Domain Registrar Roundup – Part 1

Mouse on the web graphic I’ve been looking at several domain registrars recently and have used a few in the past. I figure now would be a good time to summarize my views of each. In this article I’ll cover the registrars I’ve used in the past but not anymore. These registrars exist mostly to provide domain registration for their hosting customers.

Yahoo Small Business Web Hosting – This is where I put my first website years ago. I picked them because they had a deal with my ISP for a low monthly price (no contract) and it was a name I knew. They aren’t really in the domain name business although a domain name was included with the account. The domain name, while included with the account, was mine to keep. I had no problems transferring the domain out when I left Yahoo due to problems with WordPress on Yahoo. Yahoo’s domain pricing is a bit on the high side although a domain is included in their hosting packages which also seem to be on the high side these days. The domain renewal rare of $35/yr. after the “term expires” is outrageous compared to others. Yahoo certainly isn’t a place to keep your domains even if you use them for hosting.

1 & 1

When I transferred The OS Quest from Yahoo I transferred the domain name to 1&1. They were low cost and provide free whois privacy, both of with were important to me at the time. I didn’t have any real problems with them as my domain registrar. But, I place a lot of value in how easy a company makes it to leave them and by this measure 1&1 is an absolute disaster and I’ll avoid them in the future no matter what deals they offer.

First off, in order to turn off auto renewal for a domain you must actually go through the cancelation process for the domain and set it to cancel when the registration ends. This cancellation process was clearly designed to be annoying and require jumping through hoops.

You need to go through a different website (cancel.1and1.com) rather than the regular domain management panel. You’ll need to read the screens carefully. Then you’ll receive two emails, one with the auth codes you’ll need if you decide to transfer the domain and a second which will contain a link you’ll need to click in order to confirm the cancellation. If you don’t click the link within the specified time the domain will not be cancelled and you’ll be billed at renewal. Once you do this 1&1 will treat you like a pariah. You’ll lose the ability to manage the domain, except for transferring it out. The privacy settings will be removed and if it was enabled the contact information will be replaced with your 1&1 account contact information. So I’d recommend you remove privacy and setting the contact info you want before cancelling the domain. You’ll also be limited in the DNS changes you can make for the domain and if you used URL forwarding these settings will be locked it.

When transferring domains away from 1&1 they are at least supportive if not swift. The authorization codes are available online and the domain can be unlocked online. What they don’t do is provide anyway for you to approve the transfer. You simply wait the 5 day period allowed to cancel a transfer at the end of which the transfer is made.

Another detail that may affect you is that 1&1 doesn’t support SPF records to fight spam.

The only potential plus with 1&1 is their affiliate program which all customers are automatically enrolled in and can use when making purchases for their own account. (None of the 1&1 links in this article are affiliate links). The bottom line is I’ve moved everything away from 1&1 and won’t be going back.

Bluehost

When I left Yahoo hosting I sent my domain to 1&1 but used Bluehost for hosting. After my WordPress problems with Yahoo I picked Bluehost for hosting since they were documented to work fine (and did). A domain was included with the hosting account so I picked up a new domain. I’ve never purchased just a domain from Bluehost since $10 is a bit high.

When I started with Bluehost they were a Godaddy reseller. They’re now their own ICANN accredited registrar and they’ve added some domain management capabilities to their CPanel. Still, I’d say they’re mainly suitable for people hosting their domains there as a one-stop shop. Domains that aren’t included in their hosting package are $10 each which is a bit high. I had no problems hosting at Bluehost with domains registered elsewhere.

Unlike 1&1, transferring domain away from Bluehost was simple and fast. They provided the codes and unlock online and the transfer was immediate after the necessary approvals. I didn’t have a lot of domains at Bluehost, just the ones I hosted there, but I didn’t have any problems or run into any limitations configuring mail MX and other DNS records.

Summary

Yahoo doesn’t seem to want to be in the hosting business and their prices a little high for what they seem to offer. The domain renewal rate of $35 after your initial contracted term expires (1 to 5 years) is unbelievably high.

1&1 tries to trap it’s consumers into staying with them, or at least make leaving a frustrating experience. If, like me, you like to handle domain renewals yourself rather than being surprise of a charge appears then 1&1 isn’t for you. My advice, avoid the trap and stay away. If they offer a deal, you’ll regret the pennies saved.

Bluehost is fine if you host your website with them. I’m not sure they even offer domain only accounts. I didn’t have any problems with the domains I had with them and transferring them away was a breeze.

In the next part I’ll review the domain registrars I currently use and are suitable if all you want to do is keep domains with them.