoDaddy has a fantastic knowledgebase with plenty of guides and tutorials to look through if you ever get stuck.
If you want domain privacy then you will need to pay an extra $7.99 per year.
GoDaddy gives you five choices for the length of the registration for your new domain. You can choose 1 year, 2 years, 3 years, 5 years or 10 years. If you want to transfer your domain to GoDaddy, you will be charged $7.99 for a .com domain.
If you forget to renew your domain, GoDaddy has a drop-catching service, up to 30 days.
One thing that you will love about GoDaddy, is how fast domain registration is. In under 3 minutes we were up and running with a completely working and active .com domain. This is really great, as if you're hunting for domains that are about to expire, you can snap them up very quickly with GoDaddy.
Dreamhost was founded in 1997 and is still going strong, not only as a web host but as a domain registrar.
In terms of pricing, .com domains start at $11.95 and renew at $13.95. If you want to transfer your domain to Dreamhost, you'll be charged $9.95.
Dreamhost also offers you free domain privacy, a welcome addition.
There are just 3 options when registering a domain with Dreamhost. 1 year, 2 years and 3 years. So if you're looking for a long-term domain, Dreamhost may not be the best domain registrar for you.
Dreamhost has a lot to offer, and one thing that caught my eye is their flexibility.
They allow you to set your domain auto-renew preferences easily in your dashboard, as well as give you the ability to create your own custom nameservers.
This is a big deal, as when people look up your site's information, you'll be able to set something like ns1.yoursitename.com instead of a generic ns1.dreamhost.com. It makes your site look more professional and thought about.
Dreamhost offers some good support options, with live chats as well as phone agents. Sadly, neither of these options are that good. Response times are quite slow and more often than not I was simply directed to their knowledgebase for support.
When thinking about drop-catching, Dreamhost like many others offers us a 30-day redemption period for standard domains (.com, .net etc).
What is a domain name registrar?
Simply put, a domain registrar is a company which lets you register and purchase domain names. They are accredited by ICANN(Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), a non-profit organization which manages the domain name system.
Without this domain name system, we would all have to browse the internet using often hard-to-remember IP addresses, instead of the easy to use and eye-catching domain names we have today.
As an example, let's say we want to make a new site for our photography (If one of us decides photography is the next big thing!).
The first thing we should do is head over to a domain registrar and register our domain name - hostingreviewphotography.com.
We might run into some problems though.
Primarily, the domain name we have chosen may already be taken. No need to panic, however, since we don't have to scrap our idea completely.
We can check some other TLD options out, things like .org, .review, .us etc.
The best domain registrars make it really simple to purchase and renew domain names. But still we must choose wisely, since each registrar has certain pros and cons that could improve or negatively affect your experience.
What is a TLD?
A TLD, or Top Level Domain, is essentially the extension you put at the end of a website's name.
Often, a TLD will identify or show something about the website it is connected to and each and every TLD is governed by a domain registry, designated by ICANN
In our site address, https://hosting.review - .review is the top-level domain name.
There are four categories of TLD that are recognized by ICANN, but only two are relevant for us, these are -
Generic TLDs: Very common and well-known. Think of .com or .org as examples
Country code TLDs: The extension you'll see for country-specific sites - .eu, .de and .us are examples of this.
How to choose a domain registrar
There are hundreds of domain registrars to choose from, but only the best are worth your money.
Once you've decided on the perfect domain name, you will need to think about a few things before you get started buying.
More than likely your direct focus, various domain registrars offer a large variety of pricing options.
To start with, you can usually register your domain for a term of one, three, five or ten years. In some instances, you can lengthen this even further.
Make sure you look at all the fees associated with domain transfer, renewal prices or any additional fees that the domain registrar may add. Check the fine print!
1. Privacy Protection
One big thing worth mentioning here, is "privacy protection". Let's take GoDaddy as an example. They charge $7.99 to clear your records from the public WHOIS lookup, which sounds pretty standard, right?
