When it comes to setting up your own blog, it’s pretty well understood that you need to have your own domain and that it needs to be under your control.
However, people view the process of setting up a domain as being completely different from that of setting up hosting. Where most people are meticulous in their search for a host, comparing prices, reading reviews and trying to find a solid, reliable company that has a great reputation, most bloggers just choose the cheapest domain registrar and go.
Unfortunately, this can be a terrible mistake and it can cost you and your sites dearly. Worst of all, it can even cost you more money in the long run, putting you in a position where you spend more money to keep using a service that is actually bad for your sites.
It’s time to understand that not all registrars are the same and that some definitely can harm your site. However, learning how to avoid the bad registrars is no simple task but one that every blogger and webmaster needs to learn.
Fundamentally, domain registrars have two simple but important functions. First, they reserve the domain for you and ensure that no one else can register it. Second, they let you point the domain to your hosting provider so that you and other visitors can access it.
There’s nothing terribly complicated about these functions and neither requires a lot of ongoing work from the registrar. This is why domain registrations are 10 times cheaper per year than even basic hosting accounts.
However, there are still plenty of ways in which a registrar can mess up these functions and, when they do, there is inevitable damage to your site and your online presence.
Consider a few of the following ways that a registrar can negatively impact your site or, in extreme cases, destroy it.
- Lack of Renewal Reminders: Some registrars don’t send out adequate renewal reminders, letting in-use domains expire. This causes them to either slip back to the pool or be put up for auction.
- Slow DNS Changes: When it comes to making changes to your domain’s configuration, no registrar can promise instant switches as every change has to propagate out through the system, but some hold off and delay “pushing out” such changes, making them take up to a day longer.
- Lack of Critical Features: Finally, many registrars lack features that you may want or need. Need custom nameservers (ns1.yourdomain.com, etc.)? Want to direct a domain to an IP address (as with Tumblr)? You may not be able to do it at every registrar.
But to add insult to injury, many times when you go with a cheap, limited registrar, you’ll likely find that the low, low price promised in the ads is for the first year only and that the price as much as triples when you go to renew in 11 months.
In short, you can very easily find yourself spending more money for worse service just by trying to chase the cheapest offer you can find.
How to Avoid it
The simple solution to the problem is to never pick a registrar based on price alone. While a Google search will turn up a lot of results for cheap domain registrations and the ads will throw even more offers your way, a good price is rarely a good deal.
It can be tough to not be swayed by offers that will save us a few bucks on a domain registration. We are in a society where we will drive miles to save a few cents per gallon on gas, burning more gas as we go to get it, so trying out a new registrar to save $3 is not out of line. But it’s another example of wasting money trying to save money.
The main thing that every domain buyer should be looking for is not simply for the best price, but the best reputation and there are dozens of high-quality domain registrars out there that provide good service, are feature complete and offer competitive pricing.
Ideally, you want to find a registrar who is well-established, well-regarded and provides good support. Basically, you want the same things one usually looks for in a host.
The best way to avoid getting conned is, before registering your new account, to ask yourself and your potential registrar a few simple questions including:
- Does this registrar have all the features I need? If you need something special, such as a custom nameserver, it’s best to check before sending in your money.
- Have others had problems with this registrar? Read a few other people’s experience with the registrar and see if any consistent problems have come up. Be aware of those issues.
- What is the total cost of registration? Don’t just look at the cost of registering the one domain for one year, figure out the cost of re
If you take a moment and answer those basic questions before you register your domain, you are much more likely to be happy with your registrar and avoid any problems down the road with them.
Of course, once you have a registrar you like, you should do your best to stick with them and use them for all of your domain needs. This consolidation make it easy to manage your domains and help you avoid being burned down the road.
Best of all, it’s only one login to remember, which is surprisingly helpful considering how rarely you will likely be accessing your registrar account.
Given how critical your domain registrar is to your site and how much it costs, namely only a few dollars, per year per domain, your registrar is not the place you want to look to in order to save money. As tempting as it is, the danger of a bad registrar far exceeds the benefit that you might get from saving a few dollars per year.
It is much better in the long run to forgo a coffee or two and avoid a registrar disaster than it is to spend hours or even days dealing with the headaches and downtime created by one.
On that note, if you are completely new to buying domains and have no idea where to go, your safest bet is to go with one of the larger domain registrars. Even if they aren’t perfect, they are solid bets and not likely to create the issues smaller and upstart registrars can.
When it comes to domain registrations, there really is safety in numbers, even if it isn’t perfect safety by any stretch.