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You know that a domain name is an important part that uniquely identifies a website. In another post, I had also written in detail about the differences between a URL and a domain. In this post, we will discuss the best domain registrars you can consider in 2021.
There are several places from where you can register a domain name. Beginners often have a misconception that one should purchase a domain name and web hosting from the same provider. But that is not true. You can always manage both separately. So, when looking for a domain registrar, the main factor you should check is how good is that company as a registrar. You can always connect that domain with your favorite hosting provider later.
Usually, all domain registrations are governed by the ICANN organization. So, ICANN’s website itself is a great place to find the details of several registrars. ICANN publishes reports, which include the no. of domains registered under each accredited registrar.
- See also: How the Internet Works?
These are the main things I look for in a domain registrar:
- Pricing for various extensions: some companies provide better deals depending on the extension you want to register.
- User experience: some providers overwhelm you with upsells, while some have difficult interfaces. The trick is to find a registrar that makes purchasing and managing domain names easier.
- Popularity: ICANN’s reports help to find the total domains registered by each company under each registry (.com, .org, etc). It is also a good idea to check the company’s history.
- Support: although support is not that critical for a registrar compared to a hosting provider, it should be available when you need it.
If you ask me to pick the best domain registrar from this list, it will be Namecheap. At least, that is my personal preference. As of writing this post, I have a few domain names registered with them.
There are a couple of reasons why I choose Namecheap for my domains:
Firstly, the price. Be it a .com, .net, or other TLDs, Namecheap offers better deals than most of the other registrars. For example, the price of a .com domain was just $8.88/yr, while a .org costs $12.98/yr. Even the ccTLD .in was available for less than $10.
Secondly, Namecheap offers Whois Privacy Protection without any additional charges. When registering a TLD like .com, you can get the Whois Guard feature freely forever. It hides your personal details (registrant details) from someone searching the Whois details of your domain, which helps to reduce the number of spam emails and messages your receive in your inbox and phone.
- .com – $8.88/yr
- .org – $12.98/yr
- .in – $10/yr
- Whois privacy – free
And finally, Namecheap’s interface is one of the easiest to use. From their home page, you can search for the domain name you like to buy. If it is available, you can proceed by placing the order. There is also a Beast mode that allows searching for domains in bulk.
In addition to domain names, Namecheap also shows a few optional products before checking out, which include hosting, SSL, VPN, and Email. By the way, Namecheap also offers a hosting service called EasyWP, which is a managed WordPress hosting solution.
I haven’t tried any of these addons, so I don’t know how good they are. Here, we are looking at the domain registration experience only.
None of these optional addons are selected by default. So, no need to worry about your cart containing unnecessary products. After completing the purchase, you can see the new domain in your dashboard, where you can configure several things including DNS and auto-renew. There is also a PremiumDNS service that aims to provide better DNS speed and uptime. The price for that alone is $3.88 per year.
One disadvantage I found with Namecheap is in the choice of payment methods. Namecheap supports credit cards, PayPal, and Bitcoin, but regional payment gateways are not supported. For example if you are from India and want to pay in INR using net banking, then it may not be possible.
Founded in 1998, Domain.Com is a veteran among ICANN-accredited domain registrars. With its English-word domain name – domain.com – the generic-looking branding is easy to remember by the general public.
Where to buy a domain name? Domain.Com. Makes sense, right? What better branding can a registration company think of?
Not just in name, Domain.Com is also quite user-friendly when it comes to purchasing a domain name. There are a few upsells before checkout, but those options are unchecked by default. For example, you can add a hosting package if you wish to host your site with the same company. In addition to that, you can also get email hosting, SSL certificates, and even a website builder.
Now comes the main part – what are the prices for domain names?
When I checked, the price for a .com domain name was $9.99, .org costs $8.99, and .in was $39.99/yr. But unlike Namecheap we discussed above, the Privacy Protection feature is not free. So if you want to hide your registrant details, you have to pay an extra $8.99/yr. That’s a total cost of $18/yr if you are buying a .com domain with privacy protection.
- .com – $9.99/yr
- .org – $8.99/yr
- .in – $39.99/yr
- Whois privacy – $8.99/yr
As an internet giant, it is quite surprising to find that Google started offering registrations only in 2014. An article that came on Techcrunch also shares the same opinion.
The main advantage of Google Domains is the user interface. You get the familiar UI you see on other Google apps to search, purchase, and manage your favorite domain names. The domain search page offers a clutter-free experience with a large search box at the center.
When you search for a name, Google also shows its advantages and disadvantages. For example, when I searched for the below domain that contains the word ‘coral’, it shows that the name can be confused with a similar-sounding word ‘choral’. Whereas the advantages show that the name is short enough and uses a popular extension (.com).
The main factor that keeps Google Domains different from other registrars is the pricing, which is straightforward, and transparent. Major TLDs like .com, .org, .net, .info, and some ccTLDs like .in and .us are available at a flat rate of $12/yr, which remains the same when you renew as well.
However, the prices for some not-so-common TLDs are a bit on the expensive side. For instance, the .io domain extension costs $60/yr on Google Domains, while it is available at $32.98/yr on Namecheap.
You can also get Whois Privacy for free when purchasing a domain. The provider depends on the extension you select, though. For .com domains, Google offers privacy protection through Contact Privacy Inc.
- .com – $12/yr
- .org – $12/yr
- .in – $12/yr
- Whois privacy – free
In addition to these extensions, Google also handles the registry for certain domains ending in .dev, .page, etc. If you buy such domains from Google, the price is cheaper, compared to even Namecheap.
GoDaddy is one of the oldest domain registrars available today. Currently, it is also the largest registrar, holding over 50 million domain names.
