In Part 1 of the domain registrar roundup I covered the three registrar services I used when I started out. In this part I’ll cover NameCheap, Godaddy, Enom and Moniker.
Godaddy is the 800-lb gorilla in the industry, according to WebHosting.info they have a 27% market share, well ahead of the second place Enom that’s at 8%. Being so large, a search for “Godaddy Sucks” on Google will yield over 5,000 results. On the other hand Godaddy was the top rated registrar in the most recent Domain Name Wire registrar survey.
Godaddy is also the Walmart of web hosting and associated services. If you can’t handle a website with lots of self-promotion then Godaddy’s not for you. I did find the number of outright ads and up-sells to have become less frequent recently when I use the management consoles. I don’t know if that’s a policy change or just my experience. Any purchase or product browsing is still a flood of ads and up-sell offers but they do seem to have declined in the management consoles.
There’s always some sort of deal available at Godaddy. Once your a customer most emails you get from them will include coupon codes. You’ll also find coupon codes in ads (I see a lot in podcasts I listen to) and by searching Google. You may have to try various coupon codes to see which gives you the best deal and in most cases coupons won’t work if your using some other discount. In general, domain names from Godaddy will probably be 7 to 8 dollars for new domains or transfers-in although their list price for a .com domain is $10.69. Almost everything is an add-on although in many cases they are thrown in for free or as part of some semi-permanent special offer. It can be a bit difficult to figure out the best deal from Godaddy or make sure you have the best coupon codes without going through the checkout process and trying each code.
Really, the only reasons I found not to use Godaddy was their business practices. You need to read their default selections as you go through their purchase process to make sure your not getting more than you want. They do allow you to modify some settings to set some defaults and avoid many of their numerous screens through the checkout process. At times I do feel like using Godaddy is like running a gauntlet.
The one real problem I have with them is their policy on whois changes. If you update whois contact information you are required to agree to a 60-day transfer lock on your domain during which time you can’t transfer it out. Because ICANN prevents any sort of mandatory lock outside the first 60 days of a registration Godaddy positions this as an opt-in choice, yet if you want to make the change you must agree. They position this as a security measure, but 60 days is more than what’s needed for security purposes. I find this to be deceptive which makes me think twice about their other practices. I’d probably be OK with it if they didn’t claim it was opt-in.
Their Domain Manager is very web 2.0-ish with lots of Ajax popups when prompting for information. Because of this the interface feels like it’s plodding along but it never really slows down. It just never feels snappy, but the performance is acceptable.
They also provide complete DNS configuration and I had no problem adding MX, CName, TXT and other records along with URL redirects. They also allow “profiles” to be setup and when a domain is added to the profile it inherits the settings of the profile. Attributes that can be set include: domain lock (on/off), auto renew (on/off), url forwarding, whois contact info, and name servers. If you set the contact info in a profile you’ll be forced to agree to the previously mentioned 60 day lock when adding a domain to the profile even if there’s no actual change from the previous setting. These profiles make it easy to enforce certain settings or make changes to a large number of domains at once.
Their domain manager also provides the ability to create folders and provides a good search tool to find domains that meet certain criteria besides just a name search. Of all the registrars I’ve looked at I’d say Godaddy has the best tools for managing a large number of domains.
I haven’t had any problems transferring domains out of Godaddy. The unlock can be done through their domain manager. The authorization code is sent via email but I consistently received it within minutes of requesting it through their domain manager.
I have used Godaddy support via email to ask questions and the response was always within 24 hours although the responses from Namecheap were faster. I haven’t had an actual problem that needed resolution.
Namecheap has become my current registrar of choice and I’ve been moving domains from Godaddy to Namecheap, especially in May where a coupon code resulted in $7 transfers. They’ve been reliable and offer a simple, straight-forward management interface.
Namecheap started out as a Enom reseller and while they are now ICANN accredited they still seem to be reselling for Enom since many of the emails come from Namecheap via Enom. They’ve also become more of a full service domain and website provider along the lines of Godaddy. I’ve only used them for domain registration.
The registration and transfer process was fast and automated. There does seem to be a bit of a delay between some steps of the transfer process. For example, Godaddy sent me an email confirming the domain was moved from them while it took another 3 hours or so for it to be available in my Namecheap control panel. The domain was available during this time, it was simply a delay in be active in the control panel.
Domain pricing seems to be a bit on the high side with .com’s listed at $9.69 for new and transfers but I used a May discount code to get $7 transfers. New registrations were $8.81 which is a bit higher than a typical Godaddy domain after discounts but competitive. Free WhoisGuard (privacy protection) seems to be a permanent special. It has the added benefit of not being tied to any domain so you can assign it to extend protection on an old domain. They are only good for one year from purchase.
New domain registrations occur in real time and if the domain is taken between the time you start and end your order (as happened to me once) the money is immediately refunded.
Like Godaddy I asked a couple questions via their ticket system and received a response within minutes.
The management interface lacks the web 2.0 look and feel of Godaddy’s but this means it also feels quicker. It had all the features of the Godaddy domain manager although I liked the layout of the Godaddy domain manager just a little better. It seemed to be more suited to managing a large number of domains.
The domain manager does have a bulk change option but when I tried to use it to update the MX and SFP settings for my domains they dropped some changes. I tried several times and in each case it only accepted the first 3 MX records for each domain and dropped the SPF records completely. I was able to add these records to each domain one at a time. I had no problem with bulk updates to the contact information.
While Namecheap does have a bulk edit wizard (which I had problems with) and it does have folders which allow you to organize your domains it doesn’t have anything like Godaddy’s profiles or Enom’s Magic Folders. I found the Namecheap folders a little disconnected from the domain manager. If I was editing a domain I couldn’t add it to a folder, I had to go into the manage folders interface, find the folder, then pick the domain from a list to add it. This seems like it could be cumbersome for a large number of domains. Both Godaddy and Enom allowed a domain to be added to a folder while on the manager screen for that domain.
Namecheap also offers a free DNS service, available to anyone, that can be used for domains not registered with them. I use this for several of my domains and set my domains to use it before transferring them to Namecheap in order to minimize downtime.
I’ve only been with Namecheap a couple of months and yet to try and move anything away from them. But they do seem to make it easy to move away as all the needed information is available through the domain manager although authorization codes will be sent via email. I’ll continue to move my domains to them when the coupon codes make it cost effective.
Enom has primarily been a reseller which is why it’s the second largest registrar while being relatively unknown outside the domain business. They have now begun to establish their own consumer group around “Enom Central”. Because of this fragmented reseller arrangement their pricing can be all over the place. A “Enom Central” account I received when AOL transferred my email domain to them prices new domains at $11 and transfers at $8. While a Enom reseller account I have sets the domain price at $8.95 (all prices for .com).
Enom has what they call “Magic Folders” which are similar to Godaddy’s profiles. The settings that can be configured are similar to Godaddy’s with the addition of being able to set CName, A records or URL redirects through magic folders.
The domain management interface is easy to use and logically set up. The search feature and folders make it seem like it would be easy to manage a large number of domains. Unlike Namcheap you can add a domain to a folder from the domain management screens and don’t need to go into special screens to manage folders.
Moniker has the reputation as being the safest and most secure registrar. While they don’t seem to do discount coupons their regular .com price is about $8 although they’re currently running a sale of $7.59.
Of all the registrars I’ve looked at I find Moniker’s interface to be the hardest to navigate. There is a template manager that allows the creation of templates for DNS settings which is not something the other registrars have. But Moniker doesn’t have anything similar to Godaddy’s profiles or Enom’s Magic Folders. It appears only A, CName and MX records can be added to DNS, TXT records can’t be added.
As I mentioned earlier, Namecheap is my current registrar of choice. They have the features I need and only lack “Magic Folders”/”Profiles” that I would want. They come across as a company that wants to deliver quality customer service at a fair price. And they keep things simple.
Godaddy does have the domain manager I like the best but their constant sales, promotions and ads become tiring. It seems like a chore to keep track of or search for the coupon codes and figure out which is the best value. Their faux “opt-in” really annoys me and their business practices remind me of a used car salesmen that tries to get the maximum profit per sale by confusing the customer. They also been called out on some past business practices although in those cases they did change the way the do things.
Enom seems fine to me, I just don’t have a compelling reason to use them.
I’d probably use Moniker for my valuable domains, if I had any. I’d have to have my DNS hosted elsewhere unless the domain was just parked since the DNS is limited. But this wouldn’t be a significant problem as most web hosts (including Slicehost, which I use) offer DNS plus there are low cost third party DNS services. I may move some domains there if the price is right when renewal rolls around but I do find their interface the most confusing.
All the registrars listed here provide free domain “pushes” to other accounts in their system. This would be useful if you sell a domain. The buyer could create a free account on their system and you could push the domain to them.
This article is already exceedingly long so I’ll end it here and wrap up my domain registrar review.