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Choosing a Registrar (Internet domain registration service)

Most Internet Service Providers (ISP) offer to register your domain name for you. Especially if they offer web hosting services. However, most of them use Network Solutions Inc. (NSI) to do this. We feel that NSI is one of the worst companies we have ever dealt with so far as price, service, support, and ethics. Until just a few years ago they had a government-granted monopoly on all domain name registrations and were charging a ridiculously high price of $50/year with a 2 year minimum for registration.

During that time frame, we made the mistake of letting our ISP register our domain for us and the ISP misspelled our name. NSI flat out refused to correct the typo without charging us for another year. We refused to pay it so we had to live with it showing incorrectly in the whois database for several years.

Now that competition is allowed in domain registrations, we believe NSI is using every unscrupulous tactic they feel they can get away with to block people from transferring domains away from them, even though, at the time we tried to transfer our crel.com domain away from them, they were still part of VeriSign and essentially had an underlying monopoly by maintaining the central domain name database (registry), collecting fees from every other registrar.

They have been under various individual and class action lawsuits for their behavior. For example, A TechTV article that aired on May 14, 2002 said they were under lawsuit from Bulkregister for slamming their customers. This is a tactic where it is claimed they sent out domain expiration notices to the customers of other registrars with a form to fill out for renewal which really was a deceptive tactic to trick customers into transferring the domain registrations to VeriSign. Here is another article about multiple lawsuits for this practice. During this time, Network Solutions and VeriSign were the same company.

There are now many registrars to choose from. Although we feel most of the ones we have used are considerably better than Network Solutions, there are still considerable differences between them and we were never really satisfied with any of them. We tried several different ones over several years and experienced problems with every one of them. Usually one or more of the following problems: poor or no support, very slow response to domain contact updates, extra fees for needed services such as email and/or domain forwarding, and very limited ability to manage our domains or do DNS changes. In fact, when we tried registrars who offered a really cheap price, they usually had no contact phone number and often did not respond at all via email.

If you have ever registered a domain with a registrar that provides bad service, you will understand the importance of your choice of registrar. We have spent weeks in the past trying to resolve simple problems or to make simple account changes when we had domains registered with NSI. Usually a minimum of 30-45 minutes on hold to reach a person on the phone and sometimes we could not reach a real person for an entire week, no matter what time of the day or night we called, and would only receive canned responses via email that did not solve the problem. Also, read how we lost our domain name because of Network Solutions / VeriSign.

Some registrars advertise very low prices for initial registration to get your foot in the door, but beware, most end up actually costing considerably more by charging extra fees for services that come free with a good registrar, such as email forwarding, URL forwarding, etc. Network Solutions, for example, charges an extra $13/year for each domain just to forward your domain to your web site (URL forwarding). Also, many of them offer a cheaper initial price to register or transfer your domain to lure your business but the price goes up at renewal time.

If the price is really cheap, it is also often accompanied with a requirement to purchase other hosting services from them. If you choose to change email/web hosting services, it sucks to have them tied to your domain registrations, causing your renewal prices to shoot up or to have to go through the time and expense to transfer your domains to another registrar.

Some really cheap registrars actually require hosting your pages on their site and for you to allow them to put their own advertisements on your web pages. We have found that if it is really cheap, there is pretty much always a catch. In the long run it is always going to cost you more in one way or another if price is the only thing you base your choice on.

Many registrars are also very slow at making contact updates to domains. We have waited as long as a week or more for updates to show in the whois database with other registrars (not just NSI).

There are now hundreds, if not thousands of registrars. Don't choose a registrar just because they are a big name and advertise on TV. In fact, most of the time, those are the worse ones to choose. godaddy.com for example (stupid name if you ask me, but TV advertising seems to be making them big), runs their site on Microsoft Windows. Probably not a wise choice if you don't want your domain functionality and even your ownership of your domain to be at risk from every one of the thousands of viruses out there for the Microsoft platform. You can use Netcraft To find out what platform a site is running on.

For any critical service, we highly recommend that you always choose a Unix based platform. BSD, Linux, or even a commercial Unix derivative is usually a reasonable choice, with our top preference being BSD for the best security and stability.

Currently, for domain registrations, we recommend namesilo.com.

That is who we currently use for our own domain registrations. They have the best price we have found for all the features we expect. They have good domain and DNS management features, good support, and all the domain management value added services, such as email and domain forwarding and private registration are included for free.


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