Today there are dozens of domain registrars and re-sellers eager to register your domain name. However, I recommend going with either GoDaddy or Network Solutions.
Let me explain how I came to the above conclusion. But first…
A brief history of domain registrars
In the early days of the internet websites were identified by an Internet Protocol (IP) number. This IP Address System was developed by Vint Cerf in 1974. Back then, if you wanted to visit a particular website, you used the IP address associated with the site. There were two problems with using the IP Address System:
- it was hard to remember the numerical sequence of numbers and “dots”
- it was easy to make typing mistakes
Domain Name System
Paul Mockapetris to the rescue! In 1983 he designed the Domain Name System (DNS). Think of the DNS as the phone book for the internet. It associated each domain with an IP address. Domains were much easier to remember — and to type into a web browser.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was created as the governing body for the DNS. ICANN granted NetworkSolutions the exclusive right to handle registration of domain names for major top level domains (.COM, .NET, .ORG and .INFO).
Anyone who wanted to register a domain had to use the services of NetworkSolutions, Inc. Many companies wanted to get in on the action. They saw potential profits to be made offering domain registration bundled with related services such as web hosting.
Power of the marketplace
ICANN eventually gave in to the pressure. In November, 1999 the shared registration system was adopted. Many new registrars got into the game. The competition was fierce. It drove the price for registering a domain down to the $10 to $15 range. Some registrars featured even lower (or free) pricing when domain registration was bundled with related services (like website hosting).
One upstart launched an aggressive marketing campaign. They ran a one-minute advertisement during the 2005 Super Bowl. That company was GoDaddy. They are now the largest domain registrar in the world.
If you’re interested in digging deeper into the fascinating history of the internet, a good place to begin is with the Internet Society’s Brief History of the Internet.
The best domain registrar profile
Here’s the profile I look for:
- Market Leader — lots of customers means they are more likely to have resources necessary to resolve any issues quickly
- Infrastructure — DNS settings for my sites need to be working properly
- Control Panel — easy to use, with good online knowledge base
- Customer Service — toll-free phone, online chat, email support (important when you need help)
- Price — of little importance, we’re only talking about a few dollars per year
Market Leader: GoDaddy claims to be the world’s largest technology provider dedicated to small businesses. They boast having more than 13 million customers worldwide. And more than 59 million domains under management. They also say they’re the world’s largest web hosting provider.
Infrastructure: We know the internet is not foolproof! Virtually all web-related systems fail on occasion — if only for a few minutes. However GoDaddy appears to be doing a good job minimizing outages. I have many domains registered with them. I’ve used their email and Premium DNS services for over ten years. I’m unaware of any issues with their service.
Control Panel: The customer account management interface could be a little more intuitive.
Customer Support: I’ve found GoDaddy’s toll-free phone support to be first class. Wait time is rarely more than a few minutes. Representatives are knowledgeable and friendly.
Price: GoDaddy pricing for domain registration falls in the $10 to $15 range for most top-level domains.
Consider Network Solutions
Market Leader: In August, 2011 Web.com purchased NetworkSolutions. Web.com has been a major player in the web hosting space for many years. The acquisition gave them access to millions of NetworkSolutions customers. And the ability to bundle web hosting (and other services) with domain registrations and renewals.
Infrastructure: I have used NetworkSolutions services for 17 years. I’ve never experienced an outage I could attribute to a failure of their systems.
Control Panel: The customer account management interface is relatively easy to use.
Customer Support: Their toll-free phone support is quite good — nearly as good as that of GoDaddy.
Price: I first registered netbizweb.com with Network Solutions back in 1998. I paid $35 per year. I’ve registered many domains with them. Since being acquired by Web.com, their pricing has become much more aggressive.
A final note on pricing
This blog is dedicated to the small business owner who wants to learn more about using WordPress. My comments regarding pricing are geared to this audience.
And the best domain registrar is …
My choice for best domain registrar is GoDaddy! Second place goes to Network Solutions. Choose either registrar and you should sleep quite comfortably.
If you have a favorite registrar, I’d love to learn what considerations went into your selection. Who is your best choice?
Once you’ve decided on a registrar, consider this question: “What other services should I purchase from them?”
I’ll address this question in an upcoming post.