If you want to have a website with your own domain name, you’ll need to “buy” the domain – register it for a year or more. How do you find the best domain registrar?
How do you choose the best domain registrar?
Because I wanted to have separate domain registrars and website hosts, I wanted to move my domains to a new domain registrar. But when I started looking for instructions for how to move them, I found that all the help articles come from domain registrars or hosting companies themselves, and their instructions are specific to them. In addition, I had trouble finding good information about what to look for in a domain registrar.
In my last post, I discussed why you want your domain registrar to be different from my web host.
After researching domain registrars I finally decided on Google Domains. In this post, I’ll go over why I chose them.
Website Tutorials for the Rest of Us
You can see a full list of charges and features of domain registration at Google Domains here: Google Domains pricing and supported TLDs
Important Features to Compare the Best Domain Registrars
Based on my past experiences with domain registrars, the features that jumped out to me as important were their features included at no additional cost:
- WhoIs privacy
- Domain forwarding and subdomain forwarding
- Email forwarding (forwarding of email aliases @<your domain>)
And their renewal and multiple year registration policies?
- Google Domains charges the same amount for each year of registration. You can add up to ten years (five years for .co domains) of registration and you can renew your domain at the same price every year. For example, if a .com domain costs $12 for the first year, two years of registration will cost $24. You can auto renew your domain every year for the same $12
This renewal policy is important, because many domain registrars, or your website hosts free domain, will renew at a higher rate.
The Difference Between Google Domains and Google Apps
I thought I already owned one domain with Google Domains, but it turns out that Google Domains is only 2 years old; I bought my domain through Google Apps. This means I have a legacy Google Apps account that is free, but with no support, and that domain is actually registered with GoDaddy. However, I will leave that one lone domain there because of the legacy Google Apps account.
My domain with Google Apps/GoDaddy has continued to renew at the same exact price every year since 2012. Because Google Apps and Google Domains are both Google companies, that gives me confidence that Google Domains will continue to renew my domains that I move there at a reasonable rate. (Remember, my last web host doubled the price of my domain registration costs my second year. AND they charged me for WhoIs protection.)
What is WhoIs protection?
By law, domains are included in WhoIs, a publicly accessible database where anyone can look up the information about who has registered a certain domain. When you purchase WhoIs protection, you pay for another company to be listed instead of having your private information posted online. For more about WhoIs, see Resources below.
How do Google Domain prices for WhoIs protection compare to other domain registars?
With Google Domains, WhoIs protection is FREE. Most domain registrars and web hosts will charge around $10 a year for WhoIs protection. This adds up when you have more than one domain. And in case you didn’t catch it, for the Google companies, WhoIs protection is FREE. (The only other place I encountered this was DreamHost webhosting.)
The domains that I got through my old host, Bluehost, doubled in price last year when I renewed my registration. Plus I had to pay $12 or so for every domain for each year of WhoIs privacy protection.
I have seen Namecheap.com heavily recommended as a domain registrar. Their price per domain looked slightly lower, but they only give you your first year of WhoIs protection for free. That’s where I got caught before, on renewal charges, so I was looking hard for that! However, they do have web based email (not just email forwarding, but again for an added fee.) For comparison, you will find information about Namecheap here at Private Email Hosting Powered by Open-Xchange, so you can compare that to Google Apps email.
I also researched GoDaddy.com, but in an online chat found that you also have to pay $10 for Whois at GoDaddy.
What will the cost be for domain registration renewal after the first year?
As I mentioned above, not only WhoIs protection, but renewal prices are what got me the first time I bought domains. With web hosting and domain registrars, coupons and discount codes for the first year are how they get your business. In most things, that’s not so bad. But moving domain registrars and web hosts is as much trouble as well, a move. A move of any kind is just not easy, even if you don’t have to pack any boxes.
I’m not certain, but after I completed the process, it does look like renewals at Google Domains will be the same as on Google Apps and continue to renew at the same price so long as I keep my account set on automatic renewal. I’ll report back next year. And as I said before, WhoIs protection looks like it will continue to be free.
So as opposed to paying approximately $90 for three domains last year, this year I will pay only $36 for the same three domains. (My domain through Google Apps will only be $10! It continues to renew as a legacy domain at the same price that I originally paid.) And I expect renewals to be more in line with this year’s charges, so my savings will add up over time.
Now that I’ve decided on the best domain registrar, since I already have the domains, I’ll need to transfer my domains from my old registrar to my new domain registrar. I’ll cover how to transfer a domain you already own to a new registrar in my next post.
The Basics of Domain Privacy – A good explanation about domain privacy, or WhoIs privacy