(Photo from Shutterstock)
Looking to pick a new domain registrar this year? Then you are blessed with a gluttony of options. The domain registrar industry has arguably never been more competitive and diverse than it is today. However, this leads to its own issues. For example, how can you choose the right registrar with so many options to pick from?
There are some core foundations to keep an eye out for when it comes to finding a suitable domain name registrar. Normally, you would look into things like:
Where is the company based?
How long have they been in business?
Are they accredited by ICANN?
Can they provide you with prompt technical support?
There are also several other important factors to think about. When making a choice, try to focus on the following attributes and ask the following questions:
Do they provide quick and simple domain transfers?
Before you register your domain name with any registrar, you should make sure that they provide easy, quick and free transfer-outs, should you decide to transfer the domain name to another registrar in the future for any reason.
Most registrars will place a 60-day lock period on newly registered or transferred domains, during which you will not be able to transfer the domain to another registrar. However, they cannot prevent you from transferring your domain out after the 60-day lock expires. They can, however, try to make it a complicated and lengthy process to discourage customers from moving their business to another company.
A domain transfer-out should be provided for free, but some registrars do charge a fee for letting go of your domain. Some may have a verification process that they require you to complete before releasing the domain. So read about the transfer-out process and make sure it is automatic, simple and free of charge.
What are the registration and renewal fees?
Registrars have the freedom to set their own prices for new domain registrations and renewals. Many of them are quite affordable and only ask for a minimal yearly registration fee, while others are known for charging a premium price.
You should also keep in mind that some companies offer a lower price (promo price) for your first year of registration, with a higher renewal price for subsequent years. So always check the full price list to get an idea of how much the domain’s renewal will cost you.
Do they provide additional services?
Not every domain registrar is purely for one service alone; many also look to sell add-on services such as web hosting platforms, website building services, e-mail hosting, custom DNS, etc. Typically, it is a wise idea to work with a company that actually offers a variety of additional services down the line, especially ones you think you might need at some point.
Do they provide private registration?
Private domain registration -- aka Whois privacy -- is a service that removes all or part of your personal details associated with your domain name from the public Whois database. Anyone can perform a Whois lookup to find out who owns a specific domain name, and unless you are using a Whois privacy service, your personal information like your name and address may be accessible to the public.
Some registrars offer this service for free when buying a new domain name, and others may charge you a small annual fee. Not all domain extensions (TLDs) support private registration, though, so if you need Whois privacy with your domain make sure the extension you chose does support this feature.
What do customers say?
Alongside the key features and other obvious facts like how long the company has been in business, you should always evaluate user experience and feedback.
Most registrars will have plenty of positive and negative reviews that you can read from previous and/or current customers. Look out for patterns in the pros and cons that are raised. We can all have a bad individual experience, but you should be looking out for reviews raising the same issues about the service.
Always ensure that there is a strong history of a positive user experience before committing to any service. One of the most helpful websites to check for user reviews of a certain service provider is Trustpilot. Unlike most of the review websites out there, the opinions posted on this website are more authentic and less biased since most of them come from real customers rather than affiliates of the company.
What is the domain expiration policy?
Lastly, make sure you look to find out what they offer in terms of domain expiration policy. These policies are very important as they play a key role in determining what happens after your domain registration period expires (whether intentionally or accidentally). Many will offer some form of grace period, while others will look to instantly remove the domain name from your ownership.
Certain registrars, such as GoDaddy and Enom, will auction off expired domain names. So if you fail to renew your domain and it expires without you noticing in time, someone else could purchase it from the registrar before it is released to the public, and you may never be able to get it back. There are thousands of domainers out there hunting for valuable expired domains!
It is highly advised to enable automatic renewal for your important domains, and to have at least one active payment method on file. Your registrar will typically send you an email informing you of an upcoming renewal or in case your payment method fails, so make sure you frequently check the email inbox where those notifications are sent.