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Choosing A Domain Registrar

By Dan Grossman
Posted Sunday, November 21, 2004

Since Network Solutions lost its monopoly over the domain name registration business, a multitude of competing registrars and thousands of resellers have popped up. Now a domain buyer may choose between these various sites at various rates for basically the same service.

So why does it matter where you buy your domain names?

No two registrars are the same. They vary in price, services offered, ease of use, management system, etc. This is why which registrar to go with is an important decision. If you register your new domain name at one, and find you have overpaid compared to other registrars or you're not happy with the service, you either have to let the domain drop when the registration expires or pay to register it again in order to transfer it to another registrar.

The following are the main factors to consider when choosing a registrar when buying a domain. Whether you are buying a new domain or thinking of transfering an existing domain to a different one, consider these before choosing:

1. PRICE

The price you pay for your standard .com, .net or .org domain can vary greatly between registrars. While there are "free" domain name services available, many of them either buy the domain themselves and only permit you "use" of the name, or force you to place large frames full of advertisements on your site in exchange for the domain name.

The cheapest you can expect to pay for a domain name would be between $12 and $15. At others you may expect to pay from $20 to $35 a year for the same domain.

Remember that price is not the only factor. When comparing prices, take into account the other services offered by the registrar, their customer support, testimonies, etc.

2. SERVICES

Does the registrar you are looking at offer more than just registration? Many will offer additional services with the registration of your domain which may make up for additional cost in price.

For example, Register.com offers site building tools, a domain redirection services and email services for free with the registration of a domain. If these services are useful to you, they may make up for the $35 registration fee.

If you don't need any services, then Register.com may not be the registrar of choice for you, as there are many other good registrars that charge much less than $35 for a single domain.

3. MANAGEMENT

Another important factor to consider when choosing a registrar is their method of domain management. In other words, once you have registered the domain, how do you manage the information associated with it? You may want to change contact information or nameservers in the future.

Most registrars offer a control panel type interface for managing your domains. This allows you to simply log in on the web and change the information you want changed.

Others, however, have much more complicated systems. Network Solutions was known for its inefficient and complicated system of making simple changes. If, for example, you switched to a new e-mail address, you might have had to fax in multiple forms of identification in order to change simple information related to your domain.

4. SUPPORT

When you need to know how to do something or you're having a problem with your domain, customer support is important. Smaller sites reselling domain registration may not be able to provide the same level of support one of the main registrars could. Check out the site's help section for its depth and check how easy it is to find an email address or form to fill out for help.

Consider these factors when choosing where to register your domain name to come up with the registrar offering the perfect combination of price, service, management and support for you.

About the Author
Dan Grossman runs (http://www.websitegoodies.com) where you can find over 250 hand-picked resources, articles, and tools! Dan also publishes the free weekly "WebDevPortal" newsletter for website owners! Subscribe today and get articles like this every week: mailto:subscribe@webdevportal.com?subject=article-subscribe