However, the pricing is not at all on the cheaper side. The most popular .com domain extension sells at around $17.99/yr, which is almost the double the price of a similar domain on Namecheap. The privacy protection is also not available for free.
But as a big company, you can find several other related services on GoDaddy including hosting, website builder, and email hosting. So if you are looking for a single place to manage your small website regardless of the higher prices, GoDaddy may be a good option for you. However, in my experience, their support is not that great.
Despite the several different services offered, GoDaddy has managed to offer a good user experience. While it is not as clutter-free as Google Domains, it looks modern and is definitely useable.
GoDaddy is also available in several different regional languages. They also supports a multitude of currencies and payment gateways.
NameSilo is one of the cheapest domain name registrars I have found so far, cheaper than even Namecheap. The price for .com was $8.99/yr while .org stood at $10.79/yr. The ccTLD .in was even cheaper – $6.89/yr.
The company was founded in 2009 and they are based in Arizona, USA. Recently in 2018, Namesilo has gone public after being acquired by a Canadian company.
Back to the domain prices, Namesilo also offers discounts if you make bulk purchase. Of course, Whois privacy is also free.
- .com – $8.99/yr
- .org – $10.79/yr
- .in – $6.89/yr
- Whois privacy – free
But one factor that I don’t quite like is Namesilo’s user interface. It feels a bit dated, in my experience. Also, despite the cheaper prices, they are not as popular as Namecheap or GoDaddy. With over 3m+ domains, they are the 13th most popular .com registrar, according to the data provided by ICANN.
Overall, NameSilo is a great choice if you want to get a couple of domains at very low prices.
6. 1&1 Ionos
Founded in 1988, 1&1 Ionos is a veteran in the field of domain registrars, older than even GoDaddy. Its parent company is United Internet, which is based in Germany. Apart from Ionos, United Internet also owns a couple of other services including Mail.com.
Looking at the domain prices, you can quickly find out that 1&1 Ionos is not the cheapest. The regular price for .com is $15/yr while .org costs you $20/yr. However, the introductory prices are lower, which brings the price of .com to $10 for the first year.
The user experience is also decent, although there are a few upsells during checkout. These include the Domain Guard feature that ensures additional safety features like DNSSEC and two-factor authentication.
If you want to buy hosting from Ionos, then there are several options available including shared hosting, dedicated servers, and even cloud backup solutions. With over 3 million domains currently registered, 1&1 Ionos stands at 9th in terms of popularity.
- .com – $15/yr
- .org – $20/yr
- .in – $6/yr
- Whois privacy – free
If you are looking for a clutter-free domain registration service without an overwhelming number of upsells, then you should definitely consider Hover. Its parent company is Tucows, which is the second-largest domain registrar after GoDaddy. Launched in 1993, they are based in Michigan, USA.
Apart from Hover, Tucows also owns Enom, another popular domain registrar.
Maybe because Hover focuses on simplicity, you won’t be able to find web hosting here. So if you want to host your site at the same place as your domain, then you might want to look at other providers.
However, Hover does provide email hosting, about which I have read some good reviews online. The cost of a 10GB mailbox is 20/yr. So, if you are looking for an alternative to Gsuite, it is definitely worth considering. Remember, having a separate email hosting is better than keeping your emails on the same server as your web host.
The price for domains is not cheap, though. Yearly cost of a .com domain is $14.99 while .org is $13.99, which include Whois privacy as well.
- .com – $14.99/yr
- .org – $13.99/yr
- .in – $14.99/yr
- Whois privacy – free
Overall, if the slightly higher prices and lack of web hosting are not serious issues, Hover is definitely worth considering for its awesome user experience.
You might already know about Bluehost as a hosting provider. It is also one of the hosting providers recommended by WordPress. As with many other hosting providers, you can register a domain name when purchasing a hosting package from Bluehost.
But, what are the advantages of booking your domain name from Bluehost when there are several other registrars? In my opinion, there are mainly two reasons to do that:
- You prefer to manage your domain name and web hosting in the same place (unlike most domain registrars, hosting is not an afterthought for Bluehost, it’s their primary service).
- Bluehost offers free domain name for one year.
So, if you are planning to host your website with Bluehost in the long term, it would be wise to register your brand new domain name also, which saves you the cost of the same for the first year.
When you purchase a hosting package, Bluehost asks whether you have an existing name or want to register a new one. Choose the latter to grab your free domain.
However, from what I have understood, Bluehost is not a direct ICANN-accredited registrar. Instead, they use a subsidiary company called Fastdomain.com to register the domains.
Dynadot is another ICANN-accredited domain registrar based in the USA. Founded in 2002, there are around 2 million domains registered under them, which makes them the 18th most popular registrar in the world.
The main advantage I have found with Dynadot is its low-cost pricing. With .com costing just $8.99/yr, .org $10.99/yr, and .in $4.99/yr, they are under tight competition with Namecheap and Namesilo in offering the best domain name deals.
In addition to registerting new domains, Dynadot also provides domain aftermarket where you can sell, buy, or auction existing domains.
The list of related products includes a website builder, web hosting, email hosting, and SSL. However, I feel that the web hosting offering is not priced well. Dynadot offers only VPS hosting which costs $10/mo for a 1GB server. You could get a similar-sized cloud VPS instance for $5/mo from Linode, DigitalOcean, or Vultr instead.
Best Domain Registrars: Conclusion
I hope this post helped you in finding a domain registrar. Otherwise, if you are still confused, I would suggest you go with Namecheap as it’s comparatively cheaper and easy-to-use. Google Domains and Hover are also worthy of consideration for their clutter-free user experience and straightforward prices, although not as cheap as Namecheap.