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Master of Your Domain – Part 1 – Where should I register?

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It’s a common question, and one that can have serious ramifications if you don’t consider it:

Where should I register my domain name?

Domain registrars can come in many different forms. The difference between web site host and registrar is often blurred these days. Network Solutions, Register.com, Go Daddy, Namecheap, etc., were originally established to register domain names. Over the years they began to offer additional services such as email and web site hosting. There are also companies that started their lives as web site hosts, then later became domain registrars as well. Then, just to make it confusing, there are resellers—companies (like Winhost) who can offer domain registration services, but are not registrars themselves.

Technically, as far as your web site and users are concerned, where your domain is registered is irrelevant. A site hosted at any host can use a domain registered with any registrar. The DNS system will route your traffic like the post office routes your letters. Well, hopefully better than the post office routes your letters.

For the sake of convenience, many people choose to use their host as their registrar, so that everything can be managed from one location. Whether you do that or use a registrar that is unrelated to your host is a matter of preference.

fulldomaincontrolHere at Winhost your user account contains your domain registrations, so they are separate from your hosting accounts. That’s an ideal set up for anyone who wants to maintain that separation and flexibility without managing payments in multiple locations. The independence and control that you have can save you headaches in the long run.

If price is a concern, then you’ll want to go with a registrar who can offer the lowest price on the kinds of domains that you need. These days there are very few truly “budget” registrars left. The market has leveled out and you will not typically find a difference of more than a dollar or two between registrars. But for those who are strapped for cash, there is the lure of the free domain name. But be aware of the pitfalls that may come along with “free.”

Are “free” domains really free?

You may have heard horror stories of domains being held hostage, or made unavailable through the neglect or – in some cases – vindictiveness of the host. A common tool that many hosts use to get your business is the offer of a “free” domain name. While that may be a tempting offer, you should get some details about that free domain. Before you pour your time and effort into creating a site around it, ask the host following questions:

Who owns the domain?
Typically the host will make themselves the administrative contact for any domain names they provide for free as part of a hosting package. The administrative contact controls the domain, so you always want your contact information to be the admin contact information. At the very least, you want your email address to be listed in the admin section.

Can I keep the name if I change hosts?
Some hosts may allow for this, but only after you pay them a fee. Sometimes that fee is retroactive, meaning you’ll wind up paying for the domain from the day they registered it. Back when it was supposed to be “free.”

Can I keep my hosting but transfer the domain to a registrar of my choice if I opt to pay for it myself?
If you spend six months creating a site and building an audience you may want to take further control of your domain by moving it away from the host and paying for renewals yourself. Make sure the host will allow you to do that. If you are the admin contact, you can usually move the domain, but if the host is listed as billing contact, they can make the move difficult if they want to.

If you use a domain that you don’t own or you can’t move, you may be in for trouble down the road. We have seen many new customers having difficulty gaining control of what they thought was their domain name. But if you are aware of the “gotchas” surrounding domain name ownership, you can avoid those kinds of problems.

Here at Winhost you always have full control of domains that are registered through us. You are the administrative contact, you can cancel your site or move it to another host, switch the domain on your hosting account—whatever you do you’ll always have access to your domains.

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One Response
  • stuntsforcharity Reply

    I’ve always had success registering and hosting my domain with DomainDash.Co or GoDaddy.

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