Well, that's if you're in the US! If you are in the EU, that same privacy protection is included for free. So why is this?
GDPR. The regulation that just came into effect has made it impossible for domain registrars to charge extra money to EU citizens wanting to hide their data.
3. Customer Support
Getting good customer support is crucial no matter the field, so talking about domain registrars it is no different. Use the support before you buy, see how they respond and make a decision based partly on this.
The best domain registrar will offer you many additional services that go well past just a domain name. Take a look at Namecheap for an example:
When looking at our cart, Namecheap is offering to purchase their shared web hosting package, an SSL certificate, a private cloud email service as well as their dedicated WordPress hosting package.
Namecheap is pretty good about their add-ons, not adding things to the cart for you to have to take out automatically. However, they still employ some pricing tricks.
That "Private Email - FREE" is misleading. If you look at the small print, it's only free for 2 months, and then automatically renews at $9.88 per year.
These add-ons may come in useful if you're looking for an all-in-one solution with a domain name, web hosting and maybe even a website builder.
Sometimes you may forget to renew your domain name, or possibly the payment method you used has expired.
This can lead to your domain name expiring and being open to purchasing from others.
Drop-catching basically means the registrar holds onto your domain for a certain period of time after expiry, allowing you to renew and not lose out on your hard-fought domain name.
It's an industry standard set by domain registries, not registrars, and is different for each TLD.
For example - the .com extension is set as 30-days, whereas something like .eu or .us allows for a 40-day redemption period.
Alternatively, the registrar will send you frequent reminders that your domain is about to expire, enabling you to renew before the expiration date altogether.
What is the cheapest domain registrar?
As you saw from the registrars above, the prices* vary, hugely in some cases. Below I will show you exactly which provider will be the cheapest for a multitude of domain extensions. Take a look:
*All prices shown are for a one year contract duration with no add-ons or taxes.
As you can see, it's pretty clear that the cheapest domain registrar for the majority of domains is 1&1. Hostinger picks up a point tied with 1&1 for the .com extension, and Namecheap takes home the prize for the .io, .us extensions and ties with GoDaddy for the .info extension.
What is very apparent is the high prices that Dreamhost offers. It's also a bit surprising that GoDaddy, despite being incredibly popular, doesn't take home the prize of cheapest domain registrar even once, only managing to tie with Namecheap on one occasion.
Domain Registrar vs Domain Registry
There are two different roles involved in the registration and management of domain names. These are:
Here are the differences between them and how they work.
A domain name registry is an organization that manages top-level domains (TLD). They create domain name extensions, set rules for that domain name, and work with registrars to sell those domain names to the public.
For example, the domain extension of .com and its domain name system (DNS) is managed by VeriSign.
To put it simply, a domain registry maintains an authoritative database regarding top level or lower-level domains.
Some of the registries that manage popular TLDs include:
VeriSign - .com
Public Interest Registry - .org
Educause - .edu
Domain registries set lots of rules regarding TLDs too. Take the domain length as an example. A .com extension, set by Verisign, allows for 3 to 63 characters in the domain, whereas a .biz extension, set by, NeuStar, allows for 1 to 63 characters. That means your domain could simply be a.biz or 7.biz.
A domain registrar is an ICANN accredited organization that sells domain names to the public.
The companies you see on our list are all domain registrars and all offer similar things.
Building a website has never been more simple than it is today. After Content Management Systems (CMS) and easy-to-use website builders were introduced, there is more choice than ever.
Despite this, the need to register a domain name is unavoidable.
Determining the perfect domain name and the best domain registrar shouldn’t be taken casually.
*Free transfer but you are charged a year of renewal costs, which is the same as one year of domain registration.
The best domain registrar, ultimately, is the one you end up choosing. I really hope our list has helped you decide which one is the best for you. If you found the registrar of your dreams today, please let us know in the comments below.
Conversely, if you have any stories about your experiences with any of these registrars or any others, we'd love to hear them!
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