How to Get Online

Tips for Evaluating Domain Name Registrars

When you have the perfect domain name and are ready to register it, protecting and securing it needs to be a top priority.

To determine which registrar has your best interests in mind and who you should work with, consider the following:

ICANN Accredited

There are thousands of sites where people and companies can register domains, so choose a registrar (or a reseller of a registrar) that is accredited by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN oversees the domain name registration system and provides a set of guidelines and rules for registrars to follow.

See a list of accredited registrars

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Contract/Duration

There is a wide variety of multi-year registration timeframes that you can sign up for — one year, three, five, and even ten. And with any contract, always read the fine print in the service agreement before paying any money. See what restrictions and fees are associated with transferring to another registrar or how much it will cost to renew your registration when your domain expires.

Transfers

There are several reasons why you may want to transfer your service to another registrar, so check the transfer policy for details. Typically, you won’t be able to transfer a name during the first 60 days after registration, but the period could be much longer. Some registrars may not allow transfers or charge a fee.

Customer Support

Look for a registrar that’s easy to contact and has a solid customer service record. You’ll want a registrar to act quickly when your site goes down or provide a fast resolution when there’s an issue. Additionally, you may want to learn of their policies and practices on compliance issues and if you’re able to contact their compliance department, if necessary.

What is Whois?

Any time a domain name is registered, the details of that registration must be published in a public database called Whois. Always check the Whois record after registering the domain to crosscheck the domain ownership details and the domain registration period. Whois record reflect information like the name of the domain owner, his/her address and the registration and expiration date of the domain.

Costs

Annual registration costs of a single domain may not vary much with registrars, but the cost of additional services you may want, along with the discounts you might receive if you purchase a number of domains, may differ from registrar to registrar.

Again, read their service agreement on fees with renewals, domain transfers, email forwarding, DNS management, domain locking and domain theft protection. Some registrars will offer these services free of cost along with domain registration.

Additional Services

Many registrars are full service shops. They offer additional services like website building and hosting, email services, SSL certificates and SEO tools. This is ideal for a business owner who wants to keep all web-related services in one place.

Privacy Services

Some registrars offer privacy services (also called “whois masking” and “private registration”) where they will offer the use of their name, in lieu of yours, to be on the Whois record. Note that whoever is listed as the domain registrant is the legal owner of the domain name. Consider whether or not this could cause possible conflicts in the